Writing great headlines

The ridiculously simple secret to writing killer headlines


As the godfather of advertising, David Ogilvy, once wrote, “5 times as many people will read our headlines as will read our body copy, so once we’ve written our headlines we have spent 80 cents of our dollar.” David Ogilvy said that decades ago but I don’t think anything has changed. I thin the ability to create compelling and clickable headlines is among our most important tools as marketers.

Of course there are various rules to writing great headlines. There’s the ability to achieve what we call the curiosity gap so we hold back that information to spark an element of intrigue and mystery. There’s using lists which help frame expectations in the minds of users and reassure them that the content will be displayed in a scalable and digestible way. There’s ensuring we never engage in clickbait, so yes we can be a little sensationalist in our methods but we must always deliver on our promises.

However, I think that the rule that overshadows them all is the insistence upon a minimum number of headline options. This is something that the likes of Buzzfeed and Upworthy have become famous for, but I think it’s something that every organisation that publishes content online should insist upon. You might insist on 10 or 20 o3 30 but the point it that it’s an uncomfortable amount, because it’s only when we’re running out of ideas that we’ll start to approach it from a different angle and come up with something that’s truly creative and different and compelling. So yes, it takes a bit of extra time, but if David Ogilvy was correct and we have indeed spent 80 cents of our dollar when we’ve written our headline, then sure it’s worth a bit of extra effort.

See you next time!

Ecommerce website

Three vital considerations for any ecommerce strategy


As with any online business, the success in the long term of any ecommerce site is going to come down to its ability to build its brand. However, there are certain tactics that, if used correctly, can greatly increase your chances of success in the short term.

The first is from a search engine point of view. The great thing about ecommerce sites is that if it’s architecture is correctly structured, it should represent a catalogue of hundreds, even thousands of landing pages that can each bring in extremely targeted, highly converting traffic. However, in practice many ecommerce sites use dynamic URL’s to generate these landing pages, which means that when Google looks at the website, it see’s a far smaller number of landing pages than it should.

The other issue from a search engine perspective is that we don’t tend to consider the sheer breadth of user intents when people lands on a given landing page. For example, if someone’s searching for a particular t-shirt, we’ll focus on that product, rather than considering if they might like to see some really high-resolution imagery, or a video of someone a bit like them wearing the item, or customer review integration or even links to related fashion articles. Not only do each of these additional items improve conversion rate, but they also aid search rankings as Google’s aim is simply to provide the user with the best and broadest range of content for any given search query.

The other thing to mention is email. So for an ecommerce site their email list is their most important asset, and yet so often it’s heavily neglected. The reason it’s so important is that not only should it drive a significant proportion of your weekly sales, but it also, more than anything else, determines your average customer lifetime profit value, and of course the higher that number, the more you can spend on advertising to acquire them in the first place.

So yes, in the long term, the success of your ecommerce site is down to your brand, but there isn’t going to be a long term brand strategy without a viable and profitable short term, so make sure you get these foundations in place from the outset.

See you next time.


B2B Marketing

4 Fatal Mistakes Made By B2B Websites

When we think of really exciting, ambitious digital marketing campaigns, we tend to think on the consumer side. We tend to imagine that it’s somehow not possible for B2B brands, but of course that’s nonsense.

So I just want to run through some of the most common mistakes made by B2B organisations and some potential remedies.

The first is around brand - quite simply, they don’t have one. Even if they have a brand identity document, they idon’thave a true brand. They’re terrified of alienating anyone or saying the wrong thing or communicating to too narrow an audience. Consequently their messaging is very safe, very generic and doesn’t actually cut through the noise.

The second issue is around content strategy. Once again, they don’t have one, consequently they talk about their world rather than the things that interests their audience. So, for example, if their audience is owner managed businesses then they need to talk about the things that interest business owners - leadership sales, culture, marketing, etc. Of course at some point we have to find the intersection of their world and ours so that we can actually sell to them, but we have to start on their terms.

The this problem is with influencer marketing. We tend to think of influencer marketing as something that is just within the consumer space, but of course every industry has influencers. So, for example, going back to our example of owner managed businesses, if that’s our audience then we should be seeking to engage with business owners within our target sector or region. Not only will it lead to infinitely more interesting content, but they will then share it with their audience which 9 times out of 10 is going to be the audience we want to get in front of.

Finally, there’s the issue of paid distribution of content. Very often businesses will be happy to create content that takes half a dozen hours as that’s using a resource they’re already paying for, but then they’re terrified of spending £5 or £10 to promote the content on LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter, which renders it completely useless.

Every now and again you’ll stumble across a B2B brand that is a true exception to the rule and because these exceptions are so rare, they tend to be able to achieve remarkable success, on relatively conservative budgets. So just make sure you are one of the exceptions.

See you next time.



GDPR 2: the different implications for B2B and B2C marketing


On the the 25th May, 2018, the GDPR will come into affect, and the implications could be quite significant from a marketing perspective, but I think it's important to distinguish between implications for B2B and B2C marketers.

So, starting with B2C, this is where the implications will be most significant, unless you have clear consent from the person opting in, and unless they understood exactly what that data was going to be used for, then you will not be able to use it any more. You won't be able to use it for email or SMS, or for targeting people on other platforms, such as social media.

For B2B, the rules are a little less stringent. You will be able to continue using data for people that have not specifically opted in, as long as it was simple for them to opt out and they understood exactly what their data is being used for.

So over the next six months this is your window of opportunity to communicate with your audience, and if you're on the B2C side, get as many of your audience to opt in as possible, or if your wording was a bit vague, to reengage with them and make it clear what that wording will be used for. If you're on the B2B side reengage with the audience, give them the opportunity to opt out and ensure they are clear what their data is being used for.

If you can do that then hopefully you can ensure your house is relatively in order come May 25th next year.

See you next time.


GDPR opportuntiies and benefits

GDPR 1: The Potential Marketing Opportunies


On May 25th, 2018, the GDPR will come into affect, and people are under stably concerned about the implications from a marketing point of view. However, I think that as with any major change, there will be opportunities for those that move the fastest, and I want to speculate for a moment as to what they might look like.

The first, and this may not be the most glamorerous, but from an organisational perspective, I think this represents an opportunity to get our houses in order. We're all guilty of it. We all have old databases, lists on mail chimp, and even business cards tucked away in drawers. It's disorganised and unsegmented. I think this is an opportunity to start using this data far more effectively.

The second is from an engagement point of view. Yes, GDPR will almost certainly mean that we end up with smaller databases, but that data will be more targeted, which means more engagement and less wastage. And as we know, social media algorithms favour brands with content that achieve high levels of engagement, so those brands will then be rewarded with even more exposure.

The third, and perhaps most important, is from a brand differentiation perspective. This hasn't just come about because regulators want to be a pain. It's come about because it really matters to the public, to consumers. In fact when they have been surveyed in recent years in terms of what impacts their ability to trust a brand, consistently what comes out on top is matters of data privacy and security.

The final point is around SEO. If this matters to consumers then it will matter to Google, so I think it stands to reason that those websites that prioritise these issues and build them into the design of websites, are going to benefit within the search engines.

So rather than moaning about GDPR or burying our heads in the sand, we need to be proactive, think positively, and ultimately try to turn this to our advantage.

See you next time.

Content marketing efficiency

Four ways to be more efficient with your content marketing


Content marketing has become huge in recent years. In fact recent studies have shown that the vast majority of both B2B and B2C brands are engaging in content marketing in one form or another.

Perhaps the biggest challenge with content is that it's so time intensive, and consequently it's essential that we're constantly thinking about how we can use our resources more effectively.

First of all, you need clear themes to work within - trying to come up with inspiration every week is incredibly draining and time consuming. You need clear themes and objective.

Secondly, you need to focus on creating small amounts of amazing content rather than large quantities of rubbish content. There is just far too much content online now to expect to achieve anything with generic, poorly thought through articles and blog posts, for example.

Then you need to ensure you are putting some serious media budget behind it. There is no point spending hundreds of pounds in man hours on creating a piece of content if you don't then bother to spend £5 or £10 promoting it to ensure it actually reaches its audience.

You should also consider how to prioritise evergreen content that will be relevant for years to come as that kind of content will bring in new visitors every day and really build your website as a content asset.

Finally, ensure that this content is distributed everywhere - the blog, email, social media, even offline. That's the key - create once, distribute everywhere!

See you next time.

Google analytics, the only traffic graph that matters

The only traffic graph in analytics that's worth obsessing over


One of the biggest challenges from an analytics perspective is being able to filter out the noise. We jump on to Google Analytics, see the traffic going up, and then can't fathom why this isn't reflected in the conversion data. The problem is that website traffic on its own doesn’t tell you much, because only a very small proportion of those will actually be people who are looking to buy something. Yes it’s great for brand awareness if lots of people are landing on your blogs or browsing your galleries - of course that can only be a good thing, but its value per visit is minute. Whereas there are other sections of your website - the pages where you sell stuff - where the value is substantial.

For example, if I have a 5% conversion rate on a particular service landing page, and the value of a conversion is £1000, then the value of each visitor on that page is £50. That’s not insignificant!

So this is what I suggest you do - create a segment in google analytics that includes noting but these landing pages, which are basically all your service pages.

You may or may not want to include the home page, which in some cases can convert, but generally I wouldn’t as again there’s just too much noise on there.

Have this segment set up permanently so it is always there whenever you go in.

Then when you go into analytics, yes you can play around looking at different things, but in just one click you can see the traffic that actually pays the bills.

See you next time.


Three reasons why email is the unsung hero of digital marketing


Email is often overlooked - perhaps because it’s seen as a bit old fashioned. But in most markets, it’s the single most valuable asset you have alongside your website.

There are three primary reasons for this:
- It can drive sales like crazy - in many ecommernce markets, promotional emails account for the majority of sales made. There are some huge brands online who make up to 95% of their sales via promotional offers they send via email.
- It can drive your content promotion on social media - this may sound counterintuitive but a lot of brands will struggle to promote their content directly on social media as people can be reluctant to share content from a brand. However, if you send it out via email, then your core audience will share it on your behalf, and their contacts will then be far more inclined to share it further.
- You own it - you have no control over what Facebook or Twitter will do in the next12 months. You may lose your business page one day and there’s nothing you can do about it, or more likely they’ll just continue to raise the cost of advertising until it becomes prohibitive. Your email list, on the other hand, is yours.

So email may not be the most glamorous of marketing channels, but for many businesses it’s one of the most important. If that isn’t the case for your business then perhaps you’re not paying enough attention to it?

See you next time.

How far can a brand be stretched?


Over the last couple of years I’ve interviewed a number of CEOs and CMO’s from the world's most exciting brands, and one of my favourite questions to ask is how far they believe they can stretch their brand. After all, once you have that brand equity built up, it’s only natural to want to channel it in new directions in order to grow sales.

I should say that there is a slight difference between brand stretching and brand extensions but for the sake of this short video we’re going to keep it all fairly simple.

So, for example, if a DIY company sells hammers and has a great reputation among its target audience, then it may decide to also sell nails. If anything it would be slightly irritating to the audience if they didn’t sell nails, right?

But how far can this go? Should a gym also sell trainers? Should lamborghini sell speed boats? Should a digital marketing agency also print business cards?

Well in the interviews I’ve conducted with these CEO’s and CMO’s, there are four common themes I’ve found in their answers:
- They can do it well - well that’s pretty obvious. It needs to connect to a core operational competence and not take you in some unknown direction.
- They continue to speak to the same people - the whole point about brand equity is that a certain person already trusts you and likes buying from you, so it stands to reason that your new products should still be geared towards those people, otherwise the products aren’t inheriting any value from the parent brand.
- They make sure it is adding value to these people - you have to believe that the product or service is really helping these people, and it’s not just a lazy way of earning a few more sales.
- They never lose touch with their core/essence - what is that one thing that most defines the business above everything else? If the gym is known for its personal service, then selling trainers would be fine just as long as they were sold in a personal manner. McDonalds’ core is convenience, so if they started selling pasta dishes that took 8 minutes to prepare, it wouldn’t work.

The most important thing to remember, however, is that before these brands have even considered stretching their brands, they’ve made sure they’ve absolutely owned their primary audience with their existing products or services. If there are any inherent problems in your current offering, trying to stretch it further will only bring the whole thing tumbling down.

So before you even ask yourself this question, first make sure that you're the number one brand in your existing marketplace.

See you next time.

whatsapp ads logo

Monetizing Channels: Why We’re Going to Start Seeing Ads on WhatsApp

We didn’t see it far coming. Facebook owned WhatsApp has 1.3 billion users worldwide – that’s six hundred million more than Instagram. Analyst estimates for Instagram's revenue in 2017 average nearly $4 billion; Clearly whatever Mark Zuckerberg has been able to get his hands on, he has been able to monetize it.


Ad placements have massively developed in the last year, Facebook Messenger recently monetized with the new call-to-action “Click to Message”. It’s clear that it’s only a matter of time before WhatsApp follows suit. Although some still believe the move to include advertising on WhatsApp will be the last resort.


WhatsApp’s stance has always been anti-advertising. In a 2012 blog post by WhatsApp’s CEO, Jean Koum wrote: “No one wakes up excited to see more advertising, no one goes to sleep thinking about the ads they’ll see tomorrow, we know people go to sleep excited about who they chatted with that day (and disappointed about who they didn’t).”

Koum has even gone as far to say that advertising is insulting and disruptive, which further adds to the “heated” conversation as to whether ads, overall, have a negative impact on user experience. It seems there’s a slight disconnect between WhatsApp’s vision and Facebook’s revenue ambition. With digital ad spend (37.6%) expected to overtake TV (35.9%) in 2018, can WhatsApp afford to miss out?

WhatsApp has recently announced a new offering for companies. Global enterprises, will be able “to provide customers with useful notifications like flight times, delivery confirmations, and other updates”. SME’s will have access to a free app (although the specific functionality has not yet been announced).

Tweet This: Digital ad spend is expected to overtake TV in 2018, can WhatsApp afford to miss out with ads?

TechCrunch has recently discovered code in Facebook’s Ad Manager that lets advertisers create ads with the call-to-action “Send WhatsApp Message”. Like Facebook Messenger, users have to agree to be messaged on WhatsApp by initiating the conversation.

facebook messenger click to talk call to action
Facebook Messenger released the “Click to Message” ads back in 2015. Which supports the growing trend that users would rather get their questions answered via text exchange rather than picking up the phone.

Across the board, we are seeing more user engagement over instant messaging, especially with the rise in popularity of messenger bots and Facebook injecting display ads into Messenger. It’s not surprising to find that WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger process 60 billion messages a day. That’s three times more than the worldwide volume of SMS messages!

As Mark Zuckerberg once said: “Messaging is one of the few things that people do more than social networking”.

Tweet this: Messaging is one of the few things that people do more than social networking - Will ads appear on WhatsApp?

What does this mean for the marketer?

The new ad feature will allow brands to spark conversations with their customers and then have the ability to contact them in the future such as a sponsored message. WhatsApp did write that it wants to facilitate “someone placing an order with a local bakery or looking at new styles from a clothing store” and “shopkeepers who use WhatsApp to stay in touch with hundreds of customers from a single smartphone”, plus offer “an easier way to respond to messages.” For example, an e-commerce business could buy Facebook ads that entice users to message the business through WhatsApp, then the store could then later message that user with a promotion.

With over 1 billion daily active users, WhatsApp has achieved significant growth with many brands already utilizing the platform to reach out to its customers. Mark Zuckerberg himself said “I want to see us move faster” on Messenger on WhatsApp. He also hinted using other messaging platforms such as China’s WeChat (where they charge companies a set-up fee and another fee for each interaction) as a floor. The question is, to what extent is Facebook willing to allow brands to advertise on WhatsApp without interfering with the simple user experience?

I'd love to hear your views on whether it would be a good move by Facebook or ideas on how you could utilize WhatsApp as a channel to reach out and keep in contact with your customers!