In a world where marketing investment is spread across more channels than ever, it is becoming increasingly important to understand the effects of those channels. Yet many marketers miss out on specific training in managing and measuring multichannel campaigns, including techniques that would allow them to see which sales come from which types of marketing.
The Financial Times Group has worked closely with Google Digital Academy on providing this type of training. In July, the Financial Times (FT) was acquired by Japan’s largest media company, Nikkei, for £844m and the group plans to continue increasing spend on digital. Speaking about the newspaper’s digital strategy, editor Lionel Barber stressed it is important “to adapt or die” in the new media age. Training is at the forefront of the news brand’s digital strategy.
Jocelyn Cripps, the FT’s executive vice-president of global B2C marketing and digital acquisition campaigns, says all the company’s acquisition marketing is multichannel and multi-platform. She explains that the channels used depend on the campaign objectives and the product being promoted, as well as what the FT knows about the target audience, their media consumption habits and other factors such as their region and their level of FT brand awareness.
Cripps believes multichannel attribution is critical but hard work. She says: “I know many companies that have tried and failed — or spent a lot of money developing models that they haven’t been able to turn into revenue generating activities.”
She reveals the FT is in the process of building an attribution model that will inform channel weighting and impact, return on investment and where to spend incremental budgets.
She adds: “Some channels are clearly more effective for awareness and engagement than others, such as video, rich media and display, and others for direct response and conversion, like paid search.”
Benchmarking your digital capability
Google is a key player in digital marketing training, which is inevitable since the brand provides many of the most popular online advertising technologies, including its search engine, analytics, cloud computing and other software.
The Google Talent Revolution survey launched by the Google Digital Academy aims to check organisations’ digital skills and benchmark them against the marketing industry. So far, the FT, Tesco, Unilever, P&G, Vodafone and Cancer Research UK have signed up to take part. The Google training survey runs annually and gives businesses’ marketing a “health check”, providing feedback and suggestions for improvement.
“That’s been really insightful — to show how we compare with other TMT [technology, media and telecommunications] companies in our sector, and also how we rank ourselves,” says Cripps.
She adds: “I’m pleased with the results, which acknowledge our strengths in marketing analytics, digital targeting and metrics and measurement, but there are also areas that need improvement. We’ll be analysing the results further to see where we can improve and where we can support and develop our teams further.”
Cripps is quick to add that the FT group also offers online training to staff. The group has a licence with lynda.com, and also sets up sessions with vendors in areas such as SEO, multivariate testing, and more specific areas, for example HTML programming.
Another way to keep up-to-date with new tech and marketing is through conferences and events, which are a useful way to hear about innovation and to network with peers in the industry to find out about new marketing technologies.
Cripps says: “The FT has several high-profile and highly respected events in this sector including FT Digital Media, FT Future of Marketing and FT Marketing Innovators. There are also plenty of good external specialist ones, such as those run by Econsultancy and General Assembly.”
Emma Robins, marketing manager at UK investment firm Radius Equity, points out that many firms are constrained by budgets and need to seek low-cost options for learning, with self-teaching being a key requirement.
She says: “It’s obviously very important to stay up-to-date in such a fast-paced and fast-evolving industry as digital marketing, but as part of the ‘digital native’ clan, I’m not sure that formal digital training [as opposed to self-study] feels overly important. However, I can’t deny that it would be helpful.”
Robins explains that working for a newly launched startup means she has to be extremely proactive in finding cost-efficient ways of keeping her digital knowledge topped-up and up-to-date.
“There’s a lack of useful digital training courses available. The range seems quite restricted and cost is often a significant factor too, particularly when you take into account the pace of change in the digital space — training courses will only tide you over for so long before it’s necessary to enrol on another one,” she explains.
Another concern for marketing training, particularly for highly regulated industries such as financial services, is evolving sets of rules applying to marketing communications. The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) recently issued supervisory guidelines for using social media for financial promotions earlier this year. The regulatory body sets strict guidelines on marketing of financial products..
Robins notes that there is a lack of training courses for digital skills specifically aimed at the financial services industry. She says: “It would be good to see courses that cater specifically to this sector, particularly with regard to areas such as social media.”
She explains the FCA’s guidance is very much open to interpretation: “I believe it has left a lot of marketers in this sector unsure of things and may have actually helped to further deter people from using social rather than offering clarification and reassurance.”
She recommends marketers should make use of in-house training as much as possible and to keep an eye out for niche industry events such as FSM Digital.
Scott Stevens, head of marketing at BNY Mellon Asset Management, explains one of the biggest barriers when using social media marketing is creating a practical working environment because of the speed at which social media moves.
He concludes that brands are better off taking a dedicated approach to one platform that serves their needs well, rather than feeling compelled to be present across them all (see Q&A, below).
Given the range of different priorities for companies in various sectors, as well as the range of regulatory and budget constraints they must work under, it can be hard to find a training approach that could adequately serve all of them.
It is for this reason that companies and individual marketers need to take a highly tailored approach to designing their own training schemes, looking for sources of specialist knowledge and, to a large extent, teaching themselves.
What are the main challenges in digital training for financial services?
The FCA [Financial Conduct Authority] has published new guidelines for investment management companies – the dos and don’ts for social media. One of the biggest barriers is creating a practical working environment because of the speed at which social moves.
The temptation is to be everywhere – Twitter, Facebook – you are better off working out who your target audience is and developing specific digital properties aimed at them. At BNY Mellon, [we set] key performance indicators so that we can see how much effort goes in, how much it would cost and compare returns.
In terms of digital marketing training what is on offer?
Marketers are learning on the job as we go along because things are so fast moving. Rules [in financial services] are being updated as people become more familiar with the digital journey. We recently had a company called Cognito run a series of workshops about what we want out of digital media, our social media strategy and whether we are doing it for real business benefit. The conclusions were to focus on what you want to do rather than all platforms. Econsultancy [a sister brand of Marketing Week] also allows marketers to take on training in the space.
Do you have any new marketing initiatives in the pipeline?
We are due to embark on a LinkedIn push creating far higher quality content that is aimed at B2B financial advisers. We are finding that 75% of the content that we share they will want to share with the end consumer. It is about helping financial advisers to utilise social media in a business-generating way, giving them content to engage with the audience. A lot of money has been spent to optimise content on LinkedIn and it is going to be our premium platform.
We also have new digital project, Market Eye, which explains how to understand an investment idea in 15 seconds. We focus on the core audience rather than trying to grab everyone. There are those marketers who tend to think more is better [but if you] focus on a particular property or segment, you are far more likely to make it relevant.
As a luxury brand in a global landscape, it is important for us to have a fully integrated approach. All elements need to dovetail across all mediums to create a far-reaching campaign that builds brand awareness and positioning, while generating instant [bookings].
Although online is so easy to track, so much of offline is based on assumption. With that in mind, the bottom line may indicate that budget should be spent where a clear return on investment can be seen.
I strongly believe that any digital campaign will get lost in the noise without an offline awareness strategy to support it, so we continue to invest in offline activity but it is often supported by digital.
For example, engaging key influencers to support positioning may seem like an intangible exercise, but monitoring surrounding social media gives some indication of the wider reach and conversation.
Luxury brands were notoriously late to join and embrace the digital world, as it felt like a challenge to replicate the quality that elevates the brand and retains the exclusivity online.