How Visual is Your Marketing?

I have always been a fan of images and visuals, but I like the thinking here from Orbit Media Studios. When working on customer journeys and marketing funnels, we can spend a lot of time thinking about the messaging, the calls to action and the pre-emptive activities that we can put in place to reduce funnel leakage. But how often do we incorporate imagery into our messaging in such a way that it helps drive action?

This seems like an interesting series of experiments to run across your customer journeys!

Account based marketing overtakes leadgen as a marketing challenge

From Green Hat’s 2022 B2B Outlook Report

Green Hat’s annual B2B marketing outlook report has seen account based marketing displace lead generation as a top marketing challenge. But measuring brand awareness and health resolutely remains #1.

Given that the last 18-24 months has been driven by Pandemic thinking, it’s no surprise to see this shift in focus in the lower rankings – brand requires strategy as does ABM. And successful lead generation occurs when strategy, segmentation, targeting and journey mapping all work hand-in-hand. So in many ways, these top 3 challenges speak to the need for strategy.

Interestingly, the research indicates that 64% of marketers have no personas or journey maps, or have only developed one of these.

As we emerge from our own Pandemic inspired marketing fog, it’s perhaps worth reminding ourselves that the world has changed. There are new conditions, expectations and challenges. There are also opportunities that we are yet to fully grasp.

With this in mind, perhaps it is time go back to basics:

  • Work from core strategy out – assess, measure and re-validate your brand, brand health and levels of awareness
  • Define and validate audiences – develop and test personas, document your segmentation
  • Develop and match customer journeys – map journeys by audience / persona
  • Map your messaging to key points on your buyer’s journey.

And with Q4 just around the corner – you’d best get started now.

Netflix disrupts the Australian ad market

It has been quite some time since there has been a tantalising new advertising offering in the Australian marketplace. But recent announcements indicate that digital streaming goliath, Netflix, is briefing media buyers ahead of an Australian launch.

Launching before the end of 2022, Netflix aims to sell audiences to advertisers via Microsoft’s ad team and newly acquired Xandr digital marketplace. Strict limits are being planned, with a focus on brand storytelling (not tactical advertising), including:

  • Four minutes of ads per hour
  • No repeat ads
  • Mid rolls on series only, 15 and 30 second pre- and post rolls on everything else
  • Opens to advertisers and subscribers simultaneously.

With inventory restrictions and a limit of three ads per brand to a user each day, Netflix will create an interesting new category. Especially when we consider the power that content-related targeting may offer.

And who knows – we may see this new offering launch just in time for some special Christmas brand storytelling.

Data-driven marketing doesn’t mean colour by numbers

In my business, Disruptors Co, we work with a lot of large companies wanting to innovate like startups and plenty of scaleup businesses wanting to become enterprises. It’s an interesting space filled with tension and possibility.

But it can also be an environment filled with potholes, roadblocks and other infrastructure metaphors.

One of the marketing themes of the last decade has been “data-driven” marketing. As our ability to analyse and report on data, aggregate and automate processes, we started to move away from a “sense” of what works in marketing to knowing what does. Or so we thought.

But like any area of human endeavour … as soon as we feel that we “know” something, we begin to embody a sense of mastery. We take our eyes off the prize (or in marketing – the audience) and the conditions change under our wandering gaze.

As startups grow into scaleups and scaleups grow into enterprises, there are many transformations that need to be accommodated. When your market penetration is small and your addressable market is large, finding the fit between your product and the market is a process of trial and error. Often quite costly. But essential.

In this process, data will reveal the realities that research alone may not explain. For example, you’ll identify the messages that work for very specific audiences. You’ll be able to test and learn, expanding the audience and reach while refining the message and its effectiveness. And at a certain point, you’ll have a system for your marketing that will generate leads, opportunities and deals.

And at this point, you’ll be thinking “system”.

And this is where the danger begins. For as soon as you think “system”, you’ll think that marketing is a science that you have mastered, and all you need to do is colour-in the blanks with pretty colours to deliver the systemic outcomes you are looking for.

But this isn’t marketing. Or creativity. It’s accounting.

ABC iview and its dirty little privacy secret

When the ABC announced that its digital TV streaming service would require a user ID and password a few months ago, I was concerned. After all, why would a public broadcaster NEED its users (ie the general public) to register? What would be the user benefit?

Remember – as we learned from Google and Facebook, if you are not paying for a product, then you ARE the product. And while the broadcaster’s communications all suggested this new registration requirement was about customisation and generating better content recommendations, the hard deadline suggested there was some other agenda. And that agenda was not my own.

So what’s the story? Follow along with the Chew the Tech team to find out just what happens to your data as you stream an iview show.

Putting Strategy to Work

When we think of “strategy”, we often think of a document that is written, placed on a shelf, and forgotten. But in a volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous (VUCA) world, strategy must come closer to operations for every business. In fact, we must learn to operationalise strategy in new, responsive and scalable ways. And in almost every instance, that strategy must be digital – or more importantly, digitalised.

The continuous digital strategy framework

As we move strategy off the shelf, it becomes actionable. This means that each step needs to be articulated and validated. Here is how we work this through:

Objectives: You have to have serious objectives. Your research and insight process will have delivered you a challenge – a problem to solve – and out of that you or your client will have laid out some objectives which need to be met. These objectives may be “fluffy” objectives like “awareness” or “reach” or they may be harder – like “increasing sales 20%” or “200 new customers”.

Audience: Once you know what the company or client expects, it’s time to turn your attention to the need states of your audience. What do they want? What do they expect? What do they aspire to? What need is unmet? What do your customers look, smell and taste like? It’s time to get up close and personal with the folks who pay your bills! As a deliverable, you might develop a series of customer personas.

Footprint: Now that you know your audiences in their pungent granularity, you now need to understand their behaviour. Where do they go? What do they do? Where to they spend time and why? This is about walking a mile or two in their shoes. But it also a chance to match the footprints of your brands/products. What overlaps? What doesn’t? Where are the opportunities? And where are the touchpoints that will become valuable as your project grows. As a deliverable, this is where you work to develop customer journeys and use cases.

Content: Brand storytelling and messaging, themes and campaigns drive the focus of your content. At this step we are looking for the ways that you can emotionally engage and entertain your audiences – linking key brand and product messaging to the customer journeys. This might include website copy, templated (but engaging) email copy, newsletters, thought leadership and so on. As a deliverable this often takes the form of a content calendar that not only covers key customer touch points, but also articulates cornerstone content, campaign and thematic messaging.

Converse: What needs to be done to progress a customer conversation? At this point the strategy should address the development of shareable content, policies relating to social media and interaction and the interaction design that supports customer engagement. This could include customer contact planning, chat automation and lead scoring and nurturing. From a deliverables point of view, this could include tone of voice guidelines, automated customer journey paths and messaging, the scoring of leads and more.

Commitment: Once we begin conversing the strategy should now consider what success might look like. How do we know when our objectives have been reached? What is the customer commitment that we seek to validate that we have reached the required stage of the customer journey? For example, we may aim to turn our prospects from “unknown to known” – which means we are seeking an email address or contact number.

Measurement: We often think that measurement is difficult. It’s not. What is hard is committing to the numbers and to the metrics. If we have done the hard work of aligning our project objectives with the overall strategic objectives of our businesses, then much of this falls in place. But we also need to follow this through each of the other steps. For example, which audiences are important (or are influential) for your brand/product? Measure it. How much time do they spend on the web and on which sites? Measure it. Which pieces of content will drive engagement (and which pieces need to change and evolve as your project grows)? Measure it. How far do your conversations echo across the web? Measure it. What are the intangibles – and what can be substantiated via research? Measure it.

Now, once you have completed an iteration cycle, race through it all again. Pool your learnings from each step and drive them back through the process. Make your brand better. Make your customer experience more profound. Refine, substantiate and evolve.

Video – testimonials on steroids

We all know that testimonials and case studies can have a powerful impact on your brand’s products, sales cycles and reputation. But just as video has transformed a whole range of customer touchpoints, from advertising to onboarding and education – we are now seeing a greater use of video in the development and distribution of testimonials.

Usually such testimonials would be developed by the brand – but in this role reversal, the testimonial has been produced by a customer. I guess it helps that the customer in this case is well-known for creating explainer videos and TVCs, but this video for Slack by Sandwich sets a new standard.

Is it time to double down on influencer marketing?

There is no doubt that the global pandemic has impacted our marketing and growth plans. Indeed, it has forced a step-change in everything – from the way and how we work, to the where we work … so it is little wonder that marketers are feeling the strain.

Add to this the massive shifts around business accountability, increasing expectations of brand authenticity and respect for social license, and 2020-21 can easily be seen as a turning point for the often fraught relationship between brands and their audiences.

So what is the role of influencer marketing in the distinctly modern marketing mix? Ryan Skinner from Forrester offers some suggestions:

  • Social advertising: There appears to be a downward trend in social advertising – with spend dropping off by 10-20%
  • Influencer marketing as a growth opportunity: While social advertising is trending down, marketers are seeing the opportunity to expand their influencer-oriented activities, citing share of attention (more time on social – 63%), growing awareness and positive perception (of influencers)
  • Influencer content sentiment trends upwards: Only 20% of people indicated a negative attitude towards influencers. This receptivity creates an opportunity to communicate in a more one-to-one vs one-to-many scale to build awareness and reinforce brand-to-consumer relationship building.

What then, might be the way forward?

  • For those brands comfortable working with influencers:
    • Treat your approach to influencers as an opportunity to double down on long term brand messaging – built relationships and position for the future
    • Develop a growth plan connected to your influencers and your brand position
    • Experiment with influencers-as-a-channel – work closely with your influencers to build a content plan rather than just push content into a particular platform (eg TikTok or Instagram)
    • Move an additional 5% of your media spend towards influencers and double down on your experiments.
  • For those brands new to influencer marketing:
    • Shift 5-10% of your marketing budget to influencers. Understand that it will take time to learn how it can impact your activities and use the time and budget to build your expertise
    • Seek category and domain expertise alignment in your influencers and use your traditional marketing efforts to amplify the work of your influencers
    • Be creative – don’t just focus on transactional or bottom of the funnel marketing with your influencers. Find or create opportunities to communicate your brand values with and through your influencers.

Rethinking verification at Twitter

There has always been conjecture around exactly what it takes, or what or who qualifies for the Twitter “check mark”. This small icon appears on “verified” accounts indicates a certain online and offline status.

No doubt you would have seen a range of journalists appearing with the check mark, but there are also politicians, celebrities, domain experts and more.

But as challenges around validation and what constitutes expertise have escalated, Twitter has taken a moment to reconsider its verification process. Releasing a draft of the verification policy, and calling for public feedback, they have started with six types of accounts that might be considered:

  • Government
  • Companies, brands and non-profit organisations
  • News
  • Entertainment
  • Sports
  • Activists, organisers and other influential individuals.

You have until 17 December 2020 to submit your feedback! Get to it.