Train station advertising – does it work?

Oxford Circus

Has anyone else noticed how Oxford Circus station appears to have become particularly ‘exclusive’ with its advertising recently?

Having gotten used to scanning a mixed bag of theatre ads, charity promos and ‘Are you tired of being tired?’ advertisements on my daily commute through Seven Sisters, I was somewhat delighted to find myself in the tunnel of pure, uninterrupted David Gandy recently.

It got my attention.

Imagine my joy at discovering that the exclusive and identical M&S ads of David (yes we’re on first name terms) continued on my journey up the escalator.

“Fantastic advertising strategy” in my (slightly biased) opinion, I thought.

The following week (to my dismay) Mr Gandy had been replaced by an attractive woman in hosiery advertising Calzedonia – I remember the name.

The same, wall to wall plastering of posters with no obvious call to action – just the brand name and attractive woman modelling the product.

Yes, I remembered the brand name. But I’m probably not going to shop there.

And it got me thinking.

One weeks’ worth of exclusive advertising in a place of such high footfall (Oxford Circus sees more than 53 million passengers a year pass through its barriers) must have cost a bomb.

Is it all really worth it?

It has long been known that repeated visual exposure to an object can affect an observer’s preference for it.

The mere-exposure effect is a psychological phenomenon by which people tend to develop a preference for things merely because they are familiar with them. In social psychology, this effect is sometimes called the familiarity principle.

In studies of interpersonal attraction, the more often a person is seen by someone, the more pleasing and likeable that person appears to be.

And perhaps most importantly, these advertisements are non-conscious mechanisms, and their strategic placement means that we almost become desensitised to them as a sales tool; instead they become preferable and familiar.

But what does this mean in terms of tangible results?

I’ve scoured the web looking for information and evidence relating to the success or failure or train station advertising – particularly when adopting this exclusive advertising approach rather than risk dilution – and haven’t found much on the subject.

I’m really keen to know more.

So if you’ve got any first hand experience, insight or an opinion and would like to share, please comment below or email amy_haddow@hotmail.com . Thanks guys!

Marketing Explained: the differences between Copywriting and Content Marketing, and what YOU should be doing in 2015

‘Copywriting’ and ‘Content Marketing'; two phrases often used interchangeably and the topic of much debate and confusion.

So which is which, and what are you doing?

Or more importantly, what should you be doing?

Firstly, let’s clear up any confusion over the differences between the two concepts.

Copywriting

Copywriting is writing copy for the purpose of advertising or marketing. The copy is meant to persuade someone to buy a product, or influence their beliefs.”

Copywriting is an active method of achieving sales, often involving a ‘push strategy’ whereby the product or service is taken directly to the customer.

Examples of copywriting include:

  • Landing pages
  • Advertising
  • PR
  • Direct mail

These communications are designed to get the reader to take a specific action, and therefore a successful copywriter must be persuasive, creative and direct in their approach.

Content Marketing

Content marketing is a marketing technique for creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract and acquire a clearly defined audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action.”

Content marketing is typically a more passive way of capturing the attention of your prospects, and usually favours the ‘pull strategy’, as with any inbound marketing approach.

Examples of content marketing include:

  • Blogs
  • White papers
  • Infographics
  • Viral video

Content marketing is essentially the creation of valuable content that has a marketing purpose but is not overtly ‘salesy’; that is, it exists to educate and inform the reader above all else.

The most important bit…

It’s essential that you combine the most powerful elements of each going forwards, as neither concept is likely to work very well in isolation.

Use elements of both copywriting and content marketing to initiate a powerful, integrated marketing plan in 2015.

Most of us fall into one of two categories (a copywriter or a content marketer) so here’s how you can identify where you sit, why you’ve been missing out on customers, and how you can weave ‘the opposition’ into your work for maximum impact.

“I’m a content marketer and I’ve got loads of top notch content but very few readers – what am I doing wrong?”

Enter copywriting.

1. Address your headlines

Are your headlines punchy, enticing and rife with consumer benefits?

Even if you’re taking a more passive content approach and want to leave out the ‘salesy’ bit, you need to identify and promote a benefit to the reader. Writing killer headlines can be tricky and this is where copywriting skills come into play.

2. Actively build an online presence

To get more readers, you’ll need to build an online presence and the only way to do that is to take a more direct (copywriting) approach.

Leverage social proof in a subtle and informative way. Encourage comments on your blog, either by asking for them or including a thought provoking question at the end.

Psssst! You could even buddy up and ask a fellow blogger to get the ball rolling. Offer to return the favour by commenting on their next post.

It’s always worth mentioning any references from your PR activity to maximise leverage, e.g. “As mentioned / recommended in the Broxbourne Weekly” to help you build trust through association.

3. Call to action (CTA)

Is it clear what do you want your readers to do?

Make sure you include clear CTA’s so that your readers can subscribe to future posts or share content – fail to do this and you risk being lost in the sea of online content.

The careful integration of copywriting techniques into high quality content marketing can help you build a large, loyal audience and secure those desired conversions.

“I’m a copywriter and there’s not much I can learn from content marketing – I’m already good at getting people to read my stuff.”

Oh how wrong you are copywriter. How wrong you are.

You might be a dab hand at convincing your readers to take action but your victory will be short lived if you don’t address human interest and relevancy in your content for longer term brand building.

We’re becoming less and less of a transactional marketplace and those willing to change and adapt are the most likely to survive.

As a rule of thumb, your content should be entertaining, informative and subtly salesy – limit or eradicate self-promotional content; it’s old hat.

Here are some tips for injecting some content marketing into your copywriting:

  • Give something valuable away, just because… Build trust through the delivery of consistent, ‘precious’ information and advice in the form of free downloadable guides or articles.
  • Tell a story – an emotive approach will capture the attention of your audience and if executed purposefully and strategically, should compel them to take the desired action and stick around in the longer term
  • Don’t write ‘advertising’ copy if you want your content to be taken seriously and read thoroughly. Consider native advertising if that’s the approach you want to take.
  • Whatever you do, don’t write for search engines! Write for people. Even the search engines will ignore you if they suspect you of favouring them over your customers.
  • Make sure your content does what it says on the tin. Don’t promise an answer to a question with a cleverly constructed headline and then deliver an irrelevant, self-promotional piece. This will damage relationships.
Basically, don’t publish rubbish.

‘Stickable’ content depends on a healthy marriage of the two concepts; copywriting and content marketing.

We want to see strategically built, high quality content with a clear goal and purpose, that informs and educates – and so do your customers for that matter.

Setting Your PPC Budget – OR NOT

One of the most common pay per click (PPC) misconceptions I come into contact with is the budget capping vs cost per acquisition (CPA) approach to bidding strategy.

Can PPC seem scary if you don’t cap spend at a particular amount?

Of course it can. But if you manage the bidding process correctly (or have a decent PPC agency to do this for you), spend can be as great or as little as the business you convert.

Let’s break this down.

When you allocate a low PPC budget to a campaign, Google will either show your ad sporadically for short periods throughout the day, or use the entire days advertising budget in the morning. As most online shoppers tend to browse before committing to a purchase, this approach is unlikely to improve your conversion rate as when prospects come to buy, lack of budget could mean that you’ve dropped off the edge of the ‘Google’ Earth (figuratively speaking).

earth, spaceman

A much better way to approach your PPC strategy is to focus on measuring your advertising efforts based on the business you acquire and the cost of acquisition. YOU CAN’T LOSE!

Ask yourself; “how much am I willing to spend per customer/client?”

Every business and/or marketing department should invest in regular research and analysis to determine the lifetime value of each of their customers. From this, one can determine the maximum CPA (or maximum amount we can afford to spend to win a new customer) to ensure all marketing efforts are profitable.

It’s amazing how many companies don’t have this information to hand!

Once you have calculated your CPA you should set your monthly PPC budget to suit the volume of enquiries/sales you expect to gain. It’s really quite simple.

Approaching your PPC budget setting strategy in AdWords

Now we have the CPA, we can further research the keywords in our chosen Ad Group.

Using the Keyword Planner tool in Google AdWords (which combines the functionality of Keyword Tool and Traffic Estimator) you can find new keyword and ad group ideas, get performance estimates for them, and find the bid and budget to suit you.

If estimated spend based on your existing keyword list is higher than expected, you may have to delete some keywords from the group.

e-card ppc

If your company is bidding on too many non-specific keywords, this can result in rapid budget consumption and low conversion rates.

As soon as an account goes live, very generic keyword phrases can generate high numbers of impressions that don’t result in clicks. This will immediately have an adverse effect on the click through rate (CTR) of your entire account – an element that will be detrimental to your Google quality score (we will come on to this). It is therefore essential that any phrases with high numbers of impressions and a CTR of less than 1% are deleted as soon as possible.

NB: once the campaign is live, you should be closely reviewing and/or deleting any phrases with low click through and conversion rates on an ongoing basis.

Once we have our definitive (and affordable) keyword list, we can focus on refining our AdWord bidding technique to reduce the relevance of budget in favour of conversion rates and CPCs.

Time to add conversion tracking.

Once a customer completes an online sale or registration, they will typically land on a thank you page.

We will need to add a tracking code (generated by AdWords) to this page which will feed data back to the PPC account so we can identify best performing keywords and the corresponding conversion rates.

Conversion tracking will also enable us to optimise conversions through testing of keywords, landing pages and search v display testing.

Now keep your eyes on the prize! Your account needs to be nurtured…

keep your eyes on the prize

It is essential that you closely manage your new PPC account to optimise your bidding strategy and ensure you are working profitably. Here are some great free Google Tutorials that go into more detail on how to manage your bids.

It is also important to review your account to continuously improve your Google quality score. A good quality score is determined by the relevancy of your keywords to landing page, and the overall quality of ad copy (with close consideration given to historical and current click through rates).

A good quality score will result in a higher SERP ranking and a lower cost per click – both of which contribute towards the reduction of your CPA. To translate…your boss will love you.

Hopefully this post has got you thinking about PPC a little differently and introduced new ideas and considerations to ensure you maximise your paid advertising efforts.

How to create a successful integrated marketing campaign that gets results

I’d like to share with you details of a recent campaign I created for a company called Cobia. This post was written with the intention of helping guide fellow marketers in their campaign planning approach, and show how quantifiable results in marketing can now be easily achieved using integrated online reporting and measurement tools.

Project brief/introduction

Cobia is a professional services outsourcing provider specialising in accountancy, employment tax, expenses & benefits management, payroll and pensions auto enrolment solutions.

The government were due to provide a pensions auto enrolment staging date to companies with between 1 and 25o employees by April 2014 . This SME market is Cobia’s primary client base, and the fact that Cobia already specialise in payroll meant that they could conveniently remove the administrative burden of auto enrolment by adjusting payslips in accordance with new pension law as they passed through the payroll process.

For a small fee of £1.50 per payroll per month, the hassle of auto enrolment could be confidently taken away. Cobia were also working in collaboration with Scottish Widows to offer a bespoke auto enrolment platform for typically low salary transient workforces – an undesirable market for many pension providers due to low margins.

We had our USP. We could target the security and facilities management sector – already a substantial proportion of our client base – and offer them an affordable and easy solution to pension auto enrolment that no other company could at the time; a simple service bolt on that could prove considerably profitable for Cobia.

Objective

To increase awareness of new pension auto enrolment service offering and increase sales conversions within 3 months.

Segmenting, Targeting and Positioning

Identified B2B target markets:

  • Cross selling to existing clients with up to 250 employees
  • Targeting new clients within the security and facilities management industry with up to 250 employees
  • SIA (security industry association) members with up to 250 employees
  • HR Managers and Financial Directors

By segmenting the above data we can produce tailored, personalised campaigns to ensure a unique approach to individuals at different stages of the sales cycle.

My integrated approach

Existing clients – cross sell

Existing clients were presented to face to face by sales teams who already had established relationships with point of contacts. Cobia Account Managers were supported with sales collateral and auto enrolment guides created in partnership with Scottish Widows. Personalised e-marketing campaigns were sent to those ‘warm’ clients who expressed interest but did not formally commit to the sale.

Prospects

Wider audience – web focus

  • Create landing page – positioned as a pensions auto enrolment ‘mini guide’ on what SME’s should expect regarding the impending implementation
  • PPC campaign – tailored ad groups to drive traffic to page. Measurable Ad Goals: visits to landing page & request an information pack download
  • Content marketing – tailored blog content to feature 2 pension specific articles per week and 1 link building post distributed to third party sites
  • Social media promotions – daily posts promoting snippets of the landing page guide and blog posts

Advertising

  • Professional Security magazine – monthly circ 25,000, 85% SME’s and readership demographic – HR Managers, Managing Directors and Financial Directors
  • Historical data proved this Title had best ROI for Cobia
  • Paid quarterly full page advertorial
  • Rolling banner ad on Professional Security site with link to Cobia pensions landing page

SIA Members

Member data segmented and e-marketing mailers sent from SIA on behalf of Cobia to introduce services. Power of association through strong partnership with industry body,

Webinar

  • To provide a dynamic introduction to auto enrolment and what it means for SME’s, and position Cobia as experts in field
  • Keynote speaker from Scottish Widows
  • Recorded and available to download after session

Results

The webinar was a huge success with approximately 200 registered and 122 attendees. Further downloads after the event supported this and positive feedback in surveys and social media polls proved it was a successful way to position Cobia as reliable advisors in this area.

Face to face meetings were arranged with 6 SIA members. These are still in progress but considering the low cost of e-marketing and based on the annual earning potential of just 1 client with 250 employees @ £1.50 per head per month, the return on investment from just one client will be substantial and enough to justify the annual SIA membership fee (not to mention additional benefits e.g. access to information).

Within 1 month, overall website traffic increased by 18%, of which 80% can be attributed to the pensions landing page. We can see traffic sources range from third party websites, social media platforms and paid for advertising. There was a total of 98 goal completions within 1 month for the PPC element of the project.

Marketing Explained – B2B Marketing Online

B2B Marketing – Should you be Online or Offline?

Think you know what works for your business? I’m sure you do to a large extent. But when did you last test existing versus new marketing approaches?

In my experience, most B2B businesses believe offline marketing techniques such as relationship marketing campaigns, face to face meet and greets, networking opportunities, industry events and word of mouth, present the only real way to win new clients in a business to business environment.

All this ‘online marketing talk’ about SEO, PPC, social engagement and content marketing is for fluffy businesses with big budgets and time to waste, right?

Wrong - marketing

It’s no longer about using offline and online channels as separate entities, but combining the best of both to generate positive return on investment for your business. This applies to both B2B and B2C marketing strategies.

How to Approach Your B2B Marketing Strategy (it’s actually easier than B2C)

Despite my observation above, B2B and B2C must be treated as distinct market categories. Certain channels or techniques that work for one won’t necessarily work for the other.

At first glance, B2B can seem the scarier of the two because more often than not, a client is worth much more to a business than a consumer, and traditional offline marketing approaches are generally more expensive and harder to measure. This is largely why in B2B marketing, the emphasis is on quality of leads not quantity. B2C companies tend to lean in the direction of very high volumes and low revenue per purchase – so enormous demand is usually necessary.

We generally understand more about potential clients than consumers, i.e. who they are, what their job is and typical buying behaviours. Therefore B2B marketing activities can be highly targeted, reducing the influx of unqualified leads thus increasing attraction/conversion rates.

B2B companies have been slower to embrace online marketing because of reliance on pre-existing knowledge and understanding of their clients and what has/hasn’t worked in the past. But things are changing.

its-what-you-learn-after-you-know-it-all-that-counts

B2B businesses are starting to incorporate online activities into their marketing plans. These businesses are casting the net wider; identifying new opportunities and exploring new markets, whilst ensuring that they are catering to the ever-changing needs of existing markets where target audiences are moving online to justify purchasing decisions.

Getting Started with B2B Online Marketing – Top Tips

Tip 1 – Get Blogging!

In a B2B environment, you’re communicating with like-minded professionals so it’s essential that you establish yourself as a thought leader. By providing interesting, relevant content you will position yourself as an industry expert and gain respect from your followers.

Blogging is probably the fastest way to build traffic and inbound links to your company website. It’s simple – the more a company blogs, the more new customers it attracts. Switch from monthly to weekly blog posts and see the impact for yourself. By building a portfolio of good content on your blog, you become more searchable online and are more likely to appear on results pages when a potential client looks for information on your services.

animals_working

To start with, look at industry trade magazines to see what’s topical and monitor your competitors to follow what they’re blogging about. Why not write an opinion piece on new legislation, conduct an interview with a key industry influencer or put together a ‘how-to’ article that answers frequently asked questions.

And lastly, ensure your posts are topically diverse and be sure to get exposure across all social channels – get it out there!

Tip 2 – Get Linking In!

LinkedIn is the number one B2B channel. Every professional should have their own LinkedIn account irrespective of industry, and from this account, you should create a company page and/or group to encourage engagement and display your content.

Traffic from LinkedIn is generally considered to be of higher quality than traffic from Facebook and Twitter. Facebook and Twitter are mass audience exposure platforms where volume is achieved over quality, and the audience is far more diverse in terms of what people are expecting to get from that particular platform (namely for fun, personal use).

LinkedIn is a professional network for business people, meaning that you are capturing an audience focused on corporate information sharing, networking and employment/partnership opportunities.

Remember to reply and engage with every group comment daily and include a link back to your website. Regularity of content promotion is key, whether it’s created or curated, and focus on addressing the needs of your client rather than selling your brand or product –the shift from self to consumer focus is paramount.

Linked in

Marketing Explained – Integration is integral

 Part 1 – Explaining Integrated Marketing

As a marketing professional, I am as guilty as any when it comes to using acronyms, phraseology and jargon to explain what is really, a very simple concept.

So I’m making it my mission to dispel the mythological language of marketing and explain the core meanings behind key industry terms.

Are you plagued by a particular marketing topic or expression? Send your queries to amy_haddow@hotmail.com and I’ll explain.

What do we mean by integrated marketing?

Simply put, it is the use of multiple marketing disciplines and channels to promote a brand or campaign. This is based on the belief that adopting different approaches will weave together the strengths and weaknesses of each format, and reach different audiences in their preferred ways, thereby increasing success rates.

integrated marketing quote

This can mean taking one piece of written content and turning it into an infographic, video, blog post, whitepaper or press release. Using one core piece of work and converting it into different formats is not only an efficient use of time (as the core content has already been created) but it also takes into consideration the fact that different audiences digest information differently. You are catering to a diverse online audience.

Tip: content should never be duplicated verbatim. Google penalises duplicate content which means it won’t contribute towards improvement of your search ranking position. So post one blog piece in one place only, and then tailor the content for the press release and turn it into a PDF for the whitepaper (for example).

Promoting your content

Let’s take the infographic. You can create these for free using easelly.

Firstly, host the infographic on your blog and upload to your Pinterest account like this, remembering to include alt tags.

infographic on infographics

Now promote the infographic using integrated marketing techniques. Using Twitter, Facebook, Google + and Linked In, create a summary sentence detailing the core message and where appropriate, use hashtags and include the image as a thumbnail. Use Yammer to promote the infographic internally and ask colleagues to share with friends and followers.

You should promote any new piece of content daily for around 2 weeks in my opinion. Schedule two posts a day for one week, and then reduce to one for the next. Measure the success of each channel in terms of click-throughs, page hits (on your blog) and shares.

Tip: The use of Google + is essential in improving online presence and increasing brand/product exposure. Be sure to create an author profile and links to your content to ensure it is indexed and wins those all-important search engine optimisation points. Check out my profile as an example.

So there’s a basic overview on how to ensure your marketing efforts are integrated. Create consistency and maximise your communications by adopting a multi-channel approach.