MS Podcast#154 : Guy Levine, Return On Digital

Investing in digital

(WORLD) The MediaSnackers podcast focusses on individuals, organisations or companies who are simply impressing us and which are crying out for more discussion.

Guy Levine is the CEO and owner of Return On Digital, a digital communication agency who focusses on creating “outstanding return on investment”.

0.00—0.16 intro
0.17—0.53 background on Return On Digital
0.54—2.10 what is the investment and what is the return
2.11—3.21 tangible example
3.22—4.55 digital vs traditional marketing
4.56—7.43 the rise of social endorsements plus open graph / facebook ‘like’ button
7.44—9.21 questioning the ethics
9.22—10.10 future
10.11—10.20 outro

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Guy: Hi, my name’s Guy Levine. I am a digital marketing geek. I’m the owner of Return on Digital.

DK: Well, it’s a pleasure to have you with us Guy. So tell us a little bit about your company and what you do there.

Guy: Return on Digital’s a digital marketing agency. But we like to think we’re a little bit different because we try and always focus on getting a great return. But we do search engine optimization, pay per click, affiliate, social media, everything that you’d expect a digital agency to do nowadays.

DK: Wicked. So how long have you guys been doing that?

Guy: We’ve been doing that now in various different guises since the year 2000.

DK: Wow, okay. Do you’re well established. That’s brilliant. So let’s get into and talk about the meat of the stuff regarding the ROI and the context of digital. So first of all, what is the investment and what is the return relating to this discussion and what you actually do there?

Guy: Yeah, I mean from basically what we see around the — from the SME market up to the, you know the large companies. A beginning kind of investment monetary wise received that that as coming around this thing as the 500 pound a month investment. But then , there’s a lot of investment of time as well whether it be creating content. or more importantly creating a message that people find interesting.

But we’re kind of seeing, which is more importantly, is that we’re seeing on financial investment that there’s normally a five to ten times return on real investment of actually cash generated through generating leads or increasing from the exposure, or things like that. And I think, you know, one of the ways to take digital really seriously is to actually apply some metrics to it that allow you to put financial data to it. Because as times are tough, people are more and more having to verify what they’re spending their time on. So yeah, I think that’s really important to do.

DK: Yeah, definitely that times ten financial investment thing is a wow factor right there. So give us a tangible example of, it could be a past client so you don’t mind talking about them. But let’s see what someone has put in and they literally got out?

Guy: Yeah. Okay. to kind of cover that for the whole gamut of people that are going to be listening, we’ve done work for a small boutique, private dental practice believe it or not. Dental, it’s a, but you would never believe how much money is in private dentistry mind you, unless you’ve been to a dentist recently and got a bill. But, they’re based in the Liverpool City Centre. They come to us, they had a really shocking presence. We sorted out a website for them, we did loads on testimonials, getting social media going for us. I mean, they pay about two, 2,000 a month including like Google adwords. But, and they’re consistently doing between 25,000 and 35,000 pounds worth of treatments every month directly attributed to someone ringing up the phone saying, “We found you on Facebook, we found your website, we found you on a local map listing and we’d like to come in and talk to you.”

DK: Wow. That’s a big wow. So that’s brilliant as an example there. So what is, kind of to extend the conversation then, what is different between digital marketing and the idea of traditional marketing then?

Guy: Yeah, I think digital versus traditional. I think ultimately they’re both the same thing. For me, marketing’s about attracting new people. Selling’s about converting them. But I think what’s different with digital is it happens so quickly. I mean, if we look at I go to the food place eat this morning to get a hot chocolate on the way into work. you know, the guy serving me who looked like the manager, managed to serve me without making eye contact once and with only uttering I think three words. One of which was, “What do you want?” Well, you know, one of, “What do you want?” and the other one was, “That’s two pounds please.”

So I go onto twitter now and say, you know, don’t eat, if you’re going to eat, being prepared, the customer service is rubbish. And before I know it, 1,700 people have seen that plus it posts to Facebook. So digital marketing is speed and also to include an element of tracking in the — so that everything you’re doing, email, SEO, Facebook, you can track back to actually see the return on investment. Because it might well be that digital’s not quite ready for your business yet or it might well be that its more ready than you think and it needs a signal to spend more budget or time on it.

DK: That’s interesting. And we’re also seeing the kind of emergence of stuff like the “Like” button and social endorsement which is kind of what you’re talking about there, isn’t it? That we hold off networks because we’re on social networks. But are networks then is a sense of a pool that we kind of hit and dip into and take from, and also inform relating to our social and commercial activities? So talk about kind of how you’re looking at this Facebook like button but also the open graft and all that stuff?

Guy: Yeah, open graft and Facebook “like” button is the most exciting thing that’s happened in a long time in social. I think, that’s interesting, I was reading a book yesterday on marketing to affluent people. And what they were saying is if some big CEO of a busy company gets a sore back, they don’t get the yellow pages and they don’t search on Google. They ring up they’re other really big CEO affluent friend and say, “Who’d you go to when you’re back’s really sore?” So there’s this element of recommendation that a digital market has never really been able to tap into.

But now what happens is, websites can put in their, a little piece of code that connects them to Facebook. And when someone comes onto that site, they can click this button that says, “I like it”. It does two things, it pushes that to your Facebook feeds so everyone else can see it. But more importantly, when someone else who’s friendly with you on Facebook comes onto the site, they see the name of their friend who’s also liked it as well. So if I was going to a restaurant and I logged into the page to have a look at the menu or something like that. I say, “I like it” and then either coincidentally or because a notice went up on my Facebook account to say that I was going. Another friend comes in, they say they like it. It’s like the old fashioned recommendation marketing and referral marketing but done digitally.

The other thing with the open graft that we’re experimenting with now because I like to think we’re a little bit cheeky and want to blur the edges. But if you’ve ever seen when you want to go onto a website and it says actually, “Connect or log in with Facebook.” What you can actually do now is take the data that people are showing openly in their profiles in Facebook and as someone subscribes to your newsletter or to download something on your site, pull that data in with their subscription requests. So what we’re seeing now is instead of just getting Guy Levine, Manchester, we’re getting Guy Levine, Manchester, works for a Return On Digital. Likes triathlon cycling and is born in 1979. Which from marketers like, well I was about to swear, but absolutely amazing.

DK: But is it a danger there around the whole privacy issue? Because in essence, you could be scraping data that the user or the individual doesn’t really want to be used in the marketing context? They don’t mind like their friends knowing that they’re into triathlons and cycling. That’s cool, that’s why they’re on Facebook to connect their mitts. But they’re not on there really to connect to brands, or are they?

Guy: Yeah, I mean brilliant question. And I person — I subscribe to the school of thought that if I could be born and have like a chip put in the back of my neck, like some kind of furry animal. But then just walk straight through passport control, not have to worry about ever carrying any cash, never having to do a tax return because someone knows exactly what I’m spending and where I’ve been. Like that’s cool, because it makes my life easier.

And I think it’s also, it’s the difference between the mindset in GenX, GenY’rs and everyone else. I think most GenX’rs are happy to just social online, privacy’s not so much of an issue. It’s kind of these old fogies that have an issue with it. And we’ve been trapped by CCTV and mobile phones for years. Everyone’s kind of got over it. But then, the other thing is if I walked into a business or I mean, we went on holiday and we got given a questionnaire before we went to the hotel asking what kind of things we liked. And when we checked in, it had six of my favorite CD’s waiting in the room and four books that I sort of liked to read but never got around to it. And I was like blown away. So if that could happen automatically because of my online preferences, I’d be much happier.

DK: Interesting. So we need to wrap this interview up. Just give us an idea of what you kind of get excited about regarding your future plans there or what trends you’re seeing on the social horizon?

Guy: Yeah, I think we’re getting excited more and more about social, we’re getting more and more excited about local search; like kind of really microcampaigns that are going on. And I think like every passionate business, we’re excited about the growth that we’re having and hooking up with people like MediaSnackers to really get a digital mindset going on in this country. So the — we can all benefit from it. And hopefully give ourselves some cool financial prospects as a country in the future.

DK: Definitely. Well, thanks very much for giving up your time Guy. I really appreciate it.

Guy: Thanks.

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