Digital Marketing and The Estonia Approach

The United States has the strongest economy in the world, but we rank 9th in internet speeds and our average download speed is less than half top-ranked Singapore's 154.38 Mbps.  Estonia has one of the best internet systems in the world, despite the former soviet nation being of considerably smaller both in terms of economy and in size.


Why does such a strong, large, and powerful nation fall so far behind countries with lesser means, size and population?  It’s the result of decades long infrastructure improvements rather than going through a complete overhaul. When Estonia left the USSR, they had the ability to take the future into their hands, and the infrastructure that was in place was more easily replaced.  For the US, there has been generations of copper lines laid under our city streets and phone lines rising above the neighborhoods along their fence lines in order to grant us power and connect us via the phone.

In the early days of the internet, it was easier to re-use the infrastructure already in place to send dial up internet into the homes of millions of Americans rather than completely replace the previous infrastructure with the best available service. This was due to both the quality of infrastructure and the size of the country.  For Estonia, replacing the infrastructure was more easily done, because it had not been laid out in such a nationwide approach, and their country was small enough that replacing their current infrastructure with the best available service was more accessible. Changing the infrastructure in the united states to take us to the best available service would be a many-billion dollar investment, and would essentially throw out the previous infrastructure that had been decades in the making.

So what the hell does this have to do with marketing?

When rebuilding accounts, I always think of the Estonia vs United States example when deciding when to move to the best available structure of our accounts.  Jordan Digital Marketing always rebuilds the accounts we take over and to move them to the best available campaign structure, and operate using our agencies best practices to optimize within that structure.  However, how quickly we rebuild is dependent on whether we want to take the United States approach or Estonia approach, but we aim to be more Estonia than United States.

For accounts that are relatively new, or don’t have great infrastructure in place, the choice is easy: we take the Estonia plan.  We take what we can learn from the previous builds, figure out which copy and creative we should use, figure out which placements to double down on and which to remove and we make short term optimizations to the account to improve the performance while we completely rebuild and relaunch our best available approach.  For these types of accounts we aim to have a complete rebuild launched within 7-10 days, it’s like ripping off a band-aid: there is no sense extending the pain of the old account. Once the rebuild happens we take steps to make sure that we continue to add pieces to improve, and once the full rebuild is done every additional piece we add happens more smoothly.

For accounts that are long established and/or very large, moving to the best available structure may end up being extremely costly in the short term, and it may also involve throwing out a bunch of work that was done in the past, which never feels great.  With massive accounts with a lot of strong history, our approach is slower and more methodical; the United States approach. We spend the 3-6 weeks steadily improving the campaign as it exists in the account when we take over, while we wait for the new builds to gain similar traction in the account.  The process is largely the same, in that we’re looking to make significant improvements based on the initial analysis of the account in the first week, while we rebuild our best available campaign structure.

The difference in process is how quickly we ramp up the new campaign vs the legacy campaigns.  Historical performance can have a dramatic effect on how campaigns perform in the short term, so if a well established account is getting rebuilt, we try to run the new campaigns on partial budget while focusing out attention on the legacy campaigns, until we see the new campaigns gain traction.  Once our new campaigns start gaining traction, we slowly increase budgets on the new campaigns while decreasing budgets on the old campaigns over the course of a few weeks. Eventually we will hit a tipping point where the new campaign are driving the majority of the clicks and often doing so at a cheaper, more efficient rate, and at that point we move 100% of the budget over to the new campaigns This process generally takes us 3-8 weeks depending on how well established and how large the account is.

Generally we always want to take the Estonia approach, but we also want to minimize the impact of the transition.  We don’t want to cut off our nose to spite our face, and we recognize that there is value even in accounts that need rebuilding, so at times we’re forced to take the long path to a rebuild, and that’s ok.  We just need to make sure that we understand why and how we’re moving forward and do what makes the most sense for the client.