Interview with Fiona Stevens, Head Of Marketing at LoyaltyLion
LoyaltyLion is a data-driven loyalty and engagement platform trusted by thousands of e-commerce brands worldwide. Merchants use LoyaltyLion when they want a fully customized loyalty program that is proven to increase customer engagement, retention and spend. Stores using LoyaltyLion typically generate at least $15 for every $1 they spend on the platform. Fiona heads the marketing department at LoyaltyLion. Let’s dive into the amazing marketing journey she has had so far:
Your Journey as a Marketing Professional
My journey into Marketing was almost accidental. With my graduation from the University of Southampton becoming more and more imminent, my boss at the time mentioned that they thought I would be good at PR. With no better ideas, I started applying for internships and secured a three-month placement doing Sports PR at a boutique agency.
It took roughly three days for me to realize that PR was not going to work for me. It was undeniably glamorous working with amazing brands like Speedo, Lonsdale, and Musto, but it was too much like sales, and I quickly realized that I didn’t just want to be communicating brand messages. I wanted to be the one building them.
My next well-timed accident was to move into a copywriting role at an SEO agency. This was in 2009 when the world was just beginning to make sense of Google and its algorithms. As a humble writer, I couldn’t have predicted then just how useful a good grounding in SEO was going to be. My role quickly developed to also include the in-house marketing for the agency itself but the company was small and I began to feel like there was little room for growth.
From SEO, I moved on to an in-house marketing team at Hotwire PR where I spent two very happy years getting the best of both worlds – the fun of an agency environment alongside focusing on one brand rather than juggling clients. I was using my newfound knowledge of online marketing to grow digital operations while running a freelance writing business on the side. This was where I realized that B2B was the right place for me.
From there, I headed to Sydney, where I worked in Membership Marketing. My year in Australia ended slightly differently than planned, with a three-month stint picking rosemary and working on sheep farms. Fortunately, I still had my freelance writing on the side to keep me sane, and I even ended up reworking the website for the rosemary farm. You can take a marketer out of the city… Once back in the UK, I went on to market a start-up content agency, and then a far larger and more corporate loyalty agency.
Finally, in 2018 the stars aligned and I spotted a role that incorporated everything I knew I loved – LoyaltyLion was a technology startup, centered on e-commerce and loyalty. Plus, and perhaps most significantly, there was no existing marketing team and things needed to be built from scratch. This was an opportunity not to be missed. And the rest, as they say, is history!
I’ve been very lucky to work across almost every facet of marketing. But I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have a few favorites. These are:
Content is no new concept, and if anything it’s an area of marketing that needs a refresh. Whitepapers and ebooks still work well as lead generation tools, but as Marketers, we need to think about our audiences. Do they have time to read a 15 page PDF? Probably not, so how else can we be delivering insights to them? We should also take care to avoid saying anything at all if it’s not relevant and valuable. All content should be actionable, and provide audiences with real takeaways they can start implementing quickly and easily.
Creating content can be time-consuming and distributing it outside of your own database is challenging. This is where influencers come in – and I don’t mean the glossy Instagram influencers of the consumer world. I mean the people who are out there researching products and technologies like your own and writing about them. We don’t all have analyst budgets to spend on the Forrester and Gartner wave reports and analysts. However, we can all identify the people that have sway in our industries, and make sure we build relationships with them. That way, when they do write a blog post relevant to your business, they’ll be sure to feature you in it. This will work wonders for your SEO.
Events are a traditional marketing channel that many of us are unwilling to let go of, despite their effectiveness often being questionable. We’re used to spending big budgets on conferences that seldom deliver a return equal to the amount of time and energy that goes in. My advice would be to focus on smaller events such as round tables and meetups, but also to consider webinars. Not only are they less time consuming and less costly to execute, but they give you ongoing content you can cut up and use in different ways. Where possible, always have a customer or client speaking on the webinar – your customers want to hear from people in the same boat, who they can compare notes with.
Decision-making processes differ from product to product, but one thing that stays consistent is the fact that no decision is made without significant research first. Make sure you’re appearing in the places where people are doing that research. If you’re a tech business that might be GetApp or other software listing sites. If you’re an agency it might be something like the AAR Group. Either way, do your best to appear where people are looking for answers.
Not strictly a channel, but your branding is the backbone for everything you do. Figuring out your story and messaging isn’t always easy, particularly if you work in a fast-growing company that evolves and changes shape from time to time. Don’t be afraid of the fact that your messaging will evolve, but do make sure that you’re being consistent across all your channels and materials. That means training everyone who communicates externally to make sure they’re fluent with your messaging and tone of voice.
Choosing a piece of marketing software is one of the most interesting exercises you can undertake. There are a few deep and meaningful questions you need to ask yourself before you get started:
- What’s the problem I’m trying to solve?
You need to have a really clear view of why you need the software, and what you’re going to use it for. Don’t invest in automation for automation’s sake unless you know exactly the use case for your business. It’s also important not to invest in something that’s too big and complex for the stage your business is at. Different technologies suit different types of businesses – for example, there’s no need for a startup to invest in a full Oracle suite when there’s a perfectly good Mailchimp-sized offering out there that fits the bill until you’ve seen more growth.
- Will it replace or enhance something we already use?
It’s easy to end up with multiple technologies in place that cross over, or in some cases even do the same thing. Evaluate your existing tools before investing in new ones. It might be that you can actually achieve the same thing with something you already have. If it turns out there is a better alternative, don’t forget to see if you can cancel subscriptions to something existing as a result. But most importantly, figure out how the new tool you’re exploring will fit in with other technologies you’ll still be using, to make your life even easier.
- What will success look like?
The chances are you’re going to have to build a business case to get the budget for any new tools signed off, so take the time to really understand what a positive ROI will look like so you can see if it’s worth continuing when renewal comes around.
- How will I get the most from my technology?
I can’t stress enough how important it is to prioritize onboarding for you your team. Some technologies, such as HubSpot, make this really easy for you with a structured approach. Others less so. Either way, it’s up to you to make sure that you’re setting time aside every week to learn more about your platforms and optimize the way you’re using them.
Advice for the marketing community
My overarching piece of advice for anyone working in marketing is to not think in slices. There’s no such thing as content marketing, digital marketing, and offline marketing – just marketing. Every asset you create should be usable across all your channels and you should be thinking about how to get the most mileage from everything you do.
That includes keeping close to your Success and Sales teams so they benefit from the content you create too. The best kinds of Marketers are those that think outside of just their own team and are always considering how they can get closer to the rest of the business and drive more revenue via the Marketing function.
Learning resources and books
There are some fantastic resources out there – three I’d particularly recommend for people getting started are the Google Analytics Academy, the HubSpot Academy and anything put out there by SEO Moz.
My favorite Marketing read has always been Seth Godin’s The Purple Cow – Transform Yourself by Being Remarkable. I’m also a big fan of Epic Content Marketing by Joe Pulizzi.
But really, there’s no substitute for having real conversations with other marketers. Get yourself to events, meet as many people as possible, and don’t hesitate to reach out and ask them to compare notes.