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Guest Blog

Guest Blog, Tariq Khan: Ensure your marketing technology investment doesn’t go down the drain…

Take a look at the marketing technology landscape at the end of 2012, and compare it to now. What you’re seeing is a tenfold increase in marketing tech vendors in around three-and-a-half years, and the rate is growing aggressively.

How does this make you feel? Is it scary because of the potential expense and business case preparation; not to mention the complex challenges associated with managing the implementation of these systems? Or is it an exciting opportunity to use technology to compete and create more engaging experiences than any of your competitors?

In many cases there will be an equal measure of trepidation and excitement for the future. The chances are, to some degree, you are already on the journey. It’s no secret the marketing landscape is changing rapidly and with it a requirement to think in a new way. According to recent research from executive search firm Russell Reynolds, the first half of 2016 saw the highest turnover of CMOs since 2012, thanks to the rapidly evolving skill-set necessary to be successful in this new data-led era.

So what’s the best way to approach this hypermarket of marketing technology where new aisles and products are constantly being introduced and evolved? More importantly, once you have committed, how do you ensure you get the maximum value out of the technology decisions you’ve made?

The biggest pitfall we see time and again is that the technology hasn’t quite managed to unlock that beautiful strategic vision, and as such real-world ROI hasn’t quite lived up to the promise. According to a report conducted last year by Oracle Marketing Cloud, a staggering 92 per cent of respondents believe their marketing technology investments have not been well-implemented.

Buying the tech will only get you so far. Marketing technology vendors will promise “out of the box” solutions that will transform your business overnight. But simply building a tool will not solve the problems: only people can solve problems. The better people understand the tools, the better equipped you are for success.

That’s why an effective change management strategy is just as important as your choice of technology. Whilst partners can certainly help, the leadership needed to bring this change management strategy about can only come from within the organisation. 

Change, at its core, is a people process, and people are hardwired to resist adopting new mind-sets, practices, and behaviours. To achieve and sustain the transformational change that marketing technology brings about, companies must commit significant resources to ensuring they embed new processes and behaviours at every level.

Here are five practical tips to think about before, during and after a marketing technology implementation:

  1. Don’t underestimate the degree of organisational and operational change needed: Are your individuals and teams knowledgeable and empowered enough to be truly agile? Ensure everyone involved has KPIs that are oriented around serving customers and getting ROI from the investment.
  1. Ensure there is an emotional case for change: Many leaders are great at building the rational case for change, but they are less adept at appealing to people’s emotional core. Yet the employees’ emotions are where the momentum for real transformation ultimately lies. Communication is key here; try creating an on-going email campaign, videos and e-learning modules that help highlight the benefits to all levels.
  1. Carefully budget: If you’ve got a million to invest in marketing technology, spend half of this on training your team properly and on partnerships that put experienced experts in both technology and process alongside your team after go-live. Set sensible targets around when ROI will kick in; it won’t happen instantly.
  1. Aim to implement a significantly less sophisticated product at the start and build up: You learned to drive in the family run-around, not an F1 sports car. Phased releases of software that limits the complexity your team needs to manage will lead to a deeper adoption more quickly. Make sure you’re working with a technology partner who is comfortable with an agile methodology that facilitates this.
  1. Incentivise your marketers to “own” and accelerate the change: Provide a safe environment to push the new technology to its limits. It takes innovation, curiosity and a lot of trial and error to maximise the value of any new marketing technology.

As the marketing technology landscape continues to grow, it is tempting to think the new product on the market will prove paramount to unlocking your competitive advantage. Whilst this can be the case, it’s worth remembering that the machinery will never live up to its potential without the right people operating it. As such, marketers need take advantage of this period of change as an opportunity to break down traditional structures within their business and attain the organisational agility needed to stay ahead of their competitors. 

 

Tariq has 16 years’ of digital management experience working at the Financial Times, LBi & TMW before joining Navigate Unlimited as a consultant. A keen advocate of agile ways of working, Tariq’s delivery experience has seen him successfully lead and consult on hundreds of projects and programmes for high profile clients including BBC, Deutsche Bank, HM Treasury, Nissan, Guardian and Unilever.

Guest Blog, Catherine Spencer: The real problem with content marketing…

‘Content’ as a word has seemingly got itself a bad name and it’s starting to cause a real problem for our industry – or so a number of recent articles would have it. It is a vague term that’s entered our marketing lexicon but, love it or hate it, it’s here to stay. Content marketing itself is not the problem, it’s the fact that most content has little to no impact on its target audience and really, it’s helping no one. We just get overwhelmed with clutter.

Take a look at any major UK company’s blog and you’ll see that most of the “content” they’re churning out doesn’t do the following:

  • Teach visitors something new or useful;
  • Give away handy resources for free (such as templates, cheat sheets and how-to-guides);
  • Inspire their visitors;
  • Clearly and concisely answer the question implied by the title.

The ‘Definition Problem’

One of the quirks of this industry is that we love coming up with complicated or vague words to describe what we do – and often they stick a little too strongly.

Remember when “selfie” became the Oxford Dictionary word of 2013 and we collectively went mad over how our country was going to the dogs? Well the unfortunate bystanders in the marketing industry mightn’t like it, but new words like “native advertising” and “content marketing” have quickly become the new normal.

Just by looking at Google search trends, it is clear that ‘content marketing’ has become widely accepted within the industry above ‘marketing communications’ since 2004.

 

equimedia-image-1

The ‘Practicality Problem’

While it is agreed that “content marketing” fits under the definition of “marketing communications”, referring to web content as “Marketing Communications” is tricky when working day-to-day in the ad industry. Actually, content marketing is just a small part of the overall marketing communications strategy.

When you’re working for global brands, you’ll find referring to a blog post as “marketing communications” will create more confusion than it’s worth. Confusion costs time and money in our industry and it goes back to the definitions problem – you might not like it, but the easiest way to be on the same page is to use the same language.

The ‘Content Problem’

Whilst most content indeed fails, it doesn’t mean content marketing itself is the problem. It means the people who’ve made the content maybe.

We’re not here to defend crappy content. But content marketing done right has tremendous value, there’s a reason it’s so big! It just needs to be matched with relevance.

To succeed with content, marketers need to develop content around a brilliant idea, focus on overwhelming the target audience with value, amplify the message by sharing the content with the right people, and finally ask for (and listen to) audience feedback.

Are we using the wrong word to describe content marketing? Maybe.

But let’s not forget the bigger picture: we should be focusing on value, not semantics. Whatever the buzzword might be that describes how we’re doing it, we really just need to get on and do it.

 

Catherine is a senior content, PR & social executive at equimedia. She joined equimedia in 2015, previously having worked in-house for a large charity. Today, Catherine manages marketing campaigns for a number of our large charity clients, as well as retail and insurance, from planning and production right through to delivery.

Guest Blog, Nick Henderson: Traditional demographic data will always have its place…

Traditional marketing can refer to the channel that is taken, or it can refer to the technique that is used to determine what to market and to who. While the channel of marketing has been an obvious transition from postal to online, what hasn’t been so obvious is the rise of utilising digital, rather than traditional demographic, data to make marketing decisions. More than a third of marketers are looking to shift spend from traditional mass advertising to more tailored advertising on digital channels (Salesforce, 2015).

Firstly, it is important to stress that traditional demographic data will always be necessary. Certain services and products have a target audience limited by age, gender or location, for example over-50s insurance, gender-specific products, or location-dependent offers such as a restaurant chain with multiple locations.

With marketers reporting that customer satisfaction and customer retention rates are both key digital marketing metrics for success (Salesforce, 2015), it is even more important to keep up with the ever-growing demand for a personalised user experience. 70 per cent of consumers want a more personalised shopping experience, and 60 per cent of consumers are comfortable with their digital data, such as their interests, being used by retailers so that they can receive more relevant offers throughout the year.

While traditional data has its place in a modern marketing world, this alone is not sufficient to provide true personalisation to your consumer base, and it often fails, resulting in drop-offs during the buying process, and a reduced sense of brand loyalty stemming from feeling unvalued as an individual. Assuming that an entire demographic group all hold the same interests is a huge mistake that can cost you thousands of customers. Not every millennial likes coffee cups with their name on; not every female loves pink; and not everyone living in London wants to see a West End musical. Offers based on demographic data like age, location or gender can result in communications being impersonal and consumers feeling frustrated. Research has found that targeting more specific emails to smaller groups of consumers results in higher open and click rates.

A way that businesses can get around these restrictions is by utilising big data analytics. Big data is a term which refers to a large set of unstructured data that requires advanced analytic techniques to derive meaning. One way to put it would be considering big data as a goldmine – there is a lot of value there but it is useless without the correct tools to extract it. Big data analytics is the process of getting gold bullion from this gold mine – where the gold bullion is the meaningful and actionable insight.  Big data is by no means a new term utilised by businesses, and it has been discussed, and even invested in for a long time. What businesses seem to be missing, however, is the right tools to extract meaning from it.

As mentioned earlier, consumers are increasingly becoming comfortable with having their online data utilised in return for a more personalised user experience. When comparing the depth of consumer insight that can be derived from a consumer digital footprint to the amount that is utilised in traditional marketing techniques (which is usually limited to sociodemographic data), there is no question that it would enable more effective personalisation. With the right analysis, businesses can gain real-time insight into consumer personality, their hobbies and interests, their life events, and more, all on top of the traditional sociodemographic data, and this is what is required to make the consumer experience truly personalised.

It is unlikely to be the case that traditional data in marketing will become obsolete to businesses, and this data can be used in conjunction with more advanced data mining techniques to enable more personalised targeted marketing based on deeper consumer insights.

On top of personalised marketing, this insight can be used to pre-fill application forms, detect and reduce fraudulent transactions, asses credit risk and boost financial inclusion, and personalise products based on customer interests, saving time for customers and increasing the chances of them completing an application or buying an item.

It’s important to remember that the acquisition process and using targeted marketing is only the start. Following through the consumer journey can go a long way to building customer loyalty. Understanding consumer behaviour based on personality, interests, and life events provides key indicators of what products and services they might be interested in. For example, if a TV and internet provider has real-time insight into its customers’ life events, it could identify which customers are going to university and market their services as a student bundle, ideal for multiple users streaming at once. Likewise, a coffee shop could identify which of its customers have upcoming exams and offer them a revision such as ‘skip the library: get your second coffee free for a stress-free revision session.’ This is just one of an endless list of examples of how businesses can leverage big data insights to create a personalised user experience.

By harnessing the power of big data businesses can personalise the user journey from sign-up, throughout the entire relationship and adapt alongside their consumers’ ever-changing needs. Real and effective personalisation isn’t just offering a football fan football tickets, it’s about offering a football fan tickets to their favourite team on their birthday.

 

Nick Henderson

Nick.henderson@hellosoda.com

0161 694 9747

www.hellosoda.com

 

Nick has over 13 years’ experience in sales and business development in credit risk, fraud and ID. Nick joined Hello Soda in July 2016 during an exciting time of growth for the business, and focuses on one of our core big data analytics products, PROFILE Personalisation, enabling businesses to empower consumers by providing an individualised user experience based on unique real-time insights.

Guest Blog, Thomas Jeanjean: People-based marketing – the death of demographics…

For years, demographic targeting was at the vanguard of advertising strategies. Thanks to the growth of online and digital channels, brands found themselves able to segment an audience by age, gender and other factors, introducing a new level of sophistication to targeting. But as digital and traditional channels evolve at an incredible pace, the race is on to understand customers better than ever before.

Demographics still play an important role in how businesses communicate with consumers – after all, if you don’t have access to basic information about your target audience, you’re definitely missing a trick. But they are no longer enough…

Today’s consumers expect a much more personalised approach, and brands that target solely by the fact that a shopper is, for example, a woman in her 40s, risk their advertising being irrelevant or, worse, coming across as clichéd or stereotypical.

Any brand, whether big or small, has complex and ever-changing audiences that consume and shop in a range of ways. Each specific audience segment needs to be acknowledged and addressed but one size no longer fits all. In an age of personalisation, predictive technology and real-time updates, it’s all about looking forward and understanding the needs and aspirations of customers both old and new.

At this time of year the stakes get higher. As we prepare for peak season – the period from Black Friday through to Boxing Day sales – competition for consumers’ attention becomes even more fierce. Advertising that doesn’t align to their shopping preferences and interests will likely be disregarded in favour of more engaging messages.

The gifting mindset

The holidays, and particularly Christmas, triggers a shift in consumer mindset. All of a sudden, people stop shopping exclusively for themselves and switch to a ‘gifting’ mind-set.

This shift makes marketing hard to predict, but retargeting campaigns allow businesses to tap into the seasonal trend. Only 2 per cent of people make a purchase on their first visit to a site; retargeting is a way to reach the 98 per cent who are still making their mind up. This allows retailers to react to actual shopper behaviour and offer ads based on what they know a consumer is interested in, rather than what they have deduced via demographic segmentation.

Mobile optimisation

Today the path to purchase involves multiple devices including tablets, personal desktops, work computers and, of course, the mobile phone. In this multi-screened world, mobile has become the ultimate platform for these ‘cross-device’ shoppers to complete their purchases. So much so that people who use multiple devices to shop are at least 20 per cent more likely than average to complete a transaction on mobile. Particulalry as Christmas shopping fever strikes, people will instinctively act through the closest, most convenient device to buy this year’s ‘must have’ gift.

Here in the UK, over 50 per cent of all eCommerce transactions now take place on mobile and a staggering 2.5 million of us are buying on mobile every day. But just because these transactions are taking place on mobile, it doesn’t mean that the consumer journey is confined to the small screen. Many marketers struggle to track and uniquely identify individual shoppers across devices and therefore can’t tailor their experience accordingly. Consumers view a brand’s websites, apps, and online ads as part of the same experience meaning that marketers need to implement an effective cross-device strategy to be able to meet customer expectations and to optimise advertising. The key to cross-device success lies in a people-centric, not demographic, strategy.

What all of this means is that a site not optimised for mobile represents a missed opportunity and could result in a loss of custom, as exasperated shoppers abandon baskets in search of smoother experience elsewhere

As a rule for businesses looking to implement an effective mobile site, the fewer clicks a consumer has to make between adding something to their basket and making a purchase, the better. For example, allow customers to check out as a guest or, if someone has to make an account, ask them for as few details as possible, in the first instance.

Get ahead of the game

Demographics should still be factored in to campaign planning, but should be approached as just one piece of a complex jigsaw. Individuals need to be viewed by marketers as more than just an age, gender or geography. But incorporating technology, like re-targeting and attribution modelling, that are based on behaviour rather than assumption means businesses can target the individual, and not the sum of their parts.

So forget demographics and start targeting people. They’re the ones buying products after all. For growing businesses in particular, every single person is an opportunity and these steps are the first along the path to eCommerce success this Christmas, and beyond.

 

Thomas Jeanjean is regional managing director of the MidMarket business at Criteo. Prior to this, Thomas served as managing director for France and Southern Europe at Criteo. Thomas has over seven years’ experience in performance marketing and a wealth of experience working with fast growing small to medium-sized businesses.

Guest Blog, James O’Day: Travel marketers are missing out on the mobile revolution…

Mobile is changing the way we travel. It’s how many of us research and decide where to go, when to go and what to do when we’ve arrived. However, the travel industry hasn’t yet fully caught up with the mobile revolution. This is a missed opportunity.

More than ever, mobile is defining consumer behaviour in the industry: 60 per cent of research on destinations and more than a third of all bookings are made on smartphones, while 90 per cent of in-trip information is accessed via mobile devices.

Increasingly, travellers are looking for the feeling of a bespoke, tailored experience, whether they’ve booked through a big tour operator or are travelling independently. Mobile is key to this experience because they want relevant, accessible, shareable content on the go. Many traditional publishers have failed to adapt their content to take advantage of this opportunity. The big crowd-wisdom sites, such as TripAdvisor, have plugged the gap, but they are not trusted and faked reviews are still perceived as a problem.

How do marketers take advantage of this?

Travel companies have not appreciated the opportunity to produce great content that travellers can use on the go. As a marketer, providing this content gives you the chance to talk directly to your customers in your own language yet few operators have effective content strategies in place.

The opportunity is open to companies big and small. It is equally true of boutique hotels, which could help their guests get the most out of the surrounding area by providing mobile-friendly,  personalised recommendations for pubs and restaurants, or cruise liners, which could give customers tailored guides to Caribbean islands depending on their personal tastes.

Some companies neglect content creation altogether, while too many others use ‘flat’ content – information hosted on an external site or webpage. In today’s mobile world that’s no longer good enough. First, it’s a missed opportunity for direct customer engagement. Secondly, as travellers, we don’t want to be directed to external sites for information, we expect a more convenient, easy-to-access, immediate experience.

Two years ago, I set up Pearlshare with my co-founders Michael Liebreich and Oliver Brooks; it is a digital platform where anyone – companies, friends and like-minded travellers – can build and share guides to their favourite places and attractions. These pearls of travel wisdom can be shared via any messaging app or social network and also embedded into third-party websites. Personal recommendations carry five times as much weight as paid advertising or paid-for posts.

The Airbnb revolution has accelerated this trend; guests want to ‘live like a local’ and good hosts help them do this by giving the inside track about the hidden gems around them. Not only are they providing an accessible guide to the best their locality can offer, they are also taking the opportunity to open up a direct dialogue between host and guest.

Now we are helping marketers adopt this authentic approach on their own sites. Customers want advice they feel they can trust and that’s relevant to them and their interests. Pearlshare’s guides can be embedded in holiday companies’ own digital platforms. They can be shared with customers before, during and after they have travelled, creating the sense of a shared journey. Customers can contribute their own ‘pearls’, posting recommendations and photos, which turns the process into a dialogue rather than a monologue and helps build communities with shared interests.

Independence and individuality are prized more than ever before by discerning travellers. Travel marketers who can create a simple, informative platform to communicate with the communities they are trying to reach will stay ahead of their competitors. Mobile is the gateway to achieving this.

 

James O’Day is COO of Pearlshare, which he co-founded in 2014 with Michael Liebreich and Oliver Brooks. Prior to launching Pearlshare, a digital platform accessible through www.pearlshare.com or a downloadable app, he was a project leader in the London office of Boston Consulting Group.

Guest Blog, Gregory Gazagne: Appy Shoppers – creating the desired in-app experience…

Take a look at your phone’s home screen. There’s a strong chance that at least one of the apps you’re looking at exists primarily to help you buy things.

If you’re a loyalty card customer, it’s likely you have the corresponding retailers’ app installed, like Boots or Tesco. Whereas, if you fall into the ‘millennial’ category then you probably have something like Etsy or Deliveroo; Net-a-Porter for the fashionistas; eBay for the bargain-hunters. Nowadays, when it comes to the retail industry, the old adage ‘there’s an app for that’ rings truer than ever.

Consumers are becoming increasingly fond of making purchases through mobile apps. In the first half of 2016, according to Criteo’s latest Mobile Commerce Report, retailers with a sophisticated mobile app presence saw up to 54 per cent of their mobile transactions generated in-app; an increase from 47 per cent in 2015.

As well as being three times more likely to buy something through a mobile app than mobile web, consumers also spend more this way: this quarter saw mobile apps generate higher order values than desktop and mobile web; with an average of $127 spent in-app versus $100 on desktop and $91 on mobile web.

To stay in line with increasing consumer demand, top retailers are building savvy, intuitive and useful shopping apps that give consumers a seamless way to buy on mobile devices.

But, of course, rolling out a successful mobile commerce app isn’t as straightforward as it sounds, with retailers facing two major obstacles to driving in-app sales: usability, and adoption.

Usability

It might sound obvious, but the most successful mobile apps are the ones that prioritise user experience above all else. People need to enjoy using the app if they’re going to keep coming back to it.

Capabilities like home screen presence, instant loading, offline content, push notifications, personalisation and access to native functionality make the mobile shopping experience richer and more immersive for consumers.

Brands that can deliver this feature-rich environment and create a unified, consistent and relevant experience for shoppers, regardless of device, will succeed in driving retention and conversion rates.

Adoption

The explosive growth in mobile app usage has created a hugely competitive marketplace, with a staggering 2.2 million apps now available in leading app stores. In this environment, retailers face a difficult challenge as they battle their market competitors as well as other apps for user attention.

As a retailer, it’s no use having a fantastic mobile app if people aren’t downloading and using it. But with so many apps to choose from, how do retailers ensure that once their app makes it onto devices, it doesn’t become unused and forgotten?

App advertising is one route that is being explored to bring users back to an app to browse and purchase. Inspiring interaction along the entire path to purchase with relevant, personalised content, app advertising targets shoppers with mobile ads showcasing products relevant to their interests and recent browsing activity.

With this approach, we’ve found that once engaged, shoppers are 30 per cent more likely return and shop within the app – without further encouragement.

Mobile apps do require significant investment to get it just right, and indeed to make it onto consumer’s smartphone screens at all. But, as our research indicates, not only do consumers want to buy through mobile apps, they’re willing to spend more than they would through other channels.

In conclusion, this means that in the world of mobile commerce, apps are rapidly moving from being a ‘nice-to-have’ to a business-critical method. Therefore, retailers need to move quickly, or risk losing out.

 

Gregory Gazagne joined Criteo in January 2010 as sales vice president in charge of international development. His success in opening 12 new markets in only 12 months saw him appointed managing director for France, southern Europe and Latin America in January 2011. Grégory went on to hold the role of managing director for Europe from January 2013 to December 2014, and is currently managing director for EMEA.

Guest Blog, Keren Lerner: Social media in business – who’s responsible?

Social media is undeniably a key factor in business success.  In an era where prospects and supply partners will Google both company and management team before even considering any further interaction, social media content has evolved to be more than a shop window: it is the chance to display the essential voice and vision of the business – and who better to deliver this than the senior managers that define them?

Yet far too many innovative, exciting businesses now mask their true nature by opting to delegate all responsibility for social media channels away from the team’s founder, owner or leaders – often due to the mindset: “I’ll leave this to the experts, it’s not my field, and I am too busy anyway.”

Granted, experienced marketers have the skills and techniques required to create content and manage social media output, but it is the voice of the business owner or managing director that needs to be heard, and the role of the marketer to ensure responsibility isn’t abdicated entirely, but intelligently.

 

Mechanics plus vision

Most businesses that do recognise the need to embrace a dynamic and interactive approach to social media – and, unfortunately, far too many don’t – assume the entire process can be delivered by marketers, either in house or via third party agencies.

But this is not an out-of-the-box, one-size-fits-all scenario.

Marketers are fantastic at putting the right mechanics in place, ensuring social media feeds are integrated and link back to original content. But does the marketer have that essential business vision or understand what led to the creation of the company in the first place? Not unless the marketer was the founder.

It is only the owner who fully understands why the business was set up, the problems it was designed to solve or the customers it wants to help. And a failure to communicate that message is a real missed opportunity.

 

Capturing the voice

The voice of the company should have an interactive social media strategy, coupled with an engaging website, well-written blog posts and content marketing. But it is also important to gain input from across the business – so the founder and the leadership team coming together to discuss ideas in keeping with the company ‘voice’ is invaluable.

The right line of questions and facilitation can prompt new insights and make it easier for a marketer to harness the essential nature of the business.

 

And it doesn’t end there

Following an initial discussion, senior management needs to stay engaged with this key aspect of business success and identity. It doesn’t need to be onerous – a scheduled time each week or month discussing ideas, from customer issues to market change, is essential to ensure published content and messages truly reflect the nature of the organisation.

 

Conclusion

Marketers must steer senior management to re-evaluate how they approach their company’s social media presence. This is a portal to the business, a way to drive engagement with prospects and customers, suppliers and business partners – and it needs to be as compelling and engaging as possible – with real insight, real stories and real experiences.

Although it is widely thought that business leaders are typically driven, opinionated and focused – that is what underpins success. So, harness that uniqueness. Generic content completely masks the true nature of the company – make sure the critical business lens of social media channels such as Twitter and LinkedIn are a true reflection of its core beliefs, passion and expertise.

 

 

Keren Lerner is founder and managing director of London-based design and marketing agency, Top Left Design and holds regular social media workshops,  with her next event – ‘Nine things you need to do on LinkedIn for business’ – taking place at Soho House on September 23,  2016, at 1pm. Email keren@topleftdesign.com for more information.

Guest Blog, Jenny Bernarde: Social media marketing to grow your business…

We all head to Facebook or Twitter when we need a bit of downtime and businesses are no different, spending large amounts of time and money on social media every year. As such, this sector is forever changing, matching the needs of both users and businesses with their sophisticated social media marketing.

Not only are social platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat evolving with technology – such as new capabilities for live or recorded video – but behind the scenes, social media channels are adapting APIs to create new methods for businesses to best reach their target audiences.

 

What makes an effective social media strategy?

A social media strategy isn’t just creating quality, engaging content anymore. Instead it also focuses on creating shareable content and using intelligent targeting to get your posts in front of the right people.

Promoted posts are available on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and now Instagram. Each platform has a variety of ways you can push your content further to the people who may engage and convert, targeting your posts to your audience’s age group, their location and their interests. Simply create and audience persona, which can involve a variety of interests, habits and hobbies, and promote your content using the relevant targeting options.

There’s plenty of opportunity to widen your audience base and grow your business through Facebook custom audience marketing. The options for targeting your content and ads on Facebook have grown significantly as Facebook has become one of the top platforms for marketing, particularly within the B2C market.

You can create custom lists using email addresses from your own database, or track those who have visited your website and deliver your ads directly to these people. There’s also the option to create a lookalike audience, in which Facebook will take the interests and other attributes from profiles of your custom audience list and match these personal qualities to other Facebook profiles within a percentage of the country.

Remember, it’s always worth testing ads to audience groups and working out the success based on audience engagement metrics.

 

What are the similarities between search and social marketing?

It’s important to consider search marketing when working on your social media campaigns, as there are some strong similarities between the two.

Paid advertising on social media can complement your Google AdWords campaigns and vice versa. If you start with a PPC campaign on Google – testing which audiences work and which do not – this data can be reflected through similar targeting on social media. Paid advertising also means you have control over how your adverts and your brand looks, instead of the appearance of organic search results that are defined by Google.

If you’re only relying on strong organic results, social media is the best place to put your products in front of the right people, instead of waiting for them to search for, and find your business. If your business suffers from seasonal peaks and troughs in organic search throughout the year, you can rely on social media marketing to drive traffic to your website all year round.

 

What are the best platforms to use?

The best platforms to use will depend on the nature of your business. If you’re a B2B business, then LinkedIn has a vast audience for B2B marketing, giving you the option of targeting specific companies, job titles and employment skills. However, it is worth trialling ads on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to discover relevant audiences away from a work environment.

For B2C companies, Facebook’s advanced marketing platform is a good place to start. Even a small amount of marketing budget can increase the reach of your posts, boost engagement and drive relevant traffic to your website.

Facebook and Twitter are continually advancing their advertising platforms, with the capability to create custom audiences and retarget ads to website visitors. Facebook’s recent purchase of Instagram means you can also create ads, or replicate your Facebook ads on Instagram, using Facebook’s advance database and clever targeting options on this channel too.

 

Jenny is the social media lead at Bozboz, a digital marketing and web design agency based in Brighton. She manages social media for a variety of clients across a range of platforms. Her specialism lies in paid social media marketing for both B2B and B2C clients.

Guest Blog, Trevor Hardy: Why marketers need to recognise consumer trends…

Examining trends is not a way of predicting the future; it’s a way of understanding the direction of forces, attitudes and behaviours. The Future Laboratory has developed a methodology for trend forecasting that combines qualitative, quantitative and ethnographic research; as well as expert interviews and an informed dose of intuition. But you can start the practice of identifying early adopter behaviours. Inspired by William Gibson who said, “The future is already here, it just isn’t very evenly distributed”, you can identify these early signs, behaviours or attitudes that are considered niche today; but will become more mainstream in months and years to come.

Understanding trends is essential. Not to predict what is going to happen or to create certainty – but to build confidence. Confidence that the decisions you take today will result in benefits tomorrow. Trends may have devalued meaning in some boardrooms, but they are essential insights which help with business, brand and marketing planning.

 

Trends are not trending

 

Understanding trends is not about knowing what is hot or trendy. Trends are a weather system; they are way to think about where things are going, where things may be and how things may change. Think of them as an insurance policy for your strategy. A way of exploring and understanding all possible futures to give you greater confidence that you are developing plans for what will be, rather than what is.

 

Trends slow down time

 

For years there has been a growing and clear sense that speed is good; speed should be aspired to. That speed of decision-making, of action or consumption and response signalled modernity, accomplishment and dynamism. We see it in our jobs, with roles changing at a greater pace; we see it in our voracious consumption and rapid disposal of news and of course we see it in our relationships with marriages not only coming to an end more frequently, but more quickly too

Without taking the space and time to consider possible futures, the road ahead is very uncertain; and that uncertainty is frightening. Whether it is Brexit, our pensions or our physical health we have a growing and worrying inability to engage with distant threats. As Ralph L Keeney of North Carolina’s Duke University puts it, ‘America’s top killer isn’t cancer or heart disease or smoking or obesity. It’s our inability to overcome our own short-term behaviour.’

The need for speed is letting us down. By taking time to develop a longer term view of your brand, market or consumer, you will be better prepared to make more informed, meaningful choices, and have a clearer picture of possible futures.

 

Trends are slow strategies

 

In one sense, understanding trends allows you to slow down time: being more prepared and informed about the future will allow people to engage in a slower, more considered planning process. The need for continuous rapid response will fade away as your teams develop more confidence in their future-readiness.

Slow strategies will become increasingly palatable as it appears that ‘fast’ is under attack in other aspects of life: food, fashion, music, sex and travel. From Jake Dyson’s 40-year light bulb and the New Horizons space probe, which took almost a decade of travel before beginning its mission, to Richard Linklater’s film Boyhood, which took 12 years to make; brands and their customers are thinking in terms of years, decades – even centuries.

There is an emerging acceptance that immediate gratification is leading to longer-term regret. A recognition, especially amongst younger generations, that a live-for-today approach may have caused irreparable harm to our bodies, our businesses, our communities and our planet. And these same younger generations may be the ones to embrace a long view so that they do not make the mistakes their parents made; the ones who will think in terms of legacy, not missions; who will consider their actions not over instants but over ages. They may be the ones to set an example to think long and slow.

Trevor is chief executive of The Future Laboratory; a trend forecasting and future strategy firm. His career has spanned management consulting and advertising agencies in Canada, USA and the UK; working with organisations including Coca-Cola, Budweiser, Chanel and MTV.

Guest Blog, Cain Ullah: Building partnerships in B2B: How to get buy-in…

As an external partner in B2C, you are likely to focus on customer demand, experience and building products and/or services that they would want to use; it’s relatively straightforward. However, the challenges in the B2B space are different. It’s often services and systems rather than products, so business value can be more difficult to demonstrate, therefore selling the benefits and maintaining buy-in in such a partnership is often challenging. However, the rewards for success can be enormous.

Often, the biggest challenge in a B2B environment is getting stakeholder buy-in. Innovation in the B2B space requires influence from the right partners to help organisations make bold decisions around technology. Implementing a fresh approach to delivering new products and services can often mean new business practices, and having the support of the right internal stakeholders is essential in the tougher moments of initiating change. Using an empathetic approach and working collaboratively are effective tools to help your client build influence. Once stakeholder buy-in is achieved, it’s more possible to drive value beyond the project you are involved with, across the business and directly to customers. All of these elements need to be lined up to be able to reach the end goal of exceeding customer demand, creating exceptional customer experience and selling products and/or services.

 

WHY?

As a consultancy brought in to fix a business problem, Red Badger often sees similar issues in most enterprise-size businesses. Enterprises are simply not structured to deliver value to customers fast. By changing focus to driving value to the customer, a leaner, more collaborative and technologically bolder business model emerges.

 

HOW?

The most effective way to sell the benefits of change internally is to clearly illustrate a path to achieving the overall business objectives. This should be done by tackling smaller pieces of work first, drive value early and prove ROI; rather than trying to change a whole process, or replace an entire system. It’s okay to have lofty goals, but you must get there through a continuous series of small steps.

First of all, empathise with the problem, the space and the customers. You have to understand your client’s customers as well as, if not better than, they do. Collaboration with the client throughout the lifecycle of the project from the very beginning is crucial, so that you are considered part of the team.

Then, don’t over-reach. It can be perceived as arrogant and easily backfire. Identify, target and tackle problems that are achievable: small and bite-sized. Each win that you can prove translates into another example of how you are driving value to their customers and reminds more stakeholders why you are important to keep on-board. To maintain customer buy-in, you have to maintain value.

As the saying goes, speed is of the essence. If you can produce tangible results fast, buy-in is easier to uphold. Results can be marked out as  helping to drive change, and, ultimately, the results will speak for themselves.

The ‘dos’ and ‘don’ts’ that every business working in B2B needs to be aware of:

 

  • Don’t take on challenges that are too big to win.
  • Do prove your value throughout.
  • Don’t forget that your primary focus should be on the customers; what their own end goals are not yours.
  • Do help them to be bold with technology rather than relying on the ‘enterprise’ solution.
  • Do have empathy for your client and understand their internal challenges.
  • Do have a level of pragmatism. Don’t be too dogmatic. When dealing with organisational change, you have to pick your battles.

 

Cain Ullah is a founder of Red Badger, with responsibilities including; strategy, culture, sales and marketing. He is extremely proud of Red Badger’s people and is focused on scaling quality and a lovely culture in the team.

 

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