Smart Insights Digital Marketing > The Marketing Strategy Blog Fri, 19 Dec 2014 18:32:18 +0000 en-US hourly 1 7 questions to ask for 2015 marketing success Fri, 19 Dec 2014 12:46:42 +0000 2015 marketing trends lists: Big, safe but dangerous – Don’t let lists limit your thinking!

We’re nearing the end of the 2015 prediction window, where there is the annual glut of big, vague and safe lists of trends we love to read and share. We seem obsessed with lists.

But think of the problem with these lists… Each and every year lists appear to generalise, distort and delete, so by definition they remove what’s relevant to you. They create edges that don’t exist, and so they remove the real value. They can’t help but do that. Any list is written from ‘their’ start point, how likely is that directly applicable by you?

So who wants to read generic trend beliefs? Is it adding to the conversation or layering on more noise or jargon? A list will be most often written to match the agenda, PR objectives, knowledge and experience of the writer/seller. Worse, the lists don’t change very much, the themes are there year in and out: Data (big, small, personalised), Content (micro, social, visual, video), Digital (semantic web, tech, software)… and so it goes. Talking to Dave Chaffey about this, the Smart Insights list of the latest digital marketing trends illustrates the problem. The top trends are similar this year to last, so this time Dave has discussed emerging technologies rather than the channels and activities.

Digital-marketing-trends-2015-survey So I think there has to be a better way to appraise opportunity for 2015?

A new approach for 2015 – Create your own list by asking great questions

I believe that sharing a list of questions for 2015 would be a lot more useful, something that we can work with, interpret and apply.

The better questions, the more useful the answers? To get you started, here’s a list of seven questions for your consideration in 2015. I’ve written it imagining you’re a client-side marketer in mind, at the coal-face, someone keen to make real strategic changes and grow, businesses looking to realise scalable value over short-term transaction optimisation. If that’s useful to you, then dig in… and don’t forget to share your questions for 2015 in the comments.

Hint: The Internet is the first marketing medium not designed for marketing. It’s designed for connection, and we’re leveraging it for marketing. As it evolves we need to ask different questions about how to better work with it. More on that here.

  • Question 1. Who are you trying to reach? If you say ‘everyone’ then we can say you’ll fail, naturally, you cannot have unanimous appeal, if the mega brands can’t do it. How tightly can you define the psychographics of your assumed audience, your personas? Conceptually at least, can you describe their outlook, their beliefs and motivations? The people they move with? What are their hopes and dreams?
  • Question 2. Why will they transact, interact, give you data, comment or share? What’s in it for them and what stories do they tell themselves in that process? How do they perceive your brand and your role right now, how must that change? And, how can we usefully change them to achieve the win-win?
  • Question 3. What events must happen more often to answer the ‘why’ above. Think strategically not tactically. Are there things that we must stop that are damaging this? What resources do we need to then make that happen? Are there product changes needed, service or processes too? Are we creating the right brand touch-points and experiences?
  • Question 4. What can you usefully test and prove? Consider investing 10% of your budget to test for 2016, to try something new, exciting even. If your whole focus is 2015 then it’s too late to change your strategy without terrifying your senior management, your horizon is likely low and you’re tied to short-term optimisation results around impacting transaction, though necessary you less likely to impact big shifts in performance with that alone. 2015 is the perfect to start something, to trial new ideas and models ready for your 2016 plan. Create the proof – the business case – around how you can market more effectively. Coca-Cola relayed this in their 70–20–10 model in their 2020 Vision for the brand.
  • Question 5. Do your customers trust you enough to believe your promises? How might you consider a serving mentality when it comes to your marketing strategy – a means to earn attention and build trust in and of itself? Without consumer trust you have nothing but the ability to pay for temporary attention and optimise conversion from that. If trust is a logical pre-cursor to transactions then how might you build trust and (long-term) perhaps data capture and learn at the same time, building your brand, knowledge and your future sales potential? If marketing is by definition about acquiring and growing profitable customers (and it is), then why is so little of our thinking not about how we build trust at a time when are competitors probably aren’t hot on that?
  • Question 6. Data usage. Whether your data is big or small, irrespective of the platforms you use to interrogate it and warehouse it – data is dumb and pointless until you ask it questions. So don’t make the mistake so many of us have by obsessing about data capture and storage for reporting – first define what questions do you need the data to answer, perhaps starting at each stage of the RACE planning framework to ensure a good mix. Your questions should be specific to you and what drives performance. There’s a huge difference between reporting data and deriving actionable insights that enable change and better questions.
  • Question 7. Ideas not tech. Real change is going to come from galvanising a strong team around answering the questions above and creating some magic in the responses, ideas and strategies that you develop – think about your internal team and also trusted external agency partners and freelancers who might have a different perspective. It is not about deep-diving into tech, tactics, campaigns, content – that all falls out of the idea quite naturally, you’ll have too many ways to ‘implement and activate’, which is a good thing, hence the need to test and trial.

What question would you find useful to ask of yourself and your peers as the opportunities for 2015 appear around the corner? Please share in the comments…

]]> 0
Content Marketing Trends 2015 Thu, 18 Dec 2014 15:30:00 +0000 Recommendations on the top tips, techniques and tools to reach content marketing excellence in 2015

2014 has certainly been a busy year for content marketing and something that wasn’t a surprise given the research and buzz evident at the start of the year which showed that content marketing was the highest rated marketing priority for marketers. The more recent 2015 marketing trends poll on Smart Insights showed that content marketing is still the top marketing priority for 2015.

But as the year has gone on, what have we really learnt about content marketing and the lessons we need to follow in order to execute this particular area of digital marketing effectively?

In this post I’ve grouped together some key content marketing themes from 2014 and links to recommended best practice articles and resources from Smart Insights and other sites.

Key areas of focus

Understanding content marketing

Before embarking on content marketing for your business, it’s worth really exploring what content marketing really entails and the benefits it can drive. As with any type of marketing activity, there will be an opportunity cost between one approach and another.

Neil Patel’s Advanced Guide to Content Marketing is a detailed, in-depth yet easy to follow tutorial covering content marketing across ten chapters, ranging from building a strong foundation to advice on how to plan and execute content marketing effectively.

Read: The Quicksprout guide to Advanced Content Marketing

Content strategy

Everything should start with a clear vision and strategy. Content plays a key role in nearly all digital marketing activity – paid, owned and earned media and so a well-defined content strategy will give you the platform and framework from which you can begin to create and distribute content.

Read: Smart Insights on Content Marketing Strategy


Altimeter content capability

Organising for content marketing

Once you have an idea about how you’ll ideally be using content marketing for business, the next step is to consider the key elements that lead to successful content marketing. An understanding of how format, platform, content type and metrics come together will help you with the content strategy and planning processes.

Econsultancy’s Periodic Table of Content Marketing provides a simple yet effective visualisation of the many constituent parts that make for successful content marketing:

econsultancy the_perdiodic_table_of_content_marketing-blog-full

Content planning

Once a strategy has been devised, the next step is the plan. Developing a plan is crucial to the future success of your content marketing efforts. Research suggests that the majority of businesses don’t have a content marketing plan so it’s therefore more important than ever to gain an advantage by developing one of your own by following a clear process:

  • Review current use of content marketing
  • Define content marketing objectives and KPIs
  • Conduct a content Gap analysis
  • Create a content plan timeline

Competitor analysis

Part of the content marketing planning process will involve the benchmarking of your efforts against those of your key competitors.


This is an important part of the process as it enables you to not only evaluate the performance of your competitors’ efforts but also build a picture of the type of content activity, strategies and tactics that are working for others in your industry.

Read: Comparing content marketing competitor tools

Content creation

The content creation process is where the real fun begins – although it’s by no means a simple process. To create truly compelling, ‘killer’ content, you need to blend art with science and become a storyteller to hook your audience.
Storyboarding is a great way to set out a structure for content that can be used individually or as part of a series.

Some of the key ingredients to help you storyboard ideas include:

  • 1. Discover your ideal audience
  • 2. Inform your hunch
  • 3. Compile
  • 4. Create a narrative
  • 5. Find the hook

Read: Copyblogger Master Story Telling

Tools and techniques

There is a plethora of tools and techniques available to manage your content marketing efforts. The key is to choose and select the tool (or range of tools) that you’ll really need based on what you’ll be measuring and tracking (which should be outlined upfront in your digital marketing/ content strategy).

In September, Dave Chaffey outlined ten key digital marketing technologies to use in 2015, including those that will assist with:

  • Content distribution
  • Content curation
  • Integrating SEO, social media and content
  • Ecommerce and digital channel sales optimisation
  • Analytics

Read: Digital Marketing Technologies for 2015

Content distribution/promotion

There are a multitude of different paid, owned and earned media opportunities to promote and/or distribute content.

Smart Insights’ new Content Distribution Matrix helps marketers to review the best options for promoting content by identifying the most effective means of distributing their content in generating site visits, leads or sales compared to the level of investment.

Content Distribution Matrix large

To use The Content Distribution Matrix, there are three steps to follow:

  • Step 1. Mark up the current or past use of media for content distribution
  • Step 2. Review promotion gap against competitor or sector use of content distribution techniques
  • Step 3. Select and prioritise new methods of content promotion

Read: Content Marketing Promotion Matrix

Integrating content with SEO

Content marketing and SEO are very closely entwined, so much so that some would even argue that a large part of SEO and content marketing overlap. Nevertheless, content marketing and SEO are often managed separately and as a result you should consider the organic search benefits great content can bring if executed correctly.

As search engines have continued to refine their algorithms and methodologies, the practice of SEO has also changed. There are a lot of out-dated techniques and myths that should be considered when optimising your content for search engines. Be aware of these to ensure you make the most of what you have from an SEO perspective.

Read: Smart Insights integrating SEO and content marketing and Hubspot’s excellent 17 SEO myths to leave behind in 2015.


As outlined in the strategy and planning sections above, the goals and objectives behind your content marketing activity should be stated early on in the process as knowing upfront why and how you’ll be using content marketing will give you focus.

In his post from January this year, Danyl Bosomworth provided a table that breaks content marketing KPIs into three clear groups:

danylpostmanagereachactonvertengageDanyl also provided five questions to help set, manage and review your content marketing effectiveness and to ensure that you use actionable metrics:

  • Q1. Which keyphrases related to content are most effective at driving visits and outcomes?
  • Q2. Which referring partner sites or social networks have helped with link generation and measurement (for SEO) and the driving of traffic, referenced above as a part of SMO
  • Q3. How does content viewed on click-paths or journeys affect marketing outcomes
  • Q4. Are we increasing the % of engaged users?
  • Q5. What are the satisfaction ratings for our content?

Read: Smart Insights Measuring content marketing and Content Marketing ROI guide

]]> 0
How are Christmas videos from retailers triggering our emotions? Thu, 18 Dec 2014 11:20:00 +0000 It’s Christmas Ad Season – but what emotions are leading brands playing on?

Yep, it’s that time of year again, that time when in true festive style we all become a little child-like, eagerly awaiting this year’s fresh batch of Christmas ads to see what beauties lie in store for us.  You know it’s true don’t you?  These Christmas themed ads give us a warm, cosy feeling inside, making us feel a whole range of different emotions right across the spectrum… happiness, nostalgia, thankfulness, warmth, protective, loving…..the list goes on.

However, despite watching and experiencing some of the above mentioned emotions, the question that we never stop to consider is simply, why do we react in this way? What, precisely, is it that makes us feel the way we feel when watching these ads, and what is it that makes us want to watch Christmas ads, when we quickly skip over any other type of ads because we simply don’t engage with emotionally?

Well, these are the very questions which Adoreboard can now address, using a completely new and scientific approach. An innovative platform which measures how the world feels about a particular brand.

Adoreboard uses text analysis algorithms – calculated from 60,000+ news sources and over 2m online articles – to scientifically determine if a brand is quite literally being Adored or Floored at any given point in time.

Scoring, calculated on the algorithms referred to above, is on a scale of minus 100 to plus 100, so the higher the score, the more the content is being adored….and vice versa!  The Adorescore is the world’s first real time brand metric.

Leading brands – How do we react emotionally to their advertising?

So, what better time than Christmas to highlight the science of emotional responses, in the context of the advertising and branding messages of the 5 largest UK consumer brands? Of course, we are not just interested in the ad delivery or production values; what we are specifically examining is the response of the audience to these ads, in the context of the different emotions that they arouse:

  • John Lewis

John Lewis has once again delivered a masterful, heart arming ad, focusing on the wonder of a child’s imagination at Christmas….a beautiful love story heightened by the beautiful Real Love mood sound track.

Adorescore 53, with serenity being the top emotion expressed.

  • Tescos

Tescos, no doubt in a battle to win over the many lost or lapsed hearts and minds, opted for a more fun, silly Dad type theme which was clearly designed to reinforce the importance of family and family fun at Christmas time.

Adorescore 72 for this ad, where ecstasy was the emotion expressed.

  • Sainsburys

Sainsburys meanwhile chose a much more sombre theme….far from the gaudiness, fun and giddiness of Tesco, this ad chose to mark the centenary of WW1 as a way to re-tell that famous and historic episode in which the German and British troops poignantly emerged from the trenches to play a game of football and exchange gifts, as a Christmas gesture.

Adorescore 47 with Adoreboard, and the top emotion expressed was interest.

Marks & Spencers

Marks & Spencer adopted a slightly more sassy fairies concept, where the product was very much in focus. As all good fairies do, the magic powers of the Marks and Spencer fairies is such that they can turn any old clothes into…well, beautiful Marks and Spencer clothes. M&S clearly took a more commercial slant to their Christmas campaign, though this is thinly disguised through the use of crisp white Christmas visuals! (A bit of snow and rooftop glistening always helps!).

Adorescore 59, where pensiveness emerged as the top emotion expressed

  • Asda

And finally, Asda. This ad is very much family focused and uses a typical Christmas family scene, complete with wonderful food and festive treats, to help sell the Asda brand. Again, this ad is very much product focused and practical.

Adorescore of 60, where acceptance was deemed the predominant and principal emotion.

Dr Gary McKeown from the School of Psychology, Queen’s University Belfast is an expert in communication and emotions.  He has his own take on what the top retailers are aiming for – Emotional Curiosity

‘’We want to be seen to be astute mind-readers; we want others to know that we have a good understanding of what makes them tick. This is especially true at an emotional level. These goals drive an “emotional curiosity” that makes us very interested in things that have an emotional impact. Anything that impacts us in an emotional way will similarly impact others; when these are novel, tasteful, current, and likely to be seen by many people you have a combination of interest that is hard for people to resist. Add in an opportunity to evaluate, judge, and discuss and these adverts present a strong attention grabbing mechanism feeding our emotional curiosity.

In these adverts the supermarkets have created an emotional gladiatorial spectacle that sends a lot of attention their way. This spectacle signals the starting pistol for the seasonal sentimental frenzy that gets us through the winter’.


]]> 0
The 12 Days of Ecommerce Thu, 18 Dec 2014 08:10:00 +0000 The latest Ecommerce facts about shopper behaviour to inform retail strategies in 2015

We enjoyed the interesting + useful Ecommerce factoids and commentaries from digital agency Blueleaf. So we got in touch to share the learnings contained. If you would like to see the remainder of the series, you can sign-up to Gossip.

Enjoy, please Tweet the facts you fancy and Merry Christmas!


Day 1 – Christmas commerce fact for 8th December:

Shoppers spend 30% more per order, when free shipping is included.
Source: Wharton

UX Director Chris Jones explains, ‘Take a long, hard look at your shipping costs. Could you trial free shipping to see if there’s an uplift in sales that would more than cover the cost? Do you at least offer free shipping over a certain basket amount? It’s something that customers feel very strongly about, especially on high value orders’.


Day 2 – Christmas commerce fact for 9th December:


When browsing a fashion retail website 47.1% of people want lots of product; the more the better.
Source: Drapers

Managing Director, Rob Smith recommends, ‘Large selections of product make the purchase feel more individual and more of a personal choice. Beware the paradox of choice though,  too many red dresses and people begin to over-analyse the nuances of a large selection and don’t check out fast’.


Day 3 – Christmas commerce fact for the 10th December:holly

31% of people visit a store prior to making an online purchase.
Source: Radware

Head of Strategy, Jonathon Palmer says, ‘Customer’s shopping behaviour has changed dramatically over the last few years. Many online-only retailers are investing in physical stores so people can actually touch their products and connect with their brand. Simple measures can make a difference, like equipping store staff with tablets and ensuring they’re trained to make each possible sale happen, either then and there or at some point later online’.


Day 4  – Christmas commerce fact for the 11th December:


Christmas shopping on mobile devices grew by a massive 138% last year.
Source: Internet Retailing

Managing Director, Rob Smith says,’Mobile shopping is increasing all the time. Each Christmas creates a surge as it’s such a busy time of year and also a time when a lot of devises get swapped. Phones now have better screens and therefore, create a better shopping experience’.


Day 5 – Christmas commerce fact for the 12th December:


The average online shopper makes 6.2 visits to a company’s website, using 2.6 devices, before they buy.
Source: Radware


UX Director, Chris Jones says, ‘Understanding customer journeys and creating a site that caters for each stage is key. Knowing if your customers are more inclined to use certain devices at each stage us also essential when considering user experience. For example, do customers use a table when they’re looking for inspiration, a mobile whilst in-store and then purchase on a desktop device?’.

Day 6 – Christmas commerce fact for the 13th December:


According to research consumers are 62% more likely to do business with you after they’ve seen a positive review.
Source: Trustpilot


Managing Director, Rob Smith says, ‘Reviews are an essential mechanic of modern retail shopping – expect their in-store to explode in the coming 12 months’.


]]> 0
Success factors for building your brand in 2015 using SEO [#DigitalInsight] Wed, 17 Dec 2014 12:20:00 +0000 Examples of developing your brand in 2015 by building your Digital Knowledge Centre

SEO technology provider, Searchmetrics, recently released a white paper: SEO Rank Correlations and Ranking Factors 2014 – Google U.S., evaluating factors impacting organic search results and an analysis of search engine algorithms. This post highlights some of the findings for organisations SEO brand strategy. I have condensed the 83 page document into some of the key factors brands need to be aware of.

The searchmetrics report provides some good news for brands. Whether an established player or an emerging start-up, brands need to wake up to the opportunities the ever changing search landscape offers.

There has been a fundamental shift in the types of brands monopolising the search landscape along with the rapid growth in content marketing, the brands winning this game are the brands that have re-defined their online value proposition by turning themselves into knowledge centres.


What is a knowledge centre?

Before highlighting the findings of the whitepaper and what it means for brands, let’s define what a knowledge centre is. Knowledge centres means becoming the go-to brand for information, content and advice, an oasis of trusted, authoritative content that existing customers and prospects will be delighted by.

Knowledge centres began to take centre stage as a digital strategy during 2014 in part due to the growth in anyone and everyone launching their own content marketing strategies, cue an explosion of content in all shapes and sizes engulfed us all by littering our social media channels, search results, inboxes and video streams. It was assumed the more content being created, more the opportunity to drive traffic. WRONG

As highlighted in the whitepaper, searchmetrics emphasise the importance of ‘high quality and relevant content is increasingly the focus of search’ and this provides a sound justification as to why brand marketers should develop their proposition by becoming a knowledge centre. In other words, to differentiate your digital content proposition by focusing on crafting remarkable, trusted content that your users and prospects will take the time to read, share, favourite, recommend and return to you as a trusted source for reliable content.

To transform your brand proposition into a digital knowledge centre, brands should define their search strategy to consider three key pillars:

  • 1. Authority – Is your search strategy delivering your brands voice of authority? Are you informing and delighting your audience by telling a great brand narrative through the content you’re delivering and that is found through search?
  • 2. OVP – Do you have an online value proposition at the heart of your digital strategy? Take the time to analyse your competitors as well as benchmark your search proposition against other brands operating in different sectors to understand how they have differentiated themselves from their competitors
  • 3. Are you building a narrative – Fine tune your digital narrative that can be communicated through your online content. Engage in conversations through social media channels with your audience and reach out and build direct relationships with your customers and audience giving your brand a personality and a human element to your proposition and online reputation.

Key findings of the SEO Ranking Factors and Rank Correlations 2014 report


Let’s visit some of the key findings of the searchmetrics report and what brands should leverage to help support their strategy in becoming a knowledge centre. I have broken the findings down into key sections and which pages to refer to for further reading within the searchmetrics report.

  • 1. Click through rate (CTR) (searchmetrics report: page 6)

This has become a key factor within the report findings where there was a strong correlation between a high click through rate (CTR) and ranking in the Top 5 search results in which sites that were ranking in such positions also enjoyed a higher “time on site”

What this means for Brands ? Ensure your brand in included within the keywords of your on-page copy as well as headings and within page titles and meta descriptions. Utilising your brand helps to drive the CTR in driving search traffic to visit your site.

  • 2. Content: (searchmetrics report: page 22)

The quality of content being produced is becoming ever more important, which is something brand sites should take advantage of utilising their unique selling point as a key differentiator from the competition.

Historically, having the right technical SEO (on page, site architecture) was the first stage but using similar SEO strategies to better optimise the content being created on page is becoming just as important especially in light of Google algorithm changes such as Panda, Penguin and more recently Hummingbird.

More importantly it’s about creating content that will delight your audience and provide real value (over the competition) rather than driving content purely based on keyword research A recent infographic by Quicksprout highlights the changes in content creation and how it’s associated with old SEO strategies to how you should be re-inventing your content creation.


What this means for Brands? Ensure you’re developing and building your library of content working across office by running a content audit. Look to optimise the content e.g. on page how is it graded, current link profile of your content pages and how the content is performing through social platforms? Look to monitor and measure current performance and begin to identify benchmarks as well as gaps and opportunities to build on your content strategy.

  • 3. Content Hubs (searchmetrics report: page 30)

Below is a searchmetrics graph listing the content features which have increased in importance and the enhancements made by Google to better understand the meaning behind keywords has accelerated how the search engine is beginning to move towards better understanding “content hubs” e.g. topic areas as summarised by searchmetrics

‘The more topics a text reflects, the more holistic it is – and, at the same time, the more relevant it is for users with different search intentions. Consequently, the copy also ranks better for related, additional keywords as well as the primary keyword’.


What this means for brands? Look to create content hubs, analyse the long tail search opportunities for content subjects and look to map out content hubs that provide a rich verticle knowledge hub that caters for the head terms and long tail search terms. Archive these content hubs into a content library which can then be used to support your search activity and social outreach.

  • 4. Internal linking (searchmetrics report: page 37)

Structuring your internal link structure is seen as a vital component for your domain performance. The graphic below, taken from shows how a site architecture should be set and provides the greatest positive impact for the flow of internal linking.


From an SEO perspective, attracting external links to your website has always been seen as the priority to assist in search engine ranking performance but it’s clear more emphasis needs to be put on the user experience and providing relevant internal links on pages to provide the perfect UX and retain relevancy of articles to the user.

What this means for brands? Scope out your current site architecture and structure of your site and identify the most important pages of your site based on external links (followed), social shares and internal linking. The audit will then provide you the opportunity to clearly map out how content and associated content begin to interlink to different sections of the site as well as provide potential gaps and opportunities to exploit.

  • 5. Backlinks (searchmetrics report: page 43)

Searchmetrics identified larger brands attract a higher majority of new links, more referring domains as well as generating more deeper linking to relevant content areas, the below infographic taken from the whitepaper provides some more insights in the opportunity of a backlink strategy and how it can benefit your performance.


What this means for brands? Monitor, manage and measure your analytics reports. Audit who is linking to your site but more importantly are they linking to the correct content pages? If not, this provides an opportunity to reach out to the partner site and encourage them to link to deeper pages of your site that is more relevant from a content point of view.

For pages that do drive a high volume of links from external websites, monitor the performance of the page – is it retaining the referral traffic? Have you optimised the page to why the external website is linking to you? Are you looking to provide internal linking to other pages on your site to retain the user?

Work with your press office and communications teams for any content or press releases that could be used to drive new back links from websites that mention your brand and content stories. Fresh Web Explorer is a great tool to use to identify new website that are not linking to you


  •  6. Social Signals (searchmetrics report: page 60)

From the Searchmetrics study, ‘sites that have risen in the SERP’s have strong, positive correlations to social signals’. From a brand point of view, it’s clear to see that social networks play a key role as a key traffic referrer


What this means for brands? Your social media activity should be integrated with your content strategy and used as a tactic to help drive your content to different audiences and demographics. Better understand and take the time to listen to different audiences that choose to follow your brands social channels e.g demographics, types of content being consumed and tailor your content to their needs and requirements.

Social Media also provides your brand a vehicle to real-time listening – to ensure your brand strategy encompasses the need to deliver real-time content within your content sector to service the needs of your social audience. Make sure you are providing the necessary opportunities for your website/mobile content to be shared through social by your users by ensuring your pages are providing a call to action to offer social sharing

  • 7. Mobile (searchmetrics report: page 77)

A recent article by comScore highlighted key insights on the emergence of mobile which is now the leading digital platform accounting for 60% of digital media time spent in the US.


What this means for brands?  It will be ever more essential for brands digital proposition can be translated to a mobile or tablet device from desktop whilst retaining points of difference. Google recently rolled out ‘mobile friendly’ labels emphasising the importance the search engine has for brands who think about their digital proposition across different platforms.

Analyse your desktop site on performance and relate the relevant content to a mobile experience – this may mean optimising long form content into mobile bit size chunks. What’s your mobile USP and think about how your competitors differentiate their mobile proposition over their desktop environment and the content made available?

Key Takeaways for brands from searchmetric’s whitepaper

The report has identified five key areas summarised below that brands should consider in taking advantage of delivering a knowledge centre that excites their existing audience and attracts new prospective audiences.

1. Content – There is an urgency for brands to deliver more content to remain competitive within the search sectors. However it’s important to note that more content does not necessarily mean better content – the emphasis should be on delivering industry leading, authoritative content that is relevant to their audience

2. Technical – increasing in importance, internal linking (p.37), Html of pages p.34) – Ensure you getting back to basics of SEO by making sure that basic on page optimisation and technical considerations have been taken into account e.g. site architecture and page load speeds

3. Content hubs – Rather than just focusing on heads terms, brands need to consider the longer tail of associated terms and phrases as well as, more importantly to identify associated content opportunities

4. Backlinks – Backlinks are considered an important indicator however the emphasis is on the quality of backlinks rather than quantity. Through social listening and content generation there is an opportunity for brands to hijack real-time demand for trusted news content and with it the opportunity to drive backlinks off the back of a real-time content strategy.

5. Social Media – integrated within your content strategy and to be used as a tactic to drive content to different audiences and demographics.

Brands need to wake up before it is too late to capitalise on the changes in the search landscape that are crying out for brands that are trusted, authoritative and willing to put at their heart of their digital strategy, content. The brands winning this game are the brands that have re-defined their online value proposition by turning themselves into knowledge centres. In summary,

Become the go-to brand for information, content and advice, an oasis of trusted, authoritative content that existing customers and prospects will be delighted by.

]]> 1
Using the PESTLE analysis model Wed, 17 Dec 2014 08:50:22 +0000 Or PEST, PESTEL, STEEPLE, SLEPT or DEEPLIST if you prefer…

PESTLE is one of a well known series of acronyms used in business and marketing planning which summarises how to review the broader forces sometimes known as ‘macro-environment’ which shape a business:

Pestle Analysis Model

Environment Factors affecting a business – Source: Chaffey and Ellis-Chadwick – Digital Marketing, Strategy, Implementation and Practice

We rate PEST or PESTLE analysis as one of the top 20 marketing models which we feature in our digital marketing models guide.

In this article we will explain how to complete a PESTLE analysis covering each of the parts using an example of applying the analysis.


PESTLE stands for:

  • Political
  • Economic
  • Sociological
  • Technological
  • Legal
  • Environmental

PEST analysis is used when conducting an environment scan; to review competitors, markets and the situation in which an organisation finds itself.

PESTLE is also know by a confusing number of similar acronyms; PEST, PESTEL, STEEPLE, SLEPT, PEST, DEEPLIST. The difference between these meanings is simply based on the additional factors that are added from the basic “PEST analysis” which is best known. The longer forms stress the importance of Legal and Environmental factors. Within digital marketing Legal factors governing Data Privacy and Promotional laws are particularly important, so we prefer PESTLE to emphasise these factors.

The background to PEST analysis

It is difficult to see where the PEST concept originated (let us know if you have an earlier reference!), but one of the first references, which  I will base this template on is the concept of Environmental Scanning from Terry (1977) who considers these factors:

pestle diagram

The macro environment envelops the micro and internal environment. If ignored, it alters all environments and this can happen relatively quickly. In this article I’ll look at different  how to apply each element of PESTEL to marketing and  digital marketing with an example in each.

How to use PESTLE – an example analysis

The key technique with PESTLE is to dig deep. Many managers simply work through or tick off one element after another. There is real value in PESTLE, but only if you adopt a deeper approach and subsequently act on the information.

One company which ignored broader PESTLE factors for years was HMV, a UK retailer of music with a long heritage. Originally selling ‘vinyl records’, it failed to address the sociological impact of the internet, especially online retailing. Its sales continued to drop as fewer people walked into a physical store on main street to buy music. Emerging competitors such as Napster and later Spotify, offered music streaming and download services, effectively making the HMV model redundant. The downfall of HMV has been in part explained by Philip Beeching who was part of the ad agency team that had worked for HMV for some time. He said that when re-pitching for the HMV work, after a new MD had been appointed, they pulled out all the stops, clearly they had done some research – possibly even a PESTLE analysis and told the MD and new team of directors “The three greatest threats to HMV are, online retailers, downloadable music and supermarkets discounting loss leader product”. The tragedy was that the MD had perhaps not had the same research and reacted badly to this information. As Beeching commented “Suddenly I realised the MD had stopped the meeting and was visibly angry”.  

Getting directors to listen to good advice can be a challenge and I remember conducting an in-depth PESTLE as part of a future planning session, with a leading manufacturer of ladies garments for a well-known department store. At the time I identified an economic factor as being the pressure on prices decreasing rather than increasing. As a result, my team predicted that their competitors would seek offshore production of clothing. At the time, the Finance Director made it clear and told me I had no idea how their business worked; “that sort of thing would never happen here”. Actually it did. And three months later, the MD contacted me and said my predictions had become reality and they needed to adapt quickly.

This is a classic example of having the information available, but ignoring the results.

Using PESTLE in a digital situation presents additional challenges as the implications can be less obvious. Let’s look at each of the factors in turn, with examples:


We often think that all political issues become laws and that this is a duplication of ‘legal’, however, governments can ban or block activities, but this is not always enshrined in law. For example, Facebook has been blocked in Iran, Vietnam and North Korea. Twitter is currently banned in several other countries. This social media map from Mother Jones, shows what’s banned where.



This means if you’re a business using Facebook in these areas, you cannot use these advertising options and it is less likely that your target audience can see your updates. It also means you need to consider local alternatives, for example, Sina Weibo in China and Facenama in Iran and Afghanistan.


The arrival of the Internet created many pricing options that would have previously been impossible to imagine. For example:

  • First visitor and return visitor pricing is available through the use of cookies
  • 24 hour sales are easier to accommodate with a code to enter at checkout, “only available until midnight”
  • Dynamic pricing based on availability and quantity is now used by most airlines and by many hotel groups and hotel chains
  • Auction pricing focused on highest and lowest offers (reverse auctions) is used by eBay, Priceline and many others
  • Software being sold as a service, with monthly payments rather than an upfront fee for a box of disks!
  • Free, freemium and premium services have evolved with some services such as games, being free, but showing ads and premium options available for ad-free services

A major challenge to many businesses are price comparison websites, where the prices are compared in a situation that isn’t always accurate as delivery charge may be excluded.

 In the future, most delivery charges will be removed as free delivery becomes the norm. The difference may be the speed of delivery with options for premium charges for super-fast delivery.

 Advantages of a digital environment mean that companies can adapt to local economic conditions and offer

  • Flash or 24 hour sales to move older stock
  • Email customers with advance access to sales
  • Stock sales via other outlets, such as Amazon and ebay, perhaps not under the main brand name

Sociological or socio-cultural

Understanding what’s acceptable socially or within a culture as well as greater appreciation of different societies and beliefs is more available online than ever before.

This knowledge has created opportunities and has opened new markets. One of my favourite examples of a company adapting to opportunities is Moonpig. There may have been a time where they offered cards for birthdays, weddings and events like Christmas. Today they offer a wide range of cards for all occasions and religions.

pestle moonpig

Other issues on a socio cultural level include

  • Access to internet – surprising as it may seem, not everyone has access to the internet. This is especially true of the 80+ demographic, as well as those on lower incomes.
  • Acceptance of the technology – as the age profile in Facebook grows with more parents and grandparents adopting the platform, younger users are finding it less socially acceptable and are moving towards What’s App.

Does your business know its target audience? What level of access to the internet do they have? If they’re in that group without access, how can you make contact?

Interestingly this question led to the development of Babajob. India has one of the world’s lowest levels of internet penetration, so these entrepreneurs started a job service, accessible via SMS. All you need is a mobile phone.


This issue is an easier element to understand within the PESTLE mix when it comes to digital marketing. It’s all about the technology being used, whether that’s desktop or mobile, tablets or wearables.

Issues for your business include:

  • Screen size and where the internet is accessed
  • How you can make your user journeys easier
  • Whether new technology makes elements of your marketing mix redundant

Screen size and where the internet is accessed

Within most organisations, this concerns whether their website is usable across all channels.

How you can make your user journeys easier

You may discover, as British Airways did, that their customers used Twitter as a self-serve customer service platform. Eventually BA decided to play the role given to them by their customers.

Whether new technology makes elements of your marketing mix redundant

Thinking about your marketing mix, which of the 7Ps are likely to change within a digital environment? Do read another article where we’ve looked at using the 7Ps.


Spotify, the music streaming service, has been available in the USA since it started in 2013, but was not available in Canada until October 2014. It seems that this may have, in part, been due to legal reasons. There was no clarity about the royalty rate that companies like Spotify, would have to pay. It would be difficult to set up a business in a location where the pricing was a mystery!

 In May 2014, the Copyright Board of Canada issued a decision on the royalty rate that music streaming services should pay for the use of recordings. Under the ruling, the payment will be about 10.2 cents in royalties for every 1,000 plays. It is interesting to note that this rate is substantially lower than the one required by some members of the Canadian music industry, who were aiming for between $1 and $2.30.


Legal issues online are a major consideration. Here are some issues that you may need to consider within your local laws:

  • Bloggers being paid, but not disclosing that they are promoting a business (misleading practices)
  • Product placement including verbal mentions during ‘editorial content’
  • Stealing images from other websites (copyright infringement)
  • Using well-known brand names on your own website (passing off – common tort)
  • Paying commissions direct to staff (Bribery Act)
  • Selling customer data (Data Protection)

Plus, when setting up social media pages, you may need to adapt to meet different laws in different places. For example, if you’re setting up a Facebook page to promote alcoholic drinks, it’s essential to age-gate and country-gate; ensuring your page is only available to those aged over 18 and those in the UK. If you ignore this, you could be breaking laws in other jurisdictions and this could have a negative impact on your business.


Environmental can be interpreted as ecological (that’s the extra ‘e’ in STEEPLE) and this is a fast growing consideration in marketing. The biggest impact has been in packaging and waste. Companies are needing to re-think packaging in some countries, for example in Ireland, where carrier bags are a chargeable item at the point of sale. This in itself has created a business opportunity for companies like Envirosax, selling fold-up bags that fit into hand-bags and pockets.

pestle envirosax

And don’t forget that environmental issues are often led by legislation such as carrier bag tax or local waste taxes!

Whatever your size of business, PESTLE can identify threats, and more importantly, it can also highlight opportunities. Successful companies in a digital age see these opportunities and adapt or create new product ranges and boldly move into new markets.

What to watch for in PESTLE analysis?

Note that not everyone considers PEST type analysis vital in comparison with the more direct influences of the macro environment.  As Dave Chaffey has commented “PESTLE/PEST/DEEPLIST make me groan – to me they’re a text book approach which is far removed from practical actions to improve results in digital marketing. In assignments, I find students tend to review these in-depth at the expense of creating innovative, differentiating strategies. The focus should be on the customer

So, I suggest you use it as much more than a check list and without the text book approach – I hope my post will help here.

Original source

Terry, P.T.(1977) Mechanisms for Environmental Scanning. Long Range Planning. Jun77, Vol. 10 Issue 3, p2-9.

]]> 0
Integrating digital media in-store [Infographic] Tue, 16 Dec 2014 15:08:00 +0000 Retail store techniques to meet shopper expectations

What are consumers expecting from experiences created by retailers in the UK and USA, and how are retailers satisfying their needs for the ultimate sale?  Consumers in the UK and those across the pond are looking for the best offers, a rewarding in-store experience and a high level of customer, which is what we would expect.

It’s interesting though that the differences are around stock/production information; 52% of American consumers feel let down compared to 28% in the UK.

So what should retailers be offering their consumers, if it’s not already in place? The research highlights tactics such as consistency of prices across channels to reinforce trust and displaying real-time information.

how can shoppersmeet omnichannelexperiencesinfographic

The full In-store retail report can be accessed from Displaydata.

For more on creating in-store digital retail experiences see this post on in-store digital retail experiences and our Expert member guide to reimagining the retail digital experience by Tery Spataro.

]]> 0
An integrated small business campaign example Tue, 16 Dec 2014 12:15:15 +0000 A case study of a  Black Friday retail campaign

I awoke on the last Friday of November to find that people were being arrested in supermarkets  across the UK and stampedes were breaking out over flat screen TVs. On checking my emails I was inundated an avalanche of offers in relation to that American import which, like Halloween, is suddenly huge over here in the UK too: Black Friday. With the Argos, Currys, Tesco and Boots’ websites all experiencing outages due to weight of demand, the British public appears to have got over its aversion to this American celebratory holiday of all things consumer.

I run a niche ecommerce business that has a big US subscriber base, and based on previous Thanksgiving weekends it was clear that we needed to have a planned approach to the “holiday” season. As the day drew nearer we had customers emailing asking what we had planned as offers – it was going to be a big sales day.

Now we are a small business, our turnover isn’t huge but we are the market leader in our sector worldwide. I have access to a designer and I run the website, email marketing and social media myself. I do also consult extensively in said fields (I wear a number of hats as well as running Musicademy) so I am also our in-house expert but the point here is that we’re not working with a specialist agency. This is in-house DIY internet marketing so accessible to any marketer with a bit of digital savvy hence why I want to share what is quite a lengthy post with you.

What to offer on Black Friday?

The big retailers Asda (well they are owned by Walmart), Tesco, Amazon, John Lewis et al. all led with targeted big discounts including the aforementioned flat screen TVs. We have previously done spot sales on particular items but we’ve also tested blanket discounts across the entire webstore and have found average order value considerably higher as a result.

So we went for a 20% blanket discount off every product. With some of the existing sales and offers (we already reward bulk buyers) this represented a significant saving on RRP for many products.


I like to think that people buy from people, not websites so we decided to go with a personal “With love and thanks from us to you” message which focussed on “Thanksgiving”. We incorporated a “Thanks for subscribing to our updates” message and chose “THANKFUL” as our coupon code. We genuinely feel that way about our customers, and we also felt that this approach would go down well with our North American Christian market.

We have a sister company, Worship Backing Band, that targets a very similar audience so a similar campaign was also created for that.


We stuck with a variant of the design style we’ve been evolving in recent months which reflects our corporate colours and other key elements. We have two image styles we tend to work with – one is a white silhouette of the different instruments we teach and the other is a series of pack shots. I wanted to use this campaign to test the effectiveness of each of these, and also to enable a variety of images across different platforms.

We tend to use a tinted image in the background of a lot of our ads so for these we chose some pumpkins – again reflecting the Thanksgiving occasion.

Choice of platform

In keeping with most ecommerce retailers email marketing is our normal workhorse channel so a Thanksgiving email duly made its way out at 8am on the morning of Black Friday to our 27,000 subscribers.

rant alert

We also booked in third party emails with two partner organisations. One a big magazine which we’ve used extensively in the past with great results (we actually write a regular column in the magazine so their customer base is well aware of us) and the other with a specialist forum with a decent mailing list (with this one we offered a reciprocal deal and had sent out an email to our list over the summer that had featured their site).

Third party email example

In retrospect I think the masthead here (in the partner email) was wrong – we should have stuck with the Thanksgiving image.

The website home page featured the Black Friday offer and a blog post (see below) was made live. This would also be useful for social sharing later. As people are now on-site the image shifted to pack shots.

Black Friday blog post

Facebook marketing

As anyone will know that has read my previous posts here, I’m a power user of Facebook both as an organic platform and for targeted ads. In previous years we’ve trailed our Black Friday offers with teasers but for a number of reasons elected not to do that this year (it is a good approach though).

My Facebook strategy was fairly complex. I knew that organic reach levels on what are quite promotional messages would be low so advertising was going to be essential. I therefore created a logical but complex campaign as follows:

Facebook targets

At Ad Set level I created an approach that targeted some distinct segments (all of which had been tested and proven in previous campaigns)

  • Exisiting fanbase
  • Existing mailing list using the website custom audience tool
  • People that “Like” relevant other brands
  • Lookalike audience (using the custom audience tool again these were lookalikes of my mailing list – they equally could have been fan lookalikes)
  • And of course Facebook will often surface messages about new likes and shares of ads to friends’ newsfeeds
  • Age and geographic location (UK, US and Canada) was layered on every ad in order to focus our targeting at those individuals more likely to respond

Facebook positioning and pricing

I know from recent testing with the targets above that right hand ads just aren’t working for us so I opted for desktop newsfeed and mobile newsfeed. Again as a result of testing I know that CPC works better for us so I initially set the ads up to that with the intention of shifting to OCPM if Facebook wasn’t playing ball by showing the ads (this does happen sometimes, even with ads with good CTR, and I anticipated a huge demand on newsfeed ad space over the Thanksgiving weekend). See this graphic from SocialCode which (as Jon Loomer points out in an intelligent article on why Facebook holiday ads fail) shows that it cost x2.58 more to show an ad to 1,000 people on Black Friday.


Incidently, if you are allocating budget to desktop vs mobile newsfeed I’d suggest something like a 70/30 split in favour of mobile. Mobile ads are really working for us at the moment. And especially in the US at holiday time when people aren’t at their desks, a focus on mobile is essential.

Facebook ad types

Hugely relieved that we don’t have to jump through the faff of unpublished (dark) posts to get the kind of ad I was wanting, I set about creating my ads. These were created earlier in the week and scheduled for the Friday morning. The beauty of these new Power Editor ads is that you can change the copy at any point so from the Saturday onwards these ads lost the “Black Friday Flash Sale” message and instead reverted to “Thanksgiving Weekend” or “Cyber Monday offers” or “Pre Christmas Flash Sale”. Again testing variants is useful.

Here’s an example of one for Worship Backing Band:

WBB thanksgiving ad

Note the use of a call to action and the different text utilised in the different places on the ad. You only get this level of flexibility by using Power Editor.

With Musicademy I  tested two different ad images (see below – both complying with the 20% text rule). Depending on my results mid way through the Friday I could then turn off the one that was least effective.

Pack shots ad Silhouette variant

I also created blog posts with the relevant images and some informative text which were used organically on Facebook as link posts and turned into ads during the weekend. Note that I never use the Boost Post button. Instead I will go into Power Editor and create an ad form that organic post.

Facebook Offers

I LOVE Facebook Offers. They are massively under utilised so are quite a novel item for users in newsfeed. Reach is not too shabby and it’s easy to add a little ad budget to them to further extend their reach. The other very nice thing with Offers is that they are a lot stickier in terms of viral reach because Facebook surfaces messages about offer claims in friends’ newsfeed and also asks the user if, having clicked on the offer, they want to share it.

And the other great thing about Offers is that Facebook emails your offer to those who click on it plus sends another reminder email just before the offer expires. What’s not to like?

Facebook offer share

The offer also meant I had something unique to put on the newsfeed at 8am UK time (I know I can target organic posts but geography but people don’t see comments and likes from other terrotories and unfortunately you have to list each recipient country individually).

I created the Offer in Power Editor (effectively as an Unpublished Post) and scheduled the ad for the afternoon of Black Friday. On the actual morning, however, I nipped into the “Manage Pages” area on Power Editor (top left) and “published” the dark post to extract a little organic reach out of it first. The Offers were created using optimised bidding.

The results

The results weren’t exactly what I would have predicted and it felt a lot harder work this year than last. On the positive, we spent about £175 on Facebook ads and had a very healthy boost in sales. Email marketing was the most effective medium (particularly to our own mailing list).

The UK seemed to have really embraced Black Friday and Cyber Monday with stores reporting record sales. However, in the US the New York Times cited Black Friday Fatigue as responsible for an 11% decline in sales since last year. Other possible factors cited were the residual effects of recession, deep discounts in the run up to Thanksgiving and the conditioning effect of continual sales leaving shoppers holding out for even better offers. We certainly saw plenty of that. Despite a bigger advertising push than last year, our sales were a fair bit lower (the majority of our customer base is in the US). And despite a near identical offer to last year, it felt from emails had a lacklustre response, as if customers were wanting something more.

Firstly, there was clearly a lot of competition on newsfeed over the entire period so I went in on the Friday morning and upped my bid price on all ads. This worked to increase my paid reach to more acceptable levels.

My A/B split test showed a clear winner in CTR and conversion (the silhouette image rather than the pack shots) so the loser ads were switched off.

My organic posts got very poor reach. I wasn’t entirely surprised to see this. Firstly they are promotional (and I suspect that the algorithm was adjusted down for words like “Sale” “Black Friday” and other discount indicators). Secondly, whilst we have plenty of paying customers, our marketing emphasis is that of delivering great content.  Reach of good quality posts is often over 35% and often well above that but I’ve never found that posts about products get many clicks or likes and the viral reach of them is virtually zero. Similarly the open rate on the email was much lower than our usual content driven weekly newsletter. I’m sure as well that a good proportion of people were simply sick of all the promotional messages being bombarded at them over the weekend.

Also we know that Facebook dislikes multiple uses of the same image. So once the images were out in one format (say an ad or offer), organic posts using the same image would suffer from poor reach. This is useful learning for the future – when you are using an image in an ad, make sure you create something different for organic posts. And the beauty of this approach is that your organic posts can have as much text on the image as you like (although arguably Facebook isn’t keen on images with lots of copy – certainly penalises any it thinks are meme like).

In terms of audience, our Lookalike audiences worked really well for CTR and conversion. We’ll definitely continue to craft ads for them in the future. We’d expect fans to respond and they did, but mainly in response to email marketing. I suspect that the Facebook ads merely acted as a reminder to them (perhaps when they were on mobile and out and about) and when back to desktop settled down with the email to make their sale purchases.

The initial Musicademy Offer got some good traction (34 offer claims from a Reach of 6,276 and spend of £40) so I decided to re-work the idea on Cyber Monday for the Worship Backing Band brand. Again I created an unpublished page post offer, made it live on the Page then scheduled the Offer Ad for a few hours later.

Here’s the Worship Backing Band Offer and the email Facebook sends to those who take it up:

cyber monday offer

(Don’t you just hate Facebook’s default typeface and styling of this message?)

Customer reaction

There was the inevitable set of moaning from British customers about why we (as a UK brand) were embracing this American import and bowing to the gods of consumerism. It was great to see British fans coming to our rescue without us having to justify our actions (see a snippet from the conversation below).

rant alert

We also had the odd email from people miffed that they’d purchased at full price a few days before (we sent them some free stuff as a consolation and to our delight they ended up buying even more). One emailer told us we were being tight at only offering 20%. I didn’t see many retailers being that generous across their ENTIRE RANGE (including titles that had only been released a few weeks previously). On reflection I think we could have played the game most retailers do in sales and simply cherry pick a few key products (many of which were already on half price sale) and slash the price dramatically to get the headline effect. But much of our objective was to increase average order value which a blanket discount offer had previously achieved.

Again we were able to counter this a little with our Cyber Monday email where we hit hard on the messaging to do with additional in-store discounts. The headline read “Did you think our 20% off Black Friday coupon wasn’t generous enough?”

In terms of purchases the Cyber Monday email was twice as effective as that of Black Friday but do remember that it may also have served as s useful reminder to those that may still have been waiting to act on the Friday email.

So lessons learned for the future.


Responsiveness was crucial throughout the campaign. Sure the ads and organic posts were scheduled but we benefited from me dipping in and tweaking copy, bids and targeting based on what real time results were telling me. I was also learning over the weekend from customer reaction, what other brands were doing and how the algorithm was working – all this informed the content I created for the last big push that was Cyber Monday.

This has also given us a glimpse of the future for promotional posts. Facebook is very much Pay To Play unless you have non promotional content but with a clever use of budget (and for clever read putting in the hours researching, testing and setting up ads) you can get good results on very small budgets.

Comparing what I paid for the third party email list and Facebook ads I’d choose the ads every time. And I will continue to invest in building our own list organically and focus on serving them great quality content, building up trust and permission to occasionally talk to them about products. Pretty much the same way I feel about my Facebook newsfeed.

Want to learn more? Come and see Marie teach live

Marie is teaching a number of  “Deep Dive” days on Facebook Marketing throughout 2015 both live in London and Manchester and also as extended webinars. She would love for some Smart Insights subscribers to join her! Click to register to receive updates as dates are announced.

There is also a day on marketing with the “other” social networks including Twitter, YouTube and Google Plus. Click for more info.

]]> 0
How to get to No 1 in the mind of your customer in B2B marketing Tue, 16 Dec 2014 07:55:51 +0000 Where to focus to get ahead and stay ahead of the competition

It isn’t always about embracing the newest, shiniest techniques. Instead, the fundamentals of consistency, reliability and credibility are often more important to make an impact with customers.

Customers may often cite innovation as one of the must haves, but it’s rarely at the top of the list. In B2B, they want continuity and risk mitigation.

That’s why web searches, supplier websites, and email remain the primary information sources for the modern business buyer. These are the tools that allow customers to seek out products and services, to learn about the companies that provide them and to ensure they are regularly updated on them.

In our recent “Six ways to turbocharge your B2B marketing” webinar – now available on demand – we discussed six ways to ensure you are at the forefront of your B2B customer’s mind. For those of you too busy to find 45 minutes for the webinar, here are the highlights.

Remember why you are in business

The underlying premise of effective B2B (digital) marketing lies in engaging customers and prospects and providing them with useful, relevant content that improves their own business’ revenue and performance and positions yours as an expert to rely upon. Keep this mind as you look at deploying the different elements of your marketing mix.

Turbo charging your website in B2B

There are three fairly certain truths when it comes to Internet marketing.

  1. A vendor’s own search is still the no 1 way buyers assess suppliers
  2. Your website is your 100% owned way of controlling what they see, learn and how they feel about your business. Ensure it is packed with they want (see website must haves below)
  3. All promotional routes need to lead somewhere – your website!

Graph showing website must haves

We discussed in previous posts building responsive into your website design and making an impact with digital marketing how companies like Trelleborg are overhauling their websites to put the customer and all marketing at the centre of everything. (NB: These are discussed in more detail in the webinar too).

Turbo charging your search marketing

Getting found then becomes the next challenge.

Search can be used effectively to support key campaigns and regional activity depending on your priorities. My advice is to start small with test campaigns to roll out further at later stage, rather than running a high level repeating spend – unless you are an ecommerce brand.

Reputable SEO experts will have a long checklist including things like keyword checking and selection, meta data incl. descriptions , URL and page titles, h tags, alt tags for images, anchor text on links, body copy, CTA copy. Getting all this behind the scenes content right impacts on where a page ranks in search.

And not having optimised pages is a severe obstacle to search marketing success. This may require a different approach in terms of campaign landing pages if it can’t be addressed.

If you are marketing internationally, it is important to ensure any campaigns are set up on the right country search engine, ideally with locally hosted and domain relevant pages – i.e. running French ads on to a .fr page will have a more beneficial impact and be perceived more significantly by the local search engine.

Finally, having the right inbound links can dramatically improve your visibility online. Existing digital PR plays a part by targeting trade media but there are so many other influences on page rank that can and should be considered too. (Each could then be monitored using referral goals in Google Analytics).

search marketing link building graphic

Turbo charging your email marketing

The nirvana of B2B digital marketing is converting web visitors to engaged prospect, then transactional customer. So once your brilliant content has been found on your website through search, you need to ensure you give visitors a reason to part with their contact data – so you can continue the dialogue and dig a little deeper to meet their needs.

This means email marketing is so much more than the email.

Email is still one of the most important B2B marketing touch points because it offers a direct way to access the people you want to interact with most. It is opt in, personal, immediate, transactional and gets more attention than any other medium.

Email works best when focused on problem resolution, the usable and useful nature of the solution, the context in which it is offered and where it is housed. Consideration, too needs to be given to the power of putting the right content in front of the right people at the right time.

Event triggered marketing graphic

Email isn’t just about newsletters. Most recipients don’t read them anyway– at best scanning the first item. Click through and interest drops off markedly per item.

Use email as a way to build advocacy and to engage recipients more.

Think about your own online experiences. Don’t you trust the brands where you get a double opt in, click to verify, a welcome, a thanks when you do something, a confirmation of order / despatch, or reminders on time sensitive deals.

Rethink your touch point strategy and build a little ecommerce thinking into your approach. Base your email around the actions your customers are already taking.

Turbo charging your story with great high impact content

Businesses solve real world problems for people who make value based decisions on the products and services they buy. There is a growing movement towards aligning more emotion with the rationality in the B2B buying process and for good reason.

Professional buyers in all categories aren’t just looking to make money, save money, reduce waste, improve performance. They want the reassurance of making good decisions, want the kudos for selecting well and want to get on in their career. This is where the story of what you do, how you do it, who does it and why you do it better than anyone else is critical in warming people towards you.

I could talk about content all day, but the best content grabs something inside us, tells a story, convinces us, moves us. That story telling ethic can work for your business too if you think CURE.

CURE content model graphic

Compelling – it is content presented in an engaging way

Useful – it is both useful and useable, the piece of content of itself can be applied to my situation

Relevant – it is advice on a subject relevant to me

Effective – it makes me want to do something as a result.

Turbo charging your social media marketing

Seven out of ten business people say that B2B brands don’t do a good job of communicating with them online, according to a survey conducted in late 2013 by Maxus, the media planning and buying arm of advertising giant WPP.

The findings suggest that suppliers may be neglecting a huge audience of corporate buyers, who are perfectly willing to engage with brands and to hear their messages on social media, just so long as they’re relevant.

Of the 500 respondents to the Maxus survey, 86 percent said they were keen to see company news from suppliers on social media, 79 percent wanted to receive promotions and 66 percent said they wanted information on product development.

For me, Bosch do a great job on social media in and around their Facebook page, making full use of the platforms’s opportunities to host and post content, create areas for specific audiences and draw on a rich and diverse history. I’m sure you can do the same to create a brand profile people want to connect with.

Bosch facebook page

Being customer centric in all you do

So to the final part of the six part turbo charging your b2b marketing adventure. As I mentioned at the top of this piece, it isn’t a technique, a platform or a tool. It’s more a state of mind.

You’ll read lots of predictions over the next few weeks (including mine) around things you should be spending money and time on to try and improve your cut-through. Tools that will help unearth more data for you to analyse. But the reality is, all the feedback you need to improve is sitting right in front of you.

Whether you start or finish with this, putting the customer and their experience at the heart of everything you do is key. Doing this transcends tools, platforms and technology and puts you much more in a service frame of mind.

UX customer centric experience

It is a great time to think about turbo charging your B2B marketing. Start by acccessing the free “Six ways to turbocharge your B2B marketing” webinar or by downloading the new Smart Insights B2B digital marketing bible today.

Author’s note: At the time of the webinar referenced, René was business development director for BDB. He is currently an independent business marketing consultant.

]]> 0
How to use Social Proof to boost conversions and leads Mon, 15 Dec 2014 11:50:00 +0000 Examples showing the value of social proof in boosting email subscriptions

socialfollowersIf you’ve ever watched sitcoms, you probably have a good idea what ‘canned laughter’ is – it’s a track of ‘people laughing played in the background’ every time there is something funny on the screen. This way TV producers can alter our perception of a particular scene as its perceived to be funnier. It’s not a secret trick psychologists have been silent about, but one of behavioural patterns we all follow intuitively. It’s called social proof, and it can throw a whole new light on your email marketing operations.

Social proof is a phenomenon occurring when people undergo a process of decision-making. Our brains are programmed to automatically follow other people’s behaviour.

Once we notice a large group of individuals have made certain decisions, it is very likely that we will perceive it to be a good one and be persuaded to do the same. It’s a way of people copying the behaviour of others!. So this valuable information is key as it can be useful for growing your subscriber list, promoting a product or generating more conversions.

Social Proof in subscriber list growth

Large numbers have the power of attracting people’s attention. So, if there are a lot of people who already signed up to your subscriber list, don’t keep it a secret.

Revealing the actual number of subscribers opting in to receive your messages is a clear signal that your content is interesting and relevant for many people. Additionally, it triggers subconscious desire to follow the crowd’s behaviour

Many brands use this technique to be more efficient in acquiring email addresses of website visitors. Here is how Brain Pages and Do The Yoga highlight their number of subscribers:


Source: Brainpages



Social Proof in product promotion

Sometimes we make bad choices, but our brain processes even the most irrational decisions in order to find a good reason to support them. Usually, it’s backed up by the opinion of a brand influencer or observation of other people’s behaviour. That’s why we are flooded with testimonials and reviews of products made by well-recognized professionals with considerable authority.

As being a subject to authority is determined by different behavioural patterns, there are still social proof elements in this technique. They’re hidden in the number of positive opinions about the product and faces of people sharing this opinion.

Posting many positive comments about a product is a way of telling people that a large group of people is happy about it. Better yet if there are influencers in this group. Here is how LinkedIn encourages to join their network:


Source: LinkedIn

Blizzard Entertainment also decided to use this method and invites to join a group of over 100 million World of Warcraft players:


Source: World of Warcraft

Unless we are not loyal to a certain brand, presented with two alternative products that are priced similarly, we tend to choose the one of a better quality. But is there a proven way to measure quality? One good indicator of quality are awards won by the product. Such accolade is a great vehicle for driving further positive opinions and recommendations.

How to increase conversions

Regardless of what conversion in your business means, social proof can also make a difference here. Just brag about the number of clients who followed your call to action and are happy about the result. If the figure is a considerable, , chances are that the rest will follow without giving it a second thought. In product promotion, the authority of influencers is key, but then it’s better to enhance social proof’s effect by allowing your prospects to identify with the group of existing clients. This method has been used by Alchemy Worx – a well-known email marketing agency. In their newsletter sent to thousands of marketers they emphasized that a new tool they were promoting at that time had already been in use by over 800 other marketers.


Source: AlchemyWorx

Negative effects of social proof

Applying the social proof technique shouldn’t be an option in some cases. If you don’t want social proof to have an opposite effect, don’t reveal the number of evangelists in the following cases:

  • Your subscriber list size is not impressive
  • There haven’t been multiple positive comments on your product
  • Few clients tried your product so far.

Also, mind the tone used for communicating your success. It’s important to keep it positive. By writing:

‘Many others missed the opportunity to…’

we’re actually making a prospect think that since many people didn’t take that chance, it must have been a good decision, after all. It’s a subconscious thought that appears in people’s mind when encountering a negative message. In order to make sure prospects make the right choices (for you), a marketer needs to choose their words intelligently.

In 1972, American researchers, Mary Smyth and Raymond Fuller, described ‘canned laughter’ as an efficient tool for altering perception of received information. It took place when the first email ever had been sent a year earlier over the ARPANET network and marketing, as we know it, was in its infancy. Nevertheless, thanks to researchers, now we are consciously making use of behavior patterns. Just keep these 3 simple rules in mind and you will maximize your email marketing effects:

    • Rule 1. Show how many subscribers are there in your list
    • Rule 2. Share positive opinions about your product
    • Rule 3. Let everyone see who is your client
Image/Copyright: Istockphoto
]]> 0