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Picking the right channels and platforms for marketing success.

Having worked in marketing divisions within a range of verticals – from gaming to gambling – Ross comes to Growth Gorilla with heaps of experience when it comes to devising and implementing a media plan. You could say, he’s seen it all. Which is why his case study stresses the importance of approaching your marketing strategy with a healthy dose of realism.

The key considerations:

Marketing. It can make or break a fintech’s fortunes. So when Ross is working with a founder or marketing lead to come up with a strategy and decide where to allocate their budget, he implements an approach that he's perfected over the years – something he refers to as a ‘champagne-glass pyramid’.

“This is how I recommend approaching your choice of channels and platforms when advertising as a startup, or with a limited budget.” says Ross. “Initially, you put champagne (budget) into the glass (channel or platform) that will effectively drive the highest number of conversions at the lowest cost per acquisition (CPA). This gets you going from an ROI perspective, then your budget cascades down from there.”

The most important thing to keep in mind, however, is that the top glass – and the rest of the glasses – aren’t always going to be the same. Even when you compare companies that might on the surface look like they offer similar products to similar audiences. And so Ross outlines the four main factors that should define your approach to deciding on the channels and platforms that will feature in your marketing mix: 

1. B2B or B2C?

“How the champagne-glass pyramid is structured will depend on whether you are B2B or B2C,” says Ross. “B2B tends to be a lot more content-led and this opens up platforms such as LinkedIn, which is perfect for B2B. We've got some B2B clients who, for prospecting, only use LinkedIn because it affords them a level of targeting – job title, experience, company size and so on – that you can’t get anywhere else. On the B2C side, you would be more likely to place platforms such as Google Ads or Facebook Ads at the top of the pyramid. 

2. Awareness:

When people think of awareness in a marketing context they normally consider ‘brand awareness’. However an audience's awareness of a problem or solution is just as important, as Ross explains. “Startups generally have little-to-no brand awareness. In this situation you can target people who are aware of a problem and are actively seeking the solution, serving search ads to them. Which is ultra-effective from a CPA point of view. Google Ads is king here, and sits at the top of the pyramid”.

But what if your business is solving a problem that people haven’t identified? Or what if your product is the only solution out there? Ross has the answer. “We would use high-reach channels where the ad placements allow us to present both the problem and the solution at once. Such as carousels or video ads on Facebook and Twitter. This is sometimes the only effective approach when products are new to market and totally innovative. They need to carve their own niche, generate their own demand. Paid social is then at the top of the pyramid.”

3. Restrictions

Being aware of advertising regulations will also help define your approach, as Ross knows only too well from his time at Genting Casino, and he uses these learnings to help crypto companies navigate similar restrictions. 

“For example, in gaming you have to be verified if you want to use Google ads. You have to submit licences to Google to prove that you're regulated and that you follow certain standards. Taking that a step further, there are some platforms that simply won't entertain crypto advertising – like Google, which doesn’t officially allow crypto firms in the UK or Europe to advertise right now. Sometimes there are ways around this, for example, for our crypto client Change we advertise them as a CFD platform. On Facebook it’s the reverse, you can run crypto ads but you can’t mention CFD. Platform whitelisting can be a lengthy process, and you can get rejected easily.”

It’s because of restrictions like this that a pyramid for a crypto firm is very different to one for a service-led fintech firm, even if they are both B2C. Ross points to Wayhome – one of our clients – as an example. “A gradual homeownership platform such as Wayhome could go live on most social networks without any problem whatsoever. However, a crypto brand can't. Because of this, cryptos can’t put Google at the top of the pyramid unless they can position themselves as a CFD platform. So that poses a problem straightaway.”

4. Audience 

Let’s stick with the example of Wayhome and social media as we move onto the third consideration: audience. Because the audience segments you are going after will vastly impact the channels and platforms on which you establish a presence. 

“Two of Wayhome's relevant audiences are prospective Help to Buy customers and the self-employed. While there's a lot of search volume from people looking for Help to Buy schemes or shared ownership initiatives, the search volume for self-employed mortgages is much lower. Possibly because they don't necessarily know there's an alternative product out there for them, whereas the Help to Buy audience do.”

As a result, the pyramid for Wayhome sees Google Ads sitting at the top of the pyramid, which Ross says it’s by far the best converting channel. “However, this changes if we want to prioritise the self-employed audience over the Help to Buy audience, all of a sudden Facebook jumps to the top of the pyramid because the targeting is better and the search volumes are so low on Google Ads.”

Know your audience:

Having worked on marketing strategies across multiple companies and clients, Ross has plenty of experience putting brands in front of the biggest audience possible and maximising ROI. Part of this means creating a pyramid that’s specific to each brand – one which takes into account the three key considerations above – and understanding what makes the audience tick. 

“When I was at Genting Casino the approach was very search heavy. This worked well, because if you're actively looking for a new customer offer in order to place a bet then you're right at the bottom of the funnel. The only problem with that is the competitive nature of the industry – there are hundreds of other gambling firms bidding on the same keywords, and it gets really expensive. You're talking £120 a click on some terms. One solution was targeting customers of TV casinos in the early hours of the morning. These channels would end at 3am and people would search for alternatives. It’s the same audience with the same intent, but the traffic is much cheaper at 3am.”

Another example Ross draws on is from his time at gaming retailer Fanatical, where the obvious choice might have been to put search at the top of the pyramid – high volume and low competition means cheap traffic – but instead the approach was to focus on social and affiliate. “That was because the audience was quite tech-savvy, they use desktop PCs and tend to use ad blockers a lot. They didn't like being targeted. They understood the fact that when they searched, their data was harvested. This meant they were really hard to serve ads to, so we had to go after that audience in what appeared to be a more organic way – the interactions had to feel genuine. Obviously, we're still creating an ad campaign, but we wanted the audience to feel like they had discovered the brand.”

So Ross and the team targeted people interested in PC gaming on Facebook via mobile devices only, because the use of ad blockers was predominantly desktop browser-based. While they also found the key channels in terms of conversion were influencer and affiliate. “Gamers tend to watch other people gaming, so we worked with influencers who have established a presence on streaming platforms like Twitch & YouTube to put the products in front of the audience. This way it didn’t feel intrusive, because the marketing messages were coming from a place that they trust.”

The approach:

When constructing your pyramid, Ross suggest thinking of it in two ways:

The channel level: Paid search, paid social, display and affiliate. That’s your key channel mix for most companies.

The platform level: Within these channels you have platforms. So within paid search, you've got Google Ads and Bing Ads, which incorporates Yahoo! as well. Then on the social side, you've got Meta (Facebook/Instagram), Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.

The platforms you pick will depend on your objectives. “Before you even start thinking about how you're going to advertise or market your business, you need to fully understand what’s available to you. It would all be too easy for a B2B company to put a load of money into targeting CxOs on LinkedIn, when targeting low volume high-intent search keywords would deliver a much greater ROI. What you might think is immediately obvious isn't necessarily the case.” 

Just look at Ross’s example of Fanatical, where the channel with all the volume - search - wasn't necessarily the best channel because of how the audience behaved. And then there’s Wayhome, where we go after one audience on search, and the other audience on social.

“Adapt your channel and platform mix to speak to different audience segments and remember that the obvious platform isn't always the best platform. So do your research before picking the platform to sit at the top of your pyramid.”

Want to find out more about Ross? Connect with him on LinkedIn or get in touch with our team to find out more.

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