The Future Health of Your Business Relies on Great Marketing

For as long as I’ve been writing about marketing, I’ve talked about how critical a great marketing strategy is to ensuring the future health of your business. After all, marketing plays a huge role in determining the future demand for your offering. And when demand for your offering is low, so too are your sales and profit.

In February 2020, when we last published this guide, I spoke of the need to be smart and to keep up with the frequent changes in marketing. I signed off by hoping that 2020 was going to be everyone’s best marketing year yet.

Only a minority of companies would be able to say they achieved this. As it turns out, a lot can happen in a year.

At this point, we all know that marketing is an investment, not an expense. History has proven that those who market their businesses aggressively during tough times will reap the benefits during good times in the form of increased market share.

2020 showed that, for some businesses, options were limited with shutdowns and lockdowns having massive impacts globally. But there were also many industries that stabilised as the year went on and even some who benefited from the changes in consumer behaviour. Despite the unprecedented challenges, the economy rolled on in a surprisingly effective way.

To those who increased their marketing investment in 2020, history tells us good times are ahead. They might already be here. Certainly, we’re seeing this on many of the campaigns we work on.

To those who were unable to maintain or increase their marketing spend in 2020, all is not lost. Even if your industry is already picking up, now is the time to start chasing down those of your competitors who used marketing to break away from the pack in the past 12 months. It’s never too late to get moving.

Finally, a note of caution. 2021 is unlikely to be entirely smooth sailing. Undoubtedly, there will be public health and economic challenges. Many industries are still on life support or well below normal levels. I encourage you
as a marketer or a business owner to continue learning from history. You need to keep your marketing efforts front and centre whilst navigating your way through what has become a very unpredictable world.

All the best,

James Lawrence


Marketing Strategy and the Big Picture in 2021

What You Need To Know To Ensure Your Marketing Plan Has Solid Foundations.

1. Myth Busted: Digital Marketing is Not as Measurable as You Think

The rise of digital brought with it a belief that all marketing activities could now be measured. Gone was the slogan, "Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted, the trouble is I don't know which half". With this came an obsession with hard metrics like cost per click, cost per lead and cost per sale. For some marketers, things have moved so far that they won’t invest in activities they cannot measure.

One of the scariest things we hear when speaking to clients is that they intend to make all of their decisions based on data.

One of the scariest things we hear when speaking to clients is that they intend to make all of their decisions based on data. That's because digital marketing has a dirty little secret: marketing data has serious issues and limitations and used poorly will deliver us far less than we think. Sometimes, it will do as much harm as good.

Attribution Confusion

Even if you understand attribution models, I encourage you to read this short section. Getting this step right is critical to knowing how effective your marketing is. Even more importantly, it’s critical to understanding how to allocate your efforts and budgets

Attribution, simply explained, is how you credit separate channels, or touchpoints within those channels, for the role they played in a prospect’s path to purchase or goal completion. If people visited your site a single time and then either converted or left for good, attribution would be simple. The channel that drove them to the site, let’s say Google Ads, would be correctly attributed the full value of the purchase or goal.

Attribution is a critical part of making decisions, but you need to know what attribution means for you, keeping the full buyer journey in perspective.

But what happens in the real world, where most paths to purchase are complex and involve multiple visits on
possibly multiple devices? Which channel deserves credit? Is it the one that drove them to you in the first place (known as first-click attribution)? Or is it the channel that delivered them to you when they finally reached the goal (known as last-click attribution)? Alternatively, does it make more sense for you to equally value all the channels that drove a particular person to your site prior to them converting (this is called linear attribution)? These are only three of many ways to attribute credit to different marketing channels whenever a goal is reached.

Attribution is a critical part of making decisions but you need to know what attribution means for you, keeping the full buyer journey in perspective. Chances are that your analytics platform is defaulting to a lastclick attribution model.

Ask yourself: How complex is your buyer journey? How likely is it this model undervalues the earlier stages in the buyer journey and over-values the final stage? How is this affecting the way you judge the performance of each channel? What impact is this having on how you set budgets and select future channels?

No One Channel to Rule Them All

As an industry, we've become better at recognising the complexity of the buyer journey, the multiple
channels used to target buyers, the reality of multidevice usage and the greater sophistication of remarketing and retargeting

There's no real silver bullet to developing and changing your digital strategy overnight, and any one tactic alone won't work. A winning strategy is going to include the main channels used by your prospects as part of their buyer journey. For many prospects this includes a combination of organic search, paid search, social, email marketing and display.

No One Channel to Rule Them All

The complexity of the buyer journey, the use of different devices by individuals and the fluidity with which we move between channels means it is now virtually impossible to measure with certainty the impact of all digital marketing activities. Just because it's data, doesn’t mean it's right.

2021 will be the year that marketers will start to account for the lack of accuracy associated with digital marketing metrics. From this, rational decisions should be made in favour of long-term digital marketing activities that need to be undertaken, without a strict dollar-in-dollar-out expectation. This will apply not just to traditional longer-term activities like SEO and content, but also to paid channels like Google, YouTube and Facebook that have generally been viewed as pure performance channels.

TASK:

As a first step, take some time to sit down with your team and agree on a small number of metrics that will genuinely give you insight into how your marketing activities are contributing to company profits. Then work backwards to develop and improve campaigns to get those metrics moving in the right direction. But don’t forget, consistency is key, and to start ith, keep it simple and sceptical.

Review the channels you're currently investing in and consider introducing smaller campaigns in new channels to support your overarching strategy. For example, check if there is scope to run a generic display retargeting campaign for your website visitors, introduce email marketing or run a brand-based search campaign.

2. If Data is the ‘New Oil’, a CRM is Your Very Own Refinery

Customer relationship management (CRM) is a technology for managing your company's relationships and interactions with customers and potential customers. CRM technology includes tools used by sales, customer service and marketing teams and is constantly evolving. Examples of popular CRMs include HubSpot, Salesforce and Microsoft Dynamics.

COVID proved the value of a great CRM

When COVID hit in 2020, it became clear very quickly that businesses which had an up-to-date, extensive and well-segmented database of their customers and prospects had a massive head start in kickstarting their sales compared to those businesses which had to generate new revenue from strangers.

Those who simply had a database were at a disadvantage when compared to businesses which had this contact data stored in a system that allowed them to send and track emails, understand who was doing what on their website and have an up-to-date snapshot of a contact when they were talking to a salesperson.

What should a CRM look like?

If you don’t have a database of customers and prospects, or you’re still using Google Sheets or Microsoft Excel to manage your database, then it’s high time for an upgrade.

At minimum, you’ll want to choose a tool that brings together your marketing campaigns and sales pipeline into one single customer view.

We’re HubSpot Platinum partners. We also use the platform in our own marketing. If you’d like to chat to us about how HubSpot might work for you then get in touch. There are numerous other CRMs and marketing automation platforms and the most important thing is to find the one that best suits your needs. Bigger is not always better when it comes to CRMs.

Privacy Laws and CRMs

Globally, well-deserved attention is being paid to protecting the privacy of individuals. Over time, the expectation is that it will become harder to collect the details of people who are potentially interested in your offering.

A great CRM and database will assist in futureproofing your business to some extent. Building a database, and warming up your pool of prospects, will ensure that as many people in your market as possible are not strangers to you.

Practical Ways to Use Your Database

Gone are the days where a database was simply used to send bulk emails. An up-to-date database, powered by appropriate technology, can see you doing the following:

  • Sending 1:1 or bulk emails to specific segments of your database. This can be based on demographics, custom field or even behaviour.
  • Uploading your contacts to tools like Google Ads and Facebook to build lookalike audiences. This means those platforms will take your audience and find more people just like your existing contacts to show your ads to.
  • Likewise, Google and Facebook can take your contacts and ensure that your remarketing ads are displayed to this warm audience.
  • Sending targeted SMS messages.
  • Being alerted when contacts take valuable actions on your website (such as viewing a certain number of pages or visiting a key page like a pricing page).

TASK

Review your databse of prospects and contacts. How extensive is it? Do you currently invest money in maintaining and growing this list? How eaily can you send segmented emails? Or see, at a glance, every interaction a contact as had with your marketing campaigns and salespeople? If your CRM technology does not allow you to take the actions outlined in this section, it's time to investigate the right options for your business.

3. Strong Brands Make More Money

In addition to the need for marketing beyond performance-based campaigns, there is also a strong reason for running brand-focused campaigns. Brand awareness has traditionally been a core goal for marketers with a view to generating positive associations for customers towards their products and services.

There is an argument that marketers need to increase the time and effort spent on activities that introduce people to their brand and supporting them in the early and middle stages of the buyer journey rather than obsessing over strict ROI at the bottom of the funnel. Essentially, aligning marketing efforts (and measurement) with the real-world buyer journey.

Consider the results from a survey of marketers from 2019. 37% said that increasing brand awareness and brand health was the primary goal of their digital marketing strategy. This was followed by an increase in the number of leads. What's not clear to many is that both these goals are highly interrelated. It is significantly easier to generate new leads if your brand is strong.

It is significantly easier to generate new leads if your brand is strong.

The Rise of Messaging with Customers at its Core

In the words of American author and public speaker Donald Miller, brands need to stop playing the hero in the story and instead invite customers into the story.

With social media now an indispensable pillar of digital marketing, Miller’s StoryBrand Framework (and variations thereof) has become pivotal in explaining a business’s value and bringing customers along for the journey with interactive and personalised content.

There remains in 2021 a significant advantage for businesses who re-imagine their message in a way that better explains their value as it is perceived by their prospects. There should be less focus on the brand itself. Instead, communication should tap into the intrinsic and extrinsic motivators driving not only purchasing decisions but also brand-to-customer relationships.

Marrying Brand with Actionable Digital Marketing

You don’t need to overhaul your entire brand to make a profitable change to your digital marketing strategy. One could argue that there is scope to include a range of relatively low-budget, high-return 'brand-based' campaigns that are ’always-on’.

Examples include a brand-focused, value-based display retargeting campaign, via the Google Display Network, targeted towards website visitors. Another one is a brand-focused Google Ads display campaign.

The question about whether it’s worth paying for people searching for your brand via paid ads is a long-standing one. At Rocket we are big fans of these brand campaigns and time and again we’ve seen them deliver strong results. The advantages of such campaigns are:

  • You can control the message searchers see in an ad (as opposed to the generic organic results listing).
  • An ad can direct searchers to a landing page of your choosing.
  • An ad allows you to maintain top position even when competitors are bidding on your brand.
  • Running brand ads allows you to dominate the search engine results page (SERP). (This is particularly true on mobile).

Anecdotally, as well as in tests we have run, when branded search has been turned off, the uplift in organic results plus the savings in the cost of branded search does not equate to the revenue that has been lost.

TASK:

Review your marketing budget for 2021 with fresh eyes. Separate media budget you spend on brand campaigns vs other bottom-of-the-funnel campaigns. Remember, brand campaigns will always be cheaper and generate a stronger ROI than regular campaigns. This is OK though; the regular campaigns are valuable in introducing new people to your offering and these are the people who in the future will possibly be running brand searches. Ideally, you should be running both types of campaigns.

Everything You Need to Know About The Best Performing Digital Marketing Channels of 2020

What’s Working in Google Ads, SEO, Paid Social, Email Marketing and Video Right Now.

4. It's Time to Adopt Automation

Marketing automation platforms have been around for over a decade and adoption levels are now very high. If you are in a competitive space, not having a marketing automation platform effectively running significant parts of your business will mean that you won't be able to compete when it comes to marketing, sales and maximising value from your customers. In the long run, this may mean needing to invest a higher percentage of your revenue into your sales and marketing efforts. Bottom line, you’ll be leaving a lot of money on the table compared to your competitors.

Whether it’s large platforms like Marketo, Eloqua and Salesforce Marketing Cloud, or platforms suited for smaller and mid-market businesses like HubSpot, Autopilot and Infusionsoft, you need to assess the right platform for your business and commit to it. Don’t choose a marketing automation platform which is too big or too small for your needs.

Automation is not just limited to your sales and marketing platform. All the channels we play in are continuously toying with machine learning and artificial intelligence - another change you need to assess seriously depending on your needs.

Responsive Google Ads

For some years now Google has been investing heavily in automation and machine learning. Each year has seen exponential improvements in Google’s algorithms. One area they are pushing hard on is what they call responsive ads.

Responsive ads are those where you enter a number of headlines/descriptions/images that you want to test, and Google’s machine learning generates the combination it thinks is most relevant to a particular search query or display area. As impressions build up, it is able to optimise these combinations to get the best results.

Given the power of this search giant and its monopoly in the search engine world, it makes sense to test these ad variations for your campaigns. As time goes on, it is likely marketers will have less choice when it comes to opting out of various automation features in the leading platforms.

Emails are Like Gifts - They’re Better When They’re Personal

Many marketers are already increasing email performance by including personalisation based on data collected via intelligent platforms and with the incredible targeting abilities of the already available ad-tech.

This opens unexplored opportunities to be more meaningful and persuasive with email nurture campaigns. It's important to note that simple personalisation, focusing on things like first names, is not going to generate the best results.

Contextual targeting, conversational tones and active segmentation are a must to succeed with high engagement rates and responses on email. Most marketers do a reasonable job of segmenting based on demographic data (e.g. send Email A to Job Title X, Industry Y and Lifecycle Stage Z). This is a great first step but far from what is possible (and expected by prospects).

It's time to get smart. Your prospects know when emails are automated and when they are personally sent. If you're proactive in your email nurture series, you'll be able to blur the former to seem like the latter and drive more leads and sales to your business.

The Automation Challenge

The big players like Google and Facebook will continue to push marketers into using their suite of automation options when running paid campaigns. The challenge will be to determine when this works in your business' interest and when it doesn't. There is no doubt that over the long term, automation will bring many benefits to the lives of marketers, but the question in the short term is when this will be the case and when it won't.

Marketers need to be smart in determining when machines can do things more effectively and at a better level than humans. Most importantly, you need to use your judgement to identify the moments when technology won't understand the intricacies of a campaign and the nuances of your audience. This is where that human touch will still be needed.

Regardless, the truth of the matter remains - businesses, even small ones, can no longer succeed without a highly tailored approach to audience segmentation as prospects now expect more than generic correspondence. This can only be achieved at scale with automation.

Our prediction - businesses without marketing automation won't compete.

TASK:

Take a moment to review your nuture flows. Find gaps in how your nurture based on behavioural data. Has the prospect opened the last email? Has the prospect attended the last two webinars? Did he prospect download the whitepaper on 'Topic X' that is related to the webinar you're trying to promote now? HAs the prospect visited your pricing page?

Create smarter, better emails (mostly plain-text ones) based on these findings.

5. SEO Is Very Much Alive. Just Different.

In the digital landscape, SEO stands strong as a veteran - the old but reliable way of driving quality traffic to your website. However, with the changing nature of the industry, your SEO strategy needs to keep up to remain a valid part of your digital marketing strategy. With Google’s continued dominance of this space, adapting to its changes is absolutely worth the effort.

Voice Search is Finally Here (And so is Conversational Marketing)

Three years ago, many people spoke about the impending dominance of voice search. Fair to say that in Australia this hasn’t eventuated as predicted. Whilst there has been a steady rise in voice-based searches, it hasn’t been a game-changer. We believe there is still plenty of change coming. With over 25% of US adults owning a voice-enabled device and likely similar numbers in Australia, 2020 will mark the point when marketers need to start considering voice seriously when devising digital campaigns.

To support this change, businesses will have to take a step back from formal language and adopt what is now getting traction as ‘Conversational Marketing’. This includes rapid adoption of interactive, personalised and relatable website copy that ‘speaks’ to your target customers. We’ve all got to change the way we create content to make way for voice search or risk losing traction on the web.

Marketers need to create and publish shorter and smarter copy that answers their target audience’s most pressing questions promptly.

Marketers need to create and publish shorter and smarter copy that answers their target audience’s most pressing questions promptly.

Position Zero – Better than the Best

Ranking #1 on Google’s SERP is no longer the position a brand needs to target. With voice search and impatience trending among consumers, Google’s featured snippets are often the answer to a given query.

Featured snippets, and other pieces of instant information displayed by Google, means searchers don’t need to click through to your website to get the information they’re after. According to research conducted by marketing analytics company Jumpshot, over 60% of Google’s searches now lead to no clicks (or website visits) at all.

Crafting copy based on search intent has always been the norm for SEO-specific content. Now, it’s become essential. Marketers need to create and publish shorter and smarter copy that answers their target audience’s most pressing questions promptly.

Long-Form Content

long-form-content

In the past, there was a push to publish short pieces of content frequently. However, over time and with Google’s changing algorithm, it is now considered better for SEO to publish long-form content. Such webpages have the potential to become content pillars of your site from an SEO point-of-view, ranking for multiple semantic keywords in one shot, increasing the time a person spends on your site, reducing bounce rates, and most importantly, providing your target market everything there is to know about the one thing your business is an expert at.

Marketers can take one step further in the content creation process and introduce interactive elements to the webpages to make the piece more attractive. Think polls, calculators, and quizzes. These items make pages more shareable, thus expanding reach and as a result, quality traffic.

Think polls, calculators, and quizzes. These items make pages more shareable, thus expanding reach and as a result, quality traffic.

SEO - The Gift That Keeps Giving

SEO demands an investment in time and resources, but consider this: more or less every other marketing channel you care to name involves an ongoing cost for the leads or sales generated. This includes Google Ads, TV, Radio, Print, Trade Shows and even Referrals. When a business has momentum through organic search, leads and enquiries don’t have a hard cost per acquisition in terms of buying media. In a longer, more drawn out sales process, SEO is the ‘net’ that captures prospects during the stages of awareness and consideration and hence fuels the fire for nurturing and re-engagement through remarketing and retargeting.

In summary, SEO has changed dramatically in recent years and further changes are no doubt on their way. For these reasons, we understand why some marketers have distanced themselves from SEO. Our advice from experience is don’t be one of these marketers. SEO is a long term game with a solid ROI. The only way to win is to keep playing

SEO is a long term game with a solid ROI. The only way to win is to keep playing.

TASK:

Speak to your sales team and brainstorm a list of the most common questions prospects ask during their first meeting. Note all of these down and publish the questions and answers as long-form content on your site. Make sure to include the keywords you’re trying to rank for in the process.

6. Find New Opportunities in Social Media in 2020

Paid social is still one of the most effective tools in any digital marketer’s arsenal to effectively communicate with customers and prospects. Social media platforms are constantly changing, updating and adding new features, and it can be hard to keep up.

Marketers need to focus on meaningful interaction as opposed to sheer volume.

While the fundamental strategies around the right audience, right message, right time remain, here are the twists and turns marketers need to watch out for in 2020.

Instagram and Facebook Bid Farewell to Likes

quote-1

In a game-changing move that impacts marketers relying on engagement metrics to show value, Facebook and Instagram have hidden the number of likes a post gets. The change was made to foster connections, conversations and community.

Marketers need to focus on meaningful interaction as opposed to sheer volume. The style of commentary and engagement also needs to change to follow suit.

While some considered ‘likes’ to be a vanity metric, it did at one point provide some measure of impact for awareness-based campaigns. Moving forward, marketers need (if they aren’t already) to create and share more relatable content for their audience - including images and videos that resonate rather than just initiate a one-way interaction.

Facebook’s Preference for ‘Short and Sweet’

Facebook has taken Pascal’s “If I Had More Time, I Would Have Written a Shorter Letter” philosophy to heart with their Ads Manager. Page posts and ads on mobile now match the look and feel of the new Facebook design that was introduced in 2019.

These updates mean that there are only 3 lines of primary text shown on Facebook News Feed on mobile, after which people will be prompted to click “see more”. It also means that the tallest supported aspect ratio for images without links and for videos is now vertical (4:5). Media taller than 4:5 will be masked on Facebook News Feed on mobile.

Marketers need to be agile in this dynamic ad environment and make clever adjustments to creative as well as craft succinct copy to maximise on-screen space.

Marketers need to be agile in this dynamic ad environment and make clever adjustments to creative as well as craft succinct copy to maximise on-screen space.

Sound On: Spotify

We are each bombarded by over 4,000 ads on a daily basis. Yes, daily! And that’s on the lower end of the spectrum according to a 2017 study by the Forbes Agency Council. In a world that is overwhelmed with visual messages, audio ads might just give you some breathing space.

Audio ads are not new. Radio ads have existed for almost 100 years. They continue to exist because they’re effective for many brands. However, they’re expensive, tough to measure and for some demographics, no longer highly relevant. That’s where Spotify comes in.

Flexible and effective for smaller budgets, the combination of compelling audio and visuals plus never-seen-before (for audio ads) targeting options delivers a formidable case for trialling Spotify in your marketing mix.

Flexible and effective for smaller budgets, the combination of compelling audio and visuals plus never-seen-before (for audio ads) targeting options delivers a formidable case for trialling Spotify in your marketing mix.

A B2B Marketer’s Must Have: LinkedIn

Despite its clunky ad interface and questionable user experience for marketers, LinkedIn stands strong as the obvious channel for B2B marketers. This holds true especially for prospecting campaigns focused on lead generation.

Year-on-year, we’ve seen huge growth in LinkedIn, a network that now boasts over 10M+ Australian members. It’s likely that your prospects turn to LinkedIn to stay up-to-date with industry news, share information and job updates and follow thought leaders and companies that resonate.

With sponsored inMails, you get twice the opportunity to catch the attention of your audience - one on the LinkedIn platform itself as a new message and then in your prospect’s email inbox. Plus, there are notifications to support the inMail being sent.

linkedin

In LinkedIn, prospects are attuned to learning something new and native sponsored content can successfully drive targeted traffic to your site.

Lastly, there’s also scope to send out inMails with inbuilt Lead Forms within LinkedIn. These can integrate with many popular CRMs that can pull in more data fields like city, post code, job title and the like directly from LinkedIn. Bear in mind that with Lead Forms, prospects don’t visit your site and may not be retargeted as a result.

All these factors make LinkedIn an attractive option for lead generation and an area we’ve seen clients enjoy incredible results.

Bear in mind that with Lead Forms, prospects don’t visit
your site and may not be retargeted as a result.

TASK:

Check the last 5 ads you put up on Facebook or Instagram - do they encourage interaction with your target audience? Are you getting genuine comments with people tagging others who may be interested in your products and services? If not, it may be time to re-think the narrative.

Don’t have faith in marketing via LinkedIn? Run a test within your business to connect with at least 30 people in your target market with a short note to go along with your connection request. If more than 5 people respond positively, there’s a case to invest additional marketing dollars behind an inMail campaign that can deliver a stronger, sales-focused message to your target audience.

7. It’s Time To Adopt Email Automation

Marketing automation platforms have been around for over a decade and adoption levels are now very high. If you are in a competitive space, not having a marketing automation platform effectively running significant parts of your business will mean that you won’t be able to compete when it comes to marketing, sales and maximising value from your customers. In the long-run this may mean needing to invest a higher percentage of your revenue into your sales and marketing efforts. Bottom line, you’ll be leaving a lot of money on the table compared to your competitors.

Whether it’s large platforms like Marketo, Eloqua, Salesforce Marketing Cloud or platforms suited for smaller and mid-market businesses like HubSpot, Autopilot or Infusionsoft, you need to assess the right platform for your business and
commit to it. Don’t choose a marketing automation platform which is too big or too small for your needs.

Automation is not just limited to your sales and marketing platform. All the channels we play in are continuously toying with machine learning and artificial intelligence - another change you need to assess seriously depending on your needs.

Don’t choose a marketing automation platform which is too big or too small for your needs.

Responsive Google Ads

For some years now Google has been investing heavily in automation and machine learning. Each year has seen exponential improvements in their algorithms. One area they are pushing hard on is what they call responsive ads.

Responsive ads are those where you enter a number of headlines/descriptions/images that you want to test, and Google’s machine learning generates the combination it thinks is most relevant to a particular search query or display area. As impressions build up, it is able to optimise these combinations to get the best results.

quote

Given the power of this search giant and its monopoly in the search engine world, it makes sense to test these ad variations for your campaigns. As time goes on, it is likely marketers will have less choice when it comes to opting out of various automation features in the leading platforms.

Emails are Like Gifts - They’re Better When They’re Personal

Many marketers are already increasing email performance by including personalisation based on data collected via intelligent platforms and with the incredible targeting abilities of the already available ad-tech.

This opens unexplored opportunities to be more meaningful and persuasive with email nurture campaigns. It’s important to note that simple personalisation, focussing on things like first name is not going to generate the best results.

Contextual targeting, conversational tones and active segmentation is a must to succeed with high engagement rates and responses on email. Most marketers do a reasonable job of segmenting based on demographic data. You know, send email A to ‘Job Title X, Industry Y and Lifecycle Stage Z’. This is a great first step but far from what is possible (and expected by prospects).

It’s time to get smart. Your prospects know when emails are automated and when they are personally sent. If you’re proactive in your email nurture series, you’ll be able to blur the former to seem like the latter and drive more leads and sales to your business.

Simple personalisation, focusing on things like first name is not going to generate the best results.

The Automation Challenge

The big players like Google and Facebook will continue to push marketers into using their suite of automation options when running paid campaigns. The challenge will be to determine when this works in your business’ interest and when it doesn’t. There is no doubt that over the long term, automation will bring many benefits to the lives of marketers and techs, but the question in the short term is when this will be the case and when it won’t.

Marketers need to be smart in determining when machines can do things more effectively and at a better level than humans. Most importantly, you need to use your judgement to identify the moments when technology won’t understand the intricacies of a campaign and the nuances of your audience. This is where that human touch will still be needed.

Regardless, the truth of the matter remains - businesses, even small ones, can no longer succeed without a highly tailored approach to audience segmentation, as prospects now expect more than generic correspondence. This can only be achieved at scale with automation.

Our prediction - businesses without marketing automation won’t compete.

Most importantly, you need to use your judgement to identify the moments when technology won’t understand the intricacies of a campaign and the nuances of your audience.

TASK:

Take a moment to review your nurture flows. Find gaps in how you nurture based on behavioural data. Has the prospect opened the last email? Has the prospect attended the last 2 webinars? Did the prospect download the whitepaper on Topic X that is related to the webinar you’re trying to promote now? Has the prospect visited your pricing page?

Create smarter, better emails (preferably, plain-text) based on these findings.

8. Video is For Winners

Video and animation in digital advertising drive results. Having run a huge number of campaigns across different industries and channels we know that typically campaigns are more effective when video or animation is used.

2019 was the year of video and that fact is further cemented by industry reports showing a significant increase in video marketing spend year on year. If this is a space your competitors are playing in, you need to consider this seriously as an element of your broader digital strategy.

Production Quality Shouldn’t Stop You

The great thing about creating effective video content is that it doesn’t need to be hugely expensive. Viewers are not expecting Steven Spielberg quality. The video needs to be relatable, engaging and with thought put into how it will deliver value to the viewer.

The point being, depending on your industry, you might not have to invest heavily in equipment, location and the like, as you would if you were creating an ad for TV. Well-executed low-cost production with a smartphone, good quality microphone and most importantly, great quality content will do the trick in most instances. Think fewer bells and whistles and more value-delivery and personalisation.

The great thing about creating effective video content is that it doesn’t need to be hugely expensive.

youtubeAn important thing to keep in mind is that you cannot approach YouTube with a pure cost-per-lead mindset.

YouTube for Prospecting

Year-on-year, industry stats reveal that marketers are investing less in the Google Display Network for prospecting while increasing their investment in YouTube. You probably already know that YouTube is the world’s second-biggest search engine. Video creative is more engaging than static images, both by virtue of the ability to tell a story and the fact that things in motion are just more memorable. Whether you want to increase the awareness of your brand, which Google is now making easier to quantify with Brand Lift surveys, or for direct conversions, which they hope to increase with rolling out Lead Form Ads within YouTube, it’s definitely a space worth playing in.

An important thing to keep in mind is that you cannot approach YouTube with a pure cost-per-lead mindset. Video on this channel is often most suited to driving engagement which eventually contributes to brand awareness and sales in the digital marketing ecosystem.

Invest for Versatility

Videos are versatile pieces of content that can serve different purposes across multiple channels. This will further improve the ROI from the original production costs. A well-scripted product or service explainer video goes a long way to simplify your value proposition on your site. It can be used on YouTube to capture leads and be indexed for search, it can be posted on Instagram and used in paid ads. It can be transcribed and posted as a blog in addition to your regular content. The video can be edited to introduce multiple calls to action depending on your campaign. Videos can be used to drive people to your site with email marketing.

Video is the most popular way for people to learn about brands and products. In 2020, it is here to stay and it’s time to work out how it can deliver the most value in your marketing mix.

TASK

Get hold of the most camera-friendly person in your team and get them to interview your team members, with one customer-centric theme in mind. Use a selfie-stick and your phone to record the video and be prepared to be surprised. You can use these videos as a test case on your social channels and even if you don’t, at worst, you’ll be left with inspiration you can use for content creation in the future.

The Ultimate 2020 Digital Marketing Checklist

  • Acknowledge the contribution of multiple channels to the sales opportunities generated in the business. Don’t limit yourself to last-click attribution or a single channel.
  • Agree on a small set of metrics that are relevant to the activities of your team and have a genuine business impact. Introduce small campaigns in new channels to support the overall strategy.
  • Bid on your own brand terms in Google Search to capture valuable real estate before your competition does.
  • Review your email strategy and identify opportunities to send emails based on a certain action/inaction from your lead. For example, nudge them to attend your webinar, if they haven't registered after your first invitation.
  • Run your website through Google's mobile-friendly test and make changes to optimise for mobile.
  • Edit your Facebook ads with optimal 4:5 creative where appropriate and re-craft your ad-copy to fit in the first three lines of your post.
  • Evaluate running Spotify ads for your business to drive brand awareness.
  • Consider using an active, up-to-date LinkedIn profile of a customer-facing person
    in your business to run an InMail campaign.
  • Analyse your website content from an SEO point of view and find opportunities
    to replace potentially technical and jargon-stuffed copy with conversational copy.
    Don’t force your copy's syntax to stuff keywords.
  • Consolidate 4 blogs covering the same topic into a long-form SEO content
    pillar piece that to boost your SEO ranking
  • Create a short video with your team, addressing a problem faced by your target
    persona, to test out your internal production capability.

Time To Make It Happen

There are two things we’re sure of in 2020. Firstly, change will be ever-present. Secondly, for all this change a lot of things will remain the same. This is particularly true of the core elements of good marketing. These will not change. Right message, right place, right time will continue to be critical to your marketing success.

Well-executed email marketing and nurturing will continue to drive sales and engagement. Search efforts, both paid and organic, will be crucial to siphoning off traffic of the highest intent. Social channels like Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn will continue to allow you to build targeted audiences and prospect for high-quality traffic.

A winning strategy is more than ever going to require multiple channels and highly effective messaging targeted at your key personas. Empowering decision-makers with the right message at the right time will drive your strategy further per dollar, capturing the attention of your prospects while they are researching or looking to buy. If there is anything the team at Rocket can do to help, or any question we can answer to help give you clarity, don’t hesitate to be in touch.

Good luck in 2020 and beyond!

James Lawrence

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