Romain Bertrand, VP Marketing eharmony shares advice for creating a social and marketing plan to lead you out of covid

If you’re currently in the position of wondering which social media platforms to register with for your business or how to go about creating a marketing and ad spend strategy take five minutes to hear Romain Bertrand’s perspective as he talks all things social and marketing.

After untying his feet from the boots of Amazon and JustGiving, Romain Bertrand came to eharmony in 2013 to ensure it became a household name within the UK scene of meaningful relationships. 

So working previously for JustGiving, was it important to you to hold a role that involved a higher purpose? 

Yes absolutely. Encouraging people to do good things, break boundaries all for the good of a specific cause was inspirational. I’ve always wanted to work in marketing functions for consumer tech businesses where they have a strong message. At eharmony I see it as my mission to combat loneliness and ensure people make meaningful relationships.

So it’s all about defining that higher purpose before even looking at other company goals?

Yes and it’s that purpose that I feel every company needs to work with. When you have your higher purpose it creates n energy that every staff member can feel and work towards. So when I see the sales figures going up I’m actually not simply thinking of the amount, I’m thinking of the people who have met and wishing them well on their journey. Every company needs to have a higher purpose to work to in order to inspire real growth for their product or service.

In terms of merging values with the science of love, is the passion for your purpose felt company wide across the staff?

Yes, we only hire and work alongside people who believe in what we do. It just wouldn’t work otherwise. We know who are, we have we have a strong sense of purpose and mission in the business overall. We’re passionate marketers and product specialists, but we definitely have a strong sense of what the business is trying to do.

What do you think the future of love, looks like moving out of lockdown?

We have seen some big shifts this year, I think we’re in the stage where we’re observing what’s happening. A lot of people have made the transition to online dating as opposed to face-to-face, the barriers are down and it’s become a lot more mainstream in the last few months. We’ve seen an increase in traffic and registrations month on month since April. I think that is going to stay.

In terms of your marketing strategy is social media still massive for you?

It’s definitely a large part of the mix, both from an organic perspective so in terms of, you know, managing and building a community on the different platforms. But I think from a marketing strategy perspective, I think we’ve seen an increase in investment in in the paid social side of things in the past year and a half. We’ve invested more time, effort and money into the various channels. It used to be a lot of static content but now we’re doing far more videos. Back when I first started it used to be nearly exclusively Facebook and Twitter. Today we have a presence across Instagram, Pinterest and we’re looking into other channels as well.

How do you continue to lead your team with direction across the social media landscape?

With so many channels, you have to be completely clear about which audience is available on each one. What that audience means to you and how you want to engage and interact with each channel. We then devise a different strategy for each channel really because the people who are on Facebook today are very different from the people on on Instagram for example. So, you know, you’ve got to treat them totally separately.

Yes it can become completely overwhelming for business owners trying to keep up. Do you always begin with current data before working out your ad spend?

Always. Because we analyse where our customers find us, we push where the demand is highest. Google is by far the dominant search engine so that’s naturally where we will spend most of our budget, but we do operate on on bing as well for example in the UK. It’s a small share but it’s quite an intense audience. And then we do occasionally do some marketing on Yahoo but more from a display targeted programmatic perspective, not so much from a search perspective.

What’s the emphasis placed on marketing within eharmony?

After the product and technology team, the marketing team is by far the largest team inside eharmony. Online dating is much more about brand and marketing and if you’ve got a strong product you also need a strong brand. Yes, we do have quite large marketing teams in every office worldwide.

What online platforms do you find effective to market on in the UK?

YouTube is important people watching a lot of video content and look for, you know, use it as a search engine as well so you’ve got to you’ve got to be where people are looking for your brand and your product.

We have a very popular blog; it’s established and has got a lot of content so it ranks very highly from a search engine perspective. Last year we experimented with a Facebook Live, which we produced ourselves every week. That was quite popular. A podcast is on the list of channels that we are considering. It’s making the right choice because you know once you start something like that, you have to really do it properly. So, we’ve got to make sure we’ve got the common long term commitment if we start doing something.

In terms of your competition, did you see a drop in services when when the likes of Tinder, Bumble and those kind of instant meet-up apps, come out?

Actually it was strange because we saw pretty much the opposite happen. We always say that it’s been a good thing because essentially it’s really defined our marketable consumer. We have very different goals and a very different proposition at eharmony in comparison to the free dating apps. What those apps did was bring in a whole cohort of new users, especially the younger demographics, who were quite hesitant to do online dating in a more traditional way. We’re finding that the people who started using free dating apps in their early 20s, now have different relationship goals.

So they’ve actually expanded the online dating scene as a whole?

Absolutely and because we know we don’t compete for the same consumers they haven’t really taken any of our market share, in-fact they’ve simply grown the market overall.

What would be your number one takeaway piece of advice for people devising a marketing strategy right now?

Everybody needs to watch their cashflow right now, more than ever before. So ensure that every single penny of your marketing spend goes to the right audience by analysing all of your current customer data, feedback and results. We do this daily. It keeps us investing budget on adverts and methods that bring us new customers, as opposed to throwing money into a dark pit.

Being crucially aware of your customer data and how they find you, come back to you and recommend you is crucial to being able to change and pivot very quickly when different circumstances occur. If you monitor your data closely you’ll know which channels to communicate your messaging on and be able to guide your consumers through any necessary changes. The more on the spot information about your business you can know means that not only can you

It sounds so simple and obvious doesn’t it – the more you know about your customers, the more you can plan products and services that will make them smile and want to do more business with you. Analysing customer data leads you to being in the best position to maximise your value add, no matter what the current climate.

Cherry Martin

Cherry Martin

Cherry is Associate Editor of Business Matters with responsibility for planning and writing future features, interviews and more in-depth pieces for what is now the UK’s largest print and online source of current business news.
Cherry Martin

Cherry is Associate Editor of Business Matters with responsibility for planning and writing future features, interviews and more in-depth pieces for what is now the UK’s largest print and online source of current business news.

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