Category Archives: Tips

6 Trends That Will Impact Digital Marketing in 2018 and Beyond

We’re more than halfway through 2017 and marketers already are looking ahead to 2018 to determine next year’s direction for their digital marketing campaigns.

Many are wondering if they should stay the course they charted in 2017 or make changes.

Here are 6 developing digital marketing trends to consider, both for the rest of the year and beyond.

1 – Personalized Content: Think Unique Customer Experiences

More than half of B2B buyers rely on content to research their buying decisions. What’s more, 47 percent want to review three to five pieces of content before they engage with sales reps.

Clearly, content is the beating heart of every marketing campaign. But as digital marketing matures, so does the nature of content. One of the increasingly important factors in creating content that connects with consumers is personalization—content specifically tailored to both customers’ needs and where they are in the buying process.

Consider These Stats and Facts

  • 94 percent of digital professionals believe personalization is “critical to current and future success,” according to Monetate
  • Personalized content performs 42 percent better than non-personalized content, according to HubSpot
  • Marketers who deliver personalized web experiences are getting double-digit returns in marketing performance and response, according to Forbes’ Publish or Perish analysis
  • 94 percent of senior-level executives believe delivering personalization is critical or important for reaching customers, according to PWC’s Digital Services group

Tips to Leverage Personalized Content

  1. Start by targeting the “low-hanging fruit” in your client data: names and emails—most visitors will share these with you in exchange for valuable content, such as an eBook.
  2. Once you have this basic data, start lead nurturing campaigns offering prospects access to more great content in exchange for more data.
  3. Add value to visitors’ personalized experiences by asking: Will this help prospects and customers solve their problems and better understand our solution?

2 – SEO and Content Conversion: Help Them Work Together

Few companies discuss marketing without including a conversation about SEO. The two go together like peanut butter and jelly. However, the two functions have reached a point of conversion, according to a study by BrightEdge. In the survey, 97 percent of digital marketers believe that SEO and content have become more integrated or are converging into a single function. The marriage of content marketing and SEO impacts marketers’ three most important content performance metrics: conversions, engagement and traffic.

Consider These Stats and Facts

  • 52 percent of marketers recognize that fluency in SEO is critical to long-term content marketing success, according to BrightEdge
  • Organic search drives 51 percent of content consumption

Tips to Leverage the SEO and Content Conversion

  1. Use SEO data to discover how prospects consume and engage with your content. Identify what generates interest and results in prospects who take action.
  2. Conduct ongoing customer analysis, because prospects’ interests can change quickly.
  3. Consider how customers engage with different types of content across channels and devices and at different stages of the journey.
  4. Always be measuring. Set realistic and concrete goals for your content at every stage—from awareness to conversions.

3 – Social Media Marketing: Sharpen Your Focus

In the coming years, B2B marketing leaders expect to spend most of their time on social media. As a result, social media budgets will expand, according to a TEKsystems 2017 study. Central to the success of this expansion is understanding consumers’ point-of-view: Namely, they want consistent brand messaging and intuitive interactions whenever they encounter a brand or are considering making purchases.

Consider These Stats and Facts

  • Facebook continues to dominate social media use, according to Top Rank Blog
  • Social marketing is shifting toward emotionally engaging content and storytelling because strong emotions increase content’s “spreadability,” according to Oregon Web Solutions
  • By the end of 2017, we’ll likely see most of the major platforms enabling users to create and share video content, create and share live video content and discover news and what’s going on around them (based on location), according  to Buffer App

Tips to Leverage Social Media Marketing

  1. Ask: How do current customers feel about their experience interacting with our brand on social media?
  2. Determine which networks are most important for your business and spend the most time creating fully fleshed out social presences there.
  3. Consider dropping or reducing your time on social platforms that aren’t delivering lead generation and brand awareness.

4 – Video Marketing: More is Better

Remember the old adage that a picture is worth a thousand words? Consider the new adage about video: Digital marketing expert James McQuivey estimates that a single minute of video content is the equivalent of 1.8 million words. Clearly, video is a critical direction in the future of digital marketing. Cisco Systems’ recent Visual Networking Index report found that video will continue to deepen its dominance on internet traffic with volumes increasing fourfold between 2015 and 2020. By 2019, video will represent over 80 percent of all internet traffic. Viewed another way, the internet will support 3 trillion internet video minutes per month by 2020, which equates to 5 million years of video per month, or about 1 million video minutes every second.

Consider These Stats and Facts

Tips to Leverage Video Marketing

  1. Assess how much video content you currently use and the ROI. If you haven’t done enough, expand production.
  2. To make your videos as memorable as possible, ensure that you’re keeping them in line with your brand strategy.
  3. Boost your SEO by adding video to your landing pages, website and content offers.
  4. Experiment with different lengths and subject matter for your videos.

5 – Mobile Marketing: Time to Get “Mobile Friendly”

It’s full steam ahead on mobile marketing in 2017—and beyond. For one thing, Google’s announced mobile-first algorithm is expected to launch in early 2018. With this change, Google will primarily index mobile content and use it to decide how to rank its results, regardless of whether you’re on desktop or mobile. There no longer will be any type of “mobile-friendly” adjustment done just for mobile users.

Consider These Stats and Facts

Tips to Leverage Mobile Marketing (From Google)

  1. If you have a responsive or dynamic serving site where the primary content and markup is equivalent across mobile and desktop, you should not have to change anything for Google’s upcoming mobile-first algorithm.
  2. If you have a site configuration where the primary content and markup is different across mobile and desktop, you should consider making some changes to your site, including making sure to serve structured markup for both the desktop and mobile version.
  3. If you’re a site owner who has only verified your desktop site in Search Console, add and verify your mobile version.

6 – Digital Advertising: Dominating the Future

If you’re not yet engaged in digital advertising, now is the time. According to a new report from Facebook and IHS Technology, by 2020, media buyers will spend $84.5 billion on mobile advertising, with mobile accounting for 75.9 percent of all digital ad spend globally.

Consider These Stats and Facts

Tips to Leverage Digital Marketing

  1. Experiment with ads on different social media platforms to see which perform better for your brand.
  2. Leverage advanced ad-targeting tools, such as location-based advertising, which put your ads in front of users at the moment they’re in your area of interest.
  3. Privacy is a real concern for all customers, so be sure to enable opt-in and opt-out in your advertising.

The future developments in digital marketing are approaching at blinding speed. This is no time to rely only on what’s worked in the past. Now is the time to start planning for—and even implementing—the leading trends that will impact digital marketing success in 2018 and beyond.

Don’t delay…Call Radsick Ad Group at 727.866.9365 to get a jump start on your 2018 Marketing Plan.

 

5 Logo Design Trends for 2017

Paying attention to design trends can help define your brand voice.

Applying trends to your logo creates an ‘at-a-glance’ reminder of what your company represents. A great logo conveys answers to big questions about your brand, such as: What message are you trying to convey? Who are you trying to reach? What does the design represent? A logo has to answer these questions in a split second— now, that’s a lot of pressure!

Design trends definitely ebb and flow, but the foundation of a good logo design never changes. New design approaches can elevate your brand (or sadly the opposite, trends used in the wrong context can lead to trouble for your brand image), but learning the fundamentals of what makes a good logo is key. It never hurts to get a refresh on the characteristics that make a logo great:

It’s memorable.
If consumers can’t remember what your logo looks like, they’re not going to remember your brand.

It can stand the test of time.
The world around your brand will change, but your logo shouldn’t be redesigned every year to accommodate the new world; it needs to be able to hold its own.

It’s appropriate.
Find what is most important for you AND your brand to convey. What works for another brand will most likely not work for yours. A pretty font and beautiful colors won’t mean anything to the consumer if it doesn’t relate to the brand; a logo needs to be meaningful.

It’s unique.
A brand needs to stay relevant. Don’t get lost in the shuffle of the thousands of new start-up ventures with a logo that looks just like everyone else.

Now that you know what makes a logo great, let’s take a look at recent trends in logo design:

Hand-drawn:  Sincere. Fresh+ Fun. These are just some of the emotions that this type of logo design helps exude. A lighter approach is perfect if you are trying to stray from sophistication. Set your brand apart from the rest with this style  of design.

Simplified: Lately, brands have been switching gears and are going back to basics. Minimalism is here to stay, and we should all be happy about that! What worked in the golden age of design is definitely still working now. Sometimes keeping it simple is the way to go.

Geometric: Circles, triangles, squares, lines… these are the elements that make up the classic approach to geometric logo design, making it another trend that will never die. Simple geometric shapes are universal and have a long history in the design world. Modern businesses are adapting this trend and running with it. Interesting new logo forms emerge when designers start to play with geometry.

Color Transitions: While there is something strong about a solid color logo… a nice gradient or ombré can really help set a tone for a brand. Bold colors make a statement! This trend is all over the design world in 2017 and is definitely not limited to just logos.

Vintage: Looking for a throw-back vibe? Nostalgia is always in style. Your brand personality can really shine with this trend.

Bonus: Who doesn’t love a bonus trend? Animated/dynamic logos are holding their own this year. Motion design gives your brand a little pizzazz, but don’t animate your logo just because you can. The animation needs to relate to your brand, solidifying what your brand stands for.

Remember, a logo is a shortcut a consumer will use to figure out a brand. First impressions and snap judgment of your company will most likely be based on this very design element. So while they may be small, logos are your best silent partner.

6 Tips For Running A Social Media “Influencer” Marketing Campaign

Influencer marketing is all the rage these days.

Businesses that utilize influencer marketing have a 37% better retention rate  than those that don’t rely on word of mouth. Again, a Forrester report showed that 80% of all B2C and B2B purchases involve some form of word-of-mouth recommendation during the purchase cycle.

Though there are pros and cons with social media marketing, using influencers leverages the commercial value of influence and gets quick results, usually without any cons when properly executed. Adding this to the huge decrease of the CTR for display ads, which is 0.06%, many businesses have started to add influencer marketing to their arsenal.

But how can you create an effective influencer marketing campaign?

Here are 6 tips to use.

  1. Know your “who”…This is the biggest mistake people make in any form of marketing: they just jump in and try to get anyone who can pay them money.

You need to target small groups of people. You need to be the one who comes to these people’s minds when it comes to solving the problem your product solves.

So how can you do this? You need to know your target audience better than they do. That’s why you need to go target small groups of people and make your message clearer and sharper by targeting it toward that group.

How can you know your “who” demographic better than they know themselves?

Do the empathy map exercise. It’s a simple exercise where you can either bring members of your target audience into your company, or you could imagine yourself as a member of your target audience.

Then start answering these questions:

  • What does your customer see in her environment?
  • What does she hear from her friends and family and everyone else with whom she associates?
  • What does she think and feel? What is important to her? What are her most important emotions?
  • What does she say and do? What are her attitudes?
  • What is her pain? What are her biggest frustrations and obstacles?
  • What does she stand to gain from your product? What will she achieve with it?
  1. Start with the end in mind… Before you actually start your campaign, you need to start with the end in mind.

You need to know the goals you want to achieve from that campaign and work backwards. This will help you determine the budget you need to set aside to reach your goals. Make sure to keep key performance indicators (KPIs) in mind to measure the effectiveness of your campaign from the get-go.

These indicators could be:

  • Audience reach
  • Views
  • Engagement
  • Increase in followers
  • Sales
  1. Make sure the influencer is a good fit…Before you hire an influencer and start thinking about your campaign, you need to make sure that he or she is the perfect fit for you and your brand. Use a platform like Promo Affiliates which connects brands with suitable social influencers.

The influencers will be representing your brand, and if he or she has values that don’t align with your social media governance program, they’ll do more damage than good in the long run.

  1. Don’t make all the content yourself; have the influencer create it…The influencer has a very specific, attention-grabbing personality. That’s what attracts people to them. That’s why you don’t need to make the content yourself. Actually, you shouldn’t. Let the influencer do most of the creative work.

He or she already knows their audience and they know what’s going to resonate with them. But you can always offer to help. Give them a hand and maybe share things that are working with other influencers so they can try for themselves and see the results.

The most important part is that your influencer should be the main act when it comes to creating engaging content because he or she knows the audience better than you.

   5. Don’t always go with big names…When people start thinking about influencer marketing, they think they should go to the big people in the industry, the people who have more followers and so on.

Actually, that’s not always the best strategy, especially when you’re just starting out.

You need to go to the people who have the biggest number of people who are part of your specific “who.” Also, when you go with smaller names, they may be more engaging, which will give you higher ROI.

Plus it’s easier to go with people who haven’t done any campaigns or have only done a few. It will be less expensive, of course.

  1. Track, measure and analyze…Your job isn’t done after you create the content and publish it. You need to track the results and analyze them based on the KPIs you set.

It’s not just about the likes and views your content receives. Check your traffic stats and your sales count. Did you reach your goals? If yes, then great! Keep rocking with more campaigns.

If not, then you need to find where the problem is and how can you solve it the next time. After all, influencer marketing is a long-term game.

So track the results, measure its effectiveness and analyze your metrics to make sure you get the most bang for your buck.

Call Debbie at Radsick Ad Group to help you with your next “Influencer” marketing campaign.

Reprint: Forbes 5/17

 

 

Looking Ahead: 2017 Marketing Trends

It’s that time of year again, when we start looking ahead to what the new year will bring.

There were changes in 2016 in our approach to marketing, social media, and design. It was a year that focused on the consumer: consumer-centric marketing, consumer experience, consumer insights, and ways of tracking and analyzing those perceptions.

As we look at what’s ahead for digital marketing – we will need to rise to the challenge of staying ahead of emerging technologies and find strategies that emphasize targeted marketing.

Here are some key things to focus on for 2017:

Interactive Content: Last year, it was reported that audience attention spans have shortened as result of a more digital lifestyle. Keeping what little of consumers’ attention we have will depend on engaging them in the content. Blog posts, white papers, and infographics are still great content for people and search engines, but attention can easily shift away from static content. Interactive content like assessments, calculators, training modules, and games to keep your audience clicking, swiping, and sharing information will be key in engaging your audience. A great way to generate items such as these is through marketing automation.

Marketing Automation: The software used to automate repetitive marketing actions such as email, social media and other website actions.

As you are gearing up your digital strategy for 2017, there are a few things you will want to make sure you have in place.

1) Dynamic content: Dynamic content is content that “talks” to your subscribers. It puts a personal spin on your messaging and the more personal you are, the more likely you’ll convert subscribers into customers. As this strategy becomes more the norm, consumers will expect email to have more relevant content. But beware of over-personalized content – studies are showing that consumers have less tolerance for advertising that crosses this line.

For example, there are two forms of personalization:
Personal which involves facts related to an individual person; and Intimate – most people would feel hesitant about sharing the information in a professional setting. There’s a good chance that your marketing might feel a bit “creepy” for your audience if your marketing personalization is based on information that is both personal and intimate.

Basing your marketing around personal facts like what city or community they live in, how many children they have, or what they do for work are good examples, although privacy limits are always subjective. By contrast, if it’s intimate, and you’re basing your marketing display around intimate details like you overheard them talking on the phone about troubles with their wife and you start showing them ads to purchase flowers in their city, you may be crossing the line into “creepy”.

2) Drip campaigns: Drip campaigns are a set of marketing emails that will be sent out automatically on a routine schedule. These can be essential for businesses with long sales cycles. A drip campaign can help your team stay in contact with prospective leads and provide touch points that help in closing a sale. Setting up a drip campaign is the most efficient way to run a campaign without having to constantly monitor it.

3) Nurture campaigns: Just like dynamic content that changes depending on who you are contacting, a nurture campaign will segment your audience based on interaction. A nurturing campaign can be particularly effective with leads who are on the fence and need a little nudge.

The Social Scene: We’ve been seeing the influence of social media on marketing for years now. It’s a form of marketing that’s been embraced by most companies and viewed as a must-have to appear relevant in today’s world. Almost 70% of companies are still not collecting data from their social media channels – that is a crazy number, considering that social channels offer the greatest marketing opportunities out there. Suggestion for 2017: invest in social analytics.

Content…Content…Content: People’s attention spans are getting shorter. With that in mind, consider the content of your website. Information needs to be accessible as quickly and easily as possible. Great copy will always add strength to your website and is invaluable for SEO, but if something can be said clearly with a photo, animation, or short video, then do it. It all goes back to finding a better way to engage your audience in a concise and shareable way.

Remember too that your content doesn’t end with your site.

Your marketing strategy should interweave those valuable nuggets of information and brand messaging into all aspects of your digital existence. Social content and blogs are crucial aspects, and marketing channels like videos will be what blogging was seven years ago.

Content strategy is not a trend; it’s an evolution of where marketing is and will be in the foreseeable future.

Keeping up with the latest and greatest strategies is always a struggle for any business.

Give Debbie @ Radsick Ad Group a call to help your business stay ahead of the curve in 2017.

 

10 Quick Tips for a Successful Advertising Campaign

No matter how wonderful your company’s product or service is, if you don’t advertise, nobody will know about it.

The goal of any advertising program should be to cost-effectively reach the largest audience possible and attract new customers.

If done correctly, advertising can be a wonderful investment for your small business; if done poorly, advertising can become a huge money sink.

Despite what you see on “Mad Men,” advertising can be a tricky game.

Here are 10 important tips to help you plan, execute, and monitor your advertising program.

1. Go After Your Target Audience
An advertising campaign should be geared toward your niche market. It is a common mistake to create generic advertising materials/pieces that do not speak the language or grab the attention of your potential customers. Ask yourself what kind of customers you want to attract, and make sure your advertising speaks to them on a personal level.

2. Highlight Your Competitive Advantage
One of the keys to all advertising is to accentuate the pros of your company — those factors that give you your competitive edge. Too often advertising is clever but fails to sell the specific benefits of the featured product or service. Unless you highlight these benefits, your advertising delivers no value to potential customers.

3. Establish an Image (Brand)
You can recognize the McDonald’s arches while whizzing by on the highway. Likewise, there are plenty of products that you recognize by their packaging or logo. Image counts when it comes to advertising and promoting your business. Too many advertisers do not work to build a consistent image and beyond that – their ‘brand. They’re missing the chance to make an impression on prospective customers.

4. You Have to Spend Money to Make Money
There are ways to save money, but advertising is typically not the place to cut corners. Doing so will affect sales, and that affects the bottom line. Successful advertising may cost some money, but that is because it works.

5. Advertise in the Right Places
Your favorite magazine, radio station, social media network, or even television program might not be a favorite of your audience. Do some research about your target market to understand who they are and determine what they read, watch, and listen to. Then advertise in the appropriate media to ensure that you reach your target market.

6. Don’t Allow Your Budget to Run Your Advertising Campaign
Whether you budget $5,000 or $50,000 per month for advertising, you’ve made it very easy from a bookkeeping perspective. However, if like most businesses you have seasonal highs and lows, you are spending too much money advertising during down times and not enough when you want to attract customers. Too many entrepreneurs do not budget according to their seasonal advertising needs.

7. Diversify
It is all too common for business owners to choose the best place to advertise based on price and potential rate of returns, and then stop. As is the case with investing, you do not want to put all of your eggs in one basket. Spread your advertising dollars around by choosing a variety of suitable media for your audience and budget – based on research of your target market.

8. Don’t Try to Be Everything to Everyone
No product or service will appeal to everyone. Many business owners, including corporate executives, try to come up with ways to reach every market. Typically, this does not work. It can spell disaster for small businesses, who cannot afford to spread themselves too thin. Therefore, find your market and be everything you can be to that audience.

9. Test Your Advertising in Advance
If you have the time or money to invest in focus groups, you should test your advertising on other people. Do they understand and accept the message you are trying to convey? If not, get insight into how you could more effectively communicate your message. There are other less-expensive ways to test your ads as well — questionnaires, for example.

10. Monitor Your Advertising
It is very easy to ask new customers or clients where they heard about you. As simple as this is, many entrepreneurs do not bother to do so. It is advantageous to understand which elements of your advertising are most effective and which media offer the most profitable advertising opportunities for your company.

Be sure to contact Debbie @ Radsick Ad Group to help you plan & implement your next advertising campaign.

 

 

 

Social Media Marketing: Pros & Cons

Social Media has emerged as one of the most popular points on the technology spectrum.

The pros of social media marketing:
You can reach customers that traditional marketing misses.
You never know who will direct a friend to your blog, Facebook page or social bookmark post, so your potential for reeling in new leads is unlimited.
-You can build brand loyalty. Not only can you use social media to build your brand, you can use it to demonstrate your personality, interact with customers and show them that you care, which, in turn, breeds loyalty. Social media marketing can also boost your reputation and build relationships.
– You can learn how to improve your products and services. By encouraging open communication through public comments, you can learn what you can do to make your products and pitch more palatable.
– You can learn more about your target audience, not only by their comments but also by studying visitor analytics. This information can prove invaluable when planning other marketing campaigns such as direct mail, etc.
– Social media marketing is cost-efficient in comparison with other marketing methods, even if you hire a dedicated team or outsource your social media content needs.

The cons of social media marketing:
– Social media marketing places high demands on your time.
Content must be created, edited, approved and published; comments must be responded to and sites and pages must be maintained. You can alleviate these demands by outsourcing to a marketing professional.
– Social media marketing places high demands on your talent. It can be difficult to constantly come up with innovative exciting content that interests a variety of readers and, without relevance, your efforts will be wasted.
– You lose some control of your marketing efforts. Anything you publish is up for grabs, and others can easily criticize you. Publish backlash is the last thing you want your social media marketing to spawn, and without the ability to control comments or even what your own team is publishing you open yourself up for potential negatives.
– Your return on investment is delayed. Social media marketing can work to build relationships and brand loyalty, but it takes time and dedication. Social media marketing efforts are not likely to earn immense popularity overnight, so you must be willing to be in it for the long haul if you decide to launch a social media marketing campaign.

As you can see, social media marketing can bring many benefits and increased profits to any company with an online presence, but it comes with caveats.

If you’re considering launching a social media marketing campaign, make sure you understand all the pros and cons and have a robust plan in place.

Be sure to contact Debbie@Radsick Ad Group for a comprehensive, effective social media plan to increase your chances for social media success.

 

 

Does Your Business Need Rebranding?

Change is inevitable and a constant when you are part of an evolving business and marketplace.

In maintaining long-term success and staying relevant in today’s world of compelling brands, it is necessary to adapt to the ebb and flow – and rebranding is a necessary part of this evolution.

Even the most successful, well-established brands inevitably have to consider rebranding.

Rebranding means refreshing your business’s marketing presence, which typically will include: your logo, corporate identity package & all marketing materials, as well as all associated images and your business’s messaging – sometimes even your business name – to reposition your business in the marketplace.

Some questions to determine when you decide to rebrand:

1) Has your business brand expanded beyond its original scope?
Expansion and growth of a company often creates the need to re-focus on new or expanded ideas.

2) Is your business expanding into new markets?
If your company is growing into new geographical area/s, or simply trying to reach a new target audience, it is important to reinvent your brand to best connect with them and enhance the way you extend the company’s reach.

3) Has your company changed leadership/management?
Often a change in leadership or management brings a change in your business’s approach. This typically will require rebranding to align with those new values, vision, and philosophy.

4) How long has it been since your company has evaluated its image?
If the look and attitude of your brand is outdated, rebranding may be a necessary step that should address your business’s “personality” now and in the near future. Remember – rebranding is more than your logo design. Successful rebranding is the sum of all touch-points that come into contact with your current and potential target audience.

5) Are people aware of your business or what you do?
If your image and brand are no longer resonating with your audience, and you feel you may be losing your position in your field, it may be time to consider a branding change.

If you answered “yes” to any or all of the above questions – your business may be ready for a rebranding initiative.

Contact Radsick Ad Group for a complete assessment of your brand and your target market.

 

The Big Focus for Marketers: Customer Experience

In 2016 and beyond advertisers & marketers will need to focus on improving the customer experience and marketing in a digital-first world.

Emerging channels like mobile, video, and social media gain traction among brands and advertisers. Meanwhile, issues surrounding ad view-ability and ad blocking became even more apparent. The marketing and advertising community will need to find solutions that satisfy all parties: publishers, marketers and especially consumers.

Marketing trends shaping the future of marketing in 2016.

1. Digital has become a top priority for marketers while traditional channels lag

As digital ad spending soars and spending on traditional media stagnates, digital media will be an even greater focus for marketers in 2016.

Pervasive changing customer behaviors” have made it so that there has to be “a digital consideration to all marketing. Being able to tie specific revenue outcomes to digital marketing initiatives is helping “close the loop” for marketers, and has driven marketers to shift where they spend their budgets.

Digital ad spending worldwide makes up nearly 30% of the overall ad market. The growth is having a negative impact on traditional channels such as print and TV.

The growth in digital and the stagnation (or even decline) in traditional media underscores an overarching trend that has dominated the last few years: Consumers and marketers are favoring new media.

Digital marketing is essentially “mainstream – the mindset should be about marketing in the digital world where digital is the default.

2. Marketers will have to think mobile-first

Today, mobile is already one of the fastest-growing media channels in history – marketers will need to prioritize it if they want to reach consumers on their own terms.

In the past five years alone, mobile has gone from an emerging trend to the new normal. Nearly two-thirds of Americans own smartphones, according to a 2015 Pew Research Center study, and that number seems likely to only rise in the next year.

Mobile’s surge has redrawn marketing budgets and strategies, ushered in new ad products and platforms, and caused a fundamental change in the relationship between brands and consumers.

In the last 18-24 months in particular, marketers have taken a “much more purposeful approach to mobile,” and are increasingly looking at how it affects the user experience and adds value to their business.

The migration to mobile has left marketers pondering how to adapt their campaigns to different ad formats even within mobile, such as in-app ads. These ads accounted for 10% of mobile ad dollars last year, representing an 80% year-over-year increase.

In the year ahead, consumer usage and better ad formats will continue to drive ad dollars toward mobile. Mobile will provide marketers a unique environment to gather multi-dimensional consumer data that can be used to better personalize messages.

As the buying process and the marketing funnel continue to evolve, brands that leverage this data to improve their mobile marketing efforts should reap the rewards.

3. Social media is becoming a mainstream marketing channel

Social media companies from Facebook to Snapchat are looking to bulk up their innovative ad offerings and continue growing into major players for ad dollars.

According to the Pew Research Center – 65% of adults used social media in 2015, nearly ten times the number in 2005. Facebook and Instagram alone make up 1 billion and 400 million users, respectively, while the micro-blogging network Twitter has 320 million and Snapchat boasted about 100 million daily active users mid-way through 2015.

Now that the big social companies have built engaged audiences, many are turning their attention towards monetizing them and helping marketers reach their target audiences.

Of all the social networks, Facebook is the most popular for marketers, according to Socially Aware data. The world’s largest social network has worked in recent years to become mobile-first and build out a top-notch ad system. Facebook’s data and targeting tools allow marketers to personalize their social campaigns at scale.

Instagram which shares parent Facebook’s data and targeting system, has become a favorite among fashion and beauty brands with its visual format. With offerings such as “carousel ads,” the photo-sharing app wants to give brand marketers the space and tools to attract consumers.

Twitter is looking to find ways to help marketers leverage the social audience it has built. A handful of updates, including its Moments feature, events targeting, and conversion metrics, positions it as a powerful channel for real-time engagement.

Meanwhile, Snapchat, the go-to messaging app for many younger users, has started to offer marketers ad spots and targeting abilities. The app has set itself apart with its highly-coveted – and highly-engaged – millennial and Gen Z user base.

Marketers are taking note: In the last year, marketing perceptions about social media have changed, with social now seen as a place where marketers can find highly-targeted audiences and track their campaigns with granular metrics.

As social platforms build out their ad offerings – with a particular focus on mobile and video – marketers are shifting their budgets towards social, eMarketer projected that social media ad spend would reach $25.14 billion by the end of 2015, a 40.8% jump from the $17.85 billion spent in 2014. That figure is only expected to climb higher in the coming years, with $41 billion projected by 2017.

An ongoing challenge for marketers persists: linking social media campaigns to sales. Socially Aware reports that nearly half of all marketing executives have thus far been unable to measure social media spending’s impact on their business. As social companies continue to improve their ad and measurement offerings, expect brands to leverage these audiences in fresh ways.

4. Online video will see its star shine bright

Online video is quickly becoming a vital channel for many marketers.

It’s simply easier to consume and audiences tend to prefer it for its efficiency. It’s also, generally speaking, more effective as a storytelling medium, creating the inspiration that drives action.

A recent study by Cisco Systems shows consumer video will account for 80% of all internet traffic by 2019. Consumer viewing habits are moving away from TV and toward streaming video.

New tech innovations are expected to drive the momentum in that medium. Social companies like Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat are finding ways to integrate powerful video offerings into their ad systems. A few budding areas include auto-play videos, native in-app video ads and live streaming.

In the next year, we will see the live video, or the streaming experience, become more powerful. People have a much greater desire for community, in the moment, shared experiences.”

From smartphones and tablets to desktop computers, video views are up across devices, making it ever more important for marketers to construct multi-platform video ad strategies.

A November 2015 study by Yahoo found desktop video views grew 34% over the last year, while tablet and mobile video views grew even faster – 48% and 55%, respectively. Building an ad experience that connects with consumers across devices is key.

5. The bleeding edge in digital marketing begins with augmented reality

There has been a lot of chatter around augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) technologies lately.

Developers are rolling out new technologies, and the talk is turning to how brands and marketers might be able to use them for advertising purposes. While AR and VR – AR’s pricier and more complex older sibling – may not be mainstream marketing channels just yet, they shouldn’t be overlooked.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg sees virtual reality as having a similar potential to smartphones.

In the future, AR technologies could help drum up attention around product launches and experiential events in a more tangible, complete manner. For example, Facebook already has several brands, including Disney and AT&T, advertising with its 360 degree video campaigns, which can be described as a VR “lite” experience for users. These immersive ads help marketers tell richer stories and give consumers new reasons to interact with the ads.

Virtual reality technology could also give B2B marketers a way to showcase large equipment to potential buyers at a lower cost. Think for example a Caterpillar tractor or GE jet engine – telling the “story” of a complex sale is a challenge when the buyer is unable to physically see or test the product. VR offers marketers a way to create a compelling visual story around big ticket items in a 3D environment, and can help create a virtual “try before you buy” experience.

Digital industrial giant GE has already used VR to transport clients on a tour of its oil and gas exploration and to events like the Offshore Technology Conference in Houston.

Marketers will be smart to keep an eye on AR and VR technologies and see if there are ways to test out their viability for their brands.

6. Brands and publishers are homing in on content marketing

With all the focus on the consumer experience, many brands today are looking to boost their content marketing strategies to build stronger relationships with their potential customers. As a result, content marketing will home in further on providing value to the consumer, as opposed to focusing primarily on the brand’s message.

Content marketing is how you rise above the noise – it is inherently consumer-centered.

It will be crucial for brands to make sure their messages are as native and personalized as possible.

One emerging area for brands looking to create content marketing is through user-generated content (UGC). Through UGC campaigns – in which consumers provide the content – brands can build loyalty among their target audiences while simultaneously figuring out what sort of messaging really resonates with them. By bolstering their campaigns with UGC, brands can tell original stories based in the consumer experience.

Gone are the days of million-dollar ad investments and one-directional marketing messages. User generated content will become more than just a buzzword, with organizations from large enterprises to ‘mom and pop’ small businesses seeking more effective and efficient ways to activate ‘brand advocates.'”

Beyond UGC, some see digital video and social media as the biggest game-changers in content marketing.

What sets social media apart is that it allows you to have a back and forth conversation with your customer, rather than brands just talking at consumers. If you’re doing it [content marketing on social] the right way, you’re inviting your consumers to post their own pictures and finished products from what they did with their purchase.

On the other side of the content marketing coin, publishers are increasingly taking branded content in-house and building out their own custom publishing units. Publishers see an opportunity to directly provide marketers with custom content, as they know their audiences best.

7. Data is essential to marketing

Data today has become essential to marketing, but marketers haven’t quite connected the dots between tracking data and then applying it.

Quantitative skills and inventive strategies make up the essence of the next generation of marketers.
The challenge is to sift through the data for meaningful signals that marketers can use.

While marketers have access to data like never before, much of the data is not available to them in a timely manner so it is very difficult for them to make data-driven decisions that truly have an impact on campaigns while they are being executed.

The solution lies in measurement. Standardizing measurement in a holistic and automated manner in the near term will make it possible for brands to make data-driven marketing decisions in real-time.

Real-time data management is the future of personalization. In order to achieve this, marketers need to leverage the most meaningful data specific to their audience. Filtering out meaningful signals may be a big task, but the end goal is clear: using the most pertinent data to better tailor marketing efforts to target audiences

In 2016, marketers will focus on smarter measurement and obtaining meaningful insights that will inform how marketers can better engage their target audiences.

8. Marketers look to boost personalization

Given the focus on customer experience and the potential for leveraging data, marketers should place a greater focus on personalized communications.

With the help of data, marketers who put highly-personalized campaigns in motion will be able to drive better results. The benefits of personalization include higher response and conversion rates, brand loyalty and repeat customers, amplified reach and increased relevance with today’s shoppers.

Consumers that are given a reason to share their personal information are often willing to do so, but they expect to see tangible benefits, such as tailored promotions, in return.

The challenge is that marketers’ perceptions of their personalization strategies don’t match the reality. Despite marketers’ best efforts to personalize their messaging, they often seem to fall short with consumers.

What’s missing is a more intimate understanding of the customer’s current needs, which comes from smarter measurements of existing data. With this information, marketers can better personalize their messages to customers and provide them with a better experience. Through personalization, brands have the opportunity to build brand loyalty and boost engagement.

With an eye on repairing the consumer-advertiser relationship, which needs to take priority in the year ahead, “a balance needs to be struck between sustainability and providing relevant and helpful advertising to the consumer,” DMA’s O’Keefe said. “The consumer may need to be willing to have ads appear in their feeds without ad blockers, but the onus is on publishers and marketers [to fix this].”

9. Smart marketers will focus on the consumer experience

The old adage goes, “the consumer is always right.” And with the rise of ad blocking, it is clear that there is still a disconnect between marketers and their audiences. The wide availability of information and resources makes it even harder for marketers to reach target audiences and easier for consumers to move onto the next best option.

Customer experience is that last durable way to build loyalty and advocacy with consumers. The perspective should be exclusively “how you serve customer needs, but only as they translate value to the business – meaning there needs to be a value-add on both ends of the transaction.

The marketing view should be from the outside in, rather than inside out.

Marketers should think about what consumers need and what they want to hear. This will position brands to better connect with consumers in the moments that matter most, he added. The customer experience should be looked at as “an opportunity to add convenience and reduce friction, while innovating your business model.

2016 will need to be the year of truly meaningful creative if brands want to reach their consumers in a way that resonates. Campaigns will need to be designed with a specific target individual and device in mind, and ads will have to contain tailored messages. As technology evolves, hyper-local targeting will also be necessary for activating specific audiences.

It’s time to say goodbye to one-size-fits-all creative.

Contact Radsick Ad Group for assistance with marketing your business to ensure the best customer experience.

 

 

 

 

 

 

10 Laws of Social Media Marketing

Leveraging the power of content and social media marketing can help elevate your audience and customer base in a dramatic way. But getting started without any previous experience or insight could be challenging.

It’s vital that you understand social media marketing fundamentals. From maximizing quality to increasing your online entry points, abiding by these 10 laws will help build a foundation that will serve your customers, your brand and — perhaps most importantly — your bottom line.

1. The Law of Listening
Success with social media and content marketing requires more listening and less talking. Read your target audience’s online content and join discussions to learn what’s important to them. Only then can you create content and spark conversations that add value rather than clutter to their lives.

2. The Law of Focus
It’s better to specialize than to be a jack-of-all-trades. A highly-focused social media and content marketing strategy intended to build a strong brand has a better chance for success than a broad strategy that attempts to be all things to all people.

3. The Law of Quality
Quality trumps quantity. It’s better to have 1,000 online connections who read, share and talk about your content with their own audiences than 10,000 connections who disappear after connecting with you the first time.

4. The Law of Patience
Social media and content marketing success doesn’t happen overnight. While it’s possible to catch lightning in a bottle, it’s far more likely that you’ll need to commit to the long haul to achieve results.

5. The Law of Compounding
If you publish amazing, quality content and work to build your online audience of quality followers, they’ll share it with their own audiences on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, their own blogs and more.

This sharing and discussing of your content opens new entry points for search engines like Google to find it in keyword searches. Those entry points could grow to hundreds or thousands of more potential ways for people to find you online.

6. The Law of Influence
Spend time finding the online influencers in your market who have quality audiences and are likely to be interested in your products, services and business. Connect with those people and work to build relationships with them.

If you get on their radar as an authoritative, interesting source of useful information, they might share your content with their own followers, which could put you and your business in front of a huge new audience.

7. The Law of Value
If you spend all your time on the social Web directly promoting your products and services, people will stop listening. You must add value to the conversation. Focus less on conversions and more on creating amazing content and developing relationships with online influencers. In time, those people will become a powerful catalyst for word-of-mouth marketing for your business.

8. The Law of Acknowledgment
You wouldn’t ignore someone who reaches out to you in person so don’t ignore them online. Building relationships is one of the most important parts of social media marketing success, so always acknowledge every person who reaches out to you.

9. The Law of Accessibility
Don’t publish your content and then disappear. Be available to your audience. That means you need to consistently publish content and participate in conversations. Followers online can be fickle and they won’t hesitate to replace you if you disappear for weeks or months.

10. The Law of Reciprocity
You can’t expect others to share your content and talk about you if you don’t do the same for them. So, a portion of the time you spend on followers, which could put you and your business in front of a huge new audience.

 

What is the difference between marketing & branding?

In a recent conversation with a very senior person at a financial institution my colleague was told,
“I think private wealth managers will have a hard time seeing the value of branding—they see marketing as a cost center, not a driver of sales.”

Hold it!

How did we go from branding to marketing in one sentence like that?

What is marketing? What is branding How do they differ?

There is a spectrum of opinions here, but in my view, marketing is actively promoting a product or service. It’s a push tactic. It’s pushing out a message to get sales results: “Buy our product because it’s better than theirs.” (Or because it’s cool, or because this celebrity likes it, or because you have this problem and this thing will fix it, etc.) This is oversimplification, but that’s it in a nutshell.

This is not branding.

Branding should both precede and underlie any marketing effort. Branding is not push, but pull. Branding is the expression of the essential truth or value of an organization, product, or service. It is communication of characteristics, values, and attributes that clarify what this particular brand is and is not.

A brand will help encourage someone to buy a product, and it directly supports whatever sales or marketing activities are in play, but the brand does not explicitly say “buy me.” Instead, it says “This is what I am. This is why I exist. If you agree, if you like me, you can buy me, support me, and recommend me to your friends.”

Branding is strategic.
Marketing is tactical.

Marketing may contribute to a brand, but the brand is bigger than any particular marketing effort. The brand is what remains after the marketing has swept through the room. It’s what sticks in your mind associated with a product, service, or organization—whether or not, at that particular moment, you bought or did not buy.

The brand is ultimately what determines if you will become a loyal customer or not. The marketing may convince you to buy a particular Toyota, and maybe it’s the first foreign car you ever owned, but it is the brand that will determine if you will only buy Toyotas for the rest of your life.

The brand is built from many things.

Very important among these things is the lived experience of the brand. Did that car deliver on its brand promise of reliability? Did the maker continue to uphold the quality standards that made them what they are? Did the sales guy or the service center mechanic know what they were talking about?

Marketing unearths and activates buyers.
Branding makes loyal customers, advocates, even evangelists, out of those who buy.

This works the same way for all types of businesses and organizations. All organizations must sell (including nonprofits). How they sell may differ, and everyone in an organization is, with their every action, either constructing or deconstructing the brand. Every thought, every action, every policy, every ad, every marketing promotion has the effect of either inspiring or deterring brand loyalty in whomever is exposed to it. All of this affects sales.

Back to our financial expert. Is marketing a cost center? Poorly researched and executed marketing activities can certainly be a cost center, but well-researched and well-executed marketing is an investment that pays for itself in sales and brand reinforcement.

Is branding a cost center? On the surface, yes, but the return is loyalty. The return is sales people whose jobs are easier and more effective, employees who stay longer and work harder, customers who become ambassadors and advocates for the organization.

Branding is as vital to the success of a business or nonprofit as having financial coherence, having a vision for the future, or having quality employees.

It is the essential foundation for a successful operation. So yes, it’s a cost center, like good employees, financial experts, and business or organizational innovators are. They are cost centers, but what is REALLY costly is not to have them, or to have substandard ones.

J. Heaton/Creative Director/Tronvig Group/NY