Kate Horsley, Founder of Chai Digital

Kate Horsley is the founder of Chai Digital, a digital marketing agency for companies and public figures who want to lead in their industry through building engaged digital communities. Chai is the word for tea in many languages, and the name stems from the belief that there’s no problem that can’t be solved over a good cup of tea. (Yes, Kate is British!) Following an International career in PR & Marketing for large hospitality chains, and for the beverage brands Heineken and Diageo, she saw the need for more authentic conversations online and recognized the power that communities held for brands. And so, while living in Dubai in 2014, Kate founded Chai Digital with a mission to spark authentic conversations and ‘Empower brands to empower people.’ Since then, the company has been on a non-stop growth curve helping companies and brands to create authentic communities that empower their members.

In a recent interview with CXO Magazine, Kate Horsley discussed her experience with digital marketing and SEO. She shared her views on the landscape of digital marketing evolved and digital marketing strategies, SEO to drive organic traffic and improve online visibility, and many more.

How has the landscape of digital marketing evolved in recent years, and what are the key trends that businesses should be aware of?

Digital marketing has had to evolve over the last decade as people have become more tech-savvy – People are more educated about the purposes behind digital marketing, which are not always honest, and also the ways companies are using their data- Consumers are looking for authenticity and trust in the brands they engage with, so this has forced brands and digital marketers to evolve to deliver on that expectation – The key trend that I am seeing taking off this year especially, although it’s been picking up speed the last couple of years is the demand for UGC – many brands are realizing that as consumers become wise to the purpose of influencers, they find micro-influencers with less followers or a UGC who authentically uses the product more authentic, and therefore are more like to buy from then – for the brands it’s a win-win as they get greater buy-in at a much lower budget.

What role does data analysis and insights play in shaping digital marketing strategies and optimizing campaign performance?

Data is everything in digital marketing – because you can’t test what you can’t measure – you need data to analysise to know what success is and also to avoid assumptions – in digital marketing it’s easy to choose a certain strategy based on your personal preference – but the campaign is not catered to the digital marketer, or their personal preferences, it’s for the target audience – yes you can have a hypothesis on the what might/should work, but the hypothesis needs to be data backed to make business sense and also as a benchmark for future decisions – otherwise the strategy is not strategic, it’s just guesswork.

How to approach targeting and reaching the right audience in digital marketing, and what tools or techniques can someone utilize?

A big issue that we see in organizations is that they look to the marketing teams to tell them who their target market is – the target market should not be defined by the marketing team – it should be decided at a business level and then shared with the marketing teams to define how to reach that target audience – the role of the marketing team is then need to break down all the attributes of the target market to understand all the different places that audience may be found online – once they have a map of where they think they will be found – they need to test each of the channels with different messaging – they can use ads to get the messaging out to more people and speed up this part of the project – once they see what channel and messaging achieves their business goals, they can double down – but as people and digital marketing trends change so often – it is important to always maintain some sort of assumption testing for your target audience to maximise your impact in the longterm.

Can you discuss the importance of content marketing in the digital landscape and how businesses can create compelling and engaging content?

As users and consumers increasingly demand authenticity and trust, content marketing becomes ever more important – content marketing gives the brand a face and a personality – Creating compelling and engaging content is not easy as many brands have come to realize – it requires a deep understanding from the entire company – from the c suite to the customer service and delivery teams on what the company and the brand stand for – because the key to an effective and compelling content strategy is consistency and you can only be consistent if you know your brand inside and out – once you know your brand inside and out – you know the way it looks, the way it speaks, who it’s speaking to and it’s easy to creating engaging content that resonates with your target audience.

How do you measure the effectiveness and return on investment of digital marketing efforts?

Again, ROI needs to be decided at a business level – what is it that the business needs to achieve that quarter or that year – Only once the business goals are defined, can marketing set KPIs for initiatives that help achieve those business goals – these KPIs and the way to measure the KPI can be anything that makes sense for the business as long as they are SMART – specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound.

Can you provide examples of how you have leveraged search engine optimization (SEO) to drive organic traffic and improve online visibility for businesses?

SEO can be done through websites, blogs, YouTube channels – anything associated with Google – but the struggle I see with many SEO strategies is tying them to the brand – often articles are written with a keyword focus to make them effective in terms of SEO but they sound completely off-brand – we work with our SEO team and copywriters to find that sweet spot where brand meets SEO to ensure the new traffic is receiving the authentic brand experience – not SEO nonsense.

Can you discuss the role of social media advertising in digital marketing and how businesses can effectively utilize different social media platforms?

Social media is the touch point where consumers feel the closest to brands but only if it’s done authentically – to effectively do this on social media – the brand needs to know its target audience and show up consistently where they are – if their target audience is B2B then LinkedIn is probably more relevant for them than Facebook – and if brands show up every day for a week but then disappear for a month this will cancel out any trust they have built – customers want to feel they can rely on brands.

How to approach developing a social media strategy for businesses, considering their target audience, industry, and marketing objectives?

Start with your business goals and go from there – once you know what the business needs to achieve, to whom, and by when – you can easily map out your marketing and digital marketing plan – marketing departments fail when the business doesn’t have clarity.

What are some effective ways to increase engagement and reach on social media platforms?

1)Make relevant, good-quality content 2) Be authentic and speak to your target audience 3) Show up consistently where your target market are 4) Reach out to your audience and start conversations with them, don’t expect them to come to you 5) Leverage UGC

How do you handle social media crisis management and negative feedback on social media platforms?

Be authentic, have an authentic purpose, and stay consistent – use this as your north star and you will never get lost – things go wrong with all businesses, it’s the nature of business, the key is to be honest and transparent, as long as you don’t try to hide anything, and reach out to resolve any issues in good faith, trust will be maintained.

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