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Brain trust: does your digital marketing need some refreshment in 2019?


Brain trust: does your digital marketing need some refreshment in 2019?


Marketing hears from five top marketers on how they are refreshing digital marketing in their industries for the coming year.

Cat Prestipino – CMO, Employment Hero

Cat_Presiptino 150 BWIf there is one thing you need to do across your digital (and offline) marketing strategy in 2019, it’s shift your focus to your customer. Here are my five steps to help you do that:

1. Speak like a human

I was a big a fan of the H2H (human-to-human) marketing movement. Too often marketers try to condense messages into succinct, pushy sentences and don’t break the 25 word limit on Facebook. Reflect on how you’re speaking online and make it as human as possible.

2. Create (or review) your personas

If you don’t think about who your customers are, their challenges and what they want from you, how can you find them and speak to them in a way that makes sense? At Employment Hero, we have five different customer personas who use our software. We review our personas every six months to make sure they are still relevant to our business and accurately reflect the customer.

3. Actually use your personas

Once you’ve set your personas, use them! You would be surprised at how much data even small businesses are capturing on their customers. If you are able to harness that information, match it to a persona and then build your campaigns for that persona even on a basic level, you’ll be surprised by how quickly you’ll see results.  

4. Treat your online advertising like a nurture sequence

Nurture sequences aren’t just for emails! Use your data to build out nurture sequences throughout your digital advertising. We use AdRoll retargeting, which allows us to serve ads based on what someone has done on our site and what they’ve shown interest in. This, combined with email and offline advertising, is a powerful tool in bringing someone through to purchase.

5. Create micro-moments

Don’t turn everything into a ‘push to buy’ message. Online has allowed marketers to get mass reach but it’s also allowed them to create mass annoyance (yes, I believe it’s our own fault that people invented ad blockers). Make sure that if you’re going for a customer’s attention you give them something clear and concise that’s useful to them (not just to you). That something useful isn’t always a ‘buy now’ button.


Justin Cannon – co-founder and CEO, Cooperate

Justin Cannon 150 BWGreat digital marketing communications are built on the foundation of intelligently designed customer communications journeys that feed into well-crafted full customer experiences. Very quickly as marketers we can find ourselves caught in the weeds carrying out activities and making evaluations about channels, often digital ones, and creative choices disconnected from the full CX.

Well constructed and interactive customer communications journeys are the starting foundation of great marketing teams and work. As Gary Vaynerchuk advocates, Brand with a capital B still matters very much and awareness activities at the top of the funnel (TOFU) are essential if you truly want to build a brand.

The way your customers become aware of you through to how they ultimately buy your product or service category, should mean a natural optimal customer journey and communications plan will fall out of that.

Only then, once you have an intelligently constructed customer journey with clear goals defined for each stage, an optimal message as a starting point for plenty of agile message split testing, should you get anywhere near deciding what channels are the best to use for your marketing challenge.

A lot of brands are getting sucked into the siren servers of cheap digital social reach and compounding that by using the social channels for the middle of the funnel (MOFU) and the bottom of the funnel (BOFU) call to action only and forgetting the brand awareness layer.  

So my tip for 2019 is that marketers must start to realise digital marketing is just part of marketing and smart marketers will start to use large networks like Instagram and Facebook to help with the awareness/brand layer of their customer journeys as well as the BOFU call to action response advertising.

Related: Dreams for dollars – branding is full of contradiction, but that’s why it works »



Paige Stuart – marketing coordinator, ShareRing

Paige Stuart 150 BWMix up your content

Keep your audience engaged. Mix up the way you do content using videos, images, audio, GIFs, case studies or cartoons. Be creative with your content – ‘how to’s or memes are great ideas for keeping your content interesting. The market soaks up visual design so remember the presentation is just as important as the content.

Give away

People love free stuff, whether it’s a physical product or a meet-and-greet with an influencer. Your audience follows you because they love your product or service. Be creative in your entry idea, ask your audience to do something, whether it’s simply tagging a friend or a re-share. This will massively build brand awareness and brand name.

More is less

Don’t over complicate your underlying message. Know what your aim is and get this across to the target audience. For example if you are introducing a new product into the market and want to let your subscribers know, keep it simple. Strip back the text and make it visual. Create a catchy tagline and use that as the hero of the newsletter.


If you’re not already prescheduling social media posts, you’re missing out on potential followers and wasting time. There’s great prescheduling apps available that let you schedule a month of posts across different platforms, choosing details right down to time of day and hashtags. My personal favourites are: Hootsuite and Buffer as they are super easy to use, and the best part is they offer free subscriptions.

Keep an eye on competitors

Make sure you have a list of your key competitors and keep an eye on what campaigns they are running. It’s essential to be across all avenues so you’re never left in the dark. Facebook Business Manager makes it even easier to watch your competitors by using the business insights feature. Here, you can set up ‘pages to watch’ and see your competitors’ activity, engagement and audience growth.


Hugh Stephens – founder and CEO, Sked Social

Hugh StephensReal-time marketing is becoming more and more important

If you truly want to refresh in 2019, focus on timely content and consistent updates. With all major online apps turning to more real-time tools like Stories, marketing content consumption is changing too. Invest more in your Instagram Stories and try to think of unique timely content you can share instantly if you want to keep getting those eyeballs.

Personalisation will matter more than ever

One size is now less likely to fit all and we are seeing more and more brands turning to heavily personalised campaigns in order to build deeper relationships with their audience.

Related: Short form video is the new wave of storytelling »

video camera behind story


Michelle Gallaher – managing director at The Social Science

Hire an intern

New graduates are full of the latest and freshest technologies, tools and creative ideas. We particularly like to hire interns in their final undergraduate year or honours year.  

Interns who are still enrolled in a university course give brands and agencies access to faculty skills, infrastructure and services that serve to refresh your team with the latest and greatest. Over time when we welcome a new intern into our team, we all lift our game and benefit from the exposure to new tools and techniques.

Lunch and Learn Labs 

Invite digital marketing people to come in for lunch with the team two or three times a year. Lunch and Learn Labs are a great way to bring new ideas into the team, gain exposure to new talent and to have a network of peers critique a campaign or teach a new tool or skill.

We invite contractors, collaborators, digital-savvy clients and just great digital people we come into contact with through the course of our work to join us for lunch. We give a few team members 10 minutes to get up and teach the group a new skill, discuss a campaign or collectively solve a problem together.

For example, this year we are teaming up with a local NFP – Youth Projects – and lunching with its digital team to cross-pollinate and share.

Design thinking becoming the default 

Once you learn design thinking strategies and ‘canvases’ you will never go back. This has without a doubt refreshed our digital marketing strategies and approach, from defining what the problem is that we are trying to solve, through to empathy mapping and developing audience personas. It’s also quite fun to do as a team.

Take a holiday

Recharge the creative engine. Creativity burns bright when we are well rested, energised and healthy in mind and spirit. We all have a finite amount of creative energy and holidays are absolutely essential for digital marketing creative types who need down time to restore the balance and to find inspiration. Travel, family, friends, reading, walking, laughing and sleep are all good treatments to refresh a tired marketing team.


Further Reading:




Image credit:Nathan Dumlao


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