Digital Marketing: Still Spending (but Where?)!


Digital MarketingCathy Martine, AT&T’s Executive Vice President of Small Business Solutions said; “U.S. small businesses see incredible value and opportunity in digital marketing and are clearly increasing their presence as a way to gain access to new customers.  With a variety of digital tools such as email, websites and social media, coupled with the ability to both deliver and access them from mobile devices, small businesses are building a new connection without borders.”

Where did Ms. Martine get such optimism for digital marketing?  It seems, last year AT&T took a poll.  They examined 1,000 small businesses coast to coast.  In that study they learned that 66% of small, American businesses plan to devote the same amount or more budget to digital marketing.  This includes but is not limited to: websites, social media and online ads.  The polling also showed that the preponderant majority will grow their online brand through their company website and email blasts to customers, clients and patrons.

Additional money will also be applied in mobile marketing, also considered to be digital marketing, according to the poll.  71% said they are somewhat or very likely to increase their spending on digital marketing via mobile devises like smart phones and tablets.  About one in three are using mobile-friendly websites as a way to attract and engage customers.

In addition, AT&T learned that more than 80% of small business polled would use word of mouth marketing to increase branding awareness and visibility.  On a side bar, 93% of startups, businesses less than 2 years old, intend to maximize word-of-mouth marketing.  I wonder if Twitter is part of their digital marketing plan?

I Have A Digital Marketing Budget.  What’s Next?

So, now that we know that small businesses are going to spend more on digital marketing the next question is where in the digital marketing world should those dollars go?

My first suggestion would be in Website architecture.  An eye-pleasing website design is important to your businesses image but your sites architecture will help dictate how far-reaching your digital marketing presence goes.  Your sites architecture is the way every page of your website links to every other page.  The CEO of High Rankings, Jill Whalen, reports, “poor site architecture can completely kill off rankings, traffic and even conversions.”  She has suggested that small-business owners consider their main categories or products and services and how to organize them within their site’s structure in a logical, search engine friendly order.  She also suggests hiring an “information architect” who specializes in search engine optimization & digital marketing if that’s not a skill you possess.

Once you have an eye pleasing and well structured website my second suggestion would be to invest into SEO (search engine optimization) and PPC (pay per click advertising).  Why?  Because these digital marketing channels offer a significantly higher return on investment (ROI) than traditional marketing tactics.  Skyler Malley, founder of Denver’s  Firestarter SEO, explains, “Because SEO & PPC are highly targeted in terms of geographic location, demographics, and service areas; give answers to people when they are looking for information; and suggest that they use your business at a time when they need it, customers come to you.”

Being that I work frequently on the public relations side of digital marketing and advertising I have learned that press exposure and media coverage is traditionally valued three times higher than paid advertising. This is so because the public views it differently and more reliably.  Thus, it has the potential to deliver greater ROI than traditional marketing, digital marketing and even ousting social media.  With this I would recommend that small businesses owners learn how to pitch stories directly and effectively to reporters by using free tools like SourceBottle, HARO and PubliseekKari DePhillips, owner of the Content Factory says, “we’ve gotten clients media coverage at outlets like the Huffington Post and CNN using these tools, and they’re available to anyone who wants to sign up for them.”  DePhillips adds that, “small business owners should ensure that they have adequate resources for monitoring and responding to media opportunities.”  This is a quality problem to have, I would think.

Finally, once you have a marketable web site with great calls to action, with good SEO,  your PPC campaign is up and flowing, and you are actively looking for mass media opportunities I would suggest a focused social media campaign, which will be covered in our next blog: Real Men Use Pinterest

By Jason Row

Growth Hacker

Husebo Advertising & Public Relations

Growth Hacker Marketing: What Would Don Draper Do?


Marketing + Engineering = Growth hacking

A while back I was hired as the Internet Marketing Specialist (Chief Growth Hacker, ) for a very well established central Florida advertising agency.  After a day or two of settling back into the marketing world again I noticed that no one was really talking to me or asking me anything. No communication at all. So I went into proactive mode and went into my bosses office to talk with him about where we should be taking our digital marketing strategy and how maybe to tie it into our existing traditional marketing strategies. I wanted not only his but also our Vice Presidents opinions and direction on where to take us in 2014. I presented the reports I had pulled from Raven, Sprout Social, Socialbro & Hootsuite thinking that the infographics might make it click with both of them. But, he very honestly and politely looked up at me and said, “Jason, I’m sorry. I know I should but I really don’t understand what you do, but I trust that you do and that’s all that matters right now.” Our VP had left moments before.  I had noticed out of the corner of my eye.  She was probably bored with my manic techno speak and highly motivated to get down with the days overwhelming traditional marketing initiatives.  So I just laughed and walked out because it was pretty funny to both of us.

As I methodically worked to attract new followers on all the usual social media suspects, I spent the rest of the day wondering how someone could hire me and yet not really understand what I do for them and what a powder keg of ROI they are sitting on!

Later on that night, after dinner with my girlfriend and her sons, I shared this same story with her about my day.  What was her response?  Of course; “Honey, I really don’t know what you do either. I don’t get it. How does social media make you money?” To which my response was purely communicated through body language as I slumped down into myself, deflated, and crawled out of the room like a garden slug. My first thought was to slightly raise my voice and say “there is more to Internet marketing than social media!” But, before my passion got the best of me I closed my eyes and murmured my calming mantra. “WWDDD?” (What Would Don Draper Do?) 3 times and then it came to me.  Of course!

I went to the kitchen and 2 dashes aromatic bitters, ½ tsp sugar dissolved with water and bitters, 1½ oz of bourbon, 1 cherry, 1 orange slice, 1 lemon wedge later I was filling a glass with ice and adding a cherry, orange slice, and lemon wedge while pouring in bourbon and serving it to myself on the rocks! That’s an Old Fashioned which, according to Mr. Draper, is “filled with Vitamin C and fruitiness…” Unlike Mr. Draper I spent the rest of the night on the couch trying to justify my professional existence to myself.  How existencial, which I think Mr. Draper might have appreciated.

Between my two new bosses, my girlfriend and many, many others before them, including both my parents I started to feel like I had to justify my professional existence to them.  So, the next day at work, hang over and all, I decided to think about, research and write up all the things a Growth Hacker like myself does, not only for our clients but the agency itself.

In the process I started thinking about the first time I heard the term growth hacker.  It was when blogger, Sean Ellis, coined the term “growth hacker” in 2010.  In a blog post, Ellis defined a Growth Hacker as “a person whose true north is growth.  Everything they do is scrutinized by its potential impact on scalable growth.”

Later on in 2011 I heard the term again when Andrew Chen introduced the term to a wider audience in a blog post titled, “Growth Hacker Is The New VP of Marketing” - Chen wrote that Growth Hackers “are a hybrid of marketer and coder, one who looks at the traditional question of ‘How do I get customers for my product?’ and answers with A/B tests, landing pages, viral factor, email deliverability, and Open Graph.”

According to Fast Company, “growth hackers approach marketing with a focus on innovation, scalability, and user connectivity.”  They have to do this I think because the companies they work for and represent  don’t have the money and they don’t have a traditional marketing background. To combat this lack of money and experience we market with creativity, analytical thinking, and social metrics to sell products and gain exposure. In many cases growth hackers are simply good at using techniques such as search engine optimization, web site analytics, content marketing and A/B testing which are already mainstream. We growth hackers focus on low-cost and innovative alternatives to traditional marketing, such as utilizing social media and viral marketing instead of buying advertising through more traditional media such as radionewspaper, and television.

What is the take away?  Marketing + Engineering + Experimenting = Growth Hacking

Now, I leave you with two questions… Was Don Draper a growth hacker?  When it comes to Internet marketing: WWDDD?

Jason J. Row - Chief Growth Hacker

The 16%ers: Can Banks Afford Internet Marketing?

Internet marketingI spent half of this week in shock and the other half excited when I read, according to The Financial Brand, “84% of banks actively use Facebook as part of their marketing strategy, and most everyone else plans to do the same in the near future.”  84%  thats it?  Why aren’t 100% of them using social media Internet marketing channels like Facebook and Twitter now?  Why wern’t they using it at least 5 years ago?  Then when that shock wore off I got excited about the opportunities this still presents to advertising and marketing agencies who wish to acquire marketing and advertising business from banks and credit unions.  Albeit, these 16%ers are smaller regional and community banks, but still, why did Willie Sutton rob them?  Because that’s where the money is! So back to my shock.  Why are 16% of banks and credit unions not  using Facebook and other social media outlets as laser focused marketing channels?

My first thought was, because they’re cheap!  Let’s face it, they don’t want to spend money on a full time social media professional.  Yes, Mr. Banker, I said full time.  It might only take a few minutes to set up a Facebook Page or Twitter account but to truly be successful your over worked marketing department would have to pull another 40 man hours per week to do any measurable ROI, Internet marketing. Half of that would be for social media marketing alone, not to mention SEO and PPC etc. Most executives I meet underestimate the amount of time and energy it takes to create any kind of measurable ROI producing Internet marketing campaigns. To produce a blog alone takes a minimum of 5 hours per week, and more realistically about 10 to 15 hours. Add another five hours a week for Twitter and another 4 or five for Facebook. When you ad in YouTube video promotions into your social media marketing initiatives, the hours really start to stack up.  Oh!  Let’s not forget to add an hour per week for Pintrest, LinkedIn & Instagram.  Wait.  Forget Instagram for now.  I’m sure bank security does not want a bunch of bank employees posting images of their security weaknesses on line.  Intentional or not!

While doing my marketing research on banks and credit unions I came across a help wanted ad for Fifth Third Bank.  They were looking for a  *Social Media Strategist. The Ohio based bank is “looking for someone to unleash the marketing potential locked within everyday conversations about our brand.”  The bank’s help-wanted ad outlines the position in great detail a blend of both tactical & strategic skills. The candidate must have direct experience with social media tools such as Facebook, Twitter, Flickr and YouTube. On the other hand, the applicant should possess “a strategic vision of the social media landscape and a game plan to infuse social media best practices across all aspects of the business.”  That sounds a little over Stephanie, the marketing coordinator’s, pay grade to me. After my pessimistic speculations on why the 16% were not utilizing social media subsided I began to think about all the things they could do if they did embraced the technology.  What is the point of pointing out the problems to others if it doesn’t have a solution you can offer?

Social media is all about connecting with people, so it’s the perfect tool to show your customers that you’re human. Build trust and add a personal touch to banking by interacting with readers, offering advice and asking questions (not necessarily related to banking). By initiating friendly conversations on your social media platforms, you can establish a virtual community and better connect with consumers.  Most of the 16% of the banks were headquartered the South.  I found that shocking as well.  I thought everyone in Dixie was friendly?  Maybe the people are but the banks aren’t acting like it online.

Another thing banks could be doing is resolving customer service issues publicly.  Don’t fear customer complaints in social media. Instead, embrace using social media as a customer service tool and let your customers know that you’re there to help them online. If a customer posts about a problem they’re experiencing with your products or services, reply to them and help them work through the issue. By engaging with customers online, you can ensure that customer grievances are addressed promptly, and by doing so, convey your commitment to high-quality customer service. Customer privacy is paramount, though, so be sure to keep conversations private if sensitive information is involved.

On Twitter the easiest way is to follow the customer and have them send a direct message.  I have experience with this personally. In another business vertical by a company who will remain nameless: Comcast.  ( ).  It works.  After almost 6 hours of accumulated time between my girlfriend and I (I’m being generous here) on the phone and an hour and a half wait in their office I got angry and Tweeted my frustration.  Within 5 minutes and 7 Tweets back and forth our issue was resolved.  Their traditional, call center customer service was the worst I have ever experienced in my life.   Yet they really understand how to use social media and get issues resolved. This presents well to current customers and offers re-marketing opportunities.  It represents even better to  former customers who may have had a bad customer experience or other issue and presents a re-acquisition opportunity that you would not have other wise.

What I hope you take away is:

  • You can’t just hope to put a few hours a week into your social media projects and expect any kind of success.
  • Social media may be free, but it isn’t easy. There are no short cuts. Just like with anything else, you get out of it what you put into it.
  • If you’re going to take social media seriously, you need a new, full-time position or hire an agency that understands your vertical.

And as always, thank you for reading our blog !

* This person could be called an “Online Community Manager,” “Director of Online Marketing” or a “Social Media Manager”.  Whatever titles are used, expect to see more financial institutions hiring these kinds of people in coming years.