On the fifth episode of Squaretalk, we chatted with Stephanie Cook, who is a lifecycle marketer with nearly five years of experience in helping ecommerce businesses grow both on and off the AdRoll platform. Having worked with brands of varying sizes and industries, Steph firmly believes that every ambitious business can develop a meaningful marketing strategy. The conversation flowed its way through the beginning stages and prerequisites for marketing success, and progressed into more complex topics
[03:30] – What is marketing?
Being able to articulate your company and your vision with your audience, existing or potential. A backbone and a structure to a business. The rest of the conversation will rely on this definition.
[03:51] – What is the first step of understanding what your brand is?
Identifying the value you are providing with the goods and services you are selling. It often helps to humanize the business. Starting off with a foundation of what your business stands for and what you are trying to communicate is essential, and then use marketing as a means to refine various processes.
[05:14] – How to cater to your customer
Have a presence in web, social and email. Whatever specifics you operate in, it is up to you and your interpretation and goal. Starting there, you will guarantee a strong presence and then identify where you are seeing success and pursue it.
When starting out, you want to attract potential customers (upper funnel). Organic social is a great place to start, creating a profile and sharing the humanized idea of your brand. E-mail is going to come after establishing that baseline because you need those people to come to your website first.
[07:33] – What is organic marketing?
It is anything that you are not having to pay for, you can divide efforts into paid and organic. This distinction is very useful when working on humanizing your brand and developing it. This includes posting content without relying on having to boost that post.
Additionally, there are so many social media channels to choose from. Those that are starting out, you can trust your perception of the brand, whatever makes the most sense to you – start with that.
[08:44] – How to make a passerby customer into a loyal customer
Is organic marketing enough? When starting out - yes, potentially. To get user retention, you will need to make use of paid channels as well.
Nurturing a visitor after they purchase is important. They will not come back naturally because people are naturally busy and it is too easy to forget even the best customer experience. Gently following up while providing value is essential through email, social and retargeting.
[10:18] – Can you spread yourself too thin? What do you focus on?
Businesses can often be limited in bandwidth and in terms of resources, especially in the beginning stages. Reusing content is very useful and easier than one might think. If you cannot find value in one of those channels, do not be afraid of pulling out and re-initialize later if it is taking up too many of your resources. Whatever is working for you, try to expand on that. Adwords is a fantastic channel, but could feel like a full time job. Boosting what is working for you, and slowly trying to expand into what you might be missing is the way to go.
[12:37] – What defines web marketing?
Anything that is not social media or email. Google comes to mind first. The best way to approach ad words is trying not to tackle that first. Google analytics has a lot of information that not a lot of people know they have access to that can suggest keywords.
[13:05] – Affiliate marketing
We often jump to influencer marketing. Affiliate marketing is similar but has more to do with partnering with other businesses and websites. For example, in terms of home décor – apartment therapy is a huge player in that avenue. Having your brand mentioned there can start building trust and drive traffic to your website.
[14:58] – Trends, shifts and the value of working with authenticity
Consumers became more aware socially and wanted more authenticity. But you need a healthy mix of authenticity and a more professional side in order to build trust. The goal is to be able to show off what you have worked on, and professional photography can show that off.
It is difficult to monetize authentic content, because monetization undermines it. Exploring lifestyle imagery is a great way to break through on that front.
[19:50] – Video is booming. What do you do with it?
Be strategic about how you are using your resources. For example, Tik tok – if you have the bandwidth to grow through it – fantastic. However, trend cycles go around much faster, so make sure you can keep up with it. Avoid doing it to keep up, do it if you know it will resonate.
[22:48] – How to make the most out of a starting budget
If you need to tackle all fronts when you are starting out – check out a marketing platform that will allow you to run multiple channels under one umbrella because it will let you share a budget across multiple channels.
What is important to remember is that It will always cost more to bring in new traffic, so focus on that, especially in the beginning. Investing in brand awareness early on is critical. When a system develops to identify which traffic converts, you can start to reinvest that money that you make and grow out your strategy a bit more.
[27:15] – Analyzing the effectiveness of your campaigns
Every platform will have some sort of reporting source that will tell you how it is performing. At one point, you will want a unified view where you can see how all the channels you are running create a customer journey. Your customers never interact with only one channel of the company’s presence. Easiest way is through UTM tags which are snippets you add to the end of your landing page URLs for your ads. When you run an ad, you specify where it needs to link to, you will add a UTM tag to the end of that. Tag anything that is not an internal page.
[29:56] – Loyalty Programs and AB testing for retargeting
Getting somebody to purchase something from you is just the first milestone in a potentially long journey. You want to keep engaging with them so they become a loyal customer. Social is a great way to do that. E-mail is a channel that comes to mind first, as well as retargeting. There are so many types of retargeting campaigns you can run and if you have a web retargeting campaign that mirrors the messaging you are using through social and e-mail, you have a cohesive customer experience that keeps your brand top of mind and creates lifetime value customers.
In terms of AB testing, when is a good time to start? What kind of audience do you need in order to get the results you are looking for? If you can have 100 visitors in each group, that would be a good start, seeing as you need to give the test enough time. If you only run it a day, it would only be a small sample and there would be too many variables that could have taken place that day that would lead to inconclusive or incorrect results. 2-4 weeks seems to be a reasonable timeframe to draw any kind of conclusions.
[33:24] – How much of your budget do you put into retargeting over user acquisition?
Depends on what your current traffic looks like and if you need to bring more traffic to your website or if you have a steady stream of organic traffic coming in. Steph recommends to mirror your budgets for brand awareness and retargeting. Once you see performance, you can adjust those budgets.
[38:35] – Role of YouTube in marketing and ecommerce
If you have a product that requires a certain amount of education (like a camera) and you need the customer to understand why your product is better, YouTube is a great way to educate and convey that information.
YouTube has one of the most loyal fanbases and carries with it much more traction than any other platform. Personalities carry a lot of brand loyalty with them, so If you can align with a certain influencer or personality, that is a fantastic way to explore acquisition that way.
Additionally, an intentional approach is the way to go with YouTube SEO. There is a certain viral element to take into consideration, but it has the most value in brand loyalty that it carries with it.
[41:17] – Breaking marketing stereotypes
People tend to think marketing is scary or overcomplicated, however that may not necessarily have to be the case. There are lots of pathways to learn and grow. Business owners or marketers that are getting started, do not trust the understanding of their brand as much as they should. It is your business so you can trust your vision. You already know how to start articulating that to new audiences. Easy to break down especially if you understand your brand and know how to communicate it.