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Guest Blog

Is your brand’s content is working as hard as it can?

By Carrie Webb, Head of Content, The Bigger Boat

It’s no secret that a brand’s content is hugely important. It can mean the difference between and organisation being discovered online or not.

But so much more than that, quality content elevates brand perception, nurtures lasting relationships with an audience and enables companies to build authority and credibility.

In such a content-rich environment, it can be difficult to know how to grab consumers’ attention, drive real engagement, create conversations and ultimately increase conversions. Whether it’s via a well-designed infographic, a collection of helpful blog posts or a fully-fledged PR campaign, here’s how to give great content the best chance of surviving and reverberating in such a crowded place.

Build out a strategic approach

Don’t create content simply for the sake of posting something. There should be a sound detailed strategy behind it that takes into account many factors, but most importantly aims to create a connection between brands and consumers.

The first step is to identify the brand’s strengths and consider this alongside a competitor’s offering. Take a holistic view of how those in the same space behave, and look at the types of content they’re producing – what’s working and what isn’t and, crucially, how audiences are responding.

A structured, analytical approach is required to then apply learnings to the content strategy. This will provide internal guidelines and is the brand’s ‘why’ and ‘how’.

Begin by defining audience personas (include their needs, where they consume content and any challenges and pain points), the organisation’s story and messaging and nail down content purpose.

There should also be considerations for business-wide and content KPIs. Detail success metrics for every piece of content – traffic, views, shares, conversion rate, brand awareness, for example – and jot down outreach plans for them. Collating and assessing all this information leaves an overarching strategy that plans ahead for every aspect of the organisation’s marketing activity in an effort to produce the best results.

Consider shareability from the outset

Creating a fantastic piece of content that ticks all the boxes – for example, it’s user friendly, relevant, and has SEO coursing through its veins – is great, but it’s not enough to simply upload and sit back in the hope results will flood in.

If a business isn’t promoting its own content, it’s missing out on many outreach possibilities. There’s no harm in giving customers a helping hand in finding content. If there’s budget, look towards PR, consider paid promotion or use influencers to shout about the work.

Email marketing provides a good way to round-up and tease content on the brand’s site and, of course, sharing contentacross the relevant social platforms is always a winning tactic when looking to start conversation.

Finally, don’t underestimate the value of employee advocacy. If a workforce shares its content, this shows customers that staff members have bought into the brand – and its content is credible. It also ensures a much higher reach without having to put extra budget behind it.

Write for the desired audience

A business should know its audience better than they know themselves, and create content that perfectly tailors to their needs and behaviour. This is key to content success.

Provide answers to questions asked, offer a viewpoint on topics customers are interested in, and ensure the brand is operating in a space where the target market is digitally active.

Genuinely useful, purposeful content gains more traction and is more likely to resonate in a meaningful way. Knowing – and serving – an audience is vital in content marketing. After all, the goal isn’t always to simply clinch a sale – there needs to be an effort to work hard and gain their trust, and convert them into advocates. Consistent, quality content that provides for their needs should do just that.

Ensure CTAs are simple and structured

Find subtle ways to encourage an audience to share thoughts, move through to another piece of relevant content or perform a customer action. Whether it’s to download a PDF, buy a product or simply head on to another blog within the site, the call to action (CTA) should be well-designed and strategically placed, with clear and compelling text.

Use the right words to give the CTA an obvious thrust – the user must be left in no doubt as to what’s being asked of them, and what they’ll receive if they click.

Make it timeless

The best content is evergreen – it doesn’t have an expiry date. Its information is as useful and relevant now as it will be five years down the line.

‘How to’ guides are a great example of content that doesn’t date. While there will always be a place for seasonal, topical content, it won’t have much appeal once conversation around it has subsided and an organisation is left with an initial increase in traffic that will quickly fade.

During its 20th anniversary celebrations in September 2018, Google announced a selection of new search features. Among them was the ‘Topic’ layer in the search, which aims to recommend new content to the user after analysing the web for a topic and developing a huge range of subtopics. It favours the most relevant content, namely that which has shown itself to be ‘evergreen and continually useful, as well as [being] fresh content on the topic’.

Harness the power of analytics

Insights software provides invaluable data as to how content is performing and can help to make strategic decisions.

For each piece of content created, its objectives and goals should have been set out in the content strategy at the very beginning of the process – using analytics gives specifics of whether it’s meeting them. Find out what’s working and what’s not by measuring traffic, bounce rate, dwell time and engagement, for example.

If content isn’t doing too well, an organisation will gain insight into why that is, and should make changes accordingly to avoid making the same mistake with future content.

Using an analytics tool should be routine for content marketers – do it correctly and learn what makes users tick, where they’re coming from, what type of content they favour and easily pinpoint successes, and where improvements are needed.

Apply detailed consideration to the strategy behind content as well as its aftercare and ensure it works as hard as it can for the brand.

With time, effort and consistency in the approach, content will find its place with the right audience, help raise brand perception and generate the desired results.

Carrie Webb is head of content for The Bigger Boat – a creative digital marketing specialist business based in Yorkshire.

How does the wedding industry differ online from offline?

In the last twelve months, approximately 87% of UK consumers have bought at least one product online – with online sales increasing 21.3% in the year 2016, and forecast to increase by 30% by the end of 2017.

Here, Angelic Diamonds, retailer of unique diamond engagement rings and bespoke wedding rings discuss whether it’s time for its industry to plunge into the digital world in order to survive…

This has stemmed from the fact that our lives are gradually becoming more reliant on the digital world – but organising a wedding has traditionally always been quite a physical process, with brides needing to try on their wedding gowns before they buy, grooms having several suit fittings, and of course, who would want to miss out on the opportunity to have a tasting session at your venue for your wedding breakfast?

With new technologies and social media apps, is it time for the wedding industry to make a transition into the digital world? With many companies realising the potential of going digital with their business, does the wedding industry have to grab a slice of the action to stay successful?

Can we expect a digital future?

According to The Huffington Post, around 6 out of 10 brides are actively planning their weddings through their mobile device: they research gowns (61% of brides, up from 27% in 2011) and search for wedding vendors (57% of brides, up from 22% in 2011).

This highlights that digital has already had a huge influence on the wedding industry. With social media apps such as Pinterest, Instagram and Facebook, brides and grooms can find so much inspiration for their big day with just a few clicks. Modern couples are now using new technology when wedding planning. In fact, 42% of people use social media to plan their wedding – with 41% of brides following photographers on social media, 37% of brides following venues and 14% following florists.

Social media is widely used for wedding inspiration – the social media apps provide a platform for wedding planners, venues, florists and other wedding suppliers to showcase what they have to offer. Instagram and Pinterest, which is used by 64% of brides, have now become a couple’s go to platform for all their inspiration, a digital alternative to a wedding fair. Suppliers who have not yet invested time into creating a social media profile for their business could be missing out on free exposure. And it’s not just the planning of the wedding that social media is a part of – when asked, over a quarter of today’s modern couples (27%) said they would create a hashtag for their special day.

Is it possible to survive offline in todays’ world?

There could be light at the end of the tunnel for the wedding industry that suggests the industry can survive offline in the future. Whilst it is likely that companies will need to go digital at some stage to stay up to date with the latest technologies, and keep their head in the game, there might always be a place for them offline within the industry.

When couples organise their wedding, you’ll be aware of how much they need to see, and experience, in person – from venues and food tasting, to wedding dress and suit fittings, the industry might struggle to operate solely online, because of the need for physical processes. Wedding fairs have been around for centuries, and there is a reason for that; whilst modern couples use social media for visual inspiration, wedding fairs are still a great way for suppliers to engage face-to-face with potential customers. For most people, their wedding day is the biggest day of their lives so it’s important that they can speak face-to-face with suppliers, and physically see what they have to offer. Wedding fairs often take place at wedding venues – they are the perfect occasion for brides to start to see their wedding come together.

Now-a-days, and in the future, there is no escaping the fact that the industry will embrace digital platforms – and couples will use these platforms as a source of inspiration and to help ease the planning process. However, the industry is not yet ready to wipe out all traditional methods of wedding planning.

There’s no question that there is still a demand for the physical processes. Maybe, it’s just time for suppliers and other industry professionals to use digital as a means to extend their business and gain more exposure.

Sources

https://www.confetti.co.uk/news/wedding-report-2015

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/matt-douglas/part-1-the-past-present-f_b_9294420.html

6 killer marketing metrics that really matter

By Adam Oldfield, MD of Force24

The life of a digital marketer is rarely straightforward. Whilst other communicators may perhaps argue it’s easier for their digital peers to evidence ROI, those within the world of email marketing, for instance, may be quick to defend their position.

Because yes, they have a wealth of metrics at their fingertips, but it can be difficult to know where to start.

Rather than focusing on what is arguable a vanity metric – like a click rate or, even worse, an email open – it’s important that marketers look deeper at the data to offer a true bottom line impact.

Insight relating to a brand’s data subjects, list segmentation, and the evolution of those segments, will help a marketer to understand what excites people and drives them to engage. Instead of asset-based reporting, professionals should therefore be concentrating on audience reporting, to assess campaign performance through a user’s eyes.

But how do marketing departments get these bottom up metrics that matter?

  1. Segments are key

Not exactly a metric in itself, but the data that matters can’t be uncovered until segments have been built to see how they are performing, how they’re growing (or shrinking) over time, and what the average lead score is. The more segments created – the better. Automation should make this possible in only a few easy clicks.

  1. Lead score matters the most

‘Lead scoring matters only for B2B marketers’ is a huge myth! Savvy lead scoring takes ALL engagement from any type of user. A points-system should be set so it can be tallied and a pre-defined ‘tipping point’ – tailored to the brand – should trigger when to act. Lead scores help to decide exactly who to focus on at any given time.

  1. Analyse average lead scores per segment

The average lead score of a segment may peak and trough over time. This data can be used to draw engagement curves that indicate seasonality, optimum purchase times, crucial cross-sell periods and when an existing customer is most likely to re-book/buy. This type of analysis also helps to quickly identify strong or weak segments within a data set. It also helps draw correlations between lead scores and campaigns, web activity and, most importantly, the number of leads actually secured. 

  1. Segment evolution

It is important to understand how a list is growing or shrinking – is the data in a segment diminishing, for example? And what might this mean? 

  1. User web engagement

We know browsing behaviour gives us a deeper insight into a user’s interests and needs, but only one in six organisations use it effectively. Web collateral should therefore be designed to support this information gathering, and engagement across this online real-estate should be analysed.

  1. User marketing preferences

It’s just as important to understand what your segment does NOT want to see – you’ll be surprised by the level of variation between data sets.

GUEST BLOG: Fixing the broken sales funnel

Business agility and the ability to respond fast to new sales opportunities has never been more important and a strong, intelligence-led sales model is essential to maximise opportunities. Yet in this post GDPR era, sales models have never been weaker or less efficient. A lack of data confidence is undermining outbound activity, leaving companies reliant on increasingly expensive inbound campaigns that are not delivering.

To fix the broken sales funnel, organisations clearly need to use to fresh, accurate and GDPR compliant data. But that is just the start: successful sales activity is underpinned by a scientific, structured and metrics driven approach that leverages multi-dimensional real-time data, as James Isilay, CEO, Cognism, explains.

Science not Art

Fewer good prospects. Delayed decision making. Ever lengthening sales cycles. A lack of predictability in the sales process. For many companies, the sales funnel is looking less than impressive. Yet while the temptation is to blame new restrictions of data privacy created by GDPR on the other, there is little value in playing the blame game. What companies require is a solution.

Where is the sales funnel broken and how can it be fixed? Understanding the ‘where’ is key – and something that far too many companies fail to address. How many good sales-people have been fired, when the problem was poor data? How much time has been wasted on prioritising the wrong prospects or failing to correctly identify the total addressable market?

A broken sales funnel cannot be repaired just by adding technology, replacing salespeople, or addressing data quality – although these are without doubt essential components of sales success. Without a robust, clearly defined and, critically, measured sales funnel, organisations will struggle to maximise sales opportunities.

Sales is a science, not an art; and companies need to take a far more metrics-led approach to sales models and management. Breaking the sales funnel down into its constituent parts, measuring performance and comparing results at every stage of the funnel to an equivalent industry standard benchmark is an essential step in understanding the current position.

This means not just tracking the number of phone calls made but the number of dials, number of connections and the number of conversations. How many conversations then convert to meetings or product demonstrations; and meetings to opportunities and then closed deals?  And, of course, never overlook quality – it is essential to measure the quality as well as the volume of leads to optimise sales performance.

Breaking down the prospecting activity into this detail is essential to reveal the specific point – or points – of failure; and to create a clear view of what needs to change to turn sales around and transform bottom line performance.

Intelligence Led

There are three core components of a successful sales funnel: people, process and technology.  Getting the right people to undertake specific components of the sales activity is key.  Break the process down into distinct areas and have specific KPIs for each to measure activity levels and outcomes. Allocate well trained and focused individuals to cold outreach, and more experienced individuals to deal closing. This is a far more effective model that will definitely improve performance.

Provide clear benchmarks to set performance expectations – and use them. If an individual’s performance is not hitting the minimum standard, jump in. Determine the problem and address it – whether that is through training or new messaging. Being proactive is essential to ensuring the funnel continues to perform effectively.

High Quality Data

Supporting these people with great data is, of course, fundamental, especially given the GDPR data privacy compliance requirements. Bad data is one of the most frustrating problems for any sales team. From the time wasted calling contacts who have moved on, to targeting companies that recently spoke to a colleague or, even worse, invested in a competitive product, bad and outdated data is a major barrier to sales success.

Combining good, accurate and continually refreshed data with a CRM system is an essential part of the model, ensuring data is up to date and shared across the sales function. With access to a deep, accurate and GDPR compliant customer data resource, the sales team can gain confidence and avoid time wasted in irrelevant outreach. But that is just the start. By adding events to the typical two dimensional company and people data – and ensuring this information is continually refreshed in real-time – companies can completely reconsider the sales funnel. From transforming the understanding of the total addressable market to using purchase triggers and decision making personas to prioritise activity, the use of revenue driven AI can deliver significant bottom line improvements.

From new job titles to funding rounds, even office expansion, there are a number of triggers that can be used to more effectively drive the timing and messaging of outreach campaigns. And, by feeding persona specific responses to different marketing messages back into the CRM system, the process can be continually improved. Essentially, Revenue AI provides a positive feedback loop.

Conclusion

Extending the metrics led marketing model from inbound, where performance and return on investment is continually assessed, to outbound is perhaps a cultural change for experienced sales people. But a sales funnel reliant upon an old school contacts list and perceived market opportunities is all about the ‘art of sales’ – it will never stand up to a competition embracing a science led, metric driven approach.

There is an enormous universe of prospective customers – and salespeople do not know every single company in the market, whatever their perception. New companies appear, others disappear; new funding rounds fuel growth; big wins result in business expansion. Without intelligence and a robust, process driven sales model, a company will never have an accurate handle on the total addressable market or a way to identify and prioritise outreach.

With current global economic uncertainty, opportunities are thinner on the ground and those companies with a broken sales funnel will struggle. In tough times companies need to be able to effectively and efficiently target the best opportunities, at the best time, with the right message. It is the companies with the smartest sales model that will succeed.

GUEST BLOG: The changing face of customer loyalty

New research shows that 76% of consumers admit they would switch to a competitor if they have just one bad experience with a brand they like.

On the flipside, over half of consumers say that once they’re loyal to a brand, they’re loyal for life. This offers the question – how loyal are consumers actually being towards their favourite brands, and what will it take for a consumer to have a bad experience? 

Dino Forte, CEO at Ventrica, investigates…

Gaining loyal consumers and advocates is something most brands aim for; but given the research, how far can this really be stretched? Unfortunately, many brands take loyalty for granted. The brands that hold a monopoly over a market, with unique products or services that can’t be found elsewhere, are often the strongest culprits of this, knowing their customers will continue to return regardless of the customer service they provide.

However, even in this situation, delivering a customer experience (CX) that meets the customer’s expectations and needs, is critical. Even for organisations in industries such as utilities where many consumers stay with their provider to avoid the hassle of switching, CX is still key. After all, it is six times more expensive to win new business than to retain it; showing how essential it is for organisations to look after their customers, even if they are confident they won’t leave.

New touchpoints and skilled staff

The fact is, delivering a CX that enables an organisation to remain competitive and encourage the customer to return is a big challenge. With numerous touchpoints now available to today’s consumer – from social media, to the organisation’s website, webchat and phone calls – how can a brand ensure it reaches its customers across all channels but provide the same experience, irrespective of channel?

All consumers will agree that a ‘bad’ CX involves a frustrating experience, long waiting times, unanswered questions, unknowledgeable staff, faulty products or simply not being listened to. Can we really blame them if an experience like this makes them want to switch to a competitor?

However, it doesn’t need to be like this. An organisation’s contact centre should form the heart of the CX it provides, with a trained, dedicated team ready to answer queries and resolve any issues the customer may have experienced across multiple channels. A customer service team should completely embody the persona of the brand; understanding who the customer is, what issue they’re facing and how it can be resolved in a quick, seamless manner that leaves the customer satisfied and eager to purchase a product or service again.

If a bad experience strikes, an organisation can’t blame a customer for wanting to look elsewhere. It’s therefore essential for organisations to put measures in place to ensure that all channels are equipped to provide the best CX possible – so that a customer’s loyalty never comes into question at all.

Email Marketing

Email Personalisation: The Overlooked Source for Marketing Success

By Gregg Turek, Selligent Marketing Cloud

Email personalisation as a marketing strategy has evolved phenomenally in recent years. Monumental advances in technology are empowering marketers to do things once thought unimaginable.

And the skyrocketing growth of consumer expectations is a sure sign that old techniques are no longer viable for reaching customers in 2019. Marketers can no longer simply insert a first name into a subject line and consider their personalisation work done. We’ve come so much further than that and today, more than ever, personalisation is no longer just an option for marketers. In fact, it’s an imperative.

Personalisation through Time

Remember when Build-A-Bear workshops first started? For several years now, the beloved brand – and others like American Girl in the U.S. – have offered a personalised experience that has delighted parents and children alike. Teddy bears and dolls are built or dressed in outfits and colours that kids can pick out for themselves, offering an ultimate individualised experience that had previously been unavailable. In the digital realm, Amazon and other brands have extended these types of experiences by offering stronger and stronger product recommendations based on consumer behavioural data every day. The days of recommendations simply based on “customers also purchased…” are in the past. Consumers now demand ever more individualised offers.

As these kinds of advances occur, personalisation becomes second nature for consumers, who expect similar experiences wherever they go and whenever they shop. And it makes sense: as humans, we all want to be recognised and remembered. These desires are very real to us as consumers, too. Personalisation not only satisfies this desire, it also amplifies marketing results to a great extent.

The Case for Personalisation

Personalisation is the key to keeping your customers engaged – and spending money. 74% of marketers say targeted personalisation increases customer engagement.1And research shows thatemail personalisation boosts open rates by 26% and click-through rates by 97%.2

Marketers that get it right stand to gain a lot. Those who don’t, lose. Consider some of the major retailers that have struggled or failed in recent years. British casualties of the “retail apocalypse” in 2018 alone include Maplin, Debenhams, House of Fraser, Evans Cycles and Mothercare.3  One major common denominator among these retail casualties is this: they each failed at some level to adapt to escalating consumer demand for digital experiences and personalisation.

Mar-Tech & Email Personalisation

So how do you get it right? How can you take your email marketing to a new and more successful level through personalisation? Fortunately, tools exist today that allow marketers to hyper-personalise emails and other customer communications at a level previously unseen, using consumer data as the fuel for greater engagement. Today’s marketing technology allows you to deploy emails so that every automated message feels personal, every intelligent product recommendation appears hand-picked, and the timing of delivery is always right.

Many leading brands are already investing in marketing technology for personalisation and the required data. Demand for customer data platforms (CDPs) is growing tremendously.4 And marketing automation is expected to grow by nearly ten percent in 2019, with more than half of companies surveyed using some form of automation already.5

AI: The Secret Sauce for Personalisation

Artificial intelligence (AI) is unlocking the hyper-personalised future of marketing – and changing the game for marketers. AI engines can boost email personalisation and individual relevance by automatically turning consumer insights into on-taste messages, at scale and at previously unimagined levels. And it’s not only satisfying the demands of today’s entitled consumers, it can also save marketers time and money. In fact, according to an August 2018 survey of 400 retail executives worldwide by Capgemini, AI could save retailers as much as $340 billion annually by 2022.6

Getting Personal: The Key to Survival

It’s clear that the old ways of marketing are no longer enough to satisfy consumers. Marketers need to start thinking from the point of view of the customer. With every email you send – and every interaction a customer has with your brand – you need to put that individual’s preferences, histories, and current states front and centre. Carefully look at what you’re delivering versus what your customers expect – and make sure every email is injected with a human touch, providing personal relevance for every single consumer. When you are able to deliver hyper-personalised email messages at precisely the right time, you’ve discovered not only how to survive, but to thrive in today’s marketplace.

Getting personal with your customers starts with being human – in the way you collect and share data, and how you communicate with your customers. Download the free whitepaper, “The Case for Personalisation,”to learn how to get more human with your marketing, including a deeper look at the role of artificial intelligence for hyper-personalisation in your campaigns.

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1          https://econsultancy.com/tag/reports/

2          https://www.marketo.com/articles/how-is-personalization-changing-the-face-of-marketing/

3          https://www.theguardian.com/society/2018/dec/01/everything-must-go-what-next-for-the-high-street-new-retail-empty-shops)

4          “Seven Marketing Tech Trends for 2019,”eMarketer PRO, December 19, 2019

5          “How AI Is Driving Marketing Automation,”Entrepreneur, January 25, 2019

6          “Will AI Transform Retail,” eMarketer, January 8, 2019

GUEST BLOG: How best to market your business with a mix of channels

Your business’s success could come down to the marketing strategies you choose. In a bid to get your business up and running and continuing to grow, marketing is crucial. It can be used to help you inform, sell, engage and sustain. But, what exactly should you be doing? Here, alongside Lookers, who sell Transit Connect vehicles, we look at some of the options available…

Leaflets

An extremely cost-effective advertising method is by using leaflets. Leaflet distribution, according to research, is a much more memorable form of advertising, with nine out of 10 people remembering door-drop mail they’ve received. This form of marketing can send your customers the message you’re intending to get across from as little as 5p per household. It also enables you to get customers engaging with your business.

Potential customers and clients are more likely to keep your leaflet if you choose a simple design that includes your business’s name, logo, telephone number, email address and the service(s) you are offering, potential customers or clients are more likely to keep a hold of your leaflet, thus meaning they’ll always have a hard copy on hand. To fully engage the reader, consider including a coupon or discount code so they are tempted to use your product or service.

Banners

Make the most of any new venture by including outdoor banners. Doing so can help direct the attention of passers-by to your business in a relatively cheap manner. Research has found that the majority of a local business’s regular customers live within a five-mile radius of where you are based, so your banner could possibly be viewed by a single customer 60 times in a week.

Vehicle wraps

Any time you’re in your vehicle you’re likely to have spotted a car or van that has a company’s logo plastered all over it. This is because it can turn your transport into an all-year-round marketing machine. Even if you’re parked up, members of the public can still engage with your brand. It doesn’t matter how big the company is either, as all sizes can benefit from this, although for smaller businesses this would be a relatively cheap way to get their brand or product noticed every day.

According to figures by the Outdoor Advertising Association, a vehicle wrap is actually the cheapest cost-per-impressions form of advertising. Naturally, a television advert is most expensive, with costs of close to £40 per thousand impressions during primetime. Radio is cheaper, but can still cost in the region of £10 per thousand impressions for a 30 second slot. Vehicle wrap, however, can cost as little as 30p per thousand impressions and has a much longer shelf life.

Social media

It’s possible to both pay for campaigns on social media and use the platform for free. In January 2018, the UK had 44 million active social media users, representing 66% of the population. Of course, not all users will be potential customers or clients, but that is a phenomenal outreach for a free service. This is why a company, no matter what the size, should fully utilise this tool. One way to interact and engage is by running competitions and giveaways.

Realistically, the type of marketing you go for will depend on your budget. However, you certainly shouldn’t scrimp on how much you set aside as its worth could be crucial to your business succeeding and growing. The above options should definitely help with your quest if you deliver it correctly.

Sources

https://movingtargets.com/blog/business/why-marketing-is-so-important/

https://www.directletterboxmarketing.co.uk/why-are-leaflets-so-effective/

https://www.statista.com/statistics/507405/uk-active-social-media-and-mobile-social-media-users/

http://blog.quizclothing.co.uk/12-days-of-quizmas/

GUEST BLOG: Gauging the return on investment available from marketing

According to figures published by Google in its Car Purchasing UK Report in April 2018, £115.9 million was invested in direct mail and online display by UK car dealers during 2016 alone.

While automotive manufacturers often have a substantial marketing budget available to them though, this is not always a luxury to firms when they are looking at their marketing campaigns.

Due to digital visibility not usually coming cheap due to the increased interest in online platforms, VW service providers Vindis takes a look at whether such investments are indeed worth the cost…

The automotive industry

Within Google’s Drive To Decide Report, which was created in association with TNS, a discussion took place about how the auto shopper of today is more digitally savvy than previous generations. In fact, over 82% of the UK population aged 18 and over have access to the internet for personal reasons, 85% use smartphones and 65% choose a smartphone as their preferred device to access the internet. These figures show that for car dealers to keep their head in the game, a digital transition is vital.

Research online will also be carried out by 90% of auto shoppers, the same report goes on to reveal. 51% of buyers starting their auto research online, with 41% of those using a search engine. To capture those shoppers beginning their research online, car dealers must think in terms of the customer’s micro moments of influence, which could include online display ads – one marketing method that currently occupies a significant proportion of car dealers’ marketing budgets.

Of the entire UK Digital Ad Spending Growth throughout 2017, eMarketer claims that the automotive industry accounted for 11% of the total. This placed the industry in second place behind the retail sector. The automotive industry is forecast to see a further 9.5% increase in ad spending in 2018.

As many car purchases still occur on the forecourt though, what effect is online having on influencing the decisions of auto shoppers? 41% of shoppers who research online find their smartphone research ‘very valuable’. 60% said they were influenced by what they saw in the media, of which 22% were influenced by marketing promotions – proving online investment is working.

Across the automotive sector, traditional methods of TV and radio continue to be the most invested forms of marketing. In the last past five years though, it is digital that has made the biggest jump from fifth most popular method to third, seeing an increase of 10.6% in expenditure.

The healthcare industry

An entirely different set of rules are followed for marketing when it comes to the healthcare sector. This is generally because it is restricted by heavy regulations. The same ROI methods that have been adopted by other sectors simply don’t work for the healthcare market. Despite nearly 74% of all healthcare marketing emails remaining unopened, you’ll be surprised to learn that email marketing is essential for the healthcare industry’s marketing strategy.

Email is used by approximately 2.5 million people as a primary form of communication. The use of email has also increased in value and usage over the past few years. This means email marketing is targeting a large audience. For this reason, 62% of physicians and other healthcare providers prefer communication via email – and now that smartphone devices allow users to check their emails on their device, email marketing puts companies at the fingertips of their audience.

Those in the healthcare industry should see online marketing as another platform that will make for worthwhile investment as well. This is especially the case when you consider that one in 20 Google searches are for health-related content. This could be attributed to the fact that many people turn to a search engine for medical answer before calling the GP.

According to data from the Pew Research Center, a search engine will be the starting point of 77% of all health enquiries. What’s more, 72% of total internet users say they’ve looked online for health information within the past year. Furthermore, 52% of smartphone users have used their device to look up the medical information they require. Statistics estimate that marketing spend for online marketing accounts for 35% of the overall budget.

Don’t forget the appeal of social media marketing either. Whilst the healthcare industry is restricted to how they market their services and products, that doesn’t mean social media should be neglected. In fact, an effective social media campaign could be a crucial investment for organisations, with 41% of people choosing a healthcare provider based on their social media reputation! And the reason? The success of social campaigns is usually attributed to the fact audiences can engage with the content on familiar platforms.

The fashion industry

The success of many fashion retailers will depend on their investment online. This point is underlined by the fact online sales in the fashion industry reached £16.2 billion in 2017! This figure is expected to continue to grow by a huge 79% by 2022. So where are fashion retailers investing their marketing budgets? Has online marketing become a priority?

Almost a quarter of all purchases in December 2017 were tied to ecommerce. This is according to the British Retail Consortium, as online brands such as ASOS and Boohoo continue to embrace the online shopping phenomenon. ASOS experienced an 18% UK sales growth in the final four months of 2017, whilst Boohoo saw a 31% increase in sales throughout the same period.

Next, Marks and Spencer, and John Lewis are just three of the well-known brands in the industry to have invested millions into their operations and marketing efforts online. Such tactics aimed to capture the online shopper and drive digital sales. John Lewis announced that 40% of its Christmas sales came from online shoppers, and whilst Next struggled to keep up with the sales growth of its competitors, it has announced it will invest £10 million into its online marketing and operations.

It also seems that many shoppers aren’t willing or interested to head to the high-street in order to shop. Instead, they like the idea of being able to conveniently shop from the comfort of their home, or via their smartphone devices whilst on the move.

In research carried out by the PMYB Influencer Marketing Agency, 59% of fashion marketers increased the budget they had available for influencer marketing last year. In fact, 75% of global fashion brands collaborate with social media influencers as part of their marketing strategy and more than a third of marketers believe influencer marketing to be more successful than traditional methods of advertising in 2017 – as 22% of customers are said to be acquired through influencer marketing.

The utilities industry

Comparison websites are now being used by so many consumers when they are trying to find the right utilities supplier for their needs. These websites could be the key to many suppliers acquiring and retaining customers.

Comparison websites often spend millions on TV marketing campaigns, which are then watched by so much of the nation. Therefore, it has become vital for many utility suppliers to be listed on comparison websites and offer a very competitive price, in order to stay in the game.

Compare the Market, MoneySupermarket, Go Compare and Confused.com are currently the four largest comparison websites. These companies are also among the top 100 highest spending advertisers in the UK, but does that marketing investment reflect on utility suppliers?

The difference between a high rate of customer retention for one supplier and a high rate of customer acquisition for another supplier can be determined through comparison websites. If you don’t beat your competitors, then what is to stop your existing and potential new customers choosing your competitors over you?

Instead of customer acquisition, British Gas has altered its marketing goals towards customer retention. Whilst the company recognise that this approach to marketing will be a slower process to yield measurable results, they firmly believe that retention will in turn lead to acquisition. The Gas company hope that by marketing a wider range of tailored products and services to their existing customers, they will be able to improve customer retention.

A loyalty scheme offering discounted energy and services has received a £100 million investment. This scheme focuses on the value of a customer, their behaviour and spending habits over time to discover what they are looking for in the company. The utilities sector is incredibly competitive, so it is vital that companies invest in their existing customers before looking for new customers.

Digital should be a key focus for those in the utilities sector too. 40% of all searches in Q3 2017 were carried out on mobile, and a further 45% of all ad impressions were via mobile too – according to Google’s Public Utilities Report in December 2017. As mobile usage continues to soar, companies need to consider content created specifically for mobile users as they account for a large proportion of the market now.

Concluding thoughts

Online marketing investment should be seen as very important for some industries, such as the fashion and automotive sectors. With a clear increase in online demand in both sectors that is changing the purchase process, some game players could find themselves out of the game before it has even begun if they neglect digital.

The picture grows even more for sectors such as the utilities industry. Whilst TV and digital appear to remain the main sales driving forces, it’s more than just creating your own marketing campaign when comparison sites need to be considered. Without the correct marketing, advertising or listing on comparison sites, you could fall behind.

The average firm is expected to allocate a minimum of 41% of their marketing budget to online strategies during 2018. This is according to webstrategies.com, with this figure expected to grow to 45% by 2020 too. Social media advertising investments is expected to represent 25% of total online spending and search engine banner ads are also expected to grow significantly too – all presumably as a result of more mobile and online usage.

Where do you stand when it comes to investment into marketing strategies? If mobile and online usage continues to grow year on year at the rate it has done in the past few years, we forecast the investment to be not only worthwhile but essential.

Sources

https://pmyb.co.uk/global-fashion-company-influencer-marketing-budget/

https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/the-uk-clothing-market-2017-2022-300483862.html

http://uk.fashionnetwork.com/news/Online-is-key-focus-for-UK-fashion-retail-investment-in-2017,783787.html#.WrOjxOjFKUk

http://www.mobyaffiliates.com/blog/retail-accounts-for-14-2-of-digital-advertising-spending-in-the-uk-in-2017/

http://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/bills/article-2933401/Energy-price-comparison-sites-spend-110m-annoying-adverts.html

http://www.thedrum.com/news/2017/03/28/british-gas-shifts-acquisition-retention-marketing-know-the-value-keeping-the-right

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/news/uk-companies-online-advertising-spend-10-billion-more-last-year-2016-pwc-a7678536.html

https://www.webstrategiesinc.com/blog/how-much-budget-for-online-marketing-in-2014

https://www.kunocreative.com/blog/healthcare-email-marketing

http://www.evariant.com/blog/10-campaign-best-practices-for-healthcare-marketers

https://getreferralmd.com/2015/02/7-medical-marketing-and-dental-media-strategies-that-really-work/

GUEST BLOG: Customer Experience – The latest silo in the marketing mix

Joey Moore, Head of Product Marketing, Episerver

For years, marketers have talked—and written—extensively about the disconnect between marketing and IT. Who should own email lists and sensitive data? Who should have access to the website CMS? Who should decide which marketing automation platforms to install? These are just a few of the questions that have plagued the marketing/IT debate.

In 2019 however, this debate finally feels like it’s come to a close. According to new research from Episerver, 93 percent of marketers now have the ability to directly edit their company’s website, while 80 percent expect to have complete ownership over their brand’s web presence within the next two years.

Instead of seeing this as a ‘land grab’ from IT, however, 62 percent of marketers say they are simply working collaboratively with their IT departments in order to reduce silos and ensure the best customer experiences. While this is great news for customers, the problem of marketing silos has not gone away for good. Instead, a new debate has started to rage—this time between marketers and the new wave of customer experience (CX) professionals.

Over the last few years, customer experience has become a central topic for most businesses, with as many as 35 percent hiring specific teams and individuals to manage the CX journey. In contrast, only 45 percent of marketers feel they have genuine autonomy over the customer experience, with many feeling that CX teams aren’t delivering the same quality of experience that marketers themselves would provide if they were in charge.

As a result, Episerver’s research shows that as many as 80 percent of marketers are planning to take over the CX role by 2020, removing the need for standalone customer experience departments and professionals.

While new technologies are making it easier than ever for marketers to control elements of the customer experience, by attempting to force out CX teams, marketers are falling into the exact same trap they did with IT.

Just as IT teams work across so much more than just marketing technologies, today’s CX teams also provide a far more all-encompassing view. Working with customer service departments, contact centres, HR and employee training courses, the remit of today’s CX professionals goes well beyond just marketing. Given this fact, marketers should be careful about biting off more than they can chew.

Instead, what is needed is a joint approach, one in which marketing and CX teams work together and collaborate in the best interests of the end customer. Technology can enable this collaboration, providing a seamless link through which marketing and customer experience teams can decide the CX direction of their company and ensuring it’s implemented across all levels of the brand. This will be the future of CX, not total marketing ownership, but technology-driven collaboration.

GUEST BLOG: Digital marketing and its relationship with print in 2019

Online advertising and digital platforms are the main drivers for many marketing campaigns. But in this digital age, can businesses survive without print advertising or, is there a future for digital and print playing to their strengths and working together?

Where The Trade Buys, specialist providers of marketing materials for events, has pulled together a helpful guide with their insights…

A focus on digital campaigns for driving sales

Many campaigns today are lost without digital. With more consumers than ever before spending time on the internet, businesses would be foolish not to get involved with online marketing.

Search engine marketing is one area of advertising that companies are becoming more involved with. As the name suggests, this side of digital marketing focuses on driving a business’ site to the top of the search results around relevant target phrases — from corporate keywords like ‘business cards’ to more fashion-focused targets like ‘dresses’. As a result, this can increase brand exposure and site traffic while improving sales figures.

Social media marketing is another area of business activity that wasn’t popular a few years back. From paid adverts to viral campaigns, the digital world has opened up many doors for small and medium companies in particular — exposing themselves to an audience that may not have known they existed and in turn, generating mass interest.

The digital world has made room for businesses to begin analysing their audience, allowing them to gain a greater insight to their general behaviour and spending patterns. From tracking analytics, whether this is across social media platforms or the main website, marketing managers are able to identify key areas of interest and create campaigns around this to drive sales.

There are many methods businesses can follow to hook an online audience and stay ahead of their competitors. Through a combination of search engine and social media marketing, many brands are beginning to run competitions and deals that are only exclusive to an online following. These low-cost campaigns will benefit from extensive reach.

Does print advertising still have something unique to offer

Although more businesses are beginning to take their focuses online, they shouldn’t neglect the power of print and the opportunities that can come off the back of it. Print very much has a place in modern advertising as it can offer a personal touch unlike no other and generally has a longer life cycle which is always beneficial for the exposure of your brand. Take printed leaflets for example, once they have been posted through the door, whoever picks them up will have to acknowledge your materials!

As well as door-to-door print advertising, business merchandise has not taken a backseat since the sprout in popularity of online promotions. Brand image has never been more important for businesses and shouldn’t be ignored — as a result, more companies are making investments in personalised products that represent what they stand for. Whether this is to help them externally, with the likes of outdoor banners, or internally for your office with the likes of customised calendars.

Although printed goods can often be higher in price, they can drive exceptional ROI to your campaign and create a memorable experience for the receiver which should be a core focus for your print campaign. This can be achieved through eye-catching designs and a choice of luxury materials which will lead to a meaningful engagement.

Print and digital collaborating

Although online and offline advertising are two entirely separate entities, they can work well together, and some brands are already utilising such methods.

Take QR codes for example, more businesses are trying to audiences in the real world to their online solutions. As QR codes are unique and can entice people to be more inquisitive, they can drive immense traffic to online campaigns when printed on banners. Through this method of advertising, marketing departments can track success and gather data on users when they’re interacting with the code. With the data collected from campaigns like this, businesses can record contact information (such as email addresses) if users decide they want to opt-in.

When looking closer to news publications, many of them still offer printed versions of their product — blurring the line between print and digital. With an understanding of the influence they have online, they’ve been able to merge two channels together and to distribute stories to a wider audience.

Near field communication is another area that should be further looked into when it comes to the relationship between online and offline platforms. Essentially, near field communication is a type of technology that has the ability to connect two smart devices — often with the help of a print medium. For example, a section of a poster can be tapped with a mobile phone which will then take the user to the ecommerce site for a specific product.

Digital companies testing out print marketing

Online hospitality marketplace, Airbnb has made huge waves in the way that we now book our holidays. Predominantly a digital business with its own website and downloadable app, the company decided to launch its own magazine for registered hosts (those who advertise their property) which is around 18,000 people. This magazine included personal stories of hosts and their accommodation, encouraging interaction with the digital business through print. Although the magazine production has been put on hold since, it’s a good example of how an online business can promote its services elsewhere.

Remember those iconic Coca Cola bottles that had labels with your name on? The printed labels for the Share A Coke campaign allowed the drink manufacturer to become more personal with its customers and as a result, buyers then shared their bottles on social media which made it an integrated campaign.

As we can see, digital and print both play huge parts in the marketing of a business. But often, they can be most successful when they’re brought together.

Sources

https://www.jeffbullas.com/mixed-marketing-create-joined-print-and-digital-campaigns/

https://www.wsj.com/articles/heres-what-happened-to-pineapple-airbnbs-one-off-print-magazine-1449684006