By Adam Fraser
Facebook changing its algorithm wouldn’t ordinarily be massively newsworthy; such is the frequency with which it happens.
Major changes such as “Reachgate” is 2014 – when organic reach first began to be materially choked -garnered a lot of attention and angst, as brands realised they, in essence, could no longer freely communicate with fans of their Facebook pages. Reach dropped below 5% and subsequently crept much lower to 2% or less, in the following years.
Thus the begrudging acceptance of most people in the marketing world that social media had become “pay-to-play”, learning the hard lessons about the risks of rented land.
Publishers, such as the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal (and locally, of course, Fairfax Media) have endured a slightly different but equally painful bumpy ride. Initially unsure whether to entirely reject or fully embrace distribution via third party social platforms, Facebook has attempted to entice with media-specific products such via Instant Articles, offering advertising revenue share and closer collaboration. Ultimately none have been particularly successful and in a post-Trump, Fake News era, most publishers are realising now that the only long-term safety is via driving direct web traffic and digital subscriptions.
The latest announcement from Facebook, however, is deeply ominous for publishers, many of whom still rely heavily on Facebook referred traffic. While initially only a test in 6 countries, Facebook is looking at moving ALL publisher (and brand) content to a separate tab – out of the all-important main feed and into the “Explore Feed”.
The no-go zone. How often do you explore anything other than the main Facebook feed?
The best analogy I can think of relates to changes made by Gmail in mid-2013. All newsletter and sales type emails are automatically moved out of your main email inbox and into a separate tab called “promotions”. You can guess how often that gets looked at.
If Facebook proceeds to roll out this change more broadly, there will at least be no absence of clarity about a publishers relationship with Facebook. Pay to be seen or be sent to the wilderness.
Advertising, of course, remains a viable and often very effective option for many brands (and publishers). Whilst offering far better targeting and interactivity options, the challenges for advertising as a whole remain true as the growth in ad blockers demonstrates, and the cat and mouse game between Facebook and ad blockers continues.
Social media as a platform for brands is evolving to an inevitable conclusion for a medium of connection – like the phone system – infrastructure. We use social media to connect with people we care about. We only want to connect with brands on our terms and at a time of our choosing. Hence effective listening and real-time responses are essential components of a social strategy. Be where your customers want you to be and engage with them on their terms. Answer all of their questions at any time on any channel they wish. Beyond that, most people would prefer brands to stay out of their lives.
By Adam Fraser
The latest CMO Survey has been released with its usual batch of interesting findings and insights. This bi-annual survey is well respected and is the longest-running survey dedicated to understanding the field of marketing. The latest edition received responses from 349 top marketing executives in the USA.
There are data points aplenty across the detailed 49 pages of results, but if you don’t have time to dive into the details, some of the key highlights were:
- Internet sales as a percentage of total sales remain relatively modest at 11.8%, flat on the prior survey from 6 months ago, and broadly flat over the last 3 years; from an industry perspective, Education (43% of sales) and consumer services (28% of sales) lead Internet sales.
- Marketing budgets as a whole are expected to grow but the rate of growth is slowing from prior periods (9% from 11%); notwithstanding the declining rate of growth, this remains a healthy barometer for overall spending.
- There is a marked difference re advertising spend trends between ‘traditional’ and ‘digital’ (side note – these boundaries between these definitions will become harder to define in the coming years) – with digital marketing spend expected to grow by 13% versus a decline of 2% in traditional advertising.
- Marketing budgets represent 11.4% of overall expense budgets, a slight increase on 6m ago, and broadly consistent with the trends over the past 3 years.
- Marketing spend is 6.9% of company revenues – this ratio has declined from the prior 2 periods; as a barometer, this was 8.3% 3 years ago in August 2014.
- Marketers are expected to expand social media spend by 89% in the next 5 years – growing from the current 9.8% of marketing budgets to 18.5% in 5 years time.
- B2C Products lead the expected growth in social media spend; all sectors are expected to grow by ~25-40% in next year.
- Based on survey responses, the assessment of how effectively social media is integrated into overall marketing strategy is showing no progress.
- The ROI challenge is alive and well as survey respondents confirmed the impact of social media remains difficult to prove.
- Marketing spend on mobile expected to increase 117% in three years but interestingly respondents assessed mobile’s impact on customers, brand, and financial outcomes as low.
- Spending on marketing analytics is forecast to increase a massive 229% in three years – moving from 5.5% of total marketing budgets to 18%.
Interestingly, while the spend on marketing analytics is growing significantly, only 1.9% of respondents felt they had the right talent to fully leverage those analytics.
In a related blog post, CMO survey director Christine Moorman analysed the contradiction between growing spend in social, mobile and digital yet disappointing effectiveness:
“One reason performance is lagging may be because companies remain focused on digital strategies, not on building a digital marketing organization. A digital marketing organization means embedding digital marketing activities into the very core of the organization. This means that digital marketing activities transform how the company operates, including its culture, its leaders, how it makes decisions, employee training and incentives, cross-functional cooperation, and the role of marketing capabilities.”
The recurring podcast theme of tactics before strategy in marketing seems to also be coming through in this survey.
A good piece of research into the current thinking of senior marketers.
By Adam Fraser
That new Snapchat feature, Instagram’s latest ad product, Twitter’s user numbers last quarter. Etc Etc. The media focus in the marketing space seems to be dominated by short term results and current tactics.
It can be hard to see the wood for the trees and elevate to see longer term trends and strategic perspectives.
Hence I really enjoyed the recent Medium blog post from Bob Knorpp on “The Fallacy of Digital Marketing as a Discipline”. It’s a reasonably short piece (unlike the excellent long form Doc Searle’s article on AdTech that I also recently recommended), but it is thoughtful and insightful around the challenges digital marketing faces, and the reasons why these have transpired over the past 2 decades. My favourite line (I am sure with programmatic in mind) is; “we’ve traded in meaningful interactions for nuclear-bomb levels of reach and frequency.”
One of Bob’s points on why digital has failed affirms a key thread in my recent podcast with Jason Kint of Digital Content Next – in the world of digital marketing we seem to have gravitated to a direct marketing flashing neon Vegas style “buy now” approach and forgotten about the brand building techniques used in more traditional media like TV, radio, print and outdoor. As Bob says; “marquee brands have been conditioned to treat digital as they used to treat coupon circulars, buying as a commodity, rather than as a considered brand-building choice on the now-dominant media.”
In the chaos and rapid change of social, digital and martech, a great 5 minute read to elevate up and consider longer term trends and the strategic landscape.
By Emily Kucukalic
Everyone has a digital device at their fingertips, 24/7 in 2017. This has translated to consumers increasingly demanding more customised, personalised products, services and experiences – delivered straight to them. While this leads to challenges for marketers to think of new and innovative ways to cut through and have impact, it is the PERFECT time to start thinking about your personal brand.
Brand engagement is more than the number of Likes a page receives. It is how well the brand is perceived as a whole. According to Forbes.com, the proliferation of digital devices and the ability to access information, products and services in an instant has led to consumers feeling more empowered and bolder when it comes to making choices.
So, if all roads lead to greater emotional engagement and more individual choices, what better way to emotionally engage with someone than person to person? At some point in any business dealing, customers buy from people; either in person, over the phone, via word of mouth or what image they personally project by buying that product.
Albert Mehrabian (Professor Emeritus UCLA) conducted a study on people’s power to influence others in the 1960’s that has never been disproven. In short it states that your ability to influence people is based on the following: 7% what you say; 38% your voice as you say it & 55% what you look like saying it. Be aware of all of these elements and understand that people are increasingly looking for things that stand out from the crowd. Now is the time to focus on your personal brand!
By Adam Fraser
It’s that time of the year again – when Scott Brinker aka chiefmartec.com releases “that infographic”.
The one summarising the martech landscape packed with tiny logos that you see at every marketing conference on the planet.
And it keeps getting larger and more complex. From 2,000 tools in 2015 to 3,500 in 2016 up to an amazing 5000+ in 2017.
To be precise – the landscape shows 5,381 tools from 4,891 vendors. Wow. From social media to newsletter marketing, ecommerce to CRM, all the subsections continue to grow.
I was lucky enough to have Scott as my very first podcast guest back in April 2015. Even back then – in a world of “only” 2,000 tools – we discussed the complexity of the market and whether consolidation was imminent.
There are a number of drivers of this breadth and complexity in the marketing technology landscape – including (at a high level) low barriers to entry, media fragmentation in a post internet world, the rapidly changing consumer buyer journey and constant technology innovation (as just one example think AI and chat bots which weren’t a “thing” 2 years ago and now are very much in play).
If you are feeling utterly overwhelmed by this landscape and what it means for marketing and IT professionals please know you are not alone!
The basic premise remains – strategy first, technology second. Focus on your business objectives and your marketing strategy and execution. Then, and only then, start to think about how technology can enable and potentially turbo charge your business processes.
People, process and technology. A three legged stool. In almost all cases the technology decision should come last not first.
By Adam Fraser
A surprising headline, I admit, from the founder of a marketing technology business!
Of course I believe in the power of data insights, automation (where it makes sense) and technology facilitated process improvement.
I would like to share 2 recent personal stories which will chill the bones of every marketer:
Story one. Approximately 8 months ago, I switched internet providers. Since that date,I have had repeated email offers for me to switch to that same internet provider and receive 2 months free.
So, having already acquired me as a customer, said telco is spending money promoting a service I already have at great expense! And telling me very clearly they don’t know who I am.
Aha! I hear you say – you must have used a different email address to purchase? Nope.
Different name, spelling, mobile? Nope.
I did most of my procurement to switch via social. Clearly the vision of social integrating to CRM, or any semblance of “one view of the customer” is some way off.
Story 2. My wife has just switched mobile providers as she wished to upgrade to an iPhone 7 plus. Her previous 2 year contract expired a few months ago and I had procrastinated about renewing.
So obviously we heard from the incumbent mobile provider in the weeks before the contract was about to expire? Nope.
Oh, so they reached out and made an upgrade offer just after contract expiry? Nope.
Checked you were happy to stay on the current plan and explained options? Nope.
Thanked you for your 8 years of loyal service? Nada.
Allow me to labour this point for one more paragraph – there is a 1-2 week period every 24-30 months when I want to hear from mobile phone providers. The rest of the time it goes in one ear and out the other. The incumbent provider has an incredible advantage to tailor a personalised message and make a targeted offer at the right time, factoring in loyalty, spending patterns and usage data.
This mobile provider in parallel is happy to spend millions advertising to “the world” to bring new customers into the funnel. Err what about the ones you already have?
Of course during this period I have had hundreds of marketing automation generated emails offering me services I have neither heard of nor have any interest in. And been chased around the web with cookie enabled banner ads (almost always wasteful and inappropriately targeted) based on historical searches performed.
So you can understand my skepticism when I hear about the amazing powers of big data and AI, VR and the internet of things.
When building a house you should focus on solid foundations before you worry about the style of the taps and the sheen of the paint.
Isn’t it time for marketers to focus less on shiny new toys and more on the somewhat boring but critically important business process of looking after their actual existing customers?
By Adam Fraser
The promise of digital was increased transparency and measurement, and a heightened ability to target the right message at the right time to the right person.
In some cases, the promise has been delivered – primarily via Facebook hyper targeted ads and SEO powered Google ads appearing alongside precisely targeted search terms.
However programmatic and the long tail of broader digital ad spend are coming under heightened scrutiny, and rightly so in the face of brand messaging appearing alongside highly inappropriate content. An advertiser YouTube ban remains in full swing.
Brand response is coming in many forms. US bank JP Morgan Chase lowered the number of sites it advertises on from 400,000 to just 5,000. Interestingly it noted very little impact in terms of cost and overall performance – an astonishing outcome.
Chase had unintentionally shone a light on the effectiveness of ads in the long tail, the nooks and crannies of the web, and the results were not favourable for ad networks powered by automation and AI driven ad tech.
The agencies are also responding. Omnicom – one of the worlds largest agency holding companies – is introducing human review across thousands of YouTube videos to ensure brand safety for their clients’ media buys.
Looming in the background is the landmark speech from one of the worlds biggest advertisers, the CMO of P&G, threatening to pull digital spend if transparency didn’t improve.
The business world often works in cycles – are we about to shift back to a marketing world with an increased emphasis on human curated traditional media buying, even across digital platforms?
As the risks of digital brand safety become more apparent I would suspect so.
By Adam Fraser
The latest CMO Survey has been released and the findings are both interesting and somewhat contradictory, highlighting the ‘deer in the headlights’ flux many marketers feel when it comes to data analytics and technology platforms.
This bi-annual survey is well respected and is the longest-running survey dedicated to understanding the field of marketing. The latest edition received responses from 388 top marketing executives.
The key finding showed spending on marketing analytics (quantitative data about customer behavior and marketplace activities) is expected to grow from 4.6% to 22% of marketing budgets in the next 3 years. Yet notwithstanding this material increase, marketers say barely a third of available data is used to drive actual decision making in their companies.
Interesting contradiction. The survey participants intend to increase spend by almost 400% on something which 2/3 of the time isn’t driving business decision making. Marketers seem to be saying “we know we need data and should be using data, but don’t have access to the right data when it matters”.
The report explores in some detail why marketers are not utilisng data analytics in decision making, the top 3 drivers being:
- Lack of processes/tools to measure success through analytics
- Lack of people who can connect marketing practice to marketing analytics
- Data not highly relevant to the decision at hand.
Marketing will always be a blend between art and science, something I have often discussed on my marketing podcast. Gut feel versus hard data. Both matter.
The survey shows that marketers still need to up their game in effectively utilising technology platforms and data analytics to increase their depth of consumer insight, drive their strategy and monitor the execution.
We can argue about the appropriate balance between art and science in marketing in 2017, but taking a mature, professional and structured approached to technology and analytics as part of your marketing operations is no longer an optional extra.
By Adam Fraser
The growth of messaging apps in parallel with (and arguably, in some cases, at the expense of) social networks has been pronounced in recent years.
Whatsapp has hit a billion users and Facebook Messenger has surpassed 800m. Wechat has over 650m members and is growing rapidly in Asia. If you count Snapchat as a messaging app at its core, the trend to private messaging is undeniable.
I have previously written that marketers need to tread carefully in this more intimate setting. Chatting 1:1 or 1:a few is a very different experience to publicly discussing something on Twitter or publicly publishing on Facebook or LinkedIn. The user psychology and mindset is significantly different.
The private messaging setting feels closer to a private phone call or private text message than a public media arena.
Hence it was extremely interesting (albeit not hugely surprising) to see Facebook’s plans to allow direct messaging ads on its Facebook messenger platform. At this stage it is only a leaked story but the details revealed indicate that brands will be able to advertise only to individuals who have previously messaged them.
Big toe in the bath…but we can all see where this could lead. Many users may feel advertising within messaging apps is spammy, irrespective of whether they have previously contacted a brand (how the regulatory environment – such as the Spam act – deals with this area will also be very interesting to see). Knowing that messaging a brand open the doors to future “promotional messages of interest” could even act as a deterrent to users reaching out to a brand via Messenger in the first place. This would be a hugely unfortunate consequence, given the strategic importance of social media as a customer service channel.
The strength of any user pushback when first launched will have a big influence on the extent to which Facebook continues down this path. WhatsApp could also be in the medium term thinking. How any advertising strategy fits with Mark Zuckerberg’s quote around the time of the WhatsApp acquisition “I don’t personally think ads are the way to monetise messaging” will be interesting to see.
When we turn on the TV, open a newspaper or switch on the radio we have been accustomed to expect the interruptive experience that is advertising. However the growth in ad blockers makes it pretty clear how the typical consumer feels about these.
If you picked up the phone and were forced to listen to a 15 second ad before being allowed to call how would you feel? Not quite the same thing, but brands need to be extremely careful in the privacy and intimacy of private messaging apps.
It is reported that the phrase “content marketing” was used as early as 1996, when John F. Oppedahl led a roundtable for journalists at the American Society for Newspaper Editors.
By 2014, Forbes Magazine’s website had written about the top 7 content marketing trends. The report references the B2B content marketing research (written by Joe Pulizzi) which points out that by 2013 use of content marketing had jumped from 60% a year or so before, to a whooping 93%.
When we wanted to delve deeper into the topic, it seemed apt to talk the leading global authority on the subject. So we were delighted when Joe joined us on the EchoJunction podcast.
In this podcast we gain valuable insight into;
- Joe’s career in publishing and how he formed the Content Marketing Institute
- What is the definition of content marketing
- How content marketing differs from brand journalism
- Why traditional media isn’t struggling but the business model which supports it is
- Why both media buyers and publishers alike are weaned on an advertising only model
- The massive growth in the number of ways consumers can now access information as media fragments
- How early stage businesses use less advertising versus building their own owned media
- The intersection of content marketing and social media
- How social media companies ultimately control access to the audience and have become an intermediary in terms of a media model
- Whether it makes sense to publish on LinkedIn, Medium, YouTube etc as part of a holistic content marketing strategy
- The importance of using social media distribution to drive longer term owned subscribers
- What led Joe to writing his fourth book Content Inc.
- How venture capitalists respond to the business model of building an audience first then developing a product
- Why building an audience first which confirms a need or pain point actually derisks a business
- The six distinct stages which define the Content Inc approach
- Why Joe doesn’t believe content shock is an issue
- How to find a content niche in an existing, crowded market and why there are ‘riches in niches’
- Why being first mover doesn’t necessarily matter for success in driving a successful content marketing niche and people late to a sector can still make it successful
- The importance of focusing on a single platform when launching a content marketing initiative
- Joe’s model of the subscriber importance hierarchy and why email remains the most importance way to build an audience
- Data showing the higher value an email subscriber
- How big an audience needs to be before monetisation can occur
- Different ways to monetise once a minimum viable audience has been built
Joe truly is the man when it comes to content marketing. His new book takes a really interesting position and his views on the broader market are always valuable. So tune into Joe Pulizzi talks content marketing.
By Adam Fraser
The worlds of the marketing and IT departments have never been closer.
As I previously discussed, there are now a plethora of software tools available to marketers. Approximately 2,000 tools. Being comfortable with technology and analytics is no longer an optional extra for digital marketers – it’s table stakes. As often quoted, Gartner have forecast that by 2017, the CMO will spend more on IT than the CIO.
The term Chief Marketing Technologist is becoming increasingly understood and adopted in the USA – the true hybrid CMO/CIO role. As Scott Brinker of ChiefMartec.com describes, it’s a “marketer who understands technology. A technologist who is passionate about marketing” . A Gartner study from 2013 in the USA showed that 70% of companies sampled had a chief marketing technologist.
In early 2015, the Economist Intelligence Unit with Marketo surveyed 500 senior marketers from around the globe. Two of the key conclusions were
- Marketing needs to invest in new digital skills and operational expertise – marketing is shifting from an art form to art & science
- Marketing must leverage technology to succeed in this world of individual engagement at scale
In considering the synergies of a collaborative approach between marketing and IT, I like this quote from David Rubin, head of brand at Pinterest, from a KornFerry paper “Driving Change in a digitally transformed world” :
“With greater philosophical alignment between the CMO and CIO, technology turns into a weapon – instead of a cost.”
The PWC Digital IQ survey in 2014 indicated 5 key behaviours driving the success of an enterprise’s digital strategy, one of which was listed as the strength of the CMO/CIO relationship.
Many trends in the digital marketing space are global, but this particular topic is one I think where there is a clear disparity between the USA and Australia. In Australia whilst there is certainly awareness and discussion on the CMO/CIO convergence, I don’t think we have progressed to the point where the true hybrid role has gone mainstream.
Quick experiment to confirm – searching on Seek.com.au today (Feb 25, 2015) there were multiple listings for CMOs and CIOs but zero search results returned for the term “Chief Marketing Technologist”.
The over-arching reason why the CMO/CIO convergence issue has become the topic of so many conversations is based on the broader shifts happening in the market, namely the “digital revolution” driving the need for significant change management processes within enterprises. The Altimer group define digital transformation as:
The realignment of, or new investment in, technology and business models to more effectively engage digital customers at every touchpoint in the customer experience lifecycle.
Unquestionably the worlds of the CMO and the CIO are converging and will continue to do so. A key question to consider – is this departmental relationship enough to facilitate a true enterprise-wide digital transformation? The stakes are high in executing on this. An excellent 2012 study from Cap Gemini and MIT showed how digital leaders outperform their peers in every industry, driving real results for the bottom line.
Interestingly, the Cap Gemini/MIT study identified 6 common factors driving the successful digital strategies of the digital leaders, one being:
IT-Business relationships. Digital transformation is about re-defining big parts of the business, and IT is essential in doing it. In some companies, the CIO is the perfect Building Digital Maturity: Digital DNA person to suggest and even drive digital initiatives; in other cases the digital agenda will be driven by business or joint IT-business teams. In any case, shared understanding between IT and business executives is critical to success.
A common view is that the CMO should lead the digital transformation of an organisation. The 2014 State of Digital Transformation Study from the Altimer group confirmed that 54% of CMOs were driving digital transformation versus 29% CIOs/CTOs (and only 42% of CEOs).
Whilst customer facing aspects are not the sole consideration in an enterprise’s digital transformation, understanding the digital touch points across the end to end customer experience clearly represents a key aspect, hence the obvious interest of the marketer in driving this change management process.
We need technology solutions to meet a business requirement which is executing on a corporate strategy. Ultimately the CMO v CIO issue, whilst critical, is only one aspect of the jigsaw puzzle. The key is driving the overall business changes needed and reaching the desired strategic end point, not necessarily the methods (or org structure) you use to get there.
What is clear is that IT is a key enabler of this process. The extent to which they are driving the process may vary depending on the individual characteristics of an organisation, but at a minimum they absolutely need to be engaged, contributing and facilitating.
Marketers clearly have a seat at this table, quite often at the head, but the key for any organisation is to remove the silos and harness the collective IP of the senior executive team to drive the holistic digital change program needed in these dynamic times.
With other business processes arguably also in play beyond marketing – including customer support, internal collaboration, operating efficiency and employee retention to name a few – this digital change process will sensibly encapsulate more than just the CMO and the CIO. It also needs to be backed by CEO sponsorship.