By Ashley Bails, Marketing Strategist
It’s that time of year when “trend” articles pop up on just about every marketing and advertising blog in the country. Some are definitely worth a read (get excited for a lot more coral in 2019!), but we’re taking a slightly different approach this year. We’re taking a look back at 2018 in all of its glory to reflect on the hard work, failures and successes we’ve had as a team in these past 12 months.
Without further ado, here are the four biggest lessons we learned at Ervin & Smith:
1. In-house media buying has made all of our work better.
Let’s be clear: Media—both traditional and digital—can’t live in silos anymore. Research shows it takes six to eight touchpoints to make a sale, and oftentimes, those touches exist on multiple channels. Our strategy, messaging and creative need to align everywhere. So in 2017, we brought our media buying in-house. In 2018, we felt the positive result of that shift.
The best thing about digital media is the constant measurement and optimization. So now our designers and writers are working right alongside our media buyers to analyze results and make changes on the fly to ensure we’re continuing to get better and better results. This hasn’t just helped our media clients; it’s also expanding our team’s awareness of how every campaign touchpoint works together.
2. Websites are more than websites.
So we all know that websites are important. They tell the brand story, educate customers, generate leads, sell products and so much more. And we’ve done our fair share of websites here at Ervin & Smith. But as we reflect on 2018 projects, it’s pretty clear that redesigning websites is more challenging than ever before. Not because clients are asking for more beautiful design (that’s a given!) or advanced functionality (also a given!). It’s because clients need their website to answer very complex business challenges.
We are getting fewer and fewer requests to simply “make the website look better.” Instead, our latest website redesigns have been tasked to: launch an existing brand in a new country, streamline customer onboarding processes, enable sales teams to speed up the sales cycle, communicate a unique-yet-cohesive brand message to multiple audiences and fill the sales funnel with leads. In a nutshell, it’s complicated.
Because our website projects are always evolving, we’re always adjusting our website process. And because our whole web team is in-house, we bring our strategists, writers, designers and developers into the process sooner, so we’re using all of our resources to provide the right creative solution from the start. This year we’ve even started using new and different workshops and collaboration sessions with each other and our clients to reach better outcomes faster.
Website projects are no small feat. But if there is one thing that our teams love, it’s a good challenge to solve! That will be true every year.
3. To get hypertargeted, you need data … lots of it.
A number of our clients are trying to reach the C-suite with their marketing and sales efforts. With traditional marketing approaches, it generally takes a lot to get the attention of a CMO, CTO or COO. So this year we developed a handful of account-based marketing (ABM) campaigns to make one-to-one contact with our target audiences. Generally, a list of names and emails is a great place to start, but we found that the more sales data the client had on their prospects, the better our creative and distribution methods could be. And that data needs to be part of the initial strategy so that the teams know what they’re working with throughout the project. If you’re planning on a similar campaign in 2019, make sure to get your CRM folks involved too.
4. Culture is (still) everything.
If you know anything about Ervin & Smith, you know that we put a ton of emphasis on our culture. Over the years, that focus has helped us transform into the Best Places to Work company we are today. But it’s not just us. Our best and longest lasting relationships are with clients, vendors and other partners who also have strong cultures. That makes the projects more enjoyable and the things we create so much better.
As we close out 2018—our 35th year in business—there are a lot of things that have contributed to our longevity. One of the biggest is the curiosity that lies in each and every one of us. We’re constantly looking for ways to improve and do it better—or, as our tagline suggests, to never settle. That will still be true in 2019 and beyond.