To ensure that OSA continues to develop in the best possible way, we regularly exchange ideas with experts from a wide range of fields. This time with all-round expert Sandra Repking about purchasing.Continue reading
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.
Thank you for the detailed and interesting answers!
On October 15, our customer UNITO launched its e-commerce podcast UNgeniert with an exciting and very informative episode on the topic of “Corona – A Blessing for Online Commerce? Of course, we listened to it right away and learned a lot about this extraordinary year at UNITO. We are particularly pleased that we were able to ask host Georg Glinz, Head of Corporate Communications at UNITO, a few more questions about the podcast, developments at UNITO and e-commerce – and share his answers with you here:
Last month you launched a podcast. What will you tell us about in it?
With our podcast, we want to cover the broad world of e-commerce in as wide a range of topics as possible – and also with a colorful variety of interviewees.
I will remain the same as the host, but my interview partners will change. The first two episodes, in which UNITO Managing Director Harald Gutschi is a guest, are therefore more or less an exception. But the podcast does have one rule: questions and answers should always be asked and answered as openly as possible. We are determined to live up to the name of the podcast in every episode.
The first episode is called “Corona – A boon for online retail?” and in it you conduct an interview with Harald Gutschi. Why did you choose this as the first topic?
We chose this topic for our kick-off episode for two reasons: Firstly, because it is the topic that has moved so much in online commerce this year, and secondly, because it is also the topic that has moved society the most in this year that has been so challenging for all of us. And with our podcast, we want to encourage people to get involved with e-commerce at all or even more, and to take an interest in it – regardless of whether they are people from the industry, journalists or people who perhaps haven’t had much to do with online retail until now.
We don’t want to spoil too much here, but the first 2 weeks, sales at UNITO fell extremely, putting everyone in a state of concern. How big was the decline?
In retrospect, we can say that the first two lockdown weeks were of course an extremely difficult time for us at UNITO and all our brands: At the beginning of the lockdown, we had to contend with sales slumps of up to 50 percent. At the time, no one could have imagined how positively the rest of the fiscal year would develop – for online retail in general and for us at UNITO in particular. The digitization push and the changed buying behavior of consumers are giving a massive boost to UNITO’s sales development. In the first half of our 2020/21 fiscal year, i.e., in the period from March 1 to August 31, 2020, we realized total sales of 201.5 million euros (IFRS 15) with our brands (including OTTO, UNIVERSAL, QUELLE, Lascana), which is an increase of 12.8 percent compared to the same period of the previous year on a like-for-like basis.
In the direct goods business with the customer (customer sales), the UNITO Group is growing even more significantly: With an increase in sales of 18 percent, the UNITO brands are growing more than twice as fast as the market and are gaining market share (market growth of 7 percent according to the “E-Commerce Study Austria 2020”, KMU Forschung Austria, July 2020). We are also particularly pleased with the significant growth in the number of new customers: In the first half of the fiscal year, we acquired almost 400,000 new customers, an increase of more than 20 percent year-on-year. Many people are buying online for the first time during or after the lockdown. The forced shift of life to the digital world also makes them less reluctant to buy online.
Your product range is very broad. Which division in particular rose after the downturn?
A nice home is more important than ever since the start of the Corona pandemic. Large sections of the population cannot and do not want to spend their money on cars or vacations at the moment, but rather put it into their homes. That is why the Living segment (furniture, housewares, home textiles) has developed particularly well for all UNITO brands. In response to this “stay-at-home” trend, we are constantly expanding our product range in this area: currently, for example, with sustainable brands and collaborations with designers such as Lena Gercke and Guido Maria Kretschmer.
Harald Gutschi gives us lots of figures on developments at UNITO. Is there one that particularly surprised you?
Yes, the extreme increases in all articles associated with the current “stay at home” trend: In the Living segment, we had a year-on-year increase in sales of 41 percent in the first half of the 2020/21 financial year. In the DIY store segment, we are growing even more significantly at 54 percent. These are quite astonishing figures.
That’s right! What topics can we look forward to now?
The second episode is on the topic, “Is Stationary Retailing Dead?” You can listen to it on all the popular platforms like Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Deezer and Google Podcasts. The third episode was just released, on November 25. I don’t really want to reveal too much about it yet. But I can still give away two details already: This time, the content will be less number-heavy, much more human, and I will no longer be interviewing Harald Gutschi, but a female interviewee.
Dear Georg, thank you very much for your time and your detailed answers. We are already very excited about what we will learn in the next episodes and wish you much success!
Picalike on the podcast
Nico Zorn interviews Peter Scholzuk in the CRM Podcast
In the October 1 episode of the podcast, Nico Zorn talks to Peter Scholzuk about his work as head of the Witt Group’s email marketing department. In the interview, Peter tells us how email marketing is organized at their company and what challenges he faces on a daily basis. In the process, he immediately provides numerous tips on which aspects companies should definitely not neglect when evaluating an email marketing platform.
Peter also reports on what works well in operational email marketing in his experience. He also discusses the aspects of individualization and automation in email marketing. Of course, Picalike was also mentioned in the course!
For all those who do not yet know the CRM Podcast: In this podcast, Nico Zorn, co-founder of the CRM and email marketing agency Saphiron, talks about current best practices and proven strategies for good customer relationship management. Of course, new tools and technologies are not to be missed. Some people know Nico Zorn from the EmailMarketingBlog.de, which he has been publishing since 2003.
Peter Scholzuk talks about us in the CRM Podcast! 2Listen
in any case!
If you’d like to learn even more about how we help Witt Group with email marketing, download our Case Study!
Cover photo: by William Iven on Unsplash