Rich Clark Marketing

Opinions from Rich Clark one of the UK's leading Marketing Professionals


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Growth Marketing Vs Performance Marketing

With the news that Google ad revenue is likely to drop for the first time in 2020 (5.3% according to WSJ), largely due to the pandemic that has engulfed the globe and the current boycott for Facebook ad spend, the world or advertising and marketing feels a little different.

This also raises the question of businesses that succeed and their approach to marketing. There is an argument that the linear measurability of acquisition marketing channels such as paid search and paid social are short term, return based approaches. Whereas modern, successful and high-growth brands look at a growth marketing approach.

What is Growth Marketing?

Growth Marketing has a number of definitions, that do in theory conflict or contradict each other in parts.

There’s Camp A, who were brought up on adwords and MVT that feel Growth Marketing is more in this camp. For example they take a look at the whole funnel of marketing and how the “traffic” navigates its way through the experience you provide and suggests that experiments should be made on steps within the process. This is still done in a relatively scientific or statistical way. A great option when the data is consistent, the sources are all reliable and attribution is 100% accurate and understood. This is compelling as the growth areas are targeted and controlled in a scientific way, with results analysed and then developed.

In my opinion there are two potential issues with this approach.

  1. How many organisations and teams have that data structured in a way that they can 100% rely on it, trust its integrity and have people that understand it
  2. If this isn’t implemented with military precision, it could actually slow you down rather than speed you up

Matt Cunliffe adds “It is vital that core journeys for core audiences are identified at the outset along with painpoints – these painpoints should relate to significant dips or low-performing metrics in the funnel that affect conversion, onboarding, retention volumes etc. It may sound obvious but I have seen distracting approaches on MVT where lots of micro-tests are identified that actually don’t have scale or impact upon roll-out. Whilst a rolling program of these smaller improvements could combine to uptick metrics, one often has bigger strategic challenges (e.g. what should our new commercial model be?) and you need to ‘clear the decks’ and get everyone (i.e. CRO, Product, UX, Dev etc) united behind solving and supporting that big issue. It relies on clear OKRs or strategic goals that filter down to teams so they are all laser-focused and don’t get diverted into baby-step, nice to have changes”

Camp B

Whilst the science behind Camp A is completely entrenched in Camp B. Camp B is more pragmatic. They are likely to be more entrepreneurial and potentially take risks. Camp B Growth Marketing can be a nervous position for many traditional brands as they act without all the data. Their pragmatism allows for risks to be taken, either through personal experience, whats happened in their sector or more likely in a different sector.  They will do tests and genuinely see the results, but they also appreciate the data stack is unlikely to be 100% accurate and as a consequence make allowances and accept the unknown.

Camp B are not reckless though. They will have as much of an eye on impact as Camp A. Neither camp of Growth Marketeers take non-success personally. They are part of the fail fast camp, take the risk, review and move on (either to build on success or stop an activity).

With both approaches however, they do look at the entire customer and impact on growing the business. Depending on your understanding of your customer and data, this is generally used for sustained growth as opposed to just gaining the immediate pound and then potentially having to reinvest to acquire a new customer or in theory the same customer again.

To make a Growth Marketing approach work, you will need to consider all of the following (sometimes referred to as pirate metrics):

Awareness

Acquisition

Activation

Revenue

Retention

Recommendation

One could argue, a Performance Marketing approach does consider the four four components, but in practice most performance marketing strategies at best look at steps 2, 3 and 4.

What are the biggest differences between a Growth Marketing led approach and a Performance Marketing led approach?

Remember all of the below are generalisations and most companies behave differently in both approaches to what the text books say, however here are the key differences as I see it

Performance Marketing v Growth Marketing

Main aspects of a Performance Led Vs a Growth Marketing Led approach

So everybody should drop what they are doing and move to growth marketing right?

Well all of the Growth Marketing experts would suggest this is the case, but it isn’t as simple as that.  Some brands would require a massive change both short term and others more long-term and culturally. Many businesses have 1, 3, or even 5 year plans that will be difficult to deviate from. Particularly if outside investment or equity plays for the management team are in play

Even on a slightly less investment based backdrop, to turn a marketing plan on its head and suggest some elements of a marketing budget has no discernible and immediate tracked pay back is uncomfortable. Even some Growth Marketeers would have kittens if you suggested an activity that had little in terms of data to back it up and no data-based evidence to suggest it would work.

Also, in my opinion it isn’t really a choice.  Good performance marketing people are good performance marketing people. They will be able to operate on any metrics you give them, they just need clarity and something that they can measure performance against to make good optimisation decisions.

The key factor for me that separates a performance led business, potentially somebody like The Hut Group and a good growth led business, somebody like boohoo Group, is fundamentally their willingness to take risks, build brands and not be tied rigidly to a plan.  I know people in the Hut Group will be up in arms at that statement and its no reflection on them, they dominate relevant paid search terms and drive strong growth through paid channels.  They will undoubtedly believe they are growth marketing people, however when you look at what we did at boohoo Group in my time there and what they continue to do. They first and foremost consider the customer, beyond that initial purchase. They build robust brands and communications that resonate with their customers. They build loyalty, advocacy and an army of customer based ambassadors that drive repeat purchase and behaviour.

The Data Issues

Whatever your views on Performance Marketing led or Growth Marketing Led, there are always going to be intrinsic data issues. Big Data, Data Scientists, Cloud Based insights, Econometrics, Attribution modelling etc etc can only answer some of the questions with 100% accuracy. Its down to the business to determine what investment it is happy to invest its in data and where it sees value. Its then the intelligence built around that data that matters. Which is a whole different topic.

Add to that the new EU regulations, which according to my sources has seen sites receive a large drop in traffic (most likely recorded traffic) but increase in the other metrics and you have another area of data confidence erosion. Added to the known ones of channel hopping, cookie expiration etc

Each business has to have its own strategy when it comes to data and do what’s right for them. This could in theory effect how it deals with its approaches.

Growth Marketing in action

Going back to really traditional terms. boohoo have built destination brand, where their target customer wants to shop. They have a strategy that ensures customers feel part of the brand pre, during and post purchase to encourage repeat purchase and layer in effective performance marketing, to ensure the brand is seen at the moment when purchase intent is there.

One cannot argue with that as an approach. The offer, matches the marketing and with a crowd-sourced ranging approach, they epitomise Growth Marketing, whether intentionally or not.

For me no matter what you call it, your marketing and business can thrive if you think customer first. Consider who they really are, or who they should be, not who you want them to be. Don’t deviate from that and serve them. Don’t just think about equity return or shareholder value, those things will come, if you build a brand and serve your customer effectively through each touchpoint.

I would really love to hear your views. Drop me a line or feel free to add a comment below.

 


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Using Social Media in a B2B World

Without a doubt Social Media is a really important element of modern life.  Individuals use it to connect with friends, old acquaintances and even celebrities.  Organisations of all sizes are using the likes of Facebook to make contact with their customers.  This doesn’t appear to change, if anything Social Media is likely to play an increasingly prominent role, especially now that Google states it will use buzz as an influence in its ranking.

When I speak to friends who work in a B2B environment they often ask what can they use it for.  I am also asked the same question when I speak at conferences.

Despite the repeated questions on how should B2B organisations adopt Social Media a Bizreport study outlined some interesting and surprising statistics.  86% of B2B firms already have an active Social Media presence compared to only 82% of B2C companies.  However the same report suggests that those B2B firms aren’t making the most of their presence with 32% engaging with their base on a daily basis, compared to 52% of B2C companies.  This is backed up by the fact that 34% of B2B companies aren’t tracking their activity in any way either.

Gut instinct is the same as if I was in a B2C environment. Use the channels in the way they should be used and create approaches that are right and targeted to your audience. The key thing I would advise anybody to do first however is understand why your business should be in Social Media and what is your aim of being there?  Can you offer the audience something they can’t get elsewhere or provide them with a point of view they don’t easily get.

Once you have defined your sense of being (in Social Media terms) you should integrate it into both your overall business processes and your overall Marketing strategy.  The reason for doing this is to ensure it becomes a part of your everyday activity in your business, automatically enabling you to avoid the pitfall of engaging in the stats in the report.

Perhaps more importantly in B2B than in B2C you really need to define what each channel will be used for.  That being said this is still an important factor in B2C however there is also more of an overlap of channels for B2C.  Remember, just because all the buzz and scale is with the likes of Twitter, Facebook and YouTube you may decide that one or all of these channels are not suitable for your business.

A key part to any social media strategy is the reason for being.  Offer your customers something to engage with, provide a currency that will ensure they want to engage with your company. This will be different depending who your business is, what it does and your position in your sector and with your customers.

For example, if you are perceived as an expert in your field then your strategy will be completely different to if you are purely a distributor of kit.  We need to take one step back to the start of that sentence, the key part is how you are perceived by your customers, not how you perceive yourself.  You don’t need to undertake expensive brand studies just generally ask your customers some new questions, unless you already know the answers.

Obviously in a B2B environment customers are often as concerned by the commercial aspect so if you are in a position to offer something unique for those that engage with you via social media (voucher codes or free services) that could provide a boost to your numbers, however that alone will not necessarily help you achieve your goals unless its a continued programme of activity that provides real additional value.

The whole ethos of being an expert provides real social media gold.  What can you give to your customers that will help interaction and engagement.  A great example is to provide content they wouldn’t get elsewhere.  A builders merchant could provide HowTo guides for builders on ways to save money and time on specific projects such as building a conservatory.

A distributor of electrical components could provide a service to the end user but as an aid for their B2B customers.  The distributor could provide a mash-up of the UK map which is fully searchable and links to electricians in their area, with examples of their work and testimonials.  The distributor in theory could also create income from charging electricians to appear on their platform if scale was achieved.

IT training companies could really demonstrate their expertise by providing a community and forum on their own website where their trainers can answer delegates questions on site and in theory offer clinics at agreed dates to really give in-depth support to their delegates.  This would really add ongoing value to delegates and support them and their employers further in to the lifecycle.

These were just some basic ideas that could be adopted and across a number of sectors.  If you are in a B2B environment, feel free to make contact and I can see if I can devise something specific for you.  Also check out this B2B Social Media infographic


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Measuring Return On Social Media

Measuring Return on Social Media Presence

This has been the fear/worry/challenge/competitive edge of almost every company that has any form of social media presence.  From a simple company Facebook page to a fully integrated Social Media strategy.  Speak to a number of agencies or many online marketers and they will tell you it can’t be measured beyond the simple metrics such as number of fans or followers.  Perhaps at the incubation stage and to a degree the baby stage that was correct.  However now social media has grown up a little, into a healthy little toddler things have changed.

In theory you can’t directly measure the impact of a brand TV commercial, but companies do.  It is the same for social media.

Remember the strategy

A lot of talk is around the utopian idea of getting an ROI from your social media spend or presence.  However for some brands this isn’t just a case of pounds in the till Vs pounds handed out to agencies or media owners such as MySpace.  As with any channel development or Marketing activity, you need to understand what you want to get out of your social media presence.  Your strategy may be a simple one that only looks at your impact within the channel, therefore a basic upwards trending number of fans may suffice.  Your strategy maybe to increase UVs to your core website, as such you need to measure the referrals from your social media presence.  Like a TV ad you maye be trying to influence brand perception so you would look at traditional brand metrics such as awareness and consideration.  Some strategies require an emphasis on loyalty or ROI, these can be much more difficult to prove, however not impossible.

Just consider before developing any tactics or implementation, what your objectives and goals are.  Then measure.

Understanding the basics

When measuring against any goals you need to understand what is your norm or otherwise known as the baseline.  You need to look at any pre-strategy figures and work out your norm, or the contribution you can expect without implementing your strategy.  This baseline should be measured over a long period of time to take into account one-off fluctuations, seasonality and peaks – you should then use a trend line and determine your norm.

Once you have claculated your norm, it is easier to determine what the goals from your objectives should be.  If for instance your site has 10,000 UVs a week then to expect a 100% uplift from a strong social media strategy may not be impossible.  However if your site gets 100,000 UVs a week, it may be more difficult to gain a 100% uplift, although not impossible.  This seems really basic stuff but it is often forgotten. I have spoken to Managing Directors and Marketing Directors that think because there are millions of people on social network they should be talking telephone numbers in terms of traffic uplift, sadly it doesn’t work like that.  It may be easier to get a massive groundswell if your activity is in the channel the people use, you could get a massive following on Twitter as the people are already there and its their environment, rather than expecting them to come to you.

Anyway, once you know the norm of whatever metric you want to track you can more easily identify any uplift from your activity.  However it may not be all down to the new strategy, other factors might be in play, that is why it is advisable to implement a good web analytics tool.  Omniture is widely regarded as one of the better packages along with Coremetrics, however if you have your own site or limited budget then Google Analytics may suffice.

OK, but now what?

So you know what you want to get out of your strategy and you have worked out the basics, but now what?  Sit back and watch everything work away and drive you towards your goals or personal bonus.  Not eaxactly.  Sometimes people expect immediate results.  Stick it on Facebook and they will come.  If they don’t see an uplift straight away, the strategy has failed.  Wrong.  Well potentially wrong.  Remember when working in social channels you are entering the end users territory.  You have to earn the right to be there.  Give them something to talk about, make yourself interesting, but don’t make things up.

So what do I do?

Don’t look at things with immediacy in mind.  When you create a coupon for your affiliate network or raise your bid caps in Google you can often see an immediate (or quick) effect.  However you need a longer view with Social and you need to look at things outside of your specific influence.  A great area to explore is Social Media Influence or Buzz Metrics.  There are various tools and service with varying levels of robustness and credibility.  In the UK there are market leaders such as Market Sentinel and Nielsen Buzz Metrics.  There are also some freebie or cheaper tools such as Viral Heat and PostRank Analytics.  These cheaper tools are sometimes less robust or feature on a specific platform such as Twendz.  What all of these tools have in common is that to varying degrees they track what is being said about your brand or site on other platforms rather than just looking at core measures such as visits or upstream and downstream traffic.

The majority measure trends and SoV, some measure snetiment and others rank influence on brands and/or topics.  All of these are important as although your activity may not imemdiately increse traffic, it may improve the sentiment towards your brand, increasing peoples’ perception of your brand and in turn increase their potential to engage or buy.  These tools can also aid your search activity.  As product or brand experts you might think you know what people type in about your brand, however more comprehensive tools help you identify what people are typing or saying about your product.  Giving you more insight into which words you you optimise or focus on in paid search.

But can I make money from it?

Well as I wrote at the beginning of the piece remember what your objectives are.  The short answer is yes, you can make money from social media and yes social media can increase users propensity to buy, however your activity may not lend itself to that.  But various surveys have taken place that demonstrate you can specifically get an ROI from your social media presence.  According to a recent survey by eMarketer, c. 51% of US internet users are likely buy from at least one brand since becoming a fan on Facebook.   When it comes to would they recommend to a friend the number increases to 60%.  That is one indication of an increased propensity to buy.

Before you all clamber out and create or refresh your Facebook page, Forrester outlined a stark statistic.  More than one third of online users visit at least one brands social media presence, yet less than half rated the experience rated their experience as having a positive influence.  One method that the likes of Starbucks and Dell use within their social media presence is exclusive offers and promotions.  It is this sense of providing something special for fans that makes the experience positive and influence future buying behaviour.