ClickZ Live Toronto Conference 6 Key Learnings

The ClickZ Live Conference took place last week in Toronto. Established as the leading conference for digital marketers, it is the evolution of the SES Conference, expanded beyond just search marketing to include the fields of social media, display, mobile, and more. Here is a recap of our major learnings fromClickZ Live Toronto.

1. Stop working in silos

The main problem that was shared at the conference was that different marketing strategies are working in silos without sharing with each other the proper information.

Paid, Earned and Owned Media departments still work in silos while companies evolve in a complex environment when they should be working together to achieve collective goals. Even if skills, expertise and languages on these departments are different, they must work in an interdependent way in order to deliver a successful strategy and track their overall impact.

How should the Marketing department manage its team to adapt to today’s complex environment ? The best answer will be to apply the “Agile Methodology” to Marketing. Agile method is “an iterative and adaptive process where small, highly collaborative team work in a series of short cycles, incorporating rapid feedback, to deliver emergent solutions, emphasizing transparency among all stakeholders”.

Agile marketing is recommended to better address the challenges of today’s rapidly shifting market conditions. It allows the marketing team to adapt to today’s fast-changing market conditions, respond to immediate sales needs and improve ROI consistently.

To sum up, the Agile methodology is:

  • Fast: A 15-30 day process to easily adapt to changing market conditions.
  • Focused: Each team member has a clear and specific success metric.
  • Prioritized: Transparency and high level of communication make a rational prioritization.
  • Predictable: Daily Stand ups to help identify and eliminate surprises.
2. Stop managing channels in silos

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The rapid development of technology is creating multi-channels and multi-devices touch points. Those channels should be managed as a system, and synchronized to deliver the best customer experience from awareness to acquisition and retention.

Search is managed by PPC and SEO experts, display by RTB experts, social by Social Media experts and so on. Each digital marketing channel has its own goals, which act separately from one another to maximize revenue, the marketing channels must be aligned and work closely together.

3. Search is the convergence point of Omni-Channel Marketing

An omni-channel strategy is about establishing a series of individual touch points together via channel-to-channel awareness. The goal is to create an uninterrupted holistic experience that drives engagement, purchase, and loyalty.

“For omni-channel marketers, each marketing channel (digital, mobile, television, radio, print) is a touch point for delivering unified brand messages and promotions to consumers in whichever medium they choose”. - Guillaume Bouchard, CEO, iProspect Canada.

Therefore, marketing departments, agencies and other stakeholders have to collaborate and interact as a team with one common global objective.

Search plays an important role in this strategy. Search bridges the gap between intent and action as it is the initial point of convergence between brand perception and the transaction.

4. Adjusting your digital marketing investment across channels is the key to digital performance

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As you have probably already noticed, some channels generate more direct conversions than others. Indeed, the latter are channels that help initiate the purchase contrarily to those that close the sale. The cost per acquisition will therefore be higher for those that initiate the purchase. It is important to note that working with all channels is crucial for the success of your online marketing campaign. The main problem though is knowing how to better invest your money across mediums and gain maximum ROI.

Knowing where to invest is not always easy since there is a constant need of knowing the actual impact of each channel throughout the purchase path. This is why there were plenty of presentations about attribution modeling, how to implement it and what to do with its data. According to Google, an attribution mode is the rule, or set of rules, that determines how credit for sales and conversions is assigned to touchpoints in conversion paths.

Achieving a good attribution model is not easy. They recommended to start somewhere and improve the model throughout the process. As I have read before,

There are several things that should be considered when implementing an attribution model, among them we have:

  • Understand customer behavior onsite and offsite.
  • Understand how the various channels interact with each other during the consumer purchase path.
  • Track each channel correctly.
  • Use the right tools to collect good and useful data.
5. Conversion Rate Optimization is a better way vs a complete website redesign

According to Chris Goward, Co-Founder and CEO of WiderFunnel Marketing Optimization, only 24% of companies are happy with their website redesigns. There were many suggestions about starting your website redesign process with small changes and then move to a complete redesign once you have tested and verified that the small changes are performing well. It was also mentioned that when you proceed to many changes at the same time, you will not know which one affected the performance of your website.

This is why agencies should propose evolutionary site redesign based on small changes at a time. One of the most important parts of the process is to understand the mindset of your customers before launching a test. Then we need to know what we are testing and how are we measuring this test. Also, there is a level of confidence that has to be achieved in order to make a good decision and not one based on chances. The level of confidence should be decided in the process, i.e. 90%, 95%, etc.

Also, practitioners should focus on 6 important factors when redesigning a website:

  • Value Proposition: It has to be visible quickly to your customer.
  • Relevancy: The information has to be relevant and in order to your customer.
  • Clarity: Your design and information has to be clear.
  • Call to action: They need to be added and highlighted on the website.
  • Anxiety: Consumers stress when they are not able to find the information easily, make sure this is not your case.
  • Distraction: Reduce the distractions on your website.

Agile methodology was also highly recommended for website redesign because testing is an ongoing profit center. Marketing teams should be trained to take risks, make mistakes and learn from them as fast as possible. The success of innovations cannot be predicted, and marketers might have an idea of how certains tests will perform, but the fact is that, no one will ever know until they test it.

6. Social does have an impact on Search

Social plays an important role on your customers, since it allows you and them to engage in different conversations. It also contributes to building familiarity, proximity and positive associations. Sometimes, social channels are the first interaction a consumer has with your brand.

With the increase usage of these social sites like Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Vine, Snapchat, Google has started to take social signals into consideration when determining a website ranking and, as expected, Google+ has one of the highest social correlation to increasing your ranking on Google, since posts are indexed faster than other social media posts.

If your content is good and it invited consumers to share it, Google will understand that you are doing things properly and reward you for it.

Google+ combined with Google places has a big impact on how your website appears on search results. Refer to the image as a reference:

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This allows you to have more presence in the SERPs increasing the chances that you will get the click.

The major learning we had from this conference is that testing is still the most important thing to do on digital marketing, either on paid, earned or owned media, marketers will never know if something will work until they test it. Obviously, you need to track the performance of those tests in order to be able to make the right decision. Also, all marketing departments need to align their efforts and work in collaboration because everything one does, impacts the other and this is why an attribution model is recommended.

As it is always expected in digital marketing, there are a lot of new things to try and test. Performance is related to specific industries, websites and budgets, so what worked for someone else might or NOT work for your company. This is why it is important to start your digital marketing strategy somewhere and continuously improve it according to your KPIs.

This post was originally written by Mehdi Fehri. Corina Marcano also contributed to the post.