Welcome to Growth Interviews!

Welcome to Growth Interviews, the fun, stimulating and engaging series of conversations driven by digital business growth.

Our mission is to provide insights and ideas from world-class professionals on the topic of growth and to cut through the noise of so-called marketing tips and tricks, revealing the money-making strategies behind e-commerce.

Each episode is an intriguing challenge involving an insightful expert who reveals some of their best-kept secrets, which you can use right away to boost your business. 

In this week’s episode of Growth Interviews, we invite you to join our conversation with Kimberly Afonso, a digital marketing consultant who helps startups to achieve global growth and larger corporations in meeting their specific digital marketing goals

Kimberly has helped both B2C and B2B startups to grow through tailored social media action plans, to retain customers through targeted ad funnels, to develop personalized email marketing strategies, and to optimize ad budgets through adequate PPC allocation.

She is also frequently invited to conferences where she speaks about the importance of LinkedIn, Personal Branding, Social Selling, Lean Startup Marketing, and Global Digital trends.

We talked to Kimberly about the digital marketing landscape, pay-per-click, and ad optimization, and she shared many valuable insights with us during our 7-minute interview.


We know that ads and ad optimization are two very important subjects for e-commerce business owners everywhere, so we’ve also prepared a full transcript of our discussion, as well as some additional information. You will find these below.

Be ready to study all the time in digital marketing

How did you get into the digital landscape? 

Kimberly: I’m Kimberly, originally from the US. I’ve been living in Europe for the past five years. I first moved to Barcelona, and then I’ve been in Milan for the past year and a half. I travel back and forth quite often to the US, because my clients are on both sides of the ocean.

How did I get into digital marketing? I studied at NYU and studied marketing. From there, I always worked in the field. A year and a half ago, I started my own agency and I wanted to work more with startups, so I pivoted the agency towards working with those startups in the key digital marketing aspects that I saw working in-house at other companies. I put the ones that I thought would work best, specifically for startups, into most of the marketing plans that I offer to clients.

What frustrates you about the current digital landscape?

Kimberly: I would say the biggest frustration is that, definitely, things change quickly. If you look at Facebook Ads, for example, there’s always a change every week. This is a frustration, but also a good thing if you like to learn all the time.

I personally am the type of person that is energized by learning all the time, but you do have to definitely be ready for that. It can be a bit frustrating to know that you always have to learn new things if you want to be successful in digital marketing. Things that are working now, a year from now may pivot.

The most popular digital marketing tactics marketers use to engage with customers and build a trustworthy brand:

 👉 Email marketing: email marketing is a cost-efficient tactic compared to social media or search engine optimization, and it helps companies build a personalized relationship with customers because it allows them to speak to customers in an intimate way.

👉 Social media marketing: even though email marketing is the most used, it’s actually social media that receives the biggest spending (38%), followed by content marketing (28%).

👉 Content marketing: content marketing is a very popular technique among marketers because it is consumer behavior-oriented and it helps with brand awareness and retention.

Hire a pay-per-click expert to grow your ROI

What do you think e-commerce managers are missing out on?

Kimberly: I think that many people that have mid-sized companies don’t invest in an agency to specifically do Facebook Ads, Twitter Ads or LinkedIn Ads, or whatever it may be. For many e-commerce companies, the best ones will be most successful on B2C sites, like Instagram and Facebook. But, I see many companies that don’t invest in having a specific agency or expert run these ads, so they lose a lot of ad dollars.

There are just so many things that you learn by optimizing day in and day out, that working with an expert can get you a much higher ROI. The cost there is going to be higher, but if you start to invest more ad dollars in those areas, you will have a much higher ROI by working with an expert

I would say that’s one area that most e-commerce managers should invest in. Most of them have an overall marketing manager and it can be difficult if that marketing manager doesn’t have a specialty in ads.

Tell us a short story about an outstanding achievement you had with one of your customers.

Kimberly: One that’s really interesting is that I’ve been working with a client that has a much older demographic base. They’re getting very good cost-per-click and conversions on Facebook Ads, but their target demographic is actually over 60 years old!

This is something that, as digital marketers, we think is a very young and dynamic field. We usually don’t think about targeting older demographics. But, especially on Facebook, even though there have been many changes, older people are definitely on Facebook more and more. So, that’s a great area to target and a very good niche market.

Six reasons e-commerce businesses should hire a digital marketing agency or expert:

1. To optimize ads and ad spending
2. To track traffic sources and conversions more efficiently
3. To track referrals and reviews across platforms
4. To monitor brand awareness and determine the number of new customers
5. To monitor click-through rates to see if your rankings are leveraged correctly
6. To monitor newsletter subscribers, RSS feed subscribers, number of downloads, or anything else that can be leveraged in the future

Optimize your ads in three steps

Tell us three ideas that you would recommend to e-commerce managers to grow their e-commerce. 

Kimberly: First, think about your offer. Definitely, your offer is the most important, whether that is a sale or an email list that someone can subscribe to for a great offer. Your offer is definitely what’s going to drive people to either give you their email address or look at your websites. Your offer is most important.

Second, your content is definitely king. Definitely, invest in developing that content. Your visuals should always be super high-quality and, when applicable, also employ content marketing. So, maybe you have a sunglasses brand and in that area, you could do blogs about the best trends for sunglasses or stuff related to that industry. 

Third, make sure you optimize along the way. After you do any type of experiment with ads, make sure that after every two weeks you’re looking at what is working and optimize. This is where working with an expert definitely comes in. 

The Optimization Hierarchy Pyramid:

The optimization hierarchy pyramid showcases the levels your optimization must have to make an impact on potential customers and guarantee conversions. The pyramid is made up of five levels (functional, accessible, usable, intuitive, persuasive), and each level must be achieved to ensure your optimization is at its strongest. Going through these steps can convince potential customers to take the desired action.

👉 The functional level deals with the functional aspect of the ads (for example, whether your ads work properly).

👉 Accessibility deals with responsiveness. For example, are your ads responsive? Do they adjust their size, appearance, and format to fit into all screen sizes?

👉 The usability level ensures you have a good user experience. A good ad user experience involves relevance, efficiency, non-intrusiveness, and legibility.

👉 Intuitiveness refers to matching user expectations with their place in the customer journey.

👉 Creating persuasive, optimized ads means your ad effectively communicates your offer, improves user motivation, and persuades them to click.

The influence of feedback and recommendations

What’s your take on customer retention?

Kimberly: Everybody wants to retain their customers because this is just the best way to get a higher ROI – and it also lowers your costs in the future.

Now, think about influencer marketing and customer retention. They don’t seem similar, but people actually really trust more when they get feedback and recommendations from a friend. So, if you have a happy customer, the feedback that they’re going to give to a friend to recommend you is worth much more than many people and many brands value it as being. I think that’s the key to why it’s so important.

I’ve worked with some brands that just grew with their referral process. They’ve been able to double or triple their email lists and their user base because of those recommendations.

Think of customer retention as a key to all of those pillars.

Five customer retention hacks:

1. Use the appropriate methodology, build your recency, frequency, and monetary model, run surveys, and find out the pain points of each significant segment.

2. Find out how many of your customers don’t place a second order and why. If you don’t have good quality products, you won’t solve your problems with ‘Thank you’ letters or outstanding customer support.

3. Build an RFM model.

4. Under-promise, over-deliver.

5. Lower the number of returns; extra revenue = new returns – new conversions + new returning customers.

Four questions to ask a digital marketing specialist or agency you want to hire

What should an e-commerce manager take into account when hiring a digital marketing specialist or an agency?

Kimberly: If you are thinking about hiring an expert, a manager or an agency to help you, definitely ask them what brands they’ve worked with. They don’t have to work with Coca-Cola! That’s not the point. But, maybe you want them to have worked with people with similar target markets that you have, so they already have experience there.

I would also ask how long they’ve worked in the industry. The more experience, the better!

I would also ask about larger budgets or about smaller budgets they have managed and what results they have got from those. You can ask things like, “What was your average CPC?” and “What was the best ROI on a campaign overall that you got for your clients?” and see what they say.

I wouldn’t say that you need a target CPC or anything like that. You want to make sure that they have worked with credible clients, that those clients were happy with their results, and that they can apply that information to help you.

The most important things to ask your digital marketing agency:

👉 Who are some of their (most important) clients?
👉 What industries/niches have they addressed before?
👉 How much experience do they have?
👉 What kind of budgets do they work with?

Find out more questions to ask your digital marketing agency here.

Think closely about the information you share online

What’s your take on AI in digital marketing?

Kimberly: AI is an interesting topic. I think it’s a bit scary sometimes how much information people have on us. That’s one take.

However, along with AI, there are things like AR or VR which are really interesting. That’s going to really change how data is used and how we have different types of ads and any type of advertisement in general in the future.

I would say we should be careful what information is going to be shared, but I think it will be an interesting time for marketers to use more data overall.

Conclusion

When it comes to digital marketing, there are so many tactics and methodologies out there, and you can’t really say one is better than the other.

However, in order to compete in the overly competitive digital landscape of 2019, you’ll need to focus on ten specific areas: search engine optimization, search engine marketing, local search marketing, content marketing, remarketing, email marketing, social media marketing, marketing automation, influencer marketing, and video. 

How did you find this experience? Was it insightful?
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