LØRN Masterclass M0004
Digital marketing and innovation
In this Masterclass course with #LØRN, you learn about digital marketing. Silvija meets Maria Sääksjärvi, who is an expert in digital marketing and teaches this at the Norwegian School of business, BI. Maria is both a professor and an artist in her soul, and she explains how digital marketing changes the new business by changing the core processes of communication with customers and stakeholders. In the first lesson we talk about the necessary new concepts like interdisciplinarity, custom marketing, relevance and importance, and the unfortunate business of manipulation. Experimentation is key to getting it right, and in the second lecture we cover the new methods and tools, with our favourite examples from the industry. You will learn about surveillance capitalism, assumed authenticity, and comfort zone. In the third lecture we dive deeper in the new toolbox, and talk about the most common myths and tailoring of the content for the right audiences. In our final lecture, a short workshop, we discuss ethical marketing and learning as a marketing tool.

Maria Sääksjärvi

Associate Professor


"I think marketing has always been about persuasion, at its core, you are trying to persuade someone to do something."

Dette er LØRN Masterclass

Digitale samtale-baserte kurs – 4 x 30minutter
Vi samler de beste hodene bak de nye teoretiske konseptene innen ledelse av digital innovasjon og transformasjon. Vi dekker 15 tematiske områder innen ny kunnskap og erfaringer om innovasjon  og ledelse, og 10 perspektiver som gründer, forsker etc.  Innen hver av disse tema og 10 perspektiver setter vi opp digitale samtale-baserte kurs i fire deler, som alltid følger samme struktur: introduksjon, eksempler, verktøykasse og verksted. På cirka 30 minutter i hver leksjon vil du på en lett måte lære nye konsepter og forstå nye muligheter.
Digitale samtale-baserte kurs – 4 x 30minutter
Vi samler de beste hodene bak de nye teoretiske konseptene innen ledelse av digital innovasjon og transformasjon. Vi dekker 15 tematiske områder innen ny kunnskap og erfaringer om innovasjon  og ledelse, og 10 perspektiver som gründer, forsker etc.  Innen hver av disse tema og 10 perspektiver setter vi opp digitale samtale-baserte kurs i fire deler, som alltid følger samme struktur: introduksjon, eksempler, verktøykasse og verksted. På cirka 30 minutter i hver leksjon vil du på en lett måte lære nye konsepter og forstå nye muligheter.

Leksjon 1 - Introduksjon (40min)

Interdisciplinarity, Custom marketing, Relevance, Business of manipulation, Experimentation

Leksjon 2 - Eksempler (48min)

Methods, Surveillance, Strategies, Assumed authenticity, Comfort zone

Leksjon 3 - Verktøy (49min)

Myths, Numbers vs. money, Tailoring content, Ethical marketing

Leksjon 4 - Verksted

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Tema: Digital strategi og nye forretningsmodeller
Organisasjon: BI
Perspektiv: Forskning
Dato: 20, juli 2021
Språk: EN
Vert: Silvija Seres

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Dette lærer du om i denne Masterclass

• Interdisciplinarity, Custom marketing, Relevance, Business of manipulation, Experimentation
• Methods, Surveillance, Strategies, Assumed authenticity, Comfort zone
• Myths, Numbers vs. money, Tailoring content, Ethical marketing

Din neste LØRNing

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Leksjon 1 - ID:M0004a

Leksjon 1 - ID:M0004a

Leksjon 1 - ID:M0004a

Velkommen til Lørn.Tech – En læringsdugnad om teknologi og samfunn. Med Silvija Seres og venner.

Silvija Seres: Hello, and welcome to a LØRN conversation. My name is Silvija Seres and my guest today is Maria Sääksjärvi, professor of marketing at BI, the Norwegian School of economics – Welcome! 


Maria Sääksjärvi: Thank you very much Silvija.


Silvija: What’s the English name for BI?


Maria: I think it is just BI, school of business. 


Silvija: We all know it as BI. This is going to be a slightly different conversation in LØRN. I’m just going to introduce it. This is one of our so-called “master-series”. It is a conversation in four parts and it is aimed, not to just give an example as our usual conversations are, of success and innovation, but this is going to play with a concept. This is my micro-version of your course in digital marketing, only in talk show format. You are teaching me over a cup of coffee and we are hoping that people on for example on the beach, in the mountains, or on a fishing boat this summer also will use this opportunity to learn something about the subject of digital marketing. The first part of it will be a 20-30-minute conversation about the background of the subject, the basic concept, the most important methods, and something about myths. The second part will be about your favorite examples and what they do differently that exposes the power of digital marketing memorably. The third part will be about the cross-functional side of digital marketing. You’re a living example of a singing artist who has a Ph.D. in marketing and you are an academic who also gets her hands dirty with technology. I want people to understand how the different sides play to make you a better digital marketer. The fourth part will be a “start me up” or a “how do I get started” where we talk about what tools you need to start reading about. We will start to play with either LØRN as a product, a project, or with something else and we will try to see how you get started so that our listeners can also go and get started when they are done listening to us. Does this sound good?


Maria: Sound wonderful Silvija! Let’s get started.

Silvija: Our first question in our usual conversations in LØRN is, how are you and what has made you, you? I know is a little bit hard with your background, but who is Maria?

Maria: I will try to be brief because I can talk about this for a long time. I am Maria and I don’t think I was meant to be an academic. At least in my head. I was in music school for the longest time where I was singing in a choir, playing the piano and I even played in a trio. And I sort of saw myself, not necessarily as an artist, but something in that field, but then life happens and you’re supposed to choose a career. The statistics are not that great. I was very shy when I was younger, and felt that this was a business where you must push yourself and let yourself out there in a way that I didn’t feel like I could do. I also met a lot of other people that we’re better at me at the piano, let’s be honest. Then I got into business school and started on a degree in marketing and it was very clear that this was a topic that interested me the most. I was especially fascinated by how people’s minds work and how advertising works. All these little quirks we have as human beings that make us incredibly fascinating. That’s basically the business background, and then you graduate and you have to figure out – where am I going to work? Then I got an opportunity and got hired into the wonderful world of coding. I had never done anything with coding before, whatsoever. I was in a team with a bunch of tech guys who were super good at coding. I felt like I had to do this or else they are going to beat me up. I told myself “This is something I need to do and master”. Still, I don’t feel like I’m the best coder in the world but I think you don’t have to be that. I think it’s more important to get your hands dirty and see how things work. I am really curious about how things work. If you have a coffee machine you can just take it apart and see how it works. Similarly, with digital marketing, you can piece it apart to get to the inside of how it works. It’s like you’re in the mechanism of things and I don’t like the situations where I don’t feel like I understand how things are. I like to know how I can optimize the process.


Silvija: Very cool. I do have the definition in the letter somewhere, but I can’t find it. You are creativity- and innovation specialist but also a tech enthusiast?



Maria: Yes!


Silvija: I love that and we will get back to that because we have been playing with the thought of what new courses we could do in art and AI. I would like to ask you now if we move on to marking. We need to go to the origin story of marketing, I have been learning and we have already had a conversation with Ida Serneberg from NOROFF. I was thinking of digital marketing as marketing with electronic devices, but both you and Ida have made me aware that this new world of marketing is much more dynamic and much more interactive. It is a continuous process emerging and blended, in a way. Tell me, how do you view marketing now?


Maria: If you traditionally think of marketing, you can for example as a company, place an ad in a magazine. You buy the ad, you pay X-amount of money and then you launch it. But you don’t know who sees it or if anyone sees it. You don’t know if it causes some reaction in the audience and there is just so much you don’t know. If there is no communication when you put something out you have no insight into how they react and why they react. Digital marketing is an advanced version of that kind of marketing and you can find out who looks at you and if the ads bring some action, if they sign up for your newsletter, buy a product, if they start talking about you or if they mention you to a friend. There is so much more information that you can gain. This is very good because as people we get so many marketing messages per day that we automatically filter most of them out. If it’s not relevant for us, most likely we won’t pay attention. It will pass us, without any notice. And now, with digital marketing, we can make it relevant for a person. As an example, there is a person that likes Taylor Swift and Selena Gomes, with that information, probably she will also like Ed Sheeran. You can make these kinds of assumptions about a person’s preference. You cannot do this is if you only involve people in one-way communication. In digital marketing, things get personalized and sometimes hyper-personalized because there is so much information that we can combine and we can almost create customized offerings.


Silvija: So, everything is customized, but also measurable. It is also meeting us where we are and there is something contextual about it too.


Maria: Yes, imagine you are going into a store, like a target. Now, to be going to a store people have a specific goal in mind. Target has an algorithm that can predict if someone is pregnant before they know they are pregnant. This is because of all the information they gather when they go into the store. Imagine you haven’t told people, you just have a feeling. Then you get a notification on your phone, an ad. This is completely unrelated to you and the situation, but then you get a new notification that is highly related. It might for example say, “we have an offer for vitamins”. That would be highly relevant to you and maybe something you may have not thought about yourself. This is something that would be helpful for you as a consumer and helps you to decide in that specific situation that you are in. If the notification would be about something completely different it would be irrelevant to you. That’s how coupons worked before. You send people a whole bunch of coupons and then you just don’t know if people are interested in the products for the coupons, you just send them and see if they use them. This other method is much more targeted, specific, much more context-driven in terms of what a person might need in this specific moment.


Silvija: We will go back to these digital apps and the world of digital. I just want to go a little bit back into the origin story of marketing. We, humans, elevate things with technology. We connect through stories, and this is the first thing we were doing in marketing, right? There is this book, “Mergens of Attention” which I love. It goes back, way back, to different modes of marketing. It goes back to the posters in France and later the war-marketing in England and some of the marketing of the really bad guys that was going to make a political movement later. It went from being paper to radio and then TV. I didn’t think about it, but you have to create a new way of communication to keep people’s attention. One thing is the news and the usual ads between programs, but then they got started with all the reality show that is a different way of keeping people’s attention. Something happens in the book of history after the TV. There’s this explosion where everything is digital. I think we are way past banner ads.


Maria: Yes.


Silvija: Tell me a little about the origin story of marketing, or how you view it and who understood it well, and how that turned into digital marketing. What’s your story of digital marketing?


Maria: I think marketing has always been about persuasion, at its core you are trying to persuade someone to do something.


Silvija: Or to buy something.


Maria: Not necessarily. It could also be about wanting someone to do something for you. Word of mount is also marketing, but it doesn’t necessarily involve purchase. It just involves the transmission of information from one person to the other. As you pointed out, the new technology opens new avenues for people to do that. I don’t think that human nature or behavior has changed that much, but I do remember being slightly shocked about the fact that our youth’s attentions-span is shorter than a goldfish´s. I believe we were better than the goldfish when I was young. These days it is not, that is simply because there is so much demand on our attention and we get bombarded with messages from anywhere. It is not just from these emerged advertisements, it is also the hidden clues that are embedded into these Tv-shows we are watching. That is also marketing. You don’t know when Kim Kardashian is using a product, if they use it because they like it or because it is product endorsement. Product placement has been in movies and now we are also seeing it in virtual videogames. The truth is that most of the world that we live in is man-made or that the demands that are generated are not made by nature. They are generated by content that people have produced. It is technically our fault that the attention span of the younger is lower.


Silvija: Can I ask you a question. I have some friends in Silicon Valley, these people have a Ph.D. from Stanford and I was shocked by how much psychology and philosophy are used in marketing. They are going so into the business of manipulation of our consciousness.


Maria: I know.


Silvija: We are a little too good at this game for our human best. I love this guy called Nicholas Carr. He wrote this thing called, ”Is Google making us stupid?”. He also wrote a book called, ”Shallow”. He noticed that instead of reading the whole book he went straight to the back of the book. Therefore audiobooks work well with me because they force me. He was beginning to wonder about his attention span and when he searched there was a lot of pointer into exactly what you are saying now. It is partly because people want us to see their ads and we have created tools that are a little too strong for our good.


Maria: But you as a person also have the choice to introduce filter-mechanisms into your 

life. You don’t have to be on Facebook if you don’t want to. It is also a conscious choice we make. For me, I am on Facebook because I want to be, and then I expect the fact about this and it is something that is a part of my attention. It is an equation that I have agreed to. It is also about making choices.


Silvija: I love the way you put this. By the way, I have been thinking about ignoring social media. For me, it is not an option to leave Facebook either. I appreciate it too much, to keeping relations alive with people that I have intermittent contact with. The same goes with LinkedIn, I am active on other platforms I should be active on. To me, this sounds like the thought of me having an active opportunity to become a vegetarian, but that is not an alternative to me. I will be wise with what I eat and I won’t eat too much meat, but I still choose to have it a part of my diet. You should be cautious about your information guide and coping with this. At the same time, you as a company try to reach out to people and need to use all the channels available, but you will have to do it with a more ethical style.


Maria: But do you have to use all the channels available? That would be my first question. My first recommendation is always, know your customers. Where are they? If they are not on a specific channel, do you need to be there? No. It is important to know your target audience and knowing them well. That is something Spotify is good at. They are so in tune with their audience and know so much about them and their preferences. That would be my recommendation. Don’t be on a channel just because everyone else is there. Be there because it is meaningful for you and your customer. There needs to be a dialog to learn about the preferences, then you’re not just a hacker.


Silvija: Let’s get back to that, I will be asking for tools for attention-hacking later. Perhaps doing it in a wise way, that way you can know yourself and your audience as well. Can you tell me about the major milestones in the history of digital marketing?


Maria: Digital marketing technically started with banner ads, but that is not something I find particularly interesting. I think the big revolution was when the search engines were launched. The game-changer was Google. With Google came keyword-optimization, all the things we know now, in terms of knowing if you are at the top of people’s minds. To me, that is the first big milestone. The second is social media. People may say whatever they want about it, but the truth is we are social animals as people. We need to connect. I have always been curious about people from other countries and cultures. The only way I could reach those people was by writing letters. I had more than 100 letter-pals because I was eager to learn things. Sometimes it was difficult to filter a couple of contacts. These days you don’t have to do that. Social media has made the world smaller in some ways and you can find like-minded people quite easily and connect with them easily. You can have conversations with them regardless of the geographical location or your background. I think that is why social media is so important. I know people slam it, but it serves an important social function. Of course, with that, comes negative sides. Social comparison is probably one of the worst, but the social comparison is natural for humans. Before it was in smaller groups, for example, our neighbors. In the earlier days, you didn’t’ know if your neighbors were on an exotic vacation. They didn’t share pictures. These days people flaunt in a much more open way and you can see things and have access to these things outside your inner circle.


Silvija: I think that is extremely important and there is also this backlash in a way where we are trying to go back to something more simple and purer, in some way. You can also see this nostalgic thing in marketing that is coming our way now.


Maria: Yes, that is true. But again, we should not blame social media because this didn’t happen when TV was introduced. And on these remote Islands where they don’t have this kind of exposure to western lifestyles. Then they see these people driving these fancy cars and living in fancy houses, suddenly they want things they never desired before, just because they didn’t have that window to lives they didn’t have access to before. We can blame TV and social media, but everything they do is opening up windows that were previously not accessible to us.

Silvija: I noticed a big drag to a big political and ethical discussion, but I need to take it back to business. I do remember being a Yugoslavian teenage girl and watching things like “Dynasty”, and later “Beverly Hills”. This is a different world, we have not thought of the political marketing of the western world to the rest of the world, through TV and channels. In the world of social media, 1-1 marketing and data-driven marketing could allow me to reach my potential customers better, but how do I connect it to my business goals? What are the methods I should be using?

Maria: My recommendation would be to start with having a digital marketing strategy. It simply just means ”what are your goals with digital marketing?”. The goal should not be to be on Facebook just because our competitor is on Facebook. It should be more insightful than that. You should systematically examine the entire digital landscape to find the opportunities that are best suited for your specific crowd. Again, that doesn’t mean that you have to be everywhere. That means that you are mindfully choosing terms of what can help us to reach our customers better. To speak to them in such a way, that they prefer to buy from us rather than with others. It also means not only putting the message out there but following up on the feedback. Let’s say you hire this expensive ad agency and they say you should make a fancy campaign, but the people don’t like it. You just have to accept that, and that this is something that doesn’t work with the audience. Then you have to start all over again. Its’ a lot about the element of experimentation that people are quite uncomfortable with. Every single time I check Facebook, it is not the same as everyone else sees. This is because they run experiments all the time, they call it A/B testing. Everyone sees a different version of the site. They repeat these tests and find out which version people prefer. They can do over 400 versions at the same time and end up using the one with the best results. This way, they get constant feedback on what works and not. It’s like showing a product in 600 different colors and see what does best.


Silvija: I have to interject because I can’t stop thinking about LØRN and how we can take this further. I think your point about experimentations is super important, it’s about trying to do things slightly differently next time. If you run a campaign and it reaches goals to a certain point, we don’t close the loop. If we don’t learn and report what worked and didn’t then the next campaign is going to be very similar to the previous one, even though you expect a different outcome. It’s about this growth through experimentation that people need to be better at, but how do you pivot? Is it adjusting the channel mix? What do you do?


Maria: Everything, you should make experimentations as an adherent part of your digital marketing. You can start simple. I would not recommend going out full-blown, just start with a very simple thing. If you have a webpage, try showing two different images. Let’s say you are a company that sells home appliances and in one picture, it’s very product-focused. You show the product and the offerings that it has the other version could be more family-oriented and you show a picture of a family. It’s a completely different focus. It is okay not to know which one is the better one. The advantage of digital marketing is that you don’t need to have the answers beforehand, you just need to know what your options are. You can just launch it and see how the market responds. If they respond that they like the family one, then you can start experimenting with that and show different types of families or them using it in a very specific way. You can also make it very abstract or make it a very secondary concern. You can keep repeating this until you find something that resonates with your customers. It’s important to have very clear criteria, how else do you know if something is successful? You need a comparison standard or a baseline. The baseline could be the webpage that you have now. Everything that improves on that baseline is considered positive. Once you get more advanced you can start experimenting with different seasons, different images for summer, winter, fall, and spring. You could also go full-blown, in what I call a Google doodle. This is where the doodle changes every day and when you open Google they have customized the logo depending on an event. Technically you could do the same, but that is the extreme. I would recommend starting small and being very open to what the market thinks. You need to push away your preferences and this is hard for many people to do. They want to feel that they know what their customers want because they have been in that business for 20-30 years. But, get over yourself. Just because you have been in the business for a while doesn’t mean that you necessarily know anything else than what you prefer. Customers evolve, it is a dynamic thing and not a statistic. Preference is something that all people have. It is something that constantly changes too, depending on the offerings in the market. Something that worked a year ago may not work now. Another company could introduce another product with a positioning that is much more appealing. The thing with people is that we often don’t know what we want until someone shows us.


Silvija: I think that is a great point! I think we will go back to some of these things in our next conversation. Something I would like you to help me understand is these different methods. You listed methods like social media marketing, channels and influencer marketing, e-mail marketing, content marketing, search engine optimization marketing, video marketing, and web ads. We will go briefly through these before we dive into examples. I would like you to comment in our next session about the most common myths. I think you just addressed two of those right now actually. One is that people don’t necessarily know what they want until you show it to them, and the second is that you don’t need to know how to position it until you have tried different messages. You don’t create digital strategies with all the answers in them. To begin with, you create a process.


Maria: Yes, that is very different from traditional marketing. In traditional marketing, you were supposed to have the answers and know which ad appeals the most to the market. You could then do a lot of research and come up with the most appealing one. These days you have to switch and it is not about having the answers beforehand. It’s about launching and seeing what happens.


Silvija: Right, very cool. We will talk about this in our next session, for now, thank you so much for teaching me about digital marketing. 



Maria: Thank you Silvija. 

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Leksjon 2 - ID:M0004b

Leksjon 2 - ID:M0004b

Leksjon 2 - ID:M0004b

Velkommen til Lørn.Tech – En læringsdugnad om teknologi og samfunn. Med Silvija: Seres og venner.


Silvija Seres: Hey and welcome back to LØRN Masters. My guest today is Maria Sääksjärvi and the topic is digital marketing. This is our second session of digital marketing and in the first part, we talked about the background of the subject, the history, and how a basic process could look like. In this session, we are focusing on your favorite examples. Before that, we are going to go through a couple of things that we didn’t get to go through in the first session. That is the definition of the most commonly used method in digital marketing. We will go through that list and you could give a short explanation as we go. You listed some of the most commonly used methods. It’s social media platforms, influencer marketing, content marketing, search engine optimization marketing, video marketing, and web ads. Can we go through the list?

Maria Sääksjärvi: Let’s start with social media, it is basically as the name says. It’s marketing that you do on a social media platform. This has become very popular, and Facebook for example allows us to sign in on their page and then they launch ads for their audience. Sometimes their ads are more successful and sometimes less. I think we have all experienced this when we have looked at our Facebook feed and are thinking ”why do I see this ad?”. I, for example, got an ad for men’s underwear, and it was interesting but not something that I thought that I needed. Sometimes you wonder why the companies choose these ads nowadays.

Silvija: Can I ask you something? I was surprised at how efficient it is. I love wool scarves and there was this Chinese company that showed up and found me. I get new interesting, very efficient lady’s clothing on my feed. That sort of clothes that looks good in the morning and evening and you could travel in them. They seem to have figured out something because I bought something from someone and the other ones probably found out. It is surprisingly efficient to buy the thing I didn’t really think I wanted.

Maria: Yes, I know. It works, but I think for a person like me, that loves clickbait and click on so many things, they have a hard time figuring me out. If you are a person with clear preferences then it is quite efficient.

Silvija: Okay. I think people are a little confused about the difference here. When you say Facebook, do you mean a Facebook campaign? Is this something on your website and feed and a lot of people get tagged or is it that you create an ad program?

Maria: These days it is more efficient to embed it in a platform like Facebook. Then you can also choose the parameters. Let’s say you want to target females, age 25 – 35, in a specific area, etc. Then you pay Facebook for that. Of course, you can do things on your page as well, but it is often less effective. Partially because people who follow your page, probably like you anyway and buy from you already. This method represents a new business opportunity by exposing yourself to people who like similar things but have not bought from you yet.

Silvija: That’s an important point. Let’s say we keep pushing things out on our page, then we are just preaching to the choir. The real goal is getting the learning habit out to the other people who don’t know about you.

Maria: It depends a little bit. If your company is in a growth stage then it is the best thing you could do, but if you are a market leader and you are very comfortable in your position then you don’t necessarily have to do that. Then it is more important to keep your already existing customers happy. It depends on what kind of company you have and the specific phase that you are in. If you are a market leader in i specific market you don’t have to work as hard, that is the truth. The more specialized your equipment is, the easier. Let’s say you produce medical equipment for healthcare professionals, that is very specific. If you are the only one in that niche you don’t have to work that hard because there are only an X-amount of people who use that kind of equipment. If you have a product that can be used by anyone, then you want to reach as many as possible and reach the people who are more likely to like your product and has yet to purchase from you.

Silvija: That was a great point for me. You don’t do one or the other very unconsciously. One is for reaching out and one is for stopping turn and keep the audience that you already have. So that was the social media platform. We have Facebook and LinkedIn.

Maria: And Twitter and Instagram.

Silvija: And choosing what you focus on the most will depend on what your outer audience is?

Maria: Yes. Instagram is owned by Facebook so that has changed things a little bit. In the old days when Instagram started, it was very highly curated and they only allowed a certain amount of ads and the ads had to be aesthetically pleasing. The founders of Instagram had a very strong vision that Instagram should be very aesthetic. If your ad didn’t meet those aesthetic criteria, they didn’t want your money. Now, Facebook always wants your money and after they bought Instagram, they have allowed any kind of ad. As long as you pay you can be there. It is about figuring out what the best outlet would be and Instagram is still the most visual so if your product is very aesthetically pleasing that would most likely be the best platform to find people who will appreciate your offering. You can use pictures on Twitter also, but Twitter is more about being fun and quirky. It is a platform where you follow what happens in the world and then you can make some funny comments about this and how this fits with your brand. Twitter is optimal for that, but it also depends a little bit on what type of brand that you have and what kind of social media personality that you want your brand to display. My favorite example is Netflix. Their social media personality is that they are this loving, crazy type of fan who is happy to chat about movies and loves everything new and thrills during these discussions. This works on Twitter very well. But again, Netflix is not a beauty or cosmetics brand and these types of brand usually go on Instagram because it is very visual.

Silvija: Instagram is about images and videos, and I feel like people appreciate the video in the feed.

Maria: Yes, and TikTok changed the game for videos. What I think is amazing, is how you can make people excited about things in 15 seconds. If we think about the situation 10 years ago, we would feel like that is so short to sell something. These types of conversations only took place around super bowl ads, who is ridiculously expensive because you had to go to this amount. It was not that they couldn’t do more than 15 seconds, they just couldn’t afford any more than 15 seconds. These days it is more about being so incredibly on target with what you are doing so that people will get it in 15 seconds.

Silvija: We will go back to these examples. I also wanted to chat with you about some of the new Game-marketing. Like Pokémon, for example, I love the way they mixed the physical world with the digital world and I wonder why they miss the opportunity to go along with that and they just died out. I want to hear more about that later, but let’s talk about some of the other methods. What is this thing called influencer marketing?

Maria: In the old day’s influencers didn’t exist. We had celebrities and regular people. With the event of reality TV and social media, we gained a concept of influencer marketing. An influencer is a type of celebrity, but they are not movie-starts or celebrities who we would traditionally think of. They are the celebrities that have come to the front, not because they have a talent, but because they are willing to expose themselves. It started with the Kardashian and it has had a Kardashian effect where things in the hands of the Kardashians immediately get more followers on social media, get more exposure. It’s a very strong effect.

Silvija: Maria, can I ask you? Is this maybe an age thing? Because I never understood that Kardashian thing.

Maria: Me neither.

Silvija: But obviously, people do, you see the effect. What are we missing, people like you and me?

Maria: We didn’t grow up with reality TV. It wasn’t a thing back then, we grew up with “Beverly Hills”. My mother still thinks that when she watches TV, she is supposed to watch beautiful people because that is what she is paying for. That’s her whole mantra. Looking back, it was very glamorous and had nothing to do with real life. It was supposed to be a kind of inspiration. Now we have this whole generation that has grown up with reality tv. It is about authenticity and is about completely different things. Influencers are regular people, but are willing to give you a window into their lives. They supposedly are “real”. They become the celebrities of today. Let’s take Madonna as an example. I absolutely loved and adored Madonna, but it never occurred to her to communicate to a fan on a page or Instagram. It would never occur that they could have a Meet&Greet after a show. It just didn’t happen. It was supposed to be a distance between her and a regular person. These days the distance has shrunk and if you are a celebrity you are supposed to constantly connect with their audience and constantly commenting, be appreciable. I don’t think the Kardashians are appreciable, but they get the concept of perishability. It also has this element of “anyone can be a celebrity”. I grew up in Finland and I could never have dreamed of being a celebrity.

Silvija: I have seen ads for big brands like the Norwegian ”Tran” with fish oil, and there was this video of a lady and one of the top sportsman’s here. He was heavy lifting and she filmed herself in the kitchen running around, and that was the ad. I think being authentic, very real-time and natural, works. But, there is a hidden side to that medal. I was at BI for work a year ago and I looked around and all the girls looked the same. They had the same style, long hair, the same high-waisted jeans, and the same extensions. Some of the influencers have a bigger grip than we realize.

Maria: Yes, there are influencers like Kardashian, but are also micro-influencers that have a local audience. Micro-influencers especially work, because they are more targeting are very influential in their specific target group.

Silvija: Companies could create their own internal and external micro-influencers. I think it is an underestimated thing. I have seen people trying this with a podcast now. I think what you want to do, is have a very strong positioning. This podcast was about sustainability, but that is everyone’s job now. How do you create that unique position?

Maria: Yes. You know the reality shows are scripted, but it is supposed to be seen as un-scripted. It’s not about reality, but an illusion of reality. Anyone can create an illusion of reality, and you will succeed if you have a script. It all sounds very paradoxical, l but everything that seems real is engineered. You shouldn’t think that being an influencer is about being authentic, it is about leaving the impression of being authentic.

Silvija: So, an engineered position?

Maria: Yes, correct.
Silvija: Very interesting. Then it was this email marketing. Let’s do that quickly.

Maria: That again, is very traditional. It is basically when a company reaches out to customers who agree to be contacted by them. This is either to provide information or give them specific offers.

Silvija: You need an email list, that’s the basic asset there?

Maria: Yes, but these are already people who buy things and have agreed to be on that list. The potential is more about maintaining the relationship and informing them about the campaign and that kind of stuff. It is not about gaining new customers.

Silvija: Okay, so I have several e-mails and one is for personal stuff and newsletters. I have to keep pruning that email all the time. What is the trick for not being unsubscribed? Is there a frequency thing or content thing?

Maria: Here is the thing. Because our attention span is so short, we get easily bored. Eventually, we will unsubscribe if there is nothing new. If there is a lot of them and they’re still is nothing new, of course, we are going to un-subscribe. That is just spam. I think you have to be careful with email marketing and how you use it. Only use it when you have something to inform people. If you do it frequently with any new content, it will be perceived as spam. The amount of emails people get these days is ridiculously high. I don’t think this is where you should put most of your money. That is because it’s very difficult to get a response. Okay, someone opened your email, but that’s it. Sometimes I click on things by mistake and end up deleting them anyway. With email marketing, you get no information about how relevant the content is, compared to the other channels.

Silvija: I noticed this with myself, there are two-three newsletters that I do appreciate. I have this fear of missing out. I don’t necessarily read it, I just want to make sure that I got it and that I have an option of learning something. There is also this high demand and big pressure on the people writing them, content-wise and knowledge-wise.

Maria: Again, with an example from a musician. I like Lorde and I think she is great. She doesn’t send out news very often, but when she does they are amazing. Her mom is a poet so her writing is almost poetic, and the way she is using her words is just fantastic. Because she is releasing an album I got these two wonderful, curated and beautiful packages into my inbox.

Silvija: And they gave you something?

Maria: Yes, and they were so beautiful and she was just as interested in talking about music as she was about summer and going to the beach. In the end, she was talking about the album that was ready to go out. It feels very personal and it feels like she is giving us a glimpse of her diary. She doesn’t send them often and that is also the trick. Know your audience. She is the type of person that doesn’t want to spam her audience unless she has something to say.

Silvija: I can’t quite remember, but there is this woman, Maria something, who does something like that. She writes once or twice a week, and I love it. Similarly, you have these emails based on something called CB-insights. That probably stands for corporate business or something, it is “Silicon Valley”-based. There is this Indian guy called “Anand” who was the first writer of these emails. They write about entrepreneurship and tech. They are very good and have very good data. They always have interesting grafts and I learn about the most stuff I need to learn about. At the same, they write funnily and always make me smile. I never spend more than 30 seconds on it, but I would also not be without it. Both these people found a unique voice, and we underappreciate the strength their unique voice has. 

Maria: Yes, I think it is underappreciated because it should be personal. When you read those newsletters from that woman, Maria, I can feel what kind of person she is and I can imagine her in my head, although I have never met her. The same thing is with Lorde. Marketing in the old days was very professional and standardized and that doesn’t work anymore. It is boring and not personal enough. It loses the relevant feeling of it.

Silvija: With this digital Marketing getting so personalized, you need to find your voice. As I company or as an individual that makes people want to hear from you. That way you can inspire and move them, and even teach them. If you don’t have that you need to have completely mind-blowing good offers that people just can’t miss.

Maria: A lot of the time companies feel that it is too risky to be personal. I got at an email from this guy you told about, “Anand”. The email ended with something like “I love you”, I was like “What?”.

Silvija: Yes. He always says, “I love you”.

Maria: I said to myself “No, you don’t”. You don’t know me.

Silvija: There was a long discussion about that in the newsletter.

Maria: A lot of companies would never go there. They would never take the risk and rather keep it very clear cut and “textbook”.

Silvija: He is playing a risky game. I just wanted to say this. This one company loves bedgraph and there was this email about how marketers don’t understand numbers and he was showing a graph and the title of the graph said something about “what quarter of the market etc.”. It then says very clearly a third of the market on the pie chart. It is a risky game because it is also provocative.

Maria: I know.

Silvija: The same company is also quoting people with a stupid comment, quoting really big CEOs. But, that is also why it is interesting.

Maria: That’s the problem, most companies don’t know how to do that. They don’t know how to be quirky or how to be personal. They only know how to be corporate. That does not appeal to people anymore, people want personality. In the old days you didn’t have to pick sides, these days you just have to. You have to stand for something, otherwise, you would be seen as not standing for anything.

Silvija: I think we could go a long way with ethical marketing, especially in the pride month that was in June. There were a lot of companies that went very far. Maybe we will get back to that later. What are content marketing, SEO marketing, and video marketing?

Maria: Content marketing is any kind of content that you produce for your brand. Before it was about having polished text and no spelling mistakes. These days it’s more about having interesting and relevant content. And yes, it is often quirky, offbeat, but it is about triggering something. SEO is about having search engine optimization. It’s about making sure that when someone googles you or your product you come up on top and not at the very bottom. Usually, this involves just giving Google a lot of money.

Silvija: I think this has become a little bit much of a science. It is very much about the quality of the content. If you don’t have good content then please don’t do content marketing. It is about teaching people something through your content. When it comes to SEO, it is an industry growing in the shadows. I’m not sure if I like it. It is about figuring out the algorithms, on Facebook and so on. It is like hacking for coming on top of a search. The thing about algorithms is about giving people, sometimes paid, but relevant content. If you create very relevant content, hopefully, you go to the top. They try to put in hidden words and other weird things, right?

Maria: There is this thing where people don’t like being fooled. If you put in keywords that are not applicable, it’s not good. Sometimes when I search a name, I get weird search results and are thinking, “what the heck” and “this is not relevant at all”. And then I get annoyed. Google already has this kind of image search in place. It is not that widely used yet but it is available. This is also at some point going to get very engineered. I don’t think it is all that engineered yet but that is just because it is not widely used. I am confident about this in the future because people are much more compelled by image than by text. There is also this voice-search that is starting to get popular, but image search will start to become more and more important.

Silvija: I don’t even think people know how to use image search. When I go on Google and one of the choices says “images”, is that giving me all the relevant images to my keyword? How do I give them an image to search?

Maria: No, no. You need to use I different browser, it is not that one.

Silvija: A different page? Do I give them an image and then they give me things?

Maria: Yes. To give an example. My grandmother was very close to me and she loved jewelry and nice clothing and I got to be a part of that and try things. Sometimes there would be a missing earring. Later I could upload it to Google Image-search and see if I find any hits or results for it. That way I could hopefully find a similar pair. You can do an image-search for anything. Let’s say you are traveling to Spain and you see something nice outside of someone’s home. You can take I picture of it and put that picture into Google and see where you can buy something similar.

Silvija: Very cool, I will try that.

Maria: It is not widely used yet, but I think it will increase in importance in the future because we are very visual as people.

Silvija: I can often see a piece of art and want to find out who made it. This is a wonderful way to figure it out. What about video marketing? That is already much used, but not as a search thing but rather as a push-thing, right?

Maria: Yes, video marketing is very efficient. In any type of research report, we can see from social media, shows that people are way more engaged in video content than any other content. If you can make a video of your product, that is much better. But it must be short.

Silvija: One thing we have learned in LØRN is that it doesn’t have to be that overengineered as people think, it could just be 6 good images with some nice and interesting text related to each of them. Today, any 20-year-old could make this for you. Before you had to have this rare digital video-skilled person.

Maria: Yes, absolutely true.

Silvija: It is easy to make and it is efficient marketing. 

Maria: All the studies show that.

Silvija: The last one is advertising. Very briefly, what is that?

Maria: That’s placing an ad on for example on a webpage, on Google, or any page that you think will drive traffic.

Silvija: Is it placing a product on Amazon or in a catalog? Is it paying them money to put your banner or name in the newspaper for example?

Maria: Yes. Google are making a lot of money from placed ads. Imagine that your webpage is a space that you can sell. You can for example sell 1/5th of that space to people who think this can drive traffic to their website. If I think that New York Times is a way to get people to LØRNs webpage, then LØRN could place an ad there and get directed from their side to LØRNs site.

Silvija: Very good. We are also going to meet in our next conversation. We do have a short time, but we did talk about examples like were supposed to. Could we also talk briefly about why you love Spotify? And what about Heinz ketchup, TikTok, and Fitbit Stories?

Maria: First of all, I don’t use Spotify. I use Apple Music. The reason why I like Spotify is because of its excellent marketing, not because I use it. Spotify are targeting millennials and everything that Spotify does is so incredibly customized for that specific market, even down to the colors that they use. They also use fun and quirky references and make music references that are customized to millennials. They know their audience so well. They are targeting an audience that didn’t grow up with mix-tapes. Guess what, Spotify allows you to create your mix-tape and share it with a friend. They also have this lovely thing called “Only You” and they ask you to imagine what artist you would like to invite to dinner. On that basis, they create a playlist for you. They just have so much knowledge of their audience and they try to meet the needs of their audience every single step of the way. That is what makes them so incredibly good at what they are doing. They are also incredibly consistent, everywhere they are, it’s the same message. When people make traditional ads, they think otherwise and think that diversity in the messages is good. It should rather be coherent, consistent, and compelling.

Silvija: they also have these communities and blogs, right? They keep working on you and giving you more of something. That way you return and become a loyal user.

Maria: Yes, it is like they take an interest in you. They want to learn about you and your preferences. Then the message, they track and they pivot on that. 

Silvija: Very cool! What about Ketchup?

Maria: This is an example that I love. Halloween last year was kind of a bummer because of Covid. We couldn’t go outside and a lot of the festivities were directly associated with that and we couldn’t engage in the same way. One thing Heinz knows is that every household has a bottle of ketchup. It is one of those stable items everyone has. What they did was asking people to come up with a Halloween story with ketchup and if you came up with a very good one you would get a limited edition called “Heinz blood Ketchup”. This was aligning with the Halloween theme so well that it became a fantastic success. What I liked about it was that it engaged people of all ages. You had children asking their grandparents to come up with a story and everyone got so creative. They came up with everything from murder stories to really lovely family stories. The only thing they did was giving people an opportunity to be creative themselves, they just planted the seed and it just became a big blooming three.

Silvija: To me, it was a really brave campaign. They used TikTok, if I remember correctly, and they are not really known on TikTok.

Maria: But this was very clever because it gave them away in and a lot of followers. This happened only because they used something that was not a part of their original channel. Sometimes these kinds of risks pay off.

Silvija: I am thinking of the brave head of marketing who said yes to this. I think they usually wouldn’t go for something like this.

Maria: In some way, Covid made a situation where a lot of companies were willing to take risks. There was so little you could do with traditional marketing because a lot of the outlets were not available.

Silvija: Maria, in one minute. Could you go through Fitbit Stories?

Maria: Yes. This is something that I like because they put the voice of the customers at the forefront. They got the customers to tell their own stories, instead of doing it themselves. The stories are about how Fitbit changed their lives. They are opening a dialog and a platform for talking about something that can be very sensitive, like weightlessness and fitness. They also have people with disabilities to talk about fitness, technology, and them overcoming things. It is just stories about overcoming obstacles with using one specific product. They did this without pushing the product into it too much but were rather focusing on the voice of the customers.

Silvija: I would love to do that with LØRN by the way. It would be great to have our customers, readers, and listeners are fronted and voice what their most interesting learning experience was in the last 12 months. I think this idea of crowdsourcing is something we need to look at more. Maria, thank you so very much for this session number two. We will continue with more concrete examples in the next session. 

Maria: My pleasure. 


Du har nå lyttet til en podcast fra Lørn.Tech – en læringsdugnad om teknologi og samfunn. Følg oss i sosiale medier og på våre nettsider Lørn.tech.

Leksjon 3 - ID:M0004c

Leksjon 3 - ID:M0004c

Leksjon 3 - ID:M0004c

Velkommen til Lørn.Tech – En læringsdugnad om teknologi og samfunn. Med Silvija Seres og venner.


Silvija Seres: Hello and welcome to a LØRN conversation. My name is Silvija Seres and my guest is Maria Sääksjärvi. Hi, Maria. Just to connect this conversation along with the one it belongs to; this is the third and final conversation in our Masters series in digital marketing. This is an informal chat on a topic many of our listeners need to hear more about. We will go through not just practical, but also some theoretical background and concepts. 

We already have discussed the history of the subject, most important concepts. We also went through important methods and your favorite examples to show us noble ways of applying to digital marketing. We decided that this talk was going to be about joining all this together and look at some common myths, some of the cross-functional topics, about tools and practical tactics. Maybe we have time to see how we apply this to a case and I will throw in LØRN.
In our discussion before you mentioned some of the common myths. One of them is that we want more traffic to our site. We think that more traffic is more money, but you say that this doesn’t necessarily hold. There are also these myths about wanting the ads to reach as many people as possible. The third one is that “all you need is digital marketing”, this is also a myth. Can we go through this? Let’s start with the first one. 


Maria Sääksjärvi: The first one is that more traffic equals more money. This is not true because traffic does not result in any action from the customer. Sure, you can drive traffic by doing something scandalous and outrageous to your site, but that does not get people to buy your product. In this context, it’s more important to talk about the conversion rate.
Having people coming to your site does not mean that the audience engages in this specific action either. We know now that the conversion rate is around 6%. That is 6% of the people who come to a site to look and end up buying something. This tells us that getting traffic, by giving google money, does not translate into any kind of action or outcome. As a company, you should question if it’s worth the money.

Silvija: This is conversion rates, but we also have things like the general average revenue per user. Can you explain what this means?

Maria: The logic is that every person that comes to your site is a potential customer. It’s easier to keep an existing customer than to get a new one. There should be a separation between those two categories. Every campaign has a certain budget. It can be very expensive if you want it to. At the end of the day, you want to make sure that there is a payoff in any campaign used. You must be putting your money into the right basket. It does not matter if it is traditional advertising, digital marketing, influencer marketing, or search engine optimization. You want to get your bang for the buck. 

Silvija: Very often we end up measuring the number of clicks, likes, visits. What you are saying is that this doesn’t necessarily make our sales. Do we need to find a way to connect those things and see the real efficiency of the campaigns?

Maria: In traditional advertising, there is absolutely no way of knowing if the sales come from one of your ads on TV or something else. In digital marketing, we know these things and it doesn’t make sense that we don’t connect them and use the information we have today. The thing is that everyone wants to show great figures. Traffic is usually a high figure and it makes your company look great if you can get hold of that. But if that doesn’t transfer into something more concrete, like signing up for a newsletter or something else, it’s not good enough. The effect of every kind of dollar that you put in should be measured in translate-effect.

Silvija: Very cool. Measuring the relevant effect is very important. This is related to the second myth, that you want your ads to reach out to as many people as possible.

Maria: We shouldn’t do that, one type of ad doesn’t appeal to everyone. It is much better to know who you want to target and tailor your message to that specific audience. These days we can find out how persuasive the specific message is to a specific audience. Using the bazooka to try to hit a tiny target does not make sense.

Silvija: I have a question. My initial reaction is thinking of LØRN. We want to talk to everyone and want everyone to learn. Based on what you are saying, we are not focused enough on our target. I’m thinking about your Spotify example, where they are focusing on millennials and Heinz focused on the even younger generation because of TikTok. Should we be looking for people who want to be active?

Maria: You want to find the target that the product will appeal to. For LØRN it would not make sense to be targeting children. You want to be targeting business professionals who have a couple of years of work experience under the belt. You can have multiple targets, but you should know the primary target market and what appeals and resonates with them. What is relevant? Create content according to that. In some markets, it is easier. For example, we know millennials are more likely to purchases music, by a long shot. It would not make sense for Spotify to target any other audience because that is where the money is. What I am trying to say is that you should not try to please everyone because you will end up pleasing nobody. If the message becomes to blend then it is not targeted enough to succeed.

Silvija: Even the sense of humor you would apply would not be funny unless it isn’t tailored to the specific group.

Maria: Right.

Silvija: Cool. The third myth is: “all you need is digital marketing”.

Maria: People tend to see digital as a separate thing. They see the digital market as something separate from their usual market stores and this is not the case. Everything that your company does should be integrated with every aspect. Everything that you communicate in the stores should also be communicated in the digital arena. Imagine if Spotify has a store. What do I see in front of me? I see this hip, kind of young store that targets millennials and uses spunky colors, and is quirky. That fits with their target group. Then imagine if Spotify has a store that looks like Walmart, that would not work. You should see your digital marketing and your traditional marketing as being integrated. You should speak with one voice to the customers. Everything you do should be recognizable by the customer as being a part of that one voice.

Silvija: I love this context, Maria. I think that we have been so focused on the digital that we forget that everything we do has a physical component.

Maria: One of my favorite examples is Amazon. They started with a digital appearance but now have actual stores. The fact that you are now only digital does not mean you will remain digital. You should combine everything that you know about your customers and their preferences in one consistent approach.

Silvija: Amazon has been very good at owning this image. Another company I’m thinking about is Apple. The concept of Apple aligns so well with every kind of experience you have in the stores.

Maria: Google also opened its first store in New York. I haven’t been there, but I’m really curious. From the pictures I have seen, they are succeeding in bringing Google to real life. It is also about design and coloring, absolutely every single experience you have with that brand should be consistent.

Silvija: Very cool. We are work-shopping as we go in LØRN. We do digital education and for the longest time, we were working in our office. All our work is online, especially after the corona hit. We are now going to a stage where we are going to have an open meeting space where we and others can talk about what we learn. It will be almost a grungy library of some sort.

Maria: I love it!

Silvija: I think we underestimate the importance and the need the people have to meet other people, especially after everything getting more digital. Even though people consume content digitally they are still in a physical setting.

Maria: Of course.
Silvija: I used this example also in our conversation with Ida. I went skiing in Trysil this winter and half of the billboards were blasted with Storytel. I thought that was genius. They know you are skiing alone or driving a car. There are a lot of opportunities to listen to things when you are on vacation. They reach you in an appropriate context. We didn’t talk about context-marketing and hybrid-marketing before, but could we chat about that for a minute?

Maria: Yes! It means that all the cash points a customer has with a company should be consistent. One example of this is that you can order something online, but go and pick up your order in a store. That is a very simple way of combining things in both arenas. There are also other ways that you can highlight the experience of the brand in the store. We have a lot of senses that are not met in the digital world. For example, sound, smell, and the feeling of temperature. These things matter. There is interesting research that shows that if I give you a cup, and the cup is warm and comfortable, you will feel warmer towards other people. When the cup is cold, it does not have the same effect. This is completely unconscious and we react in a very intuitive way to our surroundings. 

Silvija: I love that example. Maybe that is the reason I keep drinking warm coffee in my office. Another thing I wanted to talk about was ethical marketing. I love the example of Patagonia, the outdoor equipment producer. They had a popular ad in last year’s Superbowl where they said, “don’t buy this jacket”. They were very focused on the environment and promoted that they can fix and repair your jacket instead. The effect of this was that people started liking them so much because of the sustainability aspect that people ended up buying lots of things from them also. In Norway, we have a brand called “Stormberg”, which also has a really strong social profile. They are very egalitarian and inclusive. Other brands have a very clear social mission. It seems like people like that and it is paying off. Sustainability is a safe thing to go for, but you have to believe it and do it consistently. Other things are less safe, last month was Pride month for example. A lot of companies got out of their way to show support, but some end up bungling it up. For some corporates, it is dangerous to do this related to more sensitive issues. Lego made a series of homosexual figures. I don’t know the details that much, but maybe it was some rainbow colors and so on. There were so many reactions to this, and there were also other companies that went far regarding visuals. There was such a backlash that they had to take it back, change it and then put it back out again. How do we navigate this terrain and still take social responsibility as corporates?

Maria: What upsets people is when corporates say they support a mission, but you can’t find any of this in their actual actions. Companies posted a black square on their Instagram for #BlackLivesMatter, but a lot of black people were upset because this doesn’t change anything. If you talk the talk, you need to walk the walk. That is the thing, a lot of companies don’t. If you say you support LGBTQ-community people can just look at your company and see that you don’t hire people from the community. People get suspicious that it is some marketing trick. And it is. If you stand for something, stand for it. These are not marketing tactics that are usually used lightly but should be used responsibly. If you use them, you need to show that you do them as well.

Silvija: I think many people felt that this would be a good mimic to make customers. As you say, you must do it and believe it. Otherwise, it doesn’t work.

Maria: Lego is a product for families. That is their segment, so why would they support LGBTQ? It is a tough connection to make for their brand.

Silvija: This is like the problems Barbie had. They tried to do the “professional Barbie”-series. It did not apply very well. They tried to do a veterinarian Barbie and an engineering Barbie. That is a difficult one. You try to challenge the stereotypes, but it’s a tricky way of gaging you audience. Especially since they are international as well.

Maria: Let’s say you are a company and 50% of your workforce is black. You can then say that you support #BLM, because you do. You can then showcase it and say you are an inclusive company. If you do that and you just do it for marketing, it will become transparent and it will not work. The same thing with Barbie. They would get complaints and criticism if they didn’t and that is probably the reason why they did it in the first place. There needs to be a strategy behind it and you need to stand by it.

Silvija: I think we are going back to the topic about your mom and how she wants everything on TV to be glamorous. When I was a kid, both I and my sister had a Barbie and the whole point was that she was so unreal and beautiful. Since then a lot has changed, and maybe people need a different kind of Barbie now. We talked about the myths. We talked about how more traffic doesn’t mean more money, we talked about how you don’t want the ad to reach as many people as possible, and that you need to believe that the world is not completely digital. We also talked about blended marketing and hybrid marketing, which involve combining both the digital and physical world. There is also ethical marketing, where you are using ethical dilemmas in the communication to the audience. I now really want you to help me in the next minutes to get started. Going back on my notes, you said to start with developing a digital marketing strategy. What are the main steps of that? You also said to measure, follow up and tweak. Let’s take an example of something I care and know about, like LØRN. How do I make a digital marketing strategy? Are we talking about a 1-page document or a 10-page document?

Maria: I don’t think there is a specific length to it. Your digital marketing strategy needs to be linked to your overall strategy. The purpose of a digital marketing strategy is to support the overall strategy. You need to ask yourself, how does digital marketing help us reach our goals? That’s the start of it. My recommendation is that you have a clear target point. Otherwise, you risk losing people more than you convince them. If you want to target business professionals, you want to reach out to people who are in a stage of their careers that makes them want to refresh their knowledge. You wouldn’t target fresh college students, they already feel like their knowledge is up to date. You need to ask yourself what kind of digital devices this target group of yours uses. We can find out if they use email, Facebook, or Instagram. You also can find figures for how good this works in this target group in Norway. There is so much information that you can get a hold of and use for your strategy. First, you should find out where your customers are, and then you can figure out how to reach them. It’s also important not to reach them everywhere they are. Even though everyone uses an email nowadays, that is probably not going to cut it. If our target group is middle-level managers, we already know these people are very busy. If they don’t have time to read that much, then maybe a short bit-sized video is the better option.

Silvija: Can I play ball? Another assumption is that people have unused time and that people have all this time in between things. Where you travel to work, sit on a plane, drive a car, exercise, or walk. This is also a time where you can use another format, and that is sound.

Maria: Yes, that is an option. If you know this and still are going with the video format, then you know what market you want. The market for podcasts and books are the market you want to take on. You need to find out why they would rather listen to us rather than a podcast. What can we offer them that they cannot through other channels?

Silvija: This is how you work with positioning right?

Maria: This is the very basics of making a strategy. Competition nowadays is a very fluid concept. Netflix for example, know they are not competing with Disney+. Netflix thinks of it like they are competing with every existing entertainment channel.

Silvija: They say they compete with sleep.

Maria: Yes. “Positioning” is a very fluid statement these days. It would be good for you to know who you are competing with because then you can tell yourself what would happen if you offered both sound and picture. That would be something different from a podcast. If you offer sound with materials, that is also something completely different. You can play around with these different combinations until you develop a uniquely valuable position. 

Silvija: We are competing with Coursera, but also TED talks. I guess the challenge is to not ask people what they want if you have something completely new. They would not know about you anyway. We believe that the podcast format is wonderful because it allows you to use this time in between. If we make the content more interesting and broad, you get diplomas and find this learning path. The problem with a lot of the other educational platforms out there is that there is just a jungle. You need to find the content and feel like you learned something new.

Maria: You only need to nudge people who don’t have an inherited interest in learning. If they already have this inherited interest in learning, you don’t even need to nudge them, you can just tap them. These are two different segments of people who we are dealing with and they need different strategies. If you have someone who already is interested in learning you can just tell them that you have an offer. People who are not like this will be a whole other challenge.

Silvija: Agreed. I think both types of people are very relevant. If we define a strategy, can we go on and continue to make a communication and marketing strategy on top of that? There are many steps to make this and you only need to choose a few, if I understood you correctly?

Maria: It’s best to start with just a couple of them just to see that you get your message right. When you have gotten some feedback, you can start to expand. You must make sure you have the right message, appeal, and relevance in place first. After that, you can broaden your scope. It’s best to take it to step by step so that you get the feedback early on. I think it is very important to play around with different messages. If you are competing with Netflix, try to tie it into something fun. This is an audience that likes entertainment and they are not likely to go into learning for the sake of learning. For the other segment that is interested in learning, try with an approach where you highlight what is unique about your content.

Silvija: You are saying that it is okay to have two very different segments?

Maria: Yes!

Silvija: We only go for one.

Maria: Facebook does this and they have different ads for different people. This is something people don’t know because you only see the one you are supposed to see. You assume everyone sees the same one, but they never do. Netflix is a good example. Not only do they customize every show that you see, but they also have over 40 different covers for each of the shows. Everything down to the thumbnails are customized.

Silvija: I’m smiling now because my Netflix is very confused. My kids are using my persona on the account so I get so much anime mixed with my content. It also messes up these front pages. We have the basic message, we have agreed on what strategies and methods we are going to use. I decided that we go all-in on LinkedIn and this is with video marketing. I create different versions of the message, in parallel, I define the KPIs. I want you to tell me a little about the most important KPIs. We talked about impression served and conversion rate. Remind us.

Maria: Yes, in your case you might have different goals. One goal is probably brand awareness, where you want people to know that you exist. In that case, the impression is okay because it fits with the goal that you have. If you are new in a segment that is a good goal. You also want people to act. You need to know how many people viewed, liked, shared, commented on the video if you post something on LinkedIn. Did someone with influence share the content maybe? How long did the message spread and what is the timeframe of this? You can track all of that. If it does not go too well, then you tweak it and merge another one. Preferably you would have two different versions at the same time. That way you can see which one does better. This is something you keep tweaking until you reach that level of views and sharing that you want.

Silvija: This is where a lot go off track. I think we don’t measure and track enough.

Maria: You just have to. If you don’t track you will never know. Don’t trust advertising agencies, they just tell you what you want to hear. You want to go down to the nitty-gritty. You want to see the actual figures and remember most platforms even give you that for free. It’s easy these days and it is just stupid not to do it.

Silvija: Cool. So, track, tweak, pivot? And continue the cycle?

Maria: Yes, and it is always a work in progress. When you grow and reach a broader audience you probably need to change the message a little bit. You get to know your audience a little bit better after some time and you can micro-segment them. I think Netflix has microsegments of many thousands by now. This older way to segment is getting a little bit outdated but it is a starting point before you start to know your customers. The beauty of it is that data gives you all that and data doesn’t lie.


Silvija: So, the lesson is to be data-smart, but strategy first?

Maria: Right, and don’t make the mistake of thinking you have made the perfect ad. If you think that everyone will love it and it doesn’t happen, people bury themselves. That is not how it works.

Silvija: We are now out of time. I wished we had more time to talk about AI and marketing. We may need to do another masterclass. We have now had a very educational and fun conversation, but I know you recommended a book and an article. What do I need to go and read now?

Maria: Bernard Marr has written so much about AI, tech, and machine learning. “The Intelligence Revolution” is specially written for businesses who want to start implementing AI and previously have no experience in this. You don’t need to own computer power these days, you can buy it from Amazon Web Services for example. You can hire all you need, there is no need to buy it if you don’t want to have everything in-house. You don’t need to hire a Machine Learning Specialist to do machine learning. I believe this is a very assuring and soft way of going into this. Even if you are a small company, this allows you to engage in this.

Silvija: What about the digital marketing capability gap?

Maria: That has a more academic take on this. It’s about the fact that capability is not something that is set in stone. Earlier you could get a degree in chemistry, biology, statistic and you could comfortably sit on that. These days, there is no comfort involved. Everything is moving so fast that you constantly need to be uncomfortable. Most people don’t like this and we need to constantly learn to handle this.

Silvija: Thank you so much for being with us in this LØRN Masterclass. We are looking forward to, both implying what we learned from you and talk more about AI and art. We didn’t get into the more cross-functional site of the subject, like why marketers should learn to code and why they should be interested in art.

Maria: It is fascinating. Everything in this world is a different part of ourselves and art is about esthetics. It’s fascinating because it is about expression, and it can be very concrete, like a picture of what is in front of you. Like a photograph. The other side of it can be very abstract and a whole other representation of reality. Both are still a version of the reality that we live in. All this opens our eyes to different ways of doing things, different possibilities. It teaches us about the fact it is not just one way to approach things. I think coding is so lovely because it opens a black box. I like to be in control of what I do and coding allows me to do that. When I’m in the drives seat I know exactly how things are working and moving. You can find out so much about everything of information we have. This teaching us about something more fundamental about who we are as people. How we might say something but do another thing. 


Silvija: I look forward to continuing this conversation. I agree that it teaches us about something uniquely human and suddenly we have machines coming into this new hybrid world. Let’s save that for later. Maria, thank you so much for joining us here in LØRN through this chat.

Maria: Thank you so much for having me, it has truly been a pleasure. I look very much forward to continuing this conversation.


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