Join our team!

We are looking for a Community Manager.

Are you a social media whizz who would like to join dvo as a part time Community Manager? 

dvo delivers its work supported by a Roster of talented on-demand creatives, developers and everyone in between. We tap into talent when they’re needed which keeps things efficient for the brands we work with. As we grow, we are developing further in-house services that will work across our consulting projects. The first of which is social media.

We are looking to add a Community Manager to the core team to cover social media delivery and development for our clients. 

If you think you fit the person spec below, we’d love to hear from you.

We require someone with the following expertise:

  • Experience across all main social media platforms to produce engaging and well-designed social posts which are on brand for each of our clients, as well as some internal social media to promote DVO. Clients mainly use Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram, however depending on future clients, will require experience or desire to learn new and developing platforms.
  • Strong photography and videography skills (not at a professional level but confident creating content relevant for social) for social posts that require imagery and videos.
  • Using design and editing software (Canva, Adobe Suite etc.) to create visually engaging posts for social platforms.
  • Confidence in engaging with members of the community and bringing people into the community in order to grow impact and build brand awareness of clients.
  • Strong copywriting skills to write engaging content for social posts.
  • Monitors trends on each platform and in each sector to produce the best content.
  • Strong research skills to work with consultants to develop content around themes and calendar content to further develop engagement.
  • Confident producing regular reports that will feed into wider agency work for each client, and work with consultants to agree KPIs which will be regularly reviewed.

Personal attributes:

  • Flexible in their style and able to juggle a number of different tasks at once for multiple clients.
  • Strong communication skills with consultants, clients and suppliers to build  relationships and support the growth of the business.
  • Keen attention to detail.
  • Analytical mind with a focus on meeting KPIs.

The role will be varied within your social media delivery, so we are looking for someone creative who enjoys the challenge of working with early start ups and more established organisations. The role is a remote position, but we are ideally looking for someone who can travel to London when needed.

Please apply by sending your CV and a cover letter outlining why you are suitable for the role to laura.hine@dvoagency.co.uk by midnight 8 November 2021. Interviews will be held the week after via Zoom so please also share your availability in your application. We look forward to hearing from you!

Job spec

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Content strategy, start to finish.

This week we take on content strategy in all it’s glory.

Always-on social content strategy is a core discipline that is squarely on both brand and agency agendas, and rightly so in our humble opinion. But most of the content marketing conversation we see focuses on the tactical delivery and technology surrounding content, so we thought we’d put forward how we develop a content strategy, or any other strategy for that matter. It’s always a vitally important step but is so often overlooked or fails to align with the wider brand marketing strategy and that’s very risky, whether you’re a start-up or seasoned brand.

We’re staunch advocates of a rigourous approach to everything we do, especially when developing strategy and we want you to be too. Why? Because you’re probably being bombarded everyday with the next tool or simple process that promises little effort and work for massive results and I’m here to tell you that this simply isn’t true. None of the really successful brands, new or old, got where they are by cutting every corner imaginable, that’s not how the world works.

In the post we’ll cover everything, including:

  • Setting objectives
  • Research
  • Uncovering insights to inform your strategy
  • Segmentation of data
  • Persona building
  • Customer journey mapping
  • Strategy
  • Creative and how to think about a long idea for content
  • Co-creation and UGC
  • How this is delivered and structuring a content calendar
  • Media planning to inform distribution
  • Activation, management and refinement

It’s a lot to get through so grab a cuppa and hold on to your hats!

Setting objectives

Before doing anything, it’s really important to have some goals in mind. Building a customer-centric marketing strategy with content at its heart is brilliant and highly effective. It’s going to give you the edge over your competition if they’re not, because connected consumers are more likely to buy things from you if you put the right content in front of them at the right time.

So well done you on reading this as you’re obviously looking to develop your content strategy. If you’re not then read on anyway, we might just convince you to take the plunge.

However, as with all marketing, you need to set aspirational but realistic goals. If you don’t, then how do you know if what you’re doing is working or, sometimes more importantly, not working, so you can fix it. So many times we see brands pumping large budgets into projects with no clear objectives or metrics in place.

Strategy, by definition, is “a plan of action designed to achieve a long-term or overall aim.”

So start big, think increasing sales, changing perceptions, building awareness in new markets, increasing market share.

Once you’ve got these aims in mind, you can start to layer performance indicators underneath, that measure individual tactics in the context of the overall aim, commonly called KPIs (Key Performance Indicators). We can’t stress enough how hugely important it is to have these in place, without them you simply have no idea whether your content strategy is working. The KPIs you create will, to some extent, be influenced by what you decide to do within your strategy and could be a variety of things dependent on what you’re looking to achieve.

DO NOT CONFUSE GOALS WITH KPIs! THIS IS A TRAP MANY FALL INTO AND WONDER WHY THEIR FACEBOOK LIKES KPI DOESN’T DIRECTLY EQUATE TO MORE SALES.

 

Research

Everyone goes on about how important research is but I’m yet to read a good post that actually tells you anything constructive to help you get off the ground. There are basically two routes to go down, depending on how well structured your brand is. If you’re well on your way to having a good set of guidelines for how your brand communicates itself, including behaviours, values, personality, tone of voice, in some shape or form, awesome. If you’re not and you just have a logo, some colours and fonts, then it’s worth taking some time to build up your brand’s personality a little. Crystallising the essence of your brand will give you clear guidance on the style and tone of your content.

Our research methodology covers data and qualitative research in four areas:

  • Brand
  • Competitors
  • Landscape
  • Consumer

We dial up and down in each area how much data we have (limited by availability) and the qualitative research we undertake.

Data sources:

  • Internal customer and prospect database
  • Social listening
  • Geo demographic data
  • Website analytics

Qualitative research:

  • Surveys
  • Focus groups
  • Good old desk based Internet trawling of research papers
  • Trend libraries, Mintel, Canvas8 for example
  • Our planning teams experience and internal ongoing research

We then scrutinise the research in granular detail. So whether that’s looking for relevant elements, segmenting data to find significance, overlaying datasets, buying behaviour or macro trends and future spotting, it’s all tightly analysed. Insights are then derived through the process. Importantly, we then scrutinise again, as we don’t take anything at face value and delving deeper and deeper often uncovers insights that others have failed to spot. This alone can give you a huge advantage.

Uncovering insights

I could wax lyrical for ages on this but I’ll try and keep it short. Insights are simply unexpected facts that seem to contradict actual assumed perceptions. This sort of thing is very well described in books like “Thinking, Fast and Slow” (Daniel Kahneman, Penguin). Generally, we form opinions on things simply because our brains are a bit lazy. So aim to uncover insights that challenge perceptions because they will reap big rewards.

A good example of this is playing out right now in financial services. Women account for a huge potential market with un-invested funds, control of family budgets and generally more say in family economics and purchasing decisions. This flies in the face of convention that suggests the man who goes out to work controls the money. Rubbish. You can see in loads of financial services advertising and content that it’s squarely aimed at women.

Hold onto these insights they’re important for the later stages and they will give your content strategy a competitive edge.

Data segmentation

It’s time to chop up your data into more manageable, useful chunks. Your aim is to group together people who have similar characteristics, whether you choose a simple path such as age gender, location or a more sophisticated route such as behaviours, product choices and lifetime value. Or a combination of both perhaps.

Customer personas

Once you’ve got some segments you can start to build some personas for each one. Don’t go mad, you only need a few.

A persona should look something like this example we created for work in the property sector:

This helps inform your creative, your timings and your distribution choices.

Consumer journey mapping

Once you’ve established personas that either look like your customer segments or the result of your research, if you haven’t got a large customer database, then it’s time to think about journeys. Mapping the consumer journey is one of the single most important things you will down creating a content strategy, or any marketing strategy for that matter. It puts the consumer at the heart of your organisation and allows you to build your entire experience around them.

Generally we take a 5 stage approach, covering:

Creation of customer stages

These are the behavioural stages a customer and potential customer go through to ultimately buy your product or service. Depending on your sector these can happen quickly or over a long period of time, regardless, they will go through different stages. Some of these include; discovery, research, consideration, purchase, advocate.

Understanding goals and needs

It’s important to keep in mind that the journey map is about the consumers goals not yours. We identify what it is that the consumer needs that’s going to help them achieve their goal at any given stage. This helps us identify the touch points where we can meet these needs. If we can achieve the consumers goal we can move them to the next stage of the journey.

Identifying the touch points

Through the process you should now be building a picture of where you can interact with your consumer. This could be online, offline, in person there are now many places to interact and in many different ways. What you’re looking to identify are the important ones, the places where you can interact that will have the desired affect.

Leveraging data

The basis for any good consumer journey map is data, whether that’s data explicitly derived from your own database, via third parties or through anecdotal research. The challenge faced by most brands however is that their channel ecosystem wasn’t created based on a specific journey, it’s just sprung up because the brand felt they should. We’ve met many brands operating across multiple channels with little actual understanding of their customer. Very often most of the data is from outside sources in this scenario and a certain amount of testing is required to find a balance across the customer journey before thinking about optimising it.

Identifying gaps

The customer journey map very quickly shows us how siloed organisations are, identifying where gaps exist and where needs aren’t being met. This is a great exercise that helps multiple teams align around the customer, but it’s not without it’s pain points.

The journey map should be viewed as a living document that can change as we learn more about our customers for this very reason. The gaps highlight where you are weak and where you should focus efforts.

Strategy

We always aim to craft a simple strategy into something you can articulate in one sentence. This sounds simple but is actually pretty difficult, but it is worth it. With the strategy in mind, you can shape all your activity in the same direction. Your strategy is designed to give you the tools to hit your goals and it will bring into line everything else you do.

There are all sorts of different frameworks you can use but the fundamentals are virtually always the same.

Some of the frameworks include:

SOSTAC, situation analysis, objectives, strategy, tactics, actions, control.

This is what we follow at DVO and we’ve laid this article out following the stages in SOSTAC.

You can read more about SOSTAC
here
and a host of models that have stood the test of time, here.

Creative and how to think about a long idea for content

You may already have your brand creative and a big idea that forms the basis of your communications. If so, awesome. Your job is going to be quite a bit easier as your task is now more about adapting that story and communicating it through always-on channels, such as your blog and social media.

If you don’t, it’s time to think about an idea or a story that you can tell.

At this stage it’s great discipline to think about developing a creative brief. This is where the fruits of your planning and strategy can guide the creative process, putting in place the boundaries and framework within which thoughtful ideas can flow. We wrote a post recently on the agency briefing process so we won’t go into that again here, but it’s worth reading.

Agency briefing process

This is where we as agencies should excel. The planning and strategic process is designed to ensure that the ideas, technology and activation have the best chance to succeed providing the insights that create a real competitive advantage when telling brand stories.

In traditional advertising the narrative is often the starting point to pick out key messages that then manifest as a visual or copy in adverts. With content marketing, it’s the other way around. What are the messages you want to communicate and how can these be turned into a narrative? How can that then form the themes and elements within your content to give you enough room to talk around the subject over the long term.

There are many ways to achieve this. We’re big advocates of the golden circle method, especially given the attitudes of connected consumers.

Rather that the what > how > why approach, the story is told the other way around why > how > what. This is a successful tactic that companies like Apple use as it builds a much stronger affinity with their target market. We know that people buy into businesses with a strong philosophy and sense of purpose and this tactic aligns brand and consumer much more closely.

The consumer journey map we created earlier is where we blend creative and data. Data helps us to understand where and when we should communicate but it’s the creative that makes the difference. Only the best creative will cut through the noise and give us the competitive edge. It’s this blend that is a real area of competitive advantage for brands willing to push themselves and their agency partners.

Co-creation and UGC

Something that is increasingly important for brands is how they co-create with both the influencers and their wider brand audience. Customers as advocates, UGC, whatever your preferred term one thing is for sure that bringing external voices into your story not only amplifies its reach but enhances its authenticity. Some of the most successful integrated content campaigns weave external content in from the start. Whether they use a simple device to get people to share pictures or stores such as a branded hashtag or employ more sophisticated tools such as Tint to source UGC content and repurpose this on websites, advertising and in social media. All work on the simple fact that people trust other people more than they trust your brand. It’s word of mouth at scale and thinking about how your concept and strategy can incorporate it can help a good campaign become a great campaign.

How this is delivered and structuring a content calendar

A content calendar is an essential and really useful tool. It needn’t be complicated and can help you shape the story and act to bring cohesion across all the elements. Building one is pretty easy and if you need help there are loads of free tools and examples online.

It’s worth thinking about a content framework that would look something like this example from work in the property space we have undertaken which prioritised video and media friendly content:

Media planning to inform distribution

Media planning is one of the most overlooked areas of content, so much so that it’s become a cliché to even say but here goes. Your content can be the most relevant, exciting and engaging content in the world, but if nobody reads it, it is entirely useless.

Depending on what channels you’ve selected, based around the research you’ve done regarding your customer’s journey, you should by this point be starting to categorise your content based on what it’s designed to achieve. For example, is it about awareness and getting people engaged with your brand, is it about consideration, driving home a message with longer more informative content, is it about conversion creating a compelling reason to buy?

Different types of content suit different channels. Putting the wrong content out through an inappropriate channel can render it dead in the water, no matter how brilliant the content actually is.

Activation, management and refinement

Time to put your money where your mouth is. You should now have all the elements in place to successfully implement your content strategy. You should have a clear picture of your consumer, where they are, and what their needs are. You should have content that is structured and a distribution plan to put the right content in the most effective place. Importantly, you should understand what data you want to capture, what you’re going to measure and how this can then be analysed to improve what you are doing.

We hear so many stories that talk about just diving in with a thin scraping of research, especially where start-ups are concerned (seriously, SO MANY TIMES IT’S SCARY). I think this is a huge and potential expensive risk. Unless you really understand what and why you are doing things, it’s the fastest way to see zero results and lose money. Good work and great results take a bit of effort. I’m writing this blog in the full knowledge that, hopefully, some readers will follow this and it will help, but in reality for many it’s not that easy and for good reasons. If it was, then we’d all have traffic, customers and sales coming out of our ears and wouldn’t need to worry.

Now it’s time to think about how you are going to test your content, track your KPIs and bench mark what does and doesn’t work. You can apply a simple a/b test philosophy to your content and also test across the customer journey to see whether your content is moving people to the next natural stage. Be mindful though consumers don’t observe a linear funnel so keep this in mind that people will likely come in and out of your channel ecosystem at points of their choosing. Be flexible and this won’t drive you mad.

If you’d like to talk to us about how we can help you through the development of a content strategy we’d love to hear from you. It’s complicated and there aren’t any shortcuts. But get it right and you will foster loyal customers and hit the heights that have often seemed out of reach. Pick up the phone, give us a call, we’ve got nice biscuits and we can help.

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GDPR, a missed opportunity.

GDPR, four letters designed to strike fear into the hearts of IT and marketing professionals.

What a sorry state we’ve found ourselves in, scrabbling to opt-in data like rats on a sinking ship. It could all have been so different.

In this week’s blog I’ll be waxing lyrical on missed opportunities, the dubious nature of pre-GDPR email capture tactics and some campaigns I’d have liked to have seen beyond the drab “We’ll miss you when you’re gone” emails cluttering my inbox.

What is GDPR?

Well if you don’t know by now take a gander through your inbox, or more likely spam box, you’ll have quite a few emails announcing a change in Data Protection Regulations. In a nutshell the law surrounding how data is captured, processed, used and destroyed is changing. The new law is called GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation). Essentially the consumer is getting beefed up powers to control their data and the other side of the fence needs to play ball. Or you’ll be fined, a lot.

Why are things like this in the first place?

To answer that I would highlight practices such as:

  • Linkedin email harvesting
  • Facebook group email harvesting
  • Viral competitions with dubious opt-in practices
  • Virtually any “growth hacks” to get email fast

It’s a long list, even those operating above board haven’t been using double opt-in or gaining the correct consent despite knowing of the regulation changes for some time.

What’s the answer?

Sadly it’s not a win for the Brexit camp. The UK is adopting the regulations despite our departure from the EU. Seems like a missed opportunity to me? Liam Fox proudly promoting Britain as the email frontier town where anything goes, consent, opt-ins well they’re just fancy words from back east.

Actually the answer is that we should have been gaining consent a long time ago but that got in the way of quick list building and fast lead gen. So we didn’t and now we’re looking at losing 80-90% of our marketing databases. Which is somewhat of a bummer. There’s a mad scramble going on to get consent, hence the tremendous amount of emails arriving in inboxes daily. After the 25th May businesses in the EU or emailing EU citizens must comply with the legislation or risk a fine.

*I am not a lawyer, so don’t take anything I say about GDPR  as gospel. Speak to your lawyer if you have questions, he’ll probably have been asked thousands of times and will roll off what you need to do, whilst searching the web for a new boat that all the fees will be netting him!

Hold on isn’t there a way round this?

Well it’s a tricky one. In the office we speculated about contacting Julian Assange to see if he fancied setting up an email provider from inside the Ecadorian embassy, in the hope that we could claim asylum for the data on the grounds that it wouldn’t receive a fair trial, because quite frankly we didn’t have a clue where it had come from.

We’re creative marketing people, why so many bland campaigns?

Weatherspoons seemed to get more exposure announcing they were deleting all their customer data. I think they may have secretly sold it to Ukip!*

*Pure speculation designed for limited comic effect.

For the rest it seems that to the letter everyone has played on the, look at all the cool stuff we send out you’ll miss us band wagon. I’d have liked to have seen something a little more creative, how about:

Subject:

Do you believe in a better future

Content:

We’ve got your email address. We think you opted-in to something but it all honesty we aren’t that sure. Anyhoo, let’s not dwell on such boring symantics. Assuming you have a legitimate interest in {Insert something here] then we’d like to keep sending you stuff in the hope one day you might buy something. When that day comes we will rejoice and we will remind you of this moment and how things could have been so different.

So if you believe there’s a better future click here:

Button: I believe

Or how about:

Subject:

Get your [Insert cuddly animal here] soft toy Free

Content:

If you opt-in to our list you’l get a soft toy. If you don’t it means you hate animals.

Button 1: Claim Soft Toy

Button 2: I hate animals

Or a topical one

Subject:

It’s down to you

Content:

The data we hold is being processed in North Korea. We have been given a directive by Kim himself. He has told us to use two buttons to get your consent. A red button and a green button. Green opts you in, red, well red is Kim’s red button, press it at your peril.

You get the picture!!

What will a post May 25th world look like?

Exactly the same as it did before so let’s not panic too much. Response rates on most email lists are crap anyway. Opt people in properly, update your privacy and focus on building a truly engaged list of people who want your content. If that’s proving tricky make better content. If you struggle to do that it’s unlikely you really understand your brand and your customers, go back to basics look at your brand, does your message and personality actually engage the market you are communicating with, does it meet a need, are you talking to the right market?

I think the biggest thing that will come out of GDPR is a need to focus on marketing basics, brand building, understanding the customer and moving beyond tactical channel hacks.

Surely that’s a good thing?

I’ve been silent for a while but no more, keep your eyes open for more ranting from the self styled “Mark Ritson for the digital Age”. Or sign-up for the DVO newsletter and other relevantish communication, we don’t send it often but when we do. Well, you’ll see!

(Notice the nice checkbox asking for consent on the form on this page, GDPR win!!)

DVO agency does not condone anything written by Ben Dickens in this blog, in fact we actively discourage him from writing it, but hey, he knows the passwords.

Achieving Content Marketing Nirvana: A Lesson From The Best In The Business

This week we discuss what a true content marketing leader is doing and how it’s strategy has evolved to embrace a content approach aligned to the reality of todays consumer

As a content marketing agency it’s our job to keep tabs on what the best in the business are doing. There are a host of brands doing great things but Coca-Cola can be considered a true content marketing leader. You may have read recently that Coca-Cola has suspended its brand advertising in the Philippines so that it can donate its entire ad budget to typhoon relief efforts. It’s a great cause and already the company has donated over $2.5 million in cash and in-kind contributions, but people have been quick to question whether suspending advertising is a marketing ploy in itself.

In my opinion and without detracting from any of the good Coca-Cola is clearly doing, this is undoubtedly a marketing win for the company. Why? Because the content created and awareness raised around generosity slots perfectly into the company’s content focused marketing strategy. Continue reading

Three trends for digital in 2015 (2017 update!)

This week we reflect back on the year in digital and look ahead to three trends for digital in 2015.

It’s that time of year again when us agency folk are speculating about what brands will be looking at next year. So, (not breaking with tradition) I thought I’d follow the trend and write my latest post on my predictions on trends for digital in 2015. I also thought I’d demystify why we do this every year.

Firstly, we want to tell you what we’ve got in mind for the next 12 months. Although, as DVO’s clients will know, forward thinking in digital should be a central part of any strategically-led full service digital agency proposition. In fact it’s crucial to be evaluating new developments, technology and platforms as they arise, and making smart decisions about how or even if they have relevance to the brand’s goals and customers. There is also a bit of shameful steering going on. These are uncertain times, and if I tell you that the three things you should be focusing on are X, Y and Z, then you may well believe me.

With that in mind, here are my top three things to concentrate on in 2015:Continue reading

Agency and marketing terminology (or how to get 20 points in bulls**t bingo)

We marketers love inventing new marketing terminology, sometimes using the same term for a multitude of meanings. Our handy guide helps you know what’s what.

There’s a lot of interchangeable marketing terminology so this week I’ve collated some of the most popular into a handy little explainer. These are some of the most popular you’ll hear at work, in the pub, at networking events or when playing b*llshit bingo so that next time you can avoid omni when you should be multi.

Content Marketing

The production and distribution of digital content to engage with an audience that doesn’t directly promote a single product or service but provokes interest and elicits a desirable response from the reader.

Some argue that Content Marketing isn’t a standalone discipline and that marketers have been producing and distributing content for customer engagement since year dot. I’ll not fan the flames of that argument here, but just say that Content Marketing has become such a big topic in the marketing horizon, it’s a good idea to understand what it is.

Integrated Marketing

Integrated marketing is a discipline that works towards bringing together different strains of marketing around a coherent, consistent voice to enhance and amplify each to create wider engagement. So an example might be a brand ensuring the messaging and visual it uses in its TV advertising is reciprocated in in-store promotional material and on social media.

Multi-channel

Creating either tactical campaign-based or always-on marketing activity that is simultaneously distributed across a number of different marketing channels appropriate to the offer and the audience. As more and more channels get added, this becomes more complicated, particularly in organisations with very siloed departments.

Warning! This is one of the marketing terminology red herrings. Multi-channel is confused with omni-channel on a regular basis. You’re probably working in a multi-channel organisation. A good way to know for sure is if you work in digital how many people do you know in the brand team, if the answer is none then you’re definitely a multi-channel organisation.

Omni-channel

Similar to multi-channel marketing, but rather than all the channels operating independently, omni-channel marketing brings them all together to work holistically to produce a properly integrated marketing campaign. Omni-channel is much more customer-focused and ultimately more effective, we’re big omni fans. Read more about multi- vs. omni- channel marketing here https://dvoagency.co.uk/multi-channel-marketing-problems-and-opportunities/.

SEO

Simply put, Search Engine Optimisation. So any activity you do on your website with the aim of improving your site’s visibility and organic ranking with search engines (primarily Google). Many people mistakenly believe this is a one-time exercise to be done when a site is built or a product launched, but SEO should be an ongoing part of your mix, supporting all activity, both on and offline.

Customer Experience

A bit of an easy one this. Literally, your customer’s experience. What they experience when interacting with your business, at any and all touch points. This is ideally always positive, but invariably hits the odd bump in the road, and elements can often be out of your control. Not to be confused with User Experience (or UX).

User Experience (UX)

Hot topic/buzz word right now, and as usual, so-called ‘specialists’ have suddenly popped into existence to meet demand (or exploit invented opportunities?).

User Experience refers to the overall experience a visitor has when visiting your website or using a web-based application. So, how easy it is to find what they need, to move through the space, identify the required route and achieve the desired result. Not to be confused with Customer Journey.

Customer Journey

How a customer moves into, around and through any and all touchpoints with your brand or business. Online, offline, below the line, through the line, too far over the line, all of them! Often something that a business thinks is simple and straight forward but when they actually sit down and map it all out (we favour a massive white board and lots of different coloured pens. But we’re old school like that) it’s a lot bigger and far more complex than they ever imagined. Spend time early on understanding the customer journey and you’ll save yourself a massive headache down the line. Some people (ahem, DVO) are staunch advocates of the customer journey and can get quite emotional when people disrespect it.

Brand Experience

A bit more touchy-feely this one. Brand experience is the emotional, behavioural and sensory responses a customer experiences when exposed to your brand. Hard to control obviously, but with good planning, thorough research and good customer understanding, you can build a brand that meets your customers’ needs to put yourself in the best positon to evoke wholly positive responses.

Jimi Hendrix Experience

One of the most popular rock bands of the mid Sixties, led by the legendary Jimi Hendrix. Arguably the most successful trans-Atlantic act of the time, they produced three studio albums and anyone that can hear “Foxy Lady” and resist doing the ‘Wayne’s World dance” has no soul.

Strategy

A defined plan of action designed to achieve a predetermined goal or set of objectives. Often different departments will have their own specific strategies, which should all work towards supporting the overall business strategy. In marketing, there are often then discipline, sub-department and sometimes even tactical or campaign specific strategies in place. But again, these should all be based on how they can assist in meeting the business objectives. Often though, they aren’t and are entirely random.

KPIs

Key Performance Indicators. These are measurable outcomes to activity that can be collated and reported against to demonstrate whether that activity is meeting the business objectives. These can be quantitative, qualitative or anecdotal. But they must be agreed and in place from the outset. Too often we see companies struggling to assign KPIs halfway through a campaign or trying to change the KPI as it wasn’t fit for purpose, usually through lack of planning. Don’t be these people.

Goals

The terms Goals and Objectives are often used interchangeably, but are actually slightly different. The easiest way I can explain it is a goal is something you want to get, an objective is somewhere you want to be. Goals bring glory, objectives bring results. Both good, both needed, but inherently different.

If you’d like to wax lyrical about some of the terms mentioned, or more importantly you’d like some no-nonsense advice on your next strategic step, give us a call.

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What is lean full service?

This week we’re talking about lean full service and why it’s the perfect agency set-up for our modern connected world.

I’ve blogged a lot recently about integrated, multi-channel and content marketing. All integral parts of DVO but it struck me that we should be talking more about lean full service. As a full service digital agency it’s central to our approach to our work, it’s why we created the agency in the first place and it’s the antidote to the traditional agency model.

Where have we come from.

It’s worth us talking about the agencies of the past. It’ll put everything in context later on in this post.

Back in the day when one way advertising ruled the roost the ad agency was primarily made up of creatives and client service folk. Going about their lives doing advertising. Women were in the minority, suits were sharp and martinis were sharper.

This period in the history of agency development is truly fascinating, for some further reading check out:
https://medium.com/comms-planning/a-brief-history-of-comms-planning-df94a56958fe#.glwlzw2dw

Image curtesy of accountplanning.blogspot.co.uk

Then a bright spark (the chap above, Stephen King, was a pioneer) thought that introducing social sciences into the mix could help make the advertising more effective. Planning was born and little has changed since then. Sure, we’ve added lots of new channels, technology has come along, but the core principles of starting with planning and strategic thinking to positively influence the creative process and the outcome of the campaign remain pretty much the same.

Some more further reading, http://accountplanning.blogspot.co.uk/2014/11/founding-fathers-stephen-king.html

Stanley Pollitt advocated the use of data and removed discretionary control from account management with planning working alongside client services through the all important briefing process. Or paper shuffling as we like to call it.

So has this rigorous approach changed?

Well as we increasingly added more and more channels into the mix, there began a rush to specialise. First media buying was hived off, then direct and latterly digital. Digital got broken up into various channels; media, SEO, social. Some agencies started doing creative, some more marketing focused work.

Then technology got stuck in, automation became the key, every software solution promised optimisation of a specific channel or strategy (don’t get me started on the “s” word).

In a word it seems that the overarching rigour that once existed has become increasingly less important.

What got lost in all of this?

Strategic direction. Strategy has become an overused word to the point of ridiculousness. It seems in our immediacy culture that the intellectual rigour that formed the hallmark of some outstanding work has been sacrificed for a ‘suck it and see’ approach. Taking the time to look at the big picture seems less and less important. This increasingly illogical solution to a problem or challenge that is becoming more complex is counter intuitive at best.

Making sense of a more complex customer journey and making the right decisions creatively, with technology and importantly strategically seem more chance-based than they ever were before. Sure, tactically we have more data at our disposal and it’s easier than ever to figure out when, where and how to interact with a consumer but this so often manifests in a silo mentaility, without connecting the dots. It makes delivering the uniformly excellent customer experience harder and harder.

Which seems odd when you take into account the prevailing research:

“Customer experience is the last source of sustainable differentiation and the new competitive battleground.” Tiffani Bova, Vice President and Distinguished Analyst

67% of consumers site bad experiences as a reason for churn.

Research shows that 55% of consumers are willing to pay more for a guaranteed good experience.

So how does lean full service solve this problem.

To us it seems obvious that the challenge brands really need help with is a strategic one. It emphasises the “long idea”, use of technology that improves the customer experience and strategy more attuned to consumer behaviour.

Lean full service was the philosophy we created as the basis of DVO. It’s the culmination of our experience as a founding team that spans 50+ years agency and 30+ years client side. It’s what we’ve built our entire agency model around and we’ve done it because it answers all the questions we’ve been asked by our clients, brands we’ve met and collaborators we’ve worked with. Lean full service allows for an agile, project based approach to activation but makes room for rigorous planning, strategy and ideas.

Lean full service is about control, control to shape strategy, control over the long ideas that work cross-channel and control of the big technology choices that shape customer experience.

We believe that in the connected world, with so many channels at a brands disposal, that the only way to cope and thrive is to step above channels and work agnostically to avoid getting bogged down. Strategic thinking should be about the whole, focusing holistically on the overall customer experience. Brands must avoid the urge to jump on the next fad and prioritise making smart decisions that are based on data, insights and importantly how they will impact this overall experience.

This holds equally true for the idea and the technology. Divorcing this from specific channels makes it much easier to create a holistic ecosystem of digital experiences and communications. The long idea and overarching strategy are designed to work across a range of channels, nuanced to the needs of the consumer at each touch point with technology working in the same way. Only with this truly consistent voice will brands be able to tap into the competitive advantage that a differentiated experience can afford them.

But we’ve not mentioned production and activation. Well, in a lean full service agency you still get an end to end solution through to activation, but we’re only hands on with certain media (predominantly owned) and integral production elements such as integrated design and development. The rest is done through collaborators and technology. Why? Because the depth and breadth of talent and the capabilities of software are now so immense it’s impossible for it all to be optimised in-house. Agencies talk about talent problems all the time, so why fight it? We work with the best video producers, design specialists and channel and sector specialist creatives who help to bring our ideas to life. We work with programmatic ad buying platforms that cover display, social and native and and we’re proud of it. Our technology stack covers user generated content, analysis and publishing. We do all of this because it’s what we believe a modern agency should look like, clients are buying into our expertise not our ability to charge large management fees for software to do most of the work.

We started DVO with a tick box of things we knew people hated about agencies, because we’d hated them when we were client side:

  • Bloated retainers
  • Jack of all trades mentality
  • Poor collaborations
  • Lack of insight just relying on data
  • Lack of data just relying on insight
  • Lack of access to senior people
  • Seniors being around at the pitch stage and the intern doing the work
  • Channels fighting against each other
  • Little to no process to help manage change
  • The client is often seen as part of the problem, not the solution

It was a big list of challenges but our solution was lean full service to get back on the right path and bring clients back to a place where they valued the agency once again.

A lean full service agency looks like this:

Senior team members lead client projects from the front, very often starting projects in a consulting capacity to intimately understand the entire organisation, culture and challenges. That’s important because in todays world truly putting the customer at the heart of the brand isn’t just about marketing.

  • Leadership is key, whether it’s strategic leadership, creative or technology. In lean full service the emphasis is on experts working hand in hand with the clients on a daily basis
  • In lean full service we don’t try to be all things to all people, we’ve got a roster of carefully selected collaborators who we can bring in at the precise point their expertise is needed. This ensures you get the best possible team, at the right time, for the right task
  • To build the best strategy requires a blend of data and trends, the big and small picture. Ultimately the best insights are the result of asking the right questions to make a fundamental difference
  • Content and digital experiences unite channels. Lean full service slots in nicely above channels with agnostic ideas that actively work to integrate and unite campaigns, content and conversations around a singular voice
  • Project based no bloated retainers
  • The ability to bring a rigorous approach to agile activations
  • Sourcing and evaluating expertise and technology is a core discipline within the agency
  • The client is a part of the solution

We created lean full service because we recognised that marketers were falling out of love with agencies and it’s easy to understand why. So rather than jumping on the band wagon bound for a slow death, we thought we’d do something about it.

Lean full service is equally at home with legacy brands looking to become more digitally integrated and evolve closer to the reality of todays consumer as it is with challengers and disruptors seeking the kind of agile approach that is the hall mark of their marketing.

If you’d like to talk to us about how lean full service can help you through this time of constant change, building the kind of customer experiences that will foster loyal customers, then do something old school. Pick up the phone, give us a call, we’ve got nice biscuits and we can help.

Contact us

Digital marketing trends for 2017.

This week we’re looking at emerging digital marketing trends for 2017 and how they will impact your brand.

Happy new year to everyone. 2016 was a good, if sometimes challenging, first year for DVO. The London based full-service digital agency landscape is a competitive one! So for our first post of the year I wanted to talk about emerging digital marketing trends for 2017. Wholly inspired by Gartner’s 5 key emerging digital marketing trends.

In this post, we’ll look at:

 

  • Where has the purchase funnel gone?
  • Advocacy and loyalty
  • Big data, (come on we couldn’t leave it out)
  • Content Marketing
  • The experience

Suffice to say 2017 will be another year of flux as marketers evaluate new technology and marketing approaches, integrating where they can to take advantage. What’s still apparent to DVO is that the customer is 2, sometimes 3 or 4, steps ahead of most. Many brands are still playing catch-up with real pressure from sector disruptors and a consumer empowered like never before to deal with.

Where has the purchase funnel gone?

The old-style discrete, linear purchase funnel simply doesn’t exist anymore. Customers move at their own pace. Interacting when, where and how they want to across multiple channels. “83% of consumers are more likely to do business with brands that allow them to control where, when and how they interact.” CFI Group.

What does it mean for my brand?

This puts more emphasis on understanding the customer, their journey and potential interaction points. This is where the power of big data comes into play, using it intelligently to understand where a customer is but more importantly using it to move the customer to the next stage. It also means key emphasis should be placed on customers as individuals as each journey can be very different, a macro view of the customer serves little purpose on this basis. Customers as individuals will be a key-theme for 2017.

Advocacy and loyalty, UGC.

The balance of power has shifted to the customer; smart brands understand this and are actively looking at ways to nurture their best customers. Using those customers to tell the brands story.

What does it mean for my brand?

Customers are twice as likely to trust content created by other customers as opposed to brands. igraph-ugc-trust Graphic curtesy of Adweek, It doesn’t mean stop doing content marketing at all. What it does mean though is that brands should be looking at how they can create a framework to encourage those stories, curating them if you will. The right framework will allow you to capture the content and then extend the reach of the story. Focus on how you identify and nurture your best customers, giving them a platform to tell your story to a wider network than they would otherwise have done on their own. This is a key mind-set change from creator to curator. For an in-depth look at UGC strategy take a moment to download our latest white paper, here.

Big data.

No trends blog would be complete without a mention of big data. It’s big and it’s data! However it’s important especially as the purchase funnel has become far more complicated. Focusing efforts on capturing data across the customer journey and analysing it to understand and then implement activity at the right point in the right way is a sure win.

What does it mean for my brand?

You’ve probably got data coming in from all sorts of places, the emphasis here is on combining it and then using it to better understand the customer journey. As marketers our job is simple, to put the right message in the right place to move the customer towards purchase, simple. Not so simple when you’ve got loads of channels and a customer who doesn’t play by the rules anymore. In the short term using personas to map out the stages a customer moves through gives you a grounding to start to think about what you do next.

Content marketing.

This is a biggy, not just because content marketing is central to what we do. But, because Gartner says so. Actually, content marketing integrated across a multi-channel communications strategy is the most effective thing you can do to align yourself more closely with the customer. “For DVO 2017 will be the year of integrated content marketing.”

What does it mean for my brand?

If you do one thing in 2017 we recommend that you don’t look at content marketing as a sub-set of SEO. SEO is mega important but content marketing is a broader brand marketing strategy. At its heart it’s about building customer trust by anticipating customer needs at specific points in the customer journey. Have a strategy in place for content marketing, this makes it much easier to plan the various tactical activities that come after. This could simply be owning a space in the customers mind as your sectors expert. Or something else, after all it’s your strategy. Focus your efforts in 2017 around how you can integrate your content across your communications. We’d advise you think about a digital experience or a content hub as the nucleus and build your channels around it. Start simple break your content down into three areas:

  • Awareness, inspire, entertain, educate
  • Consideration, help evaluate the decision, be honest, NO smarmy sales
  • Conversion, UGC works great here

For an in-depth look at UGC strategy take a moment to download our latest white paper, here.

 

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The experience.

This has been on everyone’s agenda for a while and it’s a key digital marketing trends for 2017. This is a direct result of the discrete linear funnel no-longer existing. The customers’ perception of you and ultimately their decision to purchase is based on the sum of their interactions with your brand. Understanding this is vitally important.

What does it mean for my brand?

Once you have a start on the customer journey you can think about how each action you take at a specific point knits together. This means you need to be thinking integrated. Siloed structures work against a uniform customer experience. Siloed Data Causes Disconnected Experiences Even if you’re still very siloed, get everyone in a room once a month and get them talking about their specific activity. It will be very apparent, if you understand your customer journey, what fits and what doesn’t. This is a bigger shift than perhaps you want to make, so start small. You can test content centric campaigns with earned distribution simply and cheaply, if nothing else it gets teams working together. We wrote a post recently talking about integrated marketing with tips, theory and a case study that gives you a strong insight into the bits that matter. Read it, here. So that’s our digital marketing trends for 2017, it’s a lot to deal with. That’s why we’ve thought long and hard to create simple road maps for our clients to get them on a path to realigning their marketing around the customer. If you want the gap between your brand and customer to stop widening then contact us here, or give us a call, 0203 771 2641.

Why you need to embrace User Generated Content.

This week we take a look at User Generated Content (UGC) and why it should be squarely on your agenda for 2017.

It’s hard to escape user generated content marketing right now. Ignoring whether Content Marketing should actually be a secular discipline or not, there’s no denying the importance content is playing in most people’s plans and strategies today and for the year ahead and user generated content is where the smart players are operating.

We love content and have been producing rich, emotive, engaging content for our clients years before we became a full service digital agency and someone decided to give it a label. We’ve loved embracing each new level technology has taken content to, getting to the heart of it and how it can benefit our clients’ businesses.

Download our user generated content white paper

There’s a lot of buzz around User Generated Content (UGC) at the moment and rightly so. But many brands and even marketers are fearful of UGC and quite frankly, we believe this fear is totally unfounded.

What is UGC

So, let’s start at the beginning, what is UGC. Quite simply, it is content about a brand, company or business that is generated by users, rather than by the brand itself. This can take many forms from opinions and reviews, posts on social media, shared experiences via video and imagery to blog posts, comments and activation experiences.

Why it’s important?

The reason that UGC is causing such stir is the immense power it holds in building brand trust. Word of mouth has always been the most effective marketing tool in the box. Consumers will always trust third party opinions and recommendations above communications directly from a brand, even if the message itself is exactly the same. We are social beings, and being part of a community means sharing experiences and telling stories. It’s in our nature.

With the explosion of technology influencing every aspect of our day to day lives, our communities and story sharing has expanded to match. We can access thoughts and opinions from other people all over the world at the touch of a button. And this is where UGC really comes into its own. UGC supports, encourages and promotes the transformation of consumer from the status of passive audience into active user. Combined with social media platforms, consumers are perfectly placed to express themselves and share information like never before.

Why should brands embrace UGC?

Because UGC is essentially a conversation and if you’re not part of that conversation, how can you influence or benefit from it? Many brands and even seasoned marketing professionals are fearful of UGC, because they see it as losing control over their messaging. But as long as brands create the correct framework for the conversation to take place in, deal openly and honestly with their customers on the public stage and use the correct tools to move users through the experience, then this fear is unjustified. This means UGC needs to feature very early on in setting your marketing strategy and this framework and the tools employed are factored into all your channels and customer touchpoints.

Used correctly, UGC can relieve pressures put on time and budget limited marketing departments, becoming an almost automated content generator and customer communication network all in one.

 

Great UGC examples

Don’t just take our word for it, here are some examples of great UGC.

Diesel cam

Heineken

If you’d like to learn more about User Generated Content, download out white paper here, co-authored with UGC marketing strategy expert Gerhard Malojer, @GerhardMalojer.

We’d love to speak to you about user generated content, give us a call to chat through you thoughts, concerns and ideas on 020 3771 2461, catch us on twitter @DVOagency, or go oldskool and use our contact form here.

 

The importance of integrating data, insights and advice.

This week we’ve enlisted the help of some friends, Virtual Logistics, to give us the lowdown on why integrating data is so important.

As a full service digital agency we’re acutely conscious of the battle taking place at the moment and integrating data is the key to staying on top. Digital focused marketers are waking up to the realisation that cut-through can be achieved by a better understanding of the emotional needs of consumers coupled to the behavioural data gathered from multiple, often disparate sources. The winners will be those brands who can take these data sources and combine them together into an integrated, meaningful, view to sit alongside the emotional insight that will drive the creative, the idea.

Get this right and strike the balance between mind and heart and you’ll be in the minority and that’s where the real revenue is.

In this week’s post we’re looking at the data side of that equation. Supported by our friends at VL to help us discuss integrating data and its importance in the marketing ecosystem. VL have been helping businesses function more efficiently and effectively since 1994 through data integration services.

In this insight piece we will cover:

  • Why you should be integrating data?
  • Why a data integration strategy matters?
  • Data is the key to connected marketing?
  • Why a skilled partner is important?
  • Where are we heading?

The age of omni-channel commerce has hit business with a bang. Just a few years ago in North America, Cyber Monday was the new shopping holiday that mirrored Black Friday; this year, customers shopped online more than they did in-store. This isn’t a new story: consumers are both browsing and shopping across multiple channels (sometimes at the same time), and intercepting these users at the right time on the right channel with the right message has become a complex problem businesses and marketers are trying to solve.

What is new is how businesses are approaching this disconnect between how consumers browse and shop and how brands have set up their omni-channel customer experiences. Many approach the problem of omni-channel as an afterthought, adopting integration products and DIY programmers to fill immediate needs, only to have these decisions create larger problems down the road. Others approach this problem as an opportunity for competitive advantage.
The fact of the matter is that your business’ success is predicated on your customers’ experiences with your brand. And that experience is centred on how your business treats, manages, and automates your data. Consumers expect consistent experiences in all channels, and retailers and marketers must adopt new strategies and technologies like data integration as a service that make this possible.

Who is VL?

Since our start in 1994, VL has been focused on helping businesses function more efficiently and effectively. We do this through providing high quality data integration services as a partner in your business’ ongoing growth.
Our cloud-based omni-channel integration service VL OMNI is designed using VL’s central point of truth data integration methodology. VL OMNI will ensure that your business’ integration stays scalable and responsive with how your business changes and grows over time.

The basics

According to this joint report by Accenture & Forrester Research, many retailers are in a false state of omni-channel comfort. Many turn to data integration products or DIY coding to fill gaps where possible, but if your business is scaling or is already at a certain size these short-term solutions can end up doing far more harm than good. The reality is that consumer expectations are evolving much quicker than many businesses can keep up — especially when employing quick-fixes — ultimately putting brands dangerously behind.
Simply put, the quality of your business’ data integration strategy directly impacts the customer experience you’ll be able to provide at any and every touchpoint.

Why should you be integrating data?

With multiplying channels, your business now has potentially infinite touch points where you can collect data from your customers. Without integrating these channels, your business is creating islands of technology: applications where no data leaves and no external data is added from other applications.
To a business, this siloed approach is like watching a movie in 2D with one eye closed: you’ll understand some of the basic plot but you’re likely to miss the big picture. Integrating your applications and automating your data flows is moving into fully-immersed 3D Virtual Reality. And once you see that bigger, complete picture, you’ll wonder why you ever tried to understand your customers with only a partially complete picture.

Strategy is the key.

Your data integration strategy matters. Each comes with it’s own approach, systems, and processes for translating and automating your corporate data.
For small businesses just starting out with limited orders, integrating ‘to a piece of paper’ or manually moving data from application to application may be a good fit (a word of warning: these methods are rife with human error). But once your business starts to grow, you’ll need to move into automated solutions. A good intermediary step are plug-and-play integrations, many of which are bolted on to applications your business may already use. But even these product have their limits: once your business really takes off, you’ll need a highly skilled data integration service providing partner like VL.

Data as the basis for connected marketing.

If you truly want to understand your audience, your marketing team’s applications should be integrated together in order to compile the clearest picture of your audience. Summarized in new research done by the Data & Marketing Association (DMA) and the Winterberry Group:
“Better aggregation of data and deeper integration of marketing technologies are increasingly seen as principal solutions to marketers’ challenges in advancing effective omnichannel campaigns.” – Omni-Channel Shoppers: An Emerging Retail Reality
The most sophisticated businesses and marketers are gearing their strategies around conversion on any and all channels, catering to how consumers shop and expect to be treated. Without integrated data that is updated in real-time, it is near impossible to provide contextual, timely, and relevant information to your consumer base that may influence their decision to click and buy.

Why it’s important to work with a skilled partner?

“If you think it’s expensive to hire a professional, wait until you hire an amateur.” – Internet Unknown
As the premium data integration solutions and services provider, VL has the privilege of seeing what happens to businesses that approach data integration not as a priority but instead as an afterthought. And it can be summed up in a single word: chaos.
Plenty of applications, DIY programmers, and other solutions are happy to take your money and leave you with an incomplete or dysfunctional data integration. Others will let you set up a rat’s nest of ad-hoc integration products, which are usually courteous enough to fail at crucial moments (like when you have 10 000 orders queued up to be shipped to a big retailer). Having a skilled integration partner like VL on your side means that you have 100% support from a team of data integration experts.

Where next?

Data integration and automation is moving out of the realm of competitive advantage and into set expectation for both consumers and supply chain partners. Many applications your business may already use come with basic one-to-one integrations to popular applications, so there is very little reason to be moving data manually or trying to custom code a work-around internally. And if you require more complex integrations, seek out a trusted integration expert partner like VL.

For more information, check out the following resources:

Omni-Channel Shoppers: An Emerging Retail Reality (Think With Google)
A Look Inside Two Amazing Businesses: A Case Study Ebook on Data Integration, Back-End Technology Selection and Customer Experience
3 Common Ecommerce Integration Issues & Solutions: A Whitepaper on What Custom Data Integration Could Be Doing to Benefit Your Business
How Millennials are Revolutionizing Omni-Channel Retail, Forcing Businesses To Change (Video)

DVO prioritise all aspects of integrated communications, a structured data strategy is the building block on which all effective omni-channel marketing is built.

Contact us here if you’d like to talk about how you can drive success, underpinned by data, from your marketing.