SEO and Paid Media
Beyond the last click: Vepsäläinen & data-driven marketing strategies
Life is full of decisions. From what to eat for breakfast to how to derive the most value from your digital marketing campaign. At Nordic Morning we can’t help you with the breakfast decision, but we can certainly serve you up a big bowl of ’everything you need to know about data-driven digital marketing’. For us, digital marketing isn’t a single path from concept to delivery. It’s a process where ideas are based on clear insights, then tested and adjusted to get to the crux of the challenge. In this blog post we take you on a deep dive into how data, insights and expert advice is transforming the digital marketing strategy of Vepsäläinen, one of Finland’s leading quality furniture brands.
In digital marketing you have to continuously bring fresh ideas to the table, or run the risk of being invisible in the e-commerce marketplace. You need expertise in approaching digital sales and marketing with a data-driven approach. But how do you make sure your campaigns are going to drive sales? This is where Nordic Morning’s unique methodology – Research, Advise, Make and Activate – comes into play. A core part of this process is the Advise stage, where we use a data-driven approach to thoroughly explore and detail the shape of the problem. For Vepsäläinen, this phase has been delivering big returns, by unearthing marketing opportunities that produce the best return on investment (ROI).
But before we dig deeper into our Advise process, let’s establish why digital marketing is so important for all kinds of businesses.
A brick and mortar store alone is no longer enough. A strong digital presence is now decisive for success or even the survival of your business. The COVID-19 pandemic certainly reinforced this, with online shopping becoming tightly integrated in the lives of consumers. This e-commerce shift matters for companies who need to figure out how to capitalize on this transition, adapt their existing online strategies and grow their businesses to create a strategy that goes beyond the last click.
In 2022, most businesses are struggling with a noticeable market decline in consumer goods sales. While the home decoration and renovation market was booming from 2019-2021, sales development this year has been moderate due to a variety of factors, from inflation to global unrest. This means companies are shifting up their digital marketing game. Vepsäläinen is a prime example of a company that is taking advantage of our data-driven approach. We like to imagine them as Rocky Balboa – they’re putting in the work and not pulling any punches to stay ahead of their competition both online and in store. Success in this area requires more than just tools and digital channels, it requires regular training, knowledge and expertise to really ignite sales and fuel returns on their digital investments. It requires the Advise approach.
"In 2022, most businesses are struggling with a noticeable market decline in consumer goods sales. While the home decoration and renovation market was booming from 2019-2021, sales development this year has been moderate due to a variety of factors, from inflation to global unrest. This means companies are shifting up their digital marketing game."
The Advise stage is crucial because it gives us a chance to challenge assumptions: things we think will work, and those that we think won’t, all get evaluated. This exercise is what leads to those ‘difference making’ discoveries that help us reach, and go past, our client's targets. You don’t pour money into a campaign and hope for the best.
How do we implement the Advise stage with Vepsäläinen?
One of the first questions we get is: how have we continuously boosted Vepsäläinen’s online sales through our Advise approach? The answer is data. We use data for everything: data that comes from offline and online sales and an analysis of how the different marketing assets or campaigns have been performing. Before we start advising a client, we need to have a firm understanding of their business and their brand: what they stand for and what they do. Finding the balance between creativity and data is crucial. We achieve this through a focus on developing a data-driven approach, while challenging the client and driving marketing activities in a customer-centric way. That’s where each of our teams come in to make sure we are providing relevancy – being at the right place, at the right time, with the right messaging that activates the consumer.
While there isn't a set formula for unlocking a strong digital presence, the Advise stage for Vepsäläinen revealed needs in seven areas:
- Enhancing understanding of product performance cross-media-channels and cross-sales-channels
- Making high quality product recommendations with low effort
- Preparing for a cookieless internet, finding alternatives to multi touch attribution
- Creating more efficient marketing reporting platforms
- Creating a data-driven strategy for online tracking and advertising
- Configuring website tracking and digital channel capabilities to meet demand
- Use of the Research, Advice, Make, Activate way of working to drive growth from search engine optimization (SEO), search engine marketing (SEM), paid social, programmatic display and marketing automation
Opportunities discovered during the Advise process
Data is king. But data is also just raw numbers if you aren't able to turn it into actionable insights, as we do during the Advise process. You need to ask informed questions based on those numbers, which requires knowing what questions to ask.
So, how exactly did we achieve our objectives and what were some of the opportunities discovered during our Advise process?
1. UnderstandIng their business – and their industry
Before we could really start the Advise process, we needed to understand Vepsäläinen’s business – and a big part of understanding a business is also understanding their business model. Without having proper knowledge in this area, the strategy suggestions may not work and you may end up being focused on the wrong things. We focus on understanding their business model and aligning our marketing strategy to match. This means we make sure we know the client’s goals both in the short and long term.
2. Creating a new strategy
From the available data we are able to support Vepsäläinen to grow not only through their digital sales, but also offline sales by looking at the available data. For example, providing insights from expected/predicted sales volumes for a service/product/category in the client's context. We do this in many ways, but the basic idea is that the best advice comes from combining data from first party sources and third parties as well, and analyzing it against a wider set of historical data.
Vepsäläinen, of course, have their sales and marketing strategies for each channel and prioritized objectives from them. What we, as experts in digital marketing and sales, bring to the table is up to date insights and advice based on actual data. Based on the advice and recommendations the data is giving us, the client is able to react and the digital sales and marketing team is able to adjust its actions based on those insights. Armed with our data, we’re making sure we’re putting the resources – aka the marketing budgets – in the right places, and asking the right questions from the data when planning the next campaigns.
3. Finding the right channels
Content is also king when it comes to expanding the audiences and interest towards our clients’ services and products – and also creating brand experiences. Knowing what people are searching for on different channels, allows us to make sure we are picking the right SEO keywords to target our products.
You need a range of available data from a variety of channels to discover and explore opportunities. Finding the right channels requires up-to-date cross-channel reporting and performance modeling, which allows us to make decisions based on performance from a cross-channel perspective.The ability to evaluate performance from one holistic view (including all marketing metrics). enables media planning with high efficiency and automated reports from historical media investments.
The image below shows how we use different datasets and modeling methods (Cloud Machine Learning, BigQuery ML etc) to enhance our understanding across cross-media-channels (product, media, creative and users performance) and cross-sales-channels for Vepsäläinen. For example, through the datasets, modeling and artificial intelligence (AI) we are able to determine what visual and creative attributes are more likely to perform better and, depending on the results, gain insights for the future creatives and adjust the creative elements of the campaigns when appropriate.
4. Knowing where to put your money - the paid media arena
For Vepsäläinen, we are continuously adjusting and monitoring the ROI against current and planned budgets. If we see some parts of the campaign are working really well, we put more effort there e.g., this can be a certain online channel, certain product set, or even a single creative.
Data gives us actionable insights about when and where we need to be, the different actions/efforts we need to take, as well as which audiences to target in order to meet their sales objectives. Through both data- and insight-based media budgeting, we’ve become extremely knowledgeable about which online advertising platforms are giving us the best ROI and which campaigns we expect will produce strong results. It has also become even more important to understand from the media investment perspective,in terms of the balance between brand awareness and sales oriented campaigns in the overarching marketing planning and combining insights. Also, with the help of AI and intelligent product feed setup, we deliver more relevant messaging paired up with the relevant products for tactical campaigning.
5. Discovering white space opportunities
Combining and visualizing data in a new and relevant way becomes even more important when Vepsäläinen, as well as other clients, are thinking of expanding their service/product offerings or exploring how to move into completely new geographical areas.
As part of our Advise process we also use our data-driven approach to discover white space opportunities for their business. From our analysis we can see keywords that they are already targeting and where there is big potential for them to make gains.We were able to identify new white space opportunities for Vepsäläinen when we started asking questions from the data and set it against what’s happening in the outside world and how their competitors and peers are handling these questions.
Through our data driven approach to digital marketing and sales, we have helped Vepsäläinen to back up their decisions on:
- What could be the optimal selection of their available products online to drive sales
- What is the brand and product offering that would have most relevance and impact outside the Finnish market
- What is the correlation between expected delivery time on buying behavior… and much more
6. Keeping customers informed and targeting frequent buyers of similar products
Because we are data-driven, we’re monitoring Vepsäläinen’s advertising at all times. You cannot implement a data-driven marketing strategy and then simply walk away. Change happens frequently, and if you don’t adjust your strategy to reflect this you might miss out on crucial sales. Google serves us with lots of data and insights to repurpose such as search volume, expected demands and seasonalities in different categories.
For example, when people are buying furniture they are mainly doing it over the weekend. So every Monday we regroup and look at:
- How our media spends have been doing
- Whether there has been a positive or negative response to our campaigns
- The different categories of products sold
- Whether we need to optimize certain areas
- Analyzing the competitor: what the competitors’ sales were during the week
7. Utilizing the ‘right tools’ isn’t enough
Things have been changing in the past two years. We make sure we are focusing our efforts in the right places. This means constantly keeping our finger on the pulse and making sure we are using the ‘latest and greatest’ tools, including the endless possibilities of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML).
However, repeat after me: “Having good tools is important, but good tools alone isn’t enough”. You also need to have the expertise to use the tools. Experience packs a lot of value. You also need to be on the pulse checking the data. That’s what specialists do. They stay up-to-date with changes such as technical or industry changes as well as best practices. Working with an agency that has a wealth of experience in an area is going to enrich the Advise process.
Solving the marketing puzzle
With all these areas combined through analytics and data science, as well as expertise and tools to harvest, analyze and put data together, the answers we’re looking for are ultimately revealed. We’re partnering with our clients in a way so that data works for them, and becomes a competitive advantage. This means Vepsäläinen doesn’t need to second guess or make assumptions. Instead, we use the Advise stage to reveal exciting opportunities that could have otherwise gone undiscovered.
We are continuing to build up our relationship, offering more select services such as service development and content and communications. We’re creating a strategy that goes beyond the last click.
Ready to become data-driven and take the guessing out of your marketing strategy? Contact our team here.