Agile marketing in lockdown

by Caroline Guillet

Caroline shares some thoughts from the IPG Virtual Spring Conference, where she attended the session given by Alison Middle and Louise Dickens from Kogan Page.

Consumer behaviour has changed drastically since lockdown measures have been put in place, but overall readers still have appetite for content and are moving online to find it. Alison Middle and Louise Dickens discussed how independent publishers can use their agility to respond to shifts in reading and purchasing habits, but also media consumption, to make their books and digital resources as visible, discoverable and enjoyable as possible.

‘What started as a temporary solution to an immediate problem could become part of our strategy moving forward’ Louise Dickens, Senior Web & Social Media Editor at Kogan Page

3 principles of agile marketing: 

  1. Being customer driven: lockdown has caused some new questions to be asked: what challenges are faced by consumers? How do they match with a company’s resources? How can they support consumers? What are the marketing channels available?
  2. Flexible and creative: home-based marketing needs to involve technology. Companies need to be up to date with CRM, social, webinar and marketing platforms.
  3. Measurable and accountable: no marketing campaign should rely on speculations or assumptions; metrics need to be reviewed regularly, and fast, to feed the results back in the planning of future campaigns.

Main changes in the industry

Remote working has been a challenge for everyone across the industry. Teams now have to work from home and sometimes in difficult personal environments. The virtual world also means that consumer behaviour is seeing a heavy shift to online content, thus bringing needs for new skills or finding motivation. Authors too are at home, and it is more than ever the time to give them visibility. Finally, companies need to exploit available, although saturated, marketing channels.

Essential tools for successful marketing agility

All marketing activities across platforms need to be planned and reviewed on a weekly basis, making use of smart technology tools to analyse metrics, successes and failures. Whilst staying focused and identifying priorities, it is still very important to encourage and welcome new ideas and creativity. Communication is key across departments but also with partners across the world; everyone should have access to the same level of information.

Kogan Page’s response to user needs:

How did they make the right and relevant titles discoverable and accessible?

By putting titles into collections and adapting them depending on trends and consumer needs.

How did they shift to online events and manage to focus on relevant topics?

By compiling the right data to assess the needs and interests of a specific audience (right platform, message and tone). It is important to constantly test, monitor results and analyse conversion.

A spotlight on digital marketing

Overall, companies need a basic level of technology in place to be agile. A first step is to improve discoverability which will help online consumers to navigate their website; usually by making use of trackable pages and banners, analysing clicks, bounce rates and user behaviour.

Being aware of product availability is key too; ebooks are available on a lot of different platforms and are not impacted by delivery delays. Kogan Page shifted its business model to respond to consumer needs. By providing buyers with an ebook copy alongside a physical one, they minimized the impact of delivery delays caused by a disrupted supply chain. 

Communication is also essential; updating copies and product description regularly should be a priority, so they appeal to the intended audience and respond to trends and social contexts. Emails and newsletters are also great direct communication tools as they effectively drive traffic on the website.

Lastly, a company needs to be consistent across channels for a great user experience: this builds credibility and trust whilst growing brand awareness.

Social media has a crucial role in agile marketing

Social media channels are agile by nature; as reactive mediums, they respond to real time events. It is essential to use an appropriate and consistent tone of voice – e.g. in times of coronavirus, being positive and practical. The following points are important for an optimum social media presence:

  • Focusing on the human side of a company will allow it to be more relatable to the audience.
  • Being credible so consumers can trust the business
  • Giving visibility to authors: publishers bridge the gap between authors (the experts) and the audience, so it is important to emphasise them. Authors can record videos of themselves to humanize a campaign. They can also be more than individuals; brought together, authors have even greater power and can serve a common cause.
  • Online events have populated – and even saturated – social media channels; they are more diverse and inclusive, provide greater reach and allow a splendid growth in brand awareness. To optimize referrals on websites such as YouTube or Twitter, an idea is to repurpose snippets of online events on these platforms.
  • Considering only the metrics that matter is crucial; vanity metrics (number of followers and likes) have much less impact than the engagement of a community.

The work is ongoing, therefore these elements should be considered and questioned regularly for success:

  • Tracking successful keywords and being aware of SEO
  • Monitoring trends (and competition)
  • Analysing changes in Google search behaviours
  • Looking out for new opportunities
  • Understanding user behaviour 

About the author of this article

Caroline Guillet is a Digital Publishing Master’s student at the Oxford International Centre for Publishing. Her interest in publishing and technology has led her to research the digitization of paratext for her postgraduate dissertation. She is presently working as an intern at Aelurus Publishing, a small independent publisher of Fantasy and Science Fiction.

Edited by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 10 Jun 2020 around 8am

Last edited: 10 06 2020