Category Archives: Marketing Strategy

Planning the Future of Retail

Everyday new technology is being designed and launched into stores meant to enhance the path to purchase for the consumer. With a plethora of options already available, and new innovations being created on the daily, the question is not only about deciding which technology to use, but also ensuring a strategy exists to make sure your brand is not left behind when a new and revolutionary concept hits your vertical.

During an Exhibitor Big Ideas Session at Shop.org last month, George Shaw, Head of R&D at Retail Next, spoke on this very topic by explaining that while we don’t know what technologies are coming down the road, we need a strategy to absorb them. Here is what he proposed:

Sense: This component is about getting a feel of what is happening inside your store through technology. Think of the countless devices in your store – it is truly an internet of things. Communication is a two-way road between the store and the consumer. For example, when I’m in a store I may try to access the public WiFi, which could direct me through a landing page with store specials. If they know me well, perhaps it was customized to my liking (let’s say fall décor) and I found myself in that aisle taking pictures to post to my social media page. This step is about observing how tech is being used in your store.

Process: As you begin to understand how tech is working in your store, it is time to bring together your data points. In Shaw’s presentation he mentioned how the data needs to be very scalable, very quickly. While this may not be extremely useful to be able to narrow data down to one customer, as you will want to be observing trends in mass, it is nice to have the option if needed. The ability to segment your data in a variety of ways can prove useful depending on the outcome you are trying to achieve.

Analyze: Now that data points have been brought together it is time to analyze your data. This is a term often heard in the tech space, but I think the meaning can get lost from time to time. Before you analyze, I think it is crucial to take two different approaches to this step. The first is to look at your company objectives, pain points and obstacles, and see if you can use the data collected to help you find an answer. The second is to play around with your data, without any specific objective in mind, to see what you find out. Either way, it is crucial that you are open to truly listening to what your data tells you. Often we try and manipulate data to fit the story we want to hear. Doing this will just make it more complex to meet your end goals.

Report: The entire purpose of reporting is to show that our findings have meaning. We can take them to create and implement a change that will direct us towards a more desired result than the current outcome(s) you are seeing. In terms of reporting, Shaw explains of two types. The first is for human consumption, such as data mining and actual reports. The second is for machine consumption, such as using an API to allow a feed of data to occur between two technologies already in place. Each has their unique purpose, but both can offer great insights to what your data revealed.

With the tech space changing so rapidly, I found this approach to be an insightful and solid framework as you begin to observe how to integrate new technology (both inward and external facing) throughout your store.

Shop.org 2014: The Unification of Marketing & Finance

More than ever marketing is under pressure from upper-management to justify their annual spend. The ability to prove ROI has become increasingly valuable to obtaining larger budgets, increasing brand presence and furthering campaign efforts to connect with consumers. Shop.org 2014, held at the Washington State Convention Center in Seattle at the end of last month, offered one panel, “Leveraging Customer Lifetime Value Data to Power Your Digital Marketing Strategy,” addressing the importance of marketing and finance coming together to leverage data as a way to better measure campaigns, set realistic marketing goals and ultimately ensure marketers can maintain or increase their annual budget.

Rose Hamilton, EVP & CMO at Pet360, explained how she has strategically partnered with her CFO in order to begin to assess customer lifetime value and integrate it into her marketing efforts. There is so much emphasis being placed on the partnerships forming between the CMO/CIO that it is important to recognize other opportunities for internal strategic partnerships, specifically in this case the CMO/CFO. These partnerships break down internal corporate silos, offering direct communication leading to commitment and results. Plus, these partnerships may help when you find your drained budget needs an extra boost in Q4.

Hamilton explained the steps she took in order to help integrate lifetime value into marketing started with balancing customer value with cost structures. From there she started to “connect the ‘intangible’ customer value to profitable customer behavior changes,” as a way to quantify trends occurring to justify spend. This lifetime value measurement was comprised of different components including: organic growth, monetization of every visitor, engagement, and profitability. The outcome led to better customer segmentation and defined value, showing marketers where they should be placing their spend for the best ROI.

As she was speaking it was clear to see lifetime value could not be calculated without a system in place to first, collect all of the data necessary, and second, analyze it. This centralized system of being able to breakdown silos and connect all data points is crucial in discovering the value of your customer and continuing to help lower customer acquisition costs as you learn the specific quirks of your ideal customers. In addition, Hamilton pointed out that you need to understand the true value of all of your costs, including often forgot factors such as shipping, to get a realistic view of this calculation.

With marketing, it can be overwhelming when trying to decide how to spend the budget allocated to you, especially if the industry is rapidly changing. I believe the best place to start is with your owned data, internal resources/partnerships with other executives and a plan in place to measure your spend. By using data you have you can strategically design, test and refine your spend on all marketing efforts, ultimately resulting in a more strategic spend targeting customers with a higher propensity for a longer lifetime with your brand.

360i Client Summit: The Top 3 Trends in Digital Marketing

In the past five years, digital marketing has exploded. A day does not go by where a start-up is conceived, a new platform is released, or two companies merge their technologies to better serve their clients. The digital space is exponentially growing and creating new ideas to help companies solve complex problems. As a marketer, digital marketing can be exhausting, confusing and leave you asking yourself, “where do I begin?” In my opinion, the best way to evaluate these vendors is by aligning your top three strategic objectives to the top trends in digital marketing to narrow down your pick-list.

Last week, I had the opportunity to attend the 360i Client Summit in NYC where I was able to listen to brands discuss the current state of digital marketing within the context of their company. In watching these presentations, the common thread to success is that brands are using digital platforms to listen to their customers, learn their habits and quirks, and be there for them when the customer needs them the most. Each one of these trends allows brands to digitally enhance the connection they have with their customer, ultimately creating a strong emotional connection to the brand, growing loyalty and increasing profit.

Here are the top three trends in digital marketing, as told by the brands presenting at the 360i Client Summit:

1. Data-driven storytelling – Marketers are beginning to find new ways to take what data they have and craft a personalized story unique to each prospect. Instead of sending generic or slightly personalized content, marketers are digging deep into their data insights to form a narrative engaging with the right person, on the right device at the moment they care. Ellen Stone, EVP Marketing at Bravo and Oxygen Media, further explained how storytelling can be used with transmedia to evolve or shape the story. For example, on their show Top Chef, they drive consumers from TV to digital as a way to vote back on their favorite chef who was eliminated, thus using digital as a means to shape their TV show.

2. The use of APIs – I like to think of an API as a bridge that allows two disparate pieces of technology to communicate in the same language. Marina MacDonald, CMO of Red Roof Inn, noticed a huge opportunity for weather related flight cancellations. When a flight was cancelled, consumers were turning to their smartphones to book a near-by hotel. Red Roof Inn created an API with weather-data and local flight cancellations to place higher bids in search engines in areas where flights were cancelled due to weather. Consumers saw them at the top of the search engine and Red Roof Inn was only paying a fraction of the cost in media spend. This directly resulted in at 375% conversion rate and a 60% lift in bookings simply because platforms were communicating more effectively with each other.

3. Brands are publishers – More than ever, brands have a strong ability to control how they are represented in the public eye. Whether it is digital, social, ecommerce, search, display, or marketing automation, marketers are publishers. In a presentation by The Huffington Post, it was mentioned that we have “60X more content from brands in our newsfeeds today than just 2 years ago.” Brands are beginning to recognize significant value in producing informative, timely and educational content for their target audience. This thought-leadership positions the brand as an expert on the topic, while continuing to deepen the relationship with their customer in a way where the brand can narrative extremely personalized and relevant content to their customers.

New Infographic Reveals Data Flow, How it Can be Used to Benefit Customers

It’s the age of data. Did you know there will be 40 zetabytes of data by 2020? (That’s 40 with 21 zeros after it.) There’s so much of it available to marketers nowadays that it’s easy to get overwhelmed by thoughts of what to do with it and how to best use it.

To help you get a better understanding of all the data that’s out there, where it comes from, how it’s processed, and how we can benefit from it, IgnitionOne worked with other members of the Application Developers Alliance to create an infographic outlining all of this information and more.
Interesting tidbits include:

• 90% of the world’s data was created over the past 2 years.
• 80% of organizational data is unstructured. (For more on structured/unstructured data, check out this post.)
• Data can include sentiment, behavioral, demographic or descriptive information.

Check out the entire infographic:

In Search Of The Easy Button

Why embracing the concept of centralized integrated marketing technology is where the industry is heading

The marketing industry is currently surfing on a big wave of digital marketing suites/hubs/clouds for marketers.  SalesForce, Oracle, IgnitionOne and recently SAP are investing heavily is technology to create a suite of solutions for marketers.

Some might question why integrating into a single platform makes sense. But when it comes down to it, finding major advantages of using a digital marketing suite in your company is easy.  Here are just a few reasons to start:

OutsideBox2

1. Message outside the box

Marketers want to be “engagement method agnostic”.  This means using the right message at the right time for the right audience using the right tool. The last thing marketers want is to be forced, or pushed, to use the wrong technology – say chat because they bought a tool that can do only chat.  Or use email retargeting when display retargeting would bring more revenue.  There are many ways to create this flexibility but for sure having an integrated hub with different capabilities is the most logical one and is most likely to result in a consistent, unified message.

 

 2. The API myth

An open system with easy to use APIs to connect other platforms is mandatory for today’s marketer.  The CRM database of the past 10 years is becoming a Digital Data Hub with links and connectors to other data management platforms.  But this doesn’t mean that a strong point solution with a myriad of API’s to other point solutions is the way to go.  Everyone who played sports knows that a good team is more the sum of strong individuals.  A strong point solution is often a one trick pony, lacking the unified view and process methodologies that a suite can offer.

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 3. Calculate inside the box

Building with real-time predictive scores and profiles around individuals is best done by having access to the granular user-level data. If the input you receive to feed algorithms is coming from other boxes, it’s often manipulated in one way or another, especially when that other box is a so-called black box.

 4. The easy button

As digital marketers we get a lot of technology.  But the never-ending stream of new technology can be a challenge if it is not used in a proper way.  We see too often clients trying to wrap their brains around a “piping” diagram connecting all technology providers – mainly point solutions – and asking questions like: Where is the overlap? Where is my return? What is my best practice?  As a technology company one of our main objectives is to make the live of marketers easier, so they can be focused more on what they consider as important.  We call it internally (with apologies to Staples), the “easy button”.  This easy button is a combination of methodologies, technology, media mix reporting, support by multi skilled people and best practices – all cross silo and embedded in a suite – that will help our clients to achieve their marketing goals.

open book

 5. A digital story-telling platform

Marketers dream about their product and brand.  They want to create awareness, engage and convert. Basically they want to tell a digital story and they look for technologies that can and will help them in doing this.  But having technology is not a goal as such. Telling a true digital story that supports your customer through his digital life cycle, from awareness to conversion and hopping from silo to silo, requires not a point solution but a suite.

 

It’s not up to me to say what the future will bring for digital marketers.  But I can say where I believe in and where our company stands for.  We believe heavily in things like breaking down the media silo’s, cross channel attribution, cookie-less tracking, data management platforms, the Internet of things and digital story telling.  They all embrace the concept of a holistic approach, looking over the fence of a point solution into a suite of possibilities.

2014: Digital Marketers, What’s Your Word?

It’s a whole new year already. I know it’s clichéd to say it, but it seems like we just started 2013. Like it or not, it’s 2014 so let’s make the most of it.

I originally started thinking of New Year’s resolutions for digital marketers, but then I spoke to a few people who instead of personal resolutions they choose one word to focus on through the year. Maybe that word is “Appreciate” or “Patience” or “Success,” etc. I thought it was an interesting experiment that we may think about for Digital Marketers too.

Here are some great options to get you thinking:

Simplify: Whether we are talking about all of the technology marketers use every day or about the siloed data sets that don’t talk to each other, marketers face great complexity. This year choose to focus on simplicity. What would it take to bring things together and what would be the benefits?

Wisdom: We as people and as marketers often only see what’s right in front of us. It’s the old problem of not seeing the forest for the trees. Step back and get a full picture of how your efforts are working together. What is the full path your users take before converting? Are you spending your budget where it is most effective? How do you know?

Innovate: We can never improve if we rely on our old ways, accepting past results and “good enough.” This is the year to push the limits of your marketing, to test new methods, to go beyond good all the way to great. But of course it is not always easy – “If it wasn’t hard everyone would do it.” Go out and blaze new trails in 2014!

So what will be your word? Pick a good one and live by it this year. I’d love to hear what you choose. Please share here or tweet us at @ignitionone . Happy New Year!

It’s beginning to look a lot like Clickmas

If you work in digital advertising in the UK, chances are you’ve heard of Cyber Monday. Originally a Christmas marketing campaign to persuade people to shop online after the Thanksgiving weekend in 2005, Cyber Monday now become one of the biggest online shopping days in the USA and this year, the average shopper is predicted to spend US$646 (£402) in online purchases this year, up 11% from 2012. Continue reading It’s beginning to look a lot like Clickmas

Marketing in a Digital Marketing Company

You know when you’re at a social event (birthday party, communion, wedding, housewarming, etc) and a friend/auntie/acquaintance who is not within the digital marketing space asks you: ‘So… What do you do?’ I’m one of those people that never quite knows what to say. I am a Marketing & Sales Coordinator at IgnitionOne, a digital marketing company. I’ve been here now for a year and a half and I still haven’t found the perfect answer to this question. I sometimes even just say “I’m in marketing” to avoid confusing them.

And while it is easy for me to explain what IgnitionOne does to agencies and marketers, I just haven’t found the right way to tell non-digital people what I do in layman’s terms. The digital space is so complex and ever-changing that it is difficult to convey what it is that our industry does to someone unfamiliar with the field.

When I do decide to delve into uncharted territory, I usually start by saying “my company powers digital marketing – online ads, personalizing content, Facebook advertising, stuff like that.” While I know this is very simply put, I already see a half confused look from the person with whom I am speaking, and then I say, “and I do the marketing for that company.” And by that point, they look completely lost and ask me questions, like “so do you make the adverts?” Sometimes I try to go further and explain how we track visitors to build profiles to be able to offer relevant products/promotions, but the conversation typically ends there or the subject is quickly averted.

So I have recently been wondering – is it like this for all jobs? I took some time to pay attention to how others describe their positions and the companies for which they work and the reactions received from the other party. I realized that I don’t have a typical job like a doctor/lawyer/accountant, where people instantaneously understand what the job entails; I don’t have funny or embarrassing stories about clients, at least, not anything that they would understand. I could tell them about the ambiguous cookie jokes, which crease us up here in the office, but people unfamiliar to the subject would feel like they’re in the Truman Show and think that I’m talking about some secret world.

The day is fast approaching when digital marketing and the marketers within will be just as identifiable as the above lawyers/doctors/accountants and simply stating that I work in digital will translate without any confused looks or open-ended questions. As digital grows, and it is growing in leaps and bounds, people will not only understand my brief job description but will also associate my work with the exciting field that it has become. Just last month, the iab found that 75% of US senior executives plan to shift their budgets from television to digital video ads. This is huge and means that not only is digital on par with television but is on the verge of surpassing it. Digital is to television what television is to radio: how could you not agree that this industry is more exciting than brain surgery? In digital, we are making the future, we are innovative and are exploring things where no man has been before.

Why Bother with a Search Management Technology?

Every once and awhile, I will come across a single three-word phrase which I never like to hear, but more importantly, I feel is unjustified in this line of work.

“Sorry, no budget”

A colleague I once worked with when I sold ad-space gleefully blurted down the phone to a prospect: “You gotta spend money to make money!” I always look back and smile on that moment. As I’m sure you can imagine, the call ended fairly abruptly, but never the less he made an impact on me.

Progressing in business is all about identifying risk, value and investment potential, then acting accordingly, whether that is investing time in your clients, assets in your workforce, or having faith in that new product. The best way to achieve this progress is by using a search management technology provider to do the dirty work.

The truth of the matter is that every day, you are in a position to make a change which will nearly always guarantee a positive ROI.*

Don’t worry, there is no small print. Those conditions are fairly simple:

  1. Have a large online presence, selling numerous products
  2. Support from a dedicated search team
  3. Contain a typical search spend in excess of £50,000 (or about $75,000) per month

First, with a large online presence, it’s assumed that you will have a vast and complex account and campaign arrangement across the major publisher engines. Furthermore, you are likely to be running a lot of activity through additional channels, such as display and social. You must ask yourself: How much time is spent operationally logging into individual systems to manage these? How much time is spent trying to compare data and draw any meaningful insights to action?

Moving onto your search team, whether in-house or through an agency: how much time is spent analysing difficult to obtain data for optimisation? This is a complex task if done manually; something which a computer can do in a fraction of the time, often with a greater degree of accuracy (sort term promotions, seasonal holidays, etc. are a different matter).

Finally, spend. The more you track, and the higher your click volume, the more you stand to gain: simple economics of scale. While online presence and search explain where the value is generated,  high spend is an indicator that you should now be starting to have those conversations with search management technology providers.

All in all, I approach many clients who exceed the above pointers and spend vast amounts of money in search but are reluctant to use a search technology. I can’t speak for everyone but I think the fact that they understand that such a change is no small feat is an accomplishment in itself. However, not forgetting the large degree of accountability, many senior marketers may be put off by taking that leap of faith.

Call me biased but I would always vouch for the use of a tool.  Whether it’s IgnitionOne’s DMS or another provider’s tool, it’s certainly a conversation worth having.

 

*assuming certain conditions are in place

Why Marketers Are Bullish on Video

In 2004, the widespread destruction of the Asian tsunami and the US presidential election were the first events to really find exposure through the emerging medium of online video. Almost nine years have passed and video has not only become one of the most popular formats for content sharing online, but has evolved to accommodate various markets, including advertising.

More recently, advertisers have been leveraging engaging and interactive content in this layout, fueling awareness and branding efforts and gaining momentum within marketing mixes. Over the last couple of years, the shift from PC to mobile has ushered a surge in video, which is impacting the way advertisers allocate their budgets. Mobile and tablet shoppers are three times as likely to watch a video as laptop or desktop users and video accounts for more than half of all Internet traffic on mobile devices, with tablet users three times more likely to watch a video than their smartphone counterparts.

With such providers of streaming media as Hulu and YouTube, television and movies are easily accessible online, giving advertisers premium pre-roll and in-stream video inventory to promote their brand or products. As consumers are widely turning to these providers to watch their preferred programs over television, marketers are able to harness more effective video spots. And with the predicted growth of mobile surging over the next several years, it is evident that video will continue to gain display advertising spend.

Social media is also an incredible catalyst for video growth. Mobile video ads that include social media buttons drive 36% higher engagement and 92% of mobile video viewers share videos with others. Combine the incredible development of social (accounting for 1 in 6 minutes spent online) with the power of mobile and the vast potential in video is clear.

Advantages

  • Video is far more engaging than traditional forms of display advertising, and is becoming increasingly more interactive. The IAB published “Digital Video Rising Star Ad Units,” which delves into the “in-stream and linear interactive digital video ad product concepts,” exemplifying the creative ways brands are able to extend the customer experience beyond the video in unique and captivating ways.
  • Video generates excitement. This year, brands launched their Super Bowl campaigns before game night, and found that preview footage generated 600% more views than when their videos debuted during the event. People get excited about good commercials and are going out of their way to watch these ads on-demand and on-line. Where back-to-back ads on TV are dreaded, glimpses at these shorter online videos are actually sought after.
  • Video allows ample room for creative freedom. Interactivity aside, video provides the opportunity for marketers to think beyond the constraints of the traditional video spot (read: a couple of ingenious automotive brands within the last decade). Original branded content masks the video’s promotional undertones with entertainment value.

Disadvantages

  • Video is disruptive. Like all advertising, video can be a nuisance when all you are interested in is the content beyond the ad. Unlike most display advertising, which can be ignored, video content cannot be skipped over (in some cases, before 10 seconds of play time).
  • Video can be time consuming. Unlike display ads, you cannot skim over video content.
  •  There is a lack of standard metrics for measuring the actual success of video. The same is argued for social, and slowly but surely, we are more able to appropriately attribute credit to the medium.

Where are we headed?

Some brands are shifting 10-20% of their budgets out of TV and into digital video and online video users are expected to double to 1.5 billion by 2016. In 2012, advertisers spent $2.3 billion on digital video advertising, an increase of 29% over 2011. 76% of marketers plan to add video to their sites, making it a higher priority than Facebook, Twitter and blog integration and online video production will account for more than one-third of all online advertising spending within the next five years. Inventory for video ads is becoming available in new places, such as a recent addition of LinkedIn, with more publishers to come.

As consumers become more integrated in technology and the Internet, we can only expect video to continue to grow.