Today we would like to introduce you to Thomas Ziegler and adSoul, the automation solution for paid search marketing. It enables online stores, for example, to place more detailed ads more quickly. Because it’s time to take a look beyond Picalike and see what’s exciting around us. And what our partner company has to offer is definitely exciting!
Dear Thomas, thank you for letting me ask you these questions! Let's start right away with the first question about marketing: How do you think marketing in general has changed in the last year due to the special circumstances?
Like many other industries and disciplines, marketing has not been made any easier by the global pandemic. However, I believe that we in digital marketing are in a very privileged position because most of us can work from home, most jobs have been preserved (except for certain industries like travel, of course), and even though 2020 brought many challenges, we as marketeers have drawn a very bearable lot. Nevertheless, marketing also had to adapt in many places. Last year, for example, we wanted to visit 18 trade fairs and conferences in order to make adSoul even better known there and to give interested parties an insight into our solution. On-site events were cancelled by the dozen, and the digital counterparts, as well thought of as they were, unfortunately couldn’t even begin to compensate. We had to make up for that, and the channel of choice was, of course, digital. So the pressure on online marketing was once again increased significantly and the increased competition on Google, LinkedIn and Co. naturally caused prices to skyrocket.
But it wasn’t just direct contact with customers through events that was eliminated; the all-important training opportunities for our own employees also fell away for the time being. The very dynamic environment in the digital industry means that there is a lot of pressure to learn and adapt. Fancy events required a significant effort to not completely neglect the know-how update, but also the almost even more important networking.
Working itself has changed a lot in marketing, as it has in many other professional fields. Due to home offices, we had to internalize a new way of working. Increased need for coordination and more time in the organization of information flow are just two of the points that were added to the normal and the above-mentioned efforts. Nevertheless, we experienced a very good year economically and were able to grow strongly, especially through marketing.
After initial uncertainty, our potential customers also discovered the need for digitization and automation even more strongly for themselves, and in the second half of the year in particular we held very, very many digital appointments. That was hardly the case before. But I think it will remain an integral part of marketing in the future, and here especially also of CRM. Not only does this reduce costs, but the frequency of exchange can also be intensified and even smaller topics and issues can be clarified quickly and easily.
Before you came to marketing automation, you worked for many years in marketing for various large online stores (Witt Weiden, Peter Hahn). What is the most important lesson you learned there?
In my years working in digital marketing for large multichannel retailers, I’ve come to realize one thing: There’s always enough to do and never enough time to get everything done that you’d like to tackle. Planning, prioritization and fast, agile adaptation are among the most important soft skills needed.
The environment is highly dynamic and progresses extremely quickly. If you want to be in the game, you have to keep developing. And that in many different areas. Creativity, organizational and communication skills, data analytics and tech-savyness, and a high level of empathy for the target group are areas that don’t usually go hand in hand, but are nevertheless almost a basic requirement for good online marketing.
How did you actually get into marketing?
In 2008, I had dealt with the topic of e-commerce in the context of self-employment alongside my studies. Especially with the need to bring traffic to the site of an own online store. I taught myself the most important marketing channels. Search engine marketing excited me right away, because it generates direct measurability very quickly. Especially when you’re just starting out, this is incredibly helpful for learning quickly and developing yourself further. It’s also incredibly motivating to see what happens because you do this or that.
I also think that the mechanisms behind SEA show a very good general understanding of the respective business model in total. Due to the direct measurability, you are always quite quickly one step further in the metrics. The topic of customer lifetime value was in our minds from the very beginning when it came to management. Due to the enormous transparency, we also had to deal with tracking and the functioning of store systems early on and were able to put the knowledge on an even broader basis here as well.
13 years later: What do you think will change now in 2021 after the very special 2020?
As I mentioned earlier, it is not only in marketing that there has been a significant shift toward digitization. This has also made online marketing even more important, and in a market that is already characterized by a shortage of experts and talent, this increases the pressure on the efficiency of the working time used. Automation, and I am firmly convinced of this, helps us to achieve more. Because by automating time-consuming tasks, I have more time to take care of other things. Whether it’s defining new growth areas, optimizing existing measures, or even better coordinating measures with each other. Marketing automation will therefore continue to grow significantly in importance over the next few years and will continue to accelerate for the reasons mentioned (shortage of skilled workers and rapid growth in demand).
It remains exciting to see to what extent remote working will have an impact.
New Year's was a while ago, but still: What do you wish for 2021?
For adSoul, I wish that we continue to successfully follow the path we have chosen and further our mission of freeing people from tasks that add little value but are necessary. For all of us, I wish that we can overcome the pandemic as quickly as possible and minimize the tragic losses of loved ones by acting responsibly and in solidarity.
And what should every company pay special attention to in the coming year?
People First. 2020 has demanded a lot from the companies, but it’s mainly the employees who have managed it. I’m incredibly proud of what our team achieved last year, but I’m even more proud of the “how”. Our employees have taken the already high level of personal responsibility to another level. Despite the difficult circumstances for all of us, they have tirelessly given their best to the common goal, and without the people behind adSoul, we would not be where we are today.