Introducing Taylor Finney, Paid Media Manager at Circulate Digital.
With his extensive knowledge and love for all things Paid Social and PPC, Circulate’s Paid Media Manager, Taylor Finney, has been building a team of passionate digital advertising experts while nurturing a culture of trust and respect amongst his team. This has led to Circulate Digital winning Best Digital Campaign in 2021.
Taylor’s worked with clients such as Co-Op, Thomas Cook, Magnet Kitchens, Silentnight & TopCashback (to name just a few!) and is THE go-to guy when it comes to anything digital ads related at Circulate Digital.
Dive into the mind of one of Circulate’s secret weapons and get the best tips and tricks on how to build award-winning digital ad campaigns while building a winning digital advertising team.
Have you always had a passion for Digital Advertising? Tell us a little bit about how you got into your current role.
I was originally really into music. I was in a band, trying to promote my own music online, and ended up learning a lot about online marketing and advertising myself.
At university I studied music and as part of that course we did an online module on online marketing and advertising which I loved and found really interesting so when I finished university I started applying for marketing roles and got accepted at a global agency where I got trained up and that’s how I started out.
Describe the role of data in your job. How important is it?
Data is really important. Any decision we make or any kind of test that we want to run has to be based on data. We don’t take anything out of thin air, you need to base decisions on what the data is telling you so it’s incredibly important when it comes to making decisions, testing new ideas and evaluating whether those ideas have been successful or not.
How can brands make their ads more engaging?
I think nowadays it’s all about making the content relatable. If you can connect your brand to world events or trends outside of your industry and try to stretch your brand a little bit in creative ways, content like that tends to work really well.
User generated content has been a massive thing in advertising recently for that very reason, it’s very relatable, people don’t feel like they are being advertised to. If you can make content feel a bit more authentic, that seems to work very well nowadays.
What’s the most challenging part of being a Paid Media manager?
With online advertising there are new innovations that come along quite regularly so sometimes it can be a bit difficult adapting to changes and being able to run with the punches quite quickly. So, I guess, the main challenge is keeping on top of that and staying on top of industry trends.
Which metrics do you look at when measuring the success or failure of a Paid Social campaign? Are they the same metrics for PPC?
It depends on what the specific client is trying to achieve, usually. There are certain metrics that we would look through across both, for example, engagement rates and click-through rates, they usually give you a decent indication of how well the ads are being received by your target audience and then obviously you have conversion metrics as well. Depending on what the objectives are; it could be lead generation, it could be sales- completely unique to the client usually.
We also tend to look at efficiency metrics, how much they’re paying per lead, cost per lead, return on ad spend, return on investment, that sort of thing. Any metric that gives us an idea on the kind of value they are getting for the money they spend.
What has been your greatest success as a Paid Media manager?
There are a few things that I’m proud of such as winning Best Digital Campaign of 2021, it was nice to see my team’s hard work get rewarded.
I’m proud of the team in general because we’re quite a new team and it’s nice to see how far we’ve come already and how much we’ve managed to achieve in quite a short space of time. So I’m proud of having a good team and we have more and more clients coming on all the time which is good to see.
How do you stay on top of trends and changes in your industry?
Personally, I love reading books on specific topics. For example, automation is currently a massive one in the industry at the minute. There’s quite a lot of books that have been written about the direction that is heading in so I’m trying to read as much as I can about that.
I also look inwards towards my network as well to keep up with trends. LinkedIn is massively useful as I have people on there that work in other agencies and in-house on paid campaigns, it’s interesting to see their perspective as well.
What’s the best advice you’ve received that helps you excel in your role and your personal life?
The best advice I’ve been given is that you can’t teach people to care about something. They either care or they don’t. When it comes to bringing people into Circulate and into the team, the thing I look out for is that attitude of actually caring about the job and wanting to do good work because I don’t think you can teach that.
What gets you up in the mornings and keeps you motivated?
What gets me up for work is the fact that we’re a new team and it excites me to see how much further we can take it, how many more clients we can help, how many more awards we can win. Given the amount we’ve achieved so far it motivates me to see how much more we can achieve.
How do you keep your team aligned with the company vision and keep them motivated?
I think it’s really important to have shared objectives within the team and if you can get input from all the team members as well so their opinions have been heard, people are a lot more likely to buy into those team objectives as well.
If you can get people working towards a shared vision rather than just their individual goals in silos, that tends to facilitate better team work.
What steps do you take to make sure the paid media campaigns you launch are continuously optimised?
Like I mentioned before, a lot of it comes down to data and keeping on top of that. Continuously monitoring what we’re seeing as ‘working’ and looking for ways to improve it further.
The main thing is having a bit of a test and learn’ attitude. The world doesn’t stand still so you need to roll with the trends and test new ideas all the time. If you can see something isn’t working it helps to intervene nice and early and try a different idea.
It’s all about keeping things fresh within the ad accounts and making sure you’re churning out new ideas and seeing how they do with the target audience.
What would you say makes a paid social campaign successful?
It completely depends on the objectives that have been set. You want to agree with the client beforehand on what they’re looking to achieve from the campaign. If you have a really clear measure of success beforehand, it’s easy to say whether it’s been a success or not because it’s easy to measure it. And obviously if the client is happy then that gives you a good indication of how successful it’s been as well.
What marketing materials do you read and would recommend for those looking to improve their paid social and PPC game?
There’s certain authors that I really like, some are PPC specific, some are about marketing in general. I think Seth Godin is a really good author, he has a book called ‘This is Marketing’. It’s good for people who are in digital marketing. It’s a good way of getting out of that digital silo and thinking about marketing generally.
I also like Kirk Williams who is an agency owner and writes about PPC and Frederick Vallaeys who writes about automation and PPC, his stuff is really interesting as well!
What advice would you give to someone who wants to get into digital advertising?
I think when you get started in digital advertising it’s easy to think of PPC or Paid Social as something that’s in a silo, as its own thing, but if you can appreciate early on how digital advertising links into marketing as a whole and other channels and the impact that it has on a brand rather than just the performance aspect of it then you’ll be a better marketer for it.
If you can start looking at marketing as a more holistic discipline rather than just looking at individual channels, it’s going to make you a better marketer.
What advice would you give to a new e-commerce business looking to run digital ads?
If you’re looking to run digital ads for the first time, make sure you have really clear objectives before you launch any campaigns. You don’t want to just run ads for the sake of it, you want to define what you want to get out of it.
If you can understand clearly the value of a customer you’ll be able to measure the return on investment much more accurately as well.
What do you think is the biggest challenge that marketing teams are facing today?
I think the biggest challenge is standing out from the crowd. There’s not only so many different ads out there but so much different content online, it’s really easy to get lost in the busyness of it all.
I think to overcome that you have to come up with content that’s interest enough that someone is going to think “I’m going to scroll right past this ad.”
You don’t want people to know they are being advertised to, you want them to appreciate the content for what it is. If they can create that association of: “that was an interesting piece of content, and this is the brand that published it” then you’re on your way to success in the online advertising game.
What are your go-to tools for Paid Social and PPC that make your life easier?
If you’ve got some sort of analytics tool that gives you access to your website data and you can break down audiences, that’s incredibly useful.
A competitor benchmarking tool is really good as well so you can see how much your competitors are spending and what they’re doing. I think clients sometimes like to see that and it helps to define their brand positioning by positioning themselves against relevant competitors.
If you can access some sort of industry benchmarking tools as well, they are incredibly useful to see conversion rates by industry and engagement rates by industry. This will give you a better idea on how well you’re doing as well.
What is your management style and why do you think it works in a marketing environment?
The way I look at management, it’s very much about trust and respect. For me it’s as easy as that really. If you can trust people to manage their own work with guidance as and when they need it, they will trust you back. If you show them respect then they will respect you back as well.
As I said earlier, if you can unite people on a shared vision and a shared objective then you can get people to work together more effectively. So, it’s not really about being a disciplinarian or anything like that, I don’t think that approach ever really works, it’s all about building good relationships with people.
What has been your most embarrassing loss at a leisure activity at Circulate?
I came last in our company pool tournament, which was very embarrassing… I did get my own back by winning at Guitar Hero though!
Love diving into the minds of experts?
We interview successful business owners, marketing and digital experts and so much more! We hope you enjoyed this interview with our Paid Media Manager and were able to take away some nuggets of gold to apply to your own digital marketing campaigns.
Make sure you’re following us on socials so you never miss an interview or any of our expert blog posts @circulatedigital.