Marketing Heroes: a q&a with the Director of Twist Consultancy
In our fourth instalment of our Marketing Heroes interviews, we spoke with Nick Crawford the founder of Twist Consultancy.
Please introduce yourself…
Hello, I’m Nick and first may I say a massive thanks to Pure360 for including me in the Marketing Hero’s roll of honour.
When I’m not being a taxi for my sports mad kids, I spend my life helping businesses combine art and science in their direct marketing. Having started life in the call centre world (yes I’m old enough to remember a time before the internet) I have always worked with marketing campaigns and customer experience.
7 years ago I moved into digital, working for a Marketing Automation platform provider helping key clients develop their segmentation and email personalisation. A self-confessed #emailgeek I am an elected member of the Direct Marketing Association (DMA) Email Council as well as siting on the Legal Hub (do you know your GDPR from your PECR?)
I’m privileged enough to Tutor on Email, Digital CRM and Customer Loyalty for the Institute of Direct Marketing (IDM)
I also run my own consultancy and in June 2019 we celebrate our 3rd Birthday.
Tell us about Twist Consultancy…
Twist Consultancy is a direct marketing specialist with a single mission at its core ‘to help businesses better connect to people.’
We offer marketing solutions across strategy, hands on delivery and training. Putting at the heart of what we do relevance. On the basis that “relevance engages and engagement converts”
Twist got its name from my hobby of balloon modelling ‘twisting’ and represents our approach of breaking down the complex into simple steps. If I gave you a balloon model of a giraffe and asked you to make one it might seem impossible, where do I start and what do I need to do…
But, being shown step by step and learning what to change where (how to reshape the situation), makes the task possible.
What is your main marketing focus and goals for 2019?
We’re just lunching ‘Twist Training’ helping smaller companies develop their digital maturity by adopting a framework that ensures relevance is at the heart of their strategy. It’s based on all the real world practitioner experience we gain each day with clients.
How important is email to your marketing mix and how much of your budget (%) is allocated to this?
Without doubt email is vital to all clients who have a data base of known prospects and clients. And those that are starting up have ambitions to create a mailable base.
A sentiment mirrored in the latest DMA Email Marketers Tracker recently released which put email top with a 91% response to channel importance by responders.
Given this importance and the return in investment from email now shown in the same DMA research as £42 back for every £1 spent (up from £32 the previous year) it is a surprise at how far down the pecking order email budgets come in the marketing mix.
Clearly in part, emails cost effectiveness is its strength, but I also think that as a ‘safe and mature’ channel, it is often overlooked as a focus of development and so investment.
What are the main marketing challenges you or your clients face?
We both have a shared challenge on budget, the advantage is that you can create a very compelling Return of Investment argument with email. It’s one of the only channels where you can track a 1:1 response from send to conversion action.
Beyond that I would say there are two key challenges for clients which overlap. Strategy and time constraints. They link because sometimes the challenge is finding the time to plan. As a previous boss of mine used to say, ‘you can’t drive a car and change the tyre.’
Using frameworks really helps me break down the unknown into known next steps. This also provide an ability to plan and deliver in smaller steps, which can create big change. Anyone who has seen the impact of well executed automated activity will agree.
Always on, drip fed campaigns free up resource in the mid-term to allow more thought on tactical targeted campaigns.
What are your 5 favourite marketing tools?
1.) Pen and Paper – never underestimate the power of drawing out ideas and thoughts with the minimum fuss and freedom. Though I do confess to using Nebo on my tablet more and more as a great blend of pen and digitised outputs.
2.) Trello – the simplest and easiest way I have found to plan and organise almost anything (from to-do lists to campaign sends.) It’s the flexibility that really makes this solution stand out.
3.) Phrasee – I’ve had first-hand experience of how this AI driven subject line solution can make a massive impact on send success. And it completely removes the natural bias we all have to testing.
4.) WhatUsersDo – a great solution for gaining focus group testing and user experience feedback at scale. Provide a task to a panel and allow them to complete this whilst verbalising their thoughts and feelings live (and recorded)
5.) YouGov – a free and really nicely presented public opinion research resource. A great place along with Google Analytics to get some data behind your customer personal marketing profiles.
Which other marketers inspire you and why?
Sahar Hashemi, the co-founder of Coffee Republic. I was lucky enough to hear her speak back when I was at the start of my marketing career. Her mix of vision and pragmatism, resilience and hope has continued to be an inspiration to me – even more now I am a business owner.
Andy Street former John Lewis Managing Director. Not strictly marketing I know, but he spoke about the role of John Lewis stores when e-commerce first became big. His view was that the role of John Lewis was one of editing choice. So that any customer who wanted a toaster, knew that all the options presented would be good, they just had to make a final choice from the shortlisted selection. In an age where choice is even more overwhelming, this approach to helping prospects become customers has stayed with me.
David Allison Value graphics Data Pioneer. My current marketing read is by David “We Are All The Same Age Now” and looks at the short comings of traditional demographic data e.g. audience profiles based on generation. Instead he looks at measuring values and creating ‘tribes’ from these. If family is my primary belief it will influence my decisions regardless of when I was born. Understand this and you can be relevant to me.
If you could give one tip to aspiring marketers what would that be?
Always be curious and take the time to learn some detail about the tasks in hand. And except with a smile that you will never be right all the time.
What are your marketing trend predictions for the year ahead?
I’ll be honest, having grey hair and having seen the same items on the new year trend lists come and go (albeit) with a new name, I’m a little cynical of trends, however things that I think will make a difference sooner than later include…
Content platforms making personalisation options easer, using web scraps and behavioural segments available to all. So newsletter templates populated with lead articles based on what content you have seen on the website.
Use of Machine Learning to drive more relevant personalisation, from time of send based on when you open and click emails and browse online to content language to offers based on far more data points then we use at the moment.
Interactive content in emails. Born from a mix of increased email provider code support, smart use of tabs within emails, contextual content (changes based on open time and location) and most recently AMP for email. Email engagement from reader interaction is moving to a new level.
Thanks Nick for taking the time to speak with us!
We have some more great interviews with our Marketing Heroes lined up. And if you’re an expert in the field of marketing and would like to get involved please drop us an email.