In Part 2, we continue with our Agency Round Table discussion about all things digital in 2018. Topics we discussed were advances in marketing automation and personalization as well as what social media platforms our group has been using for their campaigns. There are estimates that marketing automation spending by brands will be well over $31 billion this year.
Why are companies employing marketing automation? Because one of the biggest challenges for companies is turning leads into sales. Consumers expect personalized marketing today. There is a desperate need for companies to begin creating personalized experiences for their users. Data-driven campaigns that would deliver personalized messages based on pages or sections of the website users may have visited or viewed during their last interaction with the brand’s website.
Automation allows marketers and brands the opportunity to set up lead nurturing and marketing campaigns that are automatically triggered based on certain criteria. Even for small businesses personalization is attainable now with the various CRM systems and analytical tools available today.
When it comes to marketing automation and CRM tools - what is your preference?
Adestra - Rob Griffin
Adestra is the new hot ESP in the market. Adestra’s easy to use platform can be customized for each individual business. The platform offers more trigger based functions and workflow automation than legacy tools. The larger challenge related to CRM is synergy between prospecting, paid media and CRM. This involved aligning the DMP, data warehouse and other technology stacks.
Marketo and Hubspot - Brett Carneiro
Personally, I prefer Marketo. I have used HubSpot for many years and think it’s a great product, but because of how “easy” it tries to be, it prevents people like myself - who already have automation experience - from being able to get into the gritty details. I heard this somewhere else, so won’t take credit for it, but with HubSpot, you can “go-wide”, but with Marketo, you can “go deep”, and that seems to agree with my own professional experience.
I have also worked with Pardot, but felt like that platform lagged behind both Marketo and HubSpot in terms of ease-of-use, leveraging certain features, and not being intuitive. While I like Salesforce CRM very much, Pardot felt like a distant relative who hasn’t been invited to Thanksgiving dinner in several years, and so Pardot will never be a real focus for Salesforce, so I don’t see that product getting better – enough to rival HubSpot or Marketo.
At a high-level, I feel that HubSpot is probably the best entry point for a brand if marketing automation is net-new for the company. Get your people trained up on a platform that will make this engaging and interactive, will help them to get into the mindset of thinking about marketing automation, and then after several years, consider Marketo.
When it comes to selecting which social media channels your company should be using – one size does not fit all. Who is your target audience? What are they doing? What are they reading? Find out where they are spending all their time and then get in front of them and engage them with good content. There are going to be younger users on Snap and Instagram. If your audience is focusing on females – then Pinterest is the best route to take. Facebook is obviously the most widely-used social media platform, but should your business be using Facebook? Yes – yes it should.
More marketers are putting their dollars on Instagram. The platform is really picking up steam and popularity with over 200 million people using Instagram stories every month. Times are changing with Twitter too – but not for the right reasons as they are failing to garner more users at a significant rate.
Some channels will be more time consuming than others - but bottom line, just because you are on the platform doesn’t mean you are going to be successful. There needs to be a social strategy in place. What type of content are you going to be sharing or distributing? Do you have the team to create, implement and execute?
What social media platforms should marketers invest in? Which ones should they avoid?
Facebook and YouTube - Brad Adgate
Right now, I see investment in Facebook & YouTube despite issues of content, audience measurement, etc. You have to be there and marketers are now putting them at the top of the purchase funnel. There is a concern about the “pivot to video” to other digital companies like BuzzFeed, Vice, Mashable, Snap, Twitter, etc. will be able to grow at all. These companies are losing unique visitors but feel they will make more money by migrating to video which I feel is a big risk.
Facebook and Instagram - Brett Carneiro
I think the “right” social media platform depends greatly on WHO the customer is. Social is a long-play, not a quick win, so I think you must be smart about where you spend that energy and those resources. Thinking more about platforms, I will say Facebook needs to be in the mix, but really, I don’t even consider that to be “social” anymore, it’s more of a media/publishing platform. Because of the data they have, and targeting features, it can’t be ignored.
I guess if I am saying Facebook, then I think you need to pay attention to Instagram because it’s been the most successful image and video sharing platform that isn’t going anywhere and will continue to grow in popularity, features and engagement – especially considering their new “stories” feature.
For instance, if you are in fashion or design – there is still a lot that Pinterest can do for you. If the business leans more B2B, then maybe the place you need to invest time and energy on Twitter. Twitter as a whole should be reconsidered again now – given changes to their functionality and features as it relates to character length and “live” video etc.
Facebook and Linkedin - Jackie LaVana
Depends on the industry but Facebook is really still the best. Pinterest can be interesting for brands, but it’s expensive and losing popularity. I would love for LinkedIn to be better…the amount of data for B2B is amazing and I think it’s a missed opportunity.
Facebook - Rob Griffin
Facebook is obvious for most companies. From there, pick the social media channels that make the most sense for your products and your category.
YouTube, Instagram and Facebook - Derek Sawaya
If we are talking strictly based on viability, I'd say Instagram, Youtube, and Facebook will continue to be strong for advertising. LinkedIn could be somewhere to look into as well. I wouldn't say that I'd avoid Twitter, but I don't typically invest in paid Twitter advertising.
Facebook, Instagram and Linkedin - Stephen Dill
When it comes to the numbers – brands should be looking at Facebook, Instagram, and Linkedin. Avoid the platforms that are not delivering your return on investment. If the cost of maintaining the content exceeds what you are generating for your investment than abandon the platform or change up your approach.
Quora and Facebook – Evan Doherty
I think it depends on the client and their goals. For sheer brand awareness, I think Facebook is fine. We used that at EMC to engage with existing customers and promote up-sells. I am beginning to think that Quora may be very valuable for content marketing and I have seen some results in the campaigns of others that seem to re-enforce that. I think that Quora (as well as LinkedIn) allow you to position yourself as an expert by letting you write helpful articles.
This tends to bring in MOFU leads that are closer to buying. I think Facebook advertising should be avoided if your targeting is not narrow enough. It has the potential to suck up a lot of money quickly if your ad is not on-point with its messaging. LinkedIn is probably better (particularly for B2B although I’m told that it is more expensive.
Facebook & Invest in Social Media Influencers – Tony Labriola
Let’s be frank, most marketers begin and end their digital conversations with Facebook because it continues to be the dominant social platform for adults. That said, the choice of social platform will depend largely on the marketing parameters and ultimate objective rather than the platform itself. Demographics, user journeys, media mix modeling, editorial freedom, search – all will play a factor in determining the optimal social platform for the task at hand. For adventurous brands, investing in nascent platforms can be a worthwhile spend to establish first-mover status and/or connect with consumers in an authentic and organic manner.
And let’s not forget the importance of social influencers as a conduit to any digital marketing program, both in terms of creating engaging content, as well as expanding brand voice and reach.
What are some techniques and tools you have learned this past year and what was your takeaway?
Experience optimization is key – Rob Griffin
Experience optimization is key. Find a way to get to actionable insights faster and apply those strategies in a test and learn environment. Optimize fast and efficiently, test and iterate.
Television to Adopt Digital Segmentation – Brad Adgate
I see television adopting more segmenting of audience similar to digital. There are issues such as the upfronts, legacy deals, corporate vs brand buying as obstacles. We need better measurement. TV ad growth is flat, Digital is up by percent double-digits each year.
Custom Audience Targeting – Jackie LaVana
Custom Audiences in FB & in Google. It’s a great way to narrow your audience with people you KNOW are the right fit and send them the right message. This can be from your existing client list (upsell) or prospect lists.
Lead Generation - Brett Carneiro
I personally spent a lot of time this year focused on lead generation efforts, primarily in the B2B space, targeting high-level decision makers in technology companies. This was difficult because these business leaders are savvy about how marketing and targeting works, and they are also a group that is very disbelieving of any ads that are shown to them.
This audience (and I believe this applies to most audiences now) tends to research quite a bit, before making a decision on something (especially when the IT contract is typically multi-year and multi-million dollars), so you either need to be generating a lot of content on these topics, and spending a lot of money to advertise that content, or just giving it away to them, hoping these people will appreciate that content, and return to you for the sale, or… you need to have a highly relevant website, which ranks well within Google for all related queries, and you organically capture that “research” traffic because you have an excellently positioned website.
Also, tread gently into unproven types of advertising like Facebook and LinkedIn lead generation ads. These ads are positioned (especially by LinkedIn) to simplify lead generation, but they don’t work well yet, and there is hardly any data out there on them, so they take a lot of work and a lot of money to deliver.
Search and Public Relations working together - Tony Labriola
In 2017, I had the opportunity to collaborate with some incredibly talented search experts. Together, we explored how search could be weaponized to drive earned media (Public Relations). It is more than just a matter of keyword stuffing press releases or vying for backlinks from credible sources. Rather, search can be used to inform, direct, predict and refine content strategy. Together search and PR can identify whitespace, find new audiences and generate tailored messages that connect with consumers and media in interesting and highly relevant ways.
Email Marketing with Constant Contact – Evan Doherty
For me personally, I learned that the format and style of content needed for a successful email marketing campaign can vary vastly from industries and target audiences/personas. I had a recruiting firm as a client and created a campaign using the same style that worked well at EMC and started with a 2% open rate. After many iterations and changes to the format and type of content, I was up to 24% or so. That was surprising to me. I used Constant Contact as my email marketing tool.
Great Content and Personalization – Stephen Dill
Invest a portion of your resources to develop exceptional content that will increase in value over the long-term, building links to it and optimizing the website SEO for high SERP placement. Voice interface to portions or all of a website shows great potential for faster accessibility and use of inference engines to suggest content. Simplified personalization: at least recognize returning visitors and tell them where they went on their recent visits.
Create the WOW Factor for Clients – Derek Sawaya
The greatest asset I confidently have under my belt from this year is After Effects. I have had minor work with it prior to 2017, but this year I wanted to take it and run with it. It is very helpful for developing strong content for clients. Knowing this tool has been a good asset when it comes to "wowing" potential clients and opens the floor to introduce all the services available.
We continue the Round Table Discussion next week with our third final installment - (Part # 3)