Smart Insights Digital Marketing > The Marketing Strategy Blog Thu, 30 Oct 2014 11:30:00 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Affiliate marketing USA vs UK Thu, 30 Oct 2014 11:30:00 +0000 Expanding your affiliate program to the US the right way

lightspringimageshutterstockThe globalization of e-commerce, coupled with a growing American demand for British goods, has many U.K. retailers eyeing the U.S. market. And with global B2C e-commerce expected to reach $1.5 trillion this year, they’re not alone. Retailers across the world are tapping into this lucrative consumer base with sophisticated affiliate programs.

With global retail affiliates like RetailMeNot, rewardStyle, and ShopStyle gaining in popularity, homing in on consumers who crave your products is becoming easier than ever.

However, it’s important to note that not every retailer is ready for the competitive affiliate landscape across the pond as there are a number of differences you must consider when launching an affiliate program in the U.S. These include program management services, industry standards, compliance, and interactions with merchants and networks.
Without a thorough understanding of how U.S. affiliate market operates, your program can’t fully capitalize on this opportunity.

5 challenges for your USA affiliate program

Here are a few obstacles your affiliate program might encounter when expanding to the U.S.:

  • 1. Network differences
    U.S. networks largely cover the same geography, and there’s often little differentiation among their publisher bases, especially for their largest publishers. This makes working with multiple networks often unnecessary — unlike Europe, where each country has unique strengths in different areas.For example, we often see people work with Affiliate Window in the U.K., Zanox or Webgains in Germany, and possibly another network in France to get optimal coverage across the biggest EU markets.Also, U.S. networks often offer managed services as a standalone fee tacked onto the performance fee, which puts them in competition with outside agencies for these services. In other parts of the world, the network fee includes account services and a program that might have the support of both of these groups.
  • 2. A lack of large, integrated agencies
    Few large agencies in the U.S. have dedicated affiliate services, even though they often pretend to in order to win a client’s business or extend to a new market. Instead, the affiliate management in the space is really dominated by smaller firms who focus mostly on domestic programs and rely on an extended base of contractors, rather than full-time employees. These companies tend to have limited experience with larger, complex, and global programs and their requirements.
  • 3. Difficulty establishing brand awareness
    Getting your brand in front of the right consumers is always a challenge when launching a new program. If your brand is well-known in the rest of the world but not recognizable in the U.S., it might take longer to gain traction with an affiliate program because you’re almost starting from scratch. It’s difficult to earn premium ‘shelf space’ on an affiliate site with a product or service that consumers aren’t familiar with or that is unproven in the U.S. market.
  • 4. Compliance requirements and a lack of standards
    The IAB in Europe has been instrumental in driving industry standards that are best practices for many programs and networks, and the industry works closely together on enforcement.In the U.S., the industry doesn’t come together in the same way, and the Performance Marketing Association (the industry advocacy group in the U.S.) has struggled to get key stakeholders to agree to set standards. As a result, the industry lacks consistent toolbar and coupon policies for merchants to rely on and for networks to support or enforce in cooperation with one another.

Also, with specific state tax nexus laws and FTC compliance laws for bloggers, retailers can face heavy penalties if they don’t address laws surrounding online marketing regulation in the U.S.

  • 5. Variances in affiliate landscapes
    Quidco is the largest affiliate in the U.K., a similar market position to RetailMeNot in the U.S. However, the data surrounding these partners is completely different, and consumers don’t use the two in the same way. Assuming U.S. affiliates operate like ones in your home country could stifle your program’s success.

Implement a successful  U.S. market expansion

Once you’re well-versed on the potential setbacks you could face with U.S. affiliate networks, creating a detailed plan of action can help you dominate this market. Consider these tips for successfully expanding your affiliate program:

  • Hire a professional independent agency to manage the program. Adjusting to a new market can be difficult. Hiring an objective independent agency to manage your expanded affiliate program can introduce you to new perspectives and inform decisions that will grow your program. You also need to be able to trust this firm with your brand.
  • Be prepared to expand your launch budget. It’s as much of a brand launch for the affiliate program as it is for the product, so make sure you set aside plenty of time and money to promote the program and get it off the ground. You may want to start with a higher commission level and get out to a few major industry conferences, such as Affiliate Summit. You’ll have plenty of obstacles to overcome, so don’t quibble about commission rates. Set a high opening rate to stir attention and attract early adopters.
  • Study the competition. Look closely at successful U.S. affiliate programs within your vertical. What are they doing right? And, more importantly, what are they doing wrong?
  • Don’t rush into it. It doesn’t matter how well you execute your expansion; it takes time to gain traction, and rushing into a new affiliate program can hurt your chances for success in the long run. Spend the extra time gauging the differences between your current and future affiliate partners.

Charles Calabrese, vice president of operations at Performance Horizon Group, agrees that many global companies looking to expand into the U.S. fail to address the cultural implications, which can impede consumer adoption in the rush to expand.

The potential for a U.S. affiliate program is great, but understanding the idiosyncrasies of the U.S. affiliate market can help take you from a foreign retailer to an attractive global brand. Take the time to thoroughly research the key players and networks, and you’ll soon enjoy the financial perks an international consumer base can bring.

Image/Copyright: Shutterstock, Lightspring
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Making use of attribution modelling Thu, 30 Oct 2014 09:30:46 +0000 It looks cool, but how should you use insights from attribution to improve media spend?


With the growing maturity in analytics tools and the geniuses at Google and other analytics services working to improve them, it is great to see attribution modelling data and insights now widely available. But availability of these tools doesn’t equal use, indeed the Smart Insights Customer Experience Management report shows that while we’re pretty good at reviewing engagement with websites, email and social media through hurdle rates, the use of attribution is languishing way down at the bottom of methods of assessing engagement.

% use of attribution modelling

[Editor's note: To help shed some light on the what-why-how of attribution modelling and as part of our mission to make analytics more actionable, we asked Hugh Gage to write a guide on how to use attribution modelling which is now available for Expert members].

Looking beyond ROI

In this article and a follow-up I will explore the different opportunities that adopting an attribution mindset and data open up. I, for one, love a commercial, ROI-driven approach to marketing. However, although attribution reports and analysts may do a great job at modelling how your marketing spend is performing, as a marketer you need to know the right questions to ask and how to interpret the output from attribution.

What rarely happens, it seems, is that the data and insights directly fuels planning and ideas sessions in an engaging way to arrive at suite of actions and tests. I would like to question your previous thought process and ask whether attribution or reviewing analytics made any difference… Did you turn off channels you feel you maybe shouldn’t? Do you feel like it should work but not used in the right way or have the right weighting…

Not all channels are made the same

Thinking back to my time when working client side where I was actively involved in the modelling and marketing planning, I remember display and affiliate marketing investment always coming into question, based purely on data… Our travel product at the time had a 3-month research > purchase lifecycle and therefore the tool configuration we had (then Omniture in 2006) was reporting on last click wins only. Research by Google shows how visitors rarely purchase on first click in many sectors and you can see there is a particular challenge in travel.

So, back to our story, for us, affiliates primarily utilised display advertising and generic PPC terms, meaning they were actually helping us capture the attention of people very early in the buying cycle, people we would have unlikely captured in our marketing. We had to engineer our site and lead tools towards those channels so that we could ensure we could nurture the relationship appropriately to generate the sale over time. As Seth Godin would say “You don’t ask a girl to marry you on the first date!”. We later used attribution to consider media investments across the buying process or if you prefer the McKinsey Loyalty Loop.

Channels that help create Awareness

Let’s start at the very top of the funnel, where traditional advertising used to excel. A lot of channels can be used to generate awareness and naturally, it is where most marketers put most of their spend, time and energy. By applying attribution, the single biggest mindset change for awareness based channels is what success should look like (back to my Seth quote previously).

Key channel types which generate Awareness

  • Social media advertising – Allows you to be uber specific on who you are targeting with specific messages
  • Display advertising – partnerships or display networks based on audience interests
  • Search marketing – Non brand PPC and SEO- Category / industry specific keywords
  • Online PR – including outreach to influencers and partner sites
  • Affiliate marketing – although can have an impact further down the funnel

Success examples

  • Visit to the website (cookie to retarget)
  • Basic data sign up / Like / Follow

If you’re not using attribution you may well miss the value these type of media channels are generating since these will often generate a “first-click” through to the site rather than a “last click” which is what Google Analytics reviews by default.

Channels that help develop Consideration

So the customer is aware of you, likely of a few of your competitors too! Engaging that consumer in way which helps them start to trust your brand so you can earn the right to sell is crucial at this point. The intensity of your marketing at this point is completely dependant on your business model and customer relationships. This is where you can have loads of fun I think especially in the content you create to fuel your channels.

Key channel examples:

  • Brand search
  • Natural search
  • Re-targeting advertising
  • Social media outposts

Success examples

  • Lead tool sign up
  • Product page view

Channels that drive Purchase

Driving purchase whether online or offline is ultimately what we all have to do. There are some channels that work unbelievably well for this, most of which I hope are obvious! While the channels are obvious the complexity in their configuration and content requirements is what makes these channels time and resource heavy.

Key channel examples

  • Email marketing
  • Social media
  • Outbound texts / phone calls

Success examples

  • Purchase
  • Order value

Channels that encourage Advocacy

The ultimate way to build a business is to continue to create and sell remarkable things to those that have already bought from you and they then share! Easier said than done right? Email marketing can be highly effective here and social media to a lesser extent. With attribution you can see where recommendations from existing customers encourage first contact with new customers. It amazes me that so-called “social media gurus” never discuss attribution since it is one of the best ways of proving social media ROI, or otherwise…

Key channel examples:

  • Email marketing
  • Social media
  • Re-targetting

Success examples

  • Repeat visit to the website / open an email
  • Content share
  • Repeat purchase
  • LTV increase
  • Referral

Making this useful…. “Checking In with your data”
A really useful way to utilise your data to spot opportunities is to have a live screen with your analytics software on-screen and create various segments / scenarios where you can validate the following things in a mini workshop (a good old whiteboard is always useful too)

  • Are you using the right channels to support the right customer engagement goals at different points in the funnel?
  • Is the message / content you are showing to people from each channel and at each stage as specific as it could be?
  • Are there simple trials you could run to try engineer more sales from either the channel mix?

I hope this post shows some reasons why media attribution should get more attention! In the next article we will explore how attribution data and even just the mindset outlined above can aid business and campaign planning.

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Why does HR recruitment ethics not follow digital engagement? Wed, 29 Oct 2014 15:00:00 +0000 Re-imagining the recruitment process in a digital world

Using digital to provide a human touch

In relationships between two people, the person instigating the break up may feel they may have little to lose, especially in the early days of the relationship. ‘You never return my phone calls, my emails. You never told me why you don’t accept me for who I am? I just get voicemail. Tell me why you don’t love me.’

Unnecessary behaviour

This behaviour appears to me, to often also manifest itself in the HR recruitment processes of companies. Even in a digital age when a prospective employee could also be a customer or even a shareholder. They could be left thinking that if this is how they treat their prospective employees then this is how they might treat their current employees. Worse still, it could mean they walk away as a customer or shareholder.

Marketing Directors and Customer Service Directors are tasked to ensure that customers feel loved, are responded to and kept informed. And yet it seems that this mantra has not transferred across to the recruitment process.

A new model for recruitment

I think that a new model that uses the best of digital but does not lose a human touch is required.

Whether a role is applied for directly with the employer or through an agency, there is no excuse for not providing some form of feedback. There appears to be an accepted practice of telling would be employees something like the following (a real life example):

‘Please be aware we receive a high volume of applications for every role advertised and regularly receive applications from candidates who exceed the job credentials. We will only contact you within the next 14 days if you are selected for an interview with us.’

If this was true then one assumes that the HR person has a countdown of 14 days from every job role they receive. In a digital world they could. In reality it is highly doubtful anything like this exists. Even it does exist it is not being used positively.

A human touch could be added to the process by providing a feedback mechanism by email: either some level of reassurance – ‘I’m sorry it has taken more than the 14 days we said it would, we are still reviewing applications’ Or it could drive the Dear John letters: ‘On this occasion we have not been able to put you forward’. Whilst this provides very little feedback on the ‘why?’ of the rejection at least the candidate can move on and consider other options as they see fit. However, there is also no reason in these days of Marketing Automation why an SMS or email couldn’t be triggered with a specific reason, even from a selection, could not be included e.g. ‘Your experience was not as appropriate as other candidates’.

In my experience none of these digitally led options exist. In the majority of cases there is simply no communication at all. As a customer and shareholder of the brand I am applying for I may well take my business elsewhere – more worryingly for the brand is that they will never know.

Integrated communications

Truly marketing oriented brands consider all contacts important. All contacts could potentially promote or demote their brand. This is Integrated Communications. A little thought on how digital could be used to increase the communication between candidate and HR/agency would go a long way.

It is time to wise up and use digital technology with a human touch to ensure the rejected employee of today is not an irate customer of tomorrow.

The Smart Insights Digital Marketing Recruitment guide doesn’t solve this challenge, but does cover 12 digital marketing roles and reviews the latest salaries for digital marketing jobs.

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Which types of tweets get the most shares according to Twitter [#DigitalInsights] Wed, 29 Oct 2014 08:28:00 +0000 Visuals and Videos win if you want more ReTweets

We thought this research worth sharing since it’s completed by Twitter’s own data scientist Douglas Mason. It suggests which types of content marketing via Twitter may be more effective. Mason examined millions of Tweets from verified users (that’s big brands and celebs) to see whether some types of Tweets receive more engagement than others.

So, what impacts Twitter engagement?

Is it the hashtag, video, tweet containing a digit, a quote or photo? His findings discovered that there are differences by industry and as expected, they do boost retweets. Though which are more impactful than others? on average, sharing photos boosts engagement more, followed  by videos and quotes.



Access the full research via Twitter’s blog where you can select the effect for different media sectors.

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6 Email Marketing Best Practice Tips Tue, 28 Oct 2014 11:43:38 +0000 What are your recommended Email Marketing techniques?

That’s the question we posed in our recent email marketing tips competition. Thanks if you contributed a tip or shared the suggestions!

We had lots of great suggestions, so it’s a pity we don’t have a prize for all, but we have now selected 3 winners and there are 3 “highly commended” tips.

I asked our judges Chad White who offered up 3 copies of his new book Email Marketing Rules and Tim Watson, Email consultant at Zettasphere and regular Expert commentator on Smart Insights to each choose 3 tips and explain why they liked them. I then decided on a winning three based on the depth of the contributor’s insight and those who gave a specific example of a test.

Three winning Email marketing tips

Here are the “lucky winners”:

1. Alan Moir on Personalisation.

In one word: Personalisation.

Companies gather some quite useful information when getting people to sign up for a free download, receive product updates or make a purchase – name, post code, date of birth, etc. but don’t put it to good use. It still annoys me when I open an email and it says ‘Dear subscriber’ or just ‘Hello’.

On the other side of the coin, I’ve found that email open rates and interaction (in terms of replies) have increased when emails are sent from ‘a person’ and not the company. Since sending emails from instead of, open rates have gone up at least +5%. I now always receive replies from email campaigns, and subscribers really like that I personally respond to their questions/feedback instead of getting a message saying ‘this inbox is unmanned’ or an email from ‘’”

Chad White commented:

“Brands definitely collect and have access to information that they don’t put to good use serving subscribers. And while B2B brands can definitely see a boost from using the sender name of a rep, his advice to monitor and respond to replies is what turns this from a gimmick into a strategic move. Sadly, very few brands monitor and respond to replies to their promotional emails”.

2. Tarvinder. Minimalistic Text format HTML

We tested sending the same content in two formats.
1) Standard templated HTML email
2) HTML email which appears as a text email with no formatting or graphics.

We wanted to test which format resonates better for response rates.

The same test was run three times and we found there was a marked increase in click-through when sent a ‘HTML email which appears as a text email with no formatting or graphics’“.

Tim Watson says:

“This is a great tactic from Tarvinder that’s easy to implement. A classic case of just because HTML can carry bright graphics and images it doesn’t mean to say it should. Nothing screams louder ‘this is a marketing email (that can be deleted)’ than a highly graphical design. Graphics are right for consumers who signed up for product emails, say fashion, when product images are essential. But in many other verticals and particularly B2B, simple and clean copy, written like any other business email can engage far better”.

3. Stephen Parker on Testing

We’ve tested a lot of variables in our email campaigns. For us, as a B2B company representing some major electronics companies, our most successful emails were:

  • 1. Personalized
  • 2. Targeted
  • 3. Written with Compelling yet Short Subject-line copy
  • 4. Incorporated a great visual image above the fold
  • 5. Provided relevant yet various microcopy toward the bottom

However, by far our highest CTRs came from including an image of a video link (we’ve seen as much at a 3x increase versus non-video images).

Chad White says:

“A focus on personalization and targeting is a must. “Compelling yet short” is definitely the sweet spot for subject lines, in general. And his advice on using images and, in particular, video content is smart. Marketing has become highly visual so don’t ignore images and video content”.

Three Highly commended tips

4. Guillaume Berube. Have a welcome email series!

We’ve tested the numbers of emails in the series and found that 5 was the most effective to maximize sales on a 3 months period“.

Chad White advises:

“Effective on-boarding is so important and a welcome email series can be super effective. I love that he emphasized the tested needed to determine optimal onboarding messaging, and it was also cool that he found that a 5-email series was best for his company. While a 2-email series may be good for some, others may find that a series of 4 or 5 or more is best. Don’t be afraid to think big”.

5. Alex Corzo on Personalization

While personalization is great, I would strongly suggest campaigns adhere to content that is pertinent to the user’s initial request [for example, in lead generation initiatives] or the user’s historical behavior [for example, in eCommerce/transaction initiatives].”

Tim Watson comments:

“Sending the right content based on past user behavior is an advanced strategy that with ever improving technology is becoming within the grasp of more and more marketers. There really isn’t a better way than behavioural based targeting. Customers expect to get relevant content but without them having to explain what is relevant to them. Preference centres were once the only why to achieve relevance and are increasingly looking like dinosaurs. Well called Alex!”

6. Craig Swerdloff on inactives

Don’t remove seemingly inactive email subscribers unless you have to, and then only remove the least valuable subscribers first.

Tim Watson advises:

“This often cited best practice of removing inactive email subscribers seems like common sense. The only issue is the definition of inactive. It’s impossible to really divide a database into active and inactive. I’ve seen in real customer data a first purchase 835 days after sign-up. Was this person inactive? And it’s common to see an open from someone who hasn’t opened in 9 months. The ‘unless you have to’ bit Craig includes in his tip is spot on, there are specific cases when its’ the right thing to consider and manage carefully. Otherwise, just ignore the typically given best practice and spend your marketing effort on other areas”.

Thanks all for sharing! I’ve been in touch with the three winners and their books are now winging their way towards them.

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How to boost lead generation using visitor tracking – a case study Tue, 28 Oct 2014 08:30:12 +0000 How I boosted my lead generation with visitor tracking software, in conjunction with blogging, pay per click, email and social media outreach.

When you’re growing an audience, and converting website visitors into customers, you need a watertight marketing funnel.

The sad truth is that most of us convert less than 5 per cent of our website visitors into contacts, meaning that more than 95% of visitors leave our sites, potentially never to be seen again.

So what steps can we take to improve our website marketing, tighten up our funnel, and generate more leads from what we have already?

I faced this challenge earlier this year, and have written this post to share my experience with you. 

My website was only four months old, so I had insufficient visitor data in Analytics, and I was up against a tight deadline. My challenge was that I needed to generate more leads, more quickly from my website, and boost participation at a paid event I was running just 6 weeks later. I was already doing a mixture of outbound and inbound marketing, including Pay Per Click (PPC), Blogging, email and social media marketing.

Here is what I had to work with:

  • 450 email contacts (MailChimp)
  • 870 connections (LinkedIn)
  • 900 followers (Twitter)
  • 360 website users / week
  • 20% engagement or 80% bounce
  • 2 blog posts per week
  • PPC Google campaign
  • Event landing page on Eventbrite

I needed my blogging output, email and social media outreach to boost traffic to my website and improve my top line visitor engagement metrics: Page views, session duration, and page depth. The results were favourable, as evidenced in Figure 1.

how to view visitor engagement in google analytics

Blue lines show performance uplift during inbound / outbound marketing programme

I was able to monitor and measure the efficacy of my posts, tweets and emails in Google Analytics, MailChimp and SocialShare, but I also wanted to identify my warmest prospects and see their engagement and interest, once they arrived on my website.

I wanted to be notified of their return in real time, so that I could reach out to them at the most opportune time, when they were more receptive to a call from me.

Timing was the key and I wanted to contact prospects within just minutes of them visiting my website, or better still whilst they were on my website. This is where online and offline complement one another, as long as the timing is right. The success factor is “Relevance”, a the one marketing quality I keep coming back to, time and again.

The solution I wanted, needed to help me do the following: 

1. Understand as much as possible about returning visitors

Who is returning to my website? What channels are they coming from? What geographic location? What organisation and sector? What pages and activities are they completing? How long are they dwelling? What is their visitor flow?

2. Understand their interests

What are they most interested in? What can I deduce from the content they’re consuming? What have they missed in their journey through my website? 

3. Who are my warmest prospects?

Who can I contact based on return rates, time on site, activities, page depth, visitor profile? What insight can I use to justify my call to them?

4. Who is it safe to call? 

Which visitors can I call or email using the insights I have about their organisation and interests? Who might need answers to questions that they cannot get on the website? How can I personalise my call based on my experience with similar clients and relevant case studies?

After some research I chose Canddi visitor tracking, partly for its affordable price, but also because the client support team was so helpful and friendly, in helping me set the code and monitoring dashboard up.

As soon as I began using Canddi in conjunction with my blogging activity, PPC, and outreach I became acutely aware of the benefits of visitor tracking when used properly:

  • Suddenly I was able to track the behaviour of my email subscribers beyond open and click through, and see what they were doing when they landed on my website.
  • I could see, research (via LinkedIn) and focus on my warmest prospects, and reach out to them first, in a timely fashion, when they were most receptive to a conversation.
  • It removed fears I had of rejection, now that I was confident in the knowledge they were interested in the event I was running.
  • I was able to move more visitors into my prospect funnel and convince more of them that the event was right for them. 

Here is an example of the sorts insights I was getting:

visitor tracking insights

The software provided me with an update on returning visitors in my stream and prompted me to seek them out. After a few days I added a “help” capsule that popped up in front of browsing visitor after they completed their third visit. This prompted the visitor to ask a question they were otherwise unable to find an answer to on the website. This was helpful when I was not on my screen, since it ensured the visitor was prompted to move a step closer to identifying themselves.

Post scriptum: Canddi have since introduced a new benefit: Users can now add Canddi tracking into every outbound email they send from their regular email host (e.g. Gmail), using a simple Chrome extension, which sends a notification popup each time a recipient opens an email and clicks on a link within it. This is like Signals, the Hubspot version of the same. 

Thanks for reading. What’s your experience of using software for tracking visitors on your website, and what user tips do you have to improve website lead generation? 

Main photograph: Pavel Horak – Flickr

]]> 2 The benefits of integrating search and social media advertising #DigitalInsights Mon, 27 Oct 2014 15:00:00 +0000 New research shows a significant multiplier effect from combining search and social media advertising

This research summarises how some advertisers are making their online media buys more effective by integrating social and search campaigns together. Marin Software surveyed over 200 Advertisers, managing Google, Facebook and Bing campaigns and their report reveals tactics and strategies that have worked for leading brands.

As we would expect from the theory of the 4Cs of integrated communications, the findings showed that ‘marketers who integrate their search and social advertising programs find significantly more consumers who are not only more likely to convert, but who are also likely to spend more’.


This multichannel research showed that advertisers achieve a 68% higher conversion rate when their search campaigns are integrated with social advertising. Download their full research on integrating search and social media advertising (registration is required) to find out 5 strategies and up to 15 tactics for maximising your integrated campaigns.

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Engagement marketing is more than relationship building Mon, 27 Oct 2014 12:45:00 +0000 Introducing the 7 principles of engagement marketing

engagement-marketingJust a few generations ago, the world of doing business was driven by face-to-face relationships.  Many of us have heard stories from grandparents who talked about their butcher or baker as if they were old friends. These unique and intimate relationships were powerful, built strong relationships with customers and ultimately drove customer loyalty.

This concept was one of the main casualties of the digital revolution – as buying moved into online channels and a plethora of new tools and channels became available to marketers to help them to communicate with customers in a digital world. Databases were blasted, demand was generated and victory was achieved – in the short-term at least.

But in today’s digital world, buyers are more becoming ever more empowered.  Steadily, buyers have acquired the power to define their own buying process so the days of marketers interrupting customers and prospects with their own agendas seem out-of-place in an ever-more information rich world.

That’s why it’s up to marketers to become the stewards of the customer journey and build a bond with customers wherever they are – whether that means engaging on social media, presenting a unified experience across devices, or personalising content and communications. We call this ‘engagement marketing‘.

7 principles of engagement marketing

Here are the seven distinct principles of Engagement Marketing;

  •  1. Engaging people as individuals 

Today’s buyers demand ultra-relevant communications that speak to them as individuals not personas – and regardless of what industry you are in; you’re marketing to individuals at the end of the day. Think people-to-people rather than business-to-business or business-to-consumer.

So whether you’re talking to a CIO about hardware, or parents about the right savings plans for their children’s future, you’ll need to know their preferences, history, relationship with your company, stage in the buying journey, and more. While persona-based marketing defines and speaks to your ‘typical’ buyers, engagement marketing speaks to individuals, on their own terms.

  • 2. Engaging people based on what they do

Engagement marketing bases communications on behaviours, not demographics. While demographics can tell you what a customer might be interested in; behaviours tell you what they are actually interested in.

Rather than assuming that, because a buyer fits a certain profile, he will be interested in a certain product, we can now target individuals based on how they actually behave.

You can also use behaviours on one channel – say, an interaction on your company’s Twitter feed – to inform marketing on another channel – such as the message that appears when that person visits your website.

  • 3. Engaging people wherever they are

Today’s customer is everywhere – online and offline. They move seamlessly from one channel to the next, jumping from email, to Facebook, to their favourite blog, to your website, then back to social media – all without losing momentum, and from whatever device they are using.

Marketing is no longer about being ‘multi-channel'; it’s about being omni-channel. To meet your customers wherever they are, you need to deliver an integrated customer experience across every single platform. That’s why an engagement approach requires you to create a consistent experience for your customers – one that acknowledges the nuances of individual channels, yet still presents a unified message.

  • 4, Engaging people continuously over time

True engagement marketing is a not about points in time – it is a continuous process. We now have the opportunity to listen and respond to every customer at every stage of his purchase, keeping him engaged and helping to drive purchase decisions. It’s not about individual messages, or even individual campaigns – every interaction asks for another interaction, and is part of a longer chain. 

  • 5. Engaging people towards a goal 

Engagement marketing isn’t about relationship-building for its own sake – it’s about relationship-building toward a goal.

At each phase of the buyer’s journey – from acquisition to advocacy – your goal is to move those buyers into the next phase. And to do so, you need a clear understanding of that journey, and a clear call-to-action in all of your marketing.

  •  6. Engaging people with measurable impact

Unfortunately, the idea that marketing is an ‘arts and crafts’ function persists today – even as marketing is increasingly the function responsible for driving customer engagement (and therefore profits).

While the success of marketing activities was once difficult – if not impossible – to measure, modern marketing technology empowers marketers to do just that. The right platform, combined with smart organisational and process alignment, makes it possible to connect the dots between that email you sent last month, that event you hosted last year, and the revenue your CEO reports in an earnings call.

  • 7.  Engaging people at the speed of digital

When practising engagement marketing, marketers now coordinate dizzying numbers of campaigns across multiple channels and teams. An engagement marketing platform allows marketers to do the work with the biggest impact faster and more efficiently, making the assets which compose a given program – emails, landing pages, forms, segmentations, and workflows – easy to replicate and complete. Using an engagement marketing platform, marketers can complete these often-tedious tasks in minutes, freeing them up to focus on what matters most – engaging with buyers.

You can download the ebook of the 7 Principles of Engagement Marketing, to find out how to create a successful engagement marketing strategy for acquiring new buyers, growing their lifetime value, and converting them into advocates!

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The Ultimate Social Media Manager Mon, 27 Oct 2014 12:05:00 +0000 The 7 traits of an effective Social Media Marketing Manager

superheroThe Social Media Marketing Manager role is now an established role in many large businesses. It’s featured as one of the main digital marketing roles in the Smart Insights top 12 digital job descriptions template.

In smaller businesses, social media will be one marketing approach of many that a digital marketing manager will be working on, or social media may be a combined responsibility with SEO and content marketing. But in all cases, as social media continues to evolve, so does the role of the Social Media Manager.

Whilst the first Social Media Managers were mainly responsible for setting up and running a Facebook presence or answering customer service queries on Twitter, their roles now encompass many more skills and attributes. Of course, a Social Media Manager’s scope of responsibility will be influenced by the size and type of company they work for but their role is still likely to be much more involved than it once was.

As a specialist in earned media/inbound marketing, I’ve worked for a range of different types of business and have first-hand experience of what seems to be needed to manage social media effectively. I therefore believe that an effective social media manager today must be strategic whilst also being an adept tactician, creative alongside an analytical mind, and focused whilst also understanding how social media fits into the ‘bigger picture’. Definitely a blend of the modern marketer as part artist, part scientist.

So what are the key traits of the ultimate social media manager?

Here are the seven characteristics as I see them plus some points to where to find out more.

  • 1. Strategy

For any key business activity, a solid strategy is essential and social media is no different. An effective social media manager will understand the importance of defining a clear vision and action plan for their company’s social media efforts and how they’ll go about integrating this into the business.

Even if they’re not setting the strategy, the social media manager should nevertheless understand and appreciate how social media can be integrated into the business and support the company’s wider business goals.

Further reading:  Social Media Strategy planning

  • 2. Tactics

Once the strategy is defined, the Social Media Manager must then consider the various different tactics that can be used to implement the vision as part of the roadmap.

As with strategy, the most suitable tactics will be dependent on a number of factors, including:

  • Type of company
  • Size of company
  • Company’s structure/ internal set-up
  • Creative appetite
  • Budget

One of the key tactics the Social Media Manager will be responsible for is the approach the business should take regarding the core social media platforms. To get this right, the following should be answered?

  • What channels are most appropriate for our target audience(s)?
  • What are the individual propositions and channel strategies for each social media outpost?
  • How will we communicate with followers and fans?
  • How will content be sourced, managed and implemented?
  • How does each social channel connect with one another and the company’s website?

Further reading: Smart Insights social media marketing plan

  • 3. Community management

Social media is not just about sending one-way messages to an audience. It’s also (and primarily) about creating conversations and engaging in a two-way dialogue with followers, fans, advocates and critics.

A Social Media Manager must therefore possess a range of community management skills to enable them to effectively monitor and track conversations and engage with those responding to posts on the company’s various different social media channels.

There are a number of advantages to creating and developing your own online community , but to do so requires community management skills, including:

  • Diplomacy
  • Customer advocacy
  • Empathy
  • An understanding of the brand
  • Great communication

Further reading: Smart Insight’s social media listening

  • 4. Creating great content

Whether it be writing blog posts, designing unique infographics or creating useful guides or videos, a social media manager must have a clear understanding of what constitutes ‘great content’ in the context of their organisation.

The last point I made (‘in the context of their organisation’) is an important one. Effective social media managers know their target audience and how to engage with them.

For example, whilst a video involving thrill-seeking bungee jumpers might be great content for Red Bull, it’s unlikely to resonate in the same way for a bank or building society, where a smart, simple guide on what and how to use an ISA or obtain a mortgage aligns with both the brand and customers’ expectations.

Further reading: Smart Insight’s Content Marketing Toolkit 

  • 5. Campaign management

In addition to original campaigns to support wider business objectives, social media managers should also be aware of how pre-planned or existing marketing campaigns can be ‘socialised’.

A great social media manager will not just add a #hashtag or go with whatever idea or concept is ‘flavour of the month’. Instead they’ll work on producing something in-line with what matters to their company’s audience/ customer base (see point 4. above) and where social media can effectively add value to the campaign.

Further reading: Social media campaign tools

  • 6. Analytics, reporting and insight

Measuring the success of a social media initiative or campaign is not just about counting the likes on Facebook or the number of @mentions or retweets on Twitter. An effective social media manager will understand that social media ‘success’ should be tied to the business’s higher-level corporate objectives (see point 1. above) and can be measured in a number of different ways using different tools.

Avinash Kaushik recommends that social media be measured using four key metrics :

  • 1. Conversation
  • 2. Amplification
  • 3. Applause
  • 4. Economic Value

This framework is particularly useful as it not only provides social media managers with a view as to how content is being viewed, consumed and shared, but also how social media participation is adding value to the company’s bottom-line and therefore an indication of return-on-investment.

Further reading: Social Media Analytics

  • 7. Business-wide integration

Finally, it’s worth noting that an effective social media manager will look for opportunities to integrate social media within different areas of the business, from marketing and PR, to human resources and internal communications.

This will no doubt differ depending on the size of the business. For small companies, social media is likely to be much easier to integrate into different areas of the business than in a larger organisation, where stakeholder management will be important for building relationships with other key departments.

Some of the key areas where social media can be integrated into the business include:

  • Corporate strategy
  • Brand and marketing
  • PR
  • Customer service
  • Internal communication

Social media management should plug into all business functions, from market research to customer service, so that they each have a role with clear goals and responsibilities.

Further reading: Social media 7 steps guide to success

Smart Insights has also written a template covering the top 12 digital job descriptions, providing practical job descriptions.


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Plan momentum into your always-on content marketing campaign Fri, 24 Oct 2014 09:30:00 +0000 The Final day of our Successful Content Marketing Series

Cycling - Herne Hill - Penny Farthing Race - London - 1932 successful content marketingSuccessful content marketing is an “always-on campaign” – to do it right, you need to keep up an ongoing flow of content, so you’re always there when a prospect wants to join the conversation or asks a question that you have the answer for.

Here are three easy ways to keep the content momentum going:

  • 1. Explode your assets: When you create a big piece of content such as an industry report or an in-depth white paper, plan and structure it so that lots of little bits can be broken off and used independently in other channels to promote and amplify – tweets, blog posts, Google+ updates and so on.
  • 2. Brainstorm series of ideas: Don’t just look for one-off ideas – look for content types or formats that you can keep on populating with different examples. Say, for instance, you’re a cycle shop. You might come up with an idea for a video tutorial format, which you can use again and again to explain how to perform different cycle maintenance tasks to prospects and customers.
  • 3 Go for evergreen: A lot of content marketing tries too hard to be topical, whereas evergreen content – perennially useful content that keeps on being used, shared and referred to – is the gift that keeps on giving. Identify your golden oldies using metrics and make sure they are continually and prominently linked to via new content.

Output: Guidelines for how to break up content into smaller, more digestible chunks. Guidelines for content formats that you can use frequently, which all have the same look and feel. A list of classic evergreen content and a plan to do more of the same.      

Case study: eSpares

From how to cure a smelly washing machine to how to replace a dishwasher basket wheel, eSpares has built up a formidably helpful library of Video How to… guides on YouTube, offering tips and advice on just about every imaginable problem you could have with a household appliance. The format is very well established – all that’s needed is to create new videos as new questions arise.



We hope you have found our series useful – do let us know your thoughts. Here are the full five days!

Image/Copyright:@PA Images
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