Aberdeen-based businesswomen, Sarah Downs and Yekemi Otaru have merged their existing businesses to create Doqaru Limited. The deal was first announced on 22nd November 2018. Doqaru is a business growth specialist unifying strategic marketing and business development. They support energy and technology companies at every stage of their business journey from startup, turnaround and growth, diversification and towards an exit.
Since founding their individual businesses — Sarah Downs Ltd and YO! Marketing — Sarah and Yekemi have supported over 60 companies combined.
What Yekemi Says About Doqaru
“There’s a real opportunity to bring an aligned approach to establishing and growing technology-related companies. Sarah is an experienced business development specialist. She understands the importance of strong relationships in generating long-term business. Along with my technical background and experience in marketing strategy and content marketing, we can support our clients’ online presence and drive offline conversations. Our forte is embedding the processes and foundation for future growth.”
What Sarah Says About Doqaru
“The merger harnesses a complementary offering. It creates the opportunity for us to add further value to our clients and fully align our services. After working together on an associate basis for the past 18 months, it’s exciting to be officially working together to establish and scale up Doqaru.”
Based at The Silver Fin Building in Aberdeen’s city centre, Doqaru already has a strong client portfolio and a six-figure revenue forecast for 2019. This will create further jobs in the business. The Aberdeen businesswomen plan to continue collaborative relationships with associate companies to add more value to their clients.
What Others Say about Sarah and Yekemi, Directors at Doqaru
Engineering Director at EC-OG, Robert Cowman said,
“I have known Sarah and Yekemi for a long time. For any young business and its team, it is difficult to spend time doing all the things that are required to make it work. While you are likely to be desperate to develop your technology, you also have to build a strong network and market your product to the right people. Sarah and Yekemi have the talents and skill sets that will certainly help you do this.”
The new website will fully launch in early 2019 but in the meantime, you can visit the holding page at https://doqaru.com
for more information. More updates to come.
The debate on whether direct mail is dead could go on forever. People will continue to debate the effectiveness of direct mail when up against the growing popularity of online marketing.
So, where does this leave direct mail in 2018? Is it still relevant? How effective is it compared to online marketing?
A Brief Look at Direct Mail
If you haven’t done much direct mail, here’s the scoop: It’s essentially a form of marketing that sends your message directly to your recipient in a physical form. There are a few bonuses of direct mail such as:
- It saves the customer doing research online
- Direct mailing guarantees your message has been received; unlike emails that can just be filtered into spam folders without being opened
- Direct mail allows a full range of creative design, unlike an email where you have one chance to sell through a subject line
What does Direct Mail Offer that Email Marketing Can’t?
While email marketing can reach a massive audience at the click of a button, it does come with a number of issues. One of the most recent problems comes in the shape of the GDPR update. GDPR has forced every digital marketing company to rethink their outreach strategies to comply with new, strict rules. Additionally, a recent study from Smart Insights claims that email open rates are the lowest of all multimedia channels at a low 18.05%. The highest open rate is publishing, reporting at 36.59%.
Millennials have also had their say on email marketing. They claim that despite the dominance of online marketing, they still prefer reading and receiving physical advertisements.
Isn’t Direct Mail an Old Trick?
Although print advertising has been around for decades, it’s still an authority and we still need it. Despite the perception of being ‘old school’, direct mail is actually one of the main reasons that print advertising is still successful. People believe it’s trustworthy in comparison to emails.
We all get spam emails. The rise in phishing scams is only making people more cautious about what they open in their inbox. Even if your online marketing campaign is ethical and genuinely helpful, there’s a chance that it will never reach the recipient. Direct mail removes this issue altogether by landing at your doorstep and presenting you with offers you know you can trust.
How Can Direct Marketing Work for B2B?
According to Sylvia Nash:
“Direct marketing is the most efficient way to reach a defined audience […]. Companies that are marketing B2B products typically have done a fair amount of research on who their customers are. Once you have that profile defined, you can go to market with a variety of innovative tactics to target only that audience.”
It is essential to have data on whom your customers are because you can reach them via any multimedia channels and offer your product. The simple fact is that the effective campaigns are the ones that hit their audience at several touch points throughout the buyer’s journey. Combining this with data tracking and reporting capabilities make direct marketing easier than ever. Furthermore, it can all be recorded and tracked to check efficiency and ROI.
Why is Direct Mail Important Now?
One word, GDPR.
While you might think direct mailing is obsolete alongside the digital world of marketing, it’s not. In fact, it’s proven to work and it’s more important now than ever before.
Before the recent GDPR rules, every day, B2B companies would get the same unsolicited emails and the same cold calls from companies that they had no interest in. GDPR is stopping that from happening. Companies now need permission and/or justification to contact their previous mailing list.
‘Opting in’ is required in a majority of cases. This means every company (aside from a select few such as charities and fundraisers) has to send out an email asking email recipients to ‘opt-in’ to continue receiving their emails. Unsubscribing or not replying at all means losing the right to contact those people.
Why does this matter? Because this doesn’t apply to direct mailing. All you need to do is prove that the people you’re contacting through direct mail hold a ‘legitimate interest’ in your product or service.
Therefore, marketers can turn to direct mailing as another channel to contact customers.
Direct Mail Will Stand Out Now More than Ever
In a world dominated by digital, direct mail becomes a more unique, unexpected and attractive prospect. No one likes spam. But people like personalised mail, especially if it’s well-designed and relevant to them.
The Direct Marketing Association’s (DMA’s) 2015 Response Rate Report claims that the average response rates for digital channels are 0.62%. In comparison, direct mail response rates clock in at 3.7%, six times the rate of digital response rates.
B2B company Salesfusion proved the effectiveness of direct mail with their dimensional mail campaigns, which turned in an exceptional 15-20% conversion rate.
Direct Mail is Far from Dead for B2B Marketers
The truth is, direct mail is now in the strongest position it’s ever been in. With the new GDPR update, the continued untrustworthiness of email scamming and phishing, and new stats revealing direct mail is on the up now is the time for online marketers to consider direct mail. The key to success with direct mail? Treat humans like humans, not bots you can send a thousand emails to, hoping for a welcoming response. If people believe your company or campaign has their best interests at heart, they’re more likely to opt for your services.
Is direct mail the right option for everyone? Not necessarily. However, if you have targeted customer list, then a creative and quirky direct mail campaign might be the refreshing concept they’re looking for.
This is a guest blog post by Connor Hughes, a content writer for The Mailing People, a renowned direct mailing company based in Portsmouth (UK). Connor is a keen marketing blogger and has a keen interest in the psychology behind millennial advertising.
New and established businesses can use surveys to gather crucial information for decision-making. If you’re a startup, there will be several decisions you’ll need to make about your products and services, whom you target, how you reach your ideal customers and what you will say to them. Typeform have good examples of surveys here. In this article, I will highlight five key decisions that marketing surveys can help you make.
Startup Decision #1 – Who is your customer?
You have a great idea for a business. The product is amazing! But do you really understand who your customer is and why they would buy from you and not from another business?
A survey of your market helps you create a picture of your ideal customer. We call these ‘buyer personas’. The survey can ask questions about job titles, key responsibilities, gender, income, educational background, main challenges, budget and so on. You can start by asking friends and family, then your professional network. If you require more responses, market survey platforms allow you to reach a wider audience for a fee.
Startup Decision #2 – What are your brand values?
If you are thinking about your brand values, this is great! Many startups ignore this at the beginning and do not make it a priority. However, your brand values guide your business by establishing the standards by which you operate. It also lets your market know what to expect from you.
Let’s say you know your ideal customer from a previous market survey. You also need to know what they value. If you say one of your values as a business is creativity, for instance, does your ideal customer care about creativity? In a highly competitive industry, would that customer buy a cheaper product even if it wasn’t particularly creative? Understanding the values that matter to your market helps you further define your ideal customer. Ask people what they care about. Use a survey to help respondents prioritise different values. How do you stack up?
Startup Decision #3 – Which content engages your target customer?
Startups and established businesses need to continuously engage their customers. This could be through a content marketing strategy that includes social media, blogs, videos etc. When you start creating content, monitor responses e.g. likes, comments and shares. This will give you an idea of what people engage with.
When you have built the readership of your content, ask your customers what kind of content they would like to see more of. Consider the format they prefer i.e. written guides, videos, infographics, live videos etc. Also, consider the topics they want to learn more about. Nothing beats actually asking your customers what they want and them witnessing you taking their suggestions on board.
Startup Decision #4 – How do you want your brand to be perceived?
A 2015 article by Brandwatch states,
Brand perception is owned by consumers, not brands. Regardless of your message, whatever people are thinking and saying about your brand, that is your brand.
This even truer now that it was in 2015. Surveying your customers is important for measuring how you are perceived or how you might be perceived based on elements of your branding such as your business name, logo, website design and content. If what you undercover through a survey is not how you would like to be perceived, you can take steps to influence that perception. Use social media and storytelling to create a relatable narrative around your brand and to build trust with your market.
Startup Decision #5 – How will you price your product to show value?
How you price a product could make or break its success. From the first decision about who your customers are, you might know enough about what they might be willing to pay. It is also important to know what your competitors are charging.
Pricing can be complex, including tiers and product bundling. This example of a product pricing survey:
Another approach could be to ask respondents what they would pay as a maximum. Something like this:
- Less than £100
- Between £100 and £250
- More than £250
If value-based pricing is your focus (as it is in many B2B sectors), ask your customers different questions such as which additional features they are willing to pay for (or paying for existing features to be bigger, faster or more durable) and what matters most to them when using a vendor like yours. You’ll be able to segment your market and give a price that reflects value to each segment. Each customer segment will be different.
Used well, marketing surveys are an effective way of hearing out your target market. You might not always change what you are doing because of the results but you will have information that allows you to put in place messages, content and support for anticipated customer reactions.
Have you used marketing surveys to make a decision? Tell us how it went in the comments!
Much has been said about the pace and volume of online activities. With over 3 billion people on social media, we expect activity volume to continue increasing. Lori Lewis and Chadd Callahan have illustrated what happens – on average – every 60 seconds on the internet. For instance, there are over 973,000 logins on Facebook and 3.7 million Google searches every 60 seconds! To put that into perspective, that’s 42 billion Facebook Logins and 159.84 billion Google Searches a month! I have analysed the growth trends of these platforms and what it implies for content marketing. In this blog, I will highlight some considerations for content marketing based on internet use in 60 seconds between 2016 and 2018.
Internet Use in 60 Seconds: Average Growth Rate, Activity Volume & User Accounts (2016-18) [INFOGRAPHIC]
Internet use in 60 seconds: High Growth-High Volume – Google Searches & YouTube Video Viewed
Google isn’t going anywhere. In fact, it guaranteed its position as the online search capital by buying YouTube for $1.65 billion in November 2006. Google searches and YouTube videos viewed had a 60-second usage growth rate of 26% between 2016 and 2018. Both platforms command over 3 million actions each (searches and videos viewed) in 60 seconds!
There is no ignoring the impact of search and video on content marketing. As a business, your content makes to be relevant and engaging. Organic search overtook social media for web traffic in 2015. The bottom line is people are looking for information. This includes how-to content, trends, in-depth knowledge of complex topics and entertainment.
If you don’t have a content marketing strategy, you’re missing out on the opportunity to engage a huge audience. With 56% of B2B marketers admitting that search is the most effective channel for driving early-stage engagement, relevant content is the anchor for building brand awareness.
Internet use in 60 seconds: Low Growth-High Volume – Emails Sent & Facebook Logins
Email and email marketing continue to be vital communication channels for business. Recent research by DMA reveals that email marketing receives more than 30 times ROI. As of 2018, there are over 5 billion email accounts! Email has been around a long time but its growth rate is the lowest (12%) of the internet channels reviewed here. The younger generation is less and less on email so consider your target market. However, emerging trends around email marketing could see future increased growth in usage.
It’s tricky mentioning Facebook (young and cool?) and emails (old tech, needing a refresh?) in the same breath. At 2.196 billion active users, Facebook has the highest number of users of any social media platform. But recent times has brought slowed growth for the social media giant. In the first quarter of 2018, Facebook grew by 3.14%, down from 3.39% of the prior quarter. The reasons for this slowed growth could be a range of recent changes such as modifications to its algorithm. In addition, the company has endured scandal after scandal in the last 18 months. With data showing new daily active users being its lowest quarter-over-quarter growth since early 2011, has Facebook’s user growth hit a wall as suggested by a recent Recode article?
Source: TechCrunch (2017)
Email marketing remains a key channel for reaching a known audience and it reaps significant ROI. Review and refine your email marketing strategy to include email-enhancing techniques such as basic segmentation, optimising for mobile devices and re-marketing to name a few. For Facebook, make a call on whether investing in advertising is worth it to reach your target audience. If it is, keep resourcing it. Remember it owns Instagram too so it probably won’t hurt to keep active on the platform.
Internet use in 60 seconds: High Growth-Low Volume – Instagram Scrolls
While Instagram has the smallest number of activities per 60 seconds, it’s had a massive usage growth over the last 3 years. The platform went from 38,194 to 174,000 scrolls per minute between 2016 and 2018. When Facebook bought it in 2012, it had around 50 million users and wasn’t making any money. Now, Instagram has risen to 1 billion active users per month!
As a result of Instagram’s development, it has become a crucial element of business-to-business marketing. Companies like Hubspot, Business Insider and Dell have thousands of followers by regularly engaging with target audiences. The launch of Instagram’s long-form video feature (IGTV) has added to its popularity among businesses. For instance, Hubspot often creates tutorial videos to educate its audience on topics such as Facebook audience targetting and SEO.
The future of Instagram is bright in the world of content marketing. To continue to grow, I foresee the platform enhancing its search capability to be similar to Google and YouTube. As far as I know, you can’t effectively search for specific content on IGTV. Adding this feature could further boost growth for Instagram. If you haven’t already so, get into IGTV and be one of the first few companies to use it. I’m having a blast with it!
Internet use in 60 seconds: Low Growth-Low Volume – Tweets Sent
Overall, the number of tweets sent on Twitter every 60 seconds has grown by 18% between 2016-18. This is a relatively low growth rate compared to Instagram, for instance. It also shows the general slow down of Twitter and its struggle to engage users on its platform. Recent stats show another struggle: Attracting new users.
In 2016, Twitter’s user growth rate almost halved from 7.8% to 4%. Growth is expected to slow down by 2% each year until 2020. Yet, Twitter is a widely used platform for B2B sectors with 77% of B2B marketers using it compared to 73% of B2C marketers.
There have been suggestions about what Twitter could improve to make its platform a more enjoyable experience. For an amusing list, check out this Mashable blog by Tyler Schmall where he offers improvement ideas such as automatically filtering out Hitler praise and labelling which trending topics are depressing.
The increase in character count is the most recent of its updates but in my opinion, it’s not significant enough. I’d call it a “tweak” rather than anything that changes the game. Twitter appears to be the only social platform yet to make video a core feature for users. Current video use seems to be mainly for GIFs rather than serious content. There’s also the passive, attention-deficit nature of the platform and how easy it is to target abuse at other users. I wonder if an additional video capability will aggravate these issues or improve professional use. What do you think?
There are many places you could be on the internet. For marketers and everyone else, it is often overwhelming. Below is a summary of how I believe each platform/internet use might impact your content marketing goals.
- Instagram is growing. Get involved with new features for engaging your market.
- Videos and search are the now and the future. Establish your brand with it to build your online presence.
- Facebook and email won’t disappear just yet so watch trends and technological advances. Don’t be left behind – keep active.
- Twitter is key for some industries but if you are short on time and resources (and your target audience isn’t even on Twitter), do the minimum if you do it at all.
What I suggest in this article is based on my take on what is happening on the internet and its likely impact on content marketing in general. However, aspects of this might not apply to certain industries such as retail and media/news. That said, I’d love to hear what you think about the future of content marketing on the internet. Tell me in the comments!
**% growth are CGR
My first digital marketing specialism is social media. After doing research and subsequently publishing my best-selling book, The Smart Sceptic’s Guide to Social Media, I’ve become more involved in developing frameworks and guides for social media in a B2B setting. Social media is probably the most powerful channel for sharing information and knowledge. Over 3 billion people are social media users – that’s 42% of the world! In this blog, I will tell you how I help my clients get started.
Social Media: Do You Really Want It?
I spent over a decade in corporate organisations. One thing I learned is if senior management does not wholly back an initiative, the chances of it succeeding are almost ZERO. This is the same with social media; it is generally a great channel for boosting a company’s brand and developing thought leadership. But the lack of support at a high level could make it unsuccessful.
That’s why I start the “Getting Started” process by establishing affirmation from senior leaders. I work with the MD/CEO to understand the business objectives and expectations from social media use.
Are these expectations realistic?
Also, do senior managers use social media themselves?
For instance, it’s a red flag if the C-suite executives are not on LinkedIn.
Brand surveys such as Brandfog consistently reveal that C-suite engagement on social media makes a brand more honest and trustworthy.
“Since 2013, we’ve seen a 15% increase in the number of respondents who believe that social media engagement makes CEOs more effective leaders. Regarding the changing nature of communications, an astounding 93% of survey respondents view socially engaged CEOs as a means to build better connections with customers, employees, and investors.” – Brandfog survey, 2016
I establish that senior management will genuinely support social media participation for business purposes.
More than once, I’ve had to walk away because the C-suite really weren’t onboard and it saved a headache for all involved.
Social Media: What Do We Need To Do?
Let’s assume that all is well and your C-suite is game. Fantastic! This is when I put together a proposal that would include a policy, guidelines, training and ongoing support if required. The investment from the client will depend on:
- How extensively employees will participate in sharing on social media
- Existing social media policies and guidelines
- Size of organisation/ Employee number
- Availability of internal marketing resources
- Existing knowledge of social media marketing
As an example, I provide training for up to 8 employees with a limited understanding of using social media for business. This costs between £600-£800. More advanced training costs are a little higher.
If the company accepts my proposal, I work with the MD and/or a designated manager (usually a marketing or communications manager) to understand the current social media status in the company.
Are there existing social media accounts and if so, how well are they working at the moment?
Do employees use social media and are they engaging with their employer’s content?
If the company has an online presence, I analyse performance and highlight what’s working and what isn’t working.
I list the actions that will help close the gap between the current status and where the company wants to get to. These actions might include a policy refresh, basic and advanced training and developing strong personal brands for the leadership team.
Sales people using social media as part of their sales techniques outsell 78% of their peers (Source)
Now that we have figured out what we are going to do, are we done?
You’ve guessed it: We are not done. In many ways, we have only started. Many companies spend a lot of time analysing and planning, watching the list of actions and nice-to-haves get longer and longer. It could become difficult to move into action.
When I have a good understanding of actions that can make improvements to my client’s brand, I work on implementing their bespoke policy and delivering training that empowers employees to use social media effectively. This is crucial. I’ve come across policies that are heavily restrictive hence, demotivating employees from taking part in building an organisation’s brand.
Social Media: Smart Sceptic® Framework
I use my Smart Sceptic® Framework to ensure that my clients are getting the best start to social media. This framework summarises the essence of successful social media programs. The detail of this framework can be found in my book mentioned at the beginning of this blog. In summary, agreeing shared values with senior leaders and getting their support to embed those values is a key starting point. It ensures that employees feel affirmed and hence, they are more likely to be motivated to participate in social media for the business.
Content shared by employees receives 8 times more engagement than content shared by brand channels (Source)
The next step is to create a social media strategy that works for the business. The strategy should be based on the company’s values and it should support business goals. Research shows that experimentation is a big part of successful social media programs. Don’t be afraid to test your strategy with early adopters in your organisation. Experimentation can be controlled by using one social channel or a group of 5 employees, for instance. Having a group of early adopters that understand the policy and can guide others allows me to adequately handover social media participation to an in-house team when the time comes.
Finally, we move into action. Drumming up participation means resourcing the team. There must be a focal point for social media queries. It is important to equip the teams responsible for making social media a success. Train them, support them and recognise them.
Social Media: Taking Sustainable Action
Sometimes, companies want to keep me on a retainer basis. As part of a retainer service, I’d get monthly updates on social media progress and goals. Working closely with the MD and internal team, I would deliver refresher training on topics such as content creation and personal branding on social media. I am also part of the content creation team and available to be the focal point for employees when they have questions or require one-on-one support.
Retainers range from £350-£1,000 per month depending on support needs, contract length and the size of the company.
To make good progress, there needs to be sustained and deliberate efforts to build a participative culture. This takes time.
In research with companies like IBM, Dell and Cisco, marketing managers admitted that this could take as much as 18 months. So don’t give up too soon. Social media is worth getting right. Let me know if I can help.