Nothing inspires us more than talking to outstanding marketers and discovering how they’re responding to the ever-changing landscape of digital marketing. We call them our Marketing Heroes and in these q&as we’re going to delve into their daily working lives to gain insight, inspiration and advice on all things marketing.

We kick off with James Somerton who is Head of Ecommerce for Into The Blue

Please tell us about your brand…

At Into The Blue, we sell experience day vouchers for a range of activities; from skydiving to train driving, from bungee jumping to spa days. The company is a family-run business and has been operating for just over 20 years now.

What are your main roles and responsibilities at IntotheBlue?

I oversee the strategy, website development and marketing activity within the organisation and manage a small in-house team.

What is your main marketing focus and goals for 2019?

There are two main focuses. The first is mobile usability with a view to making the site render quickly and present information in a concise and clear manner. The second is how we use our customer data to understand our customer’s intentions and inform our messaging.

How important is email to your marketing mix and how much of your budget (%) is allocated to this?

Increasingly important. We’ve refined our communication strategy and increased our KPIs around engagement and conversions from our email marketing campaigns. These new KPIs have forced us to seriously re-evaluate the marketing channels we use and to focus more effort and funds into it to maximise the potential growth we see in particular areas. As such, email now represents approximately 5% of our budget and is likely to increase as our sophistication in using data grows.

What are your main challenges you face as a marketer?

There are two key challenges we’re working through.

The first is really understanding our customer. What are their behaviours and motivations at each stage along the purchase process? What takes place before they visit us and what happens after they’ve made a purchase? Finding the answers to these questions is key to helping us meet our customers’ needs at each stage of their lifecycle.

The second is attribution. With so many channels and methods of tracking sales, it can be difficult to effectively find a “pure” measure of how much influence any one channel has over the final purchase decision. It’s getting easier but, as a business, we’re a little way away from having a clear picture on this.

What are your 5 favourite marketing tools?

1) Pure360 – genuinely, a great and easy to use email marketing tool
2) Google Analytics – critical to understanding what’s happening on our site
3) Ahrefs – really useful SEO insights
4) BuzzSumo – a great way to identify content gaps and key influencers
5) Marin Software – a great tool to bring multiple digital marketing platforms into one place

Which other marketers inspire you and why?

Richard Branson – an oldie (sorry Richard!) but a goodie. You could argue he’s more an entrepreneur than marketer but he’s always been at the forefront of his own marketing campaigns, providing a trustworthy face and a bit of tongue-in-cheek humour to the brand campaigns he’s fronted. The most recent campaign has been the partnership between Virgin Atlantic and Ryan Reynolds’s Aviation American Gin.

If you could give one tip to aspiring marketers what would that be?

Test, test, test! There’s a lot of information out there to help marketers change and optimise, but the only way you’re going to know what’s right for your company and your customers is to try new and different things and to do so often. If it worked, great! If it tanked, make a note of what you learnt and move on.

What are your marketing trends predictions for the year ahead?

AI is the big one. We’re already seeing machine learning starting to enhance and optimise marketing campaigns and channels. The next step will see AI starting to take over and really expand and push the boundaries of what’s possible. I think we’ll see hyper targeting and hyper influencing down to the individual level across all channels within 10 years.

Thanks James for taking the time to speak to us!

If you’re looking for more inspiration and information from our expert marketers, watch this space. We’ve got plenty more interviews to come.

Are you an expert in your field? If you’re interested in featuring within our series, drop us a message  – we would love to hear from you.