How my time at Salford Business School prepares me for a career in digital strategy

Digital strategy. It’s a buzz word that’s used frequency, more and more so considering the shift towards online channels and the move away from traditional, offline mediums. But what does it actually mean?

This blog post will discuss what the concept is, what makes a good digital strategy, and also what can be achieved with one. Studying at Salford Business School whilst working full time as a Digital Operations Manager has allowed me to both consider theoretical and practical implications of digital strategy, and so a combination of the two will be used.

To start with, digital strategy is all about planning. And a plan can’t be formed unless you’re crystal clear on what you actually want to achieve – what is the overarching aim of the campaign and why? And what secondary goals do you have? Without clear direction, a digital campaign will fall at the first hurdle.

Once you’re clear on the aims, think about the data and tracking behind your campaign. For example, are you utilising relevant first, second and third party data you have at your disposal? Is all relevant tracking in place so you can see all steps of the decision-making funnel, all the way from awareness to conversion?  Your website search engine optimised (SEO)? These two things will not only facilitate a more targeted campaign, but also enable you to report on KPIs and ROI.

One the architecture is in place, consider the channels – where are your target audience and what is their user journey? A combination should be used at the outset, and refined as the campaign is progress to hone in on those performing best. Social media for example may start as several different tactics, but following A/B creative testing and sequential messaging, only end up with one advert that’s driving most of your conversions.

Digital strategies are always in flux too – it’s important to keep abreast and aware of any platform changes, e.g. the recently introduced paid search (PPC) expanded ads – whilst they weren’t mandatory for advertisers at the start, a competitive advantage could be achieved by being an earlier adopter – it’s important to be aware of any innovations or technological advancements.

And then finally, reporting is a key facet. Optimise throughout but more sure you can see what’s happening. The beauty of digital is that it is all so transparent and offers a world of data and insight that be used to make campaigns excellent if used right, so make this a priority. Use platforms like Google Analytics to assist with this.

In conclusion, it’s important to have a holistic view when creating and implementing a strategy – making sure everything is in place and considering a range of channels will ensure an effective campaign. Key however is to always be fine-tuning and making things better – if your digital campaign isn’t constantly changed, then there’s no digital strategy in place.

Snapchat – digital strategy for 2017

As a social media channel whose value has traditionally been disregarded, Snapchat is emerging as a social powerhouse, boasting the same amount of daily video views as Facebook (8 billion) and 100 million daily active ‘Snapchatters’, with a niche of the 16 – 24-year-old demographic. What marks Snapchat out is its sense of urgency and ephemerality– stories are updated in real-time and expire after 24 hours.

What differentiates Snapchat’s video capabilities is the fact that users need to actively ‘tap’ to watch a video, compared to other channels like Facebook where videos are automatically played in the feeds of users. Snapchat is made for mobile, and so harnesses mobile capabilities – videos are always full screen, user choice and sound-enabled.

It is important however to consider the drawbacks of Snapchat. Its audience reach is limited if you want to reach anyone outside the 16 – 24 age range, and it is best used as a brand awareness tool rather than generating direct response. It is also less sophisticated than Facebook, YouTube and Twitter in terms of insights, targeting and audience information, although this is an area that is being actively developed.

Why should Snapchat be considered by Universities?

In terms of using Snapchat in real-time, according to a recent study which polled American University students on their social media habits, “77% of college students use Snapchat at least once a day” and “close to 70% of students said they’d even add a brand as a friend if they also followed them on a separate social network like Facebook or Twitter”.

There is substantial buzz around the ‘Flight of Millennials’ leaving Facebook and heading towards different social channels. With 46% of UK teens (11-16 year olds) using Snapchat weekly, it’s evident to see that potential future students applying to university will already be accustomed to visual content. And having already become early adopters of social platforms like Snapchat, this only reinforces the importance of using such a channel within a university setting.

We’ll be looking in more detail around Snapchat advertising (3V) in the bought and earned space in future blogs, so stay tuned!

Sources:

A self-serve Programmatic platform for SMEs

Please note, this blog post has been written for a University assignment.

Programmatic. You may or may not have heard of it, but it is quite possibly the biggest buzz word in advertising at the moment, and something that is only going to get more hyped over the coming years. Indeed, the majority of display advertising was served programmatically in 2015, with experts predicting that this will dominate all advertising by the start of 2020. But what is programmatic?

Programmatic
Put simply, programmatic is an automated way of buying advertising. It focuses on targeting individuals rather than channel, platform or device. To do this, algorithms evaluate the ‘value’ of each contact opportunity (in real time), based on known and inferred information on specific users. Software then bids to serve adverts to these users, based on context, data and value.

What does this mean? This means that adverts are more relevant – people are targeted based on their behaviour and online profiles; and more efficient – programmatic is an automated process that allows visibility on spend and results. For example, if you’re an employer with a specific recruitment drive, you can serve adverts to people that fit your criteria (e.g. education / experience) and are browsing relevant content (e.g. job sites / career advice).  With tracking, it is possible to then see how many of those complete an application form for the position, to give you what’s called a CPA (cost per acquisition – remember this for later!).

A crowded marketplace
One of the issues with programmatic is that it’s a crowded marketplace. A quick Google search will return a multitude of suppliers all purporting to deliver great results for advertisers. When examined more closely however, the majority of them have high minimum spends (the main players for example typically start at £10k), limited reach, aren’t transparent in their reporting, and have complicated systems that are difficult to navigate.

SHB Programmatic
That’s where SHB Programmatic comes in. SHB Programmatic is a tool for SMES that removes all the jargon and complexity, making it easy for you to reach your potential customers on a simple platform where you only pay for results. SHB Programmatic in a nutshell:

Programmatic System

SHB Programmatic is a simple system whereby you upload data on the kinds of people you want to target, for example; age, location and interests etc. You then upload the adverts you want to use to target these people, in an easy drag and drop upload tool. At this stage you can set your campaign budget and goals – there is no minimum spend, as SHB Programmatic works on a CPA model. Remember this from earlier? This means that you only pay when you get conversions. For example, this might be website sign ups or purchases, and you’ll get an idea of exactly how much each will cost at this stage too before you proceed.

Once this has been submitted, SHB Programmatic bids on the most relevant impressions across a range of premium sites, using different tactics to reach your target audience at scale. As the campaign progresses, SHB Programmatic ‘learns’ in the sense that it will refine the targeting and use audience data to form ‘lookalike’ audiences  – expanding the targeting further to reach those similar to the ones that have converted.

Whilst the campaign is running, you’ll have full access to an innovative dashboard, which will enable you to closely monitor performance, broken down by who your adverts are being served to, how they’re being targeted, what tactics are working, and how many conversions you’ve had. The beauty of this system means it’s incredibly easy to top up the campaign – just specify how many conversions you need, allocate the budget and the targeting will be switched back on.

Still not convinced or need more information? The video below details the SHB Programmatic system, the benefits, and exactly how it works:

How SHB Programmatic Works

Interested? Email s.h.bracegirdle@edu.salford.co.uk for more information.

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