Consumer-Led Strategy

A Critique of Our Approach to Marketing

We have been providing our clients with a variety of digital marketing solutions from ads, ad management and Conversion rate optimisation.


For the last few years I have run Hamma.digital. We have been providing to our clients with a variety of digital marketing solutions from ads, ad management and Conversion rate optimisation. We’ve got a lot of things right, and a lot of things wrong. 

Part of the wonder of digital and marketing is that it’s always changing. 

Part of the challenge is that it’s always changing. 

What works for one client may not work for another. What works for one month, may grow stale and not work again. 

As part of our continued growth, we try to reflect often on what’s working and what’s not. This is informed by the experience of working for clients and working on the accounts, and also through review and learning through courses, books, and seminars. 

So, here’s a few things that we haven’t got right. 

  1. Google Ads and Facebook Ads - Beware! 
  2. Performance-Based marketing - Last resort
  3. Websites - back to basics
  4. Doing too much - KISS (duh)

Digger a bit deeper into these things: 

  1. What hasn’t worked with Google and Facebook? 

We have spent too much of our clients' money. I am not saying that it doesn’t work - but understanding what works and why, and having a strategy around that is the most important thing. 

What we would have done up until now: 

We would have tried to prove our impact through a direct ROAS calculation. I.e. (last week your ads returned $x in value). This is short-sighted. Firstly, it relies on having accurate google data — which is more difficult than it needs to be, and secondly, it fails to account for a typical customer journey from seeing an ad or activation and making a purchase. 

To use an analogy, you’re making decisions and judgements based on only a small window of view. 

  • If you are measuring any campaign against last week/month or otherwise. You’re doing it wrong. 
  • If you plan to ‘turn the tap on and off when things are going well or not, again - it’s false readings and fails to account for the entire ecosystem. 
  • What doesn’t work with performance-based marketing? 

What is PBM? 

  • Remarketing 
  • Lead ads on FB
  • Shopping ads
  • DPAs (Facebook)

PBM suffers by being blinded by the numbers. Thinking that marketing will solve for business growth skims over key business basics. Just because people are aware of your product doesn’t mean that they will be lead to buy. There are so many other factors that are in play that will impact a potential buyer's decision. Relying on PBM, or even putting it at the core of your always-on marketing is short-sighted and cost-ineffective. 

PBM should be used only to supercharge your marketing needs and only be used when you are comfortable with your sales process and conversion rate because it is something that you should be prepared to commit money for - it will not save you money. You will spend more, but you will have more opportunities. 

Understanding your CPA and being prepared to pay for it. PBM relies on spend - it’s not something that is going to cost you nothing. So

  1. Websites? Good content matters. We forgot what we knew. Stock and Flow. 

I think I’d be the first to admit that we invested too much time and effort on Squarespace websites. They are terrible for site speed, SEO and flexibility generally. Before this year, we pushed a lot of clients onto Squarespace and it was a mistake. It’s a terrible platform that might create very simple websites quickly that look good. But ultimately they just perform terribly. 

The same goes for Shopify. There are certainly some advantages of a Shopify site, but if you want to build a strong digital presence, Shopify is not your silver bullet. One problem that we have found with Shopify comes from their site structure and the inflexibility of being able to control how you name the slugs and site paths. The answer is to build a site using a better CMS and then embedding the purchase through the Shopify store. 

And content is king. We should have never forgotten this. My experience before starting Hamma was as a content strategist. Blogs and content are the lifeblood of websites, and yet, we forgot it ourselves, and we forgot it for our clients. This was a mistake. Every brand should have a content creation engine. It is more important than any paid effort. And it doesn’t have to be particularly fancy. I am firm of the belief that done is better than perfect here. Clients need a face, Loom it, record it on your phone. Write it once a week. Twice a week. Create an engine of blogs/deals/information and get it up and out. 

What should you write? Write what your customers want. BE passionate about your product and your customers. 

  1. Doing too much? 

We’ve been everyone for everything. CRO/Ad management/SEO/We’ve been yes men. Yes, we can do that. Yes, we can jump this high. Sometimes we got lucky, and other times we’ve lost clients. 

The fact of the matter is - it’s about getting the brilliant basics right. Working with people and providers who know what they are talking about. Not working with 'confidence men' (fake it till you lake it kind of people). 

Find great vendors. White label what you can’t do and treat them like your own. 

Good expertise is simple, makes sense, and isn’t cheap. 

But, 

What would we do now? 

Firstly, start with a high-level view. Commit to both creating a campaign and allocating an investment. Commit from a business, brand, and budget. If you don’t have those three things, then walk away. It’s not going to work. 

You should allocate 7-10% of your total revenue for media and creativity. If you want to include your website in this, I would caution that it should only include new content or improving SEO, as you should allocate at a minimum of a salesperson's salary for the general upkeep of your site. 

Brainstorm ways in which you can maximise your reach with the client. Consider all ways of getting your brand and message out there - it’s not just Google and Facebook. Are you making the most of your storefront? Do you have someone who’s prepared to help with Blogging? What about PR? Magazines? Radio? 

In startups and small businesses, you have to get creative - you might have small revenue or you might have serious cash flow issues, so you have to find other ways to get market penetration. 

  • Create a brochure and aim to email 10 people a week with a personal email. Over the year, you would have reached 520 prospective clients/customers. 
  • Be open to other ways of getting your brand out there
    • Sponsor local teams
    • PR campaigns
    • Giveaways
    • Talks and seminars

For more established businesses — get serious. Spend on media that works. Get your name out there and focus on delivering a fabulous product. 

Digital is about getting the basics right. 10 things I know now. 

  1. SEO can cost you a fortune. It shouldn’t. 
  2. Digital ads can cost you a fortune. It shouldn’t. 
  3. Make sure you can be found online. Listings are cheap and easy. 
  4. Set up and maintain GMB. 
  5. Make sure your website works and regularly critique it. 
  6. Content marketing works, but good content marketing is considered and thoughtful (so if you can’t do it yourself, then it’s going to be expensive). 
  7. Don’t skimp on good branding. 
  8. Be consistent in how you talk about yourself. 
  9. Close the loop and be open to listening to your customers. 
  10. The product, the product, the product is what matters. Focus on delivering the very best product you can and the marketing will work so much harder. 

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