Digital Marketing Archives - Klaxon

techmap: Overcoming Content Shock

All hail techmap! What a brilliant evening.

A massive round of applause to last night’s panel of experts: Emily Turner, Doug Kessler and Gareth Case, who provided great insight into strategies and tactics for overcoming content shock. We hope you left last night’s Meetup with some key takeaways about how best to handle the content revolution.

Emily Turner kick started the talks by taking us back a decade to consider just how far content marketing has come. She reminded us of a time when CD-ROMS were the norm and when market research would only skim the surface, providing limited insights surrounding our audience we were trying to reach.

Fast forward 10 years, we are now engulfed by a mass of technology and data is at the cornerstone of everything we do, but more than ever, it appears we are moving further away from the audience we are trying to connect and engage with.

Let’s look at Tesco & Lush as examples.

Two large organisations that have recently had to set-up digital organisations in London, to carry out meetings across departmental functions, to consider consumer insights. Even some of the most successful big brand names are asking for help in an attempt to get closer to their audience.

Doug Kessler started his talk with a few calculations and came to the conclusion that we’ve been living with content shock for over 450 years; reiterating that content marketing is not a new thing. 450 years? That sure adds up to a big boatload of content and nowadays, every B2B marketing agency is cramming the word content into everything they do. Again, do the math – lots and lots and lots more content from more and more sources being produced. In Doug’s famous words, “we’re all about to be buried in Crap.

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Doug went on to talk about the key factors which content shock appears to ignore,

1. Granularity

2. Change

3. Quality

According to Doug, there will always be a vacuum for new content but there’s content and there’s capital C content. Just doing content marketing doesn’t cut it anymore; you have to be doing it right and you have to be hitting home-runs repeatedly. Create a brand that people want to come back to, how? By creating content that captures your audiences’ attention.

Doug highlighted how to increase the likelihood of hitting home-runs with your content,

1. Create content with confidence

2. Stay in your sweet spot

3. Create content which displays emotion

Gareth Case began his talk by giving the audience something to think about, “ask yourself this, would the same piece of content work for a CEO of a bank and the CTO of a bank?”

Gareth posed as a case study at last night’s Meetup and demonstrated the use of Turtl by Xchanging. He introduced Turtl, as a digital publishing tool, which in his opinion, successfully bridges the content online gap by redefining collateral. Xchanging are the first Turtl customer in the world, and have replaced all customer facing materials including, presentations, white-papers, brochures and fact sheets, newsletters and surveys and the list goes on.

Gareth went on to give an overview of how Turtl poses as an analytics engine allowing you to,

  • See who’s reading your content
  • And for how long
  • And on what device
  • And in what country
  • And if they’re sharing it
  • And who with…

Gareth advocates that Turtl has produced great results for Xchanging; “78% click-through rate on our first email, social sharing up by 600%, 22% of our readers are engaging in polls… actual leads are being captured.”

Gareth’s key takeaway note – “start strong and the content recycling opportunities are almost endless.”

The talks were followed by a great Q&A session; here’s a snippet for you:

1. How do you strike the balance between data and creativity? 

Emily: You need to understand the holistic approach, the real conversions; put the user at the heart of what you are doing.

Gareth: Data is vital to what we do but ultimately the user needs to be central to everything you do.

2. Content generation – what brands are pioneering the way?

Emily: Government Digital Service, everything they do is about transparency in terms of codes and processes, and what they share. Others that spring to mind include Association of Account Technicians and Institute of Engineering, particularly for their YouTube content.

Gareth: SAS; in B2C terms a brand called Bounty – their content is really personalised and empathy wise its definitely up there. Paddy Power is another great example.

Doug: B2B wise its got to be MailChimp, HubSpot and GE, GE are especially pioneering the way; in terms of B2C, although it seems cliche, Nike – they have such attitude.

3. Does content marketing still have value?

Gareth: Most definitely; its the most important part of the marketing mix and it sits at the heart of the mix.

Doug: People think it is a hype and a fad; but can you ever imagine a time when packaging up your expertise to help your team do their jobs is non-existent? Content marketing is much more fundamental than a fad. Yes it has faddish elements but its here to stay.

Emily: Yes and B2B are ahead because of personalisation and segmentation. B2C are trying too much to be membership organisations that’s why they are lagging behind.

 4. Some B2B marketers loath using marketing automation tools as they feel it makes their role redundant. How can they adapt?

Gareth: Tools to curate content are really important otherwise your required to have a team on hand 24/7. Realistically, nowadays it is almost impossible to manual automate content.

Doug: People jump into using tools even before they  know what they are using them for; education is key.

A key takeaway from last night’s Meetup? “Become a life long learner and that’s how you can overcome content shock.” (Quote: Emily Turner).

What a great evening. We hope you left feeling a little less bewildered by content shock and gained some ideas which you can apply to your own business, agency, or marketing plan. We’ll be posting videos of the talks up on the blog here just as soon as they have been edited. 

Be sure to keep an eye out for the next techmap Meetup – Is Data the Holy Grail for Marketers? Registration is open now.

A Marketer’s Guide to Using Meerkat

Is Meerkat the next big thing in social media?

The Meerkat Lowdown

Meerkat is an app that allows users to live stream video from their mobile phones. It was officially launched at the end of February 2015 and to date, the app has seen an explosion of sign-ups, with more than 300,000 active users currently on the service (including some pretty cool celebrities.. Snoop Dogg and Jimmy Fallon).

The idea behind the Meerkat app is pretty simple; it allows users to stream live video from a mobile device directly to Twitter, in turn allowing other users to subscribe to and attend these live streams. And that’s not it.. It doesn’t just broadcast video content, it also lets you have real-time interaction with other users who are watching the stream.

So does Meerkat stand a chance at being the next big thing?

We all know that live streaming certainly isn’t new. One of the earliest live streaming platforms, Justin.tv, launched in 2007. It’s shutters were closed in 2014 so that its founders could devote resources to Twitch, a live streaming service specifically for video games, which Amazon subsequently acquired for close to a billion dollars.

Another comparable live streaming service – Ustream, also launched in 2007, used to stream more than 2 million live events each month. However Ustream predominantly sells its service to businesses, and so is not directly targeting the consumer market like Meerkat.

More recent live streaming services – Vine, launched in 2013 and Snapchat launched in 2011, may need to take a back seat, step aside and make way for the new app in town – Meerkat.

 

How to Add Meerkat Into Your Marketing Mix

The live streaming video app has seen a colossal rise in popularity – but using it properly to reap the benefits is a challenge. We highlight a few suggestions of how marketer’s could implement Meerkat into the marketing mix:

1. Demonstrations

What better way to demonstrate how your product or service can be used by consumers, than by using video. Many brands could benefit from real-time video demonstrations, for example software companies could show prospective customer examples of  how their software apps are being used.

2. Events

When you’re hosting an event, the likelihood of your entire audience attending is unlikely. But should that mean they miss out? No. So why not live-stream talks and presentations; involve the Twitter community using the appropriate #.

3. Promotions and deals

We all love a good discount deal. So offer consumers exclusive promotional codes which they can only access by tuning into your Meerkat video. This means your build a large following from the initial word go.

4. Interviews

Can you think of a better way to demonstrate brand transparency and industry expertise than by using interviews? (Whilst you ponder, let’s continue this discussion..)

Who likes to think they are talking to a robot on Twitter or Facebook? Not me. Well it can be highly beneficial for brands to demonstrate their human side.

5. Tips and guides

Most websites have an FAQ page. Meerkat can be used to answer a variety of FAQs but in a more customised and human like manner. Who wants to read a lengthy piece of text, detailing how to use something? It’s far easier when someone shows you.

6. Storytelling

Storytelling is a huge part of content marketing at the moment. We all like to understand the history behind a brand and how it got to where it is today. By using live-stream video, the authenticity of a brand can really shine through.

Why not introduce the audience to your headquarters and employees. This is great for demonstrating brand transparency. Meerkat really let’s the audience in.

The Future for Video and Meerkat

Video is a huge part of digital marketing, and whilst it’s still early days for Meerkat, the app could grow into a social media powerhouse. If used correctly, Meerkat could generate a larger volume of engagement than any other social media channels currently being used.

As marketer’s we should be thinking outside the box. Increasingly more than ever, content is being shared in real-time and so getting videos right the first time means creating a strong and rewarding connection with our audiences.

To find out more about using Meerkat in your business please contact us here. You can also leave a question in the comments below.

techmap: Is Programmatic the Future of Advertising?

What a great evening! We found out all the answers at our first techmap event.

A common agreement among our speakers from last night was that ‘we all need educating when it comes to programmatic’. It was suggested a lack of education, combined with an urgency to break into the programmatic space, is creating a whirlwind of confusion.

Andy Bush Senior Vice President of Time Inc

Andy kicked off the evening’s chatter by stating programmatic is not rocket science. Only two things are needed when it comes down to programmatic:

1. a publisher

2. a client.

Andy used a simple definition: ‘programmatic refers to delivering a set unit at a set price’. 

With this in mind, a key question when considering programmatic should be considered:

“what are we delivering in programmatic form so the end user has a great experience?”

So many people are trying to make money from programmatic, but are not understanding the experience for the end user or how to go about creating it. Again, creating unnecessary confusion around the subject area.

Andy went on to explain how Time Inc has moved beyond just digital and into print programmatic; enabling advertisers, initially in the US, to target the most highly desired segments in the digital marketplace in print too.

Jack Rutter Platform Director at TubeMogul

Jack contended that programmatic is going to play a massive part in the future of advertising. Whether it be through TubeMogul’s software, or anybody else such as Google or MediaMath and so on. The fact that software enables the central planning, management and reporting of advertising campaigns across multiple formats means that programmatic is here to stay.

Jack explained that ever since the evolution of the internet, a programmatic approach made sense. Search was the first to utilise software to automate the buying of key words with demand or auction based pricing. After that came display and in it’s initial guise it looked like programmatic was more aligned with DR (direct response) than branding.

Jack referred to Marc Andreessen and how he once famously said that “software is eating the world”. If we reflect on the changes in the way that business is done and how we live our lives now versus 25 years ago he is right. In the UK programmatic across digital is beginning to mature and in the near future we will start to see programmatic buying software being utilised to buy and sell TV spots, Outdoor bill boards and even on daily press ads.

Gawain Owen Digital Lead at Nestle UK & Ireland

Gawain started by referring to when Nestle were approached about a product called Xaxis, offering programmatic trading. He explains how the product works a bit like a washing machine; you put something in, spin it around and it comes out the other side with a bit of targeting to it. From then onwards he set himself the task to go into the market to really understand how programmatic works.

Gawain suggests programmatic trading really isn’t that difficult to get to grips with. He goes onto explain inventory as ‘the ad available’ and ‘the ability to target the consumer through data; with data you can target very precisely where you want to get to’. We now understand through data that people who want to buy a Nestle Nespresso machine go on more websites than just the four which serve a whole range of websites so we now use both adverse party and third party data.

Gawain reveals that Nestle spend about 30% of its money in digital adverting, of which a significant amount goes into programmatic trading. Nestle currently collaborates with 3 different types of companies, including agency trade desks (audience on demand), specialist trade desks (programmatic companies) and search agencies; whilst identifying the pros and cons of each one of them.

Demand side, Nestle currently work with TubeMogul and Google. The company also looks at data management platforms to identify how data can be aggravated across all mediums. Ultimately, no brand can grow its market share if its advertising is not being seen – thus buying and analysing inventory for verification purposes is paramount in today’s digital world.

Stephane Lecuyot Digital Acquisition Manager at Nestle Nespresso

Stephane discusses how programmatic is still very new; but that the key thing is to get transparency and efficiency and to move away from that very rigid and fixed media plan towards a more flexible media plan.

He goes on to explain how the company used to buy display and negotiate with publishers; this was then booked for 3 months. Within these 3 months there was no room for optimisation from the data which was received. But now with programmatic we can optimise, we have full transparency and for us that’s the key thing – its really cost-efficient in showing banners with the right message.

During the Q&A session, a series of questions posed to the panelist were, “what surprised you the most about programmatic, which one piece of advice and learning material, should we as the audience take away with us tonight?”

The answers included:

Jack Rutter: Biggest surprise was the level of talk about fraud in the dirty parts of programmatic; publishers who don’t have an inventory, buy-in from somewhere else, which feeds into the dirty parts of the industry.

Andy Bush: “The one piece of advice I would give would be to read, absorb & consume everything; embed yourself into programmatic because it is the future of buying.”

Gawain Owen: Learning material – work with smart agencies and people. Source the people who you can see have their head well and truly screwed on in the programmatic scene. People talking to people means that everyone is on the programmatic journey together.

Stephane Lecuyot: My advice? Check everything.

What a great evening. We hope you left with a better understanding of programmatic advertising, or buying, and some ideas you can apply to your own business, agency, or marketing plan.

The Three Ss of Technical SEO Explained

Search engine optimisation is becoming ever-more user focused. Content, context, and conversation are more important than ever, as search engine algorithms become better at understanding what is on a page, what is trusted content and opinion, and whether that page is relevant. With all that taken into account, it could be argued that the technical side of SEO is less needed. Search engines have improved at extracting meaning from pages, allowing the best content to rise to the top and the most talked about issues to stay prominent for longer.

I say that technical improvements for search are more important than ever, but not for the sake of directly pleasing algorithms, for improving the user experience –  one of the largest factors in search. Whilst hundreds of individual technical tasks may fall under the reign of a search engine optimisation specialist, everything can be framed within three factors:

  • 1. Speed
  • 2. Structure
  • 3. Security

If you want a checklists of tasks to help you rank well in search, you’re in the wrong place (though there are plenty of other posts, on this site and others, which will help you with that). My goal here is to deliver the why behind technical optimisation – to help you understand what matters to your users and to search engines. Hopefully to help you think of Google, Bing or Yahoo as just another individual with needs and wants to satisfy.

Speed, or don’t be seen

Let me tell you a little story about speed.

In Google’s company philosophy, user focus and speed matter. Stating that;

Fast is better than slow

Focus on the user and all else will follow

Those statements are true for Google’s search algorithms. Since 2010 Google’s PageSpeed has been a factor in search; including a dozen metrics which consider page size, scripting, and on-page speed optimisation – all in the context of user experience.

So, why is speed a considered factor in search?

In the last 5 years, there has been an observable decrease in attention from people whom are currently online. There has also been a rapid shift toward mobile and tablet devices changing the way we search and consume content. When browsing on mobile information is often time-sensitive and subject to the constraints of mobile networks, meaning that a slow loading pages are frequently left.

Some experts in the SEO industry call this behaviour ‘pogo-sticking’ – jumping away from one page before or just after it loads. This has a large negative impact in your ranking. Not only will Google rank your site less highly for that ‘pogo-sticking’ user, but it will also factor into your overall ranking for that page. Google interprets pogo-sticking as a user not finding what they want, and so improves user experience by decreasing the ranking of a slow loading page.

In addition; speed has a massive effect on conversion. When Mozilla optimised its Firefox download page for speed, a 2.2 seconds decrease in page load time resulted in a 15.4% increase in downloads. Admittedly, it’s not clear how long this test was run for, but they have proven a strong correlation (for data lovers) and the additional 60 million downloads this speed improvement delivered in 2010 isn’t to be sniffed at.

Speed is all about how quickly your users can get from a search engine page to the information they want, which when combined with a solid structure is vital for users and search engines…

Solid structure supports everything

Algorithms seek structure.

Structure (done right) should almost give preference to search-engine bots over users. Users are adaptable, people after all have been developing and changing since the year… and for better of worse, if your users want something, they will deal with a little bit of momentary processing to reach their goal. Algorithms on the other-hand are less fluid, they can only use the data given to them, rather than making assumptions like you or I.

Giving search engines more data has its risks and rewards. More data gives more points of comparison, which can positively effect your site’s performance, or if your site is intentionally misleading, poorly configured, or badly designed, provide more negative ranking factors. There are several steps you can take to make sure that search engines understand how all the pages fit together, sometimes by doing little more than creating links.

link piramid

Build your site with a logical structure with pages getting more specific the deeper you go – Moz

Remember a while back I said I would explain ‘the why’. Well, the why for structure is because algorithms, for all their knowledge, make assumptions in a way that attempts to mimic user interaction, but in many cases is not close to parody.

Sure you can use sitemaps to demonstrate holistically the context of a website. You can also use microdata to add additional semantic ‘meaning’ and information priority to guide the eyes of search engines toward what matters, but it does not (yet) replace human monitoring and curation. That’s why search engines use data from your browsing habits to inform the value that a page/or site provides.

Remember back at the top of this section I said structure is more for search than users, that’s not entirely true. Search engines do prioritise site and page structure over data gathered about user habits, though for how long, it’s hard to tell

Security shouldn’t be a second-thought

Security is all about keeping the wrong users out and letting the right ones in.

Search engines like consistency, for example, they value domains that have been established for years far more highly than those which are months old. As such, consistency should run through every aspect of a search strategy, from content to engaging in conversation — something which is impossible if your site is down for days or is penalised due to bad code or practice.

Sites that are poorly secured, have limited time left on their domain registration, or have long periods of down-time are not a friend of search engines. With that in mind, security and consistency should be your first priority. Everything from backup, preventing insertion of malicious code, server maintenance and insuring adequate password policies all comes under security. It’s about ensuring that you always have the greatest possible control over your online presence, and proving what your site delivers is trustworthy and authoritative.

For one of the most important elements of managing your ranking in search, security is most often overlooked. It’s an area which many ‘Search Engine Professionals’ don’t realise they know too little about until it’s too late.

hacked warning

Getting this warning will be the kiss of death for your click through rate at the very least.

Think about it this way, just as you’re trying to gain ranking in search, so are other businesses, and in high competition sectors some organisations think reducing your ranking in search is a valid element in their optimisation strategy.

Let me give you a theoretical worst-case scenario if your security is lapse, which happened to a previous client of mine…

A site in a highly competitive field saw increases in authority and ranking due to an aggressive link building strategy which involved getting several thousand links a month, fuelled by content marketing.

Whilst the majority of the these links were from respectable sources, this vast increase in links made it less obvious that negative SEO (the practice of getting low value links, or performing actions which would reduce a site’s authority) was being performed on the site by a competitor.

Due to a lack of effective monitoring, and limited concern for low quality links, the site received a Google Penalty. Which took six months and several thousand pounds to recover from – resulting tens of thousands of pounds in lost leads from search.

Technically perfect SEO

With search becoming ever more mobile-focused, and users expecting increasingly accurate and rapid responses from search, Google (etc) have had to consider more than just links and content. As search marketing continues to progress, I envision a landscape where it is less acceptable for the site to be technically weak. Every user interaction with your site will (sooner or later) become a ranking factor – from bounce rate, to time on site, to engagement through social – and lax speed, structure and security are three factors which will negatively effect usability more than any-other. That is why you should value a solid technological foundation, because when 90% of your users are lost before they even reach your site, achieving conversion or ranking targets becomes impossible.

If you have any questions about search and how it can benefit your business, I’ll be happy to answer any questions in the comments below.

…or if you fancy a chat I’m always available @YianniPelekanos on Twitter.

Critical Success Factors for Email Marketing Part Two

Looking to build and maintain good relationships with your customers and spread the word about your products and services? If the answer is yes, it is time to start the email marketing. This post includes some of the critical success factors for email marketing that you should consider along with our earlier blog here.

Email marketing is typically the tactic that businesses rely on for building their audiences. However for a lot of B2B marketers email marketing can be a difficult one to crack despite it being the preferred channel for both personal and business communication. Undeterred by the recent growth of online marketing platforms, email marketing still rightly holds a strong position as a communications tactic; evidently a large proportion of contemporary businesses depend on it as a method of engagement. Obviously if email marketing is not executed correctly the return rate provided for a business will be profoundly low.

Why? Predominantly due to the vast volume of email sent and received on a daily basis.

Read on to learn how to amplify your own email marketing strategies, which in turn will not only support increases in your engagement levels but also the success as a whole of your email campaigns.

1. Mobile Email Marketing

Email marketing for mobiles has seen substantial growth over the past five years due to the increase in ownership of smart devices; it is now near impossible to avoid sending email campaigns that will be viewed on a mobile device. In fact, recipients are bound to dismiss an email if it is not optimised for mobile use. Thus there must be initial clarity to recipients that emails sent from your business are mobile friendly. Consequently recipients are likely to be more responsive.

2. Personalised Email Marketing

Attempt to treat each recipient as a unique being can bring real results for your business. Create a point of differentiation for your customers by ensuring that you are not boring them with the same format of emails that every other business is. Become more personal in your approach; it will be substantially more powerful and is likely to leave the recipient pondering over the email content.

3. Targeted Email Marketing

Conveying the correct value and content to the correct people should be a paramount focus when emailing content. Nearly every email newsletter service provides a method of tracking and analysing businesses subscribers. From here, you are able to send out targeted emails, which are far more affective in conveying their message. Essentially the more data gathered about recipients the more tailored the content can be.

4. Marketing Automation and Behavioural Targeting

Marketing automation should be a paramount focus when considering email marketing; this particular subset of customer relationship management will help to define, segment and track audience behaviours via multiple online platforms more efficiently than manual processes ever would. Consequently, marketing automation will support the delivery of email marketing content, which targets the specific behaviours of your audience.

The result? Your return rate will increase. It really is that simple – Create more relevant and personalised content for your audience and you will experience increases in your engagement levels.

Finally, adding a short postscript to the end of the email will help to inject a level of awareness among recipients about who you are and what your business has to offer. The postscript is a short but meaningful reminder to recipients.

Adoption of the correct techniques when utilising email as a marketing tool can generate positive retention leads for your business.

To find out more about how to generate fantastic results from email marketing, get in touch; we would be delighted to talk. You can also leave your top tips in the comments section below.

If you enjoyed this post why not also consider the following, written by Klaxon, with you in mind!

Tips for Conference Email Marketing

Want to learn even more about how to generate success for your email marketing? Why not read the following post with a focus on the three C’s of SEO; all three C’s can be applied to email marketing and can help to support the generation of the greatest level of success for your business.

Three Cs of SEO

3 Tips to Help You Build Quality Curated Content

We all know the importance of quality content marketing, but how can you do it without investing huge amounts of time and budget?

The answer of course is content curation, a process defined by wikipedia as:

Content curation is the process of collecting, organising and displaying information relevant to a particular topic or area of interest.

But is it as simple as it first sounds. Well, yes and no.

To deliver an effective content curation engine you must commit yourself by carving out a block of time every morning to read through the latest articles, social posts and related content to determine what is share worthy. But this can be time consuming, so to avoid spending the entirety of your day generating content, below are three platforms to help you source quality and relevant content quickly.

1. Google Alerts

Google Alerts will flag and email to you any articles that relate to a set of keywords and phrases you have define. A very simple way to keep an eye on the web for content of interest and value to your audience without the need to spend the entire time glued to your screen.

Although sifting emails and reading through articles can be timely, Google Alerts does take a lot of the legwork out of content curation. Not only that, you can use it for monitoring your competition and mentions of your brand too.

Jeff Bullas notes “alerts from Google give you a fantastic sense of when and how your brand is mentioned, relevant news stories and blog posts, and information on your competition.”

2. Social Networks

Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Pinterest are all platforms that can provide you with a wealth of content to distribute across your own social networks.

Leveraging platforms such as Commun.it will help you to target relevant influencers to build a network around. By following and engaging with key influencers you will be able to identify topics of interest that are spurring conversation and generating buzz.

You can retweet these conversations to your own following and thus contribute quality and relevant content. Furthermore, by identifying and interacting with key influencers, you will build credibility as a contributor of content in this space.

When using social media, you must be aware of and avoid falling into the trap of just “retweeting” or sharing content without adding your own insight, to provide further value. Jeff Bullas stresses that adding your own comments will help to differentiate yourself from everyone else who shared that content.

Using curation engines will be another efficient way to help you sift through the mass amounts of volume that social platforms produce.

3. Curation Engines

Hootsuite is a social media management system for brand management. By entering targeted keywords and hash tags, the platform will monitor and curate all social content with those identified words in their posts and display it in a stream for you to peruse. You can then share at your convenience through your social channels.

Oktopost is a social media management platform for b2b  marketers. It provides tools for marketing teams to schedule campaigns, engage with prospects and generate leads from social media. It also has a content curation engine which skims the web and recommends content based on the number of clicks and converted leads generated by content you have previous shared. It is particularly strong in creating opportunities to share content through Linkedin.

Curata is another software as a service tool that enables marketers to curate relevant and quality content. The only downside is it isn’t free unlike the other platforms. However it may be a worthwhile solution if mass amounts of content curation are required.

If you take advantage of the content curation platforms at your disposal, and are careful to use them properly, there should be no reason why you can’t produce quality and relevant content everyday to share with your current and prospective clients.

Of course the real value in content marketing comes when you share your own, original content. But faced with budget and time constraints, content curation is a great way of keeping a pulse running through your social channels and your target audience aware of your existence.

Split Testing – What’s that All About?

split testing for marketers

In today’s B2B marketing landscape, the ability to optimise a campaign’s performance is
essential.

Return on investment is what marketers are ultimately concerned with. Therefore it’s essential to evaluate metrics that provide insight into why, or why not, a campaign is performing well during execution. With digital marketing a lot can be achieved with split testing or A/B testing.

A good example is with email marketing. Here metrics have typically offered insight post campaign through analysis of the click through rate, conversion rate, bounce rate, email sharing/forwarding rate etc. However marketers have been unable to answer the question “Why?”. Why was a campaign successful or unsuccessful?

Without fully understanding ‘why’, regardless of what the metrics are depicting, you are in the dark and unable to identify how to make performance improvements.

But there is another way, it’s called split testing and is also known as A/B testing.

What Is A/B Testing?

A/B or split testing is essentially where you test the performance of two different version of your creative in order to identify which version is higher performing. Armed with this knowledge you can optimise your campaign.

In email marketing, when setting up an email blast you can randomly split a small section of your database into two groups: A & B. You then deliver a unique message to each group to determine which is more effective, before sending the higher performing creative to your entire database. Major email marketing platforms such as MailChimp and Campaign Monitor offer this service and highlight the following example:

When sending out an email touting your new vanilla ice cream, one group gets a subject line that says, “Creamiest French Vanilla Ice Cream Available Now” and the other reads, “Lowest Prices on Vanilla Ice Cream Around!” You can then test version A against version B to see which has a higher open rate, click through rate, and even conversion rate.”

For a large email marketing campaign, using split testing can have a profound impact on the overall success levels.

What To Test?

What to test depends on your goals. Mailchimp suggests if your goal is to increase the number of email sign-ups, you might test length of the sign-up form, types of fields in the form, display of privacy policy, ‘social proof,’ etc.

The goal of A/B testing in this case is to figure out what prevents visitors from signing up. Is the form’s length intimidating? Are visitors concerned about privacy? Or does the website do a bad job of convincing visitors to sign up? All of these questions can be answered one by one by testing the appropriate website elements.

Even though every A/B test is unique, certain elements are usually tested and you should try the following:

  • Subject line
  • Use of personalisation in the headline
  • The call to action wording, button size, colour and placement
  • Headline or product description
  • Form’s length and types of fields
  • Product pricing and promotional offers
  • Images on landing and product pages
  • Short vs long form content
  • Layout of landing page

By watching the key metrics such as the click through rate, conversion rate, bounce rate etc, you can compare and contrast the different versions of your campaign and choose the highest performing version.

A/B or split testing can offer significant insight into your audiences and how to optimise your campaign. It’s time we all got a bit more scientific with our marketing.

Please get in touch if you would like some help to start testing your campaigns, whether emails, landing pages or other digital marketing assets.

 

What B2B Marketers Can Learn from the King of Cookies

OreoFor over a century children and adults alike have been repeatedly dunking in milk, nibbling around the edges, and/or methodically and delicately twisting apart the two chocolate wafers that sandwich the sweet cream icing filling, which make up an iconic Oreo cookie.

With the power to stop and cause tears, this best selling cookie has been a staple in countless childhoods. To mark its 100th birthday, Oreo undertook the mission of turning the old yet iconic cookie new and relevant again, by giving the brand a new twist.

Oreo and agency created a strategic marketing campaign known as the “Daily Twist” with the goal of making the brand a vital part of pop culture, the digital world, and everyday conversation. The mandate was simple: 100 pieces of content in 100 days, in honour of the hundredth birthday to be 100% responsive.

Here’s how it worked:

Every morning a team searched for what people were talking about, once concepts were developed the campaign had a full production team ready to execute. Some of the brilliant pieces of content developed included the United States Women’s Artist Gymnastics team who won the second ever gold medal for the United States, and the first gold medal on international soil, in the women’s team competition at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London portrayed as five golden Oreos, the robot rover known as “Curiosity” landing on Mars, depicted as an open face Oreo with orange icing and tread marks across the filling, Psy’s Gangnam Style dance with legs coming out of an Oreo, and one of the more high profile pieces or content included an Oreo with a stack of rainbow coloured filling to celebrate Gay Pride, not to mention countless more.

Each piece of daily twist’s content was pushed out by 6pm to the brand’s 30million, Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter followers as well as archiving it on Oreo’s online hub.
The response was explosive:

–       280% increase in shares on Facebook

–       231 million media impressions

–       433 million views on Facebook

–       Highest brand buzz increase of 2012

“Oreo didn’t just reflect the news, it became the news.”

For b2b marketers, Oreo’s Daily Twist campaign is a case study worth reviewing closely and learning from. Here are three main takeaways we believe will add value and therefore should serve as guiding principles in a marketer’s everyday work.

1.)  Original Content is Key

In order to generate buzz, awareness and ultimately achieve quality engagement, you need to provide original information or content worth talking about but that’s also timely. By taking the time to research topics each morning that were relevant to its target audience, Oreo was able to propel various conversations with a high level of public awareness forward and enhance them at the same time, piggy backing the current trending topics.

This tactic worked beautifully for Oreo, a well known consumer brand, but you can do this too for your b2b brand. An easy way to find hot current topics is to follow relevant hashtags using platforms such as Hootsuite, or monitoring popular news sites such as the BBC. Once you have found a popular story, start thinking creatively about how you can relate to it and build on the story with an original point of view.

2.)  Dare to be Bold

Every b2b marketer is aware of the common pitfalls of trying to please everyone ultimately results in pleasing nobody. Brands must determine their audience, niche and competitive advantage to help distinguish themselves from the competition and then stay true to their brand’s identity to build loyalty and avoid confusion. While this is a must in today’s market, it may not be enough.

Oreo took its brand identity one step further by choosing to support Gay Pride. Although an extremely controversial subject, Oreo took a side on the issue and further identified its brand, which resulted in greater loyalty and brand awareness.

B2b marketers should follow suit and be sure to clearly define brands and stay true to their identity to ensure customer loyalty and avoid confusion.

3.)  Innovate at all Costs

The world is constantly changing, industries are constantly adapting and brands are constantly evolving. If you do not continuously innovate to keep up with the pace of the landscape around you, you will quickly become antiquated and slowly fade into the obsolete. Even an iconic brand like Oreo cannot afford to rest on its century old laurels and took it upon itself to remain current through its Daily Twist campaign.

If Oreo believes in innovation, you as a b2b marketer should too.

Take a look at a video summary of Oreo’s Daily Twist case study below:

Content Marketing Fails Because…

Content marketing is a truly hot topic in b2b marketing right now. Consumer marketing too as it happens.

But for all the noise you hear about successful content marketing campaigns, there will be hundreds of less successful and failing campaigns too. This simple deck from Moz spells out the five myths for why content marketing fails and what you can do about it.

It’s well worth a flick through if you are following a content marketing path right now.

For me the biggest lesson marketers should learn is about time. Content marketing cannot simply be switched on and success will come overnight. With the huge volumes of content poured out by marketers every day, you have to think creatively and plan for a consistent approach to get your voice heard above the din…

Pay Per Click Advertising with Google Adwords: more than just clicks and traffic.

Google Adwords, or any Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising campaign must be clearly defined, carefully monitored, and maintained, to be the most effective. It is vital to understand your audience, and have clearly marked goals, not only to make sure that your campaign is providing the most value, but to understand the benefit of Adwords on other channels.

Google Adwords is not a risky advertising move, it’s more targeted, more measurable, and ultimately more profitable than almost any other medium, but that ease of use does mean, that inexperienced advertising can lead to missed opportunities and misguided interaction.

Using Adwords to gain leads, conversions, brand awareness, or applied as tool to understand keywords and audience, are some of the best uses of the service. When applied correctly, it is possible to create highly specific targeting which fulfils the needs of your business, allowing you to turn those leads into highly profitable, engaged customers.

Adwords is not a click factory

Let’s clarify one thing right off the bat, if your PPC account manager is only reporting clicks and traffic, they’re doing something wrong, very wrong. Google Adwords in partnership with Google Analytics allows bidding to not only be highly specific, but also highly measurable and accountable. This means that you can focus on specific endpoints for your Adwords campaign, whether that’s conversions, click-through-rate to a specific page, or engagement with your brand, and the route that users have taken to reach it.

Before monitoring any metrics, or even considering the analytics that Google provides, you should set goals and conduct research.  When you research keywords, competitors and audience, you can build a more complete view of how your goals can be achieved, and with tools such as Google Trends, you can monitor peaks and troughs. Which is especially useful if you’re in a seasonal or resurgent industry.

I cannot stress the importance of setting and fully discussing goals with the team who will deliver your advertising campaign. Not only to create a clear set of success criteria for your campaign to understand whether the campaign is working for your business, but also to allow your search engine marketer to discuss ways in which you can increase the reach of the campaign; offline, through social, and other marketing channels. Goals are important… they let everyone working on your campaign to plan, become profitable, and sustain a strong and positive relationship.

Using Google Adwords and PPC for Lead Generation

Creating leads and acquisitions are commonly seen as the primary functions of Google Adwords, and Google has created a great marketplace to drive customers and possible conversions towards your site or store. Profit on a per acquisition basis allows advertisers to balance the price of a conversion, with the limit of their budget to create the best possible return on investment.

Whilst some businesses use Adwords to provide a constant flow of users, it is also possible to create a campaign tailored around a specific product range, store, or even promotion, allowing your scope to fit your goals and budget. All campaigns allow your adverts, whether it be a text, image, product or video ad, to appeal to a specific user’s need, whether they’re precise such as “buy macbook pro 2014” or as vague as “new laptop”.

Lead generation can be used as effectively for offline businesses. All you need is a store location registered with Google+ Local (Google’s service for associating real-world businesses with their identities online), or a call extension (which allows users to call you from their phone with one button press), and you can prompt a conversion to your store, without the user having to complete complex directory enquiries.

Using Google Adwords and PPC for Brand Awareness

Google Adwords allows your customers to make instant purchasing decisions, yet is equally effective at building relationships with your brand, products or company.

A key metric here is impressions, the number of users who have seen your ads. Impressions can easily be in thousands with Google Adwords, this is due to Google’s incredible volume of search traffic, but also its many partnerships with sites online. Through Google Display Advertising, you can have adverts appear in email-boxes, on thousands of partner sites, on YouTube, and many other media providers, all of which can be highly targeted to reach your audience.

Google Adwords also has a feature called Remarketing, this allows you to continue to engage users after they have left your website, keeping them in contact with your brand, while they browse other website. This can be highly effective for products and services which have longer lead times, but also this re-appearance of your advert is great for cementing a brand in the mind of the user.

When using Google Adwords for brand awareness, messaging, imagery and branding are of upmost importance, that is why, for larger campaigns, I would recommend you work with an organisation which has these elements built into their team. With great branding, messaging, graphics and video experts in addition to your advertiser, you can create an advert which can create a customer relationship which is long, stable and profitable, while missing one of this components can mean a less successful campaign.

Using Google Adwords and PPC for Keyword Research

Google Adwords can also be used as a search tool for other methods of online marketing, such as Search Engine Optimisation. Creating broad-reach adverts, with effective landing pages (page the user goes to when the advert is clicked), it is possible to get data not otherwise accessible to search marketers.

As Google has made changes towards privacy and implemented solutions which protect user data more deeply, strategies such as Keyword Research with PPC continue to be effective, consensual ways to get data which will let Adwords Campaigns be targeted to the correct user groups.

There are many applications of Google Adwords, only a few of which have been described here. If you business has goal, which involves leads, conversions, brand awareness, or many other measurable targets, then Advertising through Google Adwords will likely be a highly effective solution for your business.