5 Mistakes Brands Make and How to Avoid Them

Rhys kicks off the episode with an error he’s observed, which is that teams and channels are not linking up enough. What he means by this is that brands are not connecting the same messaging throughout their available channels. An example of this is a brand’s direct mail having one message which aims to get customers online, but when that customer types it in Google, the brand doesn’t come up. 

Businesses themselves also miss tricks and segment their teams, so performance marketing teams may have little interaction with teams like merchandise. Luke cites this as the key reason for why these channels do not always link as effectively as they should do.

The planning stage, which consists of setting out your strategy with each channel, is of utmost importance. It doesn’t look great when a search or social campaign is completely different from the content of emails which are being sent out to customers and may deter said customers from engaging with your brand any further.

There is an easy fix to resolve this issue, which is simply to sit teams together or at least ensure that they are in regular interaction with one another. You must also make sure that any external teams are in constant contact with internal ones.

An area in which this is done well is out-of-home. Ads on billboards, buses, tubes and other out-of-home platforms are generally quite consistent and tend to capture the customer’s attention. These ads can aid with pushing potential clients on online platforms, so if you can convey a similar message through your online and offline advertising, you’re onto a winner.

The second point, raised by Luke, addresses how we exclude certain customers from marketing. An existing customer will not want to see offers to new customers, for example, and this can lead to frustration for loyal clients who feel they also deserve a good deal. Most importantly, however, it simply appears as lazy marketing because existing customers are not excluded from this ad when they really should be. There are some solutions to this problem, such as creating custom audiences and lists on Google Ads, Facebook and Instagram. This is criminal, and when considering how efficiently the traditional direct mail and email marketing worlds have dealt with it, there is no escape for today’s culprits. Historically when customers have not been purchasing through a brand’s emails or direct mail, they have been taken off the list manually, as they are not showing any signs of engagement. This enables businesses to exclude customers who don’t need to see or are not interested in certain ads, to maximise the effectiveness of their campaign and eliminate wastage.

Marcus introduces the third point, which is a missed opportunity of using assumptions over data to make decisions. For example, you may think that your customers will react well to a certain message, but this postulation is not enough – you must have the supporting data to be certain of said message’s success. The same goes for creative – you must be familiar enough with the data available to make decisions on designs like images and backgrounds instead of making assumptions. Splitting your various audiences up into personas based on their specific interests may help with this. You can segment your audience A, for instance, into audience A.1, A.2, A.3, with audience A.1 liking free shipping, A.2 special offers and A.3 story-led marketing. This can allow you to understand the granular details of your audiences and inform your decisions based on the data you have on their personas, rather than assumptions on the characteristics you think they may have.

Taking tests on your audiences may be a way of doing this. For example, taking data from different campaigns and experimenting with different ways of advertising can help you understand how your audiences respond to various strategies. Rhys states that “testing and learning is going to be huge, and it should be.” The key question to ask is why. If you’re targeting a specific person or audience with an ad, you must first ask why you’re doing it. If the answer is ‘I think that’s what they want’, this has to be challenged as it’s based on an assumption. There is a big opportunity for brands that try to ‘jump into their data’ and ‘evolve their personas’ to understand their audience. This should inform the entirety of their marketing.

Luke sees a missed opportunity in which people are not putting enough time into creating. Creative is a huge umbrella term which encompasses a large amount of media: video, audio, ways of sending products out – content is a huge part of creative. Planning is a crucial part of creative, and to prepare effectively, you must know what your audience responds well to. Variants can aid with this, and you should not be afraid to put a large number of variants into each campaign, as this can help you gauge what your audience likes to see and is made easy to do by software such as Canva. Your creative strategy has to be informed by data and led by your activation and creative teams (working in close collaboration with one another with meetings scheduled at least once a month) for it to be successful. Creative strategy must constantly be readdressed throughout a campaign to keep customers engaged with new content. It is by no means an easy thing to do, but is certainly worth the time and effort.

Rhys believes that a lot of brands are defaulting to what they are currently doing rather than testing what is out there, which he sees as a missed opportunity. For example, one of our clients has built a massive brand off of digital marketing and usually default to doing that. However, our client has recently tested digital platforms and direct mail to broaden their reach, and this has worked well for them. It is important to test the waters slowly and then come to conclusions about how you may want to strategise going forwards. Brands are not currently trying out new channels enough and seeing where that gets them, which may be holding back their marketing. If things are going well, you cannot rest on your laurels, but must constantly be adapting to what works well and using data to decide what your next steps may be. Marketers must be given the freedom to test new channels and should set aside some of their budgets to do so. If different channels work well, the budget spent testing them can be put into the main marketing budget and this becomes a cycle of sorts as new channels continue to be tested.

The sixth and final point is that brands can be too short-sighted sometimes, and can focus too much of their attention and budget on the channels that should be driving actual revenue for their business. For example, with paid media you put a media spend against a bit of activity, and this is conveyed in a line of your report. If you have put in, say, £10,000, you will hope to have £40,000-£50,000 in returns which can be attributed to initial ad spend. Businesses often focus on what drives short-term revenue rather than taking a step back and considering what may drive revenue in a year or so. This can be characterised with Nike adverts as an example – customers typically don’t buy Nike products because they have seen an incredible Nike advert on Instagram, but instead because they have had years and years of brand building which has led to their eventual purchase. This doesn’t mean that you should forget about revenue-driving activities, but there are ways that you can measure it and move away from means of doing so like last-click measurement (this consists of looking at what the last thing someone clicked on before purchasing was) and instead looking an attribution model which allows you to fully consider all of your data. This can help you understand individual customers and their journey with your brand with more detail. 

What audience marketing means is giving an audience what they need at a particular point in time. The right kind of user should be sought, and then brought through the journey with lifecycle marketing, so that when they eventually do want to purchase your area of business, you are the first people that they think of. Once new customers are acquired, you must consider how you may build loyalty through strategy, so that you have a faithful customer base over a long period.