9 Estonian Top Marketing Managers: Favorite Blogs, Biggest Failures & Future Trends

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The country of Estonia is well-known for its startup unicorns and world-changing tech ideas.

But many huge success stories would be impossible if it wasn’t for the amazing marketers working in the background.

Where do Estonia‘s greatest startup marketing managers come from, who are they, and what makes them stand out from the rest?

We took some time to talk to Estonia’s top marketing managers, and learned about their secret growth hacks, go-to blogs, and the most embarrassing failures.

Ready to discover new idea goldmines and learn from the best? Read on!

1) If you had to think of your biggest digital marketing failure, what would it be?

Triinu Murumäe, Chief Marketing Officer at Insly

I think there have been no big failures because you can learn from every campaign or activity and if some processes are not so effective you can improve it.

Being a little start-up company is about being agile, about viewing each campaign or marketing activity as one step in the ever-improving progress towards customer acquisition.

Karola Karlson, Digital Marketing Manager at Scoro

My most recent blunder was leaving an Outbrain campaign running for 2 weeks and wasting a huge budget on low-quality clicks. Oh well… Other than that, it’s not the small everyday mistakes but things related to the long-term strategy. For me, marketing is a constantly evolving practice which means that if I think back to this week 6 months from now, I’d probably do everything differently.

So, my biggest mistakes are related to not trying new tactics soon enough and not pushing myself closer to the limit. I think one of the biggest mistakes digital marketers make is not making any mistakes at all. Making mistakes shows that you’re trying and failing. The biggest failure is being too afraid to fail.

Ott Jõgi, Head of Marketing at WeekDone

There isn’t that one big mistake or failure, but there are a few things I would suggest to avoid or keep in mind.

1) Always have a goal in mind. In my career, I have failed many times because I have done marketing activities just because these are the activities one should do. For example, we all know that social media is important, but we sometimes forget to ask ourselves why or what do we want to achieve. Same thing with blogging. It is very easy to just start doing some posts and get all caught up while not really knowing why we are doing it.

2) In addition to having good goals I recommend setting good key performance indicators. Again, we all know this, but yet again we keep failing at it. Having a specific goal in mind and setting KPI’s is not easy. I think this is the main reason we marketers sometimes “forget” to do it. In addition, there are so many things you can track nowadays, so it is really easy to get carried away.

For a foolproof KPI, I would use “get x amount of customers” instead of clicks, views, time on site, signups etc. Sounds simple, but it isn’t. It is a good starting point and I advise working your way back from that initial goal. You will make better decisions if you have the end goal in mind.

Oliver Vesi, Head of Marketing at GoWorkaBit

1) Probably the times where I’ve lost the balance between creating content and promoting it. And this goes both ways.

Any content, campaign or marketing action seldom goes viral or reaches high audience numbers without proper targeting and promotion. For example in my case, the problem has been that I sometimes think that I’ve came up with a really really kick-ass idea and “why wouldn’t everyone want to read or see this?!”.

But at the same time I have put too little focus on the promoting side to reach the news feeds of crucial target groups. This has also happened the other way around.

To me, finding the balance in this is the key to success.

2) Not focusing on the right numbers.

Online marketing gives you quite a large amount of anaytics and numbers. This makes it easy to sometimes focus on the wrong metrics. Especially when the actual KPIs and results are maybe not as good as you’ve hoped.

I have done the mistake of not setting proper KPIs beforehand and this has lead to not making the right conclusion or missing the learning point in some of my activities.

Only if you set proper goals and KPIs you can be honest with yourself, your colleagues and clients. Only when you stick to them, you can really learn and grow the business fast and in the right direction.

Liina Ilves, Marketing Manager at Click & Grow

I’m sure I’ve definitely made rash decisions based on statistically insignificant results at some point. Other than that, not many specific failures come to my mind.

Mart Virkus, Marketing Team Lead at Toggl

One of my first goals in Toggl was to make the blog more visible.

We wanted to improve our SEO results and increase the organic traffic to the site but didn’t measure the actual business results and profit. We didn’t even measure how much our blog helped with the user acquisition. At that time, there were technical errors but most of it was just human mistakes.

The second thing was that we didn’t have a systematic approach to the writing of the content. There was no certain plan or a goal in place.

I also remember another failure when there was the time when we focused too much on promoting our mobile apps (at that time, the apps were not yet a technical masterclass) and didn’t promote our main product as much as would be needed. The negative results arrived fast.

From all of this, we learned that before starting actively with content marketing, you should think through if your product does what you want it to do, who your target group is and who the ideal customer is.

Elen Veenpere, Marketing Manager at Teleport

When I started working in marketing, I wasn’t focusing enough on analytics and measuring the results. I created content and came up with projects, but very rarely took a look at if these things actually helped grow the business or not. I was working hard without any specific, measurable goals in mind.

After I started to also take a look at the numbers and the data, I realised that in a lot of cases, I had been investing my time in the wrong efforts.

In marketing, you need to always be measuring. What can be measured, can be improved. Don’t make the mistake of not keeping an eye on the ROI of your marketing efforts.

In marketing, you need to always be measuring. - Elen VeenpereClick To Tweet

Sander Gansen, Chief Marketing Officer at Shipitwise

One of our biggest failures happened last year, when we participated in a motor festival, hoping to find new clients who would be interested in transporting their motorcycles to other countries.

We had a huge promotion stall, four beautiful girls were handing out flyers to collect leads…

…and then it was just raining. The girls were sitting inside the tent for the most of the time and all the flyers were soaked.

Well, we still managed to collect 150 e-mails, there was a prize draw, we also exchanged 60 emails, yet the planned idea of the winner promoting us in his own social group didn’t work. And the e-mail open rate was around 10%.

Our whole team invested two-three business days and thousands of euros in the event. So everybody was quite disappointed because we had spent a lot of time and resources but didn’t really get any actual positive outcomes.

Here you can see a video of the mentioned event.

Annika Helendi, CEO at Teamweek (ex Marketing Manager at Toggl)

We haven’t had many great failures in Teamweek yet. One thing I remember is moving our blog to Medium.com – that didn’t work out well. To improve our SEO, we’re actually now moving it back to our own website and domain.

Also, see Mart’s (Mart Virkus) answers for the stuff we did at Toggl.

2) Where should marketers spend more time in 2017? Is it content, SEO, PPC, CRO, or something else?

Triinu Murumäe, Chief Marketing Officer at Insly

It will be essential for B2B companies to understand how their inbound marketing efforts go into leads, conversions and finally revenue. Companies can be successful by focusing on which networks and contents are most lead generating and invest their effort into those.

In 2017, social media content, blogs, and email marketing should remain to be the most successful B2B content marketing tactics.

Karola Karlson, Digital Marketing Manager at Scoro

That’s a tough question. I’d say that it depends on where the money is. If SEO is bringing over 80% of your new leads that lead to most of your sales, focus your attention there. If you’re getting awesome PPC results, spend more budget and time on optimizing your campaigns.

Basically, I suggest that in 2017, marketers should double down on what’s working. To keep up with the rapid growth of mobile over the desktop, marketers should also devote more time on optimizing their entire marketing strategies for mobile.

I think it’s time that we start to distinguish mobile and desktop as two completely different marketing channels, and giving mobile the attention and resources it deserves. If there’s one channel that we’re going to discover in greater depth in Scoro, it’s definitely mobile with all its new opportunities.

Ott JõgiHead of Marketing at WeekDone

The most important thing in marketing is understanding your customer, but it is really hard and needs a lot of commitment and resources.

Our CEO Jüri Kaljundi has been pushing every team in Weekdone to understand our customers. In marketing, it means case studies, research, surveys and a lot of unanswered calls.

The problem is that nobody has time to talk to you, so I would urge everybody to be persistent because the feedback from your customers will define whether to use SEO, PPC, CRO or something else.

At the moment, my focus is on making quality content and therefore getting more organic traffic. Mainly because that is what the customers want and in our case organic traffic is more likely to convert into a paying customer (also the most cost-effective).

Oliver Vesi, Head of Marketing at GoWorkaBit

This depends a lot on the business type.

Firstly, I would definitely invest more time in researching what really has worked for other similar companies worldwide.

Secondly, auditing the whole marketing funnel you have at the moment and where it is lacking at the moment. For example, if you are a SaaS company and your SEO rankings are not good, then SEO is far more important for your business than just doing just PPC ads.

Thirdly – always have a 80/20 approach! 80% of the resources should be used for the activities that you already know bring you success and 20% for testing out new things. This takes a lot of self discipline to not fall back on the things that are convenient and safe, but it definitely keeps you learning and helps to always be on top of the newest marketing possibilities.

Liina Ilves, Marketing Manager at Click & Grow

Although it’s a rather boring answer, I think content is the key.

I think overall the best digital marketing mix varies a lot on the service or a product a company is offering and whom it’s trying to reach. But I do think content is the most important part. Everything else in the digital marketing skill set should and usually does support it and vice versa.

The obvious answer would be to go where the money is, right? However some things take time to build up and become extremely valuable for a company so I think there’s importance in telling your story as well.

Customer retention is highly important for most businesses, but it’s crucial for those whose business model is built on it (like Click & Grow) so you have to be engaging and interesting for your customers to want to be a part of your business in the long run.

For us, that means getting people to stand behind our mission and there hasn’t been a better way to keep our customers engaged and inspired than sharing and creating great content.

Mart Virkus, Marketing Team Lead at Toggl

Creating quality content – this will also help you with SEO (backlinks) if you do it well.

These days, content marketing is already quite mainstream. To achieve success, you need to be different (I also draw webcomics for Toggl) than your competitors and give a lot of up-front value to your readers. So focus on the quality, not quantity. Think about your purpose, why you do something, what the end-result is and how do you define success.

In Toggl’s case, the market is really competitive and we’ve noticed that SEO is already working pretty well for us. That’s why we haven’t done much Google Ads in recent times.

But I’d still use Google Ads for remarketing campaigns, as it has proven to work well for quite a big number of businesses. It also has other great features.

Elen Veenpere, Marketing Manager at Teleport

I think it depends entirely on your specific business and company – there’s no easy answer that applies to everyone. For example, we don’t really have one main, proven-to-work marketing channel at Teleport, so we try out different things – content marketing, SEO, social media… Testing, experimenting, and learning is never a bad thing – and what works for you, might not work for others.

There’s a lot of things to experiment with, and I do think marketers are faced with more and more options to try out. However, it’s important to never turn your ideas into your babies, as in get too attached to them. A lot of times these ideas end up not being fruitful, which means you’ll need to let them go and “kill” them – and nobody likes killing babies. Janno Siimar talked about this and I will remember that point for the rest of my life.

Sometimes people get carried away with their crazy marketing ideas – I’ve done it myself. They have certain beliefs that something works really well or doesn’t work and then they have a hard time facing the truth.

Usually, when something doesn’t work out, you only have two options:

1) Drop the idea completely
2) Rethink and try out a different approach

If something has been working in the past, it does not mean that it will work today or in the future. Experiment, test, measure, and if necessary, let go of the idea.

Sander Gansen, Chief Marketing Officer at Shipitwise

This depends on your field a lot. To understand the basics, I’d recommend everyone to read the book called Traction by Gabriel Weinberg and Justin Mares.

In general, there are two ideas which I follow:

1) Experiment with different tools that are relevant for your audience. In our case, we even use Snapchat, Instagram, and Twitter actively.

2) There’s too much focus on thinking “one click = one transaction”. I guess that we should focus more on the channels and things that don’t bring us money instantly, yet keep you in the picture and help you grow the brand awareness. For example, Guerilla marketing is not used a lot, but it can give the companies a lot of good value.

We also organize different events – meetups and epic parties, which are so legendary that even the startups who didn’t participate, talk about them.

We don’t do much PPC and have outsourced our Facebook and Google advertising, our internal team doesn’t invest time on it because we’ve understood that these aren’t our main marketing channels. We are rather focused on the creation of partner relationships and content. Here’s why.

Annika Helendi, CEO at Teamweek (ex Marketing Manager at Toggl)

Depends on the business type, but in our case – content creation all the way!

We don’t use pay-per-click advertising a lot. Sometimes we give a boost to our Facebook posts, but PPC is not in our focus.

3) Which marketing blogs and books do you often read?

Triinu Murumäe, Chief Marketing Officer at Insly

I usually try to read a variety of different blogs online. Luckily, there’s a really large number of good books available and even more online marketing content to read daily.

Favorite blogs and communities:

Karola Karlson, Digital Marketing Manager at Scoro

I guess it would be fair to give credit to the book that made me fall in love with digital marketing: The New Rules of Marketing and PR by David Meerman Scott. There’s not much groundbreaking for seasoned marketers in this book, but for those stuck in more traditional marketing methods, this book’s a real eye-opener.

As I’m all self-taught in everything regarding marketing, I’ve spent lots of time binge reading marketing blogs.

Favorite blogs:

I have my own pet project as well: Aggregate Blog where I share my own thoughts and hacks.

Ott JõgiHead of Marketing at WeekDone

My absolute favorite (marketing) book is Decoded: The Science Behind Why We Buy by Phil Burden. It might not be a classical digital marketing book, but I love it because it dives into psychology and behavioral science. I find these topics fascinating.

Furthermore, it is based on science and has a lot of examples. In marketing, there are a lot of theories floating around, so it is nice to have actual science behind it for a change. I read it when I need to get some inspiration or ideas.

Favorite books:

Favorite blogs:

Oliver Vesi, Head of Marketing at GoWorkaBit

Regarding marketing (and specially online marketing) topics, I prefer online content to books, because of the ever changing and evolving nature of it. That’s why I’m focusing on high-quality blogs that are always up to date and give me actionable ideas that I can use on a daily basis.

Good insight and ideas often come from outside of the marketing “world” and from other innovative business sectors.

Favorite blogs:

Influencers:

  • Gary Vaynerchuk (I like his unique and straight-to-the-point approach on business and digital marketing (something I really advocate myself) just being simple and straight-forward when it comes to communicating any marketing activities or results to my coworkers, clients etc.)
'I like Gary Vaynerchuk's unique and straight-to-the-point views on digital marketing.' - Oliver VesiClick To Tweet

Liina Ilves, Marketing Manager at Click & Grow

I really enjoy reading different case-studies and learning from people’s successes and failures so there definitely are some blogs I check up on regularly.

Besides that I keep an eye on what some of my favorite creative minds in the industry are up to. For example, I’m a huge fan of 72andsunny, one of the best advertising agencies around, so I keep an eye on their work and creative team blogs quite religiously.

Favorite books:

Favorite blogs:

  • Occam’s Razor (I follow Avinash Kaushik across different channels. Digital marketing & analytics.)
  • Crazy Egg (A great place for web optimization tips & a stunning example of great content marketing)
  • Growthhackers (Although it’s not really a blog but rather a forum, I definitely love spending time in the growth hackers forum gathering ideas and reading case-studies)
  • Marketing, startups, etc. (I also follow Andrus Purde’s (head of marketing at Pipedrive) blog)

Mart Virkus, Marketing Team Lead at Toggl

I don’t read marketing blogs regularly but I spend a lot of time on 9GAG. It has the best funny pics, gifs, videos, memes etc that all gives me a lot of holiday inspiration which I can use in my daily work.

Favorite books:

  • Crossing the Chasm by Geoffrey A. Moore (Moore’s book is about getting a product across the chasm between the early adopters and the early majority. It’s called a chasm because the needs and perspectives of the two segments are so different.)
  • The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell (Author gives some astonishing insights into how ‘social epidemics’ work. He explains how little things can have a global impact and how you can profit from these Tipping Point insights.)

Elen Veenpere, Marketing Manager at Teleport

I don’t read marketing blogs or books too regularly because I’m usually busy learning through doing it myself. If I have to think about certain topics or would like to learn something new, I usually use Google to find it. If I have spare time on my hands, I do browse some of my favourite marketing blogs to see if there’s anything new.

I like straight-to-the-point, actionable and informative articles with no empty fluff in between. There’s a lot of mediocre content out there, so it takes a while to scope out the advanced level reading material.

Favorite blogs:

Favorite books:

Sander Gansen, Chief Marketing Officer at Shipitwise

Favorite books:

Favorite blogs/podcasts/influencers:

  • Gary Vaynerchuk (Serial entrepreneur and the CEO & founder of VaynerMedia)
  • Tim Ferris (#1 business podcast on all of iTunes, and it’s been ranked #1 (of all 300,000+ podcasts) on many occasions)
  • SaaS Weekly
  • HubSpot (A general marketing blog, it’s a good one if you’re just starting out)

Annika Helendi, CEO at Teamweek (ex Marketing Manager at Toggl)

When I started to work for Toggl as a marketing manager, I read lots of different articles about SEO, analytics and content marketing but eventually, it all started to repeat. Today, I don’t read blogs very often. I invest more time on experimenting and learning from my own mistakes.

Favorite books:

  • Remote: Office Not Required by David Heinemeier Hansson and Jason Fried (since Teamweek is a 100% remote company and it’s working out great for us, then I recommend everyone to read this book as an introduction to a remote work culture)
  • Crossing the Chasm by Geoffrey A. Moore (this book has probably influenced me the most. It teaches how to move your client base from early adopters to early majority – and that’s where the big user growth is)
  • Trust Me, I’m Lying: Confessions of a Media Manipulator by Ryan Holiday (interesting personal story about how easy it is to manipulate online media)

Favorite blogs:

Final Thoughts

There’s a lot of good stuff and useful insights to follow and this is just the beginning.

In the next roundup post, we’ll cover three interesting topics: valuable lessons in marketers’ careers about business growth, the future of marketing in 2020, and the best advice for marketers who are just starting out.

Follow our Facebook page to keep yourself updated.

If you know any other go-to blogs or you’d like to share your most embarrassing failures, we’d appreciate you sharing these moments in the comments section below! 🤜💥🤛

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