Category: Digital

Email Marketing: don’t call it a comeback

Gary Vaynerchuk often harks back to 1997 when his wine business’ email open rate was 91%. Since then he says marketers have ruined that channel for all of us. Email open rates are no longer knocking on the door of 100% but we can’t say email marketing is dead. It still has a place to drive impact for businesses. 

Recently more and more marketers talk about the website visits and business outcomes that short email lists can generate compared to much larger Twitter followerships. People are falling back in love with email because the stats are positive. 

Seth Godin refers to permission marketing which has become the byword for modern marketing. 

Permission marketing is the privilege (not the right) of delivering anticipated, personal and relevant messages to people who actually want to get them.

It recognizes the new power of the best consumers to ignore marketing. It realizes that treating people with respect is the best way to earn their attention.

If someone gives their email address you have permission to contact them as long as you deliver on the promises made when you captured their details. Continue to be valuable and there should be no reason for someone to stop receiving your messages. 

When I graduated many moons ago I signed up to a job board specialising in graduate jobs. To this day I receive a weekly email with top graduate jobs… (I haven’t unsubscribed as I want to see how long this goes on for.) If this company had started sending me jobs from an affiliate job site featuring more relevant opportunities or recommended I signed up to another job board and charged per lead they would have generated revenue and at the same time been more valuable to me. As it stands they can do nothing for me, and I can do nothing for them.

Email marketing hasn’t gone away so let’s not call this a come back. Take some time to reassess: are you still relevant and are you still delivering on the initial promise you made? Check the data and if you are, then the results should follow.

3 reasons content marketing is still important for recruitment marketing

Content is King. We know. We’ve been hearing it for the best part of eight years.

But still so many recruitment companies aren’t focusing on creating unique content as part of their strategy. Here are three reasons why it is still important.

1. Search Engine Optimisation

If Google isn’t one of the top sources of traffic to your business you are probably in trouble. Still in 2017 the best way to rank within the search engines is to create good quality content specific to the search queries your target audience are looking for. So if you are trying to drive applications for “site manager jobs in Plymouth” how well does your site rank for that term? If it doesn’t, then start creating content around each of those key terms and the phrase as a whole.

Not fussed about ranking organically? Well if you are investing in pay per click and Google Adwords the more relevant your website content the cheaper it becomes to advertise.

2. Social Media

Referrals to websites from social media have increased dramatically over the past few years. And this will be the same for your business if you are creating content regularly.

When looking to grow followers on social media, creating a reason for these people to come back time after time is key. That reason is content.

Check out these key metrics to measure social media.

3. Content Convinces

Unless you are the only business doing what you do and your audience has no alternative then you need to convince people to work with you. Content will allow you to convince candidates, clients and future employees that you are the business for them.

The best recruitment marketers are those who are able to use content to persuade. Whilst a recruiter can do this on an individual level a marketer can do this at scale.

You know content is fundamental to digital marketing so create some today.

Looking for ways to start? Check out this framework.

Toe-dipping marketers don’t finish first

Digital marketing is measurable and you can scale up from a small start.  You can test to your hearts’ content.

Dip your toe.  Try this.  Optimise that.  Tweak this.

Dip your foot.  Optimise.  Tweak.  Try a bit more.

Dip your ankle…


“Don’t bunt.  Aim out of the ball park.  Aim for the company of immortals.”

David Ogilvy


When your competitors tested it a while back and are today using it successfully what are you actually “testing”?  Are you testing the platform, the product, the channel? Or are you testing your own ability to use them effectively?


Digital marketing doesn’t need more testers of the mainstream – especially not in saturated markets.  Marketing needs a hero to do it bigger, better and have more impact.


So when they are swimming laps and you are still dipping your toe it is unlikely that you are going to win the race.

Swimming pool

Are we social media sheep?

Marketing is getting the right message to the right people.  In social media to get the message out to the right people we need to think about two elements: building our follower base, getting our followers to share our message.

The first; building your followers, focuses on building an organic reach.  This is an audience of individuals who have said, “Yes I am interested in what you have to say and I am an advocate.”

The second; getting followers to share, is often referred to as your earned reach.  You improve your reach as more connections of your followers see your message through social sharing.  The quality of your message will dictate your success.  This reach is potentially unlimited.  Viral marketing is based on this concept.  On LinkedIn roughly 33% of company status updates are seen from an earned audience – people who are not currently following that company but have seen it through their connections sharing, liking or commenting on that update.

The more followers you generate, the easier it is to gain even more followers.  And the more your content gets shared and distributed by your followers the more likely future shares are to occur.  The opposite is also true – if you post poor content and receive no interactions it is hard to suddenly generate engagement… but that is another story.

There are three psychological factors that are behind this concept:

1.    The Fear of Missing Out
Fear of missing out (or FOMO) is a form of social anxiety.  This is especially associated with modern technologies such as mobile phones and social networking services.

2.    Social Proof
Social proof is where people assume the actions of others in an attempt to reflect correct behavior for a given situation.

3.    Bandwagon Effect / Cultural Phenomenon
The bandwagon effect is where the rate of uptake of beliefs, ideas and trends increases the more that they have already been adopted by others.

The Fear of Missing Out
To make the most of the Fear of Missing Out you need to demonstrate why people should follow you.  Explain what it is you are doing to improve their life, and in recruitment marketing specifically, how are you influencing and improving someone’s career.  Are you opening them up to opportunities?  What might they miss out on if they don’t follow you?

Social Proof
If people assume the masses can’t be wrong then you can take advantage of this by generating high volumes of followers which in turn makes it easier to generate more followers still.  Getting yourself added to directories and lists of people to follow will serve as evidence that you are someone that others revere and are interested in.

Recently Facebook optimised videos in their news feed to take advantage of this.  You can now see how many people have watched videos, and as the numbers of views increase, this small design tweak will drive up still more video views and help content to go viral.

Facebook view counter

Bandwagon Effect / Cultural Phenomenon
You have a window to accelerate your success early on in social media.  Being the first to do something increases the likelihood of people wanting to be involved with your brand.  Everyone loves something new and exciting.  When Twitter and Facebook first launched people would follow everyone and everything, whereas today we are more selective as the initial novelty has worn off.

Have your competitors beaten you to the punch and have they all started using tools or platforms that you haven’t?  You have a window of opportunity to get in before it becomes harder to generate followers.

The first advertisement on Instagram was posted by Michael Kors, and as they were the pioneers they sparked such interest that in 18 hours they had acquired in excess of 34,000 new followers.  Being the first to market has its benefits!  Being too late to the party means that people may well already have made their allegiances and you may struggle to achieve success organically.

5:15 PM: Pampered in Paris #MKTimeless

A photo posted by Michael Kors (@michaelkors) on

With each of these elements there is an opportunity.  Start looking at your marketing strategy to establish how these psychological factors can improve your social media strategy.  The more you focus on the bandwagon effect, FOMO and social proof the easier it is to grow you organic reach and generate more followers as well as improve the likelihood of these individuals sharing your content.

How Often Should I Post?

Is frequency in social media posting important?  Yes of course it is.  If the last Tweet or blog post was about the Christmas party in 2001 you are in trouble.  But should you be focused solely on the frequency of your posts?

No, you should be more worried about the quality of your posts.

Understand how often you share content on social media whilst still maintaining a high level of quality.  This should equate to strong levels of engagement.

Sustaining a good engagement score is imperative.  If you use social media monitoring tools such as Klout or SproutSocial be aware of the level of engagement you are generating.  If posting to LinkedIn or Facebook as a business (either via a Company Page or a Facebook Page) you should keep your eye on the engagement numbers (clicks and social actions as a ratio to impressions) of your company status updates and posts.
Engagement Score Decline
Regardless of the actual score you get in Klout or the numbers on LinkedIn, be sure to spot trends.  Are you gaining less followers (percentage growth) and is your engagement score heading down?  Then you need to stop everything.  Cease and desist.  Use this time to assess what you are doing wrong.  An individual post which gets weak engagement or a blip in your Klout is acceptable; as long as it is an anomaly.  If you start to see this as a trend which consistently dips without coming back up, then you need to worry.

A dropping engagement score is very hard to pick back up.  Think about the experience that you are giving your Followers, connections and fans…

  1. They read your content.
  2. It is poor quality or irrelevant.
  3. They read your content.
  4. It is poor quality or irrelevant.
  5. They don’t read your content again.

“There’s an old saying in Tennessee – I know it’s in Texas, probably in Tennessee – that says, fool me once, shame on – shame on you. Fool me – you can’t get fooled again.”
George W. Bush – speech in Nashville, Tennessee, September 17th 2002

Your target audience doesn’t have infinite time to waste on trivial content.  There are over 400million Tweets sent every day, over 2billion status updates seen a week on LinkedIn, 100 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute.  You aren’t the only person they are following.  They can get better content elsewhere.  They have moved on.

You’ve just been Unfollowed.

Efficient Isn’t The Same As Best

We are obsessed with improving how efficient we are.  When an FMCG company is bought the first things the new owners do is look to cut costs through supply chain efficiencies, redundancies (workforce efficiencies) and economies of scale (purchasing efficiencies).  It is a way of squeezing higher margins from the same products.  Bigger margins equate to bigger profits.  Everyone is a winner right?  Well, maybe the shareholders win… at first at least.  Rarely do these efficiencies actually make those products better or more appealing for their existing or new customers.

But what if we start thinking beyond our pockets and our ever-ticking watches?  Delivering shareholder value through cost-cutting often results in a short term fix which is not sustainable long-term.

Look at Tesco and the recent horse meat scandal.  Tesco cut costs, cut costs, cut costs.  Raising their margins on meat meant having to find new supply chains which eventually meant losing control over the quality of their end product.

Tesco Horse Meat Scandal

Trust of Tesco’s bargain meat is at an all-time low and customers who can afford an alternative are voting with their feet and spending their money elsewhere.  In fact the horse meat scandal wiped £300m off Tesco’s market value.  The shareholders aren’t so happy with that.

Cutting costs in a bid to be more efficient eventually meant being less effective as a business.  The short-term increase in profit margins from meat is today offset by the fact that people aren’t buying from Tesco.

When Henkel in Germany, quickly followed by Unilever in the UK, first launched toothpaste pumps in the early ‘80s everyone thought it would revolutionise the toothpaste market.  “Death of the tube!” was proclaimed.  It was innovative; it made getting toothpaste out of the tube simpler and shaved milliseconds off your daily oral hygiene routine.

Although it was marketed as being economical due to the fact that each squeeze was consistent, and simple as an application, the problem came because instead of leaving just a tiny fraction still in the packaging – which happens with traditional toothpaste tubes – people where leaving over 12% behind in the tube which eventually ended up in the bin.  12% after 12% after 12% adds up.

Colgate Toothpaste Pump

In addition to the wastage there was also the increased cost.  Toothpaste at the time was roughly £1.00 for 125ml from traditional tubes, but with the toothpaste pump it went up to £1.20 for 100ml.  That is 50% more expensive.  And that is a lot to ask when the consumer is getting less out.

Was the toothpaste pump efficient?  Well, yes from a time and ease of use perspective, but if your objective was to make brushing your teeth cheap and less wasteful then it was a huge failure.

The same thing happens every day in marketing.  Time efficiency and cost efficiencies aren’t always able to deliver the results we want.

I use Hootsuite to schedule the vast majority of my Tweets.  It is an incredible time saving tool.  I can spend my commute reading articles and then schedule the interesting ones to be posted on Twitter throughout the coming days.  This means that I don’t have to keep manually going on to Twitter and sending something out or sending multiple posts out at the same time.

Hootsuite is amazing.  I highly recommend that everyone uses something like Hootsuite or Buffer to schedule your Tweets and social media posts.  However I know that if I want to make a big impact with a specific post I need to manually login to Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn to post my updates.  The wording, the length of the post and the images need to be done differently on each platform to get as many views, clicks, shares and interactions as possible.  To be more effective I need to pass up some of this efficiency.

On LinkedIn I can post a status update and send it directly to my Twitter account.  But I haven’t got a character limit on LinkedIn so I’m likely to exceed my 140 characters for Twitter and not realise.  Now I’ve made my Tweet look messy and difficult to read.  To be more effective I need to pass up some of this efficiency.

Similarly, with job multi-posting tools we aren’t always being as effective as we would want.  When you are sending a job to LinkedIn you are sending it onto a platform where the audience is 80% passive.  That means that people are going to interact with your roles in completely different way to how they interact with your roles on a job board where they are almost always 100% active.  The message to an active job seeker needs to be different to what a passive job seeker is interested in seeing.  Realistically if I want to see better results I need to think about my audience and write job descriptions accordingly.  To be more effective I need to pass up some of this efficiency.

Look at your objectives as a business – how efficient and how effective are you at achieving these through your current marketing activities?

Vintage weighing scales

If you are just looking at cutting cost or saving time you might be missing out on the opportunity of yielding the results you want.  Thinking back to the toothpaste pump; how much are you leaving in the tube as a result of trying to make everything quick and easy?  How many loyal customers are you driving away by making your product and service so cheap to produce that it is unrecognisable to your target audience?

“Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.”
John Wanamaker 1838 -1922.  Marketing pioneer.

It is difficult to attribute sales success directly to advertising and marketing. Although not all of your advertising is being effective or potentially efficient is it time to just switch everything off?   Efficiency and effectiveness can be looked at through many different lenses so I’m not saying that there is a hard and fast rule that every business should follow; however purely looking at how to make things easier, cheaper and faster isn’t going to be the answer.

Of course you must run your business efficiently so as not to waste your money or your time.  It would be absurd to claim otherwise.  We only have 24 hours in a day and a finite amount of money after all.  Yet there is a balance to be had between efficiency (cost and time), effectiveness and the final results you wish to achieve.  I urge you not to measure efficiency without first understanding how effective you are being.  Don’t be efficient to the detriment of achieving real success.

5 Steps to Making the Right Mistakes in Marketing… and How to Fix Them

The biggest fear you have in your company today is making a bad decision.  In the corporate world a bad decision can wipe millions off your share price, cost you your clients, get you fired, or maybe all of the above.  We are programmed to fear making mistakes.  When prehistoric man made a mistake it could have cost them their life.  Fear is natural.

The problem with fear is that it makes us want to play safe.  Playing safe in business means falling behind; it means that you aren’t innovating.  Playing safe in the corporate world can wipe millions off your share price, cost you your clients, get you fired, or maybe all of the above.  We are programmed to fear making mistakes.  But every now and then we need to put ourselves on the line and risk it.

“Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.”
George Bernard Shaw

Progress comes from trying new things.  If we don’t try new things we will never change, never improve and, as a business, never be more successful.  Making mistakes in marketing can be quick and, thankfully, due to the nature of digital marketing it can often be fixed.Innovation Adoption Lifecycle

Today we all talk about Big Data.  We have more information than ever before and whether you are a business professional making decisions about your company’s strategy or a consumer wondering what to buy you can use the endless reports, focus groups or spread sheets to help you.

But does this help?

Not every time.  You can only report on what has happened historically and make assumptions based on that environment and those sets of circumstances.  But what about today?  What about your client or customer base?  How will they react?  No matter how much data you have about historical events you can’t guarantee what will happen in the future.

Operational Decision Making IBM

Here is how you can make your mistakes… and learn from them fast.

1.  Have a hunch and research it.
Having an idea is the hardest part of this process.  Spend the majority of your time finding out what you want to achieve and what you can do to get there.  You will find that you have a hunch of what might work.  This idea may be unique and creative, logical and straightforward or stolen from someone else.  Whatever you think might work; write it down.  Then do your research.  Ask people what they think of your idea get them to pick holes in it, improve it and tweak it.  Have you got case studies where it has worked in the past?  Learn from these.

2.  Roll out your idea.
Even if the odds are stacked against you – if you are convinced that your idea will work – you should go with it.
Make it happen.  Be bold.  Don’t test this idea in such an isolated way that it is bound to fail, or could appear to fail because it won’t impact enough people to see measurable results.  You need to gamble here.  Go big enough to get the information you need to know how you can improve your idea or kill it.  If you can, start to A/B test – where you run two similar ideas in tandem and find out which is best.

3.  Set your deadlines and know when to cash-out.
Know when your “best” ideas need to be killed off.  This might be painful for you as you may have invested, time, effort and credibility in this effort.  It is better to know when to stop than to carry on regardless.

4.  Kaizen 改善.
Kaizen is Japanese for “improvement” or “change for the best”.  It refers to a philosophy or practice that focuses upon continuous improvement of processes in manufacturing, engineering, business management or any process.  At this point in your process you need to be refining what you have started out with.  Continue to optimise your marketing strategy based on the feedback and the data at your disposal.  If you are A/B testing then keep running with the most successful idea and create another test to see if you can further improve on what you have done.

5.  Go again.
Come up with a new idea.  Roll with it.  Test it out and continue to improve on it.  Don’t stop innovating.  You will die if you stop (metaphorically).  You will get fired if you stop (literally).  You will not be successful unless you try new things.


You can either make a decision based purely on data – or you can make a decision and improve it based on the data.

What would you you do: Follow the numbers or go with your gut?


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