Expert Interview Series: Victoria Spall of Browser Media About Using Customer Data and Employing Best Practices to Maximize the Impact of Digital Marketing

Victoria is a senior account manager at Browser Media, where she specializes in B2B digital marketing and has a passion for all things geeky. We recently sat down with Victoria to hear her thoughts on the current state of digital marketing, including social media, email marketing, and important metrics for digital campaigns.

Tell us a bit about your background. How did you get involved in digital marketing?

I moved into marketing about seven years ago as an assistant to the head of marketing at a B2B tech company. After that, I was lucky enough to be taken on by an agency that took a chance on me as I had very limited experience on the digital side of things.

It was a steep learning curve, but during this time, I developed a passion for the geeky side of search engine optimization and copywriting, as well as skills in pay-per-click, copywriting, email marketing, and data analysis. After a couple of years there, I came to work at Browser Media, and the rest is history!

In the constantly-changing world of digital marketing, tell us what some of the biggest trends are right now.

One of the trends I've seen creeping in is the use of artificial intelligence and machine learning. There is an email marketing tech company called Phrasee doing insane things with AI that could make guessing what content will appeal to subscribers a thing of the past. I think we'll see a lot more tech companies developing similar tools that will make life easier for digital marketers - which, in my opinion, is a good thing because it takes a lot of guesswork out of the equation!

Given the wide range of digital marketing techniques available to you, is the "old-school" method of link building still an important aspect of your campaigns?

It depends on what is meant by "old school;" obviously, I wouldn't recommend using tactics that worked back in the lazy days of SEO before Google Panda and Google Penguin came along. That said, links will always be important. Content is important too, but you can optimize a page all you like and if nobody is linking to it, you're going to seriously reduce the chances of that page being visible in search results.

Equally, if you have invested the time in writing great content, why would you not then put equal efforts into promoting it? As long as the content is insightful, interesting, and genuinely valuable, I see no issue at all with reaching out to publications and influencers with it - which will hopefully result in generating some sweet links.

I think link building now has very much evolved from PR, and while quick win links like high-quality directories are great for bolstering campaigns, ultimately I feel you are better off investing your efforts in a well-planned campaign, with a solid content strategy and a list of outreach targets to acquire links. It's all about earning links if you want to grow your brand. If the content you produce is truly great, then over time, you'll find that links are acquired naturally, too.

For many companies, what are some of the opportunities they are missing by not properly leveraging their social media presence?

I think a lot of companies fail at social media by attempting to manage too many social media accounts - even if there is no audience there. It's a total waste of time and resources; content doesn't get tailored to each channel, and the whole thing ends up being a total disaster.

Instead of spreading themselves too thinly, they should engage with the channels where they have the most active and engaged users. Once they've got those nailed down, then they should look to expand into new ones - but only if they think it's worthwhile.

How do you make an email marketing campaign message stand out from all of the other messages (and spam) that fill a consumer's inbox?

That's a tough one. If I am an email recipient, it's less about personalization in the sense of knowing my name and more about offering me discounts on something I actually want to buy. For this reason, I'd say that the message will only stand out if you work with the data you have first to figure out what will appeal to a particular consumer - or at the very least, a certain demographic.

Other than conversions, what are some of the most important metrics that you use to measure the success (or failure) of a digital marketing campaign?

Going back to PR, I think that coverage is very important, whether that's links from or mentions in respected and relevant publications. If you've launched a brand awareness campaign, measuring traffic to the website and interaction on social media are incredibly important. And I'd recommend using custom parameter tagging of links to keep track of exactly where traffic is coming from to keep tabs on which sources are worth the investment, especially when working with third-parties.

With the large amount of marketing data that you gather during a campaign, how do you go about analyzing all of it in order to get a complete picture of the campaign's progress?

We pride ourselves on being transparent, so measuring how a campaign is progressing and reporting back to our clients is critical. What the goal is will determine what data we analyze. It could be anything from reducing a cost per acquisition to increasing a conversion rate on a specific landing page, either as a standalone KPI or one of many that forms a campaign.

How do you expect the digital marketing landscape to evolve in the future?

I'd expect that for better or worse, social media platforms will become even more alike in both looks and features on offer - think Instagram Stories vs. Snapchat Stories and Facebook jumping on the live streaming bandwagon after the success of Periscope. This could result in platforms being killed off (like Meerkat) or scaled back (like Vine), and in the process decimating the time and effort invested into growing an audience or becoming an influencer via these channels.

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