Through a Slack discussion with a few members of Speak's digital marketing team, we explored all things marketing in 2020. What changes have they seen and which ones will stick? What advice would they give other marketing professionals? What was their most ridiculous quarantine purchase? We covered it all.
HERE'S TODAY'S STARTING LINEUP:
Jessica: Hi all, thanks for joining to discuss all things digital marketing.
Each of you are experts in different areas so before we get started, I’d love to know what you work on here at Speak and how you found yourself in that role.
Abi: I am a Brand Strategist - My role has been about the same since I started four years ago, but has grown to encompass more of our services and more areas I have developed skills in. I develop marketing strategies for our clients, assist clients in developing their website content, and assist Speak’s digital marketing producers in moving the needle for our clients.
Sarah: I’m Sarah Vaughan, senior content specialist at Speak. I help develop paid and organic social campaigns as well as content for search engine optimization. I have a journalism and design background that led me to the web design industry, and content development was something I was interested in as a result of that.
Katy: I’m a content specialist, and I’m a relatively new member of the Speak team. I started in March (on the first day of lockdown). Before joining Speak, I was a sales and marketing coordinator for a small municipality run theatre. And before that, I was a restaurant owner. My degree is in advertising, but I’ve always had an affinity for writing, design, and the digital landscape.
At the end of 2019, I was in a little bit of a rut but knew that I wanted to join an agency setting. I got the offer, gave my two weeks the same day, and the rest is history! I feel really lucky to have fallen in with these cool, smart people. I’ve learned more about digital marketing than I ever thought possible in 5 short months and continue to learn something new every day. That’s kind of the way of it.
Umari: I work as the PPC Strategist here at Speak. My short answer for how I found myself in this role is wanting to learn more and do more within digital marketing.
Jessica: Umari, sometime soon I want to get the long answer! So all experts in different things with different backgrounds but you all fall under this umbrella of digital marketing. Do you think there are specific traits that make a good marketer?
Umari: I will write a book about it!
a long time coming!
Jessica: Do you have a title picked out yet?
Umari: Life is no crystal stair
Katy: I'd say flexibility and the willingness to learn new things. The best practices for digital marketing change almost daily, so you’ve got to stay ahead of the curve. It can be challenging when the technique you were employing the day before suddenly does a 180. You have to be able to pivot.
You also have to be receptive and prepared for criticism. As an agency, we work for a lot of different clients, and their needs are all specific to them. So what you think is a great idea for one client may be overlooked or rejected by another. And that’s okay. If they don’t like what you’ve written, it’s not personal (even though it may feel like it).
And if I had to list off anything else, being quick on your feet and willing to work as part of a team doesn’t hurt. Sometimes you have to stop, drop, and roll to get something done, and it can take a small army. But in my opinion, the work is very rewarding.
Sarah: The world of digital marketing has so many aspects - from email marketing, to social marketing, to SEO, to PPC - that it’s ideal to be interested in a variety of areas in order to understand how they all work together
Always be willing to learn more. Because social media platforms are constantly evolving and the way we can reach individuals through digital marketing is constantly changing, a desire to learn about new trends and platforms is essential.
Abi: Empathy is one of the most important traits of a marketer. You have to realize problems that your current and potential audience may have. Put yourself in their shoes - what does their day-to-day look like and how can your service or product make that better? Being able to see from their point of view helps you tailor your messaging to reach them where they are.
If you don’t understand your audience, your content and how you distribute might fall short.
Sarah: Shoutout to Abi, who is incredible at being able to help clients distinguish pain points.
Katy: You're not lying. She's excellent at taking on a project that seems kind of scattered and unifying it into something more streamlined.
Umari: Above all, I think great marketers remain curious. They have a desire to drill down on a problem, discover more about the people they serve, and are well-informed about what is going on in a given industry.
Abi: I agree with what Sarah said related to all of the aspects. Digital Marketing isn’t just ads. There are a ton of channels to utilize. Some organizations need them all, others need to be more concentrated. (Read: not every business needs a Twitter)
Jessica: Different answers but same theme: curiosity and adaptability are key. Couldn't agree more re Twitter. So let’s get to the real reason for our chat. I’ll spare us from the phrase 'unprecedented times’ but it’s been a wild year. Talk to me about what’s changed in marketing as a result and what changes you think will last far beyond 2020...
Umari: E-commerce is booming, We've seen an uptick in sales across different industries. On the downside, it's been harder to forecast budgets for other industries.
Sarah: In March and April of this year, as businesses cut back on digital marketing ads, we saw an increase in reach and engagement for a number of businesses across various industries. It’s important to be aware that as those businesses that cut or completely stopped spending restart campaigns, competition will increase rapidly, and ad optimization and detailed targeting will be more important than ever.
Umari: I hope the 6 feet stickers in retail remain... I love social distancing
Sarah: I also think the pandemic has reiterated what we already knew in terms of relevant and timely content, but consumers are now more than ever wanting content that matters
If handshakes are never a thing again, I won’t be mad about it
Katy: Haha. They all have very concise, to the point answers for this (they've been there and done that) but as a relative newcomer to the agency scene, I got to experience first hand in a very trial-by-fire fashion what an event that prevents people from interacting with one another in person can do to an otherwise stable industry.
Suddenly, everyone needed digital marketing in a way they never had before. Businesses scrambled (and still are) to make sure their brand stayed out in front of their competitors and customers. Storefronts that relied heavily on word-of-mouth and personal interactions suddenly had to learn about platforms they’d never considered before.
I think this is probably the biggest change that will have a lasting impact on digital marketing. Businesses have discovered the hard way just how critical digital preparedness is. Everything can change in an instant, and having a strong strategy to stay connected to your client base is paramount. Having a team of digital marketing sharp-shooters at your back to help you out doesn’t hurt either. :)
Sarah: Yes to everything Katy just said. COVID caused many individuals who didn’t think digital marketing was essential to reconsider their marketing strategies
Jessica: So what we're saying is we'd love to be your digital marketing agency but we will not shake your hand to seal the deal lol
Umari: Pretty much Jessica! Air hugs
Abi: Woof. For me professionally, I think turnaround time is at its shortest span. Things are changing so quickly.
I also think marketers learned a really big lesson this year: know who you are. Consumers became critical towards where they are giving their money. Any time you open a website, there are multiple disclaimers related to racial injustice, a company’s statement on inclusivity and equality, COVID repercussions on a customer’s experience, how their operations are changing to keep customers and clients safe.
The communications teams had to tap into the entire organization to dig deep on some heavy issues.
Katy: Yea, that's actually a really good point, Abi. That's one thing that I might point out is that as digital marketers, we're still just people. We're dealing with the changes in the way we do business. From client contact to interacting with one another. That's all so much different when you're relying on being remote.
Sarah: Really wish I had invested in Zoom stock in 2019
Katy: That's a mood right there.
Abi: I think this is something we will see in the years to come that starts way before it hits the desk of the marketing and communications team. An organization has to be transparent.
Sarah: And if you’re not transparent, consumers are smart enough to see through it
Katy: I need that on a T-shirt.
Jessica: Such a great point, there are so many messages that are essential to communicate. Knowing who you are means you're able to get messages out that are both timely and clear.
So Sarah already touched on it, but there’s a temptation to pull back on marketing in order to cut spending. While we of course don’t want anyone to be reckless with their cash, what would you all tell someone who’s trying to decide between pulling back or stepping on the gas?
Umari: You only live once--spend the money.
Katy: Haha, that's SO true. You can't take it with you!
Sarah: COVID has made this more clear for many people, but digital marketing does have many advantages, and while there’s room for traditional advertising, detailed targeting is not something you can necessarily achieve with traditional mediums
Jessica: Is that a personal finance philosophy as well Umari? Haha
Umari: In some instances!
Abi: Don’t let FOMO (fear of missing out) wreck your budget.
Sarah: It’s worth it to spend money on ads in the digital realm if you want the right people to see your business or products
Umari: But seriously it all depends on the industry
Katy: I’d say that a good digital marketing agency will try and work with you within the constraints of your budget. Even if it just boils down to consulting, that can't hurt. But with everything business owners are experiencing these days, I think allowing an agency like Speak to come in and do damage control for your brand and digital voice while you figure out which way is up isn’t ever money wasted. And if one approach isn’t working, we switch gears and find something that will. In short, it’s worth the money. Pedal to the medal, baby.
Jessica: It sounds like we have a slight difference of opinion here. YOLO vs. don't give into FOMO, Abi want to dive deeper into preserving your budget?
Abi Devins: I think I am talking about a business hopping on a trend or doing something just because everyone else is. It’s okay to sit some things out. If you are scattered in your messaging, you are going to exhaust all of your resources and distort your brand image.
Sarah Vaughan: What you said earlier about not needing a Twitter comes to mind.
Katy: Whew. Can you say that louder for the folks in the back? Haha. Like you said earlier, not everyone needs everything.
Sarah: Not every business needs a TikTok because it’s popular as a newer social platform
Abi: There is a large fight for your voice to be heard since everything is digital right now. Google, Facebook, Instagram, etc. would love some money to make sure that happens.
Katy: I think that investing in digital marketing as a whole is a good strategy. And if you already are, that's great. But some stuff is going to work for you, and other stuff isn't.
Sarah: #ad but an agency can really help you identify which of those areas you should be focusing on
Jessica: All great points. So somewhat unrelated, but I'm curious what everyone's most ridiculous YOLO quarantine purchase was. Mine was a humidifier I bought from an Instagram ad that turned out to be so miniature you could maybe put 1 tsp of water in it haha
Sarah: I panic bought a Switch but don’t regret it one bit
Rediscovered my love of Yoshi and all things Mario Kart
Umari: I purchased an Electric Kettle.
Abi: A house ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Katy: Oh man. Impulsing buying and I are well acquainted. This week I bought a can opener that opens tab-style drink cans and turns them into cups. Why? Because reasons
Sarah: Have been sitting on some Shrek-themed fuzzy slippers but have yet to purchase. We’ll see how it goes.
Jessica: All solid YOLO purchases, though I do hope Abi's purchase wasn't entirely impulse. So let's end with a more on topic question, if you could give one piece of advice to other marketing professionals out there, what would it be?
Katy: Hang in there and be ready to develop a plan to show your clients your value. Because as we’ve discovered, the digital climate can change in an instant. We’re 5 months in, but it’s still a shifting landscape right now, and it may be a while before everything normalizes (if it ever does).
Sarah: Don’t feel like you have to subscribe to every webinar
Umari: Be mindful of your impact on this world! We have the ability to set the stage
Sarah: To echo what Abi said, understanding the importance of nailing your mission and brand voice and centering your marketing strategies around that as opposed to feeling like you have to do what everyone else is doing
Katy: Also, be kind to yourself. Everyone's dealing with something right now. We're all humans.
Abi: GET OUTSIDE. Literally and figuratively. 1. Think outside the box. 2. All of your customers are spending more time outside, how does that change things for them? 3. Spend some time outside when you feel the screen fatigue. 4. There is a lot going on outside of your office (whatever that looks like) walls. How do you fit into that and like Umari said, how can you set the stage to make it better?
Sarah: And if you’re able, adopt a dog. They make everything better.
Katy: OH. Invest in a good chair.
Jessica: Do your own thing, be mindful of your impact, be kind, get outside, get a dog, and get a good chair. Sounds easy enough! All around great advice from some of the best marketers I know. Thanks to each of you for your input and for setting the stage well.
Katy: Any time!
Abi: Thank you!
Sarah: This was fun! Going to take Abi’s advice and get outside for a walk
Umari: Thanks Jess!
Abi: Same, and taking my dog with me
Katy: Take an umbrella, Sarah, haha.
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