CATCHING FLIES WITH HONEY
Savvy marketers are turning to activities that lure visitors in, rather than just knocking prospects over the head to get their attention, writes Graham Medcalf. So does the soft sell work? And how are brands using the techniques?
Savvy marketers are trying to lure customers in, rather than knocking prospects over the head, says Graham Medcalf. So does the soft sell work?
When Mad Men’s Don Draper said “Advertising is based on one thing – happiness!” he didn’t realise how complicated it could get. It was a simpler time. All you needed was a pretty girl, a product shot and a clever slogan and the job was done. Today, it’s a very different world, one that has moved towards engagement over interruption.
“People have transformed how they live, work, shop, and buy,” says the seventh annual State of Inbound report from Hubspot. “Instead of blasting out interruptive ads and trying to pull people to your company, inbound marketing uses helpful content to attract visitors and get them to engage of their own volition.”
Inbound marketing refers to marketing activities that bring visitors in, rather than marketers having to go out to get prospects’ attention and Hubspot’s survey reveals that the global community is united in their favour of inbound practices. Locally, agencies like Done by Friday have joined Hubspot as Certified Agency Partners, providing inbound software and support. The focus is around getting more visitors to websites, more leads for sales teams and more customers to fuel growth.
“Engaging consumers and leading them along the path to purchase to a point of sale has always been at the heart of digital marketing,” says Boyd Wason, managing director at Done by Friday. “So, the opportunity to work with the world’s leading inbound marketing platform provider strengthens our ability to devise and quickly deploy inbound and content programmes.”
A NEW CURRENCY
In Hubspot’s 2015 international research study, in which five percent of the 3,957 respondents were from New Zealand or Australia, it is interesting to note that three out of four marketers prioritise an inbound approach to marketing and rank paid advertising as the most overrated marketing tactic.
Everyone wants a return on the investment while generating the required leads and conversions and, according to the survey, inbound efforts are achieving higher ROI than outbound, regardless of company size or total marketing
spend. Best-in-class marketers track ROI, prove it’s growing each year and secure increased budget as a result. They check their marketing analytics three or more times a week and make their decisions based on the results.
ROBOTS AT THE READY
As the Hubspot survey reveals: “The main tool in top marketers’ arsenals is a platform for automating their team’s marketing efforts. The guys at the top use marketing automation [MA] software in some form or another.”
MA software is about to get big, with industry analysts predicting a massive shift that will gain a plethora of adherents. The trend is towards investing in the platforms that measure the uptake of content and its impact, as well as buying global best-practice software that will give clients easy-to-use dashboards to measure and analyse performance.
Hubspot and Marketo are two cloud-based industry leaders in MA software, designed to help companies build out their marketing strategies across multiple channels, whether it is web, email, or social media. Both platforms have built-in email campaigns with delivery optimisation tools, eventbased triggers, lead-nurturing, and A/B testing, and both platforms can monitor and analyse web traffic, and track and manage social marketing efforts.
As inbound marketers search for greater efficiencies and effectiveness, programmatic and automated media buying is also having an increasing influence.
SEARCHING FOR SOLUTIONS
In an article published in August 2014, Jim Lecinski, vice president, Americas customer solutions at Google, talks about the Zero Moment of Truth (ZMOT), Google’s description for a revolution in the way consumers search for information online and make decisions about brands (and a modern update on P&G’S Moment of Truth, when consumers made their choices instore).
“We saw [in 2011] that people are increasingly making these decisions at the Zero Moment; the precise moment when they have a need, intent or question they want answered online. A brand that answers these questions at just the right time scores a double win: it helps improve a consumer’s life and stands to gain a competitive advantage over brands that don’t.”
Since then, according to Lecinski, the rulebook has changed again.
“There are more moments than ever and Search and ZMOT continue to grow in importance and scale. Each of these searches presents a new opportunity to reach consumers when they’re most engaged.”
Google talks about the ‘4 New Moments Every Marketer Should Know’, which says that consumer behaviour and expectations have forever changed. “With powerful phones in our pockets, we do more than just check the time, text a spouse or catch up with friends. We turn to our phones with intent and expect brands to deliver immediate answers. It’s in these I-want-to-know, I-want-to-go, I-wantto-do, I-want-to-buy moments that decisions are made and preferences are shaped.”
According to Google, 65 percent of online consumers look up more information online now versus a few years ago, 82 percent of smartphone users use a search engine when looking for a local
business, 91 percent of smartphone users turn to their phones for ideas while doing a task and 82 percent of smartphone users consult their phones while in a store deciding what to buy. And content marketing is a good way to move up that chain.
Google recently commissioned a ‘Thought Leadership Paper’ from Forrester Consulting, which demonstrated the ‘Moments That Matter’, those intent-rich moments that are critical to winning today’s consumer journey. The paper revealed, not unsurprisingly, that mobile has fundamentally transformed consumer behaviour and expectations. “We don’t ‘go online’ anymore — we live online.”
As the Forrester Consulting investigation confirms: “Marketers must focus on three key areas —identifying key moments of intent, delivering on needs in the moment, and measuring all moments—in order to create a customer experience that’s relevant and useful at every touchpoint in this new path to purchase.”
This of course makes the ‘Science of Search’ all the more important. Search Republic’s general manager, Brad Guthrie is rightly proud of the targeted search science it used to increase Trustpower’s overall traffic to its website by more than 100 percent in the first 18 months of working with it. Targeting ads based on region, particular days of the week, and even particular times of the day when conversions are higher, resulted in a huge increase in new customer calls to their call centres (it walks the talk too, having invested $ 13m in paid search and SEO to generate over $200m in sales for sister company Online Republic in FY 2015).
“Our team has specialist knowledge of highly measurable marketing disciplines,” Guthrie says. “We drive and measure real ROI based on real numbers.”
Guthrie and his partner Isreal Hartley note that: “Personalisation is huge and is being led from the front by companies such as Amazon and Zappos who are able to harness data and use it in such a way that visitors are provided with tailored experiences on their websites.”
ASB, another client of Search Republic, is a good example of a company that has embraced digital and now calls itself “a technology company that provides financial services”. And part of that involves a transition into a true technology company and focusing on generating leads and conversions via online channels.
“However, a lot of marketing teams are led by risk averse CMOS who stick to what has worked in the past, but isn’t working any longer as the consumer and their media consumption has changed.”
And he says it is often the companies that embrace change and are not afraid to invest
A LOT OF MARKETING TEAMS ARE LED BY RISK AVERSE CMOS WHO STICK TO WHAT HAS WORKED IN THE PAST, BUT ISN’T WORKING ANY LONGER AS THE CONSUMER AND THEIR MEDIA CONSUMPTION HAS CHANGED. Brad Guthrie
significant amounts of their marketing budgets into new channels that are the most successful.
Content marketing is an important component of inbound marketing and there is a very real shift towards educating as opposed to promoting. So do customers actually want to hear from banks? ASB has taken quite a scientific approach to choosing what content to create for Youtube and, back in 2014, it created ten videos offering financial tips and tricks. It’s not just deciding to do the most entertaining topic, either. They’re all designed specifically around customer feedback.
“We know through search data that people are looking for help,” EX-ASB marketing manager Ann Curzon said. “It’s really demand-driven ... For us this is not really a campaign. These are assets that work really hard for our customers.”
To succeed with inbound, head of digital at Done by Friday, Sonia Slattery, says there is a need to develop ‘ buyer personas’ and this is vital for customer acquisition and retention. And she maintains, “personas help you internalise the ideal customer you’re trying to attract”.
“Inbound or content marketing is both art and science, and to be successful you need both, says Wason. “The art is working out who you really want to attract and creating content that is engaging from the first contact to the final conversion, and beyond. The science is setting up the programme that enables you to recognise potential prospects at each step of the purchase process and continuing to engage them with relevant and appropriate content.”
All if this comes with a caveat, of course. There are no silver bullets in marketing. And, as Slattery says, “the level of competitive, emotional, brand value driving the market determines whether traditional advertising support is needed on top of inbound marketing.” But there’s a growing consensus that the two approaches work very well together—and that you can catch more flies with honey.
Honey trap Boyd Wason talks to the Hubspot User Group