Award-winning digital marketing and customer experience agency

Tour du ALS reaches for the sky!

Tour du ALS reaches for the sky!

On May 29, 2019 Nanda Idink, Novacom Amsterdam Client Services Manager, will take part in the Tour du ALS:  a challenging bike ride where she and hundreds of other die-hards will bike or run up Mount Ventoux in France for the Dutch ALS Foundation.

In the UK the disease is known as Motor Neurone Disease (MND). Why is she taking on this challenge? “Health is essential to everyone – so if you have the possibility to do something for a good cause, it is important to take on the challenge and help through sports and sponsoring,” says Nanda.

Something which makes Tour du ALS so special is that people with this terrible disease also participate. Because this mountain is so difficult (21 km of continuous climbing to 1570m at 7-8% gradients), this is a fantastic achievement.  And that’s the reason she and four other friends from Breukelen near Utrecht called ‘The Breukelse Bende’ (The Gang from Breukelen) want to contribute.

Nanda has experienced the effects of ALS/MND in her own family as her father-in-law and her grandmother died of the disease, which is quite rare, since there are only around 1500 people with ALS/MND in the Netherlands.

This disease is fatal and around 500 people die every year in The Netherlands (around 2,200 people in the UK). No treatment has yet been found to convert this disease from a fatal to a chronic one. Research and, of course, money are needed for this, so Nanda and her four friends cycle for their deceased relatives and all other patients.

The team has undertaken many sponsorship activities and used their network of individuals and local businesses such as the super market and the bike shop, as well as social media channels to raise money.

And it doesn’t stop there – in collaboration with an online wine shop, the team has developed the Tour du ALS wine package: 6 bottles of different French wine, of which €7,50 per order will go to the team’s donation fund. It is amazing to see how friends, relatives, colleagues and local people are involved to help raise the money.

Visit Nanda’s sponsorship page for more information and to donate here:
https://www.tourduals.nl/actie/nanda-idink

For more information about ALS/MND:
The Dutch ALS Foundation – www.als.nl (Dutch language)
The MND Association – https://www.mndassociation.org (English language)

Health is essential to everyone – so if you have the possibility to do something for a good cause, it is important to take on the challenge and help through sports and sponsoring

Novacom wins award for Most Innovative UK Digital Marketing Agency 2019

Novacom wins award for Most Innovative UK Digital Marketing Agency 2019

Novacom has won the prestigious 2019 Acquisition International (AI) Global Excellence award for Most Innovative Digital Marketing Agency, UK.

Handpicked by AI magazine’s expert research panel, Novacom was awarded the title following comprehensive analysis of the business’ performance and competitors.

AI’s proven approach ensures they select winners purely on merit – not popularity – and recognise the very best in business. Whether the contenders are smaller companies or multinational corporations, the award goes to fast-growing innovators, who demonstrate continuous business improvement.

The award comes at the culmination of a year of rapid change in the Novacom business, which includes industry-leading evolutions in the service offer and business development across a rapidly expanding international office network.

This includes new offices in Frankfurt, Germany and New York City, USA, further supporting Amsterdam, Netherlands, and Cambridge, UK operations.

This prestigious new award compliments two further major wins in the last 12 months, where Novacom took home Best Digital Marketing Agency of the Year, and Excellence In Integrated Marketing Solutions at the UK Enterprise Awards 2018.

The Most Innovative Digital Marketing Agency 2019 award comes at the culmination of a year of rapid change in the Novacom business.

Digital security: how client/agency relationships must change

Digital security: how client/agency relationships must change

There was a time when client/marketing agency relationships were reasonably fluid, and agency roster reviews would take place on regular one, two or three year intervals. But that all changed when digital took centre stage and customer databases grew.

This gradual evolution, from traditional to data-driven marketing means that the amount of data clients now store, and the personal nature of much of this information, means that under current and upcoming European Union (EU) laws, data security breaches carry big penalties.

Who is liable for data breaches?

The harsh reality is, that the owner of the data is the company that will be prosecuted and receive the financial penalty, and in the case of the new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), penalties are now confirmed at up to 4% of an enterprises’ total global turnover, or €20,000,000.

GDPR is now agreed among EU member states and while it will not come into force until early 2018, its influences can already be felt as data security and privacy law comes into sharper focus among EU authorities.

GDPR: gaining perspective

Preparing to meet the required levels of data security and protection is a little less straightforward than you might imagine. That is because one of the most critical weak points in your digital marketing workflow is likely to be out of your direct control: your digital marketing agency.

What is going to become important to you very quickly is your agency’s grasp of GDPR and its clear understanding of how these new and complex laws impact on not only them, but you. Because if things go wrong, it’s you who will be picking up the tab.

Digital agency security benchmarks

The critical issue is having confidence in your agency’s knowledge of EU data protection laws – things like how do we export data to the USA, or how do we transmit personal data? These are areas where, if handled incorrectly, large fines may be imposed.

To gain confidence in your digital agency, you need them to have a clear official international qualification. This should take the form of ISO certification to at least ISO 9001 certification for data management, and preferably ISO 27001 for data security.

ISO 9001 and ISO 27001 agency input

These ISO certifications should give you the confidence to rely on your agency’s advice on national and international data management and security, and means you can allow them to guide you through set-up and the day-to-day running of your data-driven marketing processes.

So, now your agency has taken on a completely new role.

Now, rather than fulfilling a purely subordinate role, they have evolved as partners, collaborating with you in data management and protection, as well as helping you navigate the complexities of digital marketing in this new regulatory environment.

Changing roles and perspectives

GDPR, ISO 9001 and ISO 27001 mean you will either want to find a new and more competent digital agency or completely change the way you work with your existing agency partner. And this will mean a complete change in the dynamic of the relationship for both parties.

Client-side, you will have to gain confidence in your agency and trust their advice on international data regulations, and your agency will need to step up and learn to work in a transparent collaborative partnership – still a rarity it seems, even in the 21st Century.

Securing agency relationships

But what is truly important in this new relationship is that it needs to endure, because both parties will be making a significant commitment to the relationship and in particular your chosen agency, who will always need to stay ahead of the legislative curve on your behalf.

This ongoing next-level client support and guidance places continuous demands on agency resources and means to serve you well they will need to fully understand you and your enterprise.

This requires a significant investment in relationship building for both parties, so placing your agency under a contract that fully reflects this new form of agency/client collaboration means you both have the security of a long-term relationship in a fast-changing world.

GDPR, ISO 9001 and ISO 27001 mean you will either want to find a new and more competent digital agency or completely change the way you work with your existing agency partner.

Do you know if your digital agency is damaging your brand?

Do you know if your digital agency is damaging your brand?

According to McKinsey & Co, in the five-year window from 2014 to 2019, global media spending will rise from US $1.6 trillion to a projected US $2.1 trillion, but what does this mean for those in-house marketing managers, tasked with maintaining competitive position?

Many of these marketers with digital responsibility came into the industry when digital was still in its infancy and not particularly mainstream, but now digital marketing channels are at the heart of marketing communications across the globe.

Client or agency – who has control?

And this creates an issue: if you aren’t educated in digital marketing, how can you be expected to manage these channels effectively? And if client-side marketers aren’t controlling these channels, exactly who is?

And therein lies the problem. The reality is that in many cases, it is the digital agency that has the most knowledge and expertise in digital channels, but this certainly doesn’t mean they have a true understanding of your products, services or even your brand to be successful.

Unseen brand damage

That lack of clear understanding means you may inadvertently sanction the use of techniques such as pop-ups, spam email, click-bait, poorly targeted mass display advertising campaigns and misleading native advertising that have no place associated to a quality brand like yours.

If you think this is far-fetched, look at the free websites of some regional and national newspapers, where, by the time all the advertisements, pre-rolls and pop-ups have loaded, you’ve lost interest in reading it and left. Which newspaper marketing manager wanted that?

Avoiding digital disaster

So, instead of positively communicating and promoting your brand, your lack of digital understanding and complete reliance on your digital agency may well be corroding your brand’s value in the eyes of your website visitors and target prospects without you ever knowing that it is happening.

This has nothing to do with your marketing competence, but is purely due to the limited knowledge of the techniques and options available across various digital channels, and how these might be appropriate or inappropriate for your brand values or brand strategy.

Digital education for senior marketers

What can you do? Well, the first thing is to admit that digital has moved on so quickly that your workflow schedule has not allowed you to remain fully up to speed on developments. To my mind, this is completely likely as your work as a manager is way beyond hands-on.

And how to fix it? There’s no time to go back to college, so fast-track help is required. This should be available via your agency if they have a collaborative philosophy of the kind we’ve built with our clients at Novacom.

How digital agencies can help educate clients – and help themselves

Because of the exponentially fast moving nature of the digital space, we not only educate on digital channels and techniques, but all the other things that are now becoming critical legally across the EU, such as data management and security via ISO 9001 and ISO 27001 certification.

So what’s in it for digital agencies? Well if we have given our clients a fast-track insight into digital marketing techniques and methodologies, then we are working in true collaboration with a marketing partner: someone who can share in-house insight and allow us to therefore deliver even greater marketing performance, and success.

And this creates an issue: if you aren’t educated in digital marketing, how can you be expected to manage these channels effectively?

written by Will Yates,
Client Services Director at Novacom

Video: the fast-track to online customer engagement

Video: the fast-track to online customer engagement

With more than 80% of senior executives saying they now watch more online video than they did a year ago, and according to Forbes, 75% of executives are watching work-related video on a weekly basis, this communications channel has risen to a stellar level in recent times.

And until recently, video was seen as a ‘nice to have’ channel but with research showing that using the word ‘video’ in an email subject line increases open rates by 19%, click through rates by 65% and reduces unsubscribes by 26%, it’s now impossible to ignore.

Strategic social media and SEO benefits

If you then consider that over the past year, Facebook video viewership grew from four billion views per day to eight billion, then video in a FMCG and B2B context not only makes sense, but becomes central to both prospect and customer engagement.

Video also now has a massive impact on search engine optimisation and online visibility, with rich media such as video being favoured by search engine algorithms, and with Google’s ownership of YouTube, video has become almost explosive in terms of channel growth.

Slick delivery drives engagement

But even with such huge opportunities for market development, many smaller enterprises often take big risks to save money through making video presentations internally. But caution should be exercised here because without professional-standard equipment and appropriate lighting, video can go from potentially very engaging to just plain annoying.

Cheap equipment can cause system or extraneous noise to be present on the audio channels, and bad lighting or inappropriate camera angles can render video productions mediocre – and that will reflect badly on your brand and any potential MROI.

Strategy-focused story-lining

While these quality issues need to be avoided, so quality in strategic story development and market messaging are also critical to a successful outcome. Scripting needs to be done professionally to ensure crystal clarity and optimum pace in message delivery.

If you are wise, and engage your digital agency to develop your story-lines and scripts, they will want to understand your brand strategy and build on this in the video story to drive brand strategy as an integral part of your marketing plan.

Joining the strategic dots

Given the compelling statistics at the top of this post, it is plain to see that if you integrate video into your marketing strategy, you are driving your brand message though an extremely powerful communications channel.

And if you have stuck to the guiding principles laid down here and delivered information quickly, engagingly and in a memorable way, there is little reason why your video work shouldn’t thrive on your brand-site, and even YouTube, and go beyond this to achieve viral success.

And until recently, video was seen as a ‘nice to have’ channel but with research showing that using the word ‘video’ in an email subject line increases open rates by 19%, click through rates by 65% and reduces unsubscribes by 26%, it’s now impossible to ignore.

written by Will Yates,
Client Services Director at Novacom

Five tips on digital marketing agency search and selection

Five tips on digital marketing agency search and selection

Digital communications (the transmission of marketing communications by digital means) covers a wide range of marketing platforms and a spectrum of channels and for client-side marketers, deciding on what is the best-fit for your enterprise is a complex equation.

And to compound this best-fit identification issue, actually seeing beyond the hot technology offers or the hype and such claims as ‘we’re the largest’ or the ‘only EU’ and so on, and to get a solid understanding of actual agency capabilities is a tough assignment for any marketer.

Platform or channel: what’s the difference?

Today, many digital marketing agencies will offer information on expertise such as marketing automation (MA) platform capabilities. Others will offer expertise in social media (SM) or pay-per-click (PPC) or online display advertising.

But while agency promotion of these platforms or channels is useful, what it is not telling you is what specific expertise they have in delivering marketing prospects or sales leads – the very thing you need to build your sales, profitability and long-term customer loyalty.

So, where does this leave you?

End-to-end approach

As can be seen, many of these communications elements are either delivery platforms or communications channels and while critical for targeted communication, they are certainly not the strategic marketing message in themselves.

So, cutting to the chase, working through all the platform and channel offers, to discriminate between pure platform or channel provision and those who offer platform or channel provision with truly solid strategic communication skill and associated marketing communication capabilities is a critical starting point in your search.

Conspicuous by its absence

Most of these digital marketing agencies will aim to provide content marketing as a part of their offer. This is key, but the quality of this content, its power to engage with your prospects and ability to deliver marketing qualified sales leads that actually buy from you is the ultimate criteria.

Remember, marketing platform and channel experience are key, but to achieve sustained growth and loyal customer acquisition, you critically need focused content marketing that drives these platforms and channels to success. Here are five points to consider in order of relevance.

Research and strategic market planning

Any long-term and sustainable marketing campaign will require careful strategic planning. This not only helps to optimise prospect engagement, but also to ensure that brand visibility is gained and maintained throughout the campaign.

Always explore a prospective agency’s strategic market planning capabilities when you open discussions. A good way for the prospect agency to demonstrate strategic planning capabilities is through the provision of current client case studies.

Integrated multi-channel digital communication specialisms

To develop successful digital marketing strategies, your agency will need to provide a multi-channel communications strategy, and this will require a number of integrated communications platforms, delivering communications across several marketing channels simultaneously.

This means you need to satisfy yourself that any potential agency has not only proven expertise in all required platforms and the marketing channels through which they will deliver, but can fully demonstrate how this will work in line with initial – pre-proposal – strategic plans.

Sector-specific marketing experience

Again, as with the points above, in order to identify precisely which marketing communications platform or channel is appropriate at which particular point in the marketing journey and at which point a channel will need to close the sale requires critical expertise.

To optimise communications performance in this marketing-to-sale journey, it is vitally important that the proposed agency has a deep understanding of your marketplace, target prospect behaviours and how to engage with them. In short, sector experience counts.

Content marketing and search optimisation expertise

In many respects, and like the point above, long-term experience and close market sector expertise are very important in achieving optimum prospect engagement through understanding and delivering what it is potential and existing customers want from your enterprise.

This means selecting an agency that has proven experience in your market sector. That is not to say you should exclude marketers from closely related sectors, but you need to be sure they can demonstrate a very clear understanding of your target audience, and their needs.

You will know your market, so make completely sure your agency does too, because if they talk your prospect’s language they will raise your brand and campaign profile and visibility through powerful search engine optimisation (SEO).

Performance analytics and management

The final piece is for you to understand the marketing return on investment (MROI) your agency is delivering across the campaigns you will be working on together.

You will already know what your required marketing performance metrics are, and you therefore need to ask your prospective agency to formulate and demonstrate performance analytics to closely mirror these requirements.

It has to be said, agency capabilities in the area of performance analytics is variable, but a good agency with a competent analytics team should be able to offer all of what you are likely to need.

Content expertise drives success

As can be seen, technology in the form of marketing platforms or communications channels, and the expertise in utilising these is a very important element in digital marketing communications.

But what really counts when selecting a new digital marketing agency is confidence in knowing that they not only understand marketing technology, but understand what emotional and aspirational marketing content to load into it to make it work successfully.

Remember, marketing platform and channel experience are key, but to achieve sustained growth and loyal customer acquisition, you critically need focused content marketing that drives these platforms and channels to success.

written by Will Yates,
Client Services Director at Novacom