Eight Agency Pros Predict Upcoming Uses Of Virtual Reality In Marketing

When virtual reality (VR) technology first came on the scene, it was expensive and usually limited to niche uses like gaming. Since then, VR has exploded on the scene across multiple industries and has multiple applications.

Are marketing and advertising next? According to experts in the industry—yes! Below, eight members of Forbes Agency Council share some of the things that they predict VR will bring to advertising and marketing.

1. Added Traffic At Events

We’ve seen VR bring real value when it comes to driving event traffic. At events, VR can quickly tell your brand’s story in an engaging, immersive way. For products that are too large to bring to a trade show, VR allows users to experience them firsthand. You can also use a VR experience of a given location to entice the user to go experience it in reality. – Sarah Mannone, Trekk

2. Tangible Brand Stories

The opportunity for VR is making the brand experience, traditionally communicated in words and visuals, tangible for the consumer. It reminds me of childhood cartoons when the character would step into the TV and become part of whatever he or she was watching. Advertising can build awareness and pique interest, but VR can make a story come alive and be deeply personal because it’s uniquely experienced. – Edward Hoffman, Padilla

3. Promotion Launches

Virtual reality is effective for on-site experiential marketing, which can typically promote a launch of a large new initiative (new car, movie, TV show or branding initiative). Users can personally interact with the promotion or brand via “mixed reality” or 4D virtual reality, becoming more ingrained in the initial experience and leading to strong media impressions. – Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, HAWTHORNE LLC

4. A Perfect Partnership With Augmented Reality

VR and AR tech combined will make the most impact in 2019. The futures of these technologies are tied together. While VR will continue to grow in the content marketing sector, both technologies need each other to have a full impact in the ad industry. AR has the virtual element without leaving the real world—consumers would need to have that experience for a successful VR/AR campaign. – Cagan Sean Yuksel, GRAFX CO.

5. Emotional Consumer Responses

VR will allow us to immerse our market in experiences like never before. This will allow us to communicate with consumers on an emotional level through the environments and circumstances we create. VR is the ultimate tool for visual and experiential brand communication, as we can place our target markets directly into the message we want to create in order to drive an emotional response. – Michael Smith, iTribe Social Inc.

6. Expanded Previews For Automotive And Travel Customers

Virtual reality technology is tailor-made for industries like auto and travel, where the sale is often based on an expected experience versus consumption. Expanding the trial or preview experience from the limits of a showroom or an actual flight can prove to be compelling and generate a new segment of customers outside of a geographic range. – Keri Witman, Cleriti

7. ‘Impossible’ Experiences

While the original fuel for VR (at least in the media) was heavy on the gaming side, VR has been seeing a ton of movement in “experiences.” It can make the “impossible” possible: skiing in Aspen, visiting the Andes or even walking on the moon. Or imagine if before taking a cruise you could experience it in VR first. I can see travel and entertainment having huge commercial opportunities for VR. – Bernard May, National Positions

8. Glimpses Of The Future

While VR is becoming more commonplace in advertising, we still see real value in the experiential space. VR allows brands to elevate an in-person experience, allowing consumers to engage with current and even futuristic products. For example, automotive manufacturers can share their concept cars via VR, allowing consumers to fully experience the vehicle without the need to develop a physical car. – Scott Kellner, GPJ Experience Marketing

13 Tips For Effectively And Efficiently Personalizing A Marketing Campaign

Today’s marketers are learning that personalized campaigns are often the most successful. These powerful marketing tactics are particularly effective in targeting Millennials and Gen-Zers, who crave authentic, personal connections with the brands they patronize. However, taking the time and resources to tailor every individual marketing message can get very expensive, very quickly.

If you want to get more personal without breaking the bank, try following these tips from the experts of Forbes Agency Council. Their tactics will help you efficiently and cost-effectively take a more individualized approach to your marketing.


1. Authentically Automate Personalized Campaigns

There is a multitude of ways to automate personalized campaigns. However, it’s essential not to sacrifice authenticity for the efficiency of automation. For example, too many “persona-based” personalized campaigns paint too broadly when bucketing cohorts. Instead, opt for more individually personalized automation. An obvious example is sending automated emails on audience members’ birthdays. – Gyi Tsakalakis, AttorneySync

2. Get More Specific With Your Targeting

Plain and simple, our technology today allows us to get very specific in who we are targeting. The more specific you are about who you want to see your campaign, the more you are able to personalize it and keep within budget. This means you need to really know who your target audience is and what their habits, likes and dislikes, and behaviors are. – Andrea Keirn, Black Rhino Marketing Group

3. Let Them Tell You What They Want

Give your younger customers a chance to self-select by asking them what kind of consumer they are. For instance, ask if they’re a regular purchaser, a sometimes purchaser or a first-time purchaser. It’s simple: Once they’ve identified as a purchaser at all, they’re more likely to make a purchase. Then, adjust your messaging and offers accordingly (but don’t forget to test those messages!). – Kathy Broderick Selker, Northlich

4. Leverage Narrative Psychology

Personalization of campaigns can be efficient and cost effective when considering the power of narrative psychology. Think social quizzes—these self-directed widgets blew up because it’s all about the “story of me,” a.k.a. narrative psychology. Include your targets in creating the campaign, creatively, and let them tell your story in a personalized manner. – Jennifer Barbee, Destination Innovate

5. Align Campaign Structure And Messaging With The Customer Journey

When you don’t have the time, data or dollars to build truly personalized marketing, structure your campaign to mirror the customer journey and create different messaging for each stage. Most marketers don’t. In the top of the funnel, differentiate your brand and address customer needs. At the bottom of the funnel, use retargeting campaigns personalized to site behavior, and use a strong call to action. – John Keehler, RUNNER Agency

6. Start With A Hashtag

It can all start with just one word. The campaign has to be catchy, and it can be just a simple hashtag where people can get involved with no cost. Having a hashtag go viral would be the most cost-effective campaign. Millennials and Gen-Zers want something straight to the point and real. What better way than to convey your message with a simple hashtag? – Cagan Sean Yuksel, GRAFX CO.

7. Create A ‘Vault’ Of Collateral To Use Year-Round

Cost-effectiveness and efficiency often get sacrificed in campaigns when everything is created from scratch during the time campaigns are being created. Have your team regularly deliver content and copy that can be utilized when it’s time to create a new campaign. Use Pinterest boards and a shared Google Doc that everyone can contribute their ideas to as they feel inspired to do so. – Danielle Sabrina, Tribe Builder Media

8. Tell Real Stories About Real People

Personalized campaigns require preliminary research to understand your customers and the causes they believe in. To deliver powerful campaigns that truly resonate, tell real stories about real people, and draw the connection between these narratives and your brand’s overarching mission and vision. This will help make advertisements that are unique to your company and your audience. – Theresa Schieber, Givewith

9. Study Popular Search Terms

Personalizing ads can be done cost effectively through dynamic, digital creative that is based on the terms Millennials and Gen-Zers are searching for. Different imagery, highlighted products and offers can all be personalized and changed based on the initial search terms. – Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, HAWTHORNE LLC

10. Engage With Them Where They Already Are

It’s no secret that Millennials and Gen-Zers dwell in the details and thus consume an overwhelming amount of information to help guide their decision making. When crafting a campaign, it’s important to take note of where they are engaging with content, like YouTube, Instagram and Snapchat, and create campaigns that are relatable, personable and easy to communicate through these channels. – Scott Kellner, GPJ Experience Marketing

11. Get A 360-Degree View Of Your Customer

Invest in a platform that centralizes data about your customers, business, category and competitors to gain a comprehensive view of your business and customers. With machine learning enhanced by artificial intelligence powering your data feed and displaying it in a comprehensive dashboard, you can make informed decisions and instant adjustments to campaigns to connect with customers on an individual level. – Mary Ann O’Brien, OBI Creative

12. Get Personal At The Right Time

Personalizing campaigns used to mean inserting a name into an email or adding some “meat” to your interaction. But there are many stops along the buyer journey to connect when it is the most valuable for the buyer. For example, you get a new iPhone. Now you might need a case and perhaps a backup charger. Just check your email or that text message. This is personalized remarketing at its best. – Bernard May, National Positions

13. Use Dynamic Content

You can create personalized emails without spending hours on crafting emails manually. Use dynamic content. This method enables you to create one email with separate blocks customized to each recipient. It also allows you to localize the images. Dynamic content can be a perfect solution, as it helps brands build a much stronger relationship with the customers by showing that they really care. – Solomon Thimothy, OneIMS

Hawthorne wins 6 awards for creative and company culture in Los Angeles

LOS ANGELES,  May  2, 2019/PRNewswire/ —

Hawthorne, a creative, analytics and technology-driven advertising agency, announced today that it has won a series of corporate and creative awards for its work in the Los Angeles area, including recognition as a semifinalist as EY Entrepreneur Of The Year Greater Los Angeles. These awards highlight Hawthorne’s continued success not only for its clients, but also as a bold and innovative influencer in leadership and marketing.

EY named Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, Chairman and CEO of Hawthorne, as a semifinalist in the Entrepreneur Of The Year category for Greater Los Angeles. As the world’s most prestigious business awards program for entrepreneurs, Entrepreneur Of The Year recognizes business leaders who are excelling in areas such as innovation, financial performance and personal commitment to their businesses and communities. It celebrates the unstoppable entrepreneurs transforming the world.

The Los Angeles Business Journal also honored Hawthorne-Castro as an ‘Elite Marketer’ and included her in the Most Influential Marketers in Southern California list, which spotlights the people, companies and transactions that have an outsized impact on the business community. For the agency’s creative work, Hawthorne received a Bronze ADDY Award in Los Angeles for its Credit One Bank advertising campaign. Hawthorne was also named as a finalist for the 2019 Los Angeles Business Journal CTO Awards, which honor the accomplishments of Los Angeles’ finest tech leadership minds. Further, Jessica Hawthorne-Castro was named as a President’s Award Finalist in the Women of Influence Awards in Orange County, which recognize women who lead the way in business, industry and enterprise, along with the organizations and individuals that champion women leaders.

Above all, Hawthorne was proud to again be named a Great Place to Work®, which certifies organizations that have created exceptional workplaces and prioritize the satisfaction, loyalty, and well-being of their employees. The emphasis on employee and corporate culture supports the many dozens of awards that Hawthorne has won in recent years for its creative work, leadership and influence, and company culture.

About Hawthorne:
Hawthorne, a creative, analytics and technology-driven advertising agency, specializes in strategic planning, creative development, production, media planning, buying and analytics, and campaign management for integrated marketing campaigns. With nearly 30 years of proven excellence, the agency combines persuasive brand messaging with best-in-class analytic systems to create accountable, high performance advertising campaigns. Hawthorne helps brands efficiently target their consumers, improve cost per acquisition, optimize the lifetime value of a brand’s customers, and even drive consumer response to key retail outlets or corporate locations. As a leading analytic and data driven, accountable brand advertising agency, Hawthorne specializes in integrated campaign solutions. The company offers a full suite of integrated solutions with creative, media, digital and mobile services. Hawthorne maintains brand integrity and metrics to efficiently and effectively optimize the results of its clients’ integrated media budgets via leading edge and proven data analytics. Hawthorne has developed successful award-winning campaigns for countless Fortune 500 brands. Please visit www.hawthornedirect.com and http://www.linkedin.com/company/hawthorne-direct for more information.

CONTACT: Chellsy Costello, 215-933-9627, ccostello@sspr.com

4 Tips For Marie Kondo-ing Your Digital Assets

Thanks to a bestselling book and a hit Netflix series, Marie Kondo and her ethos of cleaning, organizing and “sparking joy” has become an international phenomenon. However, the power of decluttering isn’t limited to homes. Businesses can also embrace the KonMari method to emphasize the assets that make their brand shine.

Organizations today are positively swimming in data. In 2019, it’s estimated  mobile data traffic will reach 190 exabytes (19 billion gigabytes) a month, and climb to 405 by 2022. In 2018, cloud computing traffic in North America hit 3.8 zettabytes a year. To reach their full potential, brands need to clean up their data act.

Walmart, for example, is building the world’s biggest private cloud to crunch more than 2.5 petabytes of information an hour, including in-store sales and online transactions. If an item at the store is underperforming, analysts can judge if the error is due to a pricing mistake, customer sentiments, seasonal buying patterns, or another issue entirely. Walmart is looking for correlations between a problem or a positive improvement and the actual data to create a better customer experience.

Finding those correlations is not possible if data is unstructured, unorganized or in a state of chaos. Every marketer aspires to develop actionable insights from data—the hard part is understanding how to generate and store enough of the right data so intelligent insights are produced, and then adjusting marketing decisions accordingly.

Consider these four tips for applying the KonMari principles of Marie Kondo to your data strategy.

Use clean data

Organizations should aim to generate and store as much data as possible, as it pertains to every aspect of the business that can affect a campaign. It’s important to proactively build the data, rather than trying to add data after a campaign launch, but it’s also important to remember the adage of “garbage in and garbage out.” Marketers have to identify what is essential and what can be tossed out.

Insights are only as good as the underlying data. If the data entered into the analytics engine is not well organized or non-essential, then even the best data scientist won’t be able to extract value. Marketers need to make sure data has been thoroughly scrubbed before it goes into the data warehouse. It’s like putting a rumpled, dirty, or torn shirt into a drawer—why put anything in there that isn’t clean and purposeful? Organization of the data on the front end will pay dividends later.

Introduce pixel tracking analytics

The philosophy of Marie Kondo includes making the most of the resources at your disposal and ensuring everything has its place. When it comes to digital assets, marketers should leverage their company’s website as a data generating vehicle, as well as a marketing tool and channel for sales. IT and marketing teams can work together to introduce pixel tracking, which places capabilities on the websites used by a company, including mobile and microsites. Social media information can also be tracked and analyzed using pixel tracking to understand how Facebook ads are performing.

Pixel tracking provides user device data, so marketers can better understand where sales are coming from and monitor trends over time. Collecting enough data makes it possible to create behavioral categories for consumers to find correlations between certain behaviors and buying decisions across segments. Brands can then present content to customers in targeted ways that enhance their experience.

Model, model, model

Part of what led to the success of Marie Kondo was her ability create a universal system that anyone can use to declutter. At the same time, as her Netflix series demonstrated, the best results are achieved by taking the system and customizing it to a particular person, family or set of needs. The more information she has about a client, the better equipped she is to understand what strategies or organizational systems are most likely to succeed. Adapting is key. The same is true for marketers as they develop campaigns and figure out how to have the greatest impact. This is where statistical and mixed-media modeling can come into play.

For TV campaigns, there are many data points marketers can use to construct statistical modeling of campaign performance, including stations, airing size, demographic information, timeframes, second-screen activity and Nielsen weighting points. Of course, accurate models require clean and granular data from all the channels. Most of the modeling work will take place after a campaign using regression analysis, cluster analysis and logistic regression, among other techniques. These models allow marketers to adjust the campaign to match actual results.

With mixed-media modeling, analyzing sales and response data helps marketers to properly weigh each channel to weed out the underperformers. In short, it enables them to declutter and thus direct more budget to the channels that are outperforming. The process of identifying the best channels will become more refined over time, as data improves a marketer’s ability to connect information and future results. In today’s highly fragmented digital media environment, modeling helps marketers select the right channels that deliver real measurable results. 

Target specific demographics

Along the same lines, marketers can make the most of their digital assets by focusing their attention on specific demographics. Big Data can help provide marketers with precise direction on where consumers live, the devices they use, their search habits, and other behavioral metrics. Armed with this information, marketers can yield more ROI from their digital media and TV placements. Big data makes the marketers and campaigns more intelligent and allows for granular messaging, which could differ significantly from one channel to the next.

 Jessica Hawthorne-Castro is CEO of Hawthorne.

Top 8 Expert Tips For Client Success in 2019

We asked agency experts to share their advice – here’s what they had to say!

What makes agency-client relationships thrive? How can you, as an agency, make sure your clients are succeeding and meeting their goals?

Obviously internal success is tantamount, but for agencies, client success is directly correlated to an agency’s own success. That’s why figuring out how you can do the best job you can for your clients is crucial in securing your own company’s wellbeing.

We asked some of the top experts in the field of marketing how they’re working to ensure client success in the year to come. Here are just a few of the top answers we received!

Top 8 experts

1. Teach clients to treat their marketing strategies as an engine, not a project.

The purpose of your marketing is to deliver consistent growth over the long haul. Instead of treating marketing as a series of “projects” that result in a herky-jerky, start-stop effect, think about your marketing as an engine that’s always, ultimately leading to a smoother and more effective ride.

Your website, blog, social media properties, emails, and your advertising are all major components of your marketing engine. And fuel? Your content! Keep your tank full of customer stories, testimonials, product explainers, and advice that will drive each aspect of your marketing.

Aron Schuhmann
Director of Growth Marketing at Pronto Marketing


2. Show them how to build additional value.

This year, we’re working with B2B and B2C clients to build additional value within their existing customer base. Most people already know that it’s way more expensive to onboard a new client than to retain an existing one.

Still – taking the time to gather context, survey or interview users, develop a plan to keep them coming back (while encouraging brand evangelization), and reporting/refining the strategy based on data is no easy ask for the already time-strapped folks in business development.

That’s where Salted Stone comes in, launching persona-aligned, omnichannel customer success strategies to help brands reach their growth goals, ensure more repeat purchases or renewed contracts, and make 2019 their strongest year yet.

Abby Thompson
Director of Marketing at Salted Stone


3. Track the success of your clients’ marketing efforts.

One thing we’re doing to help our clients succeed in 2019 is assisting them in tracking their marketing efforts. We’re showing them the value of tracking their marketing and how it can benefit not only their relationship with their marketing company, but also with their bottom line. Setting up a system to track their efforts and getting their entire team on board is crucial to marketing success.

Shay Berman
President at Digital Resource

4. Show clients how to attract customers in the right places.

The one thing we’re doing to help our clients succeed in 2019 is teaching them our Weighted Growth Hacking Formula, showing them how to get customers without wasting time or money in the wrong places.

As a marketer, there are tons of tactics that could work for a business with some amount of time or effort. But the biggest challenge is narrowing it down to the lowest-hanging fruit, or the tactics that’ll move the needle most given a company’s goals, budget, and timeline.

Sometimes you’ll see running traditional channels like Facebook or Adwords will work best, but other times, it’s the scrappy little growth hacks that might work, or building up an SEO presence without spending a dollar. So we really just want to help our clients focus on the few things that will make the biggest impact.

Hailey Friedman
Head of Marketing at Growth Marketing Pro


5. Show clients the power of full-funnel marketing.

This year, we’re focused on implementing full-funnel marketing and closed loop reporting for our clients.

All too often, companies have disconnected systems and processes, and are unable to decipher which marketing efforts are driving the most ROI. When disparate technology platforms and teams don’t communicate properly, you’re losing valuable information.

With the right integrations and structure, companies can unlock this holistic data, better understand what’s converting their best leads, and help their sales team members close more deals.

By focusing on seamless integration and multi-touch attribution, you’re setting both your sales and marketing teams up for success.

Jennifer Lux
VP of Client Experience at LyntonWeb

6. Encourage learning and growing year after year.

Start from scratch (…not really!)

Consumer expectations and the digital marketing ecosystem have evolved faster than marketers, and too many brands plan next year as “this year + 5%.” They don’t re-evaluate their priorities or the changing landscape in which we’re all competing.

So this year, as we help our clients plan for what’s now and what’s next, we’re using a new strategic planning process nicknamed “Goal Therapy” to make sure that our tactics and budgets for 2019 roll up to our goals and objectives, rather than going with plan A.1 and then A.2 year after year.

Skip the assumptions and start from square one – while of course learning from and building off of your data, successes, and failures!

Dan Golden
President & Chief Search Artist at BeFoundOnline

7. Set goals internally and externally.

We have two sets of clients: independent consultants and the marketing and advertising clients who hire us to deliver world-class talent and solutions.

For our consultants, we’re focused on providing them community and all the benefits of having colleagues, while supporting them in finding harmony in their business and personal lives. This means building out a more robust Slack community, starting up a mentor/mentee program, developing our rewards and recognition program, and partnering with like-minded organizations who can support our team with financial empowerment.

For our clients, we’re delivering a turnkey way to access the best talent in the world. This means that we’re thoughtfully creating teams of people uniquely suited to approach their business challenges and opportunities in an authentic, straight-forward, no-BS way.

Stephanie Nadi Olson
Founder and CEO of We Are Rosie

8. Focus on being memorable and measurable.

The most important thing we’re doing for our clients to help them maximize their success in 2019 is yielding brand response advertising that is both memorable and measurable. Our focus is on investing client dollars wisely – with advertising that’s highly accountable, while always building and enhancing the brand.

Karla Crawford Kerr
VP of Marketing at Hawthorne

14 Agency Pros Share Their Best Practices For Website Management

Website Management

Original Publication: Forbes

Date Published: March 6, 2019

Your company’s website is the ultimate marketing tool. It’s often the first point of contact for a potential customer, and it can significantly affect how they view your brand. An outdated or inaccurate site can quickly turn off users, while an engaging and informative one can increase consumer trust and interest—and help you make the sale.

As a business owner, you need to prioritize your Web presence and make sure it’s working for you as a marketing tool. Below, 14 members of Forbes Agency Council outline some best practices for managing your company’s website.

Website Management

1. Think Mobile First

We live in a world where two-thirds of the population now have a mobile phone. Everybody uses their devices on a daily basis. This is why it is mandatory to have a website that is accessible on mobile screens, with an engaging user experience, up-to-date content and clear calls to action. – Daniela Pavan, The Ad Store New York

2. Review Quarterly And Improve As Needed

It is important to set up a time to follow up on the website and to review it on a quarterly basis. That means that it is important to ensure that there are many ways to review the success or the failure of the current structure. When you are able to do that, you will see that there are many ways to improve the overall reach out as well as the communication for the people. – Jon James, Ignited Results

3. Assign A ‘Brand Keeper’ To Audit The Site

The auditing process doesn’t have to be painful. Simply read through the website, ideally looking at it with the fresh eyes of a first-time visitor. To make it easier, assign someone to be the “keeper of the brand” and make it part of their job to do this at regular intervals. It’s also a good idea to ask brand-new employees for their opinions, as they’re best able to pinpoint anything confusing. – Sarah Mannone, Trekk

4. Build On A Platform That’s Easy To Update, And Automate Where Possible

Today’s landscape changes very quickly. If your website is doing its job, at a minimum, it’s able to keep up. That means your site should be “living and breathing” and built on a platform that’s easy to update, change or modify swiftly and effectively. After that, you should work it! Bonus points for site features that can automatically update as you populate content, such as a social feed. – Sara Helmy, Tribu

5. Publish Fresh New Content

If the site is up-to-date with the content management system (e.g., WordPress), content is the next most important aspect of any website. Whether it’s in the form of an informative blog post or additional content on the service pages, Google loves in-depth, helpful content. We start with a site audit and prioritize pages by traffic or conversions, then work our way down, finding content opportunities for each page. – Matt Bowman, Thrive Internet Marketing Agency

6. Don’t Forget To Refresh Core Content

The two tactics we’ve used to keep our website up to date are ongoing weekly blog articles and assigning website accountability. Ongoing blogging ensures there is always timely, relevant content being added to the site and shared to social channels. We’ve also found it useful to assign accountability for the site to one team member, ensuring all core content is refreshed and kept up to date. – Elissa Liu, Influential Executive

7. Always Consult The Analytics

Using Google Search Console and Google Analytics, you can gauge how well your website is performing organically across a number of key performance indicators, including traffic, click-through rate, bounce, etc. Using this data, we can update on-page elements, such as meta data, suggested links, body content, etc. to increase the usability of our website and on-site metrics that contribute to greater conversions. – Kristopher Jones, LSEO.com

8. Ask Customers What Part Of Your Website Made Them Contact You

That’s one of my first questions for every prospect who says, “I found you on the internet.” Answers help update, reprioritize or emphasize areas that need message adjustment or tweaking. We advise all our clients to track how they were found and what helps convert a sale. – Patrick Nycz, NewPoint Marketing

9. Develop In Real Time

By the time you’ve updated your website, the next version will likely need to begin development. Develop on a platform that is easy to program so you can make quick changes and optimizations based on real-time data analytics while you are looking for the next iteration. – Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, HAWTHORNE LLC

10. Make Website Maintenance Part Of Your Daily Marketing Activities

It may seem obvious, but the most common reason websites fall behind is that updates and maintenance are not a core part of day-to-day marketing operations. Once a website overhaul or build is complete, the project is not over, and it should not fall to the wayside. Include your website as a key part of your annual marketing plan and build a calendar of regular updates. – Keri Witman, Cleriti

11. Get A Cross-Functional Team Involved

The website is not a standalone asset. It is a marketing tool. Integrate website updates into go-to-market plans so the site constantly reflects company evolution and growth. Include the cross-functional team in discussions on blog post themes, product page updates, etc. to keep content current and reflective of company values. – Preethy Vaidyanathan, Tapad

12. Follow Best Search Engine Optimization Practices

Your website is not a useful lead generation tool if no one can find it. Make it keyword-driven for the words you want to rank for, and continually release fresh content to be ranked by search engines. For example, be sure your Title tags and H1 tags are worded properly. This helps search engines determine what each page is about and enables them to rank it accordingly. – Bryan Citrin, Chiropractic Advertising

13. Introduce The World To Your Brand And Team

It’s essential for companies to make sure the website reflects the brand and culture. Our website is currently being revamped. We’ve ensured our site exemplifies our uniqueness by highlighting our team members and the work we’ve produced for our clients while capturing the nuances specific to our brand. Websites are often a client’s first introduction to who you are. Put your best foot forward. – Sarah Tourville, Media Frenzy Global

14. Ask For Help

It’s very easy for companies to put off working on their websites because, though the task is important, it doesn’t always feel urgent. Working with a marketing agency will put a healthy amount of pressure on your company, open up new ideas because of input from outsiders, and help you generate more traffic to your website instead of just making sure it’s accurate. – Joe Ardeeser, Jordan Crown LLC

11 Ways to Measure Your Marketing ROI

11 Ways to Measure ROI

Original Publication: Forbes

Date Published: March 5, 2019

Sometimes, marketing efforts feel like day after day of trial and error in an economy that’s constantly evolving. Technology is changing, social media sites rise and fall, and “hot trends” that work for one business might not be suitable for another. To ensure you’re investing in tactics that will deliver the best results for your brand, you’ll need to regularly review your efforts across the board.

11 Ways to Measure ROI

It’s not always easy to determine and quantify those results, though. That’s why we asked the experts from Forbes Agency Council to explain how they measure the return on investment (ROI) of their marketing efforts.

1. Launch A Content Marketing Campaign

There is no reason it should be difficult to measure ROI today. We have so many tools and ways to glean metrics, and the expectations on marketing to generate sales are too high for us to forsake data. If you’re not measuring anything today, start with some simple content marketing. Get a few campaigns going and you’ll have benchmark numbers—traffic, leads, conversions—in no time. – Sarah Mannone, Trekk

2. Understand Your ‘Whys’

A marketing campaign absolutely cannot be successful without a tight strategy. You should know the reasoning behind everything you do. These “whys” should align with all of your goals. These goals must be measurable, whether that’s in terms of engagement rates or direct sales. By doing this, you can show the ROI of each individual tactic throughout the duration of your marketing campaign. – Lisa Arledge Powell, MediaSource

3. Segment Your Activities

My startup is built around measuring ROI for marketing activities. Usually, I track sales, the lead volume against website traffic, the sources of traffic and total traffic over different periods of time. If you can segment branded search, traffic, leads and sales down to each marketing activity, then it is easy to track ROI. – Solomon Thimothy, OneIMS

4. Check Your Traffic Sources For Each Campaign

One of the most important places to start assessing ROI is looking at your sources of website traffic (organic, social, paid, referral, etc.) per campaign to see what is driving the most website visits and qualified leads. From there, determine what sources are driving the most customers. This data will help you see what sources are most impactful for qualified lead generation and customer acquisition. – Elyse Flynn Meyer, Prism Global Marketing Solutions

5. Establish The Right KPIs

We all know some desired results are easier to measure than others. That’s why it’s important to establish quantitative key performance indicators, such as impressions, CPM (cost per thousand impressions) and sales, as well as qualitative KPIs such as loyalty, reputation management and third-party credibility. Measurement is not black and white anymore, and marketers need to adopt a modern mindset in order to measure true impact. – Ashley Walters, Empower

6. Measure Consistently

Every dollar of marketing investment should be analyzed to determine if it is effectively driving sales or critical KPIs. Tracking through online sales, leads, traffic, point-of-sale (POS) data or anywhere else needs to be brought into the same tech platform to analyze and determine marketing effectiveness and then be displayed in a dashboard or through a consolidated report. – Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, HAWTHORNE LLC

7. Conduct Customer Research

Good customer research is absolutely the best way to gain and measure the ROI of your marketing activities. Make research the foundation of your campaigns. Let it inform your strategy. Track your efforts with a comprehensive platform that integrates your contacts with your personas, website, email marketing and campaigns. You’ll be able to see and improve your ROI. – Mary Ann O’Brien, OBI Creative

8. Automate And Integrate

Marketing efforts don’t always show obvious results because they exist early in the customer journey. Marketing automation platforms like HubSpot or Pardot, when integrated with your customer relationship management (CRM), can tie your marketing efforts directly to qualified sales leads and ultimately closed business. Connecting Web traffic to prospects and prospects to closed sales is the ultimate goal of measuring marketing ROI. – Keri Witman, Cleriti

9. Know Where Your Leads Are Coming From

We are in the digital marketing area, so all our advertising is actually tracked. For leads, we know we get X amount from search engine optimization (SEO). We get Y amount from pay-per-click (PPC). We get Z amount from social media. We have yearly budgets and track leads into clients and budget appropriately. Network events and conferences can be harder to track, but usually, you can attribute spikes in leads online to attendance. – Peter Boyd, PaperStreet Web Design

10. Revisit Your Goals Regularly

The first step to measuring ROI is not at the end of a project; rather, it’s at the beginning. That sounds contrarian, but during the planning phase, it’s imperative to align on the goal(s) in order to effectively strategize, implement action, track progress, communicate and pivot as needed, and then measure success. If you don’t define and continuously align on goals, the ROI will be impossible to measure. – Scott Kellner, GPJ Experience Marketing

11. Ask Your Clients

We have clients fill out a quick survey for their personal goals and the brands with specific KPIs, which is quite helpful for referring back to throughout an engagement. In e-commerce, we’ll use cost per acquisition against predicted lifetime value to measure what works across the online touchpoints. Both ways help get at indisputable numbers for what success looks like. – Jacob Cook, Tadpull

Jessica Hawthorne-Castro Recognized As Winner Of CEO Today Global Awards

CEO Today Global Awards

Published: February 20, 2019

Source: CEO Today Magazine 

About the Awards: The CEO Today Global Awards are dedicated to recognizing strong and innovative leadership amongst business leaders operating around the world. Over the last 12 months, CEO Today magazine has worked with and featured some of the most innovative, forward-thinking, thought-leading CEOs in business today. Having featured CEOs from across every region and from all of the key business sectors, CEO Today magazine is ideally placed to recognize and applaud those CEOs that have disrupted their industry’s status quo and taken their company to new heights of innovation and growth.CEO Today Global Awards


Jessica Hawthorne-Castro is CEO of Hawthorne, a leading Los Angeles- based advertising agency specializing in analytics-driven campaigns. As CEO, Hawthorne-Castro has been recognized throughout the professional community as a leader in the marketing revolution of advertising where art meets science. The company specializes in analytics-driven campaigns and offers a complete service approach that includes media planning and buying, analytics, campaign management, strategic planning and award-winning creative development. She joined Hawthorne 12 years ago as VP, Operations & Clients Services, before being named CEO in April 2014. Under her leadership, the 30-year-old advertising agency which was a pioneer in accountability in advertising, has achieved superior financial performance, was on the Inc. 5000 list and is a Certified Women Owned Business®.

Jessica Hawthorne-Castro Named Winner Of Finance Monthly’s 2019 Game Changer Award

Game Changers Awards 2019

Published: February 18, 2019

Source: Finance Monthly

About the Awards: For the third year in a row, the Finance Monthly Game Changers Awards celebrate the success, innovation and strategic vision of some of the world’s most driven professionals across a wide variety of sectors and industries. All of the 2019 Game Changers Awards winners are recognized professionals, whose exceptional business practices, enthusiasm and commitment are worth celebrating.

Game Changers Awards 2019

Hawthorne-Castro is an active member of her professional community and has prioritized company culture and corporate social responsibility as a member of the Forbes Agency Council, an invitation-only organization for senior-level executives in public relations, media strategy, creative and advertising agencies.

In September 2017, she joined the DMA ECHO Board of Governors, the elite group behind one of the most coveted prizes in marketing. Jessica is a participant in TED International, TED Women communities and Vistage International. She is also a member of Young Presidents’ Organization, the global platform empowering more than 25,000 members in more than 130 countries and is on the YPO Pacific U.S Regional Executive Board.

She resides in Los Angeles with herhusband and son.

Private Equity firms and Branding: 7 reasons why it makes for better ROI

Anant Deboor

By Anant Deboor, Regional Managing Director, Asia Pacific, Hawthorne

Original Publication: Medium

Date of Publication: February 7, 2019

‘We are a private equity firm — I am not sure why we need to invest in branding and marketing. Our business is face-to-face, we know our clients.’Anant Deboor

Something that we often hear of as brand and marketing consultants. On the other hand, research from a 2014 survey by financial services firm, BackBay Communications, among 290 PE partners, agents, lawyers and i-bankers, 98% said it was important. Where’s the truth in this post-truth world? Or perhaps more accurately, which is the more justifiable opinion?

Private equity: a young, maturing industry with an ancient history

PE has always been around, it just hasn’t been called that until modern times.

If you went back to the 15th Century, it would have been a husband-wife venture capitalist team in Spain by the names of King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella who provided seed funding for a chap called Christopher Columbus hoping to find a new route to India. Señor Columbus first made presentations to the King of Portugal, who turned him down after consulting with his advisory team. Over the years, the King and Queen put up more expansion capital as they started seeing some returns — and then convinced investors from other parts of Europe to jump into Project America.

Fast forward to the 1960s-80s, when we witnessed explosive growth among PE firms. From Silicon Valley start-ups funded by venture capitalists through to the infamous leveraged buyout of RJR Nabisco by Henry Kravis and Jerome Kohlberg, Jr — PE firms started acquiring their cavalier (and sometimes dark) reputation, immortalised in pop culture with the book and film “Barbarian at the Gates”.

From small to big: contrasting worlds, bigger challenges

PE firms are generally slotted in somewhere along a scale of size: from small to very, very large. At the smaller end of the spectrum, you typically have the largely self-funded VC firms. The culture tends to be more chaotic — and often driven by a belief in an idea. As most of the firms here are self-funded, the deals they look for are based often based around personal beliefs, capabilities and vision. To the extreme right however, you have the behemoths such as KKR and Blackstone, that look and feel premium corporate. It is the world of big business, huge numbers, management power and aggressive ambitions.

Beyond deal-making: the emergence importance of brand and reputation

While the ability to spot winners, negotiation skills, financial nous and an innate aggression have always been central to the success of PE firms, in today’s market, they can no longer rely on that deal-making prowess alone. In a post-2008 tighter regulatory and more suspicious climate, with the general drying up of easy capital, an increasing number of PE firms — particularly the small and mid-market ones — need to make every deal count. In the cut-throat world of PE, the deal-making — and oftentimes the unsavoury fallout — ends up damaging reputations for the long-term. Just Google the PE fight over the super luxury hospitality brand Aman Resorts, and the impact it had on the Aman brand.

Here are seven lessons in the long-term importance of the brand that PE firms are realising today, lessons that firms such as Deloitte, McKinsey and PWC, and law firms such as Allen & Overy, Linklaters, Clifford Chance and others have realised over the last decades. An importance that is leading to greater ROI on every deal that is at the heart of the PE business.

  1. Cascading trust: A stronger brand at the heart of the PE business means an ecosystem of greater trust and confidence — and the cascading benefits. Brands are also hugely valuable during times of underperformance, and when working with regulatory bodies. While basic honesty and integrity in deal-making are essential in the VC space, this becomes mission critical as you move to the right of the spectrum above.
  2. Stronger deal results: For the small and mid-market firms, their PE brand is critical in an external downstream context. This could mean more proprietary deal flow, with fewer auctions. It will mean more calls returned, easier negotiation on term sheets and big insurance against ending up competing on price.
  3. Efficiencies in attracting the right opportunities: Creating a reputation for a sector expertise, or sustainability, automatically separates you from other firms by attracting the right kind of investment opportunities. For example, Impact Investing has become such an important arena that The Economist estimates it will take an additional $2.5trillion of private investment per year to really tackle the issues of climate change.
  4. Insurance against financial crises: For the mega firms such as KKR and Blackstone, corporate reputation matters more than ever before. The WPP BrandZ Portfolio of Strong Brands outperformed the S&P 500 by a factor of 2 between Apr 2006 and April 2013. Companies that invested in their brand showed smaller drops during the financial crisis, and rebounded faster and higher after.
  5. Winning the war for expertise: Most importantly, a strong brand helps in the talent marketplace. A survey by Deloitte once estimated that a 1% drop in talent attrition led to an annual savings of over US$400mn. Toward the right of the spectrum, companies like KKR and Blackstone face fierce competition to hold on to their star fund managers and to continuously attract the best talent.
  6. The power of the halo effect: The Aman Resorts case is a classic lesson in how not to handle PE deal-making. The impact on the Aman brand is still reverberating, five years on. The stronger your PE brand and reputation, the stronger the halo — both on sources of capital as well on your investment properties. A strong PE brand has a direct impact on the valuation of the very companies it has stakes in — resulting in greater returns.
  7. Access, access access: A strong PE brand with a sharply defined purpose will open gateways to far more deals of the right kind rather than the ‘spray-n-pray’ approach that many adopt through endless networking events and seminars. Access to sectors, geographies, people and deals happen because your reputation precedes you.PE firms need to translate intent into meaningful action to define and develop their brands and marketing propositions. Being able to articulate a central idea and brand vision and making that work nicely for the business is quite simply a measure of sophistication of the firm — and will stand it in good stead.

Anant Deboor is a specialist in brand architecture/consulting and the Regional MD (APAC) of Hawthorne, a US-based, ROI-led performance marketing agency.