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August 2016

Integrate agile marketing into your digital strategy

How to integrate agile marketing into your digital strategy

Advertising, Agile marketing, Marketing, Technology | No Comments

These days businesses need to be able to adapt at a moment’s notice. The internet has given us round-the-clock coverage, instant updates and regular access to all the latest news; it’s no surprise consumers expect brands to keep their output contemporary.

Marketing campaigns need to maintain a liquidity, adapting to the changing needs of the consumer while staying relevant in a dynamic environment. So, by all means, lay out your strategy, but don’t try to carve each day in stone. Businesses capable of responding to changes around them are more likely to entice a new audience, and thus increase their overall reach. Brands that rigidly adhere to their pre-planned marketing strategy with no wiggle-room for new developments, on the other hand, will find their campaigns lagging behind competitors as they struggle to stay in the spotlight. So, just how do you integrate agile marketing into your campaigns, and why do so many marketers struggle to keep pace?

Incorporate client feedback into your campaigns

The growth in social media and corporate responsibility has disrupted the traditional flow of marketing, adding a new dimension to the way content is distributed and consumed by audiences. Today, customers can give feedback directly to companies in full view of their peers. Marketers have to engage with this feedback to prove they are receptive to change and that they really listen to their audience. But some marketers have gone one step further, integrating the customer comments into their campaigns and even building marketing campaigns around feedback alone.

Responding to your consumers is essential to prove you recognise your client-base as individuals, but it also lends a human element to corporations. Just check out the exchange below to see how a humorous response can earn you major social props.

Agile marketing for your digital marketing campaign

Don’t be afraid to engage with other brands

Agile marketing doesn’t just mean engaging with smartasses online, it also requires you engage with other brands when and where it’s relevant. The more witty, elaborate and/or memorable the exchange, the better the audience response and exposure. After popular male perfumery, Old Spice tried to take a bizarre swipe at Taco Bell on Twitter, Taco Bell responded with a concise but scathing putdown.

Agile marketing in your digital marketing
Although the banter between brands is usually lighthearted in nature, the competitive ribbing can give both brands a major boost and entice new customers. Honda tried to drum up interest in its new minivan with a playful Twitter campaign involving foodstuffs likely to be sucked up by the minivan’s built-in vacuum cleaner, but Oreos responded with some clever agile marketing of its own. The best thing about this approach is these social media ‘spats’ rarely have a winner. Providing the exchange is entertaining enough, both parties will be rewarded with increased media and consumer attention.

Make sure it’s relevant to your customer base

Before getting too excited about the prospect of igniting a Twitter ‘feud’ that spreads like wildfire across the digital landscape, it’s important to consider your core brand values, and how well these would be reflected in your choice of subject matter and any other key actors involved. Agile marketing requires a deep understanding of your brand’s perception in the wider world, and poorly judged social marketing can severely damage your brand image.

When the cooking site Epicurious decided to tie their latest recipe (whole-grain cranberry scones if you were wondering) to the Boston Marathon bombing, it highlighted exactly why marketers need to stop and consider timing and tone before trying to engage with a consumer-base. Newsjacking (attaching your brand to a trending topic, such as by adopting a popular hashtag on Twitter) can very easily go wrong, as evidenced in the Tweet below.

Integrate your campaign with topical news

Agile marketing relies on an ability to pivot your strategy according to new developments, both internal and external. For planned events such as the 2016 Olympics in Rio, marketers can prepare their material early and consider each new deployment of content. But agile marketing is all about responding to the unscheduled, going off-script and creating a unique reaction to a particular situation. Culturally significant events are a great opportunity for marketers, but often the best replies come from situations that couldn’t be anticipated.

During the 2016 Euro football, supermarket chain Iceland jumped on the unexpected success of the Iceland international squad with some brilliantly timed Tweets. When Iceland (the country) were drawn against England in the quarterfinals, Iceland (the supermarket) stepped up their social campaign and earned themselves thousands of more Likes, Retweets and Followers.

Agile marketing in your digital marketing

Allow testing and data to take precedent

Agile marketing has existed in some form for several years, but it’s only since the proliferation of data harvesting tools and personalisation platforms that it has been able to be truly agile. Adapting your marketing strategy relies on understanding your competitors, the context in which your campaigns are implemented and the personal preferences of your clients. Marketing attribution has made meeting the latter requirement decidedly easier.

Through monitoring how clients interact with your content, you can adjust your approach according to their personal preferences and ensure your material reaches them through the most effective channels. Agile marketing, by its very nature, is unpredictable, but data gives you the confidence to engage with consumers with a more informed, personalised approach. As your campaign progresses, you can develop a stronger understanding of the most effective content for each consumer and begin to introduce incremental, data-driven changes to your strategy.

Be mindful who you align with your brand

As we said earlier, the topical news is a great platform for getting your brand out there, but this doesn’t mean you should jump on every news story going. It’s important to consider if your brand has any place in tying its name to a popular news piece, particularly if it’s on a subject with no relation to the brand’s purpose, or a sensitive subject that may deem any attempts at brand association as exploiting a painful situation for your own gain. Likewise, as a marketer you have to ensure your brand is associated with people appropriate to your brand message.

This becomes more challenging when agile marketing is involved, but even when a quick decision is needed on a potential brand association, it pays dividends to research the other party and make sure they fit with your core values. When renowned road racing cyclist Lance Armstrong was stripped of his titles following a doping scandal, brands had to move quickly to disassociate themselves from him, and other brands quickly reconsidered sponsoring him for future events.

Agile marketing in your digital marketing

Business intelligence using modern technology

10 ways digital marketing will change in the next 10 years

AI, Marketing, Technology | One Comment

Digital marketing, by its very definition, is constantly developing. As new digital technology becomes available, companies are obligated to evolve with it. Companies unable to adapt will stand little chance of survival, so it’s vital they stay in the loop and embrace new technologies when they become available. But what new digital marketing technologies are on the horizon, and how will they change the profession over the next decade? We take a look at ten ways technology will change the digital marketing landscape forever by 2026.

AI influences everything

This isn’t to say AI will have completely taken over the role of the marketer by 2026. There’s still plenty of stuff that can only be executed with that most human of traits; discretion. Deciding exactly how much time, effort and ad-revenue to invest in a campaign is just beyond AI’s current capabilities. However, it is already taking a front seat in digital marketing. As the technology develops, AI will become essential to creating effective social campaigns, content curation, customer service and even website design. Deep learning is already allowing AI to develop a stronger understanding of the nuances behind marketing campaigns. By 2026, it will come to play an even more integral role and even open new avenues for the industry as a whole.

Mobile is the channel

This will come as no surprise to anyone who’s spent more than five minutes in the real world, but mobile is fast becoming the number one channel by which people view content. Just as AI will be in just a few years, mobile is now a standard element of every marketer’s framework. The number of global users for mobile devices surpassed the number of desktop users back in 2015, and mobile digital media time now accounts for 51% compared to just 42% for desktop, so it’s easy to see why more marketers are ensuring their content has been optimised for mobile than ever before. Digital marketing is steadily shifting its focus to mobile, but by 2026, advances in technology will allow them to market directly to the consumer with custom-made content. Speaking of which…

Personalisation is mandatory

In much the same way that marketing content has to be optimised for mobile if it wants to reach the younger generation, content needs a personal touch to make a real impact. Despite being a relatively new aspect of marketing, it’s only set to increase as technology enables companies to understand more about their audience. Individual analytics and the rise of ‘small data’ are helping fuel a more personal approach to marketing, where consumers are marketed to in a way that suits them. Personalisation stems from understanding consumers, and marketers will be more geared towards engaging with consumers through non-traditional channels as more personal data becomes available. Just as the growth of Snapchat led to a variety of guerilla marketing techniques that weighed the user’s own predilections, new technology will ensure every ad a consumer sees is a case of ‘right place, right time’.

Branded content is a two-way street

In the same vein, the consumer will begin to play a more integral role in a brand’s identity over the coming decade. As the chief marketing officer for Taco Bell Corp, Chris Brandt, explained in a recent article for Co.Create, “User generated content will far exceed branded content and brands need to embrace this and accept they aren’t in complete control of their own brand.” As viral videos and citizen-led product placement give brands more exposure, companies will be consigned to ensuring their brand message is consistent and communicated effectively. The rise of social media has supplied companies with ample exposure courtesy of their audience, but it’s vital the brand ensures it’s the right kind of exposure.

Virtual reality is more than just a novelty

Let’s face it, virtual reality is fun, but its true potential as a marketing tool hasn’t yet been fully realised. Some intriguing examples aside, the medium has been largely limited to gimmicks and vague illustrations of specialist interests. But when it’s done well, VR as a digital marketing tool can be an immersive experience that takes a brand’s message into a new dimension. In Coca-Cola’s recent VR campaign, the packaging for a 12 pack could be transformed into a virtual reality headset, generating sizable online chatter and providing the soft drinks giant with a new in the process. Likewise, tequila company Patron gave their company history a charming visual element through a virtual reality set and a short film. As technology develops, VR will become a more recognised and versatile channel for brand advertising.

The traditional office is a thing of the past

As the internet redraws our concept of boundaries, companies are increasingly turning away from the standard office format. The growth in mobile technology, Cloud software and near-omnipresent internet connection gives us round the clock access to our workplace, even when we’re on the other side of the planet. As a result, the demand for office space is declining. The development of instant video messaging software such as Google Hangouts and content sharing platforms like Slack has made it easier than ever to manage a business from anywhere in the world. Digital marketing is already feeling the impact of this new virtual workplace. With geographic proximity no longer a consideration, employees can work together from across the planet, encouraging a more diverse approach to the traditional marketing campaign.

Startups mean a static market

With the huge increase in digital startups, the market will be a far less predictable place. The invasive rise of the internet has allowed tiny startups to grow rapidly and advances in API are making anticipating the success stories of the future increasingly difficult. Digital marketing, as a result, is in a constant state of flux. This isn’t necessarily a bad omen for your own startup, however. With more companies establishing themselves through non-traditional channels, investors are more open to new opportunities, and the entire process of finding funding has become more democratic as a result. By the mid-twenty-twenties, startups will rely less on major investments from banks, if at all, and more on generating scalable revenue from democratised investment platforms.

More channels mean more opportunities

Marketers have more options for the channels through which to market their content now than at any other point in history. Whilst automation may have made it easier to reach more people with less physical work, the proliferation of different mediums to reach an audience means marketers have to consider much more carefully the way in which they engage with consumers. With so many different channels to use, by 2026 marketers will have to think very carefully about the right mediums to use for their brand.

Transparency is paramount

In a world where corporate responsibility is increasingly under the microscope, companies are under pressure to ensure their business practices are transparent and ethical at all times. Most people, it’s safe to assume, like to think they are fairly ethical people. Therefore, guaranteeing your business operates in a humane and sustainable way gives your brand a relatable brand identity. With public scrutiny of major businesses now commonplace and social media enabling anybody to voice their concerns at a company’s behaviour, digital marketers will have to ensure their content communicates their commitment to ethical business practices at all times.

Marketing attribution ends the spam generation

With more and more companies being able to track exactly how a consumer has arrived at their site, not to mention what they did when they got there, the age of the random, unsolicited ad is almost over. We’re already witnessing companies move towards more targeted campaigns, where consumers only see content their previous web behaviour suggested they may be interested in. As technology improves, companies will only get better at anticipating what a consumer may be interested in, and when the best time to suggest it is.

August Marketing & Advertising

The month in Marketing & Advertising: July 2016

Advertising, Industry, Marketing, News | No Comments

This month we take a look at the big stories from the crazy worlds of marketing and advertising.

Even the marketing for the Olympics is causing controversy

With the controversies hanging around the 2016 Rio Olympics, it can be easy to miss the new developments surrounding the tournament’s marketing campaigns. Under the original rule for athletes and their sponsors, no-one participating in the Games could allow their name, picture or sports performances to be used for advertising purposes during the Olympic Games. Now, for the first time ever in an Olympic tournament, that rule has been overturned. There’s just one caveat, the ad campaigns can’t overtly link to the Olympics. Non-Olympic sponsors like GoPro, Under Armour and Virgin, have been quick to take advantage of the marketing opportunities this provides, but it’s led to some fairly inventive attempts to skirt around the obvious link.
The athletes are also bound by the rules, even if it does mark a relaxation of the rules compared to past Games, where athletes could not publicly endorse their non-official sponsors during the weeks surrounding the tournament. During the 2012 London Olympics, athletes made their frustrations at the restrictive rules by Tweeting using the hashtag #WeDemandChange. The competitors may have got their wish, but they have to ensure they don’t explicitly relate the sponsors to the Games. This might sound like an overly arbitrary rule, but it probably won’t be the most controversial .

Coca-Cola slips down the global brand rankings

Despite consistently ranking as one of the most recognisable brands in the world, Coca-Cola no longer enjoys its ubiquitous status as the all-American company. That’s because July saw Coca-Cola drop out of Millward Brown’s ranking of the top global brands, a major measure of a company’s cultural presence and overall market value. The soft drinks giant’s fall from the top spot isn’t exactly unheralded, following its disappearance from Interbrand’s best global brands list in 2013. However, it does point to the importance of maintaining pace with changing technology, and shows just how much the internet has levelled the playing field for new companies. Of the top ten global brands, five specialised in computer software, and three weren’t trading as a public company before the turn of the last century. It’s not been a great month for Coca-Cola. Not long after being released, their ads for Sprite were branded as ‘sexist’ and ‘misogynistic’ by people across the internet. Taking a look at the ads, it’s not hard to see why people would take offence, with taglines like “She’s seen more ceilings than Michelangelo,” “You’re not popular… you’re easy,” and “A 2 at 10 is a 10 at 2.” If this is their attempt to bring the brand back into the spotlight, they may be best keeping a low-profile for a while.

VR impresses, albeit sporadically, at Cannes

Despite the world’s current preoccupation with virtual and augmented reality (thanks a lot, Pokemon Go), the new medium failed to live up to the hype at this year’s Cannes Lions. The world was waiting with baited breath to see where this exciting new technology will take us, so perhaps it was inevitable that the offerings at the annual advertising, marketing and communications event would disappoint. One of the most notable exceptions was Lockheed Martin’s “Bus Ride to Mars” project, which saw a group of schoolchildren board a bus in Manhattan only to be transported to the red planet’s surface through the power of virtual reality. The project was awarded 19 Lions, an even more impressive feat when you consider those awards spanned 11 categories and add up to more than any other single piece of work at this year’s festival. The top accolades, however, went to the New York Times. The publication’s VR experience “The Displaced” bagged the Entertainment Top prize with an immersive look at the journeys of refugees from around the world in a move that Entertainment Lions Jury President Jae Goodman said “catapulted the Gray Lady 100 years forward.”

Facebook Messenger passes one billion users

Continuing its indomitable rise to be the most pervasive brand on the planet, Facebook announced this month that its Messenger app now boasts over 1 billion monthly active users. The social media behemoth now owns three apps with more than one billion users. Joining the official Facebook app and Whatsapp (who Facebook bought in 2014), Facebook Messenger’s popularity further cements the company’s position as the leading social media brand. Google Maps and YouTube both also rank high in the app charts, but Facebook has invested wisely in new technologies to ensure its place at the top of the leaderboard. The introduction of chatbots designed to simulate human conversation, as well as constant updates to the apps games, has positioned Messenger in an integral role within Facebook. Talk of extending its digital assistant feature, currently only available in the San Francisco Bay Area, could see the app take on an even more intrinsic role in our daily lives but, until then, we’ll all have to make do with using it to shoot digital hoops and messaging strangers with unfortunate, albeit hilarious, names.

LinkedIn makes the move into user-videos

Following its acquisition by Microsoft, LinkedIn has tried to boost its interactivity and give key influencers the opportunity to post 30-second videos on selected topics. In a move that looks to tap into the Snapchat generation, the company hopes to give leading tastemakers from the Linkedin community the ability to deliver bite-sized lectures on relevant topics. Writing on the Linkedin blog, senior product manager Jonathan Sherman-Presser claimed: “you’ll get an intimate look at where [the influencers] work and hear their honest thoughts on topics central to the professional world.” The new video feature gives every Linkedin user the opportunity to hear top advice direct from industry leaders, but does not yet allow users to pitch questions they want answered themselves. Topics covered so far include the most important thing founders should avoid doing at a pitch meeting, how artificial intelligence will change the office dynamic and how colleges should measure their students’ success. The move may have come quite late in the day for the professional networking site, but if it can effectively tap into the big questions and ensure its topics are relevant, this could be the beginning of a new era for Linkedin and business.

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Does every company need a full-time data scientist?

Analytics, Employment, Feature, Marketing | One Comment

Only a decade ago, if you had told an SME they needed a full-time data scientist to guide their marketing team, you would likely have been laughed out the building. But today, data scientists are venerated as a pivotal cog in company operations. According to Indeed.com’s chief economist Dr Tara Sinclair, the number of job postings for data scientist grew 57% for the first quarter this year compared to the same quarter last year, while searches for data scientist grew 73.5% for the same period.

Despite the profession’s relative infancy, I’ve worked with companies who genuinely believed a data scientist could alleviate all their commercial woes, and it’s easy to see why. It stands to reason that a company capable of understanding audience behaviour will thrive. But would every business benefit from a data scientist? It sounds like a cliche, but each business is unique, and it’s imperative C-suite professionals consider the company’s needs before investing in a full-time data scientist. Through working with a range of companies in a variety of industries, I’ve drawn up some questions to help guide your data science policy.

It sounds like a cliche, but each business is unique, and it’s imperative C-suite professionals consider the company’s needs before investing in a full-time data scientist. Through working with a range of companies in a variety of industries, I’ve drawn up some questions to help guide your data science policy.

Could the role be divided between your current team?

Writing in the Birst company blog, Chairman Brad Peters explained the data science conundrum by asking which would you rather have at your company: “The world’s greatest data scientist working alone in a corner lab… or data that will make all of the employees of your company one percent more productive?” The answer, of course, is the latter and points to a recurring issue found in businesses across industries.

Rather than turning to the latest trend to identify areas of improvement in their content, businesses should strive to integrate the increasing amount of data into their overall marketing strategy through regular team sessions and measurable trial cycles. By allocating individual metrics to relevant members of your team, you can give them quantified goals without the need to invest in a full-time data scientist.

I’ve seen companies hire data scientists without once considering how much business awareness they have or how much they really understand the company, and it rarely ends with either party optimising their talents.

How much data does your company need?

It’s up to you to study your current business output and consider your future content marketing strategy to decipher exactly what your marketing is missing. To many B2C’s, marketing attribution is essential to informing future marketing strategy, but not all businesses require this level of tracking. For many B2B’s today, the client-base can be made up of just a handful of key industry leaders.

Most mainstream analytics packages offer a huge array of metrics, when in truth, specific industries will often need just two or three at the most. Studying the metrics behind the people visiting your site every month can guide your overall marketing strategy, but there’s no way of knowing what impact it’s having on the people who will most impact your business. Remember, it’s not how many people you engage with your content, but who.

Even for those who want to study the browsing habits of large groups visiting their sites, a full-time data scientist might not be necessary. Consider hiring a data science consultant and have them lay out the groundwork for your upcoming campaigns. If the wealth of data is too much to handle, then you can begin to consider employing a data scientist in a more permanent role.

Does your website fulfil every requirement for your marketing strategy?

For years now, online marketers have based their business around their official website. Of course, that’s hardly surprising when you consider how much technology has altered business over the last decade. Your website is undoubtedly more versatile, unique and interactive than a TV or print ad, but that doesn’t mean it’s going to meet all your business needs. A 2015 B2B Web Usability Report by Komarketing found that once on a company’s homepage, 86% of visitors want to see information about that company’s products/services relevant to them.

In the age of personalisation, targeted marketing is quickly replacing the one size fits all approach. Visitors to your webpage don’t want to trawl through reams of information to find the content relevant to them, and the information gleaned from their interaction with your website isn’t always going to be relevant to your marketing strategy.

Clemmie creates personalised microsites for businesses looking to engage with C-suite professionals on an individual level. These microsites can be populated with content from your official website, but have been tailored to provide only the information relevant to the client in question. As a result, the analytics Clemmie feeds back reflect only how the key individual has engaged with their marketing material. This approach is becoming increasingly popular among B2B organisations as they look to optimise content and limit data fields to the metrics relevant to their particular needs.

Can your data analysis be automated?

The rise of automation is already placing doubts on the future viability of a full-time data scientist. Data science is still undeniably valuable to many companies marketing campaigns, but parallel to this we’ve seen a huge rise in the power of automation and AI.

While the few models currently in place using AI to turn data into actionable observations are woefully simplistic, it is more than likely that AI will be capable of handling complex regression models and providing real insights to inform your marketing in the future. Why should this matter now, you ask? Data automation is becoming ever more entangled with AI, and in turn, deep learning is evolving to become more adept at providing answers to the big questions data throws up.

Before hiring a full-time data scientist, consider just how much data you need to process, and explore all your options for automation. You could find that the analytics that matters most to you can be captured and analysed without employing a data scientist in a permanent role.

Conclusion

There can be little doubt that the growth in data-harvesting and the subsequent explosion in data professionals has benefitted businesses around the world. But rather than pointing to a future where every company has their own in-house data scientist, this is an opportunity to consider exactly what your company needs according to its core functions.

‘Data scientist’ may be “the sexiest job in the world” right now, but the hype won’t last forever. Companies will come to see that data isn’t the answer to all their marketing woes, let’s just hope it’s a realisation that comes sooner rather than later.