On 11 August, we hosted a virtual masterclass on engaging your audience through social, digital and email. The Work Crowd’s co-founder Madeleine Weightman was joined by a panel of marketing experts, including Amy Hewis, Jadis Tillery, and Rebecca Nichols (bios below) to talk all things engagement. We covered everything from knowing what your customers are searching to adapting your message quickly during a crisis (and post) as well as lots of practical tools and tips around mobile video content and email marketing and automation. Read on for all the highlights.
Our expert panel:
Amy Hewis - Amy has worked with brands such as Amazon Prime Video, BBC, Honda, Google, Nationwide and Estrella Damm, as well as smaller and start up businesses. Since March 2018 Amy has been running her own business offering an end-to-end social media solution, from consultancy, strategy and creative through to paid social, content planning and copywriting.
Jadis Tillery - Jadis has an extensive global background in marketing strategy over 20 years for a variety of industry sectors and company sizes driving digital innovation and impactful business transformation through marketing.
Rebecca Nichols - An experienced Marketing Director with over 20 years experience in multi-channel environments, working on some of the UK’s best-loved brands including Harry Potter, Barbie, PepsiCo, Organix babyfoods and Liz Earle skincare. Rebecca is skilled in marketing strategy development, branding, consumer marketing and retail.
AMY HEWIS, social media strategist and consultant Adapting your message post-lockdown
It's definitely been a crazy year so far. Businesses have had to adapt quickly to government guidance and the ongoing situation. As have consumers - right from the beginning of lockdown, there was a surge in people downloading Houseparty and Zoom and doing virtual quizzes with family and friends.
Even though now we are being encouraged to go out a bit more, we still need to be mindful of how people are feeling and it’s still a very uncertain time. The key thing for businesses, with social and digital in particular, is to be sensitive to what’s happening and react in a nimble way.
One trend that we are seeing is that online usage has grown with 70% of people spending more time with their smartphone. That puts us as digital marketers in a strong position. But we need to make sure that we are using the right platforms and resonating with people where they are at the right time with the right content.
Another trend that we've seen over the last few months is how important community and togetherness is. There's always been a lot of cynicism around social media and how it can affect people's health, however, 57% have said that social media has helped them feel less lonely during lockdown and that's a really positive thing.
And finally, the tone has definitely changed over the last six months. There's been more of a focus on authenticity. People want to see honest content that they can relate to and that relatability is important because it's going to make your content more shareable. People also expect brands to care but you have to show it - not just put a statement out there saying you care. Prove it with your actions and your campaigns.
What does this mean for your business or clients?
Firstly, you have to be sensitive to how people are feeling; not just customers and consumers in general, but partners, employees, everybody is in this together. Secondly, think about how you can create a sense of community. How can you spread some positivity with your audience, customers, network, etc. Thirdly, how can you shake up your offering? Is there anything that you can do or give that you haven’t been able to before? And finally, reevaluate your strategy. Now is probably as good a time as any to get the strategy documents out and think about your tone of voice and your content themes or content pillars. Are they still relevant or do you need to reshape them for the moment that we’re in?
Knowing where to focus your efforts
Social and digital can be a bit of a minefield because there are so many avenues that you can go down - it can be overwhelming at times. It’s best to focus on one or two platforms and get those working really well for you before you think about other platforms or activations.
Here are a few simple tips to help you focus your efforts:
Owned, earned, and paid media distribution
Hopefully you already have some strategies in place, but if not, here are some tips for amplifying your message through the three main types of media to help you reach people at different touch points across the customer journey.
Tips for owned media amplification:
Tips for earned media amplification:
Tips for paid media amplification:
JADIS TILLERY, global digital content strategy director Optimising Organic Social - 3 actions to take today
If you aren't in the habit of regular content performance reviews, start now. I recommend monthly detailed reports and weekly high-level informal updates based on content that's performed really well and content that hasn't worked so well.
There are a number of free or low cost social media content scheduling tools that also offer recording, and most of them have a demos and free trials. I would encourage you to explore what is in the marketplace and make sure that the platform that you're using is fit for your purposes - not just the content management side, but the reporting as well.
If you decide not to use a content management system, you can pull all the insights manually. It’s more time consuming, but there are many platforms that will give you detailed insights on important metrics, like engagement. Then determine a period of time, say three months, to monitor the engagement levels and set a benchmark that is in part reflective of what's happening in the industry and in part reflective of where you are in the stage of your business.
If you aren't aware of Google Search Trends, I'd encourage you to go and take a look. Essentially, it aggregates search volumes of different terms, and you can customise your searches based on regions, time frames, demographics, etc. It really helps with planning content for organic results. Research what questions people are asking in your region that’s relevant to your business and look to answer those questions with your content. Make sure that all of the content you're writing is orientated with performance in mind. In organic social, it's all about starting a conversation. And don’t forget to optimise the length of your posts for your platform.
Mobile video was a huge trend in organic social media before COVID, but it's come to the fore even more during the pandemic with a lot of brands adapting quickly to stay connected to their communities. Daily Instagram lives, for instance, are huge right now.
If you’re shooting on your mobile phone, you want to make sure you have the best possible set up. There are some many options for mobile reporting kit - from high end to budget. You want to think about a light source, an external microphone to pick up audio as clearly as possible, and I’d encourage you to have a two camera set up for vertical and horizontal depending on what platform you’re going on (you could use a laptop for the horizon shoot and set up your mobile phone for the vertical shoot).
Think about the stories that you’re creating to answer those Google Search questions in a meaningful way. When it comes to storytelling, there are some universal principles. I’ve highlighted two courses on the free platform Skillshare which I’ve actually used in training. They’re just 30 minutes and provide lots of practical tips. The first one is storytelling for leaders and it’s great for understanding how to create a storyboard, how to tell a cohesive story from end to end so that it resonates and connects with people on an emotional level. The second is coming from the editor’s perspective, so thinking about your cuts before you shoot a piece of content. Ultimately it saves you a lot of time if you're editing the video yourself or saves you a lot of money if you're working with a video editor.
If we’re shooting on mobile, why not edit on mobile too? Here are a variety of editing and after effects tools for your mobile device so you won’t need to shell out for the full adobe suite.
Build responsive teams
Regardless of how large your organisation is, it’s important to understand how to embrace digital first thinking to allow you to be hyper responsive. Find your digital champions - they may not come from your marketing and tech teams. Think broadly across product, sales, customer service and find those people to champion digital first.
I like to hold town hall sessions to talk about the vision of the business and how digital fits within it. Then allow your people to contribute ideas to that longer vision to meet the needs of the business. Keep an eye out for the people who are already using social very well because they can be a huge asset.
Here are a few more tips to build a responsive team:
REBECCA NICHOLS, marketing director Email marketing & automation
Why email marketing? Because it works. A recent survey showed that 73% of people want businesses to communicate by email and marketing are saying that email is one of their largest sources of ROI. And specifically over the last 12 months, marketers have seen huge increases in email engagement.
According to HubSpot, 44% more emails were sent during COVID and open rates are up 40% as well.
How can it help you?
But to get results, email requires an investment in time. It’s not something that you should just pass to a junior team member. It’s complex. It requires time and effort to get the email and messaging right and ensure it’s successful.
Building your email list
The key thing here is that you want to grow engagement not size. It’s the same thing we see with social and the rise of micro-influencers. Their followings might be smaller but they are a lot more engaged and loyal. That’s what you want from your email list. You want to build a community that’s engaged and that’s part of your brand.
Here are some tips for how to do that:
Recommended read: DO/OPEN/How a simple email newsletter can transform your business (and it can) by David Hieatt. This is a fantastic book and it’s really easy reading and bite sized information. He says, “For me, the newsletter is the most important tool I have in building a global denim business. Second only to the sewing machine.”
Email automation is effectively emails that are sent based on triggers, for example, a purchase or an elapsed period of time. So if your customer hasn't purchased for a month or two, you would have an automation set up to trigger an email to them saying ‘Hello, have you run out of xx product? Now is a great time to buy.’ That way you don’t lose customers and you stay in their mind.
Some reasons to use email automation:
A few top workflows for e-commerce:
Email automation software options:
How can we help you?
Thanks for reading! If you are looking for expert freelance talent to help you drive your business forward during these uncertain times, please do get in touch with our team at The Work Crowd. We are a community of marketing and communications experts and we’d be happy to discuss your needs and connect you to the right professionals in our network.