A key part of our business at WP Engine is building lasting partnerships with some of the world’s most impressive digital agencies.

With a Digital Experience Platform built on industry-leading architecture and an award-winning support team focused specifically on WordPress, we help agencies get back to creativity and execution instead of worrying about the performance and security of their websites.

Because agencies often sit at the forefront of innovation and digital creativity, we’ve also found that many of our agency partners have invaluable insight when it comes to the latest trends and technologies they’re seeing on the front lines, every day. In this series, called “Agency Spotlight,” we sit down with agency leaders from around the world to delve deeper into those insights and explore their thoughts on all things digital. 

In this Agency Spotlight installment, we chat with the team at Denver, CO-based Communications Strategy Group. CSG is a strategic communications firm that solves business problems and activates opportunities for its clients. They blend the tenets of public relations and content marketing with deep industry expertise, creativity, behavior design, and analytics to deliver purpose-built solutions that connect and engage consumers at every step of the buyer’s journey. CSG is dedicated to serving the financial services, education, health and wellness, and consumer packaged goods industries, and have worked with the likes of Charles Schwab, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Kaiser Permanente, and Mattel. 

How can brands integrate data and creativity?

Brooke Wylie, Creative Director: 

There’s a persistent fear that data and creativity will each be the undoing of the other. That’s simply not the case. Data isn’t the enemy of art. Rather, it’s the champion of what works. If creatives have one shared experience across disciplines, agencies, and industries, it’s fighting for the work. In the past, it took passion and pluck to sell challenging ideas and radical concepts. It still does. But now we have empirical data to support and confirm our suppositions. 

Want to push for a departure from the same old landing page style? Pull some information on design developments that make an impact on conversion rates. Torn between two concepts? Put them out in the world and let an A/B test tell you the truth. If our work is as good as our word, we have nothing to fear from data.

What are some innovative ways to get people to pay attention to your content? 

Shannon Fern, Chief Strategy Officer:

Here’s the thing: getting people to pay attention to your content doesn’t take fancy tricks or innovative approaches. It’s all about the basics. First, is the content relevant? Are you delivering the right content, at the right time, in the right format to the right audience? Create content that adds value by speaking your target persona’s language in the format and channels they prefer. 

Second, does the content stand out? To give your content depth and value, think about context and contrast. The context: What do you need to articulate so that your audience knows what business you’re in? And the contrast: How can you highlight a true point of differentiation from your competitors—what is something that no one else can say?

How do you intelligently invest in influencer-based marketing?

Erik Keith, Chief Innovation Officer:

Effective influencer marketing relies on having a deep understanding of your target audience— what are their values, aspirations, and pain points? What sources do they turn to for information, inspiration, and entertainment? Taking time to first understand the centers of influence that shape your most valuable customers’ behaviors will ensure influencer marketing dollars are spent wisely. 

Next, have a clearly defined goal. What behavior do you want your target consumer to take and how can you attribute impact from your influencer marketing efforts? Is there a clear value exchange aligned with that behavior for both the influencer and the end consumer? Make sure this behavior is measurable and set up trackers to attribute success at both the influencer and the campaign level. 

Lastly, be sure to not overlook micro and nano influencers. While these smaller influencers will not have as many social followers, their engagements per follower and per post are typically much higher, and their influence much greater at a fraction of the cost.

How do you think social-media-based marketing will evolve in 2019?

Erik Keith:

There are three primary trends we’re seeing across social media. The first is the emergence of technology. Video on social media has exploded, quickly becoming one of the most engaging content formats on social across all demographics. Expect augmented and virtual reality to slowly rise with widespread adoption expected over the next 2-3 years. On the back end, expect AI algorithms to become more personalized, getting better at understanding users and leveraging predictive analytics to determine which content and users you are most likely to engage with. 

The second big trend we’re seeing continue is consumers’ expectation for the real-time, whether that be consuming live streaming video, ephemeral stories that disappear after 24 hours, or messenger apps and chatbots. Access to real-time content is a big priority among consumers and the pending shift to the 5G network will enable it.

Lastly, we would be remiss not to include the privacy divide. Consumers are torn between their desire for value-driven personalization—think relevant and timely content recommendations, deals and offers, or guidance—with their desire for privacy and data transparency. California’s version of Europe’s GDPR, The California Consumer Privacy Act, will go into effect January 1, 2020, with many states expected to adopt a similar form of personal privacy policy. Brands will need to determine how best to provide value-driven personalized experiences to their consumers while complying with this new legislation.

What are your top tips for incorporating personalization into your digital strategy?

Erik Keith:

Adam Breckler said it best: “In God we trust, all others bring data.” The number one source of truth for personalization relies on a brand’s deep understanding of their customer. This data is typically managed via a company’s Customer Relationship Management database. It is critical that this database maintain data, as good data is paramount to personalization. Data integrity can also equip data scientists with the insight needed to explore predictive models, furthering a brand’s ability to incorporate personalization into their digital strategy. 

Often times, owned data does not provide a complete picture or more insight is needed. This can be accomplished leveraging first or third party research or data, appending additional data and insights. The more data a company aggregates, the more insights their buyer personas can provide. With that more complete picture of the target audience’s habits, behaviors, and interests, you can then leverage that insight to create a better understanding of each segment’s consumer journey map, to deploy more relevant and engaging content and experiences to the right people on the right platforms at the right time.

Read more about CSG here, and check out WP Engine’s Agency Partner Program to find out how we help agencies deliver high-performance digital experiences to happy clients.