Susana Lluna Beltrán is a digital strategy consultant, a teacher at Foxize School, Speaker, and author of the book Digital natives do not exist”. Recently she participated in the GoDigital Valencia, has trained companies such as Leroy Merlin or Banco Santander and, together with a powerful team of professionals specialized in areas, advises companies to design an appropriate digital strategy. In this interview, she reveals the steps that companies have to follow to conquer the online world and tells us the role of strategies such as content development or email marketing.
How has your evolution been from journalism to marketing?
In 2010 I went to a Twitter event in Valencia, I started meeting people and becoming interested in the digital issue. I began to train in a self-taught way and in December 2010 I saw an offer from an agency on Twitter that was looking for a person specialized in health to keep accounts at a digital level and they hired me. I entered as a private soldier, started as a community manager, then became an account manager and ended up as a director. I worked with clients such as the IVI fertility clinic, Grefusa or Clínica Baviera. They were four very intense years.
When did you start working independently?
In 2015 I established myself as a freelancer and started working as a consultant. I move in billing ranges between 1 and 20 million euros. When a company or SME needs to increase its sales, launch a product or be known, we do an analysis and see how we could help them. I work with a powerful team of freelancers composed of people from communication, content, SEO, SEM, analytics, etc. This allows us to work for clients of architecture, technology or chemical industry making digital strategy.
Another of your activities is training…
I have always been a tireless apprentice. I have explorer syndrome and I am always learning. A school in Barcelona, called Foxize School, proposed me to teach with them and in the last 3 years, I have trained companies such as Leroy Merlin, Banco Santander, La Caixa, SEAT or Esteve laboratories. They are mostly training in digital skills. What happens is that the digital transformation is going very fast, but companies and people, which are the basis of every company, do not have the necessary skills to be able to display all that technological and digital potential.
What does a digital strategy consultant do?
Hear. Sit with the client who has a need and often does not know which one. He knows he has internal communication problems, he knows that other brands of his competition are better known, but he doesn’t know what to do. There is a phrase that I use a lot. “If you spend 1 on doing something, spend 1 on communicating it.” And these many companies do not. The most important thing is to know how to listen, see all the needs they have and where we can help. For example, it would not make sense to set up a branding or communication campaign to increase the sales of a company, if it does not have a presence in all the points of sale. As much as this communication campaign works, the sale will not occur, because it is not endowed with the product.
Therefore, we must be very clear about the needs of the company, what team it has, what sponsors and, if it is really convinced that it has to make an investment in Communication and Marketing and will provide equipment for it. In summary, what the consultant does is have the vision, all the tools and know which ones he can put on the table depending on the company’s team, the budget and the commitment he will acquire. And from there make it work, which is not always easy.
What steps do companies have to follow to design an appropriate digital strategy?
A digital strategy above all has to have a clear vision of where it will go. After establishing clear objectives: the target to which it will be directed, what channels we are going to work on, the message we are going to transmit and what budget we have. Without these 5 steps, no digital strategy can work. For example, the objective may be to increase sales by 20 percent, go to a B2B target (companies) and decide on which platforms we will work to spread that message.
Within a digital strategy, what role do the contents play?
They are a race in the background. We recommend that all SMEs do their content work because it is a work called organic. That anyone who does a search on words related to what the company works finds them. It must be clear that it is background work. And today and as the technological platforms are working, it makes no sense to make content for Facebook because the organic reach is null. That is why companies have to understand that digital advertising is a fundamental factor, whether you want to do branding or if you want to sell a product. The contents have to be pushed with advertising campaigns on social networks, Google Adwords, etc.
Where do you recommend companies to start if they don’t have much budget?
For that question, I have an answer that you don’t expect. The first thing they have to do is create a communication department that lives up to the company. I advise you to hire an internal person that I can accompany for a while and then know how to function alone. What external consultants do is promote, but if the company does not have a culture so that communication is considered as important as the basis of the business, this will not work. This is like Peter Drucker’s phrase, “Culture eats the strategy for breakfast.” The consultant explains to the company what it has to do, but if there is not a person within the company that pushes all this and carries it out, it is proven that it does not work.
“The first thing they have to do is create a communication department that lives up to the company”.
Companies have to understand that Marketing and Communication are part of their business; which is an investment and the greater investment they make, the greater the profitability of their businesses they will obtain. If you have a person inside who knows the company very well and, in addition, trained in Communication and Marketing, you get to reach another level.
Is email marketing still as effective as before?
It remains one of the best strategies to attract customers. Use email marketing not to bomb, but to educate and lead your customers towards a final purchase. Imagine that you have a website from a software service of a technology company and there is a downloadable one of the type ‘The 10 steps you have to take to attract your customers using this software’. When the reader downloads that guide, he is leaving his email to the technology company. The objective of the company is to know its services and in the future buy it; while the goal of the reader is to have a little more knowledge. If you keep giving that person information, you invite him to events, to a webinar, you make a nurturing, that is, you continue to feed him when he has to make a purchase of a software tool, it will be yours. As a sales tool has been the model of BuyVip, Privalia or Amazon. Email marketing campaigns continue to convert to stratospheric levels.
One of the main drawbacks of the effectiveness of these campaigns is that we receive many emails and end up not opening them …
If it is used in an excessive way, without knowing your client and giving information that is not of value, in the end, you have too much to choose from. However, if the strategy is very well done, the target very well selected and the content is good, it will open yes or yes, sure.
What obstacles or problems do you find in your profession?
There is usually a lot of suspicion towards the consulting world because tie consultants of a lifetime disembark and do not usually do a very effective job. On the other hand, within the world of Marketing and Communication, many people have gotten into a community management plan to promise things to companies that don’t happen later. Because this is about generating business, not generating likes.
“In digital advertising the barrier of entry is of cents. This type of advertising can put any store at the level of a large area. Nowadays, knowing how to handle tools like Facebook Ads can take a local business to the top.”
There is also a deficit in digital knowledge and digital skills by managers. I would like them to be trained in digital, to know what SEO is, the importance of reputation, information management tools, etc. There is also some suspicion of advertising investment. It has always been understood that only the big brands that have a million a year invest in advertising to make a campaign on television, but in digital advertising, the entry barrier is of cents. This type of advertising can put any store at the level of a large area. Nowadays, knowing how to handle tools like Facebook Ads can take a local business to the top.
Many companies carry out strategies, but then do not measure results. How do you analyze the metrics and why is it so important to do so?
One of the advantages that digital gives us is measurement. When you start any strategy you have to measure and make decisions about the metrics you have. This measurement plan must be seen every 2 or 3 months with 3 or 4 indicators that have been established within the strategy, no more. If not, we are doing things to do, without a goal and especially without a follow-up. It usually happens that there is no measurement plan when there are no objectives. For example, your goal may be to increase billing by 20% and that some percent come from digital. When presenting the data you will have to see the cost of the campaigns and the cost of each new client.
Tell me about your book ‘Digital Natives Do Not Exist’ and how you bring a different vision.
We call digital kids the kids who were born in the Google era and move an iPad with their finger since they are children. But this myth is false and they are much worse than we were who are digital immigrants. Then they have reputation problems because they upload comments or photos to the network that they should not, they create the first content they find, they have privacy and security problems because they share their passwords, etc. With this book, we intended to open the eyes to parents and take away the myth that their children control. We must accompany our children since they are young. It is a matter of education and for that parents have to be trained.
What book, web or blog do you recommend to deepen digital strategy?
The blog I recommend is that of titonet.com. Behind is Fernando de la Rosa, one of my professional parents and I think he is the person who knows the most about Strategy and Digital Marketing in Spain. He has been researching this for a long time and has a school called Foxize School, where I also teach. Because we focus a lot on execution, but the strategy is very much needed.