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Metric Masterminds, Episode 104: Cory Smith & John Pellinghelli Deep Dive On Cross Channel Marketing Strategies

By Scott Ginsberg, Content Manager at Metric Digital

Welcome to another episode of Metric Masterminds!

These weekly chats are digital marketing deep dives from our resident experts at Metric Digital.

(If you missed our last episode, you can still dig in to our post about client service best practices.)

How many channels should a business take advantage of in order to reach potential customers? All of them. And not in isolation, either. Successful brands grow revenue by integrating messages across all platforms.

I sat down with Co-Founder John Pellinghelli & VP of Email Cory Smith to chat about communicating with consumers across multiple touch points. Topics covered include:

1. Integrating data, inputs and knowledge
2. Why brands miss the mark on cross channel marketing
3. Educating clients about the cross channel journey
4. Leveraging creative across multiple platforms
5. Communicating with clients
6. Testing performance
7. Curiosity
8. Lightning round

# # #

Scott: For starters, what is a cross channel strategy?

John: It’s leveraging the value of one marketing platform to enhance another. And after our years of hands on experience running campaigns across multiple channels, we’ve developed our own approach to doing so. 

First, we consider the insights that we’ve gained on patterns we're seeing. For example: what keywords are working well, which audiences are clicking, what creative is working, and so on. Then we ask ourselves, “Where else can we integrate this?”

Scott: Do you leverage knowledge, or actually inputs and data?

Cory: The latter is what people are going for. Brands want to know that they can target customers on as many channels as possible.

John: We definitely feel like if you're running these channels in isolation and viewing them in isolation, you're missing a huge opportunity. The data is out there, and if you're not connecting the dots on it, it's a waste.

Scott: Does it becomes a “two plus two equals five" kind moment, where multiple channels amplify what wouldn’t be as powerful in isolation?

Hail to the thief!

John: Definitely. Plus that's a great song by Radiohead.

Cory: If you’re doing it right, your customers should be seeing you more often. Even if you only have one action, they’re going to get something in many different channels. Say you abandoned your shopping cart. You might get an email about it, you might get retargeted with an ad, or you might get a variety of other messages.

Scott: And yet, all brands aren’t doing this. What objections do they have against cross channel strategies?

Cory: It's mainly an operational thing. They don't necessarily have the knowledge or the bandwidth to execute something like this. Different departments are competing against each other for sales instead of working together. 

Plus, everybody wants their thing to work. Everyone wants to claim credit for something. A sale for the company doesn't necessarily mean it’s good for a particular team. But fortunately, for our agency, what's good for the company is good for us.

John: There's also a weird dynamic of being a really, really big company at the enterprise level. They have a dedicated person that they’re working with, who is tracking all customer data, and then it's hooked up to their programmatic buying platform. All of those things are happening, but only if their marketing spend is $50,000,000 a year. If it’s only 1 million, that’s different.

But for a smaller company who is doing marketing programs half in house, and half with an agency, that means a lot of third party firms have touched all these channels. In fact, there are very few marketing agencies that are experts in Facebook, Adwords and Email. Which means, they're not going to show up to a meeting with a cross channel idea.

Metric differentiates ourselves in this very way. We have clients with customers who haven't opened emails in a year. But they’re past purchasers, so we get them to reactivate it through Facebook and through Gmail sponsored promotions. 

A sampling of Metric Digital clients

Other agencies simply are not going to think to do that. Even if they do bring ideas like that, then there’s the challenge of actually executing, which they don’t know how to do.

Scott: How does this scenario change at a big company with deep pockets?

John: Well, that’s the other end of the spectrum: Large companies that actually have a data management platform. Totally different challenge. The email team is siloed from the search team. The Facebook team probably sits on the branding side. Nobody's actually incentivized to talk to each other. And so, all the data is there, but people aren’t trained to get those channels talking with each other. That's when people hire us.

Scott: How does that new client conversation start?

Cory: Often times, the conversation starts when somebody says, “We saw a brand do this thing, and we want to do it too.” They’re starting to realize that they're not doing something well. And in many cases, email is a great place to start.

Here’s a hypothetical example. You have an email promotion for, say, a purse. 

The question to ask is, “What can we do with that?” And it depends on what data points you have for them. Some examples:

*What they're doing on your website
*Their purchase behavior
*IP address to know your location
*How they're reacting to emails if they're opening them and clicking

Those are all signals that are quick to tell you, wow this person that is opening all 20 of the last emails we sent, but he's never made a purchase. That person might be primed to make a purchase of high value you that you are not aware of. And then you would pass the ball over to the other team.

John: Email is definitely a very powerful input on Google, and Facebook, and for the most part, you can layer on those email audiences onto existing campaigns and use that to adjust your bids. And you'll definitely want to pay a higher bid for somebody that's on your mailing list if they're also searching for your product.

It gets really interesting when you view search as a way to supplement what you're doing on email. Look at sequencing. When somebody signs up for the first email, they get your message, they receive your welcome automated email flow. They received that, and then there's a promo to save 10 percent off your first purchase. They might see that email. Then they might click through on the side, but they don't purchase. 

Why not use that for remarketing your site visitor? If you knew that they were on your email list, they had gotten an email and didn't use it, give a promo code. Then that changes the way you do your creative strategy. That’s how these channels could (and should) work together.

Cory: Ultimately, if you know all the signals about the customer, they're going to have a higher lead score and be more likely to convert for you. Those the kinds of people you really want to push messages to.

Scott: Let's say you have a piece of creative, a Facebook ad that's super convertible. How do you make sure you don't miss out on some other platforms with that same concept?

Cory: As with everything in marketing, you want to be testing things. And if you learn from a test on one platform, it doesn't necessarily mean that it's going to work on another platform. But it is something worth testing. If something works on Facebook, it may be a good idea to test something similar to see if it might convert in email.

Let's say you sell raincoats and they performed really well on Facebook, but you haven't really promoted them.

It may just be that everywhere you ran the ad, it was raining that day. Or maybe people just didn't know about it.

Good creative is a good starting point, but I don't think that's necessarily the case that everything that works on one platform is going to translate it. You should be testing it and you should be communicating with each other to find that out.

John: One of the best ad types on Facebook is going to be the Product Catalog Remarketing Ad, which is going to be dynamically generated based on what people were looking at and showing purchase intent for. Usually email isn't really that closely connected to the site. And so, an email typically is a brand pushing out to people with the communication. On Facebook with Product Catalog, it's the opposite. It's Facebook reading what people are doing on the brand site, and then serving the creative accordingly.

There's a lot of data that you can mine out of that and use to inform what's happening on email. That's actually a very specific and really actionable element to unveil. 

In the words of the great cross channel marketer...

*What are some of the products people are responding to the best?
*What kind of categories are they responding to the best?

Cory: And it's not a silver bullet. We tried this with a client. Didn’t work. Just because the ad is personalized doesn’t necessarily mean it’s better. That’s why we scaled that campaign back. Sometimes customers just see something they kind of glaze over.

Scott: Metric has all the major platforms covered. What’s our unique approach to solving the multi-channel marketing approach?

Cory: One of our culture mantras is, "Come with strong opinions loosely held." Meaning, with every client, we notice what's wrong, figure out why, fix it, and communicate prolifically every step of the way. After all, clients want us to lead them.

And so, it's not about technology, it's about making sure communication lines are open and shared across the team. When the client shares something with me that I see strategic value in, I make sure everybody on the relevant team knows about it right away.

John: Fundamentally, there's not a playbook for this stuff. Metric has unique point of view into these different channels because unlike many agencies, we are looking at somebody's Facebook or Adwords, search queries, their Amazon account, their Pinterest account, and so on. We see how people are discovering a brand. The actual search intent.

Amazon, for example, is super commerce based. It's becoming more and more the point of origin for people's product-based searching on the Internet. And there's so much data that is proprietary to Amazon. But if you are running your campaigns there, then at least you get insight into the searches people are making for your products and your ads.

We’re leveraging that data and we're trying to find more ways to leverage it. It’s not that there's this one tool that we recommend all of our clients use that hooks everything up, because there isn't. All of our clients are on different technologies and engines. It really takes the right mindset and some level of streamlining of the processes that we put in place.

Scott: Which means Metric IS the tool that clients use.

John: Exactly. It’s an extension of our brand value of ownership. And when it comes to actual hard, customer data, we're using the appropriate technology and tools. But there's a sensitivity there. Customer personal information needs to be secure. There are so many different levels of cross platform interaction, and so, we do it in a way that’s different from other agencies.

Curiosity killed the cat, but not the giraffe. #CasualFriday

Our focus on cross channel marketing is also an expression of our company value of curiosity. I really strongly believe that if you're in this industry and you don't have curiosity, then you're not really going to be happy. And your clients won't be as profitable as they could. This is something our team constantly pushes and seeks. Coming up with questions and then seeking those answers. Not only for ourselves, but also for our team and clients. 

Cory: We're highly focused on performance, too. People don't hire us to make their brands for them. I’ve worked on a brand team before and it’s totally different. Allowing yourself to own your brand and build it keeps it siloed. But you can give performance over to somebody else to worry about. It divorces clients from having to worry so much about the brand. They only have to give us so many pieces to work with. And we’re not going to take the liberty of changing the brand. That’s not what we're hired to do.

Scott: Okay, I think it's time for everyone's favorite segment of Metric Masterminds, The Lightning Round!

Cory: Let’s make it rain baby!

John: Thunder fears Beast Mode.

Scott: I will throw out a prompt, you must respond "Yea" or "Nay," and a brief explanation if need be.

Marketing is more art than science
==> Yeah or Nay?

Cory: Nay, equal parts both

John: Agreed. It’s a balance

Sales is the number one objective
==> Yeah or Nay?

Cory: As long as you get their email, you win.

John: Nay, conversion could mean a lot of things

Myspace is coming back
==> Yeah or Nay?

Cory: Please let this be true.

John: I’ll pretend you didn’t just ask that question.

Attribution can’t accurately forecast sales
==> Yeah or Nay?

Cory: Yeah, but attribution takes us one step closer.

John: Yeah, if you can’t measure it, you can’t optimize it.

Programmatic advertising
==> Yeah or Nay?

Cory: Mostly nay, since our typical client is very performance oriented

John: Nay, programmatic is not a core offering for us, but we do have knowledge in this space.

Too many marketing channels is spamming
==> Yeah or Nay?

Cory: As VP of Email, spam is a four letter word. Be everywhere, but also be careful

John: Nay, if you solve a customer’s problem, your brand is the hero.

Content is kind of a big deal
==> Yeah or Nay?

Cory: Word. Maybe the biggest.

John: I think Cory’s beard is a big deal.

Thanks guys!

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Scott Ginsberg Head of Content, Metric Digital The Metric Digital Blog A Blog on All Things Digital Marketing