Content marketing, social media and GDPR: the latest in digital marketing from the experts

As a marketer, it’s important to keep up to date with industry best practice. In the constantly changing and fast-paced world of digital marketing, however, it can be hard to do, especially when you feel as if you are wading through clickbait trying to find the facts, figures and expert opinions.

So when there is an opportunity to mingle with experts and learn from their experiences, it’s best to jump in feet first – which is exactly what CPL's digital marketing executive, Adele Emmins, did at the Chartered Institute of Marketing’s annual Digital Marketing Conference held at the Imperial War Museum Duxford.

Chocks away and we’re off…

First to speak was James Chandler, of Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB). He focused on mobile and how it has changed the way we market to our customers, and explored the idea that it has bought the physical and digital together. He also looked at the importance of making sure we capture our customers in the small amount of time that we have their attention. Generation Z, after all, has one of the shortest attention spans ever seen.

Chandler compared the impact of mobile to the disruption caused by a stereotypical teenager, and discussed how it has changed many aspects of our lives. It has displaced everyday items such as alarm clocks and street maps, for example, while celebrities moan that the humble autograph hunter has been usurped by the ubiquitous ‘selfie’ snapper.

With all the excitement around what mobile can offer, it was great to see Chandler bring it back to that all-important business concern: ‘What is the point of this?’ It’s a question that can be lost in mobile performance statistics: ‘engagement was great, we got loads of likes’ – but what do those likes mean for our business?

Round two

Mark Robertson, from Microsoft, continued on from the theme, explaining the value of engaging with customers at every possible opportunity within their daily lives. On average, he said, there are 11 connected devices in every household in Europe, and a wealth of opportunities to connect with customers across these.

Robertson used the example of a football match. During half-time, your social media channel could promote other products/services to fans, or your app could send them a notification encouraging them to play a football game – keeping interaction going during times when, traditionally, customers might switch off from your brand.

Can social media really work for B2Bs?

Vipul Patel, from Domino, spoke about the company’s experience and how – through its social media platforms – it gained interaction with an audience that seemed out of reach, digitally.

His advice was to: evaluate your social media presence; align accounts (if you have multiple ones); develop your strategy; and, finally, make a plan to implement it. In Domino’s case, Twitter was at the forefront of its PR and awareness, while LinkedIn helped to generate leads and improve customer engagement.

Domino learned an invaluable lesson: better engagement with its target audience was achieved when the whole company was involved with the social media strategy. So it offered training and encouragement to its staff, with monthly reviews and one-to-one calls.   The team built its social media audience and increased engagement, which allowed it to successfully launch a new product to a wider audience. Domino maintained its presence on social media channels during tradeshows and events, and this engagement continued – proving the project to be a worthwhile investment for the company.

Do you have a content strategy? If not, why not?

Richard Willner, of Further Group, demonstrated the importance of a content strategy. He gave an example of what one might look like – the why, who, what, where and how – and noted that a content strategy means different things to different organisations.

He usefully pointed out that ‘content’ doesn’t always mean your own website. Most people, when they hear the term, assume it means blog – but this isn’t the case with the example Willner used of travel company Thomson. Its holiday pages offer the target audience the most value, so this is Thomson’s true ‘content’.

Wilner stressed the importance of looking at your content from your audience’s perspective, and said it should offer them guidance (fresh insight), confidence (to overcome a problem) and skills (to improve their abilities).

He reiterated how important it is to have a plan, and ended by urging marketers to ‘not limit your metrics’ when analysing the performance of your content. For example, if a piece doesn’t drive organic traffic that doesn’t mean it hasn’t performed well or bought added value to your customer.

Picking up on a great quote from Jay Baer, author of Youtility, Willner highlighted the true purpose of content – and of marketing: ‘If you sell something, you make a customer today, but if you genuinely help someone, you create a customer for life.’

Ask the panel and GDPR

Some interesting questions were asked during the panel’s Q&A session and this led to a discussion about the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). This was apt, because the next speaker was Duncan Smith, from iCompli, who is course director of GDPR for the CIM.

There was a debate about how personal data is important to marketers and the customer experience, and how – with this data – we can adapt marketing to our audience to offer tailored solutions. This is, ultimately, every marketer’s goal. However, Smith spoke about how it has gone too far, and why the rules are changing.

He explained how social sign-ups work; those ‘Don’t want to create an account, sign in with Facebook instead’ options enable companies to gather data through our likes, follows and general preferences on social media platforms. This was something new to me – and to the whole audience it seemed.

While the GDPR represents a challenge for marketers, Smith said it is being introduced to protect our personal data – and that, as individuals, we really do want that too. He talked about the importance of consent and your ability, as a company, to prove that it was given. He also explained how even people’s work email addresses would be classed as personal data, and how this will affect B2B companies and their direct-marketing efforts.

To find out more about the potential impact of GDPR on marketing, and to read Duncan Smith’s tips on dealing with the new regulation, visit the CIM website


Wilner stressed the importance of looking at your content from your audience’s perspective
Adele Emmins - digital marketing executive

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