5 digital marketing resolutions for a successful user-centric strategy

As the digital marketing landscape continues to evolve in 2016, brands require to better suit consumer preferences, adapt to new technologies and preserve their position in a more crowded online marketplace. While all the predictions seems to be around the need to resolve issues such as ad-fraud, viewability and brand safety at a macro-level, in my view there is a more urgent need for marketers to focus on developing user-centric approaches through data-driven technologies in order to achieve their business objectives.

You can take a systematic approach to developing a successful user-centric strategy by following these 5 steps:

  1. Get Your Data In Order

Programmatic advertising involves assessing a number of data points to unearth powerful audience trends. Before briefing your media and creative agency, having a thorough understanding of your own data will improve your targeting.

  • Align your data sources: map out what data you are collecting and how across all your online and offline channels (website, online marketing campaigns, social channels, in-store, CRM, call center, loyalty programs…). Then, identify any gaps that if filled would give you a complete view of your target audience.
  • Leverage 3rd party data: use data providers to overlay and enrich your owned and earned data. In addition to publishers’ data, there are a certain number of data companies who provide niche audiences data points specific to your vertical.
  • Unify the data you have to define your audience DNA: create a single view across all your owned, earned and paid channels using a data management platform, which will enable you to segment your audience in order to target them with the right messages through the right media.
  1. Use Data To Feed The Planning Communication Process

Once you know how your data is collected, aggregated, stored and segmented, work on defining the user journey of those different segments. The more granular and relevant you are, the better the experience for your customer and the better the return on investment for your business.

  • Understand the emotional journey (user journey): identify the triggers that make a consumer engage with your brand and define their sweet-spot i.e. the exact moment that brings the highest response rate. Analyse the content that’s been consumed and/or shared before the conversion across all channels.
  • Understand your user’s consideration path: create consumer relevant digital solutions to drive traffic to the right content, increasing customer satisfaction and enabling an ongoing relationship between your customers and your brand.
  • Adopt media-neutral planning: media neutrality can be defined as picking the best mediums for reaching the target – without any preconceived biases – before you start thinking about creative. It requires an integrated approach, starting from the customer insights through an inclusive and merit-based review of media options during your marketing communications planning.
  • Activate your owned, earned and paid data: get your technology, media and creative partners to brainstorm and suggest the most efficient strategies toimagesgether. Make them accountable for the objectives and associated metrics.
  1. Tailor Your Creative

‘This is such good targeting’ said no customer ever. Customers don’t want to be talked at they want to be understood.

  • Tell a story (experience, engagement): your creative messaging should take the customer on a journey, make sure there are different creative variations along the path to purchase engagement, acquisition, conversion, advocacy.
  • Work with nimble and agile technology partners: define the roles and responsibilities. Make media & creative work together under the same roof to deliver targeted AND relevant messages.
  • Limit repetitive retargeting: if you are using retargeting, make sure you define the sequencing ahead of the campaign as well as the frequency cap. Intensive retargeting can be harmful to your brand if not relevant to the context or the user experience and can result in customers churn.
  1. Test Constantly

Test & Learn is one of the key benefits brought by real-time advertising. In order to successfully optimise your campaigns, it is imperative to have a detailed testing plan. The goal of A/B testing is to identify changes that increase or maximise an outcome of interest (e.g., click-through rate for a banner advertisement).

  • Map out a detailed testing plan for the whole year: highlight which element you wish to test between two variants – A, being the control and B, the variation. It can be the audience, the messaging, the product, the price point, the media buy, the landing page, etc.
  • Act in real-time based on reporting and insights: define processes to make sure your reporting and insights are continuously feeding your campaigns, define test & learn strategies to improve your results.
  1. Optimise Your Strategy Ongoing

Do your offers change throughout the year? So do your customers. Ensuring you revisit your strategy regularly will enable you to better optimise your online marketing budget.

  • Challenge the status quo: the rapid evolution of the digital marketing landscape provides market-first opportunities for your company. Investing a small part of your budget to trial new platforms and technologies will position you as a thought-leader in the market.
  • Work with different partners: although you might already have a specific roster of agencies in place, be open to meet with independent vendors. These can bring innovative solutions as well as additional ideas that have not been looked into before or were dismissed by your agencies previously.

In summary, programmatic opened up a whole new opportunity of growth and innovation for brands looking to position themselves online. The best way to adapt to this highly competitive environment is to develop a successful user-centric strategy following 5 steps:

  1. Get Your Data In Order
  2. Use Data To Feed The Planning Communication Process
  3. Tailor Your Creative
  4. Test Constantly
  5. Optimise Your Strategy Ongoing

Reach out to receive an independent consultancy advice on your marketing strategy and how to develop a user-centric approach to achieve your business objectives.

 

Building a user centric digital strategy from your owned, earned and paid data

A key challenge of digital marketing is to ‘humanise’ data, in other terms using the data your brand has on existing customers or prospects to make your offering more relevant to them. A focus on the customer will ultimately drive better return on investment from your marketing budget.

In the past, we have been pushing the same advertising message regardless of the audience, the content or the user journey. For example, if you were visiting a News website, you’d be served the same messaging whether you were in the Sports category or the Fashion one. Not the most efficient response rate!

With the (r)evolution of data tracking and analysis through automated technology, we are now able to identify and target a specific audience based on a multitude of criteria, making the segmentation more granular and accurate, and therefore broadcasting a message that’s more personalised and relevant for the user.

In theory, it seems pretty simple, but in reality, very few companies are getting it right, as marketing functions are still siloed across brand, products and digital. So where to from here? I’ve summarised below the three key go-to-market strategies to develop a user-centric approach across your owned, earned and paid media channels.

1. Understand and utilise data from your website

  • Identify if your website visitor is a first time visitor or a returning visitor
    • If they are a returning visitor, provide them with customised content based on what they viewed previously,
    • If they are a new visitor, ensure you are able to track and identify which content they interact with.
  • Identify if they are an existing customer or a potential customer
    • If they are an existing customer, offer them to create an account or to log in once it’s created.
  • Identify where your visitors come from using Google Analytics, Omniture or any other solution that provides website analytics
    • Typically, the digital channels driving visits are organic search, paid search, affiliates, advertising campaigns, lead generation, social media, PR.

More generally, it’s important to have all your content pages tagged so you can track the content your audience is interacting with and make an ongoing improvement on your website based on those learnings.

2. Understand and utilise data from your CRM

Once a visitor is identified as a customer, you can provide them with completely personalised content. Similarly, when you have done the right segmentation across your customer’s database, your EDM campaigns should be personalised based on the customer’s need state – including up-selling and cross-selling as well as delivering relevant content in relation to their existing products or services.

Additionally, I would recommend developing a Test & Learn plan to identify the performance across your website, as well as your EDMs. A lot of marketers oversee the benefit of improving their content or look & feel based on real data, not just assumptions.

3. Understand and utilise data from your media investments

Advertising plays a crucial role in the customer journey, from brand awareness through to conversion and advocacy. In order to best optimise your budget towards the channel in delivering on the business objectives, marketers need to have a very good understanding of the data that you can use to become relevant to their audience.

What data?humanise-data

  • First-party data: using your owned data i.e. from your website, social media, CRM or any other subscription (example: newsletter program).
  • Second-party data: an exclusive exchange of data between you and a partner, which usually has an interest into your product (example: Samsung providing their data to a Telco company to promote their new phone).
  • Third-party data: a paid third-party vendor that provides you with additional data, enabling more granularity in terms of demographics, revenue, gender, geo-location, hobbies & interests, life stages, etc. (example: buying data on people who use a premium credit card).

What strategies?

Currently, any media across Display, Mobile, Video can be bought programmatically (and soon TV, Radio and Outdoor). This term simply means that media buying is automated through a stack of technology platforms leading to better performance and efficiencies.

Firstly, map out the data points that you have access to through your owned data (first party) and then your external data (second or third-party). Once this is defined, segment your audience and draft each user journey along the purchase funnel – which is not necessarily a linear one and is most likely to be different for each audience segment.

While mapping out the multiple user journeys for the media buying, you should also define the creative messaging to make it relevant to each target audience.

For example, you’re launching a new credit card campaign targeting multiple segments, you will need to define the creative messaging for each single of them across their user journey: millennial, family with young kids, empty nester, etc.

Lastly, you should develop a few creative variations for each segment and each step in the journey to see which one works best. This way, you will be able to not only optimise the media buying, but also the creative messaging.

The two other variable to define in your strategy are the frequency: how many times the same user is likely to be targeted with the same creative, and the retargeting: set up some rules to avoid becoming an annoyance to your prospects and make sure the message is timely (for example: make sure to negatively retarget people who just bought your product).

Now that you are clear on your data touch points, target audience, media reach and creative messaging, your strategy should pretty much work like a decision tree. This decision tree is the first step to build a strong, integrated user-centric strategy that can be shared and implemented across your business.

Feel free to get in touch to discuss your digital strategy or any specifics around programmatic technology and data-driven marketing opportunities!

Is retargeting turning off your customers?

retargetingIn a recent survey, RAPP UK and InSkin Media highlighted the potential drawbacks of retargeting and its impact on people’s attitudes towards a brand, revealing 55% users were deterred by retargeted ads. However, based on my previous experience with both the travel and retail industries (who pioneered this model), retargeting campaigns can drive successfully higher conversions and increased ROI. With the rise of programmatic buying technologies we see higher quality, variety and relevancy of retargeted message served to customers in real-time, so what are the key factors that marketers should be aware of in order to deliver a successful, sustainable retargeting strategy?

  • Excessive ad frequency will leave people feeling annoyed or angry at your brand.
    • Use a Test & Learn strategy to define the maximum ad frequency for each of your target audiences. By deploying A/B tests for different frequency caps and analysing CTR and Conversion in real-time marketers are more likely to identify gaps and optimise on the go.
    • In the absence of this testing, the study suggests capping your ad frequency at 3.
  • Tread carefully with incorporating sensitive information such as the customer’s income and location.
    • Personalisation can be tricky when it comes to sensitive information. The use of a user’s name or personal details in a display ad will not be as well received as their use in a personalised email. Brands should always be transparent and seek permission for the use of people’s data.
    • A good rule of thumb is to ask yourself if your messaging feels ‘creepy’. Starting the conversation with a question can be a great way to avoid that e.g. Still looking for the best car insurance?
  • The context in which a retargeted ad is shown to a person needs to be relevant to the ads content
    • According to the study, ads served on sites unrelated to the product or service being advertised are over 11 times more likely to discourage than encourage purchase.
    • Media side, this means having better control and visibility on the site & the content where your ads appears. Creative side, the content in the ad also needs to be relevant to the person’s need state at that point in the path-to-purchase.
    • Continually retargeting someone with a product they just bought would quickly become annoying and reflect badly on the brand. On the other hand, promoting a customer service message post-purchase to the user is likely to build brand advocacy.
  • Consider the right mix of retargeting techniques in your strategy
    • There are multiple ways toretarget. Picking the right mix given your objectives, budget and the customer’s point in the path to purchase is crucial. Think about the following techniques:
      • Site retargeting: Based on visits to your website – the most commonly used but least effective
      • Search retargeting: retargeting messages relevant to search keywords used
      • Email retargeting: retargeting based how customers interact with your emails
      • CRM retargeting: retargeting existing customers who have not interacted with your emails, but are browsing online
      • Social retargeting: retargeting through custom audiences on Facebook, YouTube or Twitter

In this context, it is the role of agencies to always partner with their clients to define an audience-centric strategy that utilises retargeting technologies to the benefit rather than the annoyance of their customers. By creating messages that strategically story-tell rather than harass customers not only will your campaign be more effective, but your overall brand advocacy will also be improved.

Source: Familiarity, Frequency and Fine Lines – InSkin Media & RAPP

Hey Facebook, what’s in it for users?

The more I read about new features or services offered by industry leads such as Google, Facebook or Apple, the more I am asking myself: how is this providing a better user experience?

facebook engancha

With the launch of video advertising in its newsfeed in July, it seems pretty clear that Facebook is just becoming another advertising platform rather than providing a great social networking experience for its users. As a majority of the population is now comfortable browsing the web, sharing content and also purchasing online, companies are finally realising the need to shift their media buying and start to dramatically invest in digital advertising to target new or existing customers.

What’s new here? 
Well, the trend that is slowly invading social networking sites is that they would rather increase their revenue streams through offering more advertising options than improving users’ conversational & sharing experience. And this is specific to content generated websites, such as blogs, Wikipedia, YouTube and now… Facebook!
The reason behind this choice is that advertisers see more ROI when using contextual targeting. Meaning, as a user one is more and more likely to click on an ad and purchase an item online when seen within a content one is interested in e.g. displaying a cruise ad when you are reading travel tips to go to Fiji. Concerns are that this type of advertising is intrusive for the user, all the more that is it not sought by the user. Using your personal interests, location, cookies, and preferences is not enough, brands are now hungry for what you read, share and write about.

Fair enough, one will say this is the purpose of advertising. But, what about social media? Are we meant to accept a poor user experience on a site where we are the ones creating the content? Shouldn’t Facebook consider its users, since we are ultimately the ones that are making Facebook a successful business?

Source: Facebook looks to video ads as it seeks new revenue streams – Financial Times, May 6 2013