Zariance.com – Interview with Daniel Nguyen, CMO & Partner at Aurora Digital

Zariance.com – Interview with Daniel Nguyen, CMO & Partner at Aurora Digital

Originally published on Zariance.com

Daniel Nguyen is CMO & Partner at Aurora Digital, a top-rated Finland-based agency that helps innovate, build and launch your brand to the market. With a wide-range expertise in Design, IT development and Marketing automation, Aurora Digital accelerates business growth and connect it with a wider audience. The company has been serving clients in Finland and around the world.

Originally from Vietnam, Daniel is currently living and working in Helsinki, the beautiful capital of Finland. Daniel usually introduces himself as a Growth Hacker – a “Full-stack” Digital Marketing professional who owns the heart of a Marketer, the brain of a Developer and the eyes of a Designer. His areas of expertise include Social Media Marketing, B2B Marketing, Sales Funnel, and Marketing Automation. Whether you are looking for new ways to boost traffic to your website, grow your online business on social media, or improve your conversion rate, his company Aurora Digital the right partner to reach out to.

Your Journey as a Marketing Professional.

Back then in 2011 when I was studying SAT for my college entrance exam in my home country – Vietnam, I noticed there was a lack of English materials for Vietnamese students who were taking international standardized tests, such as TOEFL, IELTS, SAT, GMAT. I immediately realized this was a great business opportunity. I spent all of my savings to import several books from Singapore and then sold them to other students in my city. I first started Marketing on the Facebook channel since it was the fastest and easiest channel with literally no up-front investment. My little business went so well that I decided to make a webshop to sell to students living in other cities and areas. I was young, inexperienced and literally learned by doing and making mistakes. I still remember how much I enjoyed learning about Digital Marketing and running my own business at that time. Never did I realize how profound an impact this very first “business” had on me personally and professionally. It ignited my love for business in general and Marketing in particular. I decided that I will become a Digital Marketer! I want to change other peopleäs life for the better and help businesses grow with the power of Internet Marketing.

In 2013, I got admitted to the international program at Aalto University, the most prestigious university in Finland and one of the top-ranking universities in the world. I moved from Vietnam to Finland. It was the best decision I have ever made in my life! During my study, I had the opportunity to learn different subjects in Aalto’s amazing academic environment. The more I studied, the more I fell in love with Marketing. After my graduation, I got my first internship at a tech startup. I continued my career ladder with several other jobs at different companies, all of them were related to Marketing one way or another. Digital Marketing can be so broad in itself, so I am grateful for my previous job experience as it helped me explore further my passion and get hands-on experience.

During my full-time jobs, I also worked as a freelancer on side projects, then proceeded to become a part-time entrepreneur at my own business in Finland which I named “Sisu Digital”. Fun fact: Sisu is a Finnish word which represents “stoic determination, the tenacity of purpose, grit, bravery, resilience, and hardiness and is held by Finns themselves to express their national character” (Wikipedia). The concept of sisu has no equivalent translation. You can understand “Sisu” means extreme perseverance and dignity in the face of adversity, which is exactly what I needed when I became a foreign entrepreneur in Finland.

Last year, I co-founded Aurora Digital with four other team members. Again “Aurora” means Northern Light, which is very Finnish in a way. An aurora is considered one of the most gorgeous natural occurrences. I’m fortunate enough to have seen it several times in the last couple of years. It’s something so spectacular you do desire to see even just one time in your life! Today Aurora Digital is a top-rated digital agency in Helsinki. It’s a young yet international company which has been gradually finding its place in the Finnish market. As CMO, I’m mostly working in B2B sales & Marketing. Our mission is to help businesses and startups innovate, build and launch their products to the market. We provide a wide range of services, including Design, IT development and Marketing.

I’m also passionate about entrepreneurship. That’s why I became a co-founder of VietES (Vietnamese Entrepreneurship Society), a close-knit community for Vietnamese people living and working in Finland. Our mission is to nurture and support those who are passionate about entrepreneurship, and who are eager to make a positive impact on their surrounding through business. We do this by organizing helpful events, supportive meetups, and meaningful projects for the community. What started as a simple get-together of young, entrepreneurial people has grown into something bigger I’m so excited that we are taking it to the next level!

This summer, We’re launching “Digipack”, a new monthly subscription, on-demand service that allows you to have an unlimited supply to all of our design capabilities, including Logo Design, App design, Web design, Illustrations, posters, and pretty much anything graphical that you can think of. It’s basically a one-stop shop for your needs of high-quality, professional design. There are still a lot of things to do for the launch but I’m very excited about Digipack!

What are the primary Marketing channels you have worked on? What will be your advice to young marketers on each of these channels?

I have worked in both B2B and B2C. Each Marketing channels service its own purpose and there is no one-size-fits-all Marketing solution for business, so decide what are the right Marketing channels for your business to reach out to your customers and achieve your Marketing goals. Here are some channels I’m working regularly with.

Email: The Marketing landscape has been constantly changing, and email as one of the oldest Digital Marketing channels is no exception. Many marketers complain that email Marketing is dead. I strongly disagree. Email Marketing still proves to be one of the most effective and reliable channels if done right. In fact, the email list is probably one of the most valuable digital assets of your business.

I recommend you start collecting and building your email lists as soon as possible. Every day your subscribers receive hundreds of emails, so you want to make sure your email provides something of value to them. Make your email to the point, make it personal and do include interesting links and Call-to-Actions. Keep track of the open rates, click rates, test what works and what doesn’t work for your business. There will always be subscribers who never take any kind of action on your emails, so you want to clean your email list every 6 months or every year to keep only people who are genuinely interested in your emails.

Social Media: Love it or hate it, social media is here to stay. The question is not whether you should be present on social media or not, but which platforms. While it’s good to have your business present on as many platforms as possible, you know that you don’t have unlimited resources, so don’t spread yourself too thin. To pick the right social platforms for your business, ask yourself where your customers are. You can also learn from your competitors. They probably have done the hard work for you.

2 social media channels I’m most experienced with are:

LinkedIn: LinkedIn is the largest professional platform with more than 600 million users worldwide. It is where professionals and businesses can network, connect, and create opportunities. If your business relies on finding B2B leads, LinkedIn must be one of your main channels. By sharing your knowledge on a regular basis and helping others find solutions to their problems on LinkedIn, you can position your business as an ‘expert’ on your field. Reach out to people, share your expertise, build trust and relationship with your ideal audience and they will become your paying customers.

Facebook: Itäs no secret Facebook is the world’s largest social media platform with more than 2 billion daily active users. Facebook also has the most regular users, less young generations but more middle-aged adults.
After the last algorithm updates, Facebook Pages struggle to perform with very low reach. However, it doesn’t mean it’s possible to grow on Facebook. Video content performs really well on Facebook, especially Live videos! Facebook live videos allow you to connect and interact with your audience in an authentic way that isn’t possible before. According to Facebook, you’ll see 6x the interaction and engagement with a live video. If you haven’t embraced Live videos yet, now is the time!

Besides Facebook Fan Page, Facebook Group is an amazing way to connect with your target customers. If you’re using Facebook as one of your main channels, consider building your own Facebook group. It certainly takes a lot of effort but it can act as your sales funnel and will serve you right in the long run!

Social platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Youtube… have been constantly updated with new algorithms and new features, some are good and some are just terrible for businesses. While there is nothing you can do about that, it’s important to keep yourself updated with changes and staying on top of social media trends.

My advice for you when it comes to social media Marketing is that It’s important to approach social media with a smart strategy and consistent execution. Set your social media goals, define your KPIs, create a social media calendar along with your content plan, test what types of content work best, analyze data, review and revise your strategy based on the data.

Online Advertising: Let’s face it, paying for advertising is the fastest way to get your brand in front of your customers and drive traffic to your website. In some cases, paid advertising works well for driving direct sales and conversions because consumers clicking ads often have the intention to buy. Whether your business is B2B or B2C, you’ll be able to successfully grow your online presence, and ultimately foster more conversions and sales with Digital advertising.

There are various elements concerning a paid campaign you have to consider: the goal, the budget, the channel, the format, the visual, the message, the target audience, etc. If you are ready to pay for your visibility, make sure your ads are well thought out or you most likely will be disappointed by the outcome.

If there is one thing you must know about online advertising, it’s “Re-Targeting/ Re-Marketing”. Remember to run Re-Targeting/ Re-Marketing campaign to people who have visited your website, watched your promo video, engage with your content, download your PDF file, etc. They already know your brand and show interest in your offers, so they are more likely to convert than total strangers.

Website / Blog & SEO: While advertising can definitely work, you can’t rely on it forever. In the long term, you want to get found organically. And to be fair, whether you are doing email Marketing, social media Marketing, or paid advertising, it will all come down to your content. Therefore, it’s very much needed to create useful content for your potential customers in the form of a blog post, a tutorial video, an infographic, etc. especially when you are in B2B.

And remember your website! Your website is the online face of your business and should be rightfully treated as one of your business’s most precious assets. Do it a favor by investing properly in it, not only the website itself but also the content. The blog post is still one of the most effective content formats to build up your authority as an expert in the field, build trust with your potential customers and convince them to buy from you, not from your competitors. Writing has never been busy, but once you get a hang of it, you’ll be good. Don’t try to sell to much on your post or people will go away! Provide values first to your readers, post consistently, focus on the long-term benefits of organic traffic and remember to include CTA on your posts.

What are some of the important Marketing software that you have used and found to be really useful for your company?

As a young digital agency, we need to come up with innovative ways to do sales and Marketing. Fortunately, there are usually already some existing tools that address our problems, so the question is how to pick the right ones for your Marketing stack. Here are my picks.

Hubspot is a leading Marketing automation tool thanks to its deep integration of customer relationship management (CRM), Marketing, and sales.

LinkedIn is not only a social platform but also an effective tool for B2B sales prospecting and finding your ideal clients with its LinkedIn Sales Navigator.

Hunter.io is a brilliant prospecting tool to help you find and verify professional email addresses from company domains.

Zapier connects various apps together to automate workflows easily in the business or even for personal productivity.

MailChimp creates email Marketing campaigns and builds a relationship with your customers. It is probably the first newsletter tool that comes to mind for new marketers due to its ease of use.

Jarvee is an awesome social media tool that lets you automate your social accounts and grow your engagement on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest.

Google Analytics is probably the most recognizable tool for web analytics & business intelligence on the market. Best of all, it’s free!

Google Data Studio is another free yet amazing tool for reporting and building dashboard. It allows you to transform your data into appealing and informative reports for your audience.

Supermetrics is a powerful tool that helps you pull all your PPC, analytics, SEO and social data into one place for reporting and analysis.

UberSuggest is an awesome free SEO keyword suggestion tool to help you quickly brainstorm and find keywords in your target niche that people are searching for.

SumoBuzz is a top tool when it comes to content research, content curation, social media analysis, and trend exploration.

Would you like to share a few words about any Marketing software that you absolutely love and always recommend it to others?

I absolutely love Zapier. If you run a digital agency like me, you know how many tools and web services we use on a daily basis: CRM, sales, marketing, analytics, project management, communication, social, media, etc. While some apps offer integration with some others, most of them don’t and it’s so difficult to connect the data between web apps most of the time. That’s where Zapier comes in handy. It is an online automation tool that offers an easy way to create interlinked functions across apps you are using every day for your business.

It connects your favorite apps, such as Gmail, Slack, MailChimp, and over 1,000 more. You can connect two or more apps, move info between your web apps automatically and automate repetitive tasks without any need for coding, or relying on developers to build the integration. What I appreciate the most about Zapier is that it’s so easy that anyone with a non-technical background can build their own app workflows with just a few clicks. It’s Marketing automation made easy. It saves us so much time and effort so we can focus on the most important things about our business. If you haven’t used it for your business, you should definitely check it out.

Your 2 line advice to people entering in the Marketing domain.

Embrace technology. Equip yourself with technical skills. Marketing has been changing constantly and becomes deeply linked and integrated with technology. If you are a marketer and you know how to write basic codes, leverage APIs, use SQL, perform data analysis, update web pages, edit photos with photoshop, you are one step ahead (if not two) of your Marketing pals.

I’m glad that I realized this early in my career. Thanks to my work experience, I’ve been fortunate to continually be exposed to opportunities, to work with Marketing professionals, and to involve in a number of projects that requires me to learn and leverage technical Marketing. There is no doubt that technical knowledge and skills are essential for success in today’s Digital Marketing industry.

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