S1: E2 Up-level your content for user experience

Hello, welcome back to the Marketing Mindset Club podcast. This is episode two of the first season, and I’m so glad you’re back and tuning in again. And if you’re new to the podcast, welcome to the club, we are just getting going so it’s great to have you here.

The aim of this podcast is to bring together marketers entrepreneurs and business owner managers from all industries and all levels of expertise to learn new things and support each other. So it doesn’t matter what level of knowledge or expertise you think you have or not as the case may be. This is the place to learn and grow. It’s such a turbulent time right now in most industries so it’s more important than ever that we stick together, and learn from each other. If you don’t already know each episode in this season is split into three bits.

  • The digital news bit, and what matters about the top stories
  • The learning bit were all deep dive on a tool or technique or strategy you can use
  • And the real life lessons bit.

So, let’s get going.

The digital news bit

As I’m recording this on the 08 June 2020, the big news this week is that Google has announced user experience will officially become a ranking factor sometime next year. Now, we’ve long suspected that Google was heading in this direction, their goal after all is to and I quote, “organise the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful”. They focused on user experience for some time now, arguably since their inception, but one major ranking shift that I remember feeling the impacts of was caused by the algorithm that later became known affectionately as “mobilegeddon” in 2015, Google, determined yes or no to the question is this page, mobile friendly when assessing any web page, it meant some sites that hadn’t yet prioritised their mobile experience when they had significant volume of visits from search queries on mobile, were badly affected, it didn’t affect desktop searches at that point, and in my opinion that gave some sites with really poor mobile experience, but a high volume of desktop visitors and easy ride, which was fine at the time, but it meant the shock, since then and the speed at which they’ve needed to evolve was intensified.

A year later, Google doubled down on their mobile first ranking signals to boost those pages that answered yes to the aforementioned question, and in 2018, they began switching to a fully mobile first index, and we understand that by September 2020 Google’s entire index will be mobile first mobile is just one aspect of user experience mobile is just one aspect of user experience. Search Engine Land reported this new development as a new ranking algorithm that will come into play in 2021, and it will focus on much more than just mobile. We already know how Google views page experience is made up of several search ranking factors, including the mobile friendly update PageSpeed update the HTTPS ranking boost intrusive interstitials penalty and the Safe Browsing penalty. So it’s no wonder that they are building on their user experience portfolio. They suggest that great content will still bring supreme over a poor on page experience, but pages that could perform better over similar quality content or pages that don’t work well for the user could lose out. And that’s the key takeaway from this, it means that sites that aren’t yet fully mobile friendly, or have a slow load speed, according to Google will likely start seeing their organic positioning eroded what this might mean for you is that you lose out on traffic, you might lose out on conversions, that could really impact your business bottom line.

But, don’t panic, there’s plenty of time before that happens, Google has openly stated on their blog that this new algorithm won’t go live until 2021, and they will give at least six months notice to get ready. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be starting to think about it now because you absolutely should, particularly if you’re in the retail industry if you’re in b2c, you will likely have a large volume of mobile visitors to your site so you should already be prioritising the mobile user experience but if you’re not, then you should definitely get on that as soon as you can.

The reason for me saying that, is that much of the work around the call web vitals which make up a significant part of the page user experience require developer intervention. In order to find out how your site is seen by Google, you need to access your Google Search Console. For those of you not familiar with Search Console. It’s a free tool provided by Google to site owners and webmasters, you can set it up for free. As long as you’re able to verify your ownership of your site. So you just enter into any Search Engine Google Search Console and it will take you there. But the reason it’s so important to do, is that it gives you a window into how Google is treating your site. And you can see things in there like performance. You can see impressions, you can see clicks you can see average position. And it’s the only place now where you can get information about the search queries that people are entering into Google and those that are driving visits to your site. You might be thinking, okay but I don’t really care about Google. Well, unfortunately, you probably should. They still have market share in most countries around the world for search, and I bet that at some point, every prospect customer or partner or contact has entered a search for your brand or business. Getting, and maintaining that prominent position within the search results is absolutely key to ensuring you can be found. And we’re going to delve much more deeply into the process of search engine optimisation over the coming episodes.

But for now, my main takeaway about this update that is coming, is to make sure that your mobile user experience is as optimised as it can be as fast as it can be. Make sure the journey is providing content that users find useful, and you will probably be in a good place.

The learning bit

So, onto the learning bit last week in Episode One, we tackled the SWOT analysis. For those of you who missed it. It’s a simple grid for collating and assessing the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of a business product or service. This week we’re going to complement that tool with the paid owned and earned media framework.

Source: Forrester

It’s a natural progression once you’ve completed the SWOT analysis and helps you work out the optimal marketing mix for your strategy. Consumers rarely find you or interact with you through just one channel in their journey.

So, having a marketing mix across a combination of paid owned and earned media is really likely thinking about your channel mix in this way, allows you to develop reach and influence in your target audience. The language in this framework, paid owned and earned media has been around for many years. But, Sean Corcoran, and I’m sorry if I pronounced that incorrectly identified when he published research for Forrester. Many people have used it to describe different things. So, the definition for each phrase can be ambiguous. For the purposes of explaining it today we’re going to follow his definition and discuss how the original framework can be enhanced for marketing today. Starting with paid media. This is as simple as it sounds. These are channels where the brand pays for exposure. You’re buying reach to get in front of visitors your buying impressions. It includes display ads search ads. And these might be on search engines or content networks sponsorships advertorial content. It can also include offline channels like TV and radio, although both of these channels deliver a significant volume of content digitally these days. It also includes print and direct marketing. If you’re considering offline channels owned media defines the channels that the brand or the business controls themselves. And it can include digital and offline properties, such as websites, apps hosted events, brochures and stores.

So it’s any media and channel where the brand controls both the platform, and the content earned media is traditionally about coverage that has been generated through word of mouth and PR activities like press releases and launch events. But today it’s so much more. It can include social shares blog coverage backlinks forum discussions Reddit posts. There’s certainly still a role for more structured PR activities, but customer advocates and influences are really important to consider. So the benefit of including paid media in your thinking is that it generates an immediate response. You can scale it really easily. You have control over the message you’re delivering, and it can put your message in front of an in market relevant audience, in terms of challenges with this channel group paid media can be very competitive. It can be very expensive. It may sometimes lack credibility, or trustworthiness, and you sometimes have limited control over where your ads and content end up, despite best intentions by the platforms and the advertisers.

Now, the benefits of owned media are exactly what you might think it’s about control of the platform and the message, which means you have control over your costs, you have control over the longevity and you’re able to be flexible with that resource in the future. So you can continue to adapt and evolve it however the challenges are that it takes time to scale. There are no guarantees that you will achieve results in a particular timeframe, and sometimes communicating firsthand from a brand is not the best way to generate trust, particularly if you’re using own channels to address a particular issue earned media has the most amount of credibility with it, according to the Forrester matrix. I’m not sure that’s necessarily true anymore, but it does play a key role in most user journeys at some point. In terms of the challenges. There’s very little control over how your content or brand is presented it does allow journalists and commentators to be negative about your brand or business is difficult to scale on a budget and it’s really hard to measure the return of these activities.

Now you’ll notice that I have omitted, a brand social media channels from any of those three categories. That’s because in my opinion, they’re not a purely owned media platform which is where they might traditionally sit, the brands may control what’s posted to their page or profile, but they don’t control the platform in the same way they do that other owned channels.

For instance, a brand can’t fully control the experience for their fans, they can’t make use of their fans data in the same way they would if it was an owned platform, and the reach is completely controlled by the platform’s themselves, the declining reach of organic Facebook posts from pages has been well documented over the last few years, and it’s now commonplace to expect that any post needs to be boosted or promoted in order to cut through.

So, an interesting enhancement that I’ve seen recently to the paid owned model which is actually really useful offers three additional categories that sit between those three original ones.

Source: LaFra, Medium.com

Between paid and owned you’ve got rented space, which is your content but their rules, and that is firmly, the realm of where social media channels fit, you’re putting your content out but it’s on a platform that’s owned by somebody else you’ve then got endorsed content which sits firmly between owned and earned. And what that means is your assets, but their followers, and that is firmly in the world of advocacy influences. And then you’ve also got boosted posts which sits between paid. And so your impressions, but it’s the lights of the platform is giving you the reason you would use the paid owned and earned framework is as a natural extension to your strategy. It’s a great way of taking the direction you want to go, and refining it into a set of tactics across those three or six channels depending on how you view these categories. If one of the weaknesses you’ve identified in your SWOT analysis is around. Brown following it’s around existing audience, and you’re starting with almost a Greenfield space, then it’s highly likely that paid media is going to form quite a big part of your strategy. If you want to move quickly. You can see this framework in action on campaigns that we encounter every day. An example that I thought I would take you through is the capris and Age UK campaign that launched last year. It was entitled donate your words, and it was a partnership between Cadbury’s and agk to take up the fight against loneliness in later life. Age UK had discovered that 1.4 million older people say they struggle with loneliness and 225,000 often go a whole week without speaking to anybody capris and the agency came up with this concept to take all the words off the iconic purple packaging and call the campaign, donate your words. They also cleverly use the Age UK shop in Ely in Cambridgeshire as a kind of pop up shop where you could buy things with words so they would barter time with promises of elderly companionship, and it got a lot of press coverage, and it helps the campaign continue to grow and exposure long after the media spend on TV was over, though, in order to link this back to your strategy. It’s really important that you know where you’re starting from. So, your SWOT analysis will give you that picture of where. Are you beginning, and from there you can set your goals and understand where you want to get to that paid owned and earned media mix is how you’re going to get there. And you can always learn and adjust as you go. It’s just really important that you start off with your first set of tactics so you know where you’re beginning with that learn and optimise process.

The real life lessons bit

So, onto the real life lessons bit now one thing. My team and I have been trialling for a while, is Spotify self service ad platform. So it was fully rolled out worldwide in April, and since then we’ve been experimenting with various creatives and campaigns, the platform itself is really easy to use, it’s really simple and Spotify themselves will record the voiceover for your campaign. So, you supply some artwork to go with the visual ad, and they will record the voiceover for you so you don’t have to do any audio production any recording. It doesn’t even cost any additional money to have a voiceover made. And that’s really worked well for us because the campaign that we’ve been trialling it in has a very particular audio style that we like. and we’ve gone through three amends with one of the voiceovers and they’ve been extremely accommodating with that so massive thumbs up Spotify, however, is one of the downsides with the platform is that not being involved in the creative process means, there can be this back and forth in getting the audio working correctly. In terms of the delivery of the ads, Spotify search ads to free users of the platform only so Premium subscribers are not included in this, but the Self Service nature of the app centre means that you can set up all of the targeting yourself, and the audio is already there in the account.

So we were able to set up geographic targeting an age bracket that we wanted to look at, upload our custom visual and use the audio that had been recorded by them which was already in the account.

In a similar vein to Facebook, you’re also able to select your call to action, and the platform supports UTM tracking parameters. If you don’t know what they are, they are parameters that can be added to a URL. That means you can track individual creatives in Google Analytics. So, we’ve been testing different versions using different UTM tags and then matching those up with user behaviours on the destination site. The results we’re seeing so far show that we’re getting really good cut through in the younger age bracket that we’re targeting, which is the 18 to 24 year olds, we’re not seeing a fantastic click through rate, just yet, it’s still below naught point 3%, but what we are seeing is that those users who are clicking through from the ads and ending up on the destination site are staying longer than those visitors who are coming from other channels like Facebook and Instagram and Google Display and search.

We’re also seeing that the cost per acquisition in terms of the goal that we’re trying to optimise for is producing conversions at a slightly higher rate than some of the other channels we’re using so it’s still early days we’re still waiting to see whether the lifetime value of those conversions is worth it. but for the ease of distribution and the ease of delivery, I would highly recommend giving Spotify ads, a go right now.

And that’s all I have for you this week. Thank you so much for being part of the marketing mindset club. Thank you to everybody who tuned in having listened to the first episode, and if you’re new to the club I’m so glad that you tuned in. Don’t forget to rate review and subscribe wherever you get your podcasts, it really helps me out, and it helps me and my goal of growing this club and supporting marketers everywhere. I’d love to hear your thoughts, comments and any questions you have.

So head over to the Instagram @marketingmindsetclub, and I’ll see you next time.