Category Archives: Observations & Answers

How Can Agile Marketing Help my Business?

 

Agile Marketing is an approach which differs from traditional techniques, placing more emphasis on collaboration and incremental improvements. However, it didn’t actually start life in the marketing sphere. The concept began its life in the software development industry, back in the 90’s.

The software development industry was having big issues with their existing structure, known as the Waterfall approach. Basically, it involved a rigid hierarchical system in which managers would collect large amounts of information on the prospective software that was being developed and these would be the “requirements” given to the developers. These techniques led to many different problems, for example the projects would go over time and over budget. Even worse, the final product often didn’t meet consumer requirements and therefore didn’t sell. This continued until a group of seventeen software developers come together to create the very first Agile Manifesto- offering a completely different approach.

The Agile approach incorporates many different techniques as well as an overall change in mindset. To condense the main aspects- it’s a collaborative, top-up system that aims for smaller, more mindful increments along the way. Whilst this revolutionised the software development industry- it has been adopted by the marketing sector, with great success.

Looking more broadly at agile marketing and how it compares to traditional approaches- there are a number of key differences. As we have already mentioned, one of the main differences is the way in which team members interacts, with a greater emphasis on team work and collaboration. This also includes managers, who work with their employees as opposed to imposing strict deadlines within rigid frameworks.

As the name agile suggests- another major difference is the approach to targets. Whereas traditional marketing may include a detailed long-term plan with fixed targets- agile marketing has a greater degree of versatility. For example, instead of a one-year plan- there would be short term targets with regular meetings in order to understand where everyone is at. This technique also means that the overall plan is more fluid and open to change or influence from the market. One of the benefits of this is that companies can adapt to current events and feedback, making it much more likely that the final product is successful and relevant.

In terms of the campaign, there is obviously a push towards what the team knows works well but there is an element of experimentation- which is another hallmark of agile marketing. Many companies using this approach will devote the majority of their time and resources towards tried and tested approaches but will also allow for some risk in the form of more novel techniques or media. This way you are able to try new things with the potential of striking gold but there isn’t much risk involved.

Data and testing is another important aspect of agile marketing. Of course, data is vital across marketing in general but particularly so when companies are utilising this technique of rapid iterations. The use of data can completely change the way in which a campaign is progressing and this is much more useful when the campaign is flexible and open to change, as opposed to a long-term, fixed plan that is forced to remain on the same path.

One of the ways in which the agile approach is particularly successful within the marketing sphere is due to social media. The majority of marketing is now online and social media is one of the most powerful tools that we can use. One of the key aspects of social media is the speed at which is moves- news, events and campaigns can be here today and gone tomorrow. Therefore, an approach that is literally agile and open to rapid change is always going to work better with the likes of Facebook and Twitter.

This is something we have seen in recent years as there are many examples of companies using their online presence to respond to current events with media and advertising all ready to go. Those that utilise a more fixed approach to marketing may not be as nimble when it comes to response time.

Although agile marketing is based on a fairly old concept, it’s practically tailor made for our current world, where the ability to adapt and offer something completely relevant to the current conversation has never been more important.

B2B Lead Generation – Does Pay Per Lead Work?

 

Sales leads are a representation of some sort of interest from an individual or organisation. The idea behind these leads is that they could potentially lead to some sort of sale or even long-term business relationship.

The definition of what a lead is can vary but it usually it means some sort of commitment- for example a potential customer’s email address, social media information or agreement to subscribe. Basically, any sort of connection which can allow the company to convert potential customers in to actual customers.

As leads are an avenue to business and the technique of lead generation has become incredibly popular. Many companies have specific employees or even departments which are responsible for securing leads. Other businesses choose to outsource this service and opt for a designated lead generation company. Either way- the general approach is to pay per lead but is this the best way to get results?

One of the main problems with paying per lead is that it fosters an approach which prizes quantity over quality. This can be an issue as securing a lead doesn’t always mean it will progress to a significant relationship with a company. This is where lead nurturing is required- unfortunately many lead generation organisations choose not to go out of their way if they’ve already earned their money from simply identifying the lead. A good example of this would be acquiring emails- which would technically generate leads but how you use those email addresses is just as important. Sending high quality content or personalised adverts would be an example of lead nurturing.

Building upon this idea, many marketing companies will focus much more on achieving leads than converting them. Some companies will even coerce the potential lead in to providing information, even when they know it won’t go any further. Of course, these techniques aren’t beneficial to the business who employs them, who end up wasting time and money chasing after a customer who isn’t interested.

Brand reputation can also be factor when choosing to use pay per lead techniques. When employing a marketing company, it is important to research their practices and their overall approach to business before starting a relationship. These people will be representing you when conducting lead generation and therefore any negative behavior will reflect poorly on your own brand. Make sure to choose a company that are passionate about your business and will work beyond generating leads- into lead nurturing and overall sales.

Although the pay per lead model isn’t a “one size fits all” solution- it is still incredibly popular and for good reason- it does work well in some cases. For example, if you have a product that is easy to sell or you’re aiming at existing customers. Basically, situations in which customers can be convinced of a sale quickly and easily.

One of the ways in which pay per lead is changing is through social media. Networks such as Twitter and Facebook allow for these types of ads and will actually place them directly on to the user’s timelines. This means the ads are easily accessible, customisable and because they utilise personal information that those networks have already collected- people find them more trustworthy. Therefore users are more likely to engage with the ads honestly- providing accurate information.

Lead generation is a powerful tool but most of time it has to be used in conjunction with other tools. Whether that be native advertising, content marketing or traditional advertisements. It’s also worth pointing out that money is key when it comes to service- you get what you pay for. If you are employing an agency to provide leads, you need to keep in mind that going above and beyond simple lead generation will cost more. But this type of investment will ensure that these companies not only generate leads but also nurture them, making it more likely to progress to a long-lasting relationship between you and the customer.

 

Advantages of Programmatic Advertising

As technology advances, there has been a trend towards human-free automation and this is affecting many different industries. Surprisingly even the marketing industry is feeling the impact of automation with the rise of programmatic advertising. In fact, according to Zenith there has been a rapid growth in recent years with programmatic ad spend skyrocketing from $4bn in 2012- to a whopping £39bn in 2016, with no slowing down in sight.

What is Programmatic Advertising?

Although there tends be a lot of “jargon” around the idea of programmatic advertising, it’s actually a fairly simple concept. Whereas traditional advertising involves people bidding and negotiating for ad space, programmatic advertising is completely automatic and carried out by computers and software- cutting out the middle man.

The software can target specific groups with relevant ads by utilising complex algorithms. The overall buying and selling of digital advertising is completed on a demand-side platform (DSP) which allows users to access multiple data exchange and ad exchange accounts on a single platform.

What are the Advantages?

Easy

Although it may seem quite complex at first, the overall process of programmatic advertising is relatively simple- thanks in a large part to the use of a DSP. The platform allows you view stats such as key importance indicators, cost per click and cost per action and therefore ad optimisation is much easier and less time consuming.

Efficient

One of the main advantages that programmatic advertising has over traditional methods is efficiency. This is a factor with all types of automation, when you replace people with machines or technology then you are nearly always going to improve efficiency. This is because machines can work much faster, they don’t tire and you are removing human error.

Talking more specifically about marketing, the use of the DSP really helps to streamline the entire process of ad buying. It completely cuts out the middle men and any negotiating which would ordinarily take place. Also, when working with a single platform, it allows you to have access to the complete ad inventory which again makes the process much faster, easier and efficient.

Tailored

As DSPs have access to a huge wealth of data, the targeting of ads becomes hyper-personalised. This goes further than just the type of ads which are shown but also factors in things like colour, image, price and call to action.

Thanks to the advanced algorithms that are used within programmatic advertising, the personalisation of ads is becoming real-time. This means factors such as specific geographical location, weather and even the time of the week can be used as way of tailoring ads. For example, advertising cold drinks when the weather is hot.

Transparent

The ability to track which website your ads land on can be incredibly important, especially when company reputation is more important than ever before. Fortunately, programmatic advertising offers greater transparency when compared with traditional methods. Buyers have a real-time view of the types of sites in which their ads are placed, as well as other factors such as costing and the types of people that are engaging with the ads.

Transparency means that buyers have instant access to all the relevant data concerning their campaigns, which not only safeguards against scandal but also ensures a faster, more efficient and more successful campaign.

Cheap

Programmatic advertising removes the human element and streamlines the entire process, therefore bringing costs down. For example, the ability to purchase media across a wide range of publishers means a reduction in administration costs. Furthermore, buyers don’t have to pre-negotiate a price, they can simply set a budget and pay only for relevant impressions.

Some companies are going one step further to reduce costs by setting up an in-house solution.

It seems as if programmatic advertising is not only here to stay but could also be a sign of things to come. With this form of advertising makes headway in to the mobile world and talk of a programmatic TV boom, it’s the right time for companies to educate themselves on this new trend.

Are Trade Shows and Exhibitions still worthwhile?

 

Trade shows and exhibitions were once key calendar events, providing business owners with valuable opportunities to interact directly with new and existing clientele. There seems, however, to be a growing belief that the rise of digital technology is responsible for a decline in the exhibition industry, with business owners favouring digital platforms over exhibitions.

According to the Centre for Exhibition Industry Research (which holds the world’s largest collection of primary, exhibition-related research studies), this assumption couldn’t be far from the truth, however. Their research has revealed that the exhibition industry is set to grow by an estimated 2.7 percent during 2017 and 3 per cent in 2018. With these figures in mind it’s safe to suggest that trade shows and exhibitions are most definitely still worth attending, but how exactly are these events holding their own against the invasion of digital technology?

Well, as they always have done, trade events and exhibitions provide business owners with the opportunity to boost visibility and gain extra credibility within the industry. For small or large businesses alike, these events provide powerful platforms for business owners and staff to reach out to interested parties and help them to create a more established and reliable brand.

The people who attend trade shows tend to be particularly motivated and enthusiastic. They are there because they want to be there. They want to discover new products and services, and want to network directly with partners and prospects. Sure, in today’s digital world we can interact with them on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and other social media platforms, but there’s just something satisfying about a good old-fashioned handshake when making a new connection.

Trade shows also enable businesses to get the lowdown on what their competitors are up to. Posing as a customer to find out prices and information is a great way to see how competitive your business deals and offers are. You can also observe booths that are attracting lots of interest and try to identify and learn from the way they have set their booths up and the tactics they are using.

Exhibitions and trade shows aren’t cheap and it’s the cost that puts a lot of businesses off attending, but with many suppliers/ customers under one roof at an event, you can often achieve in a day what would usually take a week if you were driving round the country, so it’s important to weigh everything up when deciding if trade shows and exhibitions are worthwhile for you.

The most successful exhibitors are those that recognise the value of exhibiting and attend with a clear list of goals in mind. With exhibitions, you really do get out what you put in, so whether you want to show-case new products, network, confirm sales or complete another type of business activity, the preparation is vital.

When you’re onsite, use your sales acumen to qualify and disqualify the attendees as they come through in order to get the most value from the day. Strategic placing of your booth near to ‘blue chip’ companies can also enhance your brand, develop trust with clients and boost your reputation so be sure to ask the organiser beforehand for a list of confirmed exhibitors (many events’ organisers display this information online). You can then check out the competition and your floor neighbours before the event.

Final thought

Has digital technology won the battle over trade shows and exhibitions? It doesn’t appear so. Trade shows and exhibitions continue to have an important role to play in marketing and lead generation. These real-life events enable people to put a face to a brand and providing you do your research well and choose the right event for your company they can transform your business into a highly effective enterprise.