digital strategy masterclass Q&A

What a great turn out, our digital strategy masterclass at Kensington Roof Gardens was buzzing! The Q&A panel were bouncing off the walls with all the questions being thrown at them. So much so, we ran out of time to answer them all. Never fear, we've kept our promise and we’ve pulled together all the questions in one place for you to enjoy. Ta da!

✰ If you could do one thing digital in your marketing in 2017, what would it be?

It would be to remove the Chinese wall between marketing and digital marketing. That might sound like marketing waffle but it’s true. We need to realise that they are one and the same. Getting buy-in from your company and integrating digital into the process as early possible is vital, and if you can make this your priority in 2017, you’ll make life a lot easier. Now, if you want to know what one thing you should try… personally I’d say lead gen adverts because: 1) everyone gets such huge drop-off with pushing customers to external sites and data entry forms, and 2) they’re going to get super-integrated with Canvas, 360 Video, Instagram, etc. It’ll help everything, really.

 👉 (answered by Khal Harris: Digital Strategist. Ask a follow-up question by dropping him an email here or using the comments section below)👈

✰ Is Snapchat safe for brands?

This is an interesting question. The answer is a caveated yes. Snapchat is as safe as any other social network, really. If anything, it’s slightly safer because content and messages self-destruct like a lower budget Mission: Impossible prop. The truth is, social networks aren’t dangerous so long as your staff or social media agency are sensible and know what they’re doing. A proper policy, including tone of voice document and proper management tools (Hootsuite, Sprout Social, etc.) and a crisis management plan prepared in advance, means you can promote your business across any platform or social media network without worry. Have a look at our sister agency HPS Jardine’s crisis management blog here for inspiration and this case study about social crisis management (admittedly by me, so sorry about that).

👉 (answered by Khal Harris: Digital Strategist. Ask a follow-up question by dropping him an email here or using the comments section below)👈

✰ What guidance can you offer about what proportion of my total marketing spend I should be investing in digital marketing?

First of all, let me preface this by saying that you’ve asked a Digital Strategist, so I’m mandated to tell you, “All of it!” However, in all seriousness, this question will be difficult to answer without an understanding of the Situational Analysis stage we talked about in the SOSTAC framework. The best place to start is by understanding your buyer personas – knowing where your target audience spend their time consuming media will be the biggest influence on your media split. If they spend a lot of time reading newspapers and specialist interest magazines or are particularly responsive to sales phone calls, then it’s easier to justify the offline spend.

The approach I take to all marketing is that I don’t care where a sale or a lead comes from, I just want a lot of them and at the cheapest price I can get. I hear from a lot of clients that a lead is more ‘premium’ because it came from an inbound call after having seen an ad in a magazine, but a lead is a lead; it’s an undifferentiated ‘product’. So if Facebook gives me leads a £23 per lead, PPC at £41 and email at £28 I’m going to drive my entire budget at the lowest cost option until I’ve exhausted it, and then the second lowest cost, and so on. Budget plays a big part too; my recommendation is only turn to offline for one of two reasons: a) your persona research strongly suggests your audience consumes media here, or b) you have spare budget. Because digital is so much more trackable, and you’re able to optimise and assign ROI values etc. it’s the easier win, and it’s so much easier to answer questions regarding performance from superiors, and ultimately prove that you’ve done a good job!

In summary, I think assigning results to offline is so much more difficult, so unless you’re doing an awareness job, have budget to spare, or have exhausted your digital channels, then I’d look to have as much budget as possible in digital mediums.

👉 (answered by Phil Aiston: Digital Strategist. Ask a follow up question by dropping him an email here, or using the comments section below)👈

✰ Who do you recommend for competition landing page/data option providers?

We use Short Stack but need to upgrade. We have used a service called Wishpond for our clients in the past and we find it does everything we need: https://www.wishpond.com/social-promotions/ It’s great if you do competitions regularly and pricing starts from $45/month.

Alternatively, a few of us have started noticing brands facilitating competition entries through the Facebook lead ad format. If you haven’t heard of them, in short, an ad is served to a target consumer with the CTA asking them to enter the competition; one tap opens a form within the Facebook app which pre-populates with the information a user gave to Facebook when they signed up (name, email, etc.); one more tap and they’ve submitted their entry. This frictionless form fill method results in a lot less abandonment and it’s easy to make sure your competition is targeted to the right people. You can of course add custom elements to the Facebook lead ad forms to capture more specific info. More information is available here:



👉 (answered by Phil Aiston: Digital Strategist. Ask a follow up question by dropping him an email here, or using the comments section below)👈

✰ Will chatbots kill off apps in some sectors?

PHIL - My personal opinion is that chatbots will serve a very specific function in a digital world. We’re all cynical human beings and unless they can pass a Turing test, we’ll all know when we’re talking to a bot and when we’re not. For me, for the most part, chatbots will form a first-line filter for customer service queries, essentially acting as a ‘live’ FAQ section which can answer the simple questions and pass those more complex queries on to the customer services team.

We’ve already seen (and we’re likely to see more of) big brands doing clever things with chatbots


and if they have the time and money to spend working out the kinks, then we may see them replace more transactional focused apps in the future, such as this example from Domino’s.

So in summary:



KHAL – My intention is to build a chatbot to replace Phil, collect his wages with it, then finally to replace myself and live on a beach somewhere funded entirely by robots!

👉 (answered by Phil Aiston: Digital Strategist. Ask a follow up question by dropping him an email here, or using the comments section below)👈

✰ As a B2B business, how can you use live social video, e.g. Periscope? What would it be best used for?

First of all, when it comes to live streaming, there are a number of potential providers: Facebook Live, Periscope, Meerkat and Livestream to name a few. A quick bit of persona research would be useful to help you decide which to focus on – if you have a higher following on Twitter, then maybe you want to use Periscope, and perhaps Facebook Live if your audience is largest there.

OK, so looking at content for a B2B audience, what is important for live streaming is to create or document an event of interest that is “in the moment”; a few ideas might include:

  • Giving a behind the scenes view at an important company event, like a key product launch/update
  • Have a quarterly “ask us anything” session with an expert where you might address an interesting topic but then take direct Q&A from the streaming audience
  • Create a more “human” perception of your organisation by taking viewers “behind the curtain” with a regular stream that follows interesting members of your staff – sales departments tend to have some great personalities, but try and get buy-in from anywhere you can – product designers, engineers, researchers, anyone who really knows their stuff about a specific area

When looking at what to stream, it really should tie in with a well-thought-out content strategy and align with your other marketing objectives; this will make the difference between a novel one-off event, and a useful, business relevant marketing channel.

Also, don’t forget that if you are planning a live stream, you must promote it to your audience; otherwise, you are naught but a tree falling in a forest.


👉 (answered by Phil Aiston: Digital Strategist. Ask a follow up question by dropping him an email here, or using the comments section below)👈

✰ What is the best digital channel to promote your ‘story’ to increase brand awareness and interest?

If you’ve read any of the other answers I’ve given on this page then I may be starting to sound like a broken record, but it really is an important point – the best place to start is with persona research. Where do your prospects spend their time, and how can you engage them there? Taking two extremes, I could be a smoothie brand which engages millennials through Snapchat and Instagram Stories by producing micro-video content that conveys my brand values. Conversely, I could be a global B2B telecoms provider and my audience might find interactive webinar sessions very useful and in those sessions I can communicate my brand’s strengths.

But that’s probably not the answer you’re after, so let’s look at an example that could hopefully work for a number of brands. If I’m trying to convey a ‘story’ then the metrics I need to track are dwell time, bounce rate, pages per session, that kind of thing. One format we mentioned in the masterclass is Facebook Canvas, which is a great way to tell a brand’s story and offers some great options to create a wonderful narrative. Check out www.facebook.com/groups/canvasexamples/ for some ideas and inspiration. They’re relatively easy to set up and are excellent for that top-of-the-funnel brand awareness and understanding, and we’re seeing a good amount of dwell time in the industry – I believe it’s around 31 seconds spent on a Canvas on average.

Alternatively, all of your storytelling needs to occur on-site, and you need to look at effective channels for driving traffic to that site, whilst also tracking the user experience in terms of the metrics we mentioned earlier. We find that Facebook carousels are a great format for driving inexpensive web traffic with CPC coming under the 45p mark in most cases.

👉 (answered by Phil Aiston: Digital Strategist. Ask a follow up question by dropping him an email here, or using the comments section below)👈

✰ Please give examples of good benchmarking websites for Google Analytics statistics for B2B FMCG companies.

Ok, so you’re probably not going to like this too much… but there aren’t any. Good benchmarks and traffic stats are essentially business assets. People are very unlikely to share them because that’s valuable business insight. You wouldn’t (usually) publish profit margins and mark-ups, and for some businesses this data is similarly important. When you do tend to see industry benchmarks, it’s from service providers like email distributors or agencies looking for new clients. The best thing to do, firstly, is get your head truly around Google Analytics by studying and taking their Individual Qualification. It lasts for 18 months and it is industry-recognised. Study videos, practice accounts and mock quizzes over a week and take the exam at the end. Once you know what you’re looking for, you’ll be able to start to work out your own benchmarks – in the end, they’re all that matters.

👉 (answered by Khal Harris: Digital Strategist. Ask a follow up question by dropping him an email here, or using the comments section below)👈

✰ Is it worth using sources like MailChimp when it’s likely servers will block emails, so it’s not true analytics?

You’ve got a healthy scepticism for false analytics and that’s fantastic! Especially in the week when Facebook just admitted that they might have over-estimated all video views by, oh, between 40-80% due to not discounting people who stopped after three seconds or less. The truth is no system is infallible, from tracking pixels to header images, cookies or hardware profiling. However, what we can do is apply a bit of logic to believable figures. MailChimp will have servers block their emails, but enough will get through to give you a reasonable picture. You can then apply click-through rates and compare them both with industry averages and your own experiences. Do the numbers check out? Are you, or they, getting way fewer clicks or lower web traffic than you’d expect? So, while it won’t be truly true analytics, it’s a damn sight better than guessing how many people saw an advert in a paper or on a billboard, or licking your finger and pointing it in the air to see which way the wind is blowing - and you can use your own team’s expertise to fine tune and analyse the results.

👉 (answered by Khal Harris: Digital Strategist. Ask a follow up question by dropping him an email here, or using the comments section below)👈

✰ What would you recommend as the most effective channel for conversations in B2B marketing?

As you’re probably aware, LinkedIn is a massive channel for B2B marketing, but I know anecdotally that people are quick to give up on it because it does take so much attention and effort, but here’s a tip - be clear about who you need to be building relationships with from the outset, and be specific - industry sector, company, job title of relevant decision maker, geographic location and then share information (news updates, web resources, own blog content, etc.) that will be of value to your network. LinkedIn Groups are fantastic for starting conversation, but be realistic with your time and focus on one or two aspects of LinkedIn, such as networking and engaging in discussions in 3-5 LinkedIn Groups maximum. Share good content and position yourself as a thought leader.

You’ve seen first-hand how we do this here at hps; our Masterclass programme itself is how we spark conversations that hopefully lead to client relationships – we’re having a conversation right now! Can you lead industry seminars, or perhaps attend one as a guest speaker?

I’d also refer you to another question asked on this page about live streaming for B2B, as there can be some great conversation starters to be had there too.

👉 (answered by Phil Aiston: Digital Strategist. Ask a follow up question by dropping him an email here, or using the comments section below)👈

✰ Snapchat or Instagram stories?

That depends what for. I’d lean towards Instagram Stories because, as we mentioned during the Masterclass, Snapchat offers no analytics and no advertising. So Snapchat is fun and connects with younger people in a fun way, but you don’t know how many, for how long, when, and whether they then share or look at your product or do anything else. Use Instagram Stories (a frankly shameless but very good replication) and benefit from all of Instagram’s (and therefore Facebook’s) marketing data and advertising nous. And if you have the capacity and don’t need any concrete results – and, most importantly, if it fits your brand – you can do some Snapchat as well. Just don’t turn your brand into a pumpkin spice latte!

👉 (answered by Khal Harris: Digital Strategist. Ask a follow up question by dropping him an email here, or using the comments section below)👈

✰ What do you think about Twitter? Is it dead?

KHAL - Yeah, I think so. Then again, I have been saying this (usually incorrectly) since about 2008! The truth is, Twitter has changed and other social networks have evolved faster and become more fertile ground for marketing. Twitter’s now best placed for a news tool and, really, is optimal for PR rather than marketing. Customers go there to complain, to get news and to communicate with brands. Twitter advertising is usually a lot more costly than FB, Instagram, Google Display Network, etc. and doesn’t offer as many rich formats. For 2017, I’d say use Twitter organically for news/updates/comms (if relevant to your brand) and only spend money there if you need to seed a new account quickly; otherwise, save paid for elsewhere. One possible glimmer of light is that, allegedly, but don’t quote me on this, Google and Salesforce are said to be considering a buyout of Twitter. This could flood it with amazing advertising options and CRM integration, but that’s just a rumour…

PHIL - Think about Twitter like a jellyfish trapped in a tiny rock pool – the beating sun is the pressure from all its competitors, the engaged user base is represented by the water in that pool slowly trickling away, and the intelligence of Twitter’s product development team is represented by the jellyfish itself – basically a slow, brainless central nervous system, that ultimately is doomed to shrivel up and vanish, just not quite yet. It would take one hell of a high tide to offset the inevitable.

Unless you’re a celeb, a journalist, a publisher or David Dimbleby, then Twitter should not be top of your priorities (unless you have a specific focus on customer service). As always, ask yourself, “Are my audience there?” and more importantly with Twitter, “Do they ever engage?”

👉 (answered by Khal Harris, and Phil Aiston: Digital Strategists. Ask a follow up question by dropping them an email here, or using the comments section below)👈



Digital Strategist, tech fan and cheese afficionado

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