The Holy Grail Of Marketing Is The Design Of Lean, Often Cross-Channel, User Journeys

Interview with Ivo van den Brand, Director at Insights & Strategy Consultancy, Mavens of London


Ivo van den Brand is Director at Insights & Strategy Consultancy Mavens of London. In his previous role as Director of Global Digital Marketing at Phillips Personal Care, he set up Philips Personal Care’s first in-house Real-Time Marketing command centre, designed to build and activate consumer-centric digital engagement programmes.

We sat down with Ivo ahead of the Digital Marketing Innovation Summit, taking place this October 19-20 in London.

How did you get started in your career?

I started my career at a start-up Communications agency, after which I moved on to work for large international agencies and global consumer brands, transitioning into (digital) Marketing. I find that my background in Communications has proven valuable in helping brands optimise their digital marketing efforts. The starting point for me and my teams has always been to listen, understand and empathise the audience, instead of starting from the intended broadcast message or branded pitch. I believe that this audience-centric mindset paired with a clear (commercial) objective setting and an understanding of the available technology, provides a good balance to help be both relevant and effective in integrated marketing.

What in your view is the future of data-driven advertising? How personalized will marketing become?

Advertising will (of course) get more and more data-driven. The degree of subsequent personalization, however, will and should differ across industries, categories and audience groups. For certain product categories, consumers may not require personalisation in order for the marketing to be effective. With these, often FMCG, categories – and this differs across markets and cultures – it may feel uncomfortable or even inappropriate to be engaged with a very direct and personalised approach, without there being a strong mutual relationship. In these categories, brands might be most relevant and most effective by maintaining a slightly more generic approach, which may also suit these brands’ desire for scale and efficiency.

Yet, data-driven advertising is not just about personalization. Data-driven marketing is about trialling, testing and optimising; it is about measuring impact and evaluating efforts. Technology is increasingly facilitating this approach for brands and businesses, and marketing teams will naturally familiarise themselves more and more with this way of working and the required capabilities. This will ultimately lead to channel strategies, creative executions, ad targeting and customer content to be more relevant and more efficient, with brands ‘getting it right’ more for the people they aspire to engage.

Are effective video campaigns the holy grail for all brands, or is there still a place for other mediums?

Video campaigns can certainly be very effective and powerful if executed well from creative strategy through to creation and activation. But what works for a brand is completely dependent on their business and marketing objectives, their audience and the first touch point in which the brand interacts with a person, the product’s functional and emotional benefits, and the respective consumer triggers and barriers a brand would like to address in the campaign.

The brand campaign objectives, whether focused on brand equity, purchase intent or sales, should firstly inform the optimal user journey and experience, in many cases across multiple channels and varying content formats (in- or excluding video).

At the same time, it is important to find out and take into account what the target audience is looking for, which value-add they expect from a brand and where they’d prefer to be engaged. The target consumer may be looking for an experience that is not best conveyed through video, or may be most open to a brand message in an environment or channel in which video is not most appropriate.

Video campaigns can also come with a certain pressure on marketing teams’ balance between creation and activation spend, since budget will need to be allocated to both creating the video and ensuring that people get to see it. For some smaller brands and businesses, that is a challenge to take into account when designing marketing plans.

Ultimately, the holy grail for brands is not the use of one channel, one touch point or one type of asset. It is and will likely remain to be the design of lean – often cross-channel – user journeys tailored to the consumer’s needs and their natural behaviour, combined with the brand’s objectives, their role in these people’s lives and their desired messaging.

What key metrics should brands be looking at to assess their digital engagement strategies?

Key metrics and KPIs should be reviewed and set for every individual new campaign, as the objective or digital environment may have changed. It all comes down to a brand’s objective behind the engagement, and the desired user experience and user journey as part of it.

For example, if a campaign is primarily about building brand awareness, then content consumption metrics around views, time spent and impressions seem sensible focus points. If, however, the main goal is to generate sales in e-commerce sites or an owned brand site, then metrics around click-throughs along with through-the-line conversion rates and Cost per Acquisition (CPA) are likely to matter.

In addition to key performance indicators, brands can measure and analyse support metrics that can be indicative of the quality of assets and targeting, such as Likes and shares. These are unlikely to provide definitive insights into the success of a campaign, however, and I have yet to see a strong business case for a ‘Like’ generating a genuine return on investment.

How are marketers’ skill sets changing to best utilize data?

The successful implementation of data by marketing teams requires not only a new range of skills, but equally a shift in mindset. Teams and individuals need an ingrained willingness to aggregate and review data, the capability to analyse those data in order to extract learnings and insights, and finally a strong desire to refine and optimize creative thinking, assets and ad targeting. An effective implementation of data-driven marketing is (at least) as much about a new and open mindset as it is about new skills.

What can attendees expect from your presentation at the summit?

I will share thought-provoking yet practical insights and touch upon the opportunities at hand to realise a world in which marketing, from initial strategy through to activation and evaluation, is both data-driven and creative, both informed and exciting, and ultimately more relevant and valuable to everyone involved.

You can hear more from Ivo, as well as a host of other industry experts, at the Digital Marketing Innovation Summit this October. View the full agenda here.

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