I've worked with accounts of all sizes during my career, but it’s usually been for challenger brands, clients that don’t have all the money in the world, but still have a very good product/service that deserves attention. So I have learnt many tips & tricks of how to be smarter at paid search and essentially help them get the attention they deserve, cost efficiently. I have been sharing these insights on an ongoing basis through my account work, I've shared them with clients and the Adido team, but I've also distilled a few of these thoughts every year at Adido's annual conference.

For the April 2016 Attention Summit, it’s been all about two key themes that have pretty much crossed over into each seminar or talk during the day – the audience and the moment. The digital marketing ecosystem is in continuous evolution and stir, but I personally feel that the realisation of what digital marketing actually is – marketing, in its digital form – is one of the most crucial breakthrough ideas at the summit. This blog post and the next in the series are going to explain why I think that, and why it’s important.

Part 1 – moment marketing distilled

First of all, I’ve been thinking a lot recently about marketing - what is marketing all about?

Digital marketing has come about accompanied by a plethora of buzzwords, technology, ‘geeky’ stuff that only cool guys with big glasses can understand. For this reason, I think it’s evolved into a discipline where common sense is not so common anymore – as digital marketers, we tend to forget what we are meant to do in our roles, we have let technology drive us rather than us using technology as a means to an end goal, and we have become shy of applying deep-rooted marketing practices and concepts for fear that ‘this doesn’t work in digital’ or for the constraint that technology can’t do this.

Ultimately, it’s digital MARKETING – and take any marketing textbook, it will say that marketing is ultimately ALL ABOUT YOU (the company, the brand) exchanging value with your target AUDIENCE in THE RIGHT MOMENT.

Do you know your customer journey?

Offline or online. Mobile or desktop. Your audience doesn’t care, they consume whatever medium is best for them to fulfil their needs. They don’t see a distinct separation between your brand on the screen and your brand in store. They don’t care what budgets you have to invest in a mobile responsive website, in paid search, in organic search, in your logo or in your shop. They follow a journey that will ultimately lead them to the resolution of a need – so do we as marketers appreciate this? And most importantly, can we influence the journey and the touchpoints in this journey, for mutual benefit?

It’s dangerous to believe the customer controls it all – they don’t. If you think about yourself as a consumer and not a marketer, you will see how limited your power actually is, when you come across great marketing. You end up paying £200 for that bag, buy 10 bottles of juice because they were BOGOF and value for money, spend £1,000 in Asos, get into a car finance contract without even having had proper plans to change your car in the first place (every example here is people I know by the way, definitely not me!).

But they do have increasingly more power and it is becoming increasingly more difficult to place them on the right path (buy) and keep them there (be loyal). 2016 and onwards is not about the average digital marketer having a go at the coolest new tech, it’s about the smart digital marketer creating and influencing the brand – audience journeys in a seamless way, using whatever there is at their disposal.

What about these journeys, and the touchpoints in them? Previously understood as very clear cut, big moments and interactions (think AIDA type models), in today’s world they’ve evolved into something very different.

The #1 trend of 2016 is moment marketing. It’s a super fragmented perspective on life, it’s the way we live our lives. Touchpoints become moments, the consumer journey has been fractured into hundreds of real-time, intent-driven micro-moments. Each one is a critical opportunity for brands to shape our decisions and preferences, but each one consists of just a few seconds.

I see two important drivers of this trend:

  1. Mobile - has changed the way we live, what we expect of brands. We have built a very strong relationship with this device, if you don’t believe me, try leaving the house today without it!
  2. ‘Content shock’ – we are in information overload every day, and we are exposed to much more than we can ever possibly assimilate

But even though this sounds like a chaotic view (which it is), there is still a model (or more a set of guiding principles?) that can help us, on the company/brand side, to decipher new consumer journeys, and shape them.

In general, when a purchase journey is undertaken, consumers are looking for a brand to deliver on three things:

  • Intent – brands that give us what we want (even if we know how to formulate our need properly yet or not)
  • Relevance/Context – what we want, how we want it
  • Immediacy – when we want it

A micro-moment world

So in the micro-moment world, people are empowered to dictate what, where and how from brands, but they are still subject to being influenced…

What marketers have at their disposal today in influencing consumers is data and technology – data helps us understand our audience, and technology helps us identify the right audience and the right context, which enables us to offer them the right message and solutions to meet their needs.

Once this new way of thinking is understood, the next step in moment marketing is to plan the customer journey, put everything on paper and in actual context. Google has been propagating this model and I think it’s a very clever way of going back to marketing, back to actually knowing your customer and planning their experience with you.

The beauty of this model, and this way of looking at marketing, is that this way you can’t get carried away. You can’t do what most marketers unfortunately do nowadays, and become a different person when you get into work than the person you are at home. I’ve worked with many clients who said we should definitely go for last action attribution, and every single touchpoint with the brand at every single moment has to wash its own face, because that’s how people behave right? We want the last action click and if that doesn’t happen we get annoyed with ourselves or our agency, because everyone should convert here and now, take one look at my brand and buy, right, because this is digital and it’s so measurable the process definitely won’t behave like real life?

When did you ever make a decision after just one interaction?

When did you ever in your life as a consumer, make a decision just based on one touchpoint? Even impulse point of sale is a touchpoint in a multitude of in store touchpoints – the shop experience, the people working there, the other offers and signposts, the atmosphere, the music, the smells. Everything is a touchpoint. No-one randomly wakes up in the morning, types in ‘digital marketing agency’ in Google and chooses Adido as their partner without any prior knowledge to the subject at all – as much as we would love that! So why would we ever judge ROI solely for the keyword ‘digital marketing agency’ in our account, on this particular day??

I thought it’s useful to end this post with showing you the consumer journey in the context of the real world, so you can appreciate my passion for correct planning and understanding of marketing.

Below is how a conversion journey could actually look like – it’s long, it’s ugly, it’s full of MOMENTS.

This is a quick timeline of search, purely because this should actually be a paid search blog post and my seminar was paid search focused - but imagine there have been 419 digital moments (and possibly many more offline) that required multiple touchpoints, channels and brand interactions.

As Google’s planning model goes, looking through this perspective, you don’t just focus on the last moment (or the zero moment of truth as Google previously called it), because that’s not where preference is built. You need to decide which moments you can’t afford to lose, then how to best tackle each moment.

Each moment will bring you a potential micro-conversion, which in turn will take you closer and closer to your final macro-conversion. And even with that accomplished, the journey doesn’t stop here – you will want to continue your interactions with this person, if you want to be in their considerations the next time and the time after.

Part 2 of this post will go into more detail as to how this all translates to paid search, in my opinion one of the purest forms of micro-moment marketing, and how paid search optimisation techniques have evolved for this purpose.

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