Thu | 22.03.2018
Marketing & Advertising
1. Dear Ionut, please introduce yourself shortly to our members.
Licensed in Psychology and Sociology with an extensive marketing experience both on client and agency side, I’ve been embracing the wonders of online technology for more than 10 years, constantly striving to achieve the best formula to blend my curiosity about human behavior with the predictability and results that effective marketing can deliver.
My latest and greatest professional achievement is WebDigital, founded in 2009, the online marketing agency consists of high-potential professionals managing advertising portfolios for over 100 active clients.
As a certified speaker and trainer, you can find me either in the amphitheaters of well-known universities, invited by marketing professors to help students get closer to the wonders of digital marketing or speaking in workshops around the country and abroad mainly at e-commerce focused events but also at digital industry events in general.
2. How and why entrepreneurship?
Truth being told I am just riding the wave, I neither like it nor hate it. This wave is at high tide and it has been so since I had my first entrepreneurial endeavor, back in 2006. My second project held a lot of promise, but I think I got in a little bit too late. As in 2008 the financial crisis hit and that was gone.
When that business was going down, I said to myself that I think I can do this again, build a team from scratch and go at it again. This is what I did, coming back in 2009 after a recovery from the crisis, I built a team. I started this big adventure with building a specialized PPC marketing agency.
Everybody said that I was crazy, nobody believed that we can actually make profit by being specialized, not in Romania at least. And maybe they were right in a way, because building a specialised agency and keeping it specialised was very difficult, and still is.
Why am I still doing it? I have no idea, I think I am just caught up in the game or maybe I’m still just riding this wave. It is nice to wake up in the morning, think about what you have to do in the day and, of course you follow an agenda, you follow a plan, but you can act and do and move, so reaching that objective really depends on how your thoughts and feelings come together.
I love that I can sometimes bend the rules, I can change the rules and I can remake the rules. And I also learnt that in this process the change should come from within. This is maybe the best thrilling adventure and this is why I choose this.
3. You are active in the online industry for more than 10 years now. How did the Romanian market evolve in this period?
Everything changed. The search engine optimization was done differently. If you look at the keyword based advertising, you would say keywords are still being used, but then everything else has changed: the way ranking happens, the way websites on mobile are valued, the way Google has changed, the way artificial intelligence got smarter and voice search has become more accurate. In this international technological development, the Romanian digital marketing evolved as well. Online marketing is now a must, it’s a necessity, it is no longer seen like ‘the dorky kid’ on the playground, but as an asset to marketing weapons.
Back in 2008 there were still businesses for which the website was just a business card and that was it. You had to have a business card, that’s why you needed a website, but nobody thought that the website would sell for you and would actually drive revenue. Of course there were a couple of shops, like eMAG, which were the innovators of the industry, but everything was just at the beginning.
People who now are organising e-commerce events were developing the market back then. Everything from communities, specialists and entrepreneurs changed. Now ecommerce is a natural way of doing commerce, and it has matured in the last 13 years. More and more often the people that are handling the ecommerce are the same people that are handling offline commerce now. That’s not only an extension but is part of the business and of course there are businesses that start ‘online first’.
Regarding the online industry, the channels that are used have been upgraded a lot. For example, think about Facebook. There were maybe half of million users of Facebook in Romania back in 2008 and now are about 8 million users. Sixteen times more; that is a lot of people using the social media on a daily basis, way more than Hi5 was used, if you are old enough to know what that was.
Social media has grown so much! Bloggers that were just scratching the surface 10 years ago, writing a little bit about what they do every day, now are influencers and have huge communities that they talk to and people listen to them. On the influencers side I think it was a huge leap forward. SEO is now part of every business’ online strategy, mainly because it involved a lot into online PR and an influencer based marketing, a lot of content marketing and website development is still built to support this SEO strategy, but the rules have changed.
This happened in the last 10 years and it’s a lot to handle in just one question. But I think, in a nutshell, that the industry went from being a toddler to a full-grown adult. We now see some of the initial influencers have become ‘dinosaurs’.
They even developed different sets of skills, some of them started playing with snakes and reptiles and some of them started sailing or took different types of projects, different types of hobbies like cycling, biking, hiking, golf. If you look at the people that were influencers in the business 10 years ago you will see a lot of ‘weight loss’ and a lot orientation towards healthy lifestyle.
These are my thoughts about industry for the last 10, 13 years.
4. What would be your top 3 recommendations for an efficient online B2B marketing strategy?
Whether we speak about B2B or B2C when we talk about online experience, we talk about the online experience of people, so there is no company that is going to be online unless it’s like a bot, a machine. Because in companies there are people and they are the ones that are present online.
I always have said that the experience whether it’s a product that serves the B2B or B2C market is actually a one to one experience.
If we had to recommend the top 3 efficient and effective online marketing strategies for B2B, I would say that social media is one of the weapons. I would mix social media with influencer marketing because social media is the ‘agora’, only the market, the place you find people to talk, social media is just the environment.
So influencer marketing is the actual strategy, the actual marketing tool that makes things happen and takes place in the social media environment. So influencer marketing is one of the efficient online marketing strategy for B2B because communities are already around influencers so they can be found using social media, they can be found in that environment. They can help deliver the message using one service or another.
Another recommendation on efficient online marketing strategies for B2B is intention based advertising. This type of advertising delivers the proper message to the people that are searching and have the need for that particular service or product. When someone actually looks for that product or service it should be an ad helping them find it. Works excellent for B2B because mainly the need is there, so you have a concrete and very specific need that you can identify in a search query.
I wouldn’t live aside remarketing or retargeting or any other type of behavior targeting because this can make use of the people that already know the product or service, but have not yet become customers.
All of the PPC marketing tactics or generalised second price media solutions should be used in the integration because together they can boost each other.
I would say intention based advertising first but then I would say combined with display advertising or even video content would help the user continue his journey towards the purchase.
Third recommendation for B2B are online events or webinars, infographics and content marketing in general. Content in any form: audio, text or video delivers information firsthand and will help with the lead generation process.
Just to put it in a nutshell: first, influencer marketing - delivered on social media to communities, second - intention based advertising, Google Adwords Search combined with other PPC marketing channels and third a strong content marketing strategy (audio, text or video).
5. Talking about efficiency and strategy - GDPR 2018 is just around the corner, coming into force from May. How will the new digital privacy regulation impact online marketing, from your point of view?
First of all, Google and Facebook are our partners and what we deliver is media using these channels, so I would say that from the standpoint of Google and Facebook, on the advertising side that would be covered by our partners.
Of course, internally we have to be more careful on the flow of data and what happens with the data that is delivered within the agency from one person to the other. That would have to be handled in procedures and methodologies that are in place with the agency.
I see a lot of changes in some areas like HR where there is a lot to do with personal information processing and I think that’s where is going to be the most challenging.
On the online marketing side, both the client and the agency should be more responsible and more aware of the data they process. So, we will help our customers understand how they should handle this kind of data for as much as we have the chance.
6. Take care of your employees, and they’ll take care of your business. So your agency was the 1st company to officially implement in Romania the free Monday system. Tell us please more about this experience.
WebDigital will remain an organization that will permanently support the development of the team, and this will be found in our ability to deliver greater value to our clients, the retention of existing customers, healthy growth, and a balance between personal life and professional life.
For WebDigital, just 7 months and a half of the last 12 was working time. The first performance analysis was made in February 2017, 6 months after the initial implementation, and since then the company's growth direction has kept its upward trend.
Compared to the same period of 2016, in February through July, the clients portfolio grew with the same resources, and the value of the projects increased up to 20%. Since January 2017, many systems have been implemented to optimize and internal processes were automated.
In addition to process changes, changes have also been made to the system of rewards and in the way the team is motivated. Starting 2018 we have big plans. We will focus more on long-term goals than on medium-term goals and we will continue to apply bold methods for team development and organization evolution.
That's how we made a four-year plan that we all signed up to. In 2018 the work program will include Mondays, in 2019 the work schedule will not include Mondays, in 2020 our working schedule will include Mondays and in 2021 it will alternate and will not include Mondays.
7. WebDigital is an active member of the NRCC. How would you describe your experience within our community so far?
WebDigital has been a member of the NRCC and I think that this helped us immensely on the networking part. We have met a lot of people and there are a lot of new opportunities for business growth.
We worked with some of them so we already have established good partnerships and I think it’s a lot of fun. This will keep us grow our networking portfolio and my hope is that the events we take part in are going to help us build more confidence for our services.
8. In the end, please a thought for the NRCC members.
Compare yourself to who you were yesterday and try to be better. It's classical, it's almost cliché but it's Kaizen and it's the thing that helped me in my professional activity and it is still helping me. I look at how I was yesterday and I do my best to be better.