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?

New Zealand Marketing - - Contents -

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.”


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.


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.


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


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

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