My Life in Modelling (outcomes).


Published: 07 January 2016 OK, so this article is maybe not a tale of the catwalks of Milan or Paris but is instead my guide, based on my experience, in how we use top level modelling in digital to plan outcomes and derive strategies and tactics.

The current digital marketing manager has an arsenal of weapons and statistics at their disposal from behavioural targeting and personalisation, geo-targeting (53% more people engage with hyper-targeted ads), mobile apps (a third of us use our smartphone within five minutes of waking) and creative content (35% of travellers engage in travel-related videos as part of their purchasing process) and so it’s often easy to get stuck in a rut of ‘work a day’ SEO and PPC with content decisions coming from the last Director to say ‘we need a page about x’ and no real sense of daily/weekly/monthly/annual targets or KPIs.

The approach that we have developed flips this on its head by starting at the end, namely, what do we want to achieve as a tangible, measureable (or SMART) objective? 10,000,000 in online sales a month, 500,000 contact enquiries a year, or 1 demo request a month? Whatever business you’re in, whatever type of website you have there will be a call to action and a primary objective - the mother of all objectives, the top table objective, the one that you will bring up in your next appraisal if you smash it (well, you should!).

Start with this and work back through the common denominators - how many people currently convert as a percentage (e.g. 1 in 1000 is 0.1%) and how much traffic or engagement do you need to convert at this rate to hit this? Once you’ve got this you’ve got the basis of the model and the target. If you’re an ecommerce site then factor in Average Order Value too.

Sample model equations:
Ecommerce Revenue: (Traffic x Conversion Rate) * Average Order Value = Revenue
Sales Leads: Unique Sessions * Conversion Rate = Enquiries

Once you’ve established the right equation, you can then play with the constituent parts to find a realistic balance to get the right outcome.

Working with our ecommerce example we will use a relative simple model and we’ll look at two possible models:

(1,000,000 visits * 1% Conversion Rate) * £100 AOV = £1,000,000 Revenue
(500,000 visits * 2% Conversion Rate) * £100 AOV = £1,000,000 Revenue

With this knowledge in mind, we then need to see where we are what the gap is. You might find you’re happy with your conversion rate but need a lot more traffic, or vice-versa. Either way, the next step is to then look at each part of the model and define the inputs - e.g. how much organic traffic, paid search, social or email traffic do you need to hit your traffic number. How much do need to invest in the user experience, personalisation and automated marketing programs in order to improve conversion. By breaking these top line figures into their constituent parts you can then build a model of your channel and conversion objectives and from this comes strategy!

So that, as they say, is that - an approach for projecting outcomes based on desired inputs and how you can use these to set your strategy and implementation tactics. Sagittarius has a range of tools that we use with our clients that start with this simple concept and then expand out into metrics including individual channel performance, reporting KPIs, secondary objectives and we would be happy to talk you through how to use them.

Whatever your business, be it a regional or global brand, the content you produce plays a vital role in your success. You know that… hence you’re reading this.

A well formulated and executed content strategy not only drives more traffic, at the core, it defines what your business is and helps build a strong connection between you and your audiences.

So let's quickly look at why developing a coherent content strategy is important and how setting clear goals and understanding your audience will elevate your online performance. 

What is a Content Strategy?

It's basic right? Content is at the core of how you define the way your business presents itself and an effective strategy should look to ensure that tone of voice, messaging and the core values are surfaced across all channels, from service or product pages on your website, to blog posts, through social media updates blah blah blah.

But let's keep it simple - your content strategy should be a clear roadmap that connects your marketing activities to your business goals. Align to your customer’s wants and needs and engage them at every interaction point and boom, you're in business. 

Who are my Audience?

You likely start all your projects with this chalked on the wall because your business knows “exactly” who its customers are right? Sounds obvious but we often find its not been done forensically enough (not based on data), is too old (more than 12 months ago - forget it) or its a spin off from some brand work that was legitimately aspirational but doesn’t face the reality of who you your business is actually engaging today.

So start (or circle back) with audience research, building out those personas to understand their ambitions, their lifestyle, their pain points or concerns, and crucially their wants and needs - in your context. 

Do I need to tailor content?

As part of your research find out where your audiences spend their time online and how they interact with content: Some may spend time thoroughly researching a product or service, whereas other audiences may want their content to be quick, snappy or easily digestible in the form of a video, infographic or short blog posts.


Ultimately, the key is to produce a strategy that creates the type of content your customers want to see:

  • What are the problems that your product or service will help them solve?

  • Who are they most influenced by?

  • What voices influence their behaviour?

  • What type of content do they consume?

  • Where do they consume content and engage with brands?

Different Content, Different Objectives

 All content is not born equal: When producing your strategy, it is important that the objectives for each individual piece are defined, that these fulfil your marketing objectives and tie to the overarching goals for your business.

There are various content frameworks that exist to aid content development in this way, but one that is popular and effective is Google’s hero, hub and hygiene method: It provides a framework on developing content to achieve different goals and gives guidance on the effort needed to create each type of content.

Hero Content

Hero content is essentially campaign content, it is big splash ideas designed to appeal to a large audience with the aim of telling your brand’s story at scale. 

Ways of measuring hero include the amount of PR mentions or links from authoritative domains plus social interactions and mentions of your brand across all channels. 

Considering the scale of hero campaigns, this content is not regularly produced and is reserved for peak promotional times where it’s important for a business to stand out from their competitors.

Hub Content

Hub content is the stuff that keeps your audience engaged, it expands on the themes of product or service level content, educates users and helps create a connection between themselves and your brand.

Hygiene Content

Hygiene content is the bread and butter of any website, it is the BAU content for products and services, it is SEO focused and targets important keywords at a product, service or guide level.

How do I manage all this?

Content development is only one part of the ongoing work needed when working with an effective content strategy. We call it “feeding the beast” because it really is the fuel in your brand vehicle and once you start you really can’t stop (if it’s delivering results) but that’s where performance measurement comes in.

Your greatest gift in managing the outputs from your hero/hub/hygiene style efforts is to understand If your content is working. To truly deliver results your business must first understand the objectives and goals of each piece of content to effectively measure its success. That as a guiding light from day 1 will let you slow down, speed up, stop or start new content briefs and projects.

Remember - content strategies are not set in stone. They are living breathing things and should adapt and pivot as insights become available and your brand naturally evolves.

If ever you want to chat content and explore new initiatives we’re always here to help.

want to speak to one of our experts?

Nick Towers
Nick Towers
Co-Founder & Joint CEO
Co-Founder, CEO and self-confessed massive geek, Nick has been in digital since graduating from law and moving into technology many years ago. Through a combination of building awesome client relationships, crafting a formidable team of digital experts and consistently delivering results for our clients Nick has taken Sagittarius from being a successful small agency to the global digital customer experience consultancy and Sitecore powerhouse that it is today.
Nick Towers

Nick Towers

07 Jan 2016 - 5 minute read
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