Leveraging Customer Loyalty in Financial Services

Why does customer loyalty matter? How can financial services insitutions leverage loyalty to improve their relationships with their customers, increase revenue, and improve retention? These are questions that need answering. The complexities of the financial services and insurance industries make efforts to foster brand loyalty unique for several reasons. The average person is a customer of five different financial services companies, and only 12% of customers maintain a relationship with a single provider. So, it seems that most of us are in an open relationship with our current account providers. An era of open banking is driving competition and newcomers like Starling have gone through quick expansion. It’s more vital now than ever before for financial services companies to pay attention to the digital landscape and quickly evolve—or risk getting lost in the shuffle and losing valuable customers. 

Everything In One Place

Big retail banks still dominate when it comes to market share, but market saturation is expanding. Challenger bank brands take advantage of lower barriers to market entry and they can even receive customer banking data shared securely via APIs (following the ‘Open Banking Mandate’).

2018 regulations require financial service organizations to make consumer data available by request. This enables innovative digital-first challengers to offer aggregation and pull together financial data from multiple sources to be displayed in one interface. Forget spreadsheets of incomings and outgoings from various accounts. Early adopters are now flocking to providers like Yolt and Curve to see all of their accounts in one single, slick and beautiful app. 

Stickiness Equals a Stronger Relationship

The key is to make your service and your partnership with the customer sticky. Despite the fact that consumers may not want to sever ties completely with big retail banking providers, their attention may be diverted to secondary financial products. While looking at all of their finances, a consumer might be drawn in by the appeal of instant access savings accounts, insurance products, or perhaps a travel money service. When it comes to fostering loyalty, it’s essential to maximize the value of the customer relationship by ensuring multiple product holdings are had by each customer. Today, 55% of adults now hold financial products with between two to five companies. In other words, there are plenty of fish in the sea and consumers know it. 

Customer Loyalty in Insurance

Insurance providers can find it even harder to hold onto customers, let alone build loyalty. Making banking sound alluring is hard enough and inspiring passion for insurance can be an Everest climb for marketers. Unfortunately for insurance providers, insurance is often considered a necessary inconvenience; a means to an end. That means that there are limited chances for meaningful interaction within the average customer’s policy lifecycle and renewal windows (which often act as escape routs for dissatisfied policyholders. 

This is bad news for insurance providers and tough for consumers also, who feel unrewarded for their loyalty. It may seem like there is a shortage of loyal policy holders to reward, but there’s certainly no shortage of consumers waiting to be won over by insurance companies. 35% of consumers would be loyal to an insurance brand if it offered rewards (UK Home Insurance Industry Report – Mintel, 2019).

Digitalized Experiences will Shape Customer Loyalty and It’s Up to Digital Marketers to Ensure Those Experiences are Streamlined

A sound data strategy can be the answer to providing winning customer experiences. As McKinsey pointed out in a recent report, COVID-19’s impact on the world changed how companies view loyalty. More interactions shifted online to virtual channels. 

Customer relationships and revenue have come under pressure in this increasingly digitized economy. That’s why banks must rethink their revenue drivers, look for new opportunities, and reorient offerings toward an advisory and protection focus with digital leading the way. Advanced analytics helps them identify those niches of growth.

Financial services was already data-intense, but COVID-19’s effects will expand this data even further. Financial institutions must focus on making the quantity and quality of their data into governed and operationalized data. A better eye will be kept on customer retention because data will be used to actively identify clients at risk of attrition. According to Bain & Co., increasing customer retention rates by 5% can increase profits by anywhere from 25% to 95%. Behavioral analytics will generate invaluable data that can be used to create individual customer action plans tailored to clients’ specific needs.

Client expectations from their financial institution(s) must also change. Customers expect completely seamless digital experiences and offerings. Sometimes their expectations are unrealistic and other times, their not. The financial institution without a sound digital strategy is simply going to lose customers to their more digitalized competition. What was once a decision made by banking experts is now in the hands of UX designers and content strategists. They are the people designing customer experiences in the digital realm. What’s possible now is really almost limitless—or at least limited to the minds and imaginations of digital marketers. 

Get started analyzing your brand and to discover what you can do to leverage customer loyalty. Reach out.

Google Ads: Creating a Plan That Won’t Derail Your SEM Strategy

The goal of Search Engine Marketing (SEM) (also known as PPC) strategy is to promote your site’s visibility using paid search, contextual advertising, and organic search rankings. For this article, I’ll focus on SEM ads on Google and not on SEM as a whole. That’s a whole can of gummy worms that can wait (and it isn’t hard to decipher the fact that there’s far too much that goes into SEM than just paid ads).

Search is an extremely effective way to reach your target audience, generate new customers, increase revenue, and cut acquisition costs. It does come at a price, however.

Cost. When you hear people talking about how expensive Ads has become, it’s because so many small businesses don’t understand why they’re paying more.SEM is more expensive if you’re not also focusing on long-term strategies including keeping that quality score up, SEO, and a social media presence. When you run effective SEM campaigns, Google rewards you with lower costs and higher visibility. But if you choose the “set it and forget it” method, then Google will increase how much you pay.

When you hear people talking about how expensive Ads has become, it’s because so many small businesses don’t understand why they’re paying more. In the short term, nothing can drive more leads and sales faster than SEM.

SEM is more expensive if you’re not also focusing on long-term strategies including keeping that quality score up, SEO, and a social media presence.

Instant Brand Awareness in Search Engines

SEO and organic/unpaid social media take time. Google says it can take up to a year for a quality site to scale the rankings. In contrast, SEM positions you at the top or bottom of page one. A business that has no current visibility or brand recognition can instantly get some attention.

Getting Started with an Incredibly Scalable SEM Strategy

Keep costs low if you have a very limited budget. Then, as revenues rise because of your SEM practices and strategy, increase the number of ads. Remove ads that aren’t working. Refine your campaigns. And increase your daily ad spend. Use testing. Check your ad performance often. The frequency at which you check your ad spend will depend on factors like how much are you spending a day. $150 a day may be peanuts for some, and many companies pay as little as $15 a day. However, if you find yourself spending $10-50 thousand dollars on ads every day, it’s probably a good idea to check the ad performance very often. Keep an eye on your analytics. Don’t forget about your SEO.

The most important takeaway here is that Google will reward you with less expensive ads if the ad provides the customer/user with a good experience. Don’t lie to them. Don’t be shady. Be direct. There’s going to be someone out there who wants that three-quarter-length pink sweater with Zach Morris on the front. So, be exact in your wording. Tell people where they’re going to go if they click on your ad. You’ll pay for it if you don’t.

There’s a lot more than goes into SEM strategy. Get in touch today and let’s talk.

Targeted Social Media Advertising

Be sure to click on the below SlideShare and expand it so it fills your screen and is easier to read. You can also visit SlideShare directly to view this deck.

I wrote this post and created this deck now because I think that social media marketing and social media advertising are more important right now than ever before. Confinement during the pandemic has people using social media more than ever. Therefore, this deck was created to inform social strategy and to explain the new opportunities that exist in the social realm to capitalize on increased social use.

YOU’RE VIEWING (OR HOPEFULLY ABOUT TO VIEW): Targeted social media advertising by Jessi Brawley

That’s me.

Thanks for your time and I hope this helps. Get in touch and let’s talk more. Reach out at jessibrawley@gmail.com or connect with me on LinkedIn.

Voice Search: How SEO Will Never Be the Same

As voice search evolves from voice recognition to voice understanding, Google gets nearer to its aim to transform voice search into “an ultimate mobile assistant that helps you with your daily life so that you can focus on the things that matter.”

If voice search optimization isn’t already part of your SEO strategy, it’s time to fix that.

In 2018, 2 out of every 5 adults used voice search once per day. But in 2020, 50% of all searches will be done through voice search according to ComScore.

But instead of looking at voice search as a bad thing, just think of it this way, no one cares to read articles about it, which means most SEOs won’t be prepared for it.

This is your chance to get ahead of your competition and gobble up that traffic before the market shifts into using voice.

So, how can you stay ahead when it comes to voice search?

1) Claim & Optimize Your Google My Business Page

If you haven’t noticed yet, voice search is huge for local businesses. As they say in real estate, it’s all about location, location, location. For voice search, “near me” searches have risen significantly in the last five years:

Google Trends for “near me” searches.

One of the best ways to optimize for these searches is with a Google My Business page. Make sure to not only claim your local listing page on Google, but to optimize it as well. Include photos of your business, both interior and exterior. Include shots your customers will see when they visit and make sure the space, in reality, matches the pictures online.

This guide from Moz goes in-depth on creating a Google My Business page.

Do Voice Search terms need to be included in the website copy?

Not necessarily. Google is smart enough to know that a business is local relative to a user’s location. Your website copy should read naturally and not sound awkward or stuffed with keywords. As long as your local listing pages are claimed and optimized, that should provide enough information about the physical location of your business. Just make sure your website includes the street address for your place of business.

Pro Tip: Make sure the name, address and phone number (NAP) information appears exactly as it’s listed in Google My Business. And embed a Google map on the page for each of your locations.

2) Answer Questions

Remember the “Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How” from grade school? They’re making a comeback. Search is rapidly moving away from short queries and towards long-tail questions. Ten years ago, a search like this would have been the norm:

  • car dealership st louis mo

It’s not even grammatically correct. Just a bunch of keywords strung together to form a search.

In the voice search era, that same query would look more like this:

  • Where’s a good car dealership in the St. Louis area?

Users love asking questions to their phones, so make sure your website can answer them.

To optimize for these questions, have your sales team and service reps send over the most common questions they get from customers and prospects. Turn these into an FAQ (frequently asked questions) page of your website. Add them to related pages about your products or services, too.

When it comes to B2B or B2C, the only differences are in the types of questions being asked. Generally speaking, consumers care about the same things, regardless of the product.

  • How much does it cost?
  • How does it work?
  • Is it a good value?

Therefore, the questions from your sales and services teams will tend to fall into these categories:

  • Pricing
  • Service & Support
  • Functionality & Training
  • General Knowledge

Here are some B2B and B2C examples for each of those categories.


  • What do managed services cost? (B2B)
  • How much to cater a wedding? (B2C)
  • What does it cost to purchase a business? (B2B)

Service & Support

  • What does a printer warranty cover? (B2B or B2C)
  • What are the lease details on my new car? (B2C)
  • How can I care for a loved one with Alzheimer’s? (B2C)

Functionality & Training

  • How to attach a bucket to a skid steer? (B2B or B2C)
  • How to clean granite countertops? (B2C)
  • How to install a commercial coffee machine? (B2B)

General Knowledge

  • How much do home remodelers make? (B2B or B2C)
  • What is a business consultant? (B2B)
  • How does rapid prototyping work? (B2B)

People love asking questions, so the better you can answer those questions, the more likely you’ll appear for voice search queries.

Pro Tip: Use the question itself as an H2 or H2 tag on your website and the follow it up with a short answer, no more than 300 characters. This is an easy way to optimize for SERP Features on Google.

3) Use a Conversational Keyword Strategy

With voice search, users like to ask long questions in a conversational nature. They also give commands. So things like this are commonplace:

  • How do I change my oil?
  • Find the closest burger joint.
  • What’s the weather going to be like tomorrow?

Your keyword strategy needs to move away from optimizing for individual keywords and phrases and towards becoming more conversational. I do keyword research all the time, and I can tell you for a fact that a more conversational approach is much harder. The more words in a query, the smaller the search volume becomes. On the flip side, there are now more possible variations for that long-tail term, which makes working those variations into page copy much easier. Website pages will naturally sound more … er … natural.

Focus keyword research around the areas identified above. Every niche will have its own quirks and nuances, though – so keep that in mind.

3. Create Compelling Persona-Based Content

Brevity, context, and relevance are essential when optimizing for voice search.

What might be different from your usual SEO strategy is that now you also need to pay special attention to:

Create rich, compelling content that answers your users’ most common questions and solves their pain points.

A good strategy that’s already been adopted successfully by many websites is to:

  • Create content or a webpage with a headline that asks a common question.
  • Immediately after the headline, provide a concise answer or definition to the question.
  • Use the rest of the page to provide further elaborative detail on the topic.

The significant thing about this strategy is that the rich, robust webpage ultimately appeals to Google’s ranking algorithm.

At the same time, the short-and-sweet information at the top of the page is optimized for voice search and might even become a featured snippet.

4) Provide Context with Schema Markup

Get acquainted with schema markup, if you aren’t already.

Use schema to mark up your content and tell search engines what your site’s about.

This HTML add-on helps search engines understand the context of your content, which means you rank better in typical searches, and more relevant in specific queries made through voice search.

Google understands language by utilizing schemas, and they can be a great way to add more information to your website, so you’re ready to answer questions.

5) Build Pages That Answer FAQs

When voice searchers ask a question, they typically begin it with “Who,” “What,” “Where,” “When,” “Why,” and “How.”

They’re looking for answers that fulfill an immediate need.

To answer these queries, make a FAQ page and begin each question with these adverbs.

Then answer them conversationally to appeal to voice search.

From a performance perspective, make sure your website is technically sound and includes schemas.

Ensure navigation and informational structure are easy to find, and page load speeds are fast.

Top 10 Voice search statistics

  1. The Echo Dot was crowned as the best-selling product on Amazon in the 2018 holiday season.
  2. Grocery shopping accounts for more than 20% of voice-based orders
  3. Voice-based shopping is expected to jump to $40 billion in 2022
  4. In market share, this means consumer spending via voice assistants is expected to reach 18% by 2022
  5. By 2024, the global voice-based smart speaker market could be worth $30 billion.
  6. 60% of smartphone users have tried voice search at least once in the past 12 months.
  7. 55% of teenagers are using voice search daily basis.
  8. In terms of accuracy, Google Home is the winner so far by answering 81% of the queries correctly, on average.
  9. More than 20% of voice search queries are triggered by a combination of only 25 keywords
  10. Top 3 common keywords in voice search phrases are “how”, what” and “best”.

Context & Conversation

Context and conversational search are now essential as voice search continues to evolve.

Marketers need to thoughtfully incorporate a voice search strategy into their websites and double down on excellent content, written in a conversational tone.

We also need to understand that people who type a query, and people who ask questions into voice search, are often two different types of people.

The “typer” might be OK with doing research, while the “talker” typically wants quick answers and instant results.

We need to appeal to both types of people.

Voice search is clearly on the rise, and we’d be foolish to ignore this trend in the SEO industry.

Branding: Not for the Faint at Heart

If it were easy to create a brand message, then anyone could do it. And if anyone could build a brand, then brand experts would be out of business. Brand development usually requires months of research, development and testing. Here are some thoughts on branding.

A quick note about my experience with branding

I love branding. its intricacies and the challenges. My experience has thrived on building intangible things that drive action. Here’s just a bit of background relating to my experience and philosophies surrounding branding. While a marketing manager and marketing consultant, I developed and implemented strategic and tactical branding, eternal communications and marketing plans for companies. I made sure to maintain a positive public image of the company I worked for, which included developing media outreach strategies.

I’m proud of the fact that my innovate branding campaigns helped to build and enhance awareness of my employer’s brand and we were able to tie those efforts to actual revenue. I’ve implemented internal brand engagement strategies and managed brand budgets. When it comes to branding, I’m a stickler and I’ll stop at nothing to ensure the brand image is maintained in what we do, what we sell, and how we sell and market it. I think it’s vital that everyone’s on board with your branding initiatives so that they will all do their part to stay in line with it. Nothing builds a business like the right branding that’s developed strategically and maintained methodically.

Your brand lives inside conversations and aspirations. Brands aren’t static; they’re living, breathing things that organically change and evolve as new people join the conversation.

Your brand won’t break into a million pieces like a light fluorescent light bulb smashing into the floor, so don’t keep it high up on a shelf and out of reach. Hold your brand, push and stretch it. How far can it go? You can’t hide your brand and throw away the key. It’s got to see daylight. Plus, your brand might just not be what you think it is. Brands should unite people and give them shared ownership. Don’t just give consumers a better option to purpose … give them a better perspective on themselves and the world.

How the world sees you and your brand

Corporations don’t create brands, people do. The people inside your company are also the keepers of your brand.

An outside party won’t know the culture and spirit like your team does. Even if you don’t have a dedicated marketing department, that’s okay. But, think about this … what if the branding process could be open source, accessible to anyone. The truth is that nobody knows your brand like you do. Yo just need a template to follow. Or a hack.

Branding Hacks

Most of us know what life hacks are. They’re clever shortcuts that save you time, money or hassle. For example, a productivity hack might show you how to speed-read. Or, a decorating hack might show you how to hang a picture frame so that it’s completely level and looks its best. So what about marketing? Can we “hack” that process? We can and we should. You can build your personal or business brand and you should start right away. As a matter of fact, to compete in a crowded and competitive marketplace, you must hack your brand. And you don’t necessarily need an ad agency to do that.

I love advertising, don’t get me wrong. Yet, ad agency life is really time consuming. All nighters like those I experienced in college became the norm and work engulfed everything that I did. Not to say I didn’t love every minute of it, because I did. However, I’ve learned that my work is not the most important thing in my life. It’s a passion that I happen to get paid for, but it’s the people in my life that take precedent — as do the causes that I care about.

Whether you’re a small business owner or a mid-sized one looking for a more efficient system, I can help you differentiate yourself in the marketplace. Make you work inside an ad agency, PR firm, or other type of communication company. Or perhaps you’re stuck on an assignment and need a burst of inspiration. If you’re a coach or advisor, I hope that this post helps you find new ways to get a message across without spending too much (or any at all!). You could have zero experience with branding (or perhaps zero confidence in your creativity). That’s not a problem.

Branding all comes down to fascination.

The word “fascinate” comes from the Latin fascinate, “to bewitch or hold captive so others are powerless to resist.”

All around the world, ancient cultures were fascinated with fascination. Until now the act of fascinating others has been an unpredictable occurrence, a product of luck or timing rather than an ability to be directed at will. However, when it comes to marketing, fascinating others is both an art and a science — and it’s really not that mysterious. Once you’ve established fascination, it must precede action. The question then becomes how to influence human behavior. You can win bigger budgets, more time, better relationships, greater admiration, and deeper trust through branding and marketing.

As a business, if you can’t persuade customers to act you might as well donate your entire marketing budget to charity.

Here’s how fascination applies to your branding:

  • How can you help customers feel more fascinating to others? Rather than putting all your focus on fascinating your customers …help them feel more fascinating. People are willing to pay almost a week’s salary to be the most fascinating person in any situation. (A big opportunity if your brand can help them feel more confident and engaging in conversation.)
  • People want to feel fascinated by a product or experience, and will often pay far more for a brand that fascinates them than one that does not. (A big opportunity if your brand can fascinate)

As yourself if your message is provoking strong and immediate emotional reactions. Is it creating advocates and inciting conversation? How about forcing your competitors to realign. If so, you’ve begun flirting with marketing’s darker arts. If the ancient Romans understood the fearsome force of fascination, so can we. And we can use it to strategically and methodically to our advantage.

Companies will add more value, and compete more effectively, by identifying and applying the way in which they persuade. Those who don’t will be pushed aside or forgotten. Messages that fail to fascinate will become irrelevant. It’s that simple.

Remember the original Latin meaning of “fascinate”: “To bewitch or hold captive so others are powerless to resist.” We all have behaviors that don’t exactly make sense, even to ourselves. Sometimes we make choices and perform actions without exactly knowing why. Here’s why: In a state of fascination, we don’t think and act quite logically. We do things we don’t understand and we believe messages we don’t agree with. We even buy things we don’t really want. At its most extreme, fascination short-circuits the logical evaluation process. Rather than coolly analyzing a decision we’re gripped by involuntary responses. Some of us might think that we’re still in control of our own choices, but we’re really not.

Winning With SEO and SEM

It’s easy to get lost in a sea of acronyms: SEO, SEM, PPC, etc. I’ll try to make it as simple as I can. Search engine marketing (SEM) is the umbrella under which all digital marketing tactics fall, whether free or paid. The ultimate goal of SEM is to increase your company’s website visibility on search engines. Search engine optimization (SEO) and pay-per-click (PPC) fall under the SEM umbrella. SEM has become a crucial part of a company’s marketing strategy — the majority of new visitors to a website find it from a Google search.

There are many components to a good SEO strategy. Some of these include:

  • Exclusive and discriminating content. Google measures content for its importance to the consumer.
  • Relevance to brand and consumer. Content will rank if it is well researched and matches audience interest and the product profile correctly.
  • Validation through data.
  • Credibility is added to the content when it is asked up by data and figures.. Google will select content which incorporates data as evidence.
  • FAQs matter. Address all the issues that the audience will raise and issues that they haven’t thought of but are bound to at some point. Hot button and repeatedly raised issues must be answered preemptively and in detail.
  • Testimonials. Customer reviews are important to all shoppers. Ratings and reviews of products are diligently searched and read y the audience.
  • All these components add up to backless that will fear prominently in search results.

Search engine marketing (SEM) is the promotion of e-Commerce (and on e-Commerce websites by using pay per click (PPC) or advertisements. Google is paid to place a company’s products and content on top of the search engine results page (SERP). The aim is to be seen by the customer directly by accessing the page. This opens to door to an opportunity for a click through to the advertiser’s site. Search engine marketing is an assured rout to getting your business to the top of the search engine results page.

Components of SEM

SEM comprises paid search which is pay per click and sponsored content. Paid search gets placed beside or just below sponsored content. It is able featured snippets and gets pride of place above organic results. The whole paid concept including ads and sponsored content are part of Google’s main revenue system called Google Ads.

Sponsored content is always near the top or on top of the page. This content features images of generic products that re linked to a specific search.

The comparison between SEO and SEM is inevitable

he comparison between SEO and SEM is inevitable.SEO and SEM differ greatly and critically when it comes to the time it takes to deliver results. What is most evident is that SEO takes time to gain traction with customers and clients. Developing and deploying optimized content is also a time-consuming process.

SEM has an almost instantaneous impact. If the underlying SEO package is good, then SEM stands a good chance with both paid search and organic search. Paid ads and content have a very simple, uncomplicated format that tends itself to rapid deployment.

Another significant difference is the cost structure. SEO involves hiring expensive specialists who have experience developing projects. This can be time-consuming and add to cost. However, the cost is generally limited to development. SEM is a recurring cost with expenses calculated as pay per click. The more hits you get, the more expensive the whole project becomes.

Here’s why you need SEO

SEO creates brand awareness (the main function of digital marketing). Brand awareness is the point of origin for your business on the Internet. Without brand awareness, the enterprise is going nowhere. Once you configure keywords and content you are set up to draw traffic.
Consistently ranking at the top creates the awareness and credibility that’s requires to thrive.

Brand awareness creates buzz and chatter among customers leading additional y to world of m outhitting. A business creates trust and authority with properly curated content that caters intuitively to customers’ needs. Detailed and research content requires the customer by addressing issues they may be confronting before a purchase. Successful SEO allows the business to develop strategic plans to keep pace with the evolving landscape of digital enterprise. SEO carries your project into the social realm to platforms where a great deal of business is taking place.

The Challenges with SEO

  • SEO takes time. It will be a little while before the business begins to see hits after you’ve set up your content.
  • The digital marketplace is bumper to bumper. Keywords are thin on the ground and most keywords are already in use by established players.
  • Developing content that hauls your website from the ranks of mediocrity to the top of search rankings requires expertise and investment. Search engines with content on value. Content has to delivery on many fronts to fire in search criteria.
  • Search engines filter out irrelevant backlinks that are not credible and have no value to their users. Your concern will have to create genuine ties with other eCommerce businesses and review sites to make the connection with Google’s keyword and content criteria.

The Challenges with SEM

  • A PPC campaign can be offensive and push your products, although a logical course of action, it’s also an expensive choice. Invest heavily over a period of time to see results.
  • A PPC drive involves giving up your marketing strategy to the competition. It’s there for everyone to see. Every aspect, including keywords and layouts of the advertisements is visible to oyour rivals and open for analysis.
  • As budgets increase and you begin working with larger, enterprise level organizations, complexities arise with reporting, politics, competitiveness, and tracking. Some key challenges to managing enterprise SEM campaigns include the below.
  • Massive account confusion. With numerous accounts and hundreds of campaigns (plus thousands of ad groups and millions of keywords), that’ a lot to handle. Plus, there are usually multiple departments with multiple contacts, all with varying agendas, motives and goals.
  • Implementation roadblocks. Larger organizations tend to have an added level of roadblocks to getting things done. Challenges tend to get more difficult as the company gets bigger. This sacrifice in agility can negatively manifest itself in the effectiveness of your SEM campaigns.
  • Budget changes. With large accounts, budgets can shift on the turn of a dime.

There’s SO much more that we could dive into when it comes to SEO and SEM. I’ve spent the past 15 years studying it and perfecting my methods. Then just when you have it all set and configured, bam! Google makes a change to Page Rank algorithm. That’s what keeps me on my toes and I really do enjoy staying on top of the lastest and greatest SEO and SEM have to offer us all. They’re great ways to leverage digital — and things that can’t be left out of your strategy.

Bottom line, translate what you do into how people search.

Giving Back

I spent a decade working for nonprofit children’s agencies. I believe that we are not whole unless we’re doing our part to give back to the world. I’ve been fortunate enough to have made many friends along the way. I respect and admire the people who dedicate their lives to giving back, especially to children. know it is hard for us all to stop doing what we’re doing (which is usually a million things) and take time to give back to others who are in need of our love and support. That’s why I donate a percentage of my income to support several causes I care about, children and environmental causes. I dedicated many years of my life working to find forever families for children in foster care. Although I may have moved on from the nonprofit world, my heart is still there, with the agencies that helped make me who I am. I believe that investing in our children is one of the most important things we can do.

To learn more about fostering and adopting, please visit foster-adopt.org.

For Every Child … A Place to Call Home

How Data Science Techniques Can Provide ROI for Digital and Social Marketing

when it comes time to secure funding for next year’s analytics budget, we often get unexpected push back and resistance. That’s because we struggle to explain and demonstrate the business value and the return on investment (ROI) of analytics. And when senior executives don’t have a clear understanding of the business value of analytics, the budget goes to higher priority areas where the business value is clear and demonstrable.

We’ve all asked the question: How do I know the action that I took online made me money?

Remember, there are three stages in customer aquisition:

Our end objective of a successful campaign is to show ads to only those prospects that have a strong propensity of being a profitable customer.

It might look simple, but it really isn’t. Here’s why:

  • The ad exposure journey is normally managed by digital media/ad serving companies like Google, Facebook, etc.
  • The conversion journey can be managed by either your in-house team(s) or outsourced digital analytics firms like Adobe Site-catalyst and Google
  • Finally, the customer journey is managed by your in-house analytics team as this is highly confidential company information.

There you have it. It’s extremely difficult to collaborate between all three stages to really ensure a successful campaign. It’s a challenge that needs to be understood so that an approach can be determined.

Here is what actually goes on behind the scenes:

  1. Visitor comes to the XYZ site
  2. DMP fires a pixel and places a cookie (if not already present) in the visitor’s browser. This cookie has a certain ID (say – DMP1)
  3. DSP fires a pixel and places a cookie (if not already present) in visitor’s browser. This cookie has a certain ID (say DSP1)
  4. DMP server tries to match this visitor to third party data and gathers all the information it can. It also brings in first party information from XYZ
  5. DMP decides if this visitor falls under the segment defined by the advertiser
  6. DMP server syncs with DSP server to tell DSP that (DSP1 = DMP1) and if DMP1 falls in the target segment found in step #5
  7. Now, the visitor goes to read a blog. This blog is connected to the same DMP and a SSP
  8. DMP again fires a pixel and finds the cookie already present in the visitor’s browser (DMP1)
  9. SSP fires a pixel and places a cookie (if not already present) in the visitor’s browser. This cookie has a certain ID (say SSP1)
  10. DMP server syncs with SSP server to map DSP1 = SSP1
  11. DMP now informs DSP that DSP1 = SSP1 and asks DSP to bid aggressively in the auction

Here is what actually goes on behind the scenes:

  1. Visitor comes to the XYZ site
  2. DMP fires a pixel and places a cookie (if not already present) in the visitor’s browser. This cookie has a certain ID (say – DMP1)
  3. DSP fires a pixel and places a cookie (if not already present) in visitor’s browser. This cookie has a certain ID (say DSP1)
  4. DMP server tries to match this visitor to third party data and gathers all the information it can. It also brings in first party information from XYZ
  5. DMP decides if this visitor falls under the segment defined by the advertiser
  6. DMP server syncs with DSP server to tell DSP that (DSP1 = DMP1) and if DMP1 falls in the target segment found in step #5
  7. Now, the visitor goes to read a blog. This blog is connected to the same DMP and a SSP
  8. DMP again fires a pixel and finds the cookie already present in the visitor’s browser (DMP1)
  9. SSP fires a pixel and places a cookie (if not already present) in the visitor’s browser. This cookie has a certain ID (say SSP1)
  10. DMP server syncs with SSP server to map DSP1 = SSP1
  11. DMP now informs DSP that DSP1 = SSP1 and asks DSP to bid aggressively in the auction

To know whether an action you took on social media resulted in a lead conversion, you’ve got to know what’s happening on your website. There are a few different ways to know this.

Digital Analytics Tools

Given all the background information, let’s now talk about the various tools you have at your disposal that can process huge amounts of data coming from a number of channels. These help you analyze the data and implement your strategy in real-time. Even though there are many solutions in the market, most of the companies (big or small) are using one of the two – Google Analytics or Adobe Analytics. Let’s review them briefly by comparing a few key attributes:

Both the tools have their pros and cons. If you are a small scale company, choosing Google Analytics is a no-brainer. Even if you are a large corporate, the choice is tricky because Adobe on one hand gives active support, but Google integrates seamlessly with well-managed ad inventory. Note that Adobe can also integrate third-party tools for ad targeting, but not all of them are well-managed and might be prone to bot attacks, thus wasting your ad spends.

How data science bridges the gap between marketers and insights?

Data Science keeps marketers from drowning in the data deluge. How? The primary job of data scientists is to connect insights to marketing challenges and results. Good data scientists not only have in-depth command over analytics but also the much-needed storytelling capability to crystallize and quantify insights at a granular level. In essence, data science has the ability to guide marketing departments in all key areas – identification of the right data, its sources, collection, aggregation, and interpretation.

Here’s how marketers can leverage data science to reap superior ROI:

  • Create customer personas: Advanced data analytics can help marketers leverage historical, current, and social media data to build accurate customer personas, conduct sentiment analysis through social listening, and enable dynamic profiling of target audience. They can then test and measure different marketing approaches for various user groups to identify the right approach and continuously optimise it through ongoing analysis.
  • Enable an omni-channel customer experience: By integrating various data sources into a central cloud-hosted repository, marketers can ensure that up-to-date customer information is available across touch points and organisational departments. This paves the way for delivering a seamless, hassle-free customer experience that is fundamental to business success today.
  • Drive innovation: Data scientists can also help marketers interpret the same problem in different ways, thereby proving to be a valuable ally in finding innovative solutions to long-time marketing challenges such as customer churn and engagement.

Data science is tied inextricably to marketing excellence

No business can mend what it cannot measure. While this holds true for all disciplines, its significance to marketing is further amplified because of the new demands placed on the function. As the role of modern marketers increasingly expands to include business strategy, customer success, and operational execution, it’s clear that data science will be the linchpin of marketing excellence.

Social Media Success During a Brand Merger

How you sound echoes on social media like a yell down the hallways of a high school. Everyone’s going to hear it. They’ll take your tone, your personality, and your image, and they’ll make decisions about you based on these things. Everything you say and do online defines the brand you will become. What happens, then, if we want to reshape this image? More so, what happens if we want to do something even scarier – combine two or more brands on social media. What gets lost? How do we position ourselves so as not to fall from grace?

I’ve experienced the building of brands from scratch and from mergers. When the company I worked for, Maritz, combined three business units under one umbrella – I was in the social media driver’s seat for the entire ride.

We built a SaaS technology in the customer experience, customer loyalty, employee experience, and employee engagement and sales performance space; With the birth of this new technology and combining of three business units came many questions in need of innovative solutions.

Being the only paid social media marketing expert within Maritz Motivation, I was responsible for all social efforts. I was the voice of three separate businesses under one corporate umbrella. As such, each business unit served a different purpose. Each one could have stood along – and they were sold to the customer separate from one another. There was a lot of “and we also do x, y and z” conversations in sales. There was a lot of selling, period. To stay provocative in the market, we had to reinvent ourselves. We did so by creating a single technology that businesses could use to fulfill more than just one need

At the time of our rebrand, we can call it a business unit merger, we were active on the major social sites that reached our audiences.
I was asked lots of questions. “How are you going to do this without losing any followers, Jessi?” “How can you speak about yourself as a single entity but also broadly enough that you’ll won’t lose interest of business leaders?”

I set my mind to the task and loved every minute of it. It all starts and ends with your audience. In marketing, your audience is the most important aspect of your job. Understanding them and being understood by them, is vital to every business initiative. In the case of the division merger, we spoke to three separate audiences who now needed to think of us as a single entity to serve not just one, but several of their biggest business problems. Do we consolidate all of our social media accounts into one? I decided the answer was yes and no.

Synchronize Your Brand Migration Process

In the B2B space I got a lot of traction on LinkedIn and Twitter is where conversations happened. It’s easy to forget the purpose of social media in a world filled with the bombardment of brands online and in the noise from so many consumers. The purpose is connection, and, for business, the purpose of social media is to provide value. I determined that, because we spoke to three separate audiences, we could not afford to lose those who’d already expressed an interest in us by changing up our pages. I renamed our Twitter handles to capture the tone of the redefined brand but made sure they aligned well with one another. Something important to note here is that when you rename your Twitter handles, you hold on to the accounts (the old handles) that you used to have. Put a tweet on that account and something in your bio directing people to the new handle.

I also contacted LinkedIn and brought each business division under our corporate umbrella company, utilizing showcase pages. I shared content that was audience-specific by maintaining visual brand differentiation. However, our voice and tone unified and we spoke the same language. Segmenting followers allows specific accounts to focus on certain topics as opposed to trying to engage everybody at once. This is particularly helpful if your business serves both consumers and other companies.Multiple accounts also give users a choice in the type of content they wish to consume. Even if you have one umbrella account, I had to branch out with specialty ones. All of the content fed into the umbrella account, but if people found they only want one thing from us, they could find it easily.

Staying genuine and sincere is a top-of-mind concern. Insincerity can happen so easily online. One must be careful – but it’s really not that hard. Be sincere. That’s about it. I was careful with my cross-channel messaging strategy. Spending too much time, energy and money on customer (or follower) acquisition and not enough on engagement and retention is like inviting a ton of people to a party with no food. People need only feel distrust once, and they’re gone.

Because personalization is key, Maritz benefited from maintaining separate social identities online. Maritz enjoyed a great brand presence in their industry, but it would be a mistake to assume that all of the customers of the brands they had acquired would be aware of, or like, this new brand they were being merged to. Each social account we had was based on the audience using it. Where separation needed to be, it was. Using our corporate account afforded us with the opportunity to speak about all business units under one umbrella brand. But if people wanted to dive deeper into our solutions, they didn’t have to look far.

The transition was rated a success based on the fact that there was no decline in the engagement rates and overall revenues have continued on the projected trajectory.  

Why Is Content Strategy Important?

I’m just going to put it out there: Content Strategy is vital to any business these days. The question you really should be asking is how to get buy in from your boss to invest in a content strategist because it really is vital to your business needs and it really will produce the results you’re looking for.

Content Strategy is more important now than than ever before. Most of us know that the internet is, well, overloaded with data and content. Everywhere you turn you’re being marketed to and sold something. You can find what you’re looking for easier and faster thanks to advancing and improving algorithms and personalization. Content Strategy has got to pay head and follow suit. You can’t just throw up a blog post or white paper, share it on social media, and expect results to just come flooding in. Sure, you might get a like or two; maybe you even get a lead from that gated white paper. Here’s the thing, in order for your content to work for you, you’ve got to have a strategy behind it.

Kristina Halvorson is the CEO and founder of Brain Traffic, the coauthor of Content Strategy for the Web, the founder of Confab Events, and the host of The Content Strategy Podcast. I like and use her definition of content strategy and it goes a little something like this:

Content strategy guides the creation, delivery, and governance of useful, usable content.

– Kristina Halvorson

The purpose of content strategy is to create meaningful, cohesive, engaging, and sustainable content that attract your target customers. Remember, when I say customers, I mean PEOPLE. That’s important. It’s important to remember that content is made by humans for humans. It should sound human and evoke emotion. Learn more about how content strategy works.

In today’s social web environment, getting the right message to the right audience member or segment of members at the right time is crucial. Reaching those all-important touch points requires brand-specific content strategy and tactics.

Content Strategy answers these key marketing questions:

  • Why are you circulating this information?
  • Who will create and manage the content?
  • Who exactly do you want to reach?
  • What are you going to publish?
  • Where will the content have the most impact?
  • When is the optimal time to engage in sales conversations?
  • How will you carry out your strategy? What organizational changes must be made?

Each time I sit down with a client and we start a project, I ask if they have a documented content strategy. Most do not, and that’s unfortunate for them. Having one in place sets you up for success on so many levels. There are so many reasons to have strategy behind everything you do for your business, so why should content be any different?

A well-designed, documented content strategy guides the company’s marketing to meet or exceed its goals. It’s way too noisy now to just hope for a good outcome.

Writing out content does not make a business. It does not make you rank in the search engines. It does not help people identify who you are as a brand. That’s where content strategy comes in.

Content strategy is the way you outline your content – giving it a purpose and an identity of its own. A content without a purpose is a messy one. A content without an identity will confuse your readers. All the while, you must build your Content Structure within an SEO mindset.

Content Strategy is about much more than just writing and editing. It’s about taking the management of content to the next level.

Content strategists are logical; high-level organizers focused on developing, distributing, and monitoring content while keeping a keen eye on how effectively each piece of the puzzle fits in with a business’ bigger picture marketing strategy.

Content Strategy is about much more than just writing and editing. It’s about taking the management of content to the next level.

Consumers are learning more quickly and experiencing so much more with each internet visit these days, that a great content strategist needs to be on the ball not only with the basic information they’re managing, but also in the way that it’s being presented to the audience.

Getting Attention for the Home Run

It’s sometimes daunting to try to have to get your audience’s attention given the wealth of information available to consumers at the touch of a button. But in some ways, this can be part of the fun of being in this field.

The more creative you get, the more of a chance you have of putting a your company on the map or growing in the next quarter. Presenting ideas in fresh ways can go a long way to making or breaking a business. In the digital economy, the most productive content strategists will absolutely be adept not only at the analytical side, but at using creative problem-solving to come up with fresh ideas to wow their audiences.

Companies that win out in terms of content strategy will certainly stand out in terms of innovation. When you have a product and content that is truly unique, fresh, and genuinely interesting to your audience, you’ll know you’ve hit a home run.

Jessi Brawley Profile Picture
Jessi Brawley is a marketing consultant, UX designer, and content strategist. She has 15 years of digital marketing experience and 5+ in B2B. She loves what she does and loves learning even more. Jessi does SEO, UX, and other strategy services for companies across the U.S. and abroad. Connect with her on LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook.