Hi Robert, please tell us about your role at Smartly.io and how you started in the company.
I’ve been the VP and Global Head of Marketing at Smartly.io for the last year and a half. Previously I’ve led and developed global marketing initiatives for high-profile enterprise software and technology companies. Prior to Smartly.io, I spent more than 13 years at SAP in a number of leadership roles, including Global Vice President, Marketing Operations & Strategy. And before that I held marketing and strategy roles at PeopleSoft, Oracle, Compaq and Digitas — focusing on extending the benefits and adoption of CRM principles and solutions and translating business needs into innovative solutions.
What’s so unique about your Creative Studio and how it accelerates mobile-first digital advertising campaigns?
Our creative team develops on-brand, attention-grabbing creative that helps brands connect with consumers across social channels. The team of experts draws on years of combined experience from working with a wide range of the world’s leading brands and advertisers. Leveraging automation and scalable designs, we produce creatives that drive scalable, multi-channel results to produce mobile-first digital advertising campaigns.
How much have Advertising automation capabilities evolved in the last 2-3 years? What kind of requests and recommendations do your customers usually share with you to improve ROI?
The best recommendation I can give is for brands to monitor changing behavior on social, which recently has shifted drastically to Story content. In the past few years we’ve seen a huge leap in the success and overall use across platforms.
Stories have resonated with users so much that brands are now actively seeking to enter that arena as well, testing ROI against in-feed ads and scaling Stories campaigns as part of their larger social media advertising strategy. When it comes to performance, Smartly.io is seeing considerably better results from ads specifically created for the stories format, as well as ones that utilize user generated content as part of a campaign. Now, with Pinterest being the latest platform to adopt the format – a new feature called “Story Pin” – it’s fair to wonder how marketers should adjust their approach to social ads to get the most bang for their bucks. Stories are convincing CMOs of the importance of being visually striking in a world where everyone’s feeds are chock full of professional-grade visuals.
The bottom line is that content that ‘looks like an ad’ will be ignored, but content that blends in seamlessly alongside the content that consumers are already consuming on social will have a much greater shot at capturing attention. Story Ads allow advertisers capitalize on the effectiveness of Stories and align with the content their audience is already viewing.
As marketing head, how do you cope with the COVID-19 disruptions in your Marketing and Partner management strategies?
The global pandemic has changed life as we know it, and that includes marketing – both ad performance and consumer behavior around the world are different today than just six months ago. Understanding those shifts, and realigning organizational efforts to match them, has become every brand’s top priority as we continue to wade through this health and economic crisis.
We have, for example, shifted our focus towards verticals that have weathered the storm better than others and sharpened our focus on helping brands craft stories that resonate with what consumers are going through in their everyday lives at the moment. We’ve shifted more of our marketing to digital channels and stretched our imagination a bit more to engage with our audience in ways that fit the current virtual reality that we are all living through together.
Which tools and technologies do you use for Marketing, Sales and Communications? Tell us how your Martech stack changed during the COVID-19.
Much of what we do lives in HubSpot and Salesforce but I would say that we’re always optimizing and doing many of the same things that we advise our customers to do, test, launch and iterate then learn and improve upon what’s working best.
We’re always on the lookout for additions to our martech stack that help us improve the effectiveness and efficiency of our marketing team and have been using this time to explore how and where to expand the martech stack. Specifically, we’ve been ramping up our ABM (Account-Based Marketing) programs with Terminus and exploring new platforms to improve sales enablement with options like HighSpot and others.
Social media has become a very powerful advertising revenue channel for brands and enterprise companies. What is driving the social media economy?
Retailers and consumers alike are rightfully being cautious about large crows, requiring shoppers to wear masks and reducing store hours. As a result, brands who previously relied on brick-and-mortar sales are now forced into the omnichannel reality that exists today. Monitoring shifts in consumer behaviors and offering new purchasing options – such as in-app shopping on social platforms will be the key to success for brands in the coming months.
Especially with so many consumers opting to shop from the comfort and safety of their own homes, social media platforms have to meet users where they already are. This year we’ve seen Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat and Pinterest launch in-app shopping features. This is a great opportunity for brands to leverage their social advertising strategy to take advantage of the shifting trends and stay relevant, particularly leading into the holiday season.
Tell us about your most productive digital marketing campaign and how did you measure the ROI?
TechStyle Fashion Group is one of the fastest growing subscription-focused e-commerce companies in history. They have driven the growth of their well known fashion brands including Fabletics, JustFab and Savage X Fenty, and have built a community of more than 5 million active members.
Insights data showed that in select countries, Instagram outperformed other placements. However, Techstyle’s team knew that splitting activity by placement is not consistent with Facebook best practices. The team needed a way to utilize their internal learnings, and push more delivery to Instagram placements, without unnecessary audience and placement splits that could interfere with optimal delivery.
Techstyle found success with Bid Multipliers, an advanced optimization feature available through Smartly.io. Bid Multipliers allows performance marketers to control how much they bid for different segments of an audience, without having to create adset splits. Techstyle used Bid Multipliers to adjust the bid per Placement to make Instagram more competitive in the auction.
The Techstyle team calculated ideal bids for each placement, then set up Bid Multipliers with the help of their Smartly.io Customer Success team. The team tested the impact of this feature on Fabletics’ performance activity across European markets.
The performance increase from Bid Multipliers exceeded all expectations. Results from the campaign included:
- +11 % Clicks to leads conversion
- +45 % Clicks to VIPs conversions
- -30% CPA VIP conversions
Hear it from the pro: What are your thoughts on embracing Pinterest as a suitable Content Marketing and Advertising channel in 2020-21?
As consumer behavior evolves and social channels continue to become more intertwined with our daily lives, it’s vital that marketers connect with customers in new ways. Pinterest, which surpassed 400 million monthly active users this year, has become a go-to for consumers leading into the holiday season. WIth high buyer intent, this platform has created a clear opportunity for brands to diversify their marketing mix and adopt a multi-platform approach to advertising.
Any advice to all Marketing professionals gearing up for the upcoming Holiday Shopping Season:
Brands seem to have two concerns this holiday season: driving revenue and pivoting to serve consumers in the “new normal.” According to our survey, 51% of consumers globally said to have made purchases from social media ads in the past two months. As a majority of those consumers being first-time social media shoppers, the pandemic has moved much of the world online. My advice for marketers gearing up for the holiday shopping season is to plan early, very early!
Start by aligning your holiday campaigns with what your company is planning as early as possible to arm your social advertising efforts. For instance, if your company has planned TV buys or new products, or a new section of your app, now is the time to request assets you need for creating mobile-first social ads.
I also think it’s crucial for advertisers to have a plan A, B and C to be ready for whatever happens today, tomorrow or the next, because as 2020 has shown us, we need to be prepared for anything. By focusing on testing and having a contingency plan, especially for brands with local or audience specific creatives, you can better ensure you’ll have the right creative and messaging for every situation.
Finally, as retailers begin to prepare for this unique opportunity post-holidays, I like to recommend retailers prepare for Q5 as well — the timeframe between Christmas and New Years when consumers are exchanging items and using their new gift cards . The earlier you prepare and get into the market for Q5, the better off you’ll be. In past years, we have seen a CPM decline closer to Christmas (when shipping cut-offs hit) and continue to decline until early January, where CPMs can be almost 25% off of their peak prices. Additionally, the earlier you enter the market with specific initiatives and language, the more open the marketplace will be for you and your products.
Thank you, Robert! That was fun and hope to see you back on MarTech Series soon.
Senior-level Customer Experience Marketing Executive with extensive experience developing and leading global marketing initiatives for high-profile enterprise software and technology companies, including SAP, Oracle, PeopleSoft, Compaq, and Digitas. Strategic leader focused on extending the benefits and adoption of CRM principles and solutions; translating business needs into innovative solutions.
Powering beautifully effective ads. Smartly.io automates every step of social advertising to unlock greater performance and creativity.
We are a global team of over 400 Smartlies, building a platform that automates creative production and ad buying at scale. We manage 2.5 billion euros in ad spend and serve more than 650 brands worldwide, including eBay, Uber and TechStyle. Our team has footholds in 17 cities around the world and represents 61 different nationalities.