Digital Marketing Minute Week of December 11

Digital trends and articles on digital marketing. Posted on Monday, December 11 in Making Your Marketing Work.

MARKETING TRENDS FOR 2018MARKETING TRENDS FOR 2018

Top 5 Trends For Marketers And Entrepreneurs In 2018

Billee Howard | Forbes

There hasn’t been a year in recent memory packed with as much change as we have witnessed in 2017. This groundswell of disruption stands poised to continue into the year ahead as the lines between culture and commerce, and the public and private sector, continue to evaporate.

As our new age of business continues, the CMO function continues to rise in importance due to a confluence of factors ranging from digital transformation to purpose driven business.

As plans get underway for 2018, what follows are the top 5 things CMOs should be aware of as we inch closer to the new year.

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DIGITAL MARKETING TRENDS FOR 2018DIGITAL MARKETING TRENDS FOR 2018

8 Predicted Digital Marketing Trends for 2018

Digital Agency Network

The digital world is constantly changing with rapid advancements in technology each year.

With newly-digitalised businesses and consumers beginning to interact with websites and apps more than physical staff, this shift change can’t be ignored.

From voice search, to micro-moments and omnichannel, here are 8 predictions for digital marketing in 2018.

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SOCIAL MEDIA MARKETING TRENDS FOR 2018SOCIAL MEDIA MARKETING TRENDS FOR 2018

5 Social Media Content Marketing Trends to Watch Heading Into 2018

Megan James | Ad Week

The field of digital content marketing is maturing, and companies need to make sure that their content campaigns and strategies are keeping up.

Above all else, it’s important to remember that good content is good content. It doesn’t matter what kind of technology you implement: If your branded content doesn’t resonate with your targeted audience, you have failed.

Here are five social media content marketing trends to watch heading into 2018.

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Do you have questions? Would you like to learn more about digital advertising and Advertiser Media Group advertising solutions? Contact us today by clicking here or calling 337.326.5485.

Is it Smart Marketing or Price Discrimination?

Mobile technology and big data allow businesses individualize consumer pricing. Economists applaud first-degree price discrimination but consumers are suspicious of it. Who's right? Posted on Wednesday, December 6 in Reaching The Right Audience.

Mobile Shopper

Mobile technology, coupled with big data, can now let you know who’s coming into your storefront, how often, and what they’re purchasing. This level of personal detail at the individual level has created a new front in an age-old tactic: price discrimination.

But is price discrimination smart marketing?

Is it Discrimination – or is it Business?

From a business perspective, adjusting prices to reflect supply and demand is a natural course of action. Just the same, it is in a business’s best interest to ensure it is as profitable as possible by not leaving money on the table with customers.

As you might imagine, consumers have a different opinion about the fairness of price discrimination – the practice of changing pricing based upon market trends or consumer behaviors in order to maximize business profits is scrutinized heavily and viewed as unethical by some. Too often though, they don’t understand they ultimately have all of the control.

But the simple fact is that the individual consumer is really the one who dictates what the price will be. How so? Customers have a range, including a top price, that they will pay for a product or service, based on the value that product or service is perceived to have. If the price is within that range, customers are comfortable and believes they are receiving adequate value and benefit for their investment. The real challenge, of course, is identifying the range and ensuring you stay well within it.

The classic example of sliding prices is airline flights. Passengers who book very far in advance may have a big event (such as a wedding or work conference) that will not move, so they are inclined to lock in travel plans. As such, they are willing to pay a higher price. Over time, the price of the ticket drops before skyrocketing as the actual flight day and time approaches. Thus, the closer passengers purchase their tickets to their departure date, the higher the cost. Airlines capitalize on those passengers that tend to purchase travel without a lot of lead-time, maximizing profits.

Different Types of Price Discrimination

When the price is changed to fit different consumer groups, it’s called third-degree price discrimination. There is also second-degree price discrimination that occurs when the rate goes down if a product is bought in quantity (commonly called bulk-pricing). But it’s first-degree pricing that is really being affected by the constant stream of cell phone and IoT data that marketers have begun collecting and analyzing.

Economics Online defines first-degree price discrimination as, “when a firm charges a different price for every unit consumed.” This gives the retailer and manufacturer a chance to maximize their profit on every sale they make. Forbes points out the appeal of this strategy:

The more information we have, the more profitable first-degree price
discrimination will be. As big data and online buying increases the information
that business have on us, the ease and profitability of first-degree price
discrimination will become difficult to resist.

First-degree pricing strategies will become common as we grow more adept and processing the wealth of data being captured online, from digital devices, and from IoT sensors.

Companies like Progressive car insurance are using dashboard driving data to set prices for consumers. Instead of using a formulary to gauge risk, they’re using telematics data on driving habits to set insurance prices.

It is important to remember price discrimination doesn’t just mean boosting prices to maximize revenue – it can also mean offering discounts or special pricing to boost sales volume.

Retailers like CVS use loyalty programs to offer coupons when customers cycle through and are more likely to make repeat purchases. This is a discount tactic that identifies when customers are in the market for certain products and creates a sense of urgency to act.

How Do You Navigate?

While the process of using big data to set pricing is still in its infancy as a practice, the fact remains that it will only grow in its impact and significance to both consumers and businesses alike. The challenge is the strike a balance that maximizes your profits but does not cause customers to churn.

At Advertiser Media Group, we love talking to businesses about different strategies and would welcome the chance to discuss how beset to engage your customers. Click to contact us today or call 334.262.1611 to learn how we can grow your business together.

Digital Marketing Minute Week of December 4

Every week we share trends and articles on digital marketing. Posted on Monday, December 4 in Making Your Marketing Work.

8 Digital Marketing Trends Set to Expire by 2018

Jasz Joseph | Hub Spot

When it comes to marketing tactics, unfortunately there is no "Best if Used By" dates. But that doesn't mean what worked last year -- or even last week -- will work today. In fact, some of the most popular digital marketing trends have reached the end of their shelf life and are well beyond their expiration dates. 

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How to Tell if Your Facebook Campaign Was Actually Worth It

Bethany Cartwright | Hub Spot

With such a large portion of the world using Facebook, marketers everywhere know Facebook is an ideal place to reach and engage new audiences.

But if you’re ready to start putting budget behind your Facebook advertising strategy, it’s important to fully understand how your ads efforts affect your business’ bottom line. Otherwise, how else do you justify your ad spend?

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How to Understand Facebook Insights for Social Video

Nick Carney | Hub Spot

Facebook's metrics panel that tells you anything and everything you'd want to know about how your videos are performing on the platform. In this post, I'll take you through why you should be creating videos for Facebook (if you aren't already), what the different metrics mean in Facebook Insights, and which five metrics are the most important to measure.

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Take Charge of Your Advertising!

Do you have questions? Would you like to learn more about digital advertising and Advertiser Media Group advertising solutions? Contact us today by clicking here or calling 334.262.1611.

Understand Audience Targeting

Steps To Make Your Marketing More Efficient Posted on Friday, December 1 in Making Your Marketing Work.

Understand Audience TargetingMaking your marketing more efficient requires the skilled application of audience targeting techniques in order to help you achieve your marketing strategy and key business goal.

There’s a lot of skill involved in knowing how to best apply audience targeting tactics in a marketing campaign. DIY marketing is hard, and audience targeting provides three specific challenges.

You need to know how to implement targeted marketing designed to move target subgroups to action. Not every customer insight is actionable, and within those insights that do have associated audience targeting tactics, not every tactic will help you reach your ultimate goal.

Digital marketing and advertising typically offers more options and functionality within audience targeting (and tracking). There are so many digital advertising audience targeting options, it can feel overwhelming.

Finally, digital marketing also enables the ability to do a lot of testing. For example, do audience criteria A perform better than audience criteria B. That’s a definite rabbit hole, making it easy to get distracted from your end goal.

All of this can be overwhelming if you’re trying to manage it on your own.

We Can Help

We combine the resources and reach of a national network, including unmatched customer insights, with the heart and soul of a local partner, including a local optimization team.

Contact us today by clicking here or calling 334.262.1611 to get the conversation started.

Digital Marketing Minute Week of November 27

Every week we share trends and articles on digital marketing. Posted on Monday, November 27 in Making Your Marketing Work.

5 Tips For Email Marketing Success This Holiday Season

Amanda Clark l Business2Community

During the holiday season, many companies kick their email marketing efforts into overdrive, seeking to capitalize on the frenzy of end-of-the-year shopping.

 

The 10 Factors That Will Make Your Social Media Marketing Campaign Profitable

Jayson DeMers | Forbes

Social media marketing has been on the minds of marketers since the rise of Facebook and Twitter more than a decade ago. Let’s explore what, exactly, a social media strategy needs to become profitable.

 

6 Tips to Double the Success of Your Video Marketing Campaign 

AJ Agrawal | Entrepreneur

Video marketing has never been more effective at converting prospects into leads. Studies say it’s 50 times easier to reach Google’s first page with a video.

 

Do you have questions? Would you like to learn more about digital advertising and Advertiser Media Group advertising solutions? Contact us today by clicking here or calling 334.262.1611.

Smart Becomes Intelligent: How Your Business Can Benefit from IoT Devices

Homes are now smart, with the Internet of Things sensors at every turn. Smart businesses will capitalize on the data collected and use it to influence consumer behavior. Posted on Friday, November 24 in Breaking Through the Clutter.

Smart homes and the devices that power them are now everywhere. Gartner says the Internet of Things (IoT) industry is worth more than $235 billion, and they point out that an average of 5.5 million new things are being connected every day. From the watch on your arm to the pacemaker in your chest, IoT devices are all around us, impacting our lives in ways we wouldn’t have imagined even a decade ago.

While you might not be next in line to create an Amazon Dash Button, there are ways you can lean into the smart home craze. How can businesses benefit from smart technology?

What’s Smarter about the IoT?

IoT devices include a mix of computer hardware sensors and software that connects wirelessly to a network. One of the goals of any IoT device is to collect and collate data. At some point, the goal is for all these sensors to connect and “talk” with each other to create a seamless user experience where our every need is anticipated. We haven’t transitioned to fully to a “smart life” yet – but Network World predicts not only will cloud storage increase to hold the data next year, but Internet speeds will improve exponentially. These improvements will set the stage for the next wave of smart devices. Businesses need to be ready to capitalize on these changes.

It is precisely the data that these devices are capturing that will impact business growth trends in the future. Businesses that are capturing IoT can begin to use it to change operating procedures including marketing and customer service. For example:

  • Data can be collated into buckets and business intelligence (BI) tools could be used to track consumer behaviors. Understanding the how’s and whys of customer behavior will help companies adjust their marketing messages to improve relationships and increase sales.
  • The data could also be used to predict exactly when, in the customer lifecycle, that a buying behavior will occur. Data from Fitbit wearables could track the mileage of a jogger and then a marketing message could start to appear at the exact time a runner’s shoes start to wear out. Or, a refrigerator that tracks water consumption from a filtered dispenser could ping consumers by email when it was time to change the filter, offering a coupon deal to buy the replacement.
  • Management of the big data captured from the IoT makes analytics crucial. Businesses would do well to capitalize on software-as-a-service (SaaS) providers that offer powerful analytics tools as part of their online subscription service. The key will be to track the right data, analyze it, and change marketing strategies to accommodate your findings.
  • Marketers should also take advantage of GPS location devices to track where consumers shop, and then partner with retailers to offer deals at those brick and mortar locations.

Smart technology powers everything from the computers in our cars to our refrigerators. It’s Siri and Cortana, Watson and Alexa. Businesses that can begin to capitalize on the data these devices capture in 2018 will remain at the forefront of this technology phase. Ignoring the data will put your business at risk of falling behind.

Curious about how to make your marketing work harder and smarter? Contact Advertiser Media Group today by clicking here or calling 334.262.1611.

Is Virtual Reality Ready for Advertising?

Will VR live up to the hype? From apps like Pokémon Go to the latest sci-fi thriller, digital reality technology may not be ready for prime time ... yet. Posted on Tuesday, November 21 in Breaking Through the Clutter.

Is virtual reality living up to the hype? The Economist says “not yet,” although the technology shouldn’t be written off just yet. The problem is that VR isn’t being adopted by the masses. The result is that expectations have so far exceeded consumer demand, which has left some technology pundits scratching their heads. Advertisers, product gurus, and market analysts are all wondering – what’s next for VR?

VR, AR, Mixed: What’s the Difference?

It’s important to note that VR falls under a technology subset that includes two other types of digital reality immersion tools. It’s easy to get confused by the differences between virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), and mixed reality (MR). In fact, the technologies have more differences than similarities:

  • VR works through the use of head-mounted displays that place a viewing screen powered by a computer in front of your eyes. Stereo creates an immersive experience and controllers allow the user to interact with the computer screen. As you move, the screen adjusts, making you feel as if you’re in a different world.
  • AR also delivers an immersive experience. But AR adds digital data on top of real-world imagery. Perhaps the most widely known example of this is Pokemon Go, which shows live video (using your mobile phone’s camera), with an augmented character superimposed.
  • Then there is mixed reality, which also mixes real-world objects with digital data. The difference is that AR lacks the immersive perspective of MR. MR features “occlusion,” which allows the computer-generated item to be obscured by a real-life object. When a figure moves behind a table, it’s cut in half, just like it would be in real life.

But can any of these fledgling technologies impact advertising?

Impact for Advertisers

In 2014 Facebook bought Oculus for $2 billion, increasing the hype surrounding the technology. The Oculus launched in 2016, the same year that two other VR platforms, the HTC Vive and Sony’s PlayStation VR, also launched.

USA TODAY cited the 6.3 million VR headsets shipped last year that were less sophisticated and more affordable. Only 200,000 of the more expensive and powerful Oculus VR headsets were sold.

Gaming has been the primary driver for VR sales, though many industries have been looking for other uses for the technology. For example, there are now options to watch movies and television in VR.

But the next phase of VR will likely be tied to marketing. While there have been a number of different marketing use cases for VR (check out the short VR film called “The Recall VR Abduction,” designed to promote the new Wesley Snipes sci-fi movie), there has yet to emerge a single, scalable method for delivering advertising via this new medium. That said, two of the biggest names in digital advertising, Google and Facebook, are betting heavily on the technology, so it is more than likely that they will find a way to make the technology appealing to marketers.

One core strengths of virtual reality is its ability to be used as a storytelling tool, which can be a big deal in an industry in which storytelling is becoming increasingly important. Virtual reality also allows marketers to create customized experiences, which can potentially have a much greater impact than more passive, non-interactive ads. Imagine being able to build a fully immersive experience for your customers – from showrooms to product trials to creating an unforgettable engagement with your brand.

Obstacles to VR Adoption

VR headgear can be cumbersome, and the technology relies on more powerful gaming systems or computers to function. Consumers at this point only see a use for the technology at the gamer’s level; this makes them hesitant to invest in the headsets.

But tech companies haven’t given up on the promise of VR; Facebook is still investing in the technology and they’re working on Facebook Spaces, a VR application that lets users interact via cartoon avatars.

So, while the consensus remains that a digitally enhanced advertising experience might not be ready for prime time, the promise of the technology remains as the future of the ultimate consumer experience. And, naturally, that is an invitation for marketing to be a part of the experience.

We love talking about new media and technologies – contact us today to learn more about ways you can make your advertising work by clicking here or calling 334.262.1611.

Digital Marketing Minute Week of November 20

Advertiser Media Group's weekly insights and articles on digital marketing. Posted on Monday, November 20 in Making Your Marketing Work.

A Rant About Newspaper Advertising DeclinesNEWSPAPER ADVERTISING

A Rant About Newspaper Advertising Declines

Gary Meo | INMA Media Research Blog

Why do advertisers continue to leave print when there is so much evidence to prove that print advertising works?

We all know printed newspapers provide mass reach. Nearly 46% of U.S. adults read a daily or Sunday newspaper in print every week — that’s more than 114 million adults. We also know printed newspaper readers are affluent. More than 37% have annual household incomes of US$75,000 or more.

And we know print is still the preferred platform for many adults who access newspaper content. Among the U.S. adult audience that consumes newspaper content across platforms (print, e-edition, Web site, and mobile), the percentage that accesses that content exclusively in print is 46%.

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Millennials Seem to be Key to Meal-Kit Subscription SuccessONLINE RETAIL

Millennials Seem to be Key to Meal-Kit Subscription Success

Monica Melton | eMarketer Retail

Meal kits face an uphill fight to reach a broad audience, but millennials are considerably more interested in prepared food services—and are likely to be key to their long-term success.

According to a July 2017 study conducted by Fluent LLC, an advertising technology company, 16% of US internet users subscribe to a meal-kit delivery service. But millennials were found to be considerably more likely to subscribe than non-millennials.

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BLOGGING

Be the Best Answer: 5 Steps to Grow Influence for Your BrandBe the Best Answer: 5 Steps to Grow Influence for Your Brand

Lee Odden | Top Rank Marketing Blog

Be the Best Answer is an expression my team and I have used many times in client strategy planning, training, presentationswebinarsblogging, and in my book Optimize about the intersection of search with owned, earned, paid and shared media.

Being present in a relevant, credible and useful way on all the channels where buyers are looking is a powerful (but often difficult to execute) way to provide the kinds of customer experiences that greatly differentiate one brand from another.

So how can your company take advantage of growing brand influence by working with industry influencers?  Here are 5 guidelines for building brand influence you can follow.

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Learn More!

Do you have questions? Would you like to learn more about digital advertising and Advertiser Media Group advertising solutions? Contact us today by clicking here or calling 334.262.1611.

The Biggest Holiday Shopping Days

Are you a "last minute" holiday shopper? It's not too late to update your advertising and make the most of this holiday shopping season. Posted on Wednesday, November 15 in Increasing Sales.

The holiday retail season could be the tipping point for a variety of trends, from Black Friday sales to mobile-dominated shopping. Being ready on the biggest shopping days is essential for holiday success. Here’s a handy guide to help along the way, and you can also download an Infographic version by clicking on the Download Attachment link below.

To learn more about digital advertising and Advertiser Media Group advertising solutions, contact us today by clicking here or calling 334.262.1611.

Biggest Holiday Shopping Days of 2016

Files:

Download Attachment: The Biggest Holiday Shopping Days

Digital Marketing Minute Week of November 13

Trends and articles on digital marketing. Posted on Monday, November 13 in Making Your Marketing Work.

Why Different Video Ad Channels Require Different Success MetricsDIGITAL VIDEO

Why Different Video Ad Channels Require Different Success Metrics

eMarketer

Completion rate is often considered the reigning king of success metrics for video content, but it’s not always the only—or best—way to measure campaign effectiveness.

Tom Alexander, founder and CEO of video advertising platform PK4 Media, spoke with eMarketer’s Sean Creamer about why the best metric for measuring success depends on the channel.

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For Effective Video Ads, Look Beyond Demographics to Behavior and ContextFor Effective Video Ads, Look Beyond Demographics to Behavior and Context

Kate Stanford | Think with Google

The days of “spray and pray” marketing—where brands would blast their ads at as many people as possible and hope the right audience noticed—are long gone.

Today’s marketers understand the importance of data-driven, highly targeted campaigns.

          >Read More

The Surprising Place Where Text Content Is Thriving: Video in a Mobile-First WorldThe Surprising Place Where Text Content Is Thriving: Video in a Mobile-First World

Becky Brooks | Marketing Profs

Audiences today are spending a lot of time on their smartphones. And with video's popularity on the rise on social media, people are watching a lot of video content also on mobile.

Marketers have to adapt their video marketing approach to account for the shift in consumer behavior.

          >Read More

Do you have questions? Would you like to learn more about digital advertising and Advertiser Media Group advertising solutions? Contact us today by clicking here or calling 334.262.1611.

Trending Now: Jewelry Stores Leverage Digital Marketing for In-Store Holiday Sales

Digital Marketing in a Brick-and-Mortar World Posted on Friday, November 10 in Increasing Sales.

In 2015, consumers spent more on Mother’s Day than they did for Valentine’s Day, and nearly 20% of their gifting dollars (totaling $4.2 billion) went to jewelry purchases. Interestingly, the bulk of these purchases took place offline in brick-and-mortar stores, despite the ever-expanding digital universe.

This is true of most jewelry transactions in general, too, and is not limited to gifting around holidays.

Driving the trend for traditional buying is the desire of both younger and more mature buyers to be able to see the sparkle and feel the weight of their jewelry investments, however big or small they may be.

The holiday season is no exception, and forecasts are strong for jewelry making an impact on gifts amongst higher-income households.

How Do the Holidays Come Into Play?

A Kantar report on 2017 forecasted Holiday Shopping had this to say about the power of disposable income gift items like jewelry:

Retailers and suppliers that appeal to upper-income households should feel relatively more optimistic this holiday. This shopper segment has gained momentum in recent months, reflecting rising home prices and growing investment values. Improved spending by this segment on toys, consumer electronics, and jewelry categories will drive aggregate brick-and-mortar growth at specialty retailers and department stores of 2.5%, up from 0.5% in 2016.

In-store sales for jewelry are still a hot item this holiday shopping season.

The Role of Digital

If the majority of jewelry sales take place in traditional stores, then what role does digital play for local jewelry stores? Certainly there is a place for e-commerce, but it is less critical for jewelry stores than for other segments. In fact, George Murray, Signet Jewelers’ Chief Retail Insights and Strategy Officer, cited the tendency for some buyers, such as millennials, to buy online then elect to ship to a store so that they can see and actively touch the pieces.

This begs the question again, what is the role of digital? Similar to other big-ticket purchases, digital is a prime channel for informing and engaging consumers: from educating gemstone grades to showcasing the latest trends.

To create an optimal digital experience for offline buyers, there are a few standbys that are a must within the digital landscape. First, websites are the foundation of any digital presence. Ideally websites will include some interactive elements where businesses can answer a customer’s pressing questions: a frequently asked questions section, at minimum, or real-time chat functionality that can push prospects further along their conversion process.

Other channels, such as social media and video, are great for highlighting beautiful inventory or gifting ideas. With the bulk of jewelry purchases going to a gift recipient, it’s important to align messages and tactics to targets: be it the buyer (who are men 75% of the time) or the end-user and beneficiary. For example, targeted digital video may work well for men, whereas social channels, such as Pinterest, might be a logical aspirational and inspirational platform for women.

What About Other Media?

Digital is influential in early stages of the conversion process, but it can also spark an offline conversion and drive consumers to make a purchase. PPC, email and social media ads lead the pack in terms of driving consumers to action both in the past 30 days and over the past 12 months.

Other channels have comparable effectiveness in leading consumers to act after seeing an advertisement: video (both television and digital), direct mail ads and coupons, and newspaper (both print and online) are among the most influential. These more mass vehicles are great for building awareness, too, and keeping brands top-of-mind for more personal, non-holiday events—such as birthdays, anniversaries, and proposals.

Without question, both traditional and digital tactics have a place in media plans, providing opportunities for building awareness, sparking interest, driving engagement and creating urgency. The challenge, of course, is how they fit within a business’ marketing strategy and communication plan based on who its best customers are and what their needs are.

Need Help Getting Started?

Be careful not to forsake select media and miss the opportunity to tell a comprehensive story about your business.

If you are trying to strike the right balance with your communication efforts to drive traffic to your store and struggling, we can take a deeper look at your current customers and help you understand how best to reach them, through both digital and traditional channels. Contact us today by clicking here or calling 334.262.1611 to learn more.


Sources:

2016 AudienceSCAN; NRF Mother’s Day Spending Survey conducted by Prosper Insights; Lieber, Chavie. “Kay, Zales, and Marketing Diamonds to the Middle-Class Man.” Racked.com, 7 Aug. 2015.

2017 Kantar, “These Retailers Will Win the Holiday Shopping Season,” us.kantar.com, 14 Sept. 2017.

Digital Marketing Minute Week of November 6

Every week we share trends and articles on digital marketing. Posted on Monday, November 6 in Making Your Marketing Work.

Holiday checklist 2017: What to know about today’s mobile-first shoppersMOBILE

Holiday checklist 2017: What to know about today’s mobile-first shoppers

Think with Google

Learn about the trends and habits of mobile-first shoppers so you are prepared this holiday season to grow your bottom line.  

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Tools and tips for calculating the ROI of Social MediaSOCIAL MEDIA

Tools and tips for calculating the ROI of Social Media

Clark Boyd | Click Z

The need to market on social media is important and it’s increased significantly in sophistication and have the technologies at our disposal.  Do you know who to calculate the ROI of your social media campaigns?

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DigitalMarketer’s 101 Best Email Subject Lines of 2016EMAIL MARKETING

DigitalMarketer’s 101 Best Email Subject Lines of 2016

John Grimshaw | DigitalMarketer

Tired of your email marketing being mostly guess work? Use this plug and play guide and tracking sheet to track, analyze, and optimize your email marketing strategy.

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TAKE CHARGE OF YOUR ADVERTISING!

Do you have questions? Would you like to learn more about digital advertising and Advertiser Media Group advertising solutions? Contact us today by clicking here or calling 334.262.1611

Digital Marketing Minute Week of October 30

Every week we share trends and articles on digital marketing. Posted on Monday, October 30 in Making Your Marketing Work.

SEO vs. PPC: What’s the Difference?SEO vs. PPC: What’s the Difference?

Stephanie Heitman | ReachLocal

Have you ever wondered about the difference between SEO and PPC and whether or not you actually need them both? Search engine optimization, or SEO, and pay per click, or PPC, are two common digital marketing strategies. While they both help your business show on search engines, there are a number of differences between the two.

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The 4 Best Places to Market Your Business Online

The 4 Best Places to Market Your Business Online

Blake Jackson | ReachLocal

As online marketing becomes increasingly popular, there are more and more opportunities and places to market your business. As you find where your target audience is, you will figure out which niche platforms you should be advertising on, but what are the major platforms you should be on no matter what?

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How Do You Know Your SEO is Delivering Results?

How Do You Know Your SEO is Delivering Results?

Stephanie Heitman | ReachLocal

SEO, or search engine optimization, is necessary to get people to your website organically from the search engine results pages, or SERPs. A good SEO strategy doesn’t necessarily mean first page rankings or how you’re performing in a keyword report because that doesn’t take into account the many benefits SEO has for your website and for your business. So, how can you truly see whether or not your SEO is delivering results?

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Take Charge of Your Advertising!

Do you have questions? Would you like to learn more about digital advertising and Advertiser Media Group advertising solutions? Contact us today by clicking here or calling 334.262.1611.

Trending Now: Sporting Goods

The Key to Millennials Isn’t Social Posted on Friday, October 27 in Increasing Sales.

Millennials are a driving force in the popularity of wellness as a way of life. They purchase wearable fitness devices and download apps; they live in athleisure, and they invest heavily in fitness centers and health clubs. They’re not necessarily into fitness. They simply want to eat well and live a healthy lifestyle. This passion point makes Millennials an obvious target for Sporting Good stores, and yet understanding their preferences for marketing communications can be tricky.

Millennials are notoriously difficult to market to. They exercise personal choice for how they access media and program their channels. They are savvy to marketing messages and tune it out with ease.

In addition to their own preferences, there are also preconceptions around Millennials’ media habits that may impact how Sporting Goods stores go to market. These preconceptions can lead to bad investments, wasted resources and poor results if a business is not careful. What are these preconceptions? The most popular one is:

Social media is the only way to connect with A18-34.

Marketers oftentimes assume social media is the only channel for connecting with an 18-to-34- year-old audience. To be fair, it is wildly popular: 83% of online US adults 18-34 are on Facebook. Instagram already has 41% of Millennial internet users on site (and growing) and boasts the highest concentration of Millennials (accounting for more than 60% of users). With this density of engaged users, social media is an attractive opportunity for Sporting Good stores to connect with Millennials, but social media is not the preferred communication channel for retailers for Millennials.

Overwhelmingly – and ironically – their preference is for email communication. 82% of Millennials cite email as the most preferred channel for interaction with retailers. The preference for email communications is slightly more notable for males with 76% of M18-34 compared to 73% of F18- 34 who claim to open and read promotional emails from retailers. And when compared to the larger email-reading population, Millennials are 86% more likely to read on a smartphone (which means emails should be built in a responsive format). For Sporting Good retailers, email is very much a necessary platform in concert with a larger integrated strategy.

Millennials are bucking conventional wisdom and making marketers adhere to their terms. We are tapped into their media habits and preferences, and we have the tools to uncover additional insights and the integrated marketing expertise to help you understand how to leverage them. To learn how we can make this work for your business, contact us today by clicking here or calling 334.262.1611.



Sources:
Borison, Rebecca. “Health And Fitness Apps Are Exploding In Popularity — Here's Who Is Using Them” Business Insider 19 Jun 2014
“Millennial Research Study 2015” Principal Financial Group 10 Mar 2015
“Millennials in Adulthood: Detached from Institutions, Networked with Friends” Social Trends Pew Research Center 7 Mar 2014
“The Acumen Report: Constant Content” Defy Media 3 Mar 2015
eMarketer, Feb 2015
Garcia, Krista. “Retail Email Marketing: Benchmarks and Trends in the US” eMarketer 24 Sep 2015 

Drive Holiday Sales Using Social Media

Engage and inform your customers to push consideration and conversion Posted on Thursday, October 26 in Increasing Sales.

Despite the digital and mobile surge  in holiday shopping, social media has puttered along in terms of direct attribution for sales.Social Media Holiday Sales

In 2014 social media channels (limited to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest) were responsible for a meager 1.7% of sales, according to a report by Custora.1 By 2015 only 9% of internet users surveyed plan to make holiday purchases directly via social networks.2 Two years later, trends are shifting.

Don’t Discount the Power of Influence

Despite limited direct sales, social media contributes a significant amount of influence over purchases by pushing consumers further down their consideration sets and purchase funnels.

The top ways in which shoppers use social media while holiday shopping include:3

  • Getting gift ideas
  • Finding discounts / coupons / sales
  • Reading reviews and recommendations for products and stores
  • Browsing for products
  • Checking with family and friends on their wish lists

NOW Is the Time to Plan

Holiday creep means it is critical to get social channels in shape for the holidays NOW. Like all great marketing endeavors, the first step is to build a plan for activating and maximizing social activity during the holiday season and through the end of the year, if one doesn’t exist already.

To get started, here a few suggested tactics to fold into your social media plan to help you make the most of your channels this holiday season:4

Today: Prepare Your Pages

  • Prune content for anything that may be incorrect or irrelevant (does your Pinterest page include products you no longer carry?).
  • Make conversion as easy as possible – if you haven’t already, activate your “buy now” buttons, available on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter and Instagram.
  • Include and be mindful of trending hashtags throughout the season (and always).
  • Drive your customers to connect with you in social. Create buttons on your site, hand-write it on receipts, put up signs, talk it up with customers – get the word out!

Early November: Set the Tone

  • Update your profile and cover images – ideally to something more seasonal and festive.
  • Build a top 10 list to spark a conversation and engagement – everyone loves a list. Highlight some of your limited time offerings or best sellers.

Mid-November: Share a Sneak Peek

  • Start teasing out a Black Friday / Small Business Saturday / Cyber Monday special. The competition for attention and dollars is severe from Thanksgiving through the following week, but it is worthwhile to have a compelling offer to highlight in social. Get ahead of it with earlier messaging.

Early December: Get Them Engaged

  • Update your profile to reflect holiday hours (do this sooner, if you have extended hours before December).
  • Consider a pro-social / charitable initiative. Individual contributions to charities peak between October and December, and folks feel more encouraged to give more generously during this time of the year.5 For example, donate a fixed amount or a potion of proceeds for a particular item / service that you sell.
  • Profile popular gifts for difficult-to-buy-for people (mother-in-law, co-workers, etc.) – this will keep you top-of-mind and may give you an opportunity to showcase even more of your products and / or services.

Mid-to-Late December: Pique Their Interest

  • Create social-based promotions, such as a Twitter flash sale or a Facebook coupon, targeting last-minute shoppers. Remember, these can (and should!) Be shared widely, so be mindful of what you’re promoting and how steep the discount, if any.
  • Don’t forget to include messaging around gift cards.

Post Holiday / Early January: Keep Them Interested

  • While the surge in shopping may have passed, there is still opportunity to engage with gift card recipients and New Years resolution makers.

We Can Help

Throughout your social media holiday efforts, there is a place for investing in social media advertising. This will help break through the congestion and ensure your messages are seen widely. Relying entirely on organic impressions and traffic will limit the ability of social to impact sales severely.

We would love to position you for success this holiday season. Contact us today by clicking here or calling 334.262.1611 to get the conversation started.


1 “What Role Does Facebook Play in Holiday Shopping?” eMarketer 18 Dec 2014

2 “Holiday Shopping Survey 2015” Market Track Report Qualtrics 21 Sept 2015

3 “29th Annual Holiday Shopping Survey” Deloitte 29 Oct 2014

4 Morell, Katie. “How to Promote Holiday Sales Using Social Media” Open Forum American Express 15 Dec 2010

5 “Charitable Giving in America: Some Facts and Figures” National Center for Charitable Statistics 30 Sept 2015

Trending Now: Beer / Wine / Liquor Stores

Is it time to start selling online? Posted on Monday, October 16 in Increasing Sales.

Nearly 70% of Americans buy alcohol on a regular basis, with 12% reporting they have purchased alcohol online recently (within six months), according to a recent survey by The Harris Poll. This may only represent a fraction of overall sales, but the trajectory of online sales looks promising. The majority of online buyers expect to purchase even more alcohol online over the course of the next year, and 11% of in-store buyers expect to try online shopping for alcohol within the year.

Who is buying online?

Relative to who purchase their alcohol exclusively in-store, online shoppers are younger, more male, more affluent, and more urban.

What are they buying?

You may assume because the majority of online shoppers are young, urban men their tastes skew towards beer. While they may be consuming beer, among recent online purchases, wine dominates with 42% of sales. Liquor or spirits follow, included in 35% of sales and beer lags at 29% of sales (sales may include multiple purchases).

Ready to start selling?

If you’re considering adding e-commerce / m-commerce functionality to your website and business model, be sure to start with an exploration of regulations—several states prohibit shipping, and if you open your business up for online sales, you may attract non-local shoppers. Be ready to accommodate on-site pick-up, too, as half of online buyers choose to pick up their purchases in store.

We can help!

Finally, if you invest in a digital storefront, advertise it! We can help you build a comprehensive communications strategy to help folks learn about your offering and drive traffic to your store, both in person and online. Contact us today by clicking here or calling 334.262.1611 to learn more. We’re ready to help your business grow—and thrive!

Source: “One in Ten Alcohol Buyers Purchase Alcohol Online” The Harris Poll. Mar 2017.

Digital Marketing Minute Week of October 16

Every week we share trends and articles on digital marketing. Posted on Monday, October 16 in Making Your Marketing Work.

Pay-TV is currently on pace to set an ominous record: the largest loss of subscribers in one year. 

More and more American households are “cutting the cord.”  For anyone who is not familiar with the term, “cord cutting” refers to discontinuing service from cable or satellite TV providers such as Comcast or DirectTV. 

Surprising to some is that Millennials are not leading this trend.  Generation X is heavily involved: the average age for “cord cutters” is 43, which makes up 8% of the U.S. population (Main, 2017).    

Even worse for the industry are “cord nevers.” As the name implies, this group of consumers has never had any type of Pay-TV service.  Instead, they and their influencers rely on steaming video and social media for news and entertainment.

“Cord nevers” make up 9% of all U.S. consumers, and consist of Generation Z and Millennials with an average age of 34 (Main, 2017). 

In order to keep up with the evolving consumer, advertisers need to understand these trends and adjust their channel strategy to include streaming video and social networks.  Follow the links below for more information.

To find out how Mississippi Media can make the most of your Advertising and Marketing budget, click here or call 334.262.1611 today.

Pay-TV Companies are in Crisis Mode
Scott Moritz and Gerry Smith l Bloomberg Technology
October 12, 2017

Understand the current state and future of Pay-TV to help you better invest your marketing dollars in this evolving landscape.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Read more

 

This Study Reveals How Cord Cutters’ and Cord Nevers’ TV Preferences Differ
Sami Main | AdWeek
April 24, 2017

Pay-TV’s newest problem: Cord Nevers.

Learn how Generation Z and Millennials perceive television and streaming as a service.

Read more

 

The Streaming Generations’ Present New Challenges for M&E Marketers
Giselle Abramovich | CMO.com
April 24, 2017

Today’s connected consumers are disrupting the media and entertainment industry.

  • Nearly 60% of Generation Z, Millennials, and Generation X subscribe to at least one paid streaming video service.
  • Nearly three-quarters (73%) of U.S. consumers and nearly 90% of Millennials and Gen Z have binge-watched video content.
  • Deloitte found that social media is incredibly important to Gen Z and Millennials for deciding what content they want to consume.

Read more

Are you planning your holiday marketing yet? Your customers are!

Why planning your holiday marketing is important NOW! Posted on Friday, October 13 in Building Your Brand.

We all know actions speak louder than words.  Consider this, while 59% of consumers say November is when it feels “right” to see a holiday advertisement 47% of holiday shoppers start thinking about what they’re going to buy for friends and family in October (or earlier!). Businesses need to stay top of mind with non-holiday related messaging starting as early as September.

And this year could be a record setting one in terms of consumer spending.  This year’s holiday retail season is expected to see continued growth. Retail sales in the U.S. during the months of November and December are expected to increase as much as 4% (for a total of $682 billion) up from $655.8 billion in 2016, according to the National Retail Federation.

How do you capture your share of these dollars?  Stay ahead of the shopper with a comprehensive digital plan that includes social media, an engaging website, and search retargeting. Social media and search retargeting is the preferred channel for staying top of mind for consumers, as it allows you to target a consumer based on age, demographic information, geographic location, and then follow the consumer through the decision making, and ultimately the purchasing funnel.

Once the time is right for the consumer to spend, your promotions need to be active and in front of your target audiences. 62% of respondents go straight to search engines when researching a potential purchase for the holiday season. Half of consumers who conducted a local search on their smartphone visited a store within a day, and 34% who searched on computer/tablet did the same. If your business doesn’t have a strong digital presence during this time, chances are you will be eliminated from the consumer consideration set from the start.

Search engine activity during prime holiday shopping increases even more due to mobile device usage. 82% of shoppers search for store information on their mobile devices while they’re conducting holiday shopping. As consumers become more and more comfortable with purchases via mobile smartphone, it is estimated that by the end of 2016, 25% of all retail ecommerce sales in the U.S. will take place via mobile devices.

Activating and managing a digital presence early enough in the holiday season is imperative to capture consumers’ ever evolving “holiday creep” shopping behaviors! Be where your customers are – before they even realize that they are your customer!

We can help. We offer products and services to build, maintain and grow your digital presence.

We’d love to talk more with you – contact us by clicking here or calling 334.262.1611.

 

Sources: National Retail Federation, 2017; G/O Digital, Pays to plan Holiday Marketing Strategy in August, 2015; G/O Digital, Holiday Purchasing Habits: A Digital Advantage for Local Businesses August, 2015; eMarketer, A Happy Holiday Season Expected for Retailers, 2015; Google, Understanding Consumer’s Local Search Behavior, May 2014

It’s Print & Digital (Not Either/Or)

The rise of digital isn’t the end of print. Your media mix should be driven by strategy. Posted on Wednesday, October 4 in Making Your Marketing Work.

Thriving with Print Advertising

We’ve all heard it before: Print is Dead! But is it? People have been saying that for over a decade now, but print is still around. Print is still a great medium for driving awareness with certain audience segments. And though the continued effectiveness of traditional media is most tied to creating and maintaining brand awareness, print drives sales and generates leads. In fact, cutting print from your marketing mix can result in lost market share and sales opportunities.

Not convinced that print is still relevant? Take a look at some recent USA TODAY NETWORK case studies to see how print can generate leads and increase sales:

Before you count out (or cut out) print, take a look at your media mix with your complete marketing strategy in mind.

Digital Advertising Extends Reach and Budgets

Though it’s safe to say that print is not in its death throes, it’s impossible to deny that digital audiences continue to grow. Additionally, digital advertising allows for a level of targeting precision that traditional media does not, and there are an ever-growing number of channels as well. With more and more consumers looking online to find the products and services, digital advertising is a must for any local business that wants to compete in the modern marketplace.

Here are some reasons to add digital to your advertising strategy:

  • Audience Targeting: Digital advertising allows you to ensure that your ads are only served to your highest potential audiences.
  • Mobile Messaging: Digital advertising allows your marketing to be as mobile as your customers are. From news apps to mobile web to social media, your messages can literally be in the palm of their hands.
  • Tracking and Measuring: Digital tactics are easier to track and measure than more traditional formats. Additionally, you or your media partner can also monitor performance in real time, optimizing as necessary.

Find a balance

Need some help developing a balanced advertising strategy for your local business? Our team of marketing experts can leverage national data to help you drive brand awareness, increase sales, and achieve your business goals. Contact us today.

Trending Now: Adult Care

Reaching the Hispanic Market Posted on Friday, September 22 in Increasing Sales.

The total Hispanic population in the US continues to grow, albeit at a slower pace, but the segment represents more than 16% of the total population, according to the last census. While the proportion of Hispanics who are under 50 is higher than other populations (such as Black and White populations), the sheer size of the segment—and its long-term growth potential—makes it a very important population. Simply put, there is significant opportunity that may be left on the table for adult care providers who are not considering the Hispanic population as part of their marketing strategy.

If you are looking to dive fully into Hispanic marketing, you will want to keep in mind all of the ways in which you will need to activate your efforts: from cultural sensitives to language challenges to ensuring you reach enough of the population to deliver a positive ROI. It is not an insignificant undertaking, and there are plenty of marketing partners who will gladly offer their services to help you navigate the new territory effectively.

It Doesn’t Mean an Overhaul.

The truth is, you may not need to overextend your bandwidth and budget to target the Hispanic population. How is that possible? By digging deeper into your current strategy, you can make slight adjustments to your efforts to reach the Hispanic market.

First, keep in mind “Hispanic” is a generic term that encompasses several dozen unique cultures and heritages. What resonates for someone who is of Mexican descent will not necessarily work for someone who is Puerto Rican or Argentinian. However, there are a few of underlying similarities that you can leverage to create a connection:

  1. Family is everything: While family is important in many cultures, Hispanic cultures emphasize the importance of family across many levels, beyond the core nuclear family to include extended family. This is critical to understand as it relates to adult home care, as family members will want to ensure their loved ones are well taken care of.
  2. Don’t be too professional: Of course, you want to be viewed as a professional, respectable business, but for many Hispanic cultures, there is a preference for a more relaxed—but still formal—friendliness. In fact, being too businesslike will come across as sterile, cold, and inauthentic. Build an honest rapport by being a little less formal and a little more conversational.
  3. Many Hispanic cultures are collective-oriented: That’s a fancy way of saying they value the group over the individual. Whereas American culture is very much individual-oriented, in terms of decision-making and achievements, Hispanic cultures prefer to think of the larger group as an entity that needs to be respected and preserved.

You may be able to think of other generalizations—some of which might be accurate—but be mindful not to overstep, especially into sensitive areas, such as politics and religion. It’s a surefire recipe for alienating audiences, unless you are a religious or political organization. Even then, it is wrought with potential landmines.

Inform and update your marketing.

Using a few critical insights, you can update your general market messaging to be more inclusive. Or, you may consider running multiple versions of your ads with geo-fencing or zip code targeting to identify where the highest concentration of Hispanic audiences resides. And, while older first- and second-generation Hispanics prefer Spanish or English equally, third-generation Hispanics are English speakers and consume content almost exclusively in English. These third-generation Hispanics are largely Gen Xers and Millennials who are helping parents navigate the digital landscape (though older generations are finding their way very well on digital channels).

In terms of media mix, relative to non-Hispanic consumers, Hispanics over-index across both social media and mobile platforms. There is also a high value placed on ratings and recommendations (remember the insight that Hispanic cultures are collective-oriented?), so you’ll want to be sure you’re buttoned up with your reputation management online and that you’re actively engaging any poor reviews. Digital is great because you can laser focus on audiences and add an overlay to your efforts to ensure coverage of the Hispanic segment in addition to your general market audience.

Remember your creative should act like a mirror, showing an aspirational but still relatable version of your consumers. Be sure to cast Hispanic families or showcase photography that has Hispanic families featured. If your facilities have bilingual staff and services, include information on your website and in key content and advertising.

A word of caution . . .

Be careful not to treat the Hispanic market as a novelty or a stereotype: keep away from cliché depictions (e.g. sombreros) and don’t build content or advertising in Spanish unless you employ a professional to help you with grammar and colloquialisms.

What do you know about Hispanic audiences?

We know audiences better than anyone else locally. We have the tools and insight to identify where Hispanic audiences are, what media is best for engaging them, and how you can make a connection. We can provide direction for how to update your creative to make it more inclusive and inviting in an authentic way for this audience. If you’d like to talk more about how you can diversify your targeting, contact us today.

Sources: eMarketer; Stanford School of Medicine, US Census, PEW Research Center

Trending Now: Summer Camps

Bring them Back with Content Posted on Friday, September 15 in Increasing Sales.

With the start of the school year, it may seem like a good time to sit back and relax if you work for or run a summer camp. However, if you’re planning to coast into the new year, waiting until January to pick up with promotions, you may lose mindshare with customers, leaving room for the competition to fill in the gap.

Revive and Share Summer Memories

Summer camp is more than childcare; parents are investing in creating experiences and memories for their children. Content is a great way to remind parents of how fulfilling and memorable summers at your camp are—you can also position your programs to increase enrollment.

Blogs – If you haven’t been blogging the summer away, now is the time to capture the magic of day-to-day life, special events, outings, and celebrations. But you’ll also want to balance that out with posts informing your audience about the benefits of camps in general and programs like yours. The goal is to demonstrate that camps provide valuable services that are beneficial to children.

Reviews & Testimonials – No business is at a loss for words when it comes to touting its products and services. That’s why consumers want to hear from customers. Featuring reviews and testimonials on your website will help prospects decide to enroll their children at your camp. You can solicit these (and gain valuable feedback) by putting out customer surveys. And remember to gain consent before using customer names.

Branded Content – Remember those blog posts that educate parents about the benefits of summer camp programs? While they’re a great addition to your website, they may not capture the attention of your target audience, especially prospective customers. Branded content allows you to leverage a publisher’s engaged audience to increase exposure.

Social Media – Sure, posting on social channels can drive traffic to the content on your website, but it can also house content, as well. Don’t think in terms of long-form posts (just post a link), instead use visuals and quick, pithy posts. Pictures from the summer are a great way to showcase what camp is all about: enjoyment.

Email – Yes, email. If you have bandwidth and are organized enough, you can send parents pictures of their own children having a great time at your camp. This is will give families a keepsake to cherish, giving parents a view into their child’s camp experience. It will also increase the likelihood of repeat business.

We can Help

While content can give your brand creditability, to boost brand awareness, you need to put content in the context of a sound marketing strategy. We’ve got the insights, audience, and expertise to help you promote your camp to the right audience at the right time. Contact us today.

Digital Marketing 101: Maintaining Owned Channels

Digital marketing is about balancing paid, owned, and earn media—and it all starts with a strong, well-maintained online presence. Posted on Friday, September 15 in Building Your Brand.

Digital technology is everywhere. If you’re selling a product or service, creating a presence across digital media channels is imperative because that’s where your customers are.

This article, the first in a three-part series, will look more closely at the three categories of digital channels you can use to reach and convert potential customers, focusing first on owned media.

The Digital Marketing Trifecta

There are three primary categories of digital marketing:

  • Paid media is anywhere you must pay to play. For example, pay per click (PPC) is one way you can pay to appear on relevant search engine result pages. Display ads, social ads, and branded content are other good examples of paid digital advertising.
  • Owned media is any digital medium that you build and control, such as your website or app, a social media page, or your blog. Owned channels are the foundation of your online presence.
  • Earned media is anywhere a third party can share or talk about your brand. It could be a place where customers comment on and rate your services, like Yelp! or Angie’s list. Or it could also be a popular blog or news outlet, such as mommy blogs or mainstream sites like Mashable.

Paid, owned, and earned media (POEM) work together to improve your overall marketing success. For example, earned media is usually the most desirable outcome of a strategically placed paid or owned media effort. Each can leverage the other to optimize traffic, conversions, and business growth.

Own Channels are the Foundation

Now let’s talk owned channels. These are the cornerstone of your digital presence, without them, earned and paid media have nowhere to drive your current and potential customers to.

But just having a website and social pages isn’t enough, even with paid and earned media in the mix. You need quality content about your products and services and their benefits on these owned channels to not only improve search engine optimization (SEO), but to also build your brand and convert your customers. Some of techniques for ensuring success across your owned channels include:

  • Content: Development and distribution could include blogs, press releases, eBooks, infographics, videos, and more. Content helps to attract potential customers to your website and educate them on your offering.
  • Posting and Sharing: Social media is a great way to engage with customers and potential customers. By sharing information on social networks, you can build a following and keep in front of potential customers. Social media can also help you distribute your content and direct traffic to your website.
  • Email Marketing: Send sales or marketing messages to a targeted audience via an email. This is a great way to nurture existing contacts and ultimately get them to convert. Additionally, email can help keep your business top-of-mind with customers.

Owned Media is Just the Beginning

Paid, owned, and earned media must work together. It’s a myth that just having owned channels such as a LinkedIn page or a website is all you need.

Paid media amplifies your owned media channels so that they have more of an impact. While earned media is a more organic brand builder, you won’t earn more Facebook likes if you don’t set up a page or have paid advertisements to get more followers. An ad can also help put the “earn” in earned media by creating a social media buzz around your product. Otherwise, your owned channel might be like the tree that falls in the forest with no one to hear it.

We can Help

How best to balance your digital marketing channels depends on your business, your customers, and much more. We can partner with you develop a strategy, optimize investments, and get results. Contact us today.

DIY Marketing Takes Know-How

Do-it-yourself isn’t always more cost effective, especially when it comes to marketing. Posted on Friday, September 8 in Making Your Marketing Work.

Many local business owners look at marketing as a do-it-yourself project. They try to learn how to develop their own marketing campaigns without a full understanding of strategy or implementation. While some marketing responsibilities can be self-taught, it's still worthwhile for local businesses to have a marketing expert on their side.

Challenges of DIY Marketing

Many business owners who decide to take on marketing responsibilities themselves soon realize that the DIY approach presents a number of challenges. First, many local businesses have lean teams. Whether the owner or others on the team take on marketing tasks, this means giving up time and resources to focus on activities that may not be in their skillset.

Another challenge that local businesses face when trying to handle their own marketing is a lack of knowledge or experience. Though there are marketing concepts that can be self-taught, there is often a gap between learning about a marketing tactic and actually implementing it for your business. Whereas someone new to the field might be unsure about certain concepts or strategies, a professional has the experience to efficiently and successfully implement a wide range of marketing tactics.

Advantages of Working with Experts

While there are many marketing tasks that your team may be able to take on, there are still many benefits to working with a professional marketing team. Here are just a few of the ways that finding a marketing partner will help your business:

  • A team of professionals with specialized skillsets. From creative directors to digital specialists, each team member specializes in a different area of marketing, which means they know how to get the best results for your business. They also stay up-to-date on the latest trends and tactics so that you don’t have to.
  • Allows you to focus on your core business. When you work with marketing partner, they can handle all of your marketing needs. This lets you and your team to focus on other vital tasks that help make your business run smoothly.
  • Hiring marketing professionals can be more cost effective. If you are new to the marketing world and attempting to learn while you are also implementing campaigns, there is a chance that you could end up making costly mistakes. However, hiring marketing professionals from the start can help ensure that you’re maximizing your marketing budget.

We Have the Expertise You Need

If you're ready to get the help you need for marketing your local business, we're here to help. With access to valuable national insights and resources, we can help your business take your marketing to the next level. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.

Trending Now: Weight Loss Centers

Connecting with Content Posted on Wednesday, September 6 in Increasing Sales.

Committing to bariatric surgery is no small decision. From risk factors to recovery times, many potential patients need information before they can commit to taking such a big step on their weight-loss journey.

You can empower consumers and provide valuable service with content.

Educate Potential Patients

Everyone wants to look and feel better, but not everyone seeking weight-loss procedures know as much as you do about the substantial health benefits. Turn your practice or clinic into a resource. Make your website information-rich. Infusing your site with valuable content will not only provide potential patients with enticing guidance, but it will also give your website an SEO boost, ensuring your business appears high in the organic search results.

It’s not all about touting benefits; you should also address questions and concerns. Use your experiences with your past and present patients as your source. Create FAQs, write blogs dispelling common misconceptions, offer guides and questionnaires to help your audience make an informed decision.

Don’t be afraid to balance out rational and emotional messages, as major decisions such as weight loss surgery are complicated with high degrees of emotional baggage. And it’s not all about the content you make readily available on your site. You can also incorporate downloadable content (e.g. whitepapers, eBooks, infographics) to capture leads.

Host Seminars and Classes

Think bigger than website content and printed materials—those can be used to bring potential patients into your office or clinic to learn even more about the benefits of the products and services you offer. Bring your expertise to life with classes and seminars designed to enlighten and excite your audience about how weight loss can change their lives. But be sure to be authentic and honest, too.

A recent case study showed how one weight loss clinic used content to drive attendance to its informational classes. With the help of a promotional campaign, classes were filled to capacity and 60% of attendees scheduled procedures with an average ticket price of $15,000. [1]

Offer Post-op Support

According to a ResearchGate survey, bariatric surgery patients are interested in postoperative programs designed to stop or reverse regain. [2] Offering content and tools can both attract new patients and ensure customer satisfaction. These resources can also be used to promote and encourage participation in paid postoperative services and support.

We Can Help

Developing content and providing resources is just half the battle. To drive traffic to your website—and ultimately your office or clinic—you need a marketing strategy. We’ve got the insights, tactics, and expertise to get your content in front of the right audience. Contact us today.

Sources

1. “Weight Loss Clinic: Ramping Up New Patient Acquisition;” USA TODAY NETWORK; July 2017

2. "A Survey of Bariatric Surgery Patients' Interest in Postoperative Interventions;" ResearchGate; June 2015

The Internet Isn’t a Field of Dreams

Just building a website isn’t enough. If you want your current and potential customers to come to your site, you need to optimize and promote it. Posted on Monday, August 21 in Making Your Marketing Work.

If you’re looking to launch a new website for your local business, you’re on the right track. Establishing an online presence is a great way to retain customers and grow a following. The trouble is, Shoeless Joe Jackson isn’t going to show up just because you hit “publish.” Even if you put a lot of effort into making an awesome website, a lot more needs to be done before you see real results.

There are literally hundreds of new websites created each day, so you have to find ways to promote your site so your target audience can find it. To launch a website that gets traffic and brings real results for your local business, you need a long-term plan that includes strategies for SEO, content marketing, and social media engagement.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Having a website that ranks highly in Google search results will help interested consumers find your site in their moment of need. There are many things you can do to improve your ranking.

For starters, do a content audit of your site. Make sure you don’t have any duplicated content—a lot of businesses will copy and paste content to other pages on the site, which will result in a penalty from Google. Secondly, do some research on the kinds of keywords that your target audience is searching for and use those in your site content. Place keywords throughout the content (especially within the first 100 words) as well as in the headings and subheadings of each page.

Content Marketing

While the first thing that comes to your mind may be blogging, content marketing is any form of valuable online material that can be shared. In addition to blog posts, content marketing includes videos, infographics, eBooks, photos, and more. Regularly posting new, keyword-driven content that is appealing to your target demographic will help you get people to engage with your brand.

Focus on creating content that is original and compelling so that it encourages consumers to share it with others—turning your followers into brand promoters is one of the most effective ways to build a following for your website. Be sure to add a subscribe button so that they can stay informed of anything new and so you can start building a contact list.

Social Media

Social media is the online version of a town square, and you are the town crier. Focus on building a following for your business on popular social platforms like Facebook. If you already have a decent following on social media, you’re halfway there. The next step is to get your social audience to become part of your website’s audience. The best way to do this is through content promotion. Each time you create a new piece of content, share it with your social media followers. Just be sure that the content takes visitors to your site. For example, if you upload a video or infographic directly to Facebook, people won’t need to go to your website to view it.

We Can Help

If you need any help setting up a promotion plan for your website that brings real customers to your local business, our team of digital experts can help. We have access to national data that can help you target the right local consumers. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.

Trending Now: Liquor Stores

Attracting Millennial Shoppers Posted on Wednesday, September 28 in Reaching The Right Audience.

By the end of the year, every Millennial will be of legal drinking age. That’s significant when you consider that Millennials have surpassed the Baby Boomers as America’s largest living generation. And the good news for liquor store owners is that this demographic is also the largest market for beer, wine, and spirits in U.S. history.

Cater to their flavor

Younger adults often find beer, wine, or spirits to be an acquired taste, and turn to flavored products when they begin drinking. While it started with Vodka, the trend flowed into beer and then into whiskey, where flavors like cinnamon and honey have driven growth and drawn younger drinkers. Though flavored vodkas appear to have peaked, look for flavored offerings to continue to spread to other spirits. Longtime drinkers may dismiss them as kids’ stuff, but flavored products will likely prove essential to winning younger customers.

A staff that knows its stuff

As younger consumers mature into more sophisticated fare, they’ll need guidance. Today, a friendly, knowledgeable staff is essential to success. As the breadth and depth of products continues to expand, customers look to you and your employees for direction. Helping choose the perfect bottle of wine for a family gathering or a special bourbon for holiday gift-giving is a great way to win them over.

Keep quality at the forefront

While many young adults like—or start out liking—flavored products, older Millennials are attracted to craft beers, quality whiskies, and artisan spirits. They want to know the stories behind these products as well. Not surprising, since taste, complexity, and origin stories have driven the wine industry for centuries. Here again, a knowledgeable staff is vital. Directing Millennials to higher-quality, higher-margin products is a win-win for your customers and your business.

Wine, women, and sales

Over 36% of wine drinkers are Millennials, and women account for 83% of all consumer wine purchases. They’re buying an ever-widening variety of products, from boxed wines to pricey bottlings. Welcoming women of all ages and providing snobbery-free advice is an absolute must.

Be sociable

Drinking is a social activity, and social media is a great place to promote your business. Engaging customers with online content like cocktail recipes, wine and food pairing tips, and gift guidance is an ideal way to raise your store’s profile. The same goes for in-store events like wine and whiskey tastings and guest speakers.

We can help!

If you need help targeting the right audience to grow your business—Millennials or otherwise—we can help. We’re the area’s most powerful media and marketing organization with all the tools you need to reach your best prospects. Contact us online or call 334.262.1611.

Sources:

Beaudette, John, “Overview of the U.S. Beverage Alcohol Market, Trends & Market Entry Conditions,” MHW, Ltd., Presentation, Beverage Alcohol Community Symposium, November, 2015.

Fry, Richard, “Millennials Take Over Baby Boomers as Largest Generation,” Pew Research Center, pewresearch.org, April 25, 2016.

Maker, Meg Houston, “Training Matters: 8 Effective Strategies for Efficient, Effective Staff Education,” Beverage Media Group, beveragemedia.com, October 30, 2013.

Shapiro, Arthur, “The State of the Spirits Business,” Booze Business, boozebusiness.com, February 12, 2015.

Swartz, Kyle, “Nine Trends Driving Wine Sales in 2016,” Beverage Dynamics, beveragedynamics.com, January 26, 2016.

Swartz, Kyle, “Seven Trends Shaping the Alcohol Industry in 2016-2017,” Beverage Dynamics, beveragedynamics.com, August 29, 2016.

Taylor, Kate, “America’s Shifting Drinking Habits Could Change Happy Hour as We Know It,” Business Insider, May 3, 2016.

Taylor, Kate, “The Liquor Industry Is Experiencing Three Seismic Changes,” Business Insider, February 26, 2016.

Zekaria, Simon, “Spirits Soar on Flavored Liquors,” The Wall Street Journal, September 17, 2013.

Strategize Your Way to Success

Strategy plays a starring role in today’s biggest success stories. Learn how it can help your business. Posted on Monday, September 26 in Making Your Marketing Work.

 

In The Art of War, the ancient Chinese military master Sun Tzu wrote that “Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.” Tzu’s insights have kept his book relevant in military and business circles some 2,500 years later. But what exactly is strategy? How is different from tactics? Why does it play a starring role in so many success stories? And how can it help your business succeed?

You need a plan.

A strategy is a long-term plan to achieve major goals. It focuses on the big picture, not the day-to-day details. Your business strategy is your long-term plan for the future of your business. It defines your goals, explains how your company can achieve them, and establishes how you will allocate your resources along the way. A company’s overall business strategy will likely be supported by other strategies that serve it, such as a purchasing strategy, a manufacturing strategy and a marketing strategy. Remember, whereas tactics are action driven, all strategies are idea based.

Your marketing strategy maps out your big-picture marketing efforts in service of your business strategy. It defines how your company will communicate with consumers in order to influence their buying decisions. A successful marketing strategy can raise awareness and stimulate sales.

Build a strong strategy.

A variety of components come together to form the building blocks of a strong marketing strategy, including the following.

  • Business Goals: The long-term achievements you have set for your business.
  • Competitive Position / Market Dominance: An assessment of how you compare to your competitors. Are you the dominant player, or does another company have more market share? Do you wish to dominate the market, or does a niche approach better serve your customers and purposes?
  • Local Economic Trends: An analysis of your business environment. Is your city growing? Are the demographics changing? Are jobs being created or lost? Though these factors are beyond your control, they will have a profound influence on your planning.
  • Targeting: Determining who your customers and/or best prospects really are and the most effective ways to reach them. In the digital age, targeting is becoming ever more data driven, which should continue to increase its accuracy.
  • SWOT Analysis: An assessment of how your company’s strengths and weaknesses relate to opportunities and threats in the marketplace. A SWOT analysis helps determine the state of your business and whether or not your goals are realistic and achievable.
  • Marketing Goals: The long-term marketing achievements you will need to accomplish in order to meet your business goals.
  • Business Plans and Initiatives: The plans you will make and actions you will take, including your marketing budget, vendor and personnel requirements, your methods of measuring success, and more.

Get the four P’s in the mix.

As you formulate your marketing strategy, you can test and strengthen it using a tool known as The Marketing Mix, or The Four P’s. The Marketing Mix challenges you to ask essential questions about your product or service.

  • Product: What is your product or service? What consumer needs or wants is it designed to meet? How well does it meet them? Is it unique? How often will it need to be upgraded or replaced? Is it a coveted luxury item? A common consumer good? Something in-between?
  • Price: What is the retail cost of your product? Does it provide a margin large enough to sustain your business? How will raising or lowering it affect consumers’ buying decision? How does your pricing compare to your competitors’ pricing? Is it too low or too high? Are your price and margin relatively stable, or subject to fluctuations based on factors beyond your control?
  • Place: How and where is your product available to consumers? Is it easy to find and purchase? Is it sold in physical, “brick-and-mortar” locations? Online? Both? Could it be available through other methods? Should it? Does the retail approach support your product and your brand, or detract from them?
  • Promotion: How do you make consumers aware of your product, its benefits and how to buy it? Will your efforts attempt to drive awareness, sales or both? What mix of paid advertising, public relations and social media will you use? How will you measure effectiveness? How will you alter your efforts over time?

The answers to questions like these will help you determine what makes your product or service unique, how it stacks up against the competition, and how it will be perceived by consumers.

If your marketing strategy can’t stand up to questions like these, it needs to be reformulated. If it can, it’s ready to be implemented. The Four P’s will continue to play a vital role as you turn your strategy into reality. They will be essential to devising your tactics—the actions you take to implement your long-range plans.

We can help.

If you’re struggling with your marketing strategy, or would like help evaluating or implementing it, we’re ready to lend a hand. Contact us online or call 334-261-1611. We love partnering with clients to understand their businesses better and developing marketing strategies that will move the needle and deliver results.

Sources:

Perrault, William, Jr., Cannon, Joseph, McCarthy, E. Jerome (2014) “Essentials of Marketing: A Marketing Strategy Approach,” McGraw-Hill.

Editorial Staff, (2016) “The Marketing Mix and the 4P’s of Marketing,” MindTools.com, MindTools, Inc.

Westwood, John, (2011) “How To Write A Marketing Plan,” third edition, Kogan Page.

Watkins, Michael D., (September 10, 2007) “Demystifying Strategy: The What, Who, How, and Why,” The Harvard Business Review online edition archive, hbr.org, Harvard Business Publishing.

When Political Ads Preempt Your TV Spot

Elections years disrupt advertising campaigns, use integrated marketing to drive results. Posted on Friday, August 5 in Breaking Through the Clutter.

Election year is once again upon us and this means more competition and limited inventory for some ad platforms, especially TV.  So, what happens when these political campaigns and their billion dollar budgets takeover the TV inventory? Your ad gets preempted, or bumped, even though you’ve done your due diligence to plan your campaign in advance. When you’re preempted your options are to either pay more money, scramble to find other forms of advertising, or completely stop your campaign.  To combat preemption, we’ve put together tips of what to expect and how to break through the political noise to ensure your business can effectively engage your target audience.

Political Campaigns: Big Budgets & Cheaper Ads

Political advertising is expected to hit $4.4 billion in 2016, according to the Borrell 2015-2016 Political Advertising Outlook report.  Historically, campaigns have used broadcast TV to reach an older demographic that is more likely to vote.  However, the trends for 2016 show campaigns are expanding their TV ads to also include cable and streaming services, like Hulu, to reach the millennial audience.

Not only do these campaigns have bigger budgets than local non-political advertisers, they get to play by different rules when purchasing TV ads.  The rules set up by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) require stations to charge political advertisers the lowest rate available for that ad time slot.  The FCC also requires equal share of advertising time for both political parties.  Therefore, when campaigns come in at the last minute wanting to advertise, your ads could get bumped.

What are non-political advertiser options when their ads get bumped? Pay more money to make up the revenue the station lost by charging political ads the lowest rate or leave TV for other advertising mediums.

 

Integrated Campaigns Drive Results

Instead of paying a higher rate for a TV commercial and/or risk being bumped at the last minute, we recommend using an integrated marketing approach to your campaign.  This not only helps extend the impact of your campaign, but reaches various audiences at multiple points in the buying cycle.  Here are a few platforms we recommend using in your next integrated marketing campaign:

Print – Unlike TV ads, our print products will never bump you and you’re guaranteed your ad will run the day it’s scheduled.  Plus, print ads work. According to AdMall, 79% of U.S. adults take action based on newspaper ads.
Social Media – Most social media advertisements run on an auction based system, meaning they can never sell out of inventory.  Instead, the ad placement goes to the highest bid.  These ads provide the option of targeting your message to your business’ specific audience.  Also, social media is great way to showcase the TV spots that couldn’t run due to preemption.
Pay Per Click (PPC) – Similar to social media ads, PPC ads run on an auction based system. This also ensures your messaging is targeted only to people who are interested in your business, removing wasted money on non-qualified web traffic.
Email marketing – Email is a great alternative to direct mail because it’s a cost effective way to engage your audience and share content or promote sales.  According to Forbes, 91% of U.S. adults like to receive promotional emails from companies they do business with.

These are only a few of the many integrated solutions Advertiser Media Group provides. Not only do we have a comprehensive toolbox of advertising solutions, but we have the engaged audiences that are unmatched by any other advertising agency.  Contact us today to start the conversation about an integrated campaign for your business.

 

Click here to learn more about Breaking Through the Political Noise

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Timeline for Advertising in an Election Year

Use integrated marketing to make an impact during these key political times. Posted on Monday, August 1 in Breaking Through the Clutter.

We recently posted a blog about TV ads being preempted by political advertisements.  In this installment of Breaking Through the Political Noise we’ll review the expected timeline of political advertising and other major events to consider when planning your advertising campaigns in 2016.

Television ads have historically dominated presidential campaigns and the trend will continue for the 2016 elections.  According to the Borrell 2015-2016 Political Advertising Outlook report, 73% of the budget for national elections and 48% of the budget for state and local elections will be spent on TV advertisements.  On top of the large amounts of money allocated for the campaigns, the strategy will expand beyond broadcast to also include cable and streaming services, like Hulu.  The budgets and expanded network buys are just the beginning of things to consider if you’re still planning to run TV ads in 2016.  Here are a few key dates to be aware of while scheduling TV ads:  

  • Scheduled Republican debates.  Click here for the up-to-date list:
    • January 14
    • January 28
    • February 6
    • February 13
    • February 26
    • March 10
  • Scheduled Democratic debates.  Click here for the up-to-date list:
    • January 17
    • February 11
    • March 9
  • July 18 – 2: The Republican National Convention
  • July 25 – 28: The Democratic National Convention
  • August 5 -21: Summer Olympics
  • September 9 – November 8: 60 days before the election typically affect TV ad rates. Expect to pay even more for a spot during this time period.
  • September 26: First presidential debate
  • October 4: Vice presidential debate
  • October 9: Second presidential debate
  • October 19: Third presidential debate
  • November 8: Election day

 

The key dates listed above clearly show the competition for TV ads will be high throughout all of 2016.  If television is a major component of your advertising strategy you will either need to pay an increased rate for the ads or move your marketing budget to other platforms to continue your messaging.

 

At Advertiser Media Group we understand integrated marketing strategies are always essential to advertising success, not just in election years.  Our integrated marketing experts utilize a comprehensive toolbox of advertising solutions to reach the engaged audiences you need.  Our extensive portfolio of solutions and partnerships with leading advertising platforms, like Google and Facebook, allow us to create unique campaigns that deliver results.  In addition to our local expertise, we belong to the USA Today Network and can extend your messaging from beyond Central Alabama to anywhere across the United States.  Contact us today to start the conversation about your 2016 integrated marketing campaign.

 

Click here to learn more about Breaking Through the Political Noise. 

Align and Conquer

Maximize results by aligning marketing objectives with business goals. Posted on Thursday, June 16 in Making Your Marketing Work.

The French author Antoine de Saint-Exupéry wrote, “A goal without a plan is just a wish.” That holds true in both our business and personal lives. It’s also why many organizations use the SMART system to separate real goals and objectives from wishful thinking.

Get SMART.

This system is an effective way to bring clarity, simplicity and progress to any endeavor. While time has brought some variations in the specific words used, SMART usually stands for:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Realistic
  • Time-Bound

Every goal you set or objective you want to meet should be judged by all or most of these guidelines.

  • Specific: Cleary defined and targeted
  • Measurable: Can be quantified (monitored and demonstrated) in a straightforward manner 
  • Agreed-Upon: Is understood, communicated and has support throughout the organization
  • Realistic: Firmly grounded in business reality and accomplishable through focused effort
  • Time-Bound: Subject to a specific schedule

Once you’ve established your business goals, it’s vital that your marketing objectives align with them. Otherwise, you risk wasting marketing dollars, confusing or disappointing customers, and damaging your brand.

Think it through.

Consider the following hypothetical.

Two years ago, the owner of Big Bob’s Barbecue was losing his lunch crowd to a new buffet-style restaurant across the street. The proprietor’s knee-jerk reaction was to begin offering a lunch buffet. While the new offering brought back regulars and attracted new customers, the buffet approach made his lunch business less profitable.

It’s time for Bob to get SMART. The first step is to create a well thought-out business goal that meets the criteria: restore the restaurant’s profits to pre-buffet levels within six months, and increase revenue by 5% over the course of the fiscal year.

Putting it into Action.

Now that Bob has determined what he is looking to do in terms of his business performance, it is time to build a marketing objective that will help Bob achieve this goal.

Marketing objectives generally focus on impacting business through:

  • Customers
  • Pricing and profitability
  • Distribution and / or location
  • Promotion
  • Competitive share

Bob’s knee-jerk decision to change his product offering to include a buffet at lunch was ill-conceived because it was not based on business goals. Rather, it was a copy-cat competitive reaction. Much like everything in business, marketing objectives should be objective and backed by research—not hunches or whimsical endeavors.

To restore profitability and increase revenue year-over-year, Bob’s marketing goal is to drive profitability through pricing tactics, specifically, by introducing and promoting higher-margin items. From here, it is easy to see how this objective can be made SMART: by adding product specifics, a target share of product mix, and a timeline for achieving.

The next step is the bring the objective to life through strategic initiatives and tactics. In Bob’s case, he may develop new “products,” such as appetizers, desserts, and beverages, that have a relatively low price point—making them easy to add-on and increase average check size—but are also higher margin.

Think back to the fundamental business goal: restore the restaurant’s profits to pre-buffet levels within six months, and increase revenue by 5% over the course of the fiscal year. Bob’s marketing objective includes higher margin items that will help offset the buffet customers, and the menu of add-on items will increase check size and help achieve the goal of 5% revenue lift.

We can help.

Bob’s case has been greatly simplified for ease in understanding, but translating business objectives into marketing goals isn’t always so easy and straight-forward, even for seasoned marketing professionals. We love partnering with clients to understand their businesses better and developing marketing strategies that will move the needle and deliver results. If you’re struggling to get started with your marketing plan—or if you would like a consultation on the work you have in progress, contact us online or call 334-261-1611, and let us help shape your world.

Sources

1. “The difference between marketing objectives and marketing goals?” Chaffey, Dave; Smart Insights 

2. "There's a S.M.A.R.T. Way to Write Management's Goals and Objectives," Doran, G. T. Management Review, 1981.

To Native App or Not To Native App?

Is it worth the time and financial investment to build a native app? Posted on Friday, May 27 in .

Does your company need its own mobile app? If you’ve been asking yourself that question lately, you’re not alone. Most businesses realize that reaching today’s consumers requires a strong mobile presence. Google has developed a set of must-read resources on the phenomenon of “micro-moments”—the vital mobile interactions your business needs to be present for in order to reach potential customers. Google’s research makes it clear that a mobile-responsive website and an effective search engine marketing strategy are essential to success. But it doesn’t provide a definitive answer to your native mobile app question.

If you’ve reviewed some of the current statistics on mobile apps, your head is probably spinning. To date, over 100 billion—yes, billion—apps have been downloaded from the Apple Store alone, and the number of downloads continues to increase exponentially every year. Beyond the number of apps downloaded, it is important to examine how consumers spend time with them. According to Flurry Analytics, global app usage increased by 58% in 2015, with personalization apps (emojis, wallpapers, etc.) leading the way. News and magazine apps followed, while utility and productivity apps rounded out the top three. Lifestyle and shopping apps came in fourth.

Do mobile users prefer to utilize apps or surf the web?

When it comes to how smartphone and tablet users divide their time between apps and mobile web, in-app time overwhelmingly trumps mobile web time on both devices.

This data appears to present a strong argument in favor of developing an app rather than relying on a mobile-optimized website to engage your customers. But beware of oversimplification. Consider this surprising fact: for most businesses, apps are not a means to reach new customers. They are a way to better serve existing customers through faster, more streamlined, more personalized, more robust user experiences that might not be possible through a mobile website alone.

So, rather than taking usage trends at face value, take the time to understand how your customers use their mobile devices. Ask yourself, your customers and your stakeholders what problems your app would solve for them. If you determine that an app is a good fit for your customers’ needs and a smart move for your company, there are several ways you can go about developing your own app:

Option #1: mobile web app

JT Mudge is among some of the best commentary regarding mobile web apps. Mobile web apps operate using a mobile web browser instead of being downloaded directly onto a device via an app store. Each has its own merits and disadvantages, and some companies, like Facebook, choose to develop both. In general, mobile web apps are potentially less expensive to develop, more freely accessible to users, and constantly operate on the most recent version. Native apps are generally faster and can access features of the mobile device, including the camera and push notifications. Ultimately, choosing between these two app delivery methods depends on how you need the app to work.

Option #2: white label app

These are existing apps that can be rebranded as your own and include certain features that can be tailored to fit your business’s needs. They are less expensive and less time-consuming than starting from scratch with your own custom app, though usually less robust.

Option #3: partner app

Hiring an agency or development company to develop and maintain your app is definitely the more expensive route, but is potentially worth the investment and longer time to market. If your app requires more features or more complex functionality than a white label option affords, a partner app is the way to go.

Remember, any app strategy needs to start with thorough research and a clear understanding of your end users’ needs. Shiv Kamal tells us the top 4 reasons why apps fail are poor market/audience research, ignoring platform nuances (i.e., Android vs. iPhone), poor user experience and improper testing. Avoid these pitfalls, and your investment should pay for itself over time.

We can help.

Of course, your app strategy must fit within the broader scheme of your marketing, communications and sales strategies. Advertiser Media Group is seasoned at helping local businesses stand out from there competition, and we would love to help you navigate the changing landscape of digital marketing. Contact us with the questions we can help answer and the problems we can help you solve. 

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A Deeper Look at Mobile Ad Blockers

Ad blocking goes mobile. What marketers in the US need to know. Posted on Wednesday, May 25 in .

Mobile isn’t the future of advertising, it’s the present. The rapid rise of mobile surprised everyone, including the experts in Silicon Valley. So it’s no surprise that many advertisers are just now getting comfortable with mobile advertising, or that mobile is increasingly viewed as a “cost of entry” marketing tactic. Or that, like all things digital, the mobile advertising marketplace is subject to sudden, unexpected change.

At the Mobile World Congress held in Barcelona this February, one of the most intense conversations focused on two European wireless carriers who have recently begun blocking mobile ads at the network level [1]. Ad blockers are a persistent marketing challenge, but the ability to block ads at this level threatens to disrupt the current digital marketing ecosystem as we know it.

The good news is that no US wireless carrier has signed on for total ad blocking. But ad blocking is very much present at a user-level, and must be taken into account by marketers. Let’s take a look at the current state of mobile ad blocking in America.

Mobile Ad Blocking

There are two ways users can block ads on their mobile devices. The first uses a web browser with a plug-in or browser extension. Many web browsers have built-in plug-ins or extensions that can block ads. A user simply adjusts their settings to enable the ad blocker. The second ad-blocking method involves downloading an ad-blocking app. A variety of mobile ad-blocking apps are available through a phone or tablet’s app store and are typically inexpensive or free.

Apple made news in October when their iOS 9 operating system allowed users to download ad-blocking apps, while the system’s default browser app, Safari, included ad blocking extensions as well. Why did Apple’s blocking options draw so much attention? Safari is currently used by 32% of mobile users and is second only to Google Chrome in popularity [2].

Mobile Ad Blocking Adoption

Ad blocker adoption breaks down strongly by age group, and worldwide stats show that mobile users between 16 and 34 are more likely to use an ad blocker than those in the 35-64 range [3]. In the US, it is estimated that 37% of mobile users currently employ an ad blocker [4]. Another 42% say that they haven’t blocked mobile ads yet but are interested in doing so in the future. That means a whopping 80% of mobile users could be using ad blockers sooner rather than later. It all adds up to a very disturbing scenario for mobile advertisers.

Implications for Marketers

Besides hoping that no US mobile carriers begin blocking ads at the network level, there are things marketers can to deal proactively with both desktop and mobile ad blocking [5]. It’s essential to know your audience and where they fall in the range of adoption in order to make smart tactical decisions. Don’t be afraid to get creative. Providing ads and content that users don’t find disruptive may aid in slowing ad blocker adoption. And of course, you will have to stay informed as the situation continues to evolve.

Having a trusted marketing partner can help you navigate this confusing landscape and ensure that all of your marketing tactics are optimized to their fullest potential. We can help! Contact us  or call 334.262.1611, and one of our multi-media experts will help you refine your marketing efforts to meet your goals.

Sources

1. Gryta, Thomas “Battle Heats Up Over Mobile Ad Blocking” Wall Street Journal, 24 Feb. 2016 http://www.wsj.com/articles/battle-heats-up-over-mobile-ad-blocking-1456290002

2. “Mobile/Tablet Top Browser Share Trend” NetMarketShare. Accessed 14 April 2015. https://www.netmarketshare.com/browser-market-share.aspx?qprid=1&qpcustomb=1

3. eMarketer “Mobile Users Worldwide Who Use a Mobile Ad Blocker” http://totalaccess.emarketer.com/Chart.aspx?R=185058&dsNav=Ntk:relevance%7cmobile+ad+blocking%7c1%7c,Ro:2,Nr:NOT(Type%3aComparative+Estimate)

4. Mander, Jason “37% of mobile users are blocking ads” 25 Jan. 2016 http://www.globalwebindex.net/blog/37-of-mobile-users-are-blocking-ads

5. Pangal, Shringar “Ad Blockers: Tired Hype, or Real Threat?” 4 Nov. 2015 https://blog.adroll.com/trends/ad-blockers?utm_source=facebook_organic&utm_medium=social_organic&utm_campaign=2015_blog_ad_blocker

5. Doris, Jameson, “Mobile Ad Blocking is Rising Among Millennials” 2 Mar. 2016 http://www.foliomag.com/2016/mobile-ad-blocking-is-on-the-rise-among-millennials/

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Top 5 Fundamental Principles for Marketing, Regardless of Your Target

Regardless of which generation your business targets with its marketing, there are five fundamental principles you need to adhere to in order to make a meaningful and sustainable connection with them. Posted on Friday, February 26 in Reaching The Right Audience.

Perhaps Baby Boomers are your biggest customer base. Or Millennials make up your most loyal consumers.

Sound familiar? When identifying the optimal target audience is for products and services, generational marketing leads many conversations. Which age group has the largest proportion of disposable income? Who spends the most on a household level? Where is there opportunity to grow with a generation and create the highest lifetime value?

Regardless of which generation your business targets, there are five fundamental marketing principles you need to adhere to in order to make a meaningful and sustainable connection with them.

Principle #1: Insights pave the way for all strategic marketing.

Everyone has an opinion when it comes to marketing—and everyone believes they are an expert. Nine times out of ten, the infamous “focus group on one” has led to more marketing missteps than successes (yes! that was made up, completely in contradiction to the point being made).

The truth is, stereotypes, generalizations, and gut-driven decisions can undermine your marketing efforts. What you may think is relevant and trending for your target may actually be dated and over exposed—or completely off the mark. And the differences in preferences and receptivity between those on the leading edge of a generation versus those on the lagging end can be substantial (consider marketing to an 21-year-old while also marketing to a 34-year-old, both of who are generally accepted as part of the Millennial generation).

The fact is, marketing only works if it’s rooted in research and customer insights. Additionally, while national trends are good for benchmarking and informing marketing strategy, the more you can zero in on your local target audience’s insights, the better the potential for insights application.

Principle #2: Smart, cut-through creative connects brands with consumers.

The best creative is more than just pretty pictures: it is strategic, engaging both the rational and emotional sensibilities of consumers. For many businesses, building a brand is a cryptic, cumbersome, and confusing task. Memorable creative can act as a catalyst for defining a brand and building a business faster by making registers ring. Furthermore, like all great marketing, the best creative is grounded in research.

Principle #3: Contrary to popular belief, Christmas is not in July.

Being relevant and timely may seem straightforward and simple enough, but it can become complicated and convoluted quickly. Recall the thin market theory: at any given time, only a small percentage of potential customers are in the market for your products / services. However, these same consumers never stop being exposed to marketing and consuming media.

It is critical to develop a strategic—and consistent—marketing program that activates conversations at opportune times, when it is most relevant to customers along their purchase funnel. Not surprisingly, insights are immensely helpful in navigating how and when consumers are in the market for your products / services.

Principle #4: Everyone is online, and digital marketing is not optional.

Your parents and grandparents are online—and rather deft at navigating email, search, and social channels. In fact, the Silent generation [link to Don’t Sleep on the Silents] (those born before 1946) is among the fastest growing population in social media; their use of it has tripled in the last four years.

Creating and actively managing a digital presence [link to Be Found blog post] is not a nice-to-have part of your marketing strategy. Consumers of all ages actively seek out information constantly to inform and validate their purchases, and if you cannot be found easily during this time, you will be eliminated from consideration before you even have a chance to connect with your audience.

And, what can be even more troubling, is if you do not take control of your digital presence, someone else will, such as a vocal minority of dissatisfied customers, your competition, or an enterprising individual squatting on your domain and brand name for a big payday. Regardless of the culprit, you can lose control of the conversation and may have a bigger giant to battle for a favorable digital reputation.

Principle #5: The bottom line: deliver the right message, at the right time, to the right audience.

No matter how great your intentions may be, your marketing will not be successful if you neglect to deliver the right message, at the right time, to the right audience. It’s that simple.

It helps to have a powerful ally who can connect you with consumers. We deliver integrated, measurable marketing strategies to hit your business goals head on, using more industry-leading tools and research than any other local media company. We employ passionate and experienced creative teams who thrive on generating brilliant brand campaigns united across all the right media to motivate your consumers to buy.

Take your share—contact us to get started.

Sources: Collins-Young, Craig. “Social Media Use by Seniors Continues to Rise” Leading Age 7 Aug 2013

Don’t sleep on the Silents

Understanding the Silent Generation can help you attract more of these customers. Posted on Tuesday, February 16 in Reaching The Right Audience.

The Silent Generation

The Silent Generation is composed of people who were born prior to 1946 and is the smallest generation in the world. According Nielsen 2016, there are over 20 million people in this generation, accounting for 6% adults living today.

The Lucky Few

This generation is also knows as the Lucky Few. Why? They were born during the commotion of the Great Depression and World War II and enjoyed transitioning into their adulthood in a prosperous time of the 1950s and 1960s. They worked in an economy with higher employment rates than the generations before and after them. They benefited from improved health, a more generous safety net, and exited the job market ahead of the past recession. Their median net worth is $194,800, growing 48% since 1989.

Loyal Lifestyle

The Silent Generation is very loyal. They live by traditional values and enjoy giving back to their communities by volunteering. They’re also very money conscious. Because the vast majority of this generation is on a fixed income, they enjoy loyalty programs and coupons. As avid readers, they’re well informed and interested in finding the best deal. According to recent surveys, 81% people between 65 and 74 years old and 86% of those over 75 said that they have read a newspaper, book, or magazine within the past 24 hours.

Traditional Consumers

Traditional media such as newspaper and magazines (coupled with loyalty programs and coupons) are the best way to market to this audience. They prefer information in a hard copy that outlines the features and benefits of products, and they respond well to testimonial advertising. They also prefer lifestyle images versus a collage of product photos in their marketing messages.

Though this generation is less likely to go online compared to other generations, they use social media to keep in touch with their children and grandchildren. They also search the Internet to seek out information on products and services; 50% on the Silent Generation conduct online searches.

We can help.

Need help marketing across generations? We can help. We’ve done the research, and we’ve got the tools to target audiences from the Silents to Millennials and beyond. Contact us or call 334.261.1504, and one of our multi-media sales executives will be in touch to help you attract more customers.

Sources:  Nielsen, 2016;  Wikipedia;  2008 book, Elwood Carlson, The Lucky Few: Between the Greatest Generation and the Baby boom; Bloomberg, 2014; Encore Perception Marketing; The Hummingbird-Creative Group; The Pew Institute; The Marketing Spot; Mary Habres of Encore Perception Marketing

Marketing to Millennials

Gain the interest of this large, diverse and influential group Posted on Thursday, February 11 in Reaching The Right Audience.

Millennials were born between 1981 and 1995. They currently make up 27% of the U.S. population, and 35% percent of the Montgomery MSA. By 2020, Millennials are estimated to be a 1.4 trillion-dollar spending demographic, and represent 30% of retail sales. This generation is larger than Boomers, yet harder to market to and reach.

How do you gain the interest of this large, diverse and influential group?

Discover their values.

This unique generation isn’t growing up in the traditional sense. What adulthood looked like in the past (college, car, house, and kids), translated into values: practicality, integrity, duty, and family. This old-school way of thinking is just that—old—older than the age group you’re trying to reach.

Millennials have a much different set of values: happiness, passion, diversity, sharing, and discovery. Finding their individuality and appealing to these qualities is the best way to reach Millennials.

Make it personal.

With such a vast age difference, you wouldn’t send the same message to an 18 year old as you would a 35 year old, regardless of gender. Ad messaging will need to be targeted and appeal to individuality. Using two, or even three, different messages can reach across the millennial age divide. The trick is to appeal all aspects of this generation.

Ask for input.

Think of Millennials as partners. An interactive strategy unites the millennial consumer with your company. Give them a voice to become part of the marketing experience. And ask what they want. Millennials will tell you—70% feel a responsibility to share feedback with companies after a good or bad experience.

Shareablity pays off.

Coco-Cola targeted Millennials with their “Share a Coke” campaign. It has been wildly successful around the globe. Putting names on cans took the millennial generation by storm. Selfies with a Coke product in hand littered the social media scene. The company increased the names available on products from 250 to 1,000 based on responses. The company achieved a 2% increase in soft-drink sales, increasing Coke consumption from 1.7 to 1.9 billion servings per day, and making #shareacoke a No. 1 global trending topic on social media.

Want to learn more about marketing to the generations?

We can help you speak their language.

Let us help you get your message to your target audiences. Contact us online or call us at 334.240.0146 today.

 

Sources:
Copyright 2016, The Nielsen Company.
Accenture.com “Who are the Millennial shoppers? And what do they really want?”
Millennialmarketing.com “Who Are Millennials?”
Forbes; Inside the Millennial Mind

Trending Now: Outdoor Living

A Picture is Worth 1,000 Words Posted on Thursday, February 11 in Increasing Sales.

Mobile’s big move with outdoor furniture shoppers.

With the holidays behind us, consumers are waiting with baited breath for the return of spring and the chance to get back outside. While homeowners wait for Jack Frost to take his final bow of the season, they are busy window shopping online, especially on their phones and tablets, for the perfect combination of furniture and décor to build their personal backyard oasis.

More than one-third of all shoppers use their mobile device at some point in their furniture-buying process, 13% of which used their smartphone while they were in a store shopping1. They are accessing everything from HGTV to blogs to magazines to social media to help find inspiration. The key to getting your fair share (or more) of their design budget is to diversify your media mix, helping to position yourself as your customers’ go-to source for everything they want and need for their yard and patio.

If you pin it, they will come.

What social networks like Pinterest and Instagram lack in sheer number of users, they make up for in spades with engaged users who are actively searching for the next best thing to add to their backyard haven. In a recent survey, 61% of respondents stated that Pinterest was their top source of inspiration when designing their outdoor space2. Social media usage has exploded in recent years, even within demographics who have historically shied away from digital media.

Need help navigating the social landscape?

By 2018, it is expected that nearly 60% of Baby Boomers and nearly 80% of Gen-Xers will be active monthly social media users3, both of which compose the primary target audience of outdoor living and garden centers. Boomers currently account for the largest share of spending on garden and patio products, accounting for over 50% of revenue5.

That being said, Millennials are expected to become the largest generation of homebuyers, accounting for two-thirds of all home purchases in the next five years4, so it is likely that soon, they will become a huge source of revenue for this industry. More than anyone, Millennials are the segment that can be best reached digitally, so your best bet is to have a strong website, social media profiles, or even a mobile app6. Thirteen percent of garden centers say they would most like to improve their social media presences next year7. So stay ahead of the curve and build a rockstar social media following today.

Are you ready to spread your message across the generations? Learn more about Boomers, Gen-Xers, and Millennials. 

Send the big-box stores to the sandbox.

More and more, local shoppers are becoming disenfranchised with doing business with the big-box stores. While they may sometimes be able to pick things up for a buck or two cheaper there, they lose out on the experience they get buying from a local store. The more you can differentiate your store from the behemoths, the better. One way many local outdoor décor and garden centers are accomplishing this is by offering do-it-yourself classes on how to do everything from building a birdfeeder or planter to how to stain your deck. Popular themes include create-your-own containers and kids’ classes8.

We can help plant the seed.

If you know that you need to beef up your marketing plan, give us a call. Advertiser Media Group has the tools you need to reach your best prospects, wherever they are searching. Visit us at http://www.advertisermediagroup.com/ or call 334-261-1611.

Sources:
1 French, Dana. "The New Normal Holds True with Four out of 10 Consumers." Furniture Today. Sandow Media, 24 Mar. 2014. Print. 23 Apr. 2014.
2 Hodnett, Cindy. "It's Prime Time for Selling Outdoor Furniture." Furniture Today. Progressive Business Media, 23 Mar. 2015. Print. 27 Mar. 2015.
3 eMarketer, 2015
4 2015: Year of the First-Time Home Buyer." RealtorMag. National Association of Realtors, 5 Dec. 2014. Web. 20 May 2015
5 Baldwin, Ian. "Ian Baldwin: National Gardening Survey Highlights Need For Change In Retail Industry." Garden Center Magazine, GIE Media, Inc.,10 Aug. 2015. Web. 11 Nov. 2015.] 
6 Kleckler, Abby. "Selling to Settled-In Millennials ." Lawn & Garden Retailer. Scranton Gillette Communications, n.d. Web. 9 Feb. 2015.
7 "20 bright ideas from 20 IGCs." Garden Center. GIE Media, Inc., 26 May 2015. Web. 11 Nov. 2015; "2014 State of the Industry Report: All’s well that ends well." Garden Center. GIE Media, Inc., 22 Oct. 2014. Web. 11 Nov. 2015.
8 "2014 State of the Industry Report: All’s well that ends well." Garden Center. GIE Media, Inc., 22 Oct. 2014. Web. 11 Nov. 2015.

Trending Now: Adult Care

The Senior Daycare Market Posted on Wednesday, February 3 in Increasing Sales.

Trending Now: Adult Care

 

Baby boomers are revolutionizing the adult care industry. Additionally, the sandwich generation (Generation X) is juggling career, children, and aging parents. These challenges and changing dynamics have given rise to a growing need for senior daycare.

Driven by the increased number of women in the work place, reduction in the average size of families, and increased mobility, the role of traditional families as caregivers for aging parents has changed over the years. While a senior community or full-time care facility may not be the answer, these families need care options for their elderly loved ones.

There are more than 4,500 senior daycare centers currently operating across the country, three-quarters of which are nonprofit and/or public. (1) These centers provide an important healthcare option that can improve the quality of life of both caregivers and their loved ones.

Providing more options.

These facilities offer a wide range of social activities that allow seniors to interact with each other in planned activities. Many centers offer special services like nursing care, transportation, personal care, therapeutic activities, and meals. Some centers even provide transportation at low or no cost. Day programs usually operate Monday through Friday during the day. However, some facilities may offer evening, holiday, and weekend programs to accommodate caregiver schedules.

An affordable alternative.

According to the Genworth 2015 Cost of Care Survey, the national median daily rate of senior daycare is $69/day or $17,904/year, (2) which allows approximately 30% of participants to pay for their services privately. Some centers employ a sliding fee scale, which adjusts payment based on a family’s income and their ability to pay. Senior daycare costs usually are not covered by Medicare. Medicaid, however, will cover most—if not all—of the expenses for licensed adult healthcare settings and Alzheimer’s-related programs for families with limited incomes and assets.

A multi-generational decision.

Whether a facility specializes in adult daycare or is looking begin offering these services, it’s important to reach the right audience: both the participants and their families. According to the National Adult Day Services Association, the average participant in senior day programming is 72 years old, and usually lives with a spouse, adult children, other friends or a family member. Senior daycare center participants usually own their homes, but could live in the home with a family caregiver, and the majority are women. (3)

Depending on the family, the decision to enroll in senior daycare may involve two or more generations.

The Silent Generation: This is the largest group that may need senior daycare. It may also include spouses who are capable of taking care of themselves, but may need help with their husband or wife.
Baby Boomers: The child of an elderly parent, or someone who may themselves need care.
Generation X: The child of an aging parent who may also have children who still require care.

To reach these decision makers with a message that will move them, it’s important to balance your media mix and tailor the messages appropriately.

We can help.

We can help you find and reach your target audience. We know who they are and how best to engage with them. The Montgomery Advertiser reaches adults age 50 and older 5.4 in a seven day period. Contact us via email  or by calling (334) 240-0146 so we can start the conversation.

__________________________________

Source:

1 A Place for Mom, Connecting Families to Senior Living, SeniorHomes.com

2 NADSA.org. National Adult Day Services Association, n.d. Web. 9 Jun. 2015

3 National Institute on Aging, n.d. Web. 8 Jun. 2015.

National Council on the Aging

National Aging Information Center

Family Caregiver Alliance

Marketing Across Generations

One message (or media) does not fit all generations. Learn how the generations think, behave, and spend. Posted on Wednesday, February 3 in Reaching The Right Audience.

Generational Marketing is a way to generalize how macro-economic, technological, political, and social conditions shape values and behaviors across a rather broad range of individuals. It is, at best, a framework to utilize, but it’s not a prescriptive and effective strategy for connecting with consumers. To equate generational marketing insights with a silver bullet for targeting would be a mistake.

Still, there is value in understanding the underpinning characteristics of the current repertoire of generations

The Silent Generation

Born: Prior to 1946

Age Range: 69+

Also referred to as “The Greatest Generation,” the oldest living generation embodies many stereotypes associated with senior citizens.  

· Brand Loyalists: They tend to be on stricter budgets, but remain extremely loyal to their preferred brands and businesses.

· Gift Givers: Shopping preferences lean heavily to gifts as they outspent younger shoppers by 33% this past year. Apparel, toys, and games are the most popular gift categories (with grandchildren being the lucky recipients).

· Less Diverse: In terms of racial makeup, the Silent generation is the most homogenous: 78% are white, 8% are Hispanic, 8% are Black and 5% are Asian or other.

· Growing Online: Silents are among the least likely to go online. However, once online they are enthusiastic emailers and information searchers. They are among the fastest growing population in social media; use of it has tripled in the last four years.

· Traditional Media Consumers: In terms of media influence on shopping process, newspaper dominates as their most influential medium. Other high-ranking media include: direct mail, in-store advertising, and television.

Baby Boomers

Born: 1946 – 1965  

Age Range: 51 – 69

Baby Boomers are the single largest group within the generations and arguably the most revolutionary. Boomers are inherently different from earlier generations of older Americans. Twenty-nine percent of them graduated from college. And as of 2013, they accounted for 31% of the labor force in the U.S. Because they are so numerous, there is significant variety in their life stages and lifestyles.

· Varied lifestyles: Some are retired empty nesters, others are grandparents, some are single, and others are married with multiple generations living in their homes.

· Changing Traditions: If there is one defining characteristic, is it that Boomers have changed and will continue to change traditions and perceptions. They have rejected the familiar sort of life pattern set down by earlier generations.

· Working Longer: While many are approaching retirement age, a high number are choosing to work past the commonly accepted retirement age. While they continue working, the boomer generation will look to stay young with products that delay aging, healthy foods, and exercise equipment.

· Deep Pockets: Presently, Boomers represent more than half of the nation’s wealth and 26% of the buying power. Adults 55 – 64 outspend the average consumer in nearly every category, including: food away from home, household furnishings, entertainment, personal care, and gifts, and Baby Boomers spend close to 50% of all consumer package goods dollars.

· Largely Online: Boomers are online in larger absolute numbers than any other demographic group. Email is the most popular online activity for this market, followed by web browsing, research, and shopping. Internet is the most important source of information for Boomers when they make a major (high-ticket) purchase.

· A Variety of Messages: The top three media that led Boomers to take action after seeing an advertisement are television, newspaper (inclusive of print, digital, and mobile channels), and direct mail.

Generation X

Born: 1965 – 1980

Age Range: 35 – 50

Gen X is often overlooked by marketers because it is not as sizable or extroverted as other generations. Interestingly, the average Gen Xer household outspends its Boomer and Millennial counterparts.

· Big (but Frugal) Spenders: Gen Xers are now in their peak earning and buying years. This is the most affluent generation, but they are also pragmatic and hold quite a bit of debt. They were impacted most by the Great Recession, and many continue to be in recovery from it.

· Work/Life Balance: They are established with careers, more likely to be married, and many have children. This leads them to be heavily focused on family and kids and finding a greater work-life balance.

· Considerate and Independent: Hallmark to this generation is their mindfulness of what others think–as well as their self-reliance and independence.

· Tech-savvy: Gen Xers are less likely to multi-task while watching TV than Millennials, but they are just as connected. Gen X was the first generation to embrace technology, from video games to desktop computers.

· Mixing Media: They favor email as their preferred channel for interacting with retailers. They are effectively a bridge generation: appreciating traditional media vehicles while blending with more modern (digital) channels.

Millennials

Born: 1981 – 1995

Age Range: 21 – 35

Millennials are among the most talked about generation—second only, perhaps, to Baby Boomers. This group is sizable (as the children of Boomers) and diverse. Those born between 1981 and 1995 had different experiences: older Millennials were teenagers before the Internet became popular, whereas younger Millennials grew up on an entirely online world.

· More Diverse: In contrast to other generations, only 57% of Millennials are white, with the majority of share shifting to Hispanics.

· Well Educated: Millennials are the best-educated cohort of young adults in American history, and the correlation between educational attainment and economic success is even greater for this generation than previous ones.

· Well Connected: They are characterized by their fear of missing out, and it drives them to attend, engage in, and share experiences widely. They prefer to communicate via text, fuel an entire economy of sharing, and are optimistically focused on the present.

· Looking for Experience: Millennials are less materialistic and are more interested in experiences (78% would choose to spend money on a desirable experience or event over buying something desirable, and 55% say they’re spending more on events and live experiences than ever before).

· Engaged: They expect to be a part of every conversation involving them, and they prefer dynamic interaction rather than passive attendance.

· Philanthropically Driven: Millennials have an interest in pro-social and charitable efforts and are more likely to buy a product if the proceeds go to charity.

· Live Online: Millennials are adept multi-taskers, juggling two screens simultaneously. On average, they consume eighteen hours of media a day. Across the board, they are social: 71% engage in social media daily, with spend 30% of daily media consumption made up of social-media posts, photos, blogs, and other user-generated content.

· Harder to Reach: Millennials are keenly aware of marketing / messaging and easily tune it out.

Generation Z  

Born: 1995 – Present

Age Range: Under 21

Already, Generation Z has distinguished itself from Millennials in very significant ways— from their deepest aspirations to their preferences on social networks. Gen Z has grown up entirely in the digital age, and they are savvier because of it.

In the Know: They are adept researchers and can self-educate and find information with ease. They are comfortable with alternative methods of education, including watching lessons online, using digital textbooks, and collaborating digitally with classmates.
Realists: Gen Z has grown up largely in a post-9/11 world, filled with uncertainty, recession, increased diversity, and shifting gender roles.
More Accepting: Gen Z continues the trend of increasing racial and ethnic diversity.
Changing Social: Generation Z is connected through social channels, but Gen Zers are among the fastest churning users of Facebook, leaving the social site for “incognito media platforms” such as Snapchat, Secret, and Whisper. Instagram, however, continues to find favorability for this generation.
On More Screens: Multitasking is intuitive for Gen Zers: they prefer to have up to five screens active at once. They are creative and like to communicate using images.

We can bridge the gap.

We’ve done the research. We’ve got the reach. And we know marketing strategy. Let us help you get your message to your target audiences. Contact us online of call us at 334.240.0146 today.

Sources

Dolliver, Mark. “Giving Gen X Its Due: Analyzing a Market of 65 Million Consumers” eMarketer 9 Sept 2015; “Comparing Millennials to Other Generations” Social & Demographic Trends Pew Research Center 19 Mar 2015; Scarborough; Gannett RAM Study 2014; Collins-Young, Craig. “Social Media Use by Seniors Continues to Rise” Leading Age 7 Aug 2013;  “Mature Marketplace” JCDecaux 2014; Ad Mall Pro 2015; Jones, Maggie. “Meet Generation Z: Marketing’s Next Big Audience” Blog Marketo 11 Aug 2014; Indy Opps Planning Audience Segmentation for Interstate 2013; Howe, Neil. “Generation X And The New Frugality” Forbes 31 Jan 2014; “Millennials in Adulthood: Detached from Institutions, Networked with Friends” Social & Demographic Trends Pew Research Center 7 Mar 2014; Suddath, Clair. “The Millennial Way of Shopping: More Careful, Durable, and Frugal Than You Think” Bloomberg Business 25 Apr 2014; “Millennials: Fueling the Experience Economy” Eventbrite 2014; Petro, Greg. “Millennial Engagement And Loyalty -- Make Them Part Of The Process” Forbes 21 Mar 2013; Wells, Tina. “The Top 10 Millennial Trends of 2015” Medium 10 Dec 2014; Bonini, John. “Your Traditional Marketing Tactics Don’t Work on Millennials: Here’s How to Adjust” Hubspot 17 Jul 2013; Taylor, Kate. “Millennials Spend 18 Hours a Day Consuming Media -- And It's Mostly Content Created By Peers” Entrepreneur 10 Mar 2014

Digital Marketing Minute: February Week One

Every week we share trends and articles on digital marketing. Posted on Tuesday, February 2 in Making Your Marketing Work.

SEARCH

10 Local Link Building Tips for 2016

Building links for local businesses often requires a different strategy from traditional link building. Columnist Greg Gifford offers actionable tips that you can put to use right now.

Read More

EMAIL

Google, Yahoo Revamp Email Apps

Technology giants Google and Yahoo updated their email applications this week in a continuing battle for inbox supremacy.

Read More

SOCIAL

Facebook's Ad Volume Has Grown for the First Time in Two Years

Facebook's advertising business has already changed a lot in the past four years, growing to become four-fifths mobile. But now the underlying economics of Facebook's advertising business are changing, growing its ad business at its steepest rate in more than a year.

Read More

TECH

64% Look To Internet Of Things To Create Better Customer Experiences

Businesses expect The Internet of Things will improve customer experiences but that’s far from where their current IoT initiatives are today.

Read More

We know digital marketing.

We can help. We offer products and services to build, maintain, and grow your digital presence. We’d love to talk more with you – contact us online or call 334.261.1553.

Trending Now: Financial Institutions

Make Digital Pay Off Posted on Thursday, January 28 in Increasing Sales.

Whether on their laptop or mobile device, consumers expect to be able to perform transactions digitally. Long gone are the days when someone would drive to a branch office to deposit their pay check and withdraw money for the week. Some financial institutions don’t even have branches, and their customers do everything online.

Automation isn’t as impersonal as you may think. Even in the digital age, personal connection is key. It’s about connecting in new and different ways. Here are some ways local financial institutions can connect with customers.

Keep it—or make it – local.

Don’t mistake digital with impersonal. Everyone from Millennials on up want things sourced locally, but it takes more than that. That’s where content comes in. Rather than just offering products and services, community banks and credit unions can offer personal advice, community engagement suggestions, and financial literacy resources. Even the big players know the importance of the local connection. Chase is focusing on the needs of key groups and highlighting the communities it serves. i

Banks and credit unions can take the local connection a step further by building up social media networks. These networks will help them promote opportunities and events well helping them connect with local customers.

Be an invaluable resource.

Local institutions need to position themselves as subject matter experts, offering the financial guidance and knowledge customers need. Native content is one way to engage existing and potential customers. Native advertising allows businesses to do more than get their name and message out there. This content provides valuable information on subjects that readers care about in a less intrusive format.

Video is another great medium for sharing expertise. Bank of America has had tremendous success with relevant, helpful video content that breaks down complicated financial matters. In addition to featuring video on its website, the bank uses Pinterest to push tips on life events with financial ties and offers easily digestible bites of information on Vine. ii

Get personal.

Community banks and credit unions should take a more personal approach in their advertising, too. The people behind the loan desk are not nameless, faceless people conducting financial transactions; they are neighbors, fellow shoppers at the grocery store, and the people who live and play in the community. Local institutions can use traditional print advertising, outdoor media, and website branding with a common theme: personality.

Embrace the digital world.

Before local institutions can connect with their customers online, they need to reach them there, too. Luckily, the digital age has brought with it new ways to do just that, these methods include: iii

  • Native Advertising
  • Content platforms
  • Retargeting
  • Geolocation
  • Research and analytics

Ready for the pay off?

We can help you reach your target customers. Contact us today for more information on how to best get that message across. We’d love to talk more – contact us online or call 334.261.1553.

Sources

i http://www.cnbc.com/2014/05/12/one-in-10-americans-dont-carry-paper-money-anymore.html

ii Advertising Age. “How banks are using content to connect with consumers.” By Ashley Rodriquez. October 2015. http://adage.com/article/print-edition/banks-branded-content-connect-consumers/300840/

iii The Financial Brand. “2015 Google Search Trends in Banking and Marketing” November 2015. http://thefinancialbrand.com/55019/google-trends-in-banking-and-marketing/

Which comes first, variety or frequency?

Gone are the days when one ad made phones ring off the hook. But it’s not all about the media mix—you need to balance platform with frequency. Posted on Wednesday, January 27 in Reaching The Right Audience.

Don’t put all of your eggs in one basket.

You know the old adage. Well, the same goes for your advertising efforts. These days you need a comprehensive strategy to get noticed and inspire action. That means taking an integrated approach. Integrated marketing means incorporating multiple platforms and channels into your marketing strategy. And it’s not just about variety, frequency matters.

Put more eggs in each basket.

The lush colors, the engaging images, the inspiring words—none of it matters if no one sees your ad. A multimedia marketing approach is undeniably important, but it’s even more important not to spread your message too thin. Just as multiple touchpoints will reach consumers where they are, having a higher frequency of messaging will reach consumers when they’re ready to take action.

Think about it. How often have you been too busy to follow up on an ad the moment you see it? And how many times have you only tuned into an ad once you’re in the market that product or service? 

Crack consumer behavior.

Serendipity is a wonderful thing, but it’s not much of a marketing strategy. To make the sale, you need the right balance of variety and frequency (and targeting) that inspire action.

Take Suzy Q for example.

Suzy is a Montgomery Advertiser reader. Today she’s making plans for her family to a visit this summer. On this chilly January morning, Suzy is dreaming of the warmth of July on the patio with her guests.

As she reads her morning news, she notices an ad for a patio instillation company that specializes in outdoor kitchens. She’s seen these ads before, but was never interested in these services until now. She’s intrigued by the idea of adding a kitchen to her patio. On her lunch break, Suzy does an online search for patio improvements and sees this business come up in the search results. She visits their site, does some research, and then brainstorms some ideas that evening.

She continues to see this business’ ads among her morning news all week, keeping her project and the business top of mind. On Saturday, Suzy sees their President’s Day sale ad in her Facebook feed while she’s running errands and decides to stop by the store to discuss her ideas with a consultant.

The chicken or the egg.

When it comes to media mix and frequency, it’s impossible to say which is more important to your marketing plan. But if you’re planning on success, it’s clear you need both.

After all, look at Suzy Q. Not only did Suzy see the business’ ad in multiple places, suiting her multimedia consumption habits, but she saw it more than once. This further piqued her interest, reminding her to follow up for more information and prompting her to visit the store location when she was ready.

Not every consumer will be in the market for your product at the same time. So, it’s necessary to be where they are at all times, making sure to have your message ready when they are, at every point in the consumer buying cycle.

We’re good eggs.

We can help you find the balance of variety and frequency it takes to reach your target audience. Talk to one of our marketing experts at 334.261.1553 or reach us online.

Digital Marketing Minute

Every week we share trends and articles on digital marketing. Posted on Monday, January 25 in Making Your Marketing Work.

MCommerce

Mobile Email Closes Gap With Desktop In Click-to-Open Revenue

By Ben Frederick, Meidapost

Media Post has posted results highlighting mCommerce and email Click to Open rates versus Desktop. As mCommerce continues to develop into a more user-friendly experience, mobile email marketing can expect to grow in the foreseeable future.

Read More

Mobile

Top 10 mobile marketing trends for 2016

By Ritesh Bhavnani, Mobile Marketer

Last year was arguably the year that mobile’s dominance over desktop became a fait accompli for everyone. 

More than 50 percent of Google search queries worldwide were done using mobile phones. In the United States, consumers spent more time interacting with their applications than they did watching television. Nearly 80 percent of Facebook’s third-quarter revenues came from mobile ads. Google rolled out its “MobileGeddon” ranking algorithm that penalized non-mobile optimized Web sites, making mobile-first design a must have for all. Read More about what the top ten mobile marketing trends are for 2016.

Read More

Social Media

Snapchat's premium positioning at risk without better campaign analytics

By Brielle Jaekel, Mobile Marketer

Originally a user-only space, Snapchat made the leap into advertising last year, with a slew of marketers jumping to connect to the platform's young user base, but without any ascertainable reaction data, brands should not forget its organic story capabilities. 

Read More

We know digital marketing.

We can help. We offer products and services to build, maintain, and grow your digital presence. We’d love to talk more with you – contact us online or call 334.261.1553.

Trending Now: Hospitals

Improve Digital Health Posted on Thursday, January 21 in Increasing Sales.

The Internet and search have become extremely important tools for patients and doctors in the hospital system. Patients are primarily searching for symptoms and conditions, while doctors are searching for more information on patient conditions and pharmaceutical manufacturers.

Search empowers patients.

More and more patients jump on the Internet at the first sign of a symptom. And because websites are no substitute of a doctor’s care and expertise, many of these patients make appointments with or emergency visits to healthcare facilities. Seventy-seven percent of patients used search terms prior to scheduling an appointment. (i)

Mobile search drives visits and appointments.

The increase in patient searches aside, hospital and doctor research is nothing new. In fact, 84% of patients are using both online and offline sources for hospital research, but patients who used a mobile device to research are more likely to make an appointment. Of patients who used their mobile devices 44% scheduled an appointment. (i)

Patients are prompting doctors to use digital tools.

Physicians are leveraging digital tools more than ever to make clinical and treatment decisions. On average, they’re making as many as six searches a day—often at the behest of their patients. Sixty-eight percent of doctors use a search engine during a consult because a patient seeks more information. (ii)

Perform a digital checkup.

A healthy digital presence will get hospitals and private practices appearing in patient search results, allowing healthcare facilities to reap the benefits of the digital age. But a digital presence can only grow big and strong with a balanced diet, exercise, and discipline. A digital health regime should include:

  • Websites provide layers of information, allowing patients to thoroughly understand services and treatment options.
  • Social media accounts are a given, even in the healthcare industry. Patients expect to see hospitals and other facilities on everything from Twitter to LinkedIn.
  • Search and directories allow patients to easily find addresses, phone numbers, and websites within seconds. Which is good, because that’s how quickly they’re scanning search results.
  • Reviews and reputation management are critical. Bad reviews are bad enough, but the prognosis goes from bad to worse if a facility doesn’t monitor reviews and respond to reviewers.

Ready for a self-health evaluation?

Need a digital booster?

We can help you evaluate and accelerate your digital presence. We offer products and services to give your digital presence a boost, however big or small it may be. We’d love to talk more—contact us online or by calling 334.261.1553.

Sources

i Source: 2012 Google/Compete Hospital Study, Think with Google

ii Source: Google & Manhattan Research, “The Doctor’s Digital Path to Treatment,” April 2012, Think With Google

Five tips for a Balanced Media Mix

Does your media mix reach the right audiences? Posted on Wednesday, January 20 in Making Your Marketing Work.

Your media mix isn’t about budget—it’s about balance. Your integrated campaigns may include a combination of print, digital, direct mail, email, social, search, and more. And where you devote your marketing budget should be determined by your target audience and the best ways to reach them.

1. Traditional marketing reaches older consumers: If you’re trying to reach Boomers, you may want to consider investing in print, television, out of home, and radio.

2. Digital and social reaches younger consumers: When Gen Xers and Millennials are your target, digital ads, search marketing, and a social presence may make the most sense.

3. Don’t be afraid to mix it up: There is no one channel to reach any generation. The key is to pick a diverse mix of tactics to form an integrated approach.

4. Align your message with the medium: What works in print might not for digital. The content of your message is as important as where you put it.

5. The right mix can make the sale: It’s not all about reach—timing matters, too. Try to align your tactics with the different buying stages.

Are you ready to balance your media mix? Learn more about benefits of mediums from the traditional to the digital.

We can get you in the mix.

Need help finding the right balance? Let us weigh in. Our team knows how to mix it up. We can tell you where your customers are and how to reach them. We’d love to talk more—contact us online or by calling 334.261.1553.

Digital Marketing Minute

Every week we share trends and articles on digital marketing. Posted on Tuesday, January 19 in Making Your Marketing Work.

TOP APPS of 2015

Nielsen: Top Apps of 2015 Dominated By Facebook, Google & Apple

By Greg Sterling, MarketingLand.com

Nielsen has released a look at the top smartphone apps of 2015. Amazingly the top ten reflects the properties of just three companies: Facebook, Google and Apple. Nielsen also said that smartphone penetration grew to 80 percent in the US at the end of the third quarter. The most recent comScore data show penetration at roughly 78 percent. On the Nielsen list, the top two mobile apps of 2015 were Facebook and YouTube. Number three was Facebook Messenger. After that are four Google apps: search, Play, Maps and Gmail.

Read More

SOCIAL MEDIA

The Best Times to Post on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn & Other Social Media Sites

By Lindsay Kolowich, Hubspot.com

Social media is one of the best ways to amplify the great content you’re creating. But it isn’t enough to just post content to social whenever you feel like it. Some times are better than others. So … When’s the best time to post content to social media?

Read More

EMAIL

Goodbye Spam, Hello Inbox: 9 Ways to Fix Your Email Marketing Strategy

By Ben Oren, SearchEngineJournal.com

As a marketer, you’ve likely attempted to use emails for various marketing objectives. And for good reason: time and again, email marketing is consistently cited as the most effective form of online marketing in driving conversion. Moreover, it’s relatively easy and quick to execute. You can’t miss! Oh, but you can. As many as 84% of all emails are labeled as spam, or just as detrimentally, deleted. Not all emails achieve the result they set out to, and too often, it’s because of easily avoidable mistakes that are far too common.

Read More

We know digital marketing.

We can help. We offer products and services to build, maintain, and grow your digital presence. We’d love to talk more with you – contact us online or call 334.261.1553.

Trending Now: Home Improvement

Focus Your Marketing Posted on Thursday, January 14 in Increasing Sales.

As the New Year rings in, we will see several factors affecting the Home Improvement segment. According to Zillow national home prices over the past year increased 4.3% and are projected to gain another 2.6% in 2016. Sounds like good news, right? Not really. Coupled with the threat of rising long-term interest rates, we could actually see a stagnate housing market impacting the home improvement segment.

These two factors can mean that existing home owners are either less likely to give up their low interest rates by trading up for a bigger house that does not need improvements, or they simply have not built up enough equity to offset the cost of a move. The result, existing homeowners are opting to stay in their current abode.

This puts stress on first-time homebuyers, too. Not only are they struggling with the higher home values and higher interest rates, but the supply of houses on the market is greatly reduced by existing home owners staying put.

Opportunity

The opportunity for home improvement businesses lies with the existing homeowner likely to use their home equity to invest back in their home. While homeowners wait out the tide of higher interest rates their focus will be on increasing the value of their homes.

Curb appeal is king

According to the Joint Center For Housing Studies Of Harvard University curb appeal is king when it comes to home improvements. Discretionary spending on exterior replacement tops the charts at 20% and includes roofing, siding, windows, and exterior doors. This is followed by system upgrades at 16% of overall spend and includes plumbing, electrical, HVAC, and major appliances. Room additions follow with 13% of total spending and kitchen and bath remodeling/additions come in at 9.5% and 7.7% respectively—that $192 billion in total homeowner spending.

Focused Targeting

Homeowners that are more likely to have families on the grow (Gen X) invest 30% more than other generational segments. While it’s true that the life stage of boomers means that they are less inclined to spend on home improvements (-9%), they should not be overlooked considering they account for nearly half of the overall national home improvement spending.

Now that you are armed with where to focus your strategy and why, the next step is to find these homeowners and motivate them to take action through focused marketing efforts. Digital display, mobile, social, direct mail and print can all be effective vehicles in your marketing mix. The issue many businesses face is finding the right media mix based on facts not guesses.

We can help

Advertiser Media Group has invested in the resources and the marketing expertise to find your best target and drive ROI. Contact us online or call 334.261.1553. Let’s talk about how we can start connecting your business with motivated home improvement customers today.

Source:

Zillow.com Home Values
Joint Center For Housing Studies Of Harvard University 2013
Marketwatch.com  - 4 real estate trends we’ll see in 2016 By Daniel Goldstein

Make Friends with Social Media (You’ll like it)

These days everyone is on social media—including your customers. Make sure your local business is ready to mingle. Posted on Wednesday, January 13 in Building Your Brand.

Welcome to 2016!

For most of us, social media has become so deeply engrained in our lives that we can’t imagine getting through a day without scrolling through our Facebook newsfeed at least once. This is especially true of Millennials, 44% of whom state that they check their Facebook at least several times throughout the day. (1) But we’ve gotten to the point that social media is no longer just for the kids; 68.9% of Gen X-ers and 47.6% of Baby Boomers in the US are active social network users. (2) Even senior citizens are on social media, with over 1/3 of the US population over 65 years old being active users. (2)

If you, as a business owner, are among the ever-shrinking number of people who don’t use social media to promote your business, you are missing out on a heck of an opportunity.

Word-of-Mouth of the 21st Century

Traditional advertising, while still great and powerful, is a one-way street. You put out your message and hope that the right person sees it. Social media marketing, if executed correctly, is a conversation; an opportunity for you to actually engage with your customers and prospects. It also allows you to see what your customers are saying about you, and give you a chance to react. More than that though, social media is an outlet for your customers to share their experience with your business with their friends and family, at little to no cost to you. It is a cynical world we live in, so it should come as no big surprise that only about 20% of consumers trust what a brand says about itself. Conversely, roughly 70% trust recommendations (and condemnations) from their friends and family. (3) Take the advantage that social media gives you and make every encounter with your customers a positive one.

Turning a Social Window Shopper Into a Paying Customer

“For successful lead generation on social [media], equip your buyer for success. Be personable, connect with your prospect’s challenges, and give them a next step to move forward.” – Chris Brogan, CEO and Founder, Human Business Works. (2)

It sounds simple, doesn’t it? The mark of any successful marketer is one who is able to identify with and relate to their customers. This concept is universal, no matter what industry you’re business falls into. For example, real estate agents need to understand what homebuyers want (and don’t want) in a property. With regards to social media, this is the basic theme around which you should build and maintain your profiles. That being said, you don’t want every post to come across as promotional. Those in the know recommend a good variety of topics in your posts, offering a good blend of informative and entertaining content. Whatever you post, always make sure to include something visual, and something that will get your audience engaging with your page.

Choose the Right Social Media Mix

In the social media world, not all networks are created equal. It may not necessarily benefit your business to have a presence on every single social network; it’s better to be on fewer sites and be a rockstar on each of them than it is to have a million profiles and not give any of them the time and resources they need to make them great. If you’re a B2C company, you’ll want to be on Facebook, regardless of the other social networks you use. With over 160 million active monthly users, (2) Facebook is the largest social network in the world, and is increasingly incorporating functions previously available only on other networks. You can now upload a video directly into Facebook instead of linking to YouTube or another video network, use hashtags to link your content with other, similar posts, and more. This is not to say that you should place all your eggs in one basket; diversity is your friend. Each network, from Pinterest to YouTube to Instagram to LinkedIn and beyond has its own unique audience and benefits.

Need help navigating the social media landscape?

We can help you get acquainted

Social Media Marketing can be a business’ best friend if implemented properly, giving business owners the opportunity to connect with their prospects and customers and make their brand a part of their everyday lives. If you know that your business can benefit from social media marketing, but you just don’t have the time for it, contact us online or give us a call at 334.261.1553.

1 American Press Institute and Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs at the University of Chicago, "How Millennials Get News: Inside the Habits of America's First Digital Generation" conducted by The Media Insight Project, March 16, 2015
2 eMarketer, Jul 2015
3 Forrester, Marketo 2014

Trending Now: Accountants

Count on Digital Posted on Thursday, January 7 in Increasing Sales.

Ready or not, tax season is upon us. Traditionally the next three months are the busiest for accounting service firms. And while the timeframe hasn’t changed, the way people interact with accounting firms has. “Consumers are now turning to the web at every step of the financial process, from preparing tax returns to financial spending and savings.” (i)

A digital presence is a valuable asset.

From finding a firm to financial planning, for a growing number of people the transaction begins online. Consumers start looking for financial services online earlier each year, and searches are up 37% since 2012. So it’s more important than ever that accounting firms are easy to find.

A digital presence goes beyond a website—though that is certainly a critical first step. To be found online and influence consumers, firms need:

  • Optimized websites: Sites should be up to date and accessible from any device.
  • Search optimization: From SEO to SEM, search marketing ensures websites can be found.
  • Reputation management: Online reviews are highly influential; firms should be ready to be responsive.
  • Social media strategy: Social media allows consumers to interact with companies while boosting search results.

Don’t count out the personal touch.

Some transactions start and end online—but sometimes a digital presence is just a starting point. Though 85% of consumers filed tax returns electronically, more than 30% of consumers prefer to work with a tax prep professional. (ii) Consumers want the convenience of filing and managing finances online, but when it comes to understanding their finances and getting answers, a friendly face is what they want most.

Balance the message.

Just as there are different accounting services, there are a variety of channels—and the message should vary accordingly. Firms need to balance traditional advertising with digital marketing to extend reach and target messaging. For example, digital ads and promoted social posts might be the best way to promote tax services to a younger audience, while print and out of home may resonate for boomers preparing for retirement.

We can make digital add up.

Looking to add a digital presence to your portfolio? We can help. We offer products and services to help you build, maintain, and grow your digital presence. We’d love to talk more – contact us online or call 334.261.1553.

Sources

i Table 1. Estimated Quarterly Revenue for Service Firms, Not Seasonally Adjusted. Bureau of the Census. n.d. Web. 7 Jan. 2015

ii 2014 Tax Season Trends: The Returns Are In April 2014

Resolve to Balance Your Media Diet

Optimal portions deliver the most conversions Posted on Wednesday, January 6 in Reaching The Right Audience.

The new year brings with it a renewed beginning and the opportunity to start fresh. In your personal life, you may have made resolutions to better or refocus yourself—and just as you may benefit from resolutions, so too might your local business. Are you using the same methods to take your product to market today as you were a year (or more) ago? Have you updated your strategy and tactics to reflect the ever-changing consumption habits of your consumers?

Thinking specifically about your media mix, resolving to balance your media diet may be a worthwhile and necessary resolution. You need to feed your consumers the right message in the right place at the right time, and a balanced media diet is critical for moving consumers through their purchase cycles.

But, much like balancing your own nutritional diet, in order to develop the best mix, it’s imperative to understand the strengths of each medium.

Television: Put your message in motion.

There is an inherent sexiness to television: the celebrity, the massive audience. The ability to use sight, sound, color and motion creates a compelling opportunity to deliver a powerful message in an engaging medium, if done effectively.

Key Benefits: broad reach, dynamic and visual medium

Constraints: cost, inventory, production investment, time-sensitive

Newspaper: Take ad-vantage of a trusted source.

Print continues to deliver the most local connection to consumers, and local newspapers trump other media in terms of trustworthiness, community connection, advertising efficacy, and overall engagement. Given the daily nature of newspapers, ads “expire” and have an enhanced sense of urgency in print.

Key Benefits: broad reach, local connection, timeliness, visual medium, inventory

Constraints: time-sensitive

Digital Video: Engage a more targeted audience.

Much like television, digital video offers the ability to showcase products and services in a compelling, creative manner. However, digital video is more targeted and cost-effective than television, which means it delivers a more qualified (though notably smaller) audience.

Key Benefits: targeted reach, dynamic and visual medium

Constraints: production investment

Radio: Get your message in tune.

Like other media, radio (digital, satellite, and terrestrial) continues to evolve in terms of how consumers take control and program their channels. That said, the strength in radio remains in frequency: the medium is used habitually (morning routine, evening commute) and provides the opportunity to conjure grand images in advertising by relying on listener’s imagination.

Key Benefits: frequency, power of imagination, local connection (terrestrial)

Constraints: cost, inventory, time-sensitive

Digital Display/Retargeting: You’re on the right track.

Display ads put your business in the right places: contextually, behaviorally, geographically and / or demographically. They push back to your website, which allows you to understand their effectiveness and track how consumers move through your digital channels more closely.

Key Benefits: targeted reach, trackability, direct connection to site

Constraints: inventory, limited creative space

Search: Get results.

While seemingly a simple advertising channel, search is a complex and nuanced medium to master. Pay-per-click (PPC) ads are among the most cost effective, given the delivery of impressions at no cost and payment only for consumers who actively click on ads. Search is the perfect environment for testing different copy executions and understanding what resonates best with consumers. Finally, search pushes consumers directly back to your site.

Key Benefits: extremely cost effective, dynamic copy, direct connection to site

Constraints: no visuals, competitive, limited creative space, personnel investment

Social: Let your message mingle.

Oftentimes social is heralded as the darling child of media for local businesses because it is “free.” While creating social media accounts and populating them with content can be done without charge, there is significant investment required for developing, programming and managing content. Social channels are also limited in that platform algorithms deprioritize organic content, so it has evolved into a pay-to-play space. Still, the inherently opted-in audience and conversational nature of social creates an opportunity to connect with consumers on a personal level and in an authentic way that cannot be replicated in any other medium.

Need help navigating the social landscape?

Key Benefits: audience targeting, engaged / opt-in audience, showcase for content

Constraints: limited creative space, personnel investment

Email: Send it special delivery.

Email continues remains a strong medium because of its portability and personalization. It is best used when it can be tailored to a customer’s history and their position within their purchase cycle. This requires database management and some degree of marketing automation, both Herculean efforts onto themselves, but the results warrant the effort. According to a recent email perception study by Fluent Inc., interesting marketing emails will result in an online purchase, a site visit, or an in-store purchase nearly 75% of the time.

Key Benefits: engaged / opt-in audience, customization

Constraints: limited creative space, platform investment (for serving and / or automation)

Mobile: Get your marketing on the move.

Mobile advertising is a broad category with many ever-evolving formats, including in-app advertising, text messages, geo-fencing and beacons, search, social, digital banners, and native apps. The common thread across formats is personal targeting at or very near the point of sale. This affords a broad range of messaging opportunities and an avalanche of consumer data that can inform broader marketing strategies.

Key Benefits: immediacy, hyper geo-targeting, proximity to point of conversion, data availability

Constraints: limited creative space, platform investment (for native app / texts / beacons), personnel investment, data management

Outdoor: Put your message out there.

Outdoor media is about making a statement and a big splash. It is limited in terms of creative (very little room for copy and visuals must carry the message), but there are considerable reach and frequency benefits associated with the outdoor medium.

Key Benefits: broad reach, impact, frequency, visual medium

Constraints: limited creative space

Your media dietician.

Need help balancing your media mix? We can help. Contact us today or call 334.261.1553.

Sources: Katz, Helen. The Media Handbook; “2013 Nielsen National Cross-Media Engagement Study” Nielsen. 8 Jan 2013; “The Inbox Report: Consumer Perceptions of Email 2015” Fluent Inc. 15 Dec 2015;

Trending Now: Cosmetic Surgery

Cutting into the Male Market Posted on Tuesday, December 29 in Increasing Sales.

Cosmetic surgery, defined as an elective subcategory of plastic surgery, is projected to increase 3.7% to a 14 billion dollar industry in 2015. (1) A growing acceptance among consumers, increased disposable incomes, and advancements in technology are fueling a positive outlook for this industry. As cosmetic procedures grow in popularity, so does the number of men looking to enhance their appearance.

More men in the waiting rooms.

Women have undergone over 9.6 million cosmetic procedures last year, making up 90% of the market. However, if your marketing only focuses on female patients, you could be missing a growing segment of your clientele. The number of men that have undergone cosmetic procedures has increased by 42% in the last year. So, though it’s true that women still make up the majority of patients filling these waiting rooms, there’s an opportunity to increase the number of men flipping through before-and-after books.

Find out what men want. 

The desire to look younger and remain competitive in the workplace is driving an increase in age management procedures among male patients, including less expensive, more frequent treatments like Botox. Before you spend one penny on marketing, it’s important to understand how to find your target audience as well as their temperament and behaviors. This will allow you to focus your efforts and maximize your budget.

Make your messages specific.

As the number of men seeking cosmetic treatments increases, so will the need to tailor your messaging. Your marketing will make a stronger emotional connection if you have multiple creative messages that appeal to men and women. Also be sure to address these top factors cited when choosing cosmetic services: (2) 

  • Results
  • Cost
  • Recovery time

Take a multifaceted approach.

Now that you know you need to reach a wider audience and tailor your messaging, do you know how to reach them? This duel target requires a multi-platform approach. Among the top platforms that drive patients to take action: (3)

  • Search (56%)
  • Email (52%)
  • Digital Banners (51%)
  • Social (50%)

We can help you look your best.

Analyzing and applying the research, developing a creative strategy, and a implementing a multi-platform campaign management is a lot of work—especially for a busy (and growing) practice. We can help you solve the marketing equation that will motivate consumers to take action. Want to learn more? Contact us online or call us at 334.261.1553 to learn more.

Source:

1) IBISWorld Industry Report OD4157 Plastic Surgeons in the US; "2011 AAFPRS Membership Study."

2) The American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, 2012. Web. 18 Jul. 2012;

3) SOURCE: 2015 AudienceSCAN® * % total may not equal 100% because audience could select more than one answer to this question.

Digital Marketing Minute - December: Week Five

Every week we share trends and articles on digital marketing. Posted on Monday, December 28 in Making Your Marketing Work.

Digital

By The Numbers: Today's Technology Device Ownership

By Monica Anderson, Pew Research Center

How many do you own?  According to the Pew Research Center and new data just out, 68% of Americans adults have smartphones. If that's not enough mobile connection, 45% have tablet computers. But year-over-year growth in device ownership stops there.  Adult ownership of other digital devices has not grown in recent years.  In fact, some have stalled or are now in freefall. 

Read More

Blogs

Anatomy of the Perfect Blog Post

By Michael Brenner, MIG

Blogs can help your business to inform and provide your target customers possible solutions to a tough challenge or question they have. Blogging is also an opportunity to establish your company’s authority and thought leadership, and to show potential customers that you care about their business beyond just trying to sell your product or service.  So, what's the checklist you should have at your side to write the best possible blog post?

Read More

Marketing Trends

Four Profound Marketing Megatrends for 2016 and Beyond

by Mark Schaeffer

It's the time of year for predictions! What marketing megatrends to you need to be aware of as your business heads into 2016 and beyond?  Should information management, controlling content, artificial writers and virtual reality be on your to-do-list? 

Read More

We know digital marketing.

We can help. We offer products and services to build, maintain, and grow your digital presence. We’d love to talk more with you – contact us online or call 334.261.1553.

Trending Now: Used Car Dealers

Digital Makes the Sale Posted on Thursday, December 24 in Increasing Sales.

Auto intenders are more influenced by digital media than the general population, making digital media platforms essential to an integrated marketing strategy.

Getting up to speed online.

Before consumers ever step foot on the lot, they’re researching online. A 2015 Autotrader.com study found 39% of recent car buyers used a smartphone to shop for cars while 35% used a tablet. Together, that’s a 19% increase since 2013. With this shift, simply having a website isn’t enough. Your website and ads need to be optimized for mobile devices.

Going greater distances.

Buyers are travelling further to make their used car purchases after researching online—increasing target audiences dramatically. Most used car buyers are drawn from a 29 mile radius of a dealership, but those using the Internet to shop will travel from an average 49 miles. An integrated digital adverting campaign will increase the amount of qualified leads and extend the target radius surrounding a dealership.

Digital gets them on track to buy.

Compared to the general population, auto intenders are 71% more likely to be swayed by online vehicle ads and 87% more likely to be influenced by emails. Combining email and display advertising, the results are even more powerful:

  • Recall increases 13% compared to display advertising alone.
  • Web traffic increase 400%.

Keeping pace with mobile behavior.

As with traditional marketing channels, dealers need to understand the strengths and limitations of the various digital platforms consumers use. And because the actions auto intenders take depend on the platform used, dealers must to tailor their ad messages.

Buyers use a variety of devices on their path to purchase. And depending on the how they’re browsing, the actions they are likely to take change.

  • PC/Laptop: preform detailed searches, download forms, and research vehicle information.
  • Tablet: view photos, read reviews, and compare car features.
  • Smartphone: email or call about vehicle and research dealerships.

Ready to go digital?

We can help. We offer products and services to build, maintain and grow a digital presence, however big or small it may be. We’d love to talk more – contact us online or by calling 334.261.1553.

Sources:

“Looking Back, Driving Forward." Manheim.com, 14 Jan. 2015.

2014 IHS Automotive Buyer Influence Study, partnership with AutoTrader.com

http://www.mobilecommercedaily.com/smartphone-tablet-use-in-car-buying-research-doubles-report

www.adweek.com./news/technology/study-auto-shoppers-71-more -influenced-digital-ads-154927

Ponder, Laurie. "21st Century Marketing." National Independent Automobile Dealers Association, Mar. 2012. Web. 18 Feb. 2013.

http://www.smartinsights.com/traffic-building-strategy/integrated-marketing-communications/research-on-the-effect-of-combining-email-to-your-marketing-mix/

Five Tech Trends to Watch in 2016

Emerging technology gives marketers more opportunities than ever before to connect with consumers. Posted on Wednesday, December 23 in Making Your Marketing Work.

Targeted messaging on their terms

The world of emerging technologies is an exciting one for marketers. In the past few decades, technology has changed the way we market our goods and services with a shift of focus to connection and custom messaging. And, every few months it seems, there are new platforms and gadgets to help target consumers and connect with them on a deeper level.

Never before has so much personal technology been available to so many people. Don’t let it overwhelm you. Here are five tech trends poised to grow and emerge in 2016.

1. Beacons and other location technologies

Beacons are a low-cost piece of hardware that use battery-friendly, low-energy Bluetooth connections to transmit messages or prompts directly to smartphones or tablets. They are poised to transform how retailers, event organizers, transit systems, enterprises, and educational institutions communicate with people indoors.With half of American adults already utilizing their mobile devices in stores, consumers seem receptive to beacons as a way to enhance their in-store shopping experience. But the applications go beyond retail. Beacon technology is already becoming a valuable channel in the unified view of the customer. With real-time, location-based data linked to a customer’s unique profile, the possibilities for creative marketers are endless.

2. Social Media explosion.

Facebook and Twitter still rule the social media landscape, but several players including Instagram, Snapchat, LinkedIn, Vine, and Pinterest are becoming big names in social as well. And with newcomers with names as random as Secret, Kleek, Wanalo, and Yik Yak joining in, the social circle just continues to explode.

The benefit of so many players is the opportunity to find what works best with your audience. With hundreds of millions of users, there’s a gigantic pool of unique users to tap into. The power of social isn’t just in the vast number of users on the big platforms, but in the breadth and depth of conversations going on across multiple niche platforms. Here lies the opportunity to share your valuable information that will help educate and inform these conversations.

Need help navigating the social media landscape?

3. Wearables

The wearables market is growing at a tremendous rate. A study from Juniper Research predicts that spending on wearables will reach $19 billion by 2018. Those kind of numbers get attention. And the release of products like Fitbit and the Apple Watch have helped consumers see wearable technology as less Sci-Fi and more mainstream.

Wearable technology has a long way to go, and it's not just for multi-million dollar companies. Now is the time for micro-testing and experimentation. It’s all about the data, finding ways for brands to tap into that data or enhance it to actually deliver value, integrate experience, and create convenience for consumers.

4. Omni-channel experiences

When customers call your company, they don’t view your support channels separately. They want everything managed as a whole, not a bunch of different departments—91% of customers want to pick up where they left off when they switch between channels. Unfortunately, 80% of companies haven’t integrated their communication, meaning there’s a massive disconnect between supply and demand for omni-channel experiences.

As you look to future investments in technology, it isn’t just about having multiple channels: it’s about making sure those channels all work together, creating communication and transactional channels that are connected, integrated, and consistent.

5. The Internet of Things (IoT).

This is quite possibly the most exciting—and futuristic—topic of all. This is the connector that will bring all other technology together. Simply put, it is the concept of connecting any device with an on/off switch to the Internet and to each other, allowing them to send and receive data. This includes everything from cell phones, coffee makers, washing machines, headphones, lamps, wearable devices, and almost anything else you can think of.

Beacons, wearables, sensors will seamlessly connect to our computers, smartphones, and gadgets creating smart vehicles, smart homes, smart workplaces, and smart cities. We are just beginning to understand how this will impact our lives, and uncover the many opportunities and challenges as more and more devices start to join the IoT. The best thing that we can do is educate ourselves about what the IoT is and the potential impacts that can be seen on how consumers work, live and play in this new world.

We can help.

From tradition media to emerging technology, we can help you target your messaging and connect with consumers. Contact us today or call 334.261.1553.

Digital Marketing Minute - December: Week Four

Every week we share trends and articles on digital marketing. Posted on Monday, December 21 in Making Your Marketing Work.

Content Marketing

Today’s Washington Press Corps expand digital media.

by Pew Research Center

Today’s Washington Press are focusing more on specialized media and digital services.

Read More

Mobile

Mobile Messaging and Social Media 2015

by Maeve Duggan 

In today’s world, people –particularly young people are continually finding and adapting new ways of communicating electronically to fit their needs.

Read More

Social Media

Twitter News Consumers: Young Mobile and Educated

by Amy Mitchell and Emily Guskin

Twitter news consumers stand out as younger, more mobile and more educated.

Read More

We know digital marketing.

We can help. We offer products and services to build, maintain, and grow your digital presence. We’d love to talk more with you – contact us online or call 334.261.1553.

Trending Now: Bookstores

Telling your story Posted on Thursday, December 17 in Increasing Sales.

An unexpected chapter.

We’ve all heard the apocalyptic cry: Print is dead! In fact, analysts theorized that e-books would overtake print by 2015. (i) Just a few short years ago, this news had publishers and big-box booksellers quaking in their boots. But, in an unexpected plot twist, digital sales have declined while print sales have remained relatively strong. (ii)

According to a recent survey conducted by Pew Research Center, 63% of Americans have read a print book in the last year. (ii) Studies also indicate many book lovers are hybrid consumers, meaning they’re reading books both in print and on digital devices.

Avid print readers tend to prefer the tactile experience that only books can offer: breaking the binding, dog-earing pages, scribbling in the margins. And don’t assume the print market skews older: surveys say “millennials [adults 18-34] still strongly prefer print for pleasure and learning.” (iii)

Turning the page and seizing the opportunity.

This is good news for local booksellers. These embattled retailers have been fighting a recession and behemoths like Amazon and Barnes & Nobles, as well as the digital migration, for years. Now these local businesses seem to have grown stronger from these struggles.

“The fact that the digital side of the business has leveled off has worked to our advantage,” said Oren Teicher, chief executive of the American Booksellers Association. “It’s resulted in a far healthier independent bookstore market today than we have had in a long time.”(i)

Tell a unique story.

The plotline for a successful local bookseller isn’t competing with big stores and their online rivals. As Slate’s article, “Why Indie Bookstores Are on the Rise” states: “No independent bookstore could thrive on mass-market softcover sales. Instead, they do well with hardcovers, illustrated children’s books, cookbooks, and the like. And while indies cannot compete with Amazon’s inventory, Amazon evidently cannot supplant indies as shopping and social experiences.” (iii)

Just as print readers enjoy a touchy-feely experience, print buyers want something personal. To thrive local booksellers must make visiting their stores a unique experience by offering reasons to visit that go beyond books. Sellers need to focus on getting customers to want to stay awhile.

Do what the big-box and online retailers can’t—play up the local connection:

  • Promote local authors.
  • Start reading and discussion groups.
  • Be a champion for self-publishing by helping aspiring authors.
  • Sell more than books.
  • Deliver books in person.

Creative Marketing.

Budgets can be a bit tight, with bookstore owners typically spending 2% or less of annual sales on marketing. (v) That means local sellers must be creative and use multiple touch points to drive traffic into their stores. Again, the angle is about threading a personal, local connection:

We can help tell the story.

We can help you develop an integrated marketing solution that reaches your target audience and helps build sales over a broader customer base. If you’re unsure where to start, we can partner with you on understanding who the best audience is through research and insights. Contact us or call 334.261.1553.

Sources:

(i) “The Plot Twist: E-Book Sales Slip, and Print Is Far From Dead,” the New York Times, September 22, 2015

(ii) “Slightly fewer Americans are reading print books, new survey finds,” Pew Research Center, October 19, 2015

(iii) “Why Indie Bookstores Are on the Rise Again,” Slate, September 9, 2014

(iv) “Why digital natives prefer reading in print. Yes, you read that right.,” The Washington Post, February 22, 2015

(v) “Bookstore Marketing,” Paz & Associates, 2015

Huff Post Books, “How To Save Bookstores:  28 Ideas From Existing Locations”, August 10, 2012

MarketingZone.com, “The Best Marketing Ideas for Bookstores”

Six ways to make your brand more personable

Don’t hide behind your corporate identity – make your brand more personable. Posted on Wednesday, December 16 in Building Your Brand.

We’re all on the lookout for ways to connect with clients and customers. Relatable marketing and branding efforts can go a long way to boost engagement and earn customer loyalty. More than ever, consumers are looking to connect with gregarious brands—and that trend won’t be going anywhere in 2016. Are you ready show a little personality?

Here are a few tips to help you show-off your brand in 2016.

#1: Be real.

If you want to be relatable, the first thing you’ve got to realize is that people do business with people. Corporate voice, tone, and messaging are important, but don’t forget to let your customers know that you are more than words. Your business is run by people, people that live and work in the communities your customers do. Show them a little personality.

In between some of your usual promotions and communications, pepper in some behind-the-scenes looks at your business:

  • Show parts of the building your customers don’t usually see.
  • Spotlight of a back-line employee working hard for your customers.
  • Post a throwback photo to illustrate your business’s rich history
  • Share some outtakes from your latest video blog or commercial.

You’ll be surprised to see how engaging these relatable tidbits can be.

#2: Be responsive (but stay classy).

Trite messages like “I’m sorry you feel that way,” are transparent and irksome. Avoid using formulaic responses when answering customer questions through email or responding to a negative comment or review on social media. Don’t be afraid to show personality in your customer relations messages.

Take this example from Sainsbury’s for instance: (1) 

Instead of issuing a templated response, Sainsbury’s showed off their sense of humor, making them look far more personable.

But don’t take that PR hat off just yet—you need to balance diplomacy and personality. Part of your brand strategy should be to determine what lines you don’t want to cross. In general, you’ll want to avoid negative comments. As Jeff Haden at Inc. put it: (2)

“Engage your audience, support varying viewpoints and spark healthy debate. But, as individuals, stay mindful that you represent an entity greater than yourself.” 

#3: Gather—and share—testimonials.

No matter what you call them (testimonials, feedback, endorsements, recommendations, etc.), word of mouth and consumer feedback are stronger than any marketing message. And sharing quotes from your satisfied customers who can attest to the quality and value of your goods and services is one more way to make your brand more real. So, it’s important that you never fake them—the truth always comes out.

Some additional tips for making good use of testimonials include: (3)

  • Include the customers’ full name, company and location (with permission, of course).
  • Encourage your customers to give specific details.
  • Use a video testimonial to add sincerity.

#4: Tell a good story.

Craig Davis, former chief creative officer at J. Walter Thompson, said it best: 

“We need to stop interrupting what people are interested in and be what people are interested in.” 

Storytelling is a powerful way to breathe life into your brand. When done well, it makes your business more authentic and creates an experience for your customers. It can also position your business as the expert in your given field and increase reliability and credibility.

Don’t got bogged down in the history, take consumers on a journey. As you sit down to craft your brand’s story, don’t forget to: (4)

  • Dramatize your message.
  • Engage your audience.
  • Create an emotional connection.
  • Alter the way people feel, think, act, and behave.

#5: Target your messaging.

Your customers will feel special when you talk directly to them. We know this because we feel it, too, but there’s also proof in the pudding. HubSpot found that marketers with only one email list generated a lower average click-through rate (7.3%) than marketers who segmented their overall email database into two-to-six lists (8.3%). (5)

When you’re speaking to a more targeted audience, you can tailor your copy, imagery, and links to those specific people and show more personality in what you’re sending or posting.

#6: Be consistent.

There’s no foul in abandoning an approach that is not working, but don’t develop a multiple personality disorder in the process. Consistency is key to achieving success in your campaigns. The same can be said for your efforts to infuse personality and become more relatable, so keep at it. Again, it comes back to your branding and marketing strategy. Develop your voice, draw-up some guidelines, and then have fun! 

We can help you shine.

Give it a try and see how your conversations with customers start evolving. We’re certain that you’ll be pleased with the results. If you would like to discuss any of these (or more!) ways to make your business more personable, or if you need some help, we’d love to hear from you. You can connect with us online or at 334.261.1553.

(1) Lake, Chris. “26 superb examples of agile marketing in action.”  https://econsultancy.com/blog/62100-26-superb-examples-of-agile-marketing-in-action/. Feb. 11, 2013.

(2)  Haden, Jeff. “Be more personable on social media: 3 tips.”  http://www.inc.com/jeff-haden/make-your-brand-more-personable-on-social-media-3-tips.html. Aug. 13, 2013.

(3)  Avangate. “13 tips to make good use of testimonials.”  http://www.avangate.com/avangate-resources/article/testimonial-tips.htm.

(4) NCM Fathom. “Storytelling is not just for campfires.” http://contentmarketingexperience.i-scoop.eu/wp-content/uploads/sites/6/2014/06/Storytelling-Infographic-%E2%80%93-source-Fathom.gif

(5)  Pitre, Andy. “11 great ways to ‘get personal’ in your email marketing.”  http://blog.hubspot.com/blog/tabid/6307/bid/32991/11-Great-Ways-to-Get-Personal-in-Your-Email-Marketing.aspx. June 11, 2012.

Digital Marketing Minute - December: Week Three

Every week we share trends and articles on digital marketing. Posted on Monday, December 14 in Making Your Marketing Work.

Mobile: Be There or Be Square

by Jeremy Zimmerman

When 68 percent of people are checking their phones within 15 minutes of waking up, there’s a huge world of opportunity for mobile marketers.  And, while mobile has definitely become a bigger part of the marketing mix, in a new report, Google claims that “micro-moments” are about to become virtually everything. 

Read More.

3 Ways to Ensure Mobile Browsers Become Mobile Customers

by Shailesh Shukla

A popular assumption is consumers prefer to browse on their mobile phones, but buy on another device or in-store. Recently, Instart Logic conducted a survey that shows more than half of respondents said they used mobile phones during the entire shopping journey, from discovery to research to purchasing an item. 

Read More.

Streaming Video Accounts for 70% Broadband Use

by Peter Kafka

We use Internet connections to do all kinds of things. But we use it for one thing much more than anything else- to stream video and music.

Read More.

We know digital marketing.

We can help. We offer products and services to build, maintain, and grow your digital presence. We’d love to talk more with you – contact us online or call 334.261.1553.

Trending Now: Higher Education

Advertising for Enrollment 101 Posted on Thursday, December 10 in Increasing Sales.

As fictional high school senior, Ferris Bueller famously said, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” Thirty years later, high school (and life) are moving faster than ever—and students are experiencing much of it through their smartphones and tablets. In fact, 43% of potential college students report using a mobile device for all of their web browsing. (i)

Take a lesson.

With this dramatic generational shift, just having a website isn’t enough. These days, the Internet is literally at our fingertips. Prospective students are swiping through pages on their mobile devices. And institutions can’t expect them pinch to zoom their way through. To reach this demographic, websites must be mobile optimized.

But having a website is only half the battle (probably less). The first step is to drive traffic to these websites. And a digital message calls for a digital strategy.

Don’t fall behind.

Today, if institutes of higher education are not advertising in the digital space, they’re not reaching their target audience—potential students. “We’re in massive flux in terms of what’s going on in higher education,” said Robert Rosenbloom, president and chief executive of CollegeWeekLive. “Many schools don’t have the necessary marketing skills and technological skills to really meet the students where they are.” (ii)

Digital reach makes the grade.

Digital strategy starts with a digital presence that includes websites, search, reputation management, social media, email—and yes, digital advertising. But before investing, colleges and universities must make sure:

Do the research.

Once the digital presence is in place, then it’s time to look at digital adverting, which can include ad networks, PPC, and social. The most important part of digital strategy isn’t the content of the ads or even where they are placed—digital is all about targeting, tracking, and analytics. Simply put, digital marketers much be educated and nimble to reach the right audience at the right time. Whether it’s a dynamic ad on a news site or a sponsored post on Facebook or Instagram, the message only matters if it’s tailored to the people most likely to see it.

Digital is just part of a larger curriculum.

Higher education marketing calls for a multipronged approach because deciding on which college or university to attend is a multigenerational decision. More traditional advertising methods still attract parents, including mail, newspaper, billboard, and television. (iii) The difference today is that institutions need to diversity their media mix to get the attention of prospective students.

Kent State University has seen success by doing just that. In a recent interview, David Garcia, associate vice president for enrollment management, said: “We have a strong marketing campaign to reach out to students from sophomore on up. We have analytics that will give us more information about what students are doing. Are they opening their e-mails? Are they clicking on certain parts of the web page? We look at the whole picture. How are students finding us and where are they going?” (iii)

We can get you to the head of the class.

Need to go back to school to learn how to attract potential students? Advertiser Media Group can help. We’d love to talk more – contact us online or by calling 334.261.1553.

Source

i OmniUpdate January 2014 Lance Merker

ii The Washington Post, “College admissions chiefs worry: How will students find them?” By Nick Anderson September 19, 2014

iii http://impact.cleveland.com/metro/print.html?entry=/2014/04/colleges_find_new_ways_to_reac.html

We offer products and services to build, maintain and grow a digital presence, however big or small it may be.

Marketing You – The Tools You Need

Download our toolkit to start planning. Posted on Wednesday, December 9 in Making Your Marketing Work.

Ready to start a sound marketing strategy? We can help! We’re giving you the tools you need to get off to a great start this coming year and keep the momentum going through to 2017 and beyond.

Whether you’re looking to get started with marketing for your local business or you’re a seasoned marketing professional, the templates in this toolkit will help you build a foundational marketing plan.

Files:

Download Attachment: Marketing You – The Tools You Need

Cozying up to programmatic advertising

Programmatic targeting delivers individual-level messaging. Posted on Wednesday, December 9 in Making Your Marketing Work.

Programmatic is all about targeting.

Programmatic advertising allows sellers to target and reach potential customers in a number of new and exciting ways. eMarketer defines programmatic advertising as the use of technology to automate the buying, selling, or fulfillment of ads. (i) Kirk MacDonald, executive vice president/sales for Digital First Media, adds, “Programmatic buying is the system where digital ad impressions are bought or sold and “optimized in an automated environment.” The key word when thinking about programmatic ad buying is “optimized.”

It’s not just for the big companies.

Once upon a time, only big companies could participate in sophisticated advertising strategies. Luckily, those days are gone. With programmatic advertising, small- and medium-sized businesses can participate, too. One basic factor driving programmatic popularity is that it enables you to find and reach users based on their individual characteristics, behaviors, and affinities regardless of where they are on the Web. This allows you to stretch your advertising budget by targeting ad dollars at those consumers with the highest propensity to purchase your good and services.

Get comfortable with the basics.

Don’t let programmatic advertising intimidate you. We’re here to help you understand the basics.

Audience targeting delivers ads to a particular audience segment.

The broadest programmatic method, audience targeting allows sellers to reach potential customers based on their behavior, intent, demographic profile, and so forth.

Behavioral targeting reaches users based on online activity.

You can now track what pages a person visits online and what products they’ve viewed, allowing you  to serve advertising related to the web users’ interests based on previous online behavior.

Contextual targeting targets buyers based on page content.

For example, a sports equipment company might purchase ad inventory on a website geared to sports enthusiasts. This increased the likelihood that their ads will be seen by the right audience.

Cross-device targeting serves potential buyers ads on the devices they use most.

This covers a broad scope of devices and uses. For example, sellers of office products might target buyers on desktop devices because desktop computers are more typically used in work places.

Demographic targeting serves impressions based on a website visitor’s age, gender, or income.

Demographic targeting has been around for quite some time; however, programmatic advertising allows you to execute ad-delivery strategies at a more granular level.

Intent-based targeting looks at online behaviors such as search queries and social media activity.

This form of behavioral targeting looks for why a user might have taken a particular action. For example, is a prospect searching to buy or are they only gathering information? Brand keyword searches, for example, might indicate bottom of the funnel intent.

Location-based targeting involves serving ads to users based on their location.

This form of targeting involves serving ads to users based on their data: IP addresses, Wi-Fi triangulation, and GPS data are the most common ways to geo-target users.

Beacon targeting segments audiences based on real-life, in-store behaviors.

Targeting with beacons is a new, quickly growing subset of location-based targeting. Beacon transmitters placed in retail locations use Bluetooth to pick up and send signals to and from Bluetooth-enabled phones, delivering highly relevant and personalized offers to potential buyers.

Lookalike modeling targets audiences who share similar characteristics or behaviors. 

This prospecting tactic targets audiences who share similar characteristics or behaviors with people who visit your website, are on your email lists, or are current customers.

We can help you get with the program.

Now that you know a little more about programmatic advertising, let us help you reach your target audience. We can help you develop an integrated marketing solution that reaches your customers. Contact us today or call 334.261.1553.

Sources:

(i) eMarketer, Mobile Programmatic Display Ad Spend to Eclipse Desktop as Automation Grows, 2015.

Martin, Software, The ABCs of Programmatic, 2015.

Fisher, Lauren T., “Mobile Programmatic Advertising-Grabbing the Vast Majority of US Display Ad Dollars by 2017.

Digital Marketing Minute - December: Week Two

Every week we share trends and articles on digital marketing. Posted on Monday, December 7 in Making Your Marketing Work.

Advertising

The Top Ten Marketing Trends That Will Define 2016

Daniel Newman, Contributor, FORBES

Businesses need to keep a clear focus on the needs and expectations of their customers—a group that’s diverse and fragmented, with high expectations and little patience for anyone who can’t keep up. To stay competitive you need to be visible, and that’s no easy feat.

Read More

Targeting

RIP Millennials: Marketing Will Be ‘Age Agnostic’ Next Year

Lindsay Stein, Advertising Age

In 2016, marketing and communications professionals will stop targeting millennials as one demographic and focus on reaching the younger consumers based on their passions, according to a study released today by Hotwire PR.

Read More

Video

6 Ways video will connect consumers and brands in 2016

Ashley Eckel, iMedia

Hopefully, for most advertisers, the connected world presents tons of opportunity to innovate and find better ways to engage their audiences, because connectivity is here to stay. The real trends and innovations in 2016 emerge from how fast everything is continuing to change as a result of this connectivity, and how quickly consumers are changing their behaviors in pace with this evolution.
Read More

We know digital marketing

We can help. We offer products and services to build, maintain, and grow your digital presence. We’d love to talk more with you – contact us online or call 334.261.1553.

Trending Now: New Car Dealers

Getting millennials in the driver’s seat Posted on Thursday, December 3 in Increasing Sales.

There are few things more exciting than driving off the lot with that new-car smell still in the air, which is why buying a new vehicle remains a touchy-feely transaction. Even millennials take a break from their smartphones to test drive that new SUV they’ve been eying—but only after hours of research on multiple devices.

To capture the millennial shopper’s often divided attention, auto dealers must maintain a consistent presence across all digital platforms, ensuring that they’re always accessible. These young shoppers know exactly what they want and are accustomed to getting it quickly, reliably, and without all the hype.

They’re ready to start their engines.

Contrary to popular belief, millennials are ready, willing, and able to purchase a new vehicle. Millennials account for 26% of new-vehicle retail sales, and 35% of millennials say that they are looking to buy a car in the next year. Don’t let the lower end of their age range fool you—it’s not all eco-friendly compacts for this set. This emerging demographic includes a wide range of ages and lifestyles, so don’t underestimate millennial buying power. They’re in the market for everything from minivans to luxury sedans.

Mobilize your message to get them up to speed.

Though many millennials have left their school days behind, they still know how to do their research. These up-and-comers are smart and savvy, so it’s no surprise that they look online for consumer reviews, feedback from peers, and the best deal for almost every purchase. Why would something as big as an automobile be any different?

When it comes to research, it’s not car catalogs that they’re thumbing through—it’s websites. Whether they’re hitting up social media or price comparing on the go, millennials spend much of their time on mobile devices. That’s why it’s critical that dealers get some screen time with a well-orchestrated digital presence. The website should be on message and mobile optimized, a social presence should be active and diverse, and an online reputation should be managed and maintained.

The showroom may not be the finish line.

Waving the checkered flag may be a bit premature. Millennials are willing to visit multiple dealerships before making a purchase. And they’re known to use their smartphones to look for a better offer while they’re still in the showroom—making an online presence all the more critical to making the sale. This group knows what they want and how to find it, and they won’t hesitate to walk right out if they don’t feel like they’re getting the best deal. That’s why it’s very important for dealers to make the process as straightforward and transparent as possible, from pricing to financing.

We’ve got the inside track.

Advertiser Media Group can help you connect with millennials through effective media placement and innovative social and mobile programs. We are tapped into their media habits and preferences, and we have the tools to uncover additional insights and the integrated marketing expertise to help you understand how to leverage them. Contact us online or by calling 334.261.1553.

Srouces

Harris poll for Cars.com.

Source: Ralph, Patrick and David Welch. "Millennials are developing parents' taste for Jaguars, Cadillacs." Automotive News, 17 Aug. 2015. Web. 10 Sep.2015.]

J.D. Power Information Network (PIN) for the period of January - July 2014

Cars.com By Kelsey Mays  on February 25, 2015

SOURCE: 2015 AudienceSCAN®

The Social Landscape for Local Business

Interact with our informative tool and download our eBook. Posted on Wednesday, December 2 in Building Your Brand.

Social media means a lot of things to a lot of people. In fact, the whole social landscape can seem a little intimidating.

No need to fear! We’ve got the answers you’ve been looking for. Interact with the informative infographic below, and then expand your knowledge with the complementary eBook.

Files:

Download Attachment: The Social Landscape for Local Business

Periscope: Your brand, your audience, your broadcast

Using Periscope to engage your audience and build your brand. Posted on Wednesday, December 2 in Building Your Brand.

Periscope may seem like the new kid on the social media block, but with its ties to Twitter, it’s a platform that’s not to be ignored. When it emerged on the scene in early 2015, Periscope’s fun, interactive broadcasting capabilities were well received by users and viewers alike. And the new app gave users an instant audience because it tapped their Twitter followers and appeared in feeds.

Upwards of 10 million people have joined Periscope since its launch! (i)

Where social media goes, marketers are quick to follow. In no time, business and industry leaders started finding ways to use Periscope to grow their businesses and their brands.

Give consumers a good look.

Social media for business is all about connecting with customers and defining your brand, and Periscope gives you another way to do that. Here are just a few ways to fold it into your social media mix.

  • Engage a younger audience. Globalwebindex.net surveyed 47,743 internet users and found that 32% of 16 – 24 year olds and 49% of 25 – 34 year olds have used Periscope in the past month. (ii)
  • Showcase your culture and showoff your personality. You can satisfy people’s curiosity and engage with them at the same time. Broadcast how an order is filled, take a tour of the operation, chat with the CEO, or give a behind-the-scenes look during a meeting.
  • Have fun. Give viewers a sneak peak of a product right before it launches publicly, a new menu item that’s never been served before, or a big announcement that hasn’t hit the news yet.

Make sure you’re camera-ready.

As with anything, there’s a certain finesse to using Periscope for business. Here’s a few tips to get you ready for your close-up.

  • Build your Twitter following first. Though you can now have one without the other, Twitter is still far more popular. So, it’s a good idea to leverage your current followers and grow your base.
  • Practice, practice, practice. Keep those early stumbles where they belong—on your camera roll. Periscope broadcasts are live, so make sure you’re a seasoned pro before you start.
  • Make sure it’s broadcast worthy. Periscope viewers are fickle. If you’re not giving them a reason to watch, they’ll make a nasty comment, leave, or make a nasty comment and then leave.
  • Be prepared. This app is interactive, and engaged audiences question and comment throughout. So, be prepared to answer challenging questions and even block users if their comments are off topic or a little too salty.

We can make you look your best.

When it comes to looking good online, we’ve got you covered. Advertiser Media Group offers products and services to build, maintain, and grow a digital presence, however big or small it may be. We’d love to talk more – contact us online or by calling 334.261.1553.

Sources

i “Threat & Opportunity: Meerkat and Periscope for B2B” www.socialmediatoday.com

ii “Periscope by the Numbers: Stats, Demographics & Fun Facts” www.omnicoreagency.com

Digital Marketing Minute - December: Week One

Every week we share trends and articles on digital marketing. Posted on Tuesday, December 1 in Making Your Marketing Work.

Customer Loyalty

5 Ways to Create and Nurture Customer Loyalty

By Jenne Barbour

Today’s customers expect to be treated as individuals. Customers move now at a speed that is faster than ever. That speed, coupled with the breadth of options available to them and the constant barrage of marketing messages they’re pelted with 24/7, chip away at the customer relationship—or keep it from ever getting started.

Without properly engaging new customers or strengthening one-to-one connections with current ones, relationships may never take hold. Or if they do, they could vanish in the blink of an eye. Although it may seem like customer loyalty is eroding in the current environment, it is actually just evolving.

Read More

Marketing Trends

7 Game-Changing Marketing Trends To Tackle in 2016

By Meaghan Moraes

Marketing constantly adjusts and reacts to changes in technology and attitudes. While digital marketing has undergone a substantial transformation in the last few years, the technology that incited the changes is growing at a faster pace than most brands can keep up with.

So, what does this mean for competitive marketers that are already strategizing for 2016? Brands need to look beyond the usual channels to stay ahead rather than simply jump on the bandwagon. Here, we’ll discuss those trends that are changing the face of marketing (yet again) and give you an eye-opening look at what marketers should be leveraging in 2016.

Read More

Facebook

The Do's and Don'ts of How to Use Facebook for Business

By Ginny Soskey

You’ve heard all about the importance of using Facebook to grow your business. You know that it has a large user base. You realize that it can help you find new customers. But actually doing marketing on Facebook is a whole other story.

Wouldn't it be nice to have a little pocket guide to navigating Facebook?

Read More

We know digital marketing

We can help. We offer products and services to build, maintain, and grow your digital presence. We’d love to talk more with you – contact us online or call 334.261.1553.

Trending Now: Hearing Aid Centers

It's time to be heard. Posted on Friday, November 27 in Increasing Sales.

It’s a little too quiet.

More than half (57%) of surveyed hearing aid centers admitted to not budgeting for marketing.

Hold on that to thought when considering this:

Nearly one in five American adults (17%) have some form of hearing loss, which balloons to nearly half of adults ages 75 and up. However, at any given moment only a very small percentage of that total universe of hearing aid buyers is in the market given the nature of the product (usually 2%-3%).

This creates a “thin market”: hearing aids products and services, while an everyday commodity, are not an everyday expense. In fact, most hearing aid users have experienced hearing loss for more than ten years before seeking treatment.

There’s a big opportunity to get the word out.

The motivations for not investing in marketing are unknown, but it is safe to assume unfamiliarity with marketing is responsible for at least some of the missed opportunity. Regardless of the reason, the implication of a lack of marketing investment is a tremendous opening to steal market share by covering this fundamental business basic.

You need a sound strategy.

The marketing opportunity is big, but don’t let your message fall on deaf ears. Building a strategy for a marketing investment is no simple feat. It starts with understanding the larger business landscape, including:

  • Competitive trends and implications
  • Target consumer
  • The local economic marketplace
  • Any other initiatives that may impact business

From there, it is important to develop a SWOT analysis: identify internal strengths and weaknesses and external opportunities and threats that will impact business.

Once the core landscape analysis is done, marketing objectives and strategies can be developed, which should align back to business goals. All of these inputs need to be in order before a single marketing dollar is invested.

We hear you!

We know that the process of building out a proper marketing plan can be a bit overwhelming and intimidating. We’re here to help.

We have a firm understanding of marketing strategy and work best as partners who can analyze the larger business opportunity. If you’re stuck in a marketing investment paralysis, if you are looking to improve upon your current efforts, or if you simply want more support of marketing, contact us via online or by calling 334.261.1553. We’d love to help shape your world.

Sources:

Gleitman, Ronald. “How Data from a Practice Benchmark Study Can Help Hearing Practices” The Hearing Review, 19 Jun 2014

“Fact Sheet: Hearing Aids” National Institutes of Health U.S Department of Health & Human Services, Oct 2010

Digital Marketing Minute - November: Week Four

Every week we share trends and articles on digital marketing. Posted on Monday, November 23 in Making Your Marketing Work.

Mobile

Identifying the Micro-Moments Within the Customer Journey

Think With Google

Mobile is changing how brands communicate with customers—from the way they identify key moments of opportunity to how they create a great user experience. Google's VP of Marketing, Lisa Gevelber, spoke with McKinsey's David Edelman about micro-moments and how they fit into the customer journey.

Read More

Search Marketing

Yahoo Introduces Product Ads For Search And Display With Major Retailers

Laurie Sullivan, MediaPost SearchMarketingDaily

Kohl's, Wayfair, and Overstock are among the retailers piloting Yahoo's new ad format, Product Ads, which serve in search and display on mobile, tablet and desktop devices, with native ads to come soon, according to a Yahoo spokesperson.

Read More

Search Marketing

Google Brings TrueView, Shopping Videos To AdWords In Time For The Holidays

Laurie Sullivan, MediaPost SearchMarketingDaily

Google’s holiday cheer comes wrapped in two new ad shopping video formats in AdWords. On Monday the company released TrueView for Shopping and Shopping ads on YouTube.

Read More

We know digital marketing

We can help. We offer products and services to build, maintain, and grow your digital presence. We’d love to talk more with you – contact us online or call 334.261.1553.

Trending Now: Car Washes

Finding the Right Marketing Channels Posted on Thursday, November 19 in Increasing Sales.

Car washes are oftentimes impulse or convenience purchases – but targeted coupons and promotions heavily influence consumers.

When asked what factors influence where they choose to get car wash / detail service, consumers cited choosing service locations primarily based on:

  • location
  • wash quality
  • convenience and price (when purchased in tandem with gasoline)

This serendipitous combination of deciding factors may seem to lend itself to out-of-home, mobile, and radio advertising. But surprisingly, those channels don’t even crack the top five. When asked what types of advertisements led them to act, specific to car wash / detail, consumers’ top influences:

  • direct mail advertisements / coupons (45.4% of respondents)
  • television, including both traditional and digital (37.5% of respondents)
  • email (36.8% of respondents)
  • search, including organic and sponsored (36.4% of respondents)
  • daily deal, such as Groupon (31.9% of respondents)

The seemingly misalignment of media effectiveness and consumer trigger points can be tricky to navigate, but the intersection of geo-enabled targeting and deeper consumer insights is a strategic starting point. Using our sophisticated toolbox of research tools and our expansive portfolio of media products, we are able to deliver the right message to the right audience at the right time.

Curious to learn more? Contact us online or by calling 334.261.1553.

Sources: Professional Carwashing & Detailing. Grand View Media Group,13 Nov 2014 / 2015 AudienceSCAN

Extend Your Mobile Reach—without an App

We all know the ubiquitous slogan coined by Apple: There’s an App for that. But does their need to be? Posted on Wednesday, November 18 in Building Your Brand.

In an increasingly mobile society, it may seem that apps are the key to understanding and cultivating mobile consumer touch points. Businesses have certainly dedicated resources to developing and marketing branded apps in the hopes of doing just that.

According to Forrester Research, consumers use, on average, 24 apps a month. That must mean that consumers have the appetite for more, right?  Could you be missing out on sales by not having your own branded app? Not necessarily.

Forrester Research also reports that people spend more than 80% of their time on just five apps. Five. Can you guess what company makes the top five? That’s right: Facebook.

Facebook is THE app.

Why build your own app when there’s Facebook? They’ve got deep pockets, and they’ve done all of the heavy lifting for you.

Think about it. This is the most popular social network out there. It’s a part of your consumer’s daily life, and it has a permanent spot on their mobile device. Facebook has a large (and growing) established audience. And the company continues to increase the depth and functionality of its business pages, making the app a more efficient opportunity to grow your business.

Here are three enhancements to Facebook’s business pages that you can benefit from immediately.

Making you easier to find.

Expanded industry and sub-category identifiers optimize your organic search results.

In the past, Facebook offered a limited set of sub-category terms making it difficult for businesses to be found. For example, previously a fine arts dealer was identified as an Arts and Entertainment business. With expanded sub-category terms, that same business now identifies as Art Gallery, Museum, and Educational Research. By narrowing down categories, businesses can increase their visibility, giving them a better chance of getting qualified leads.

Extending your reach.

Facebook recently introduced the ability to place, manage, and track ad campaigns on Instagram through your Facebook account. Instagram closely follows Facebook in popularity, making this pairing a natural extension. Not only will this expand your reach opportunities, but with Facebook’s targeting and analytics tools, you will gain valuable audience insight on Instagram users, too.

Keeping you connected.

An enhanced mobile experience brings the desktop to their mobile phones.

Though mobile usage increased at an accelerated rate, the desktop experience remained preferred. Until now. Facebook has made changes to the mobile experience, now providing the same functionality as desktop. Greater connectivity and real-time interactions allow you to move your customer from a transactional one to a brand loyalist.

Socialize with us.

In this always-on and ever-evolving space, putting a sound social strategy to work can be confusing and time consuming.  We can help. Let’s talk about a customized solution for your business’ needs.  Call us at 334.261.1553 or send us an email.

Digital Marketing Minute - November: Week Three

Every week we share trends and articles on digital marketing. Posted on Monday, November 16 in Making Your Marketing Work.

Social Advertising

See the First 360-Degree Video Ads on Facebook

"360-degree marketing" has been an industry buzzword for years, but what about 360-degree advertising?

Facebook is starting to test 360-degree video ads with a handful of brands including AT&T, Samsung and Nestle, all of which can be seen below. Facebook officially introduced the virtual reality-lite video format on its desktop site and Android apps in September, and the social network is now bringing 360-degree videos -- and ads -- to Apple's iPhones and iPads.

Read More

Social Media

5 B2B Social Media Hacks to Increase Click Through Rates

Social media is one of the most effective content promotion tools, allowing B2B marketers to drive their prospects’ attention to their website. But in order to do that, social media posts need to be engaging. Find out the 5 Hacks to increasing your click through rates.

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Advertising

Google Tests DoubleClick Ads For Billboards

Taking customization to a new level. Google has been testing billboards that serve ads based on weather, travel information and local sports. Would you consider serving dynamic creative on billboards to help resonate your message?

Read More

We know digital marketing

We can help. We offer products and services to build, maintain, and grow your digital presence. We’d love to talk more with you – contact us online or call 334.261.1553.

Trending Now: Florists

Mobile Driving Conversions Posted on Thursday, November 12 in Breaking Through the Clutter.

Mobile sales of flowers, greetings and gifts are outpacing the general retail mcommerce trend, according to ComScore. In Q1 of 2015, mobile mcommerce sales accounted for 26% of sales – this is an overindex relative to total retail sales (index 173) and a reflection of an ongoing trend for flowers and gifts.

What does this mean for the local florist and gift shop?

Digital – and mobile in particular – is the battleground for the mindset of the last-minute, pressed-for-time consumer. It is important to understand how other florists, both location-based and digital, are positioning themselves for discovery in digital and, especially, in mobile. And by mobile, let’s be honest, we mean mobile search (for the most part).

Search dominates mobile, and mobile dominates search.

Search ranks among the top smartphone activities, ahead of social networking, playing games and streaming music. Further, the volume of mobile searches has surpassed the volume of searches done on desktop computers, according to a release from Google in May 2015. This is a reflection of the pervasiveness and commoditization of smartphones.

For a local florist and gift shop, having a well-developed mobile plan, inclusive of mobile search, is critical. From developing a responsive site (and optimizing it for search!) to triggering emails and investing in PPC – there are many tactics that support a robust mobile activation.

Mobile is critical – but mobile is still only a piece of the plan.

And, while of particular importance to florist, mobile alone is still only a portion of a larger digital strategy that should not be overlooked, despite the trends. Social, email, and desktop are all fundamental tablestakes for local florists to keep top-of-mind with consumers – during the holiday season more than ever.

As shoppers being to feel the pressure, now is the time to revisit your digital presence and ensure you’re in the best position to be found when shoppers are frantically typing away on their phones. If you would like a consultation on the health of your digital presence, contact us or call 334.261.1553.

Native Advertising: What You Need to Know

Do you know how to get your message to stand out while blending in? Posted on Wednesday, November 11 in Breaking Through the Clutter.

Native advertising combines form and function, allowing your message to blend in with the surrounding content. This makes your ads feel less intrusive, increasing the likelihood that your target customers will engage. This form of advertising is about finding the sweet spot, rising above other advertising noise.

Three Types of Native Advertising

All native advertising is not alike; there are three different types:

  • Look Like: These ads resemble the content your target customers are looking for, but when they click on a link, they’re taken to your website.
  • Be Like: These ads take on the format, but don’t match the content surrounding it.
  • Act Like: Also known as advertorials, this is the most effective type of native advertising. It feels like the surrounding content, adding to your target customer’s experience because the information is more relevant.

More engaging for consumers

The use of native advertising is expected to grow. That’s not surprising when you consider how much more engaged audiences are with native when compared to other forms of advertising. Native ads provide a higher lift for brand affinity and purchase intent than traditional display ads.

Native advertising has a range of flexibility in content. The sheer amount of real estate and natural integration into site layouts create an attractive platform for educating target segments on not-so-easily-communicated topics and for showcasing existing content.

The best and most desirable native advertising is topically engaging and high quality.

Native advertising allows you to:

  • Tap into the engaged audiences of trusted, creditable news and media brands.
  • Drive awareness and engagement with relevant, topic-based content.
  • Position your brand as an expert in your field.

It’s most effective when you:

  • Make it informative.
  • Meet your target consumers’ needs.
  • Clearly and carefully label the content as sponsored or as an advertisement.

We can help you reach your audience

So, what’s in it for you? Native Advertising offers an engaged, targeted audience, the credibility of the associated brand, and an association with top-quality, professionally produced content.

We can help you create valuable ads for your target customers as well as deliver the means and audience to get your message heard. Contact us online today or call 334.261.1553 so we can start the conversation.

Sources: IPG & Sharethrough, Forbes.com.

Digital Marketing Minute - November: Week Two

Digital Marketing Minute - your source for digital marketing tips to help your business grow. Posted on Monday, November 9 in Making Your Marketing Work.

Content Marketing

Why User-Generated Content Should Drive Your Social Media

by Brian Honigman, SproutSocial.com

Content created by your community—otherwise known as user-generated content (or UGC)—can have a big impact. In fact, according to a study led by Ipsos MediaCT last year, user-generated content is 35% more memorable and 50% more trusted than other types of media and information. This is especially relevant if your brand operates multiple brick-and-mortar locations. From restaurant chains to retail outlets, it’s imperative to bring your community into the fold so that you can speak with a more localized voice. In doing so, you will be able to increase customer retention, spur audience engagement and gather valuable feedback on your products and services.

Read More

Email Marketing  

8 Subject-Line Secrets That Entice People to Read Your Email

By Jacqueline Whitmore, Entrepreneur.com

Crafting an effective email isn’t just about the text you deliver; it’s about getting people to open your email and read your message. According to the Email Statistics Report, on a worldwide average, people sent and received 191.4 emails per day in 2014. With this many messages coming in constantly, it's no wonder many people won’t take the time to read all their email messages. They might read only a small portion of a message or headline, scanning for relevance before moving on to the next one. The words you choose for your email subject line have a big impact on whether someone opens and reads your message. Use these tips to make your subject line more compelling.

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SEO

How to Teach Yourself SEO in 30 Days

By Siobhan McGinty, HubSpot.com

Search engine optimization is complicated. For many, it’s considered a dark art, peppered with unknowns and uncertainties. And while some marketers consider it an exciting challenge, others back away from it in fear that they'll simply never get it right. However, the truth is, if you are doing any kind of online marketing, having even a basic understanding of SEO can help you deliver more successful strategies and campaigns. So to help set you up for success, we've put together a 30-day plan designed to give you a better sense of how SEO works, how it fits into your strategy, and what tools you can use to measure and report on your efforts. While this post won't turn you into an SEO pro overnight, we promise it's full of resources that will make your life as a digital marketer just a little bit easier.

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We know digital marketing

We can help. We offer products and services to build, maintain, and grow your digital presence. We’d love to talk more with you – contact us online or call 334.261.1553.

The smart, no-stress shopper of 2015

Consumers are shopping sooner and in more ways than ever before. Posted on Wednesday, November 4 in Increasing Sales.

It’s not your grandmother’s shopping season—though even she has likely changed the way she’s shopping this holiday season.

Today’s shoppers are armed with their smartphones and hours of Internet research, and they’re hitting stores (online and off) sooner than ever before.

Get to know the holiday shopper of 2015. Download our infographic to learn more about their buying habits.

Files:

Download Attachment: The smart, no-stress shopper of 2015

Drive Holiday Sales Using Social Media

Engage and inform your customers to push consideration and conversion. Posted on Wednesday, November 4 in Increasing Sales.

Despite the digital and mobile surge in holiday shopping, social media has puttered along in terms of direct attribution for sales.

Last year social media channels (limited to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest) were responsible for a meager 1.7% of sales, according to a report by Custora.(1) It is likely there will be little change in that share, given only 9% of internet users surveyed plan to make holiday purchases directly via social networks.(2)

Don’t discount the power of influence

Despite limited direct sales, social media contributes a significant amount of influence over purchases by pushing consumers further down their consideration sets and purchase funnels.

The top ways in which shoppers use social media while holiday shopping include (3):

  • Getting gift ideas
  • Finding discounts / coupons / sales
  • Reading reviews and recommendations for products and stores
  • Browsing for products
  • Checking with family and friends on their wish lists

NOW is the time to plan

Holiday creep means it is critical to get social channels in shape for the holidays NOW. Like all great marketing endeavors, the first step is to build a plan for activating and maximizing social activity during the holiday season and through the end of the year, if one doesn’t exist already.

To get started, here a few suggested tactics to fold into your social media plan to help you make the most of your channels this holiday season (4):

Today: Prepare you pages

  • Prune content for anything that may be incorrect or irrelevant (does your Pinterest page include products you no longer carry?).
  • Make conversion as easy as possible – if you haven’t already, activate your “buy now” buttons, available on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter and Instagram.
  • Include and be mindful of trending hashtags throughout the season (and always).
  • Drive your customers to connect with you in social. Create buttons on your site, hand-write it on receipts, put up signs, talk it up with customers – get the word out!

Early November: Set the tone

  • Update your profile and cover images – ideally to something more seasonal and festive.
  • Build a top 10 list to spark a conversation and engagement – everyone loves a list. Highlight some of your limited time offerings or best sellers.

Mid-November: Be a tease

  • Start teasing out a Black Friday / Small Business Saturday / Cyber Monday special. The competition for attention and dollars is severe from Thanksgiving through the following week, but it is worthwhile to have a compelling offer to highlight in social. Get ahead of it with earlier messaging.

Early December: Get them engaged

  • Update your profile to reflect holiday hours (do this sooner, if you have extended hours before December).
  • Consider a pro-social / charitable initiative. Individual contributions to charities peak between October and December, and folks feel more encouraged to give more generously during this time of the year. (5) For example, donate a fixed amount or a potion of proceeds for a particular item / service that you sell.
  • Profile popular gifts for difficult-to-buy-for people (mother-in-law, co-workers, etc.) – this will keep you top-of-mind and may give you an opportunity to showcase even more of your products and / or services.

Mid-to-Late December: Pique their interest

  • Create social-based promotions, such as a Twitter flash sale or a Facebook coupon, targeting last-minute shoppers. Remember, these can (and should!) Be shared widely, so be mindful of what you’re promoting and how steep the discount, if any.
  • Don’t forget to include messaging around gift cards.

Post Holiday / Early January: Keep them interested

  • While the surge in shopping may have passed, there is still opportunity to engage with gift card recipients and New Years resolution makers.

We can help you socialize

Throughout your social media holiday efforts, there is a place for investing in social media advertising. This will help break through the congestion and ensure your messages are seen widely. Relying entirely on organic impressions and traffic will limit the ability of social to impact sales severely.

These suggestions are only a portion of what should be a comprehensive and robust activation plan. If you’re having trouble building out the rest of your social effort – or you’d like some support with refining it and adding scale through advertising, give us a call. We are expert social media marketers, and we would love to position you for success this holiday season.

Contact us online or call 334.261.1553.

1 “What Role Does Facebook Play in Holiday Shopping?” eMarketer 18 Dec 2014

2 “Holiday Shopping Survey 2015” Market Track Report Qualtrics 21 Sept 2015

3 “29th Annual Holiday Shopping Survey” Deloitte 29 Oct 2014

4 Morell, Katie. “How to Promote Holiday Sales Using Social Media” Open Forum American Express 15 Dec 2010

5 “Charitable Giving in America: Some Facts and Figures” National Center for Charitable Statistics 30 Sept 2015

Digital Marketing Minute - November: Week One

Every week we share trends and articles on digital marketing. Posted on Monday, November 2 in Making Your Marketing Work.

Advertising

Carousel Ads Driving 10 Times More Traffic

Make sure to select the right ad type to get the most traffic. Marketer’s experiments with carousel ads are seeing 10 times more traffic. Find out what companies are learning and how you can use carousel ads in your campaign.

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Email

Opt-in Email Boosts Engagement, Lead Generation, And Acquisition

Marketers can leverage the Email marketing channel to engage with customers in nearly every part of the customer lifecycle. Learn more on how companies are using opt in email to generate and drum up business.

Read More

SEO

The Factors With the Most Impact on Google Search Rank in 2015

SEO experts discuss different tactics that are most important to improve your rankings on Google.

Read More

We know digital marketing

We can help. We offer products and services to build, maintain, and grow your digital presence. We’d love to talk more with you – contact us online or call 334.261.1553.

Trending Now: Electronics Stores

Are early adopters also early shoppers? Posted on Thursday, October 29 in Increasing Sales.

Trending Now: Electronic StoresThe smart, no-stress shopper of 2015 is researching holiday purchases and hitting stores earlier than ever before, with 29% beginning their research even before Halloween.

Tech gifts and consumer electronics top gift wish lists and the most gifted category, with 65% of Americans planning to buy tech gifts this holiday season. With that much interest and the steady holiday shopping season creep, are electronics flying off the shelves now?

Surprisingly, they’re not.

A whopping 71% of consumer electronics shoppers plan to wait until November or December to start their holiday shopping, and this is a +10% increase from 2014. Fewer consumers anticipate shopping in October or earlier (just 24% versus 31% in 2014), indicating an increasing desire to wait.

Why do they wait?

Consumers have been trained to believe the best deals for consumer electronics are on or after Black Friday. This creates a significant challenge for electronics stores: they need to get in front of price-sensitive consumers during the most congested time of the year for retail.

To win this holiday season, it’s important for electronics stores to understand the consumer’s path to purchase. First, they research online. According to a recent PricewaterhouseCoopers survey, 71% of consumer electronics shoppers research their purchases primarily online.

They also use multiple sources to compare prices. Once they’ve determined their wish list, they compare prices across multiple sources, both online and off. They lean heavily on advertising for information, with 29% of surveyed respondents looking at print ads for price comparisons (compared to 25% who use TV/radio and only 11% using social media).

We can help!

Don’t miss out on a critical window of opportunity to convert holiday shoppers. Contact us or call 334.261.1553 to learn more about increased readership and engagement and premium placement opportunities.

Sources:

“Consumer Sentiment Toward Tech Spending Shows Seasonal Declines Before Holiday Shopping Season Spike, According to CEA Indexes” Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) 27 Oct 2015

2015 Google Holiday Survey

“CEA: More Americans Plan to Purchase Tech Amid Record-Setting Holiday Season” Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) 8 Oct 2015

“Total Retail V Survey: United States” PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) 9 Feb 2015

“Where It’s At: A Connected Shopper Study” Blackhawk Engagement Solutions 14 Jul 2015

Six Big Days to Bring in Local Holiday Shoppers

It’s not all about Black Friday and Cyber Monday. There are four more days that can help you increase sales this holiday season. Posted on Wednesday, October 28 in Increasing Sales.

When local businesses plan their sales and promotional budgets for the holiday season, they typically focus on the two largest shopping days of the year: Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Though Black Friday holds the top spot, there are several other special shopping days that can help increase sales throughout the holiday season.

Focus more on the local play than on the biggest days.

Black Friday and Cyber Monday continue to capture the lion’s share of holiday sales, however, big shopping days aren’t so big anymore. In 2014, foot traffic in stores was down 5% with overall sales down 11% (1). And, trending aside, these sales days tend to be dominated by national brands. That’s why it’s a good idea for local businesses to focus on less-congested peak days where smaller merchants can generate a larger share locally.  

Gray Thursday: Thanksgiving is now a shopping day in its own right.

When: November 26, 2015

Why it matters: As more and more national, big box stores open on Thanksgiving, local businesses must be creative.

Gray Thursday is a great time to give special recognition and extend exclusive offers to your biggest and most loyal customers. And even if you can’t open your doors on Thanksgiving, you can start the dialog that gets them in the store on Black Friday. Get the jump on larger competitors by using scheduled social media posts, email marketing, blogs, and website content to sell to shoppers. Messages like these will let your customers know that you appreciate their business as they enjoy the holiday at home.

Black Friday: Still the biggest shopping day of the year.

When: November 27, 2015

Why it matters:  Over 50% of holiday shoppers were or plan to be in stores and online over Thanksgiving weekend.(2)
Don’t think of Black Friday as a one-day event, starting point, or the finish line. To build momentum and keep sales steady, you need to spread your holiday message and invest ad dollars across multiple days and marketing channels.

Small Business Saturday: When local businesses have a chance to win big.

When: November 28, 2015

Why it matters: In 2014, consumers spent a whopping $5.9 billion at locally owned stores and restaurants on Small Business Saturday. (3)
Small Business Saturday gives independent businesses the opportunity to stock one-of-a-kind items and distribute personalized offers that are tailored to the unique buying habits and preferences of their customers. With the help of American Express promotional dollars, you can also create once-a-year events that targets your customers with compelling, exclusive offers.

Cyber Monday: The biggest days for online shoppers (so, everyone).

When: November 30, 2015

Why it matters: Cyber Monday and beyond, online shopping is bigger than ever and continuing to grow. And it’s not just about computers—think mobile. comScore found that 21% percent of Black Friday online sales and 17% Cyber Monday sales came directly from mobile devices.

As the role of smartphones and tablets for holiday shopping continues to grow, you can’t overlook opportunities to boost sales during emerging prime periods for online shopping. Even if you don’t sell online, you can use digital marketing on Cyber Monday to make sales that can be completed at your brick-and-mortar location.

Giving Tuesday: Show that you give back locally.

When: December 1, 2015

Why it matters: Differentiate yourself from bigger competitors by showing the impact that your local business has on the local economy.

The idea is to have a day when Americans give back to others after the long weekend of spending. Giving Tuesday is a great day to focus your marketing efforts around telling your customers about the different ways your business is involved in and gives back to local community and charities. Local businesses can take this opportunity to partner with a non-profit or donate a portion of their daily sales to charity.

Green Monday: Not the green you think—it’s all about the cash!

When: December 14, 2015

Why it matters: Historically, the second Monday in December is the busiest shopping day of the month. While Green Monday sales don’t trump Cyber Monday’s, they do come pretty close.

The biggest difference between Green Monday and Cyber Monday is that consumers won’t be exposed to nearly as many deals. This makes Green Monday a great opportunity focus on the quality of your goods and services, increasing your visibility in a crowded marketplace.

Free Shipping Day: Get it to them free by Christmas Eve.

When: December 18, 2015

Why it matters:  In 2012, more than 2,600 retailers participated and saw more than $1 billion in online sales—making Free Shipping Day the third-busiest day for online shopping in the U.S.

Free shipping is a big draw for online shoppers. In fact, it’s a condition of purchase for many consumers. But don’t let the potential cost scare you away, shoppers tend to spend more when the shipping is free. So, offering and promoting free shipping is an inexpensive way to boost your average dollars per sale.

Super Saturday: Get in on that frantic, last-minute spending.

When: December 19, 2015

Why it matters: Promotions on this day typically attract thousands of last-minute shoppers.

The final Saturday before Christmas is the most popular of all the holiday shopping days in December. Super Saturday is a great time to capture last-minute shoppers who are in search of deeply discounted items for the holiday.

We can help any day!

The holiday shopping season is fast approaching. Businesses of all sizes need help driving holiday sales. Let us help you get your fair share of the holiday traffic—and sales. Contact us online today or by call 334.261.1553 so we can start the conversation.

Sources: 

(1) Mark Your Calendar!  9 Shopping Days Businesses Must Know About This Holiday, 2013

(2) NRF’s 2014 Thanksgiving Weekend Spending Survey conducted by Prosper Insights & Analytics

(3) “Early start with holiday shopping? Get in Line”, Erik Spanberg, Senior Staff Writer Charlotte Business Journal

2014 Holidays:  What Really Happened in Retail and What You Need to Know for 2015, National Retail Foundation Small Business Saturday Statistics, Grasshopper.com, 2015

The 5 Big Lessons of the 2014 Shopping Season, Money, December 2014

Move Over Black Friday: 9 Holiday Shopping Days to Help You Build Business During the Holiday Season, Elizabeth Kraus, DB Squared Inc., November 2013

Digital Marketing Minute - October: Week Four

Every week we share trends and articles on digital marketing. Posted on Monday, October 26 in Making Your Marketing Work.

Cross-Platform Branded Content

USA Today Will Make Back to the Future II's Fictional News a Reality (Sort Of)

"This movie had some great product placement, so we knew this was a great chance to have some fun with branded content," said Matt Urbanos, VP of brand and creative strategy at Gannett, adding, "This was a moment that was 30 years in the making, and there was no way we were going to let it pass by. We also felt this was the perfect opportunity to show brands how we can effectively partner with them across all our platforms."

Read More

Video  

From Teens to Adults, Everyone's Now Watching Online Video as Much as TV

Only 19 percent of online viewers responded favorably to ads compared with 27 percent of live TV viewers. On mobile, the distaste for advertising was even higher, with 49 percent of consumers responding negatively to video ads. Sixty-three percent said they should be able to control which ads they see.

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Content Marketing

Content Marketing Valuable for B2B Marketers Who Document Strategy

At present, B2B marketers believe that content marketing is the most important technology, and will likely continue to be in the next 12 to 18 months. But, as the CMI and Marketing Profs survey pointed out, documenting a content marketing strategy will lead to a more effective one.

Read More

Trending Now: Dating Services

Matching Profits with Matchmakers Posted on Thursday, October 22 in Increasing Sales.

Can matchmakers compete with online services?

Trending Now: Dating Services It may seem that online dating services like Tinder, Match, and eHarmony (to name but a few) have taken over the world, but don’t count matchmakers out of the dating game just yet. The limits (and drawbacks) of online dating translate into strengths for their more traditional counterpart.

Matchmakers seeing steady growth

While online and mobile apps dominate the dating scene in 2015, nearly a quarter of dating revenue share still comes from offline or traditional matchmaking services – and the market is expected to continue to grow, both on- and offline, at an annualized rate of 3.9% over the next five years.

Clients are willing to invest more

The opportunity for local matchmakers may be small(er), but it is more lucrative, and it is poised to withstand the tidal wave of digital dating sites and applications. The average value of a personal matchmaker client is $400 - $500, whereas dating websites would need to retain a customer for nearly two years of paid monthly memberships to make that much.

In this digital age, why are more and more people turning to matchmakers?

Matchmakers earn more trust

First, and foremost, the biggest draw of matchmakers is their ability to screen and even reject clients. The dating services industry is largely unregulated, and online daters are leery of frauds and exaggerated qualities. Rightfully so: over half of daters online lie on their profiles, according to a survey from Opinion Matters, and the Pew Research Center found that 54% of online daters said dates “seriously misrepresented” themselves in their profiles. This has created an environment of mistrust ripe for deception. The ability for matchmakers to run background checks and meet with clients in person to confirm identities reduces the opportunity for falsified dates and instills a sense of confidence for daters.

Matchmakers bring a personal touch

Matchmakers are also able to take the time to match clients personally based on interests and preferences. For the time-constrained, this hand-selection of matches is a top appeal. The analogy of digital dating to thrift store shopping illustrates this benefit best: dating online is akin to wasting hours upon hours sifting through lots of unnecessary junk in a thrift store with the hope of finding treasure. To save time – headaches and heartache – hire a personal shopper to do the digging for you. And that’s exactly what matchmaking services do for their customers.

Finally, the ability to coach and prepare clients for dates is a significant competitive advantage, leading to better dates and more frequent second dates.

So, how can matchmaking services capitalize on these strengths in a digital word?

Personal service still requires an online presence

While services may happen offline for local matchmakers, the ability to connect with prospective clients and showcase the benefits of a more personal dating service makes digital a critical component of local matchmakers’ marketing mix. The amount of information social sites afford create the perfect place for recruiting prospective clients. Targeting singles who are likely using online dating sites and mobile apps opens the possibility of messaging to their pain points.

Share successful connections

While discretion and privacy are top priorities for local matchmakers, there is an opportunity to highlight success stories and bring to life the benefits of a personalized dating service experience through a digital presence. Doing this distances local matchmakers from impersonal sites and apps, and shifts the conversation to one of value and investment in a more personal and authentic way.

A match made in heaven

Social targeting and building a digital presence are specialties of ours. We can help navigate the trenches of data to identify prospective clients for dating services – and we can help to activate and engage them. Contact us online or call 334.261.1553.

Sources:

Carter, Britanny. “Ready to mingle: Niche and mobile-based dating services will drive revenue growth” IBISWorld Industry Reprot 81299a Dating Services in the US IBISWorld April 2015

Ritchie, Carrie. “More Singles Turn to Matchmakers for Personal Touch” USAToday 10 Feb 2013

Fottrell, Quentin. “10 things dating sites won’t tell you” MarketWatch 19 Aug 2015

Marketing to Holiday Shoppers Online

Stand out online this holiday shopping season. Posted on Wednesday, October 21 in Breaking Through the Clutter.

It’s that time of year again. The holiday decorations are out, and it’s not even Halloween yet. But who doesn’t love the holidays—and the convenience of shopping early? We’re talking costumes and a new string of lights for the tree all in one cart. And as marketers, we can appreciate the importance—and benefits—of extending the holiday sales cycle.

In fact, if you wait for the season to officially turn from scary to merry, you’re running behind. Your competitors have already started stuffing inboxes and seasoning search results with their latest and greatest holiday promotions.

Email inspires action

Holiday-inspired web design and in-store displays are great once your customer is on site, but how are you going to get them there? More and more, consumers are responding to email blasts. Shoppers are loving the messages almost as much as sellers love reaping the rewards.

What can email marketing do for you? Here are just a few of the benefits:

  • Unparalleled return on investment: For every dollar spent on email marketing, the average return on investment is $44.25 (ExactTarget)
  • Highly effective: Marketers consistently rank email as the single most effective tactic for awareness, acquisition, conversion, and retention (Gigaom Research)
  • Better than social: Email conversion rates are three times higher than social media, with a 17% higher value in the conversion (McKinsey & Company)
  • Loyal customers love email: 70% of people say they always open emails from their favorite companies (ExactTarget)

For tips on how to put together an effective holiday email campaign, check out All I want for Christmas is email conversion.

Make an impression with PPC

Make your brand—holiday deals and all—easy to find by showing up where your prospective customers are looking. Get your ads in front of their eyes by investing in pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns. Whether offering contextual ads through ad networks or bidding for the top spot on popular search engines, PPC serves targeted ads that will bring traffic to your site.

What can PPC do for you? Benefits include:

  • Shoppers looking for local: One in three Google searches are local. Yes, 33% of Google searches are related to location (SiteWit)
  • Top ads get more clicks: The top three paid ad spots get 41% of the clicks on the page (SiteWit)
  • Double your investment: Businesses make an average of $2 in revenue for every dollar they spend on Adwords (SiteWit)
  • Only pay for successful ads: You only pay when someone clicks on the ad (SearchEngine Land)
  • Target your audience: You can reach your target customer with the right ad at the right time (SearchEngine Land)

Outstanding deals and events

The internet it teeming with holiday marketing. Stand out in the crowd—and increase your sales—by thinking outside of the gift box. In addition to your typical holiday shopping days (Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday), find not-so-typical ways to offer deals and discounts. Do your research for a little inspiration. Do you have this year’s hot holiday gifts on your website (or in store) and ready to go? Play them up with targeted messages to those most likely to buy. And don’t be afraid to help consumers find the perfect gift for everyone on their lists. Organize web pages and displays to offer shopping advice.

We can help

Sometimes WWW can seem like it stands for wild, wild west (instead of World Wide Web), but with some planning and creativity—and help from the experts at the Advertiser Media Group—you can make your online holiday campaigns a winning winter wonderland. Contact us online or give us a jingle at 334.261.1553.

Digital Marketing Minute - October: Week Three

Every week we share trends and articles on digital marketing. Posted on Monday, October 19 in Making Your Marketing Work.

Content Marketing

5 Marketing Trends You Should be Tapping

by Business 2 Community  

Marketing trend listicles tend to focus on the latest and greatest new tricks that brands are playing around with. Instead of taking that route, I’d rather walk the path of newish trends that have some social proof behind them.

Read More

Digital

7 Digital Marketing Trends for Your Brand Success in 2016

by Vanhishikha Bhargava

Digital marketing is always changing and is it very important to keep up with progression. Learn which ones will continue forward in 2016.

Read More

Social Media

Evolving Your 2015 Strategy with Digital Storytelling

by Ruth Mathias, Lewis PR

Digital storytelling has changed the marketing funnel drastically. Creating personal experiences through creative digital story can be very beneficial for your brand.

Read More

Trending Now: Sporting Goods

The Key to Millennials Isn’t Social Posted on Thursday, October 15 in Increasing Sales.

Trending Now: Sporting GoodsMillennials are a driving force in the popularity of wellness as a way of life. They purchase wearable fitness devices and download apps; they live in athleisure and they invest heavily in fitness centers and health clubs. They’re not necessarily into fitness. They simply want to eat well and live a healthy lifestyle. This passion point makes Millennials an obvious target for Sporting Good stores, and yet understanding their preferences for marketing communications can be tricky.

Social is about connection

Millennials are notoriously difficult to market to. They exercise personal choice for how they access media and program their channels. They are savvy to marketing messages and tune it out with ease.

In addition to their own preferences, there are also preconceptions around Millennials’ media habits that may impact how Sporting Goods stores go to market.  These preconceptions can lead to bad investments, wasted resources and poor results if a business is not careful. What are these preconceptions? The most popular one is: Social media is the only way to connect with A18-34.

Marketers oftentimes assume social media is the only channel for connecting with an 18-to-34-year-old audience. To be fair, it is wildly popular: 83% of online US adults 18-34 are on Facebook. Instagram already has 41% of Millennial internet users on site (and growing) and boasts the highest concentration of Millennials (accounting for more than 60% of users). With this density of engaged users, social media is an attractive opportunity for Sporting Good stores to connect with Millennials, but social media is not the preferred communication channel for retailers for Millennials.

Email is their preferred communication method

Overwhelmingly – and ironically – their preference is for email communication. 82% of Millennials cite email as the most preferred channel for interaction with retailers. The preference for email communications is slightly more notable for males with 76% of M18-34 compared to 73% of F18-34 who claim to open and read promotional emails from retailers. And when compared to the larger email-reading population, Millennials are 86% more likely to read on a smartphone (which means emails should be built in a responsive format). For Sporting Good retailers, email is very much a necessary platform in concert with a larger integrated strategy.

We can help you connect and commuincate with millennials

Millennials are bucking conventional wisdom and making marketers adhere to their terms. We are tapped into their media habits and preferences, and we have the tools to uncover additional insights and the integrated marketing expertise to help you understand how to leverage them. Contact us online or by calling 334.261.1553.

Sources:

Borison, Rebecca. “Health And Fitness Apps Are Exploding In Popularity — Here's Who Is Using Them” Business Insider 19 Jun 2014

“Millennial Research Study 2015” Principal Financial Group 10 Mar 2015

“Millennials in Adulthood: Detached from Institutions, Networked with Friends” Social Trends Pew Research Center 7 Mar 2014

“The Acumen Report: Constant Content” Defy Media 3 Mar 2015

eMarketer, Feb 2015

Garcia, Krista. “Retail Email Marketing: Benchmarks and Trends in the US” eMarketer 24 Sep 2015

All I want for Christmas is email conversion

Email is one of the most used holiday channels worldwide, start planning your holiday email campaign now for robust results. Posted on Tuesday, October 13 in Increasing Sales.

The holidays seem months away but don’t relax too much. Now is the time to start planning your holiday campaigns. According to the National Retail Federation, 20 - 40% of annual sales for small and medium sized businesses take place in November and December. If you want your share of these dollars, the time to invest in mapping out a strong holiday plan is now.

So, where should you start?

Email is still a preferred channel

Email, followed by your website and social media are traditionally the most used holiday channels. Don’t be surprised. Email is often overshadowed by social and mobile, which are the buzzwords of the day. Yet, email is more powerful than you might imagine. For example, among Millennials—the poster children for social media—82% cite email as the most preferred channel for interaction with retailers. On top of this, it is extremely cost efficient with an ROI of almost 4,300% (DMA)

Stuff their inboxes with holiday cheer

Email campaigns are most successful when integrated ahead of time with your company goals and resources. You know your brand better than anyone. Planning ahead gives you time to speak to each customer or prospect with a customized message that highlights the attributes of your brand they resonate with them.

Let’s get that holiday email campaign working by following these steps:

Survey customers in the fall: This gives you great ideas for content when the weeks get crazy. Not to mention some insights on what challenges and opportunities are right in front of you.

Be mindful of sales, deals, and promotions: Don’t give away your hard earned profits for lack of planning. Plan ahead and create offers now so you are not harried in the busy part of the holiday season. Play with key words, like Save, Last Chance, Introducing, and Must Have.

Know where to send your message: Start aggressively collecting email addresses now!

Make your list and check it twice: Then clean up names, duplicates, and delete or set aside unsubscribes and bounces. Why? More than 20% of email registrations contain typos, syntax, domain and other errors.

Segment, segment, segment: Even if you don't have the savviest tools to do so. There are different ways in which you can divide your list: customer behavior, demographics, past purchases, or location.

Tailor your message: Now that you’ve nailed down your segments, it’s time to speak to your audiences (plural). This will increase your conversion rate. Segmented email campaigns drive 13% more opens than non-segmented campaigns.

Give them what they want: You asked for their email address - now send relevant information. Personalize and send related products, news, or know how on topics that are significant to that customer or group of customers.

Don’t let your spirit scare them away: Be careful not to use clichés and holiday puns, rise above the white noise. Today’s customers are savy and will tune out an over the top pitch.

Brim with holiday cheer: Make sure your automatic responses have the same holiday flavor as your brand exudes both online and in store.

Be friendly: Make sure your holiday emails are mobile friendly. Remember, more than 55% of mobile consumers want to purchase within an hour and 83% want to purchase within a day.

Make the registers ring: Make sure emails are navigable from email to sale. Of the consumers who have signed up for emails from a brand over the past six months, 84% report making a purchase based on what they received.

We can help

Don’t worry. We can help you find new customers, speak to your existing base, and deliver you message to the right people, at the right time on, the right platform. We’re here to make sure your business has a great holiday season.

Contact us online or call 334.261.1553.

Sources:

Mail Chimp Resources, Aug 2015

Exact Target 2014 Mobile Behavior Report

Google Mobile Path to Purchase, November 2013)

Garcia, Krista. “Retail Email Marketing: Benchmarks and Trends in the US” eMarketer 24 Sep 2015

Digital Marketing Minute - October: Week Two

Every week we share trends and articles on digital marketing. Posted on Monday, October 12 in Building Your Brand.

Facebook and Instagram Control Majority of Social Ad Revenue

Lauren Johnson, AdWeek 

New directional data shows that Facebook and Instagram alone control over two-thirds of all social ad revenue spending this year. Combined, estimates say their ad businesses have grown by 42% since 2014 with Instagram projected for 149% growth in 2016.  When planning your SMB spend for next year, are these social channels part of your marketing mix?  They should be.

Read More  

5 Holiday Shopping Trends to Watch in 2015

By Think With Google

The holiday shopping season is here and seasonal music will be heard in the air in malls in a matter of weeks.  Is your business ready?  The sales register is already ringing according to they trends the Google research and data team has checked twice.  Time to get your business in the game. 

Read More 

 

Google to Use Email Addresses for Targeting

By Tim Peterson

To directly reach consumers, capturing their email address is more important than ever.  Does your web site or landing page do this well? 

If you've ever searched for a product on Google, you see adjacent ads adjacent from companies looking to make you their customer. Soon, you'll likely see more ads from companies that already count you as a customer, and not only when you're searching on Google.

Read More

Are you ready for the holiday-shopping season? Your customers are!

Why planning your holiday marketing is important NOW! Posted on Tuesday, October 6 in Increasing Sales.

Ready to spend sooner.

Actions speak louder than words. Consider this, while 59% of consumers say November is when it feels “right” to see a holiday advertisement 47% of holiday shoppers start thinking about what they’re going to buy for friends and family in October (or earlier!). Businesses need to stay top of mind with non-holiday related messaging starting as early as September. (i)   

Ready to spend more.

This year could be a record setting one in terms of consumer spending. This year’s holiday retail season is expected to see its highest growth rate since 2011. Retail sales in the U.S. during the months of November and December 2015 will increase 5.7% this year, reaching $885.70 billion. (iii)

Are you ready to capture your share? 

Stay ahead of the shopper with a comprehensive digital plan that includes social media, an engaging website, and search retargeting. Social media and search retargeting is the preferred channel for staying top of mind for consumers, as it allows you to target a consumer based on age, demographic information, geographic location, and then follow the consumer through the decision making, and ultimately the purchasing funnel.

Get right deals to the right shoppers.

Once the time is right for your consumers to spend, your promotions need to be active and in front of your target audiences. 62% of respondents go straight to search engines when researching a potential purchase for the holiday season. (ii) 50% of consumers who conducted a local search on their smartphone visited a store within a day, and 34% who searched on computer/tablet did the same. (iv)

Make your business easy to find.

If your business doesn’t have a strong digital presence during this time, chances are you will be eliminated from the consumer consideration set from the start.

Search engine activity during prime holiday shopping increases even more due to mobile device usage. 82% of shoppers search for store information on their mobile devices while they’re conducting holiday shopping. (ii) As consumers become more and more comfortable with purchases via mobile smartphone, it is estimated that by the end of 2016, 25% of all retail ecommerce sales in the U.S. will take place via mobile devices. (iii)

Activating and managing a digital presence early enough in the holiday season is imperative to capture consumers’ ever evolving “holiday creep” shopping behaviors! Be where your customers are – before they even realize that they are your customer!

We can help.

We offer products and services to build, maintain and grow your digital presence. We’d love to talk more with you – contact us by clicking here or calling 334.261.1553.

(i) G/O Digital, Pays to plan Holiday Marketing Strategy in August, 2015

(ii) G/O Digital, Holiday Purchasing Habits: A Digital Advantage for Local Businesses August, 2015

(iii) eMarketer, A Happy Holiday Season Expected for Retailers, 2015

(iv) Google, Understanding Consumer’s Local Search Behavior, May 2014

Trending Now: Hospitals

Opportunity: Outpatients Services Posted on Wednesday, September 30 in Increasing Sales.

Trending Now: HospitalsHospitals are big business.

How big? Projected hospital care expenditure in 2015 will be $1.031 trillion, and it will continue to grow at an estimated rate of 6% annually through 2024.1 This growth is driven by several factors: increased reimbursements from federal funding for Medicare and Medicaid, growing private health insurance coverage, an aging population, and more disposable income with an improving economy.

Big competition for outpatient dollars.

The biggest revenue opportunities for hospitals are inpatient and outpatient care, which is nearly evenly split in terms of expenditure (54% and 46%, respectively).2 Consumers often have greater choice when it comes to outpatient services such as lab work, radiology, colonoscopies and physical therapy, as well as cosmetic and bariatric surgeries – and the increased competition from physicians and specialists who may also offer these services has created a battleground for a significant portion of revenue.

Big opportunity with caregivers.

Identifying the prime target for outpatient care is critical. The lowest hanging fruit to target for outpatient services is adults 45-64. These folks are simultaneously caring for children while worrying about aging parent and other family members. They are also challenged with their own midlife health crises, which range from torn ligaments to heart attacks to autoimmune disease diagnoses among other ailments.

It's time to think bigger.

Hospitals have responded to the challenge of finding this prime target by expanding their media mix, which historically was largely comprised of traditional media.  Most now employ an omnichannel approach. Digital media has quickly become a cornerstone in their new marketing mix, with an average of 26.4% of dollars being allocated to digital, distributed across search, video, digital display and classifieds/verticals.3 Over the next four years, total digital spending in the US for the healthcare and pharm industry is expected to grow from $1.64b (2015) to $2.55b (2019), fueled largely by new products and more sophisticated data targeting, most notably in mobile, video and native advertising formats.4

Native is getting big results.

Of all these options, native advertising has emerged as an especially compelling movement in hospital marketing. To be clear: native advertising is a format that creates an uninterrupted flow from site content to advertising, where ads effectively become a part of the content. In its crudest form, this seamless integration can be compared to digital advertorials. Native advertising is available across multiple platforms, including social and publisher sites (eg. newspaper.com).

Why is native advertising trending now for hospitals? On average, less than half of healthcare digital ad spending is invested in branding efforts (44%), which means those dollars must work harder in fewer channels to raise awareness about conditions, products and services hospitals offer.5 Native advertising has a range of flexibility in content, and the sheer amount of real estate and natural integration into site layouts create an attractive platform for educating target segments on not-so-easily-communicated topics, such as specialties, new services and even hospital mergers, and for showcasing existing content, such as case studies. Gen Xers (who largely make-up the sweet spot 45-64 age group) respond especially well to traditional media tactics that drive attention to complementary digital assets – making native advertising an even more attractive and effective solution.6

Below are a few examples of successful hospital native advertising campaigns for inspiration:

We offer solutions big and small.

If you’re interested in native advertising, contact us online or by calling 334.261.1553. We’d love to talk more about this exciting opportunity and how it can work within your marketing efforts.

1 “Table 06 Hospital Care Expenditures” NHE Projections 2014-2024 Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, Office of the Actuary 22 Jul 2015

2 Phillips, Jocelyn. “Stable condition: Extended insurance coverage and increased service prices will boost revenue” IBISWorld Industry Report 62211 Hospitals in the US IBISWorld January 2015

3 “Insights into Local Advertising – Health Care Vertical” BIA Kelsey March 2015

4 Petrock, Victoria. “The US Healthcare and Pharma Industry 2015: Digital Ad Spending Forecast and Trends” eMarketer May 2015

5 “For US Healthcare and Pharma Ad Spending, Balance Tips Toward Direct Response” eMarketer 27 May 2014

6 “Healthcare Marketing to Gen X: Take an Omnichannel Approach” eMarketer 30 Oct 2014

Digital Presence: Savvy Mobile Holiday Shoppers

Is your Business Mobile ready this Holiday Season? Posted on Tuesday, September 29 in Increasing Sales.

Now is the time to engage with the savvy mobile shopper!

The holidays are just a few months away. Consumers are already thinking about how they’ll check off everything on their lists and mobile shopping will play a big part in their plans.  Does your business have a mobile strategy in place? 

Don’t think a mobile strategy is important?  Here are a couple of facts to consider:

Because mobile traffic is up.

Mobile traffic made up 45% of all online traffic last year. Just five years ago, mobile advertising was an unproven means of revenue, but now, mobile shopping has shifted into a new realm of customer interaction and instant gratification.

So, dial up the deals.

One of the biggest shopping days last year? Thanksgiving Day.  Smartphone revenue on Thanksgiving was approximately $12.8 million. On Black Friday, it was $18.1 million. Why? Consumers want great deals and mobile has made it easier to lock them in from anywhere. 

And don't forget to build a rapport.

In order to be successful, businesses of all sizes need to have a better understanding of their savvy mobile consumers – their interests, their intentions, their desires and most importantly how they make their holiday purchases. 

It is important to remember that a mobile strategy is not all about promotions and offers. Mobile campaigns offer a unique opportunity to build a direct relationship with your best customers. They can be used to offer consumers something they can’t get anywhere else like exclusive deals, sneak peeks of Black Friday specials. 

As always, we're here to help!

Let us help you build a strong mobile presence for your business this holiday season.  We can analyze your business objectives and partner with you to develop a customized solution that fits your needs. Contact us online or by calling 334.261.1553 so we can start the conversation.

**eMarketer

Are Mobile Apps Worth the Investment?

Things to Consider. Posted on Tuesday, September 22 in Building Your Brand.

Consumer demand for mobile apps is insatiable with both the number of app users and their daily time spent growing rapidly.  Yet it’s harder than ever for apps to get noticed and even more difficult to keep users coming back once the apps have been downloaded.*

With 2.5 million existing apps and more than 1,600 apps making their debuts daily, is it worth the investment and time to try and compete in this crowded arena?  Is it right for your business?  What are the alternatives?

Here are some things to consider.

Is it offering something unique?

What is exceptional about your app? How will you make your app stand out among the already existing apps in this crowded market space? Are you offering something users want to learn about or use?

Is it worth the cost of creating?

In addition to the upfront cost of app design and development, the back-end content management system must be managed in order to stay fresh and relevant. Take into consideration the staffing and time needed to maintain the app.

How will I market it?  

Making sure an app has good visibility in the app stores is a significant challenge to marketers. (ASO) App store optimization is an important discipline. Paid and organic tactics and paid install campaigns are necessary to increase discovery, downloads and repeat users.

What are the alternatives?   

Before deciding to invest in an app, take an inventory of your business’ current digital presence and strategy. Make sure you have the fundamental aspects of your digital presence maximized - including your website, (SEO) PPC campaigns, email marketing and your mobile presence.  If you are confident and ready to take the next step into app development be sure to hire a professional to give your customers the best user experience.

Want to know what is right for your business? Looking to accelerate your digital presence?

We can help.

We offer products and services to build, maintain and grow a digital presence, however big or small it may be.

We’d love to talk more – contact us online or by calling 334.261.1553.

*APP MARKETING 2015: FIGHTING FOR DOWNLOADS AND ATTENTION IN A CROWDED MARKET ©2015 EMARKETER INC.

5 Practices for Mobilizing Your Business Website for SEO

SEO for mobile is even more critical in order to be successful in today’s marketplace. Posted on Tuesday, September 15 in Making Your Marketing Work.

You already know search engine optimization (SEO) is crucial to maximizing the number of potential leads to your bunsiness’ website. But did you you know that SEO for mobile is even more critical in order to be successful in today’s marketplace?

Consider this:

  • According to comScore, U.S. users are spending 60% of their time consuming digital media through mobile applications and mobile web browsing. Desktop digital media consumption is now the minority making up the remaining 40% .
  • Google reported further evidence of increasing mobile adoption by consumers: 50% of consumers using a smart phone visit a store within a day of their local search and 18% of local searches lead to in store sales.

So how do you optize your website for mobile search?  Follow these five tips.

Tip #1: Increase the Speed Your Pages Load

Page loading speed is even more important to mobile users. Use PNG format for graphics and JPEG file format for photos. Optimize the speed at which these images load by compressing them with Photoshop. Use a software application for file compression to reduce the size of CSS, HTML, and JavaScript files larger than 150 bytes.

Tip #2: Get Rid of Redirects

The more redirects to another page on your website visitors need to click to answer their search query, the more time it will take for each link’s HTTP request-response to return and thus the greater the chances your site visitor will bounce and move on to a competitor’s site.

Tip #3: Use Pithy Titles and Metadescriptions

Mobile devices have less screen space to display SERP results, so it’s important to be concise. Try to keep titles under 55 characters. Be sure the title is relavent to your web page’s content. A good place to begin is reseaching which keyword phrases are searched witihin your bunsiness segment and how competitive they are. One tool availables for keyword research is Google Keyword Planner.

Metadescriptions are a explaination of the contents of a webapge and display  beneath the title. Keep metadescriptions to less than 160 charaters to avoid having them trucated. Being concise will also boost the chance of social sharing of your webpage.

Example SERP listing:

Tip #4: OptimizeYour Site for Local Search

59% of consumers are  using mobile phones each month to find local businesess. Standardize your business name, address address and contact number including you city and state location in your website’s metadata. This will help search engines determine whether your site is locally relavant and should be displayeed in the SERP.

Tip #5: Avoid Pop-Ups

Not only are pop-up frustrating to mobile users seeking an answer to their query but they can be difficult to close on a mobile device. Both of these issues could lead to a higher bounce rate for your site.

This list is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of best practices for mobile SEO. There are more improvements your can make to your business’ mobile site based on your unique situation. However these five tips are a great way to start SEO for your mobile website.

Interested in learning what else you can do?  Give us a shout. You can reach us at online or call 334.261.1553 to connect. We’d love to help.

References:

ComScore: U.S. Mobile Report August 21, 2014.

Think With Google: Understanding Consumers Local Search Search Behavior, May 2014.

Mobile SEO in 2015: Everything You Need to Know, 2015.

SEO MOZ Inc.: Page Speed, 2015; Title Tage, 2015.

MDG Advertising: Infographic: Local Search Evolved, 2015.

Beacon Technology 101

What SMBs Need to Know Posted on Tuesday, September 8 in Making Your Marketing Work.

Smartphones have been commoditized, and mobile apps are ubiquitous – so what is the next frontier in mobile marketing? For now, location-based marketing, driven by beacon technology, has taken center stage.

Beacon Technology 101: What SMBs Need to KnowFirst things first: What is a beacon?

A beacon is a physical piece of hardware that can receive and transmit data within a radius of about 50 meters utilizing device-to-device technology. Beacons triangulate location based on cell towers and Bluetooth and can estimate your exact location within its geofence. Not only will it recognize a smartphone or mobile device (and presumably the device’s owner) as being inside of a physical location, but it will also be able to pinpoint exactly where inside the location they are.

Wow, what about privacy?

There is an inherent opt-in required for beacon technology to work. Most often, beacons communicate with a specific app (think a Facebook beacon can only ping the Facebook app on your smartphone), and you must have location services enabled. Another way beacons connect is through guest / customer connection to Wi-Fi while on premise (opt-in happens during login or terms acceptance to connect).

So what can beacons do?

Imagine knowing how often your customers visit your establishment, how long they stay, what messaging resonates and when. And that’s just the beginning.

The data that can be collected has potential for game-changing experiences for customers, driven by 1:1 communications born of personal data. Beacons offer insights into customer behavior and motivators in real time. Before now, marketers relied on third party research and primary research to understand their customers – both of which require significant investment and have a shelf life.

Lots of data, but what’s in it for ME?

The value of beacons comes down to the level of precision with which you can target and retarget actual customers.

This can take many forms, including, but certainly not limited to:

  • Mobile coupons and time-sensitive (or secret) specials, distributed exclusively at your location within the beacon’s geofence.
  • Highly targeted promotions to cross- and up-sell complimentary products (need milk to go with those cookies?)
  • An enhanced loyalty program that delivers real value by providing meaningful and personalized rewards for loyal and high value customers.
  • Streamlined integration into other systems (such as reservations or check-in)

Will beacons be game-changing, really?

Much like everything else, it all depends on execution. Personalization and timeliness of content is critical. If leveraged effectively, beacon-enabled marketing can deliver a better customer experience in-store with potential for bigger baskets and lifetime value. If beacon-driven messaging is focused too much on impersonal promotions or blanket couponing, customers will grow tired and weary of the interaction or use it exclusively to discount their purchases.

When should I get a beacon?

While beacons may be trending, their dependence on an accompanying app or Wi-Fi gate has limited adoption. As of October last year, only 8% were actively testing beacon and geo-targeting technology and 19% had a 6-18 month roadmap to testing. This leaves a whopping 73% of brands and retailers on the sideline.[ii]

The good news is standardization of devices and application is ramping up, with market-driving developers actively building and refining their models: Apple’s iBeacon launched in 2013[iii]; this year Facebook began offering free beacons to businesses (in limited test), and in July Google announced their Eddystone developer initiative.[iv]

Before considering if now is the time to invest in beacon technology, ask yourself if you’re ready for what comes with it?

  • Do you have a branded mobile app you can use?
  • Would you be open to using a third party app (ie. Facebook) with limitations?
  • Or, do you have offer guest / customer Wi-Fi with a gate?
  • Is you digital presence optimized for mobile devices?

Assuming you’re covered from a logistics perspective, you’ll need to think through a comprehensive activation strategy. Beacon technology is at its best when built into an integrated marketing approach, from advertising to digital to in-store merchandizing. Are you prepared to manage (and revise) multiple messages, driven- and informed-by insights?

Overwhelmed?

Most folks are. Leading the pack with early adoption is prime for high risk. But with that risk is the potential for significant reward.

If you’re interested in beacon technology and not sure where to start, give us a call. As the leading local media and marketing solutions organization, we’re available to help you evaluate the opportunity and determine if it is a good fit. We can also help you build and execute an integrated program to make the most of your efforts.

We’re ready to dig in and roll up our sleeves. Contact us online or call 334.261.1553 to connect.

Stroud, Forrest. “beacon” Webopedia 28 Aug 2015

[ii] FitForCommerce, “Let’s Get Personal.” eMarketer 19 Feb 2015

[iii] “iBeacon for Developers” Apple Developer 28 Aug 2015

[iv] Sterling, Greg. “Eddystone Beacon Explainer: An Interview With Google’s Chandu Thota” MarketingLand 24 Aug 2015

Digital Marketing Minute

Every week we share trends and articles on digital marketing. Posted on Tuesday, September 1 in Reaching The Right Audience.

WEEK OF AUGUST 28, 2015

Content is King
Ad Budgets Increase Slightly, with Need for More Content
by Laurie Sullivan, Search Marketing Daily

Advertising budgets are rising -- but so are expectations, according to a study conducted by The CMO Club in partnership with IBM, which found that 57% of chief marketing officers who participated in the survey indicated their budgets would increase to some extent during the next two to three years.
Read More

User Experience
What Marketing Can Learn from User Experience
by Sezgin Hergul, Marketing Profs

If you ask any User Experience Professional what the principles of their profession are, one of the first principles you’ll hear is “Know Your Users”
Read More

Dig Into Your Best Customer Data
Dimensional Marketing: New Rules for the Digital Age
by Damon Waldron

Roughly 90% of companies say their sales and marketing team are not aligned. . Of those, nearly 40% say that disconnect prevents them from effectively closing deals.
Read More
 

Trending Now: Adult Care

Meeting Boomer Demands Posted on Friday, August 28 in Increasing Sales.

Baby Boomers are fueling a revolution in adult care.

There are 75 million Baby Boomers in the United States, and 10,000 of them will reach retirement age every day through 2032.i The market for adult care is, pun intended, booming.

As Boomers facilitate adult care for their aging parents, they are also facing decisions around their own post-retirement living scenarios – and traditional retirement communities, assisted living and nursing homes are faced with the need to diversify and evolve to satisfy a wide spectrum of demand from Boomers.

While Boomers are going their own way (or ways) when it comes to housing choices, an underlying trend is the desire for more community and convenience.ii A growing group of Boomers have chosen to enrich their lives by doubling-down on their passion pastimes. This has fueled a surge in niche retirement communities, which offer unique experiences for like-minded retirees from art to access to universities to aviation and equestrian interests.iii Others are less interested in formal arrangements and have begun experimenting with other models for retirement living, such as shared homes, co-housing, and neighborhood-based communities.iv

While these unique offerings remain on the fringes, their growing popularity is a reflection of Boomers’ expectations: they are used to having the services they want, when they want them. Wherever they go, they expect innovation and improved services and amenities. To remain competitive, traditional adult care facilities are beginning to offer high-end amenities, such as wine cellars, wood-burning pizza ovens, and wellness centers and spas – and this is an indicator there is still more to come.v

This revolution shouldn’t come as a surprise. The Baby Boomer generation “has turned everything on its head that it has touched since the 1960s,” says Tom Grape, chairman and CEO of Benchmark Senior Living, and it “won’t be any different” for senior housing.vi

Confused by this ever-evolving target? We’ve got our eyes squarely on the Baby Boomer, and we know who they are and how best to engage with them. Contact us via email or by calling (334) 240-0146 so we can start the conversation.

­­­­­­­­________________________________

v Dowd, Casey. “Retirement Checklist: What to Do in 2013” Fox Business 31 Jan 2013
ii Veciana-Suarez, Ana. “Baby Boomers Aren’t Sold on Retirement Communities” Business Insider 9 Feb 2013
iii Bortz, Daniel. “Boomers Flock to Niche Retirement Communities: Stargazers, equestrians, and hippies find like-minded friends and age together.” US News & World Report 12 Apr 2012
iv Mears, Teresa. “How Baby Boomers Are Creating Their Own Retirement Communities: Rather than settling down in traditional assisted living facilities, some are turning to shared homes and cohousing communities.” US News & World Report, 20 Apr 2007
v Dowell, Cassandra. “A New Wave of Hospitality Innovations Hits Senior Living” SeniorHousingNews 10 Aug 2015
vi Gerace, Alyssa. “Baby Boomers are Going to Turn Assisted Living Model ‘On its Head’” SeniorHousingNews 7 Feb 2012

Trending Now: Pediatricians

Clinics Steal Market Share Posted on Thursday, August 27 in Increasing Sales.

Trending Now: PediatriciansPediatricians are increasingly facing competition from retail-based clinics (RBCs) and urgent care clinics (UCCs) – and not just for minor ailments. RBCs and UCCs have expanded to offer routine care services, such as physicals and vaccinations, rounding out their services and looking to benefit from the growth of annual well-visits for children. RBCs have surfaced inside pharmacies (eg. CVS’s Minute Clinic) and retailers (eg. The Clinic at Walmart) across the country and continue to grow by 25%-30% monthly.[ii] Similarly, there is significant growth in UCCs. Multi-tasking parents gravitate toward the lower cost care, location convenience and availability of non-traditional hours, including evening and weekends, with no appointments needed.

Making the wounds deeper for pediatricians, the average costs for sick visits at RBCs and UCCs is lower, at $100 and $155, respectively, for cash patients.[iii] Physicals and well-care visits are significantly less, and many insurance providers are accepted. In contrast, pediatrician visits can skyrocket upwards of $500, depending on the services provided. While insurance may cover the majority of the expense, deductibles and co-pays quickly add up.

How can pediatric practices mitigate the onslaught of RBCs and UCCs?

Expand to include evening and weekend hours.

Pediatricians who have done so report a positive impact on business.[iv] While this may not be feasible, overwhelmingly RBCs and UCCs provide non-traditional hours that are more convenient for working parents.

Foster a relationship.

Continuity and quality of care are critical differentiators for pediatricians. For parents, their children are their most precious priority – lean into this emotional connection by building honest, authentic relationships with both patients and their parents. Take the time to ask about their interests, their siblings, their fears and their dreams.

Activate a digital presence.

While word-of-mouth referrals remain the top source for new patients, having a digital presence is critical. Websites provide an opportunity to educate parents about all services and specialties provided. Search is a valuable tool for driving website traffic and ensuring visibility. Social media, and Facebook namely, are necessary platforms that allow parents to advocate for their pediatricians, thus becoming brand ambassadors. Review sites, such as Yelp and HealthGrades, greatly influence parents looking to inform and validate their pediatrician selection and need to be monitored for potential liabilities.[v]

We can help.

We offer products and services to build, maintain and grow a digital presence, however big or small it may be. We’d love to talk more – contact us online or by calling 334.261.1553.

"Statistical Brief #419: Trends in Well-Child Visits: United States, 2002-2009." AHRQ.gov. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Aug. 2013

[ii] Westgate, Aubrey. "Retail-Based Clinics vs. Private Medical Practices Contemporary Pediatrics." Advanstar Communications, Inc., 30 Mar. 2015

[iii] Creswell, Julie “Race Is On to Profit From Rise of Urgent Care” The New York Times 9 Jul 2014

[iv] "2014 Annual Issues & Attitudes Survey." Contemporary Pediatrics. Advanstar Communications, Inc., 1 Dec. 2014

[v] “Many Younger Parents Weigh Online Doctor Reviews: Poll” University of Michigan 20 Feb. 2013

Be found online

When a customer sees your ad, gets a referral from a friend or is simply looking for your product, will they find you? Activating your digital presence matters. Posted on Wednesday, August 26 in Building Your Brand.

Be Found.

When a customer sees your ad, gets a referral from a friend or is simply looking for your product, will they find you?

Between websites and social, review sites and search … there are multiple platforms on which your customers can – and will! – look for you. These customers are searching for information to inform and validate their purchasing decisions.

More than 78% of Internet users research online prior to purchasing or visiting brick and mortar stores. If you cannot be found easily during this time, you will be eliminated from consideration before you even have a chance to connect with your audience. You must actively manage your digital presence or someone else will, and you lose control of the conversation.

Activating – and actively managing – a digital presence provides the opportunity to engage with your customers at every point of their purchase funnel, from creating awareness of your business and brand through the evangelization of it.

So, what exactly does a digital presence include?

In it’s most fundamental form, the primary components of a digital presence include, at a local level:

Website: despite the rise of social media and the pervasiveness of search, websites remain the most effective marketing method for small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs).[ii] Websites provide layers of information, allowing your customer to understand your products and services more thoroughly. Websites are also great vehicles for branding – they set the tone of your brand’s personality and act as a voice for it.

Social: social media is now a table-stake: customers expect the ability to engage in a dialogue with businesses and brands, and, frankly, your competitors are already activating the space. According to LinkedIn, 81% of SMBs use social media – you simply cannot afford to be absent from the space.[iii]

Search and Directories: in an endless sea of search results, can you customers access your address, phone number and website within seconds? That’s how quickly they’re scanning search results. Will your website bubble to the top of the results? Or will you be de-seated by a competitor, an out-of-town business or something else entirely?

Reviews and Reputation Management: Online reviews are incredibly influential, touting as much as a 90% recall rate for positive reviews – and 86% recall for negative reviews, influencing buying decisions.[iv] Consider if even just a few dissatisfied customers post negative reviews – by not taking control of the conversation, those reviews will influence and deter your prospective customers.

Overwhelmed?

Activating and managing a digital presence is a labor-intensive effort in an ever-evolving space. We can help. We offer products and services to build, maintain and grow your digital presence, however big or small it may be. We’d love to talk more with you – contact us today or call 334.261.1553.

Source

[1] Pew Internet & American Life Project, May 2010

[1] Thrive Analytics, “2015 Local Pulse Survey Highlights (Part I),” March 23, 2015

[1] Wagner, Kurt “LinkedIn: 81% of Small and Medium-Sized Businesses Use Social Media” Mashable February 13, 2014

[1] Andrews, Emilia “Small Business Marketing: Why Maintaining a Digital Presence is Important” PRWEB May 9, 2014

Activate Your Digital Presence

When a customer sees your ad, gets a referral from a friend or is simply looking for your product, will they find you? Be Found. Posted on Tuesday, August 25 in Building Your Brand.

Get found onlineBe Found.

When a customer sees your ad, gets a referral from a friend or is simply looking for your product, will they find you?

Between websites and social, review sites and search … there are multiple platforms on which your customers can – and will! – look for you. These customers are searching for information to inform and validate their purchasing decisions.

More than 78% of Internet users research online prior to purchasing or visiting brick and mortar stores. If you cannot be found easily during this time, you will be eliminated from consideration before you even have a chance to connect with your audience. You must actively manage your digital presence or someone else will, and you lose control of the conversation.

Activating – and actively managing – a digital presence provides the opportunity to engage with your customers at every point of their purchase funnel, from creating awareness of your business and brand through the evangelization of it.

So, what exactly does a digital presence include?

In it’s most fundamental form, the primary components of a digital presence include, at a local level:

  • Website: despite the rise of social media and the pervasiveness of search, websites remain the most effective marketing method for small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs).[ii] Websites provide layers of information, allowing your customer to understand your products and services more thoroughly. Websites are also great vehicles for branding – they set the tone of your brand’s personality and act as a voice for it.
  • Social: social media is now a table-stake: customers expect the ability to engage in a dialogue with businesses and brands, and, frankly, your competitors are already activating the space. According to LinkedIn, 81% of SMBs use social media – you simply cannot afford to be absent from the space.[iii]
  • Search and Directories: in an endless sea of search results, can you customers access your address, phone number and website within seconds? That’s how quickly they’re scanning search results. Will your website bubble to the top of the results? Or will you be de-seated by a competitor, an out-of-town business or something else entirely?
  • Reviews and Reputation Management: Online reviews are incredibly influential, touting as much as a 90% recall rate for positive reviews – and 86% recall for negative reviews, influencing buying decisions.[iv] Consider if even just a few dissatisfied customers post negative reviews – by not taking control of the conversation, those reviews will influence and deter your prospective customers.

Overwhelmed?

Activating and managing a digital presence is a labor-intensive effort in an ever-evolving space.

We can help. We offer products and services to build, maintain and grow your digital presence, however big or small it may be.

We’d love to talk more with you – contact us by clicking here or calling 334.261.1553.

Pew Internet & American Life Project, May 2010

[ii] Thrive Analytics, “2015 Local Pulse Survey Highlights (Part I),” March 23, 2015

[iii] Wagner, Kurt “LinkedIn: 81% of Small and Medium-Sized Businesses Use Social Media” Mashable February 13, 2014

[iv] Andrews, Emilia “Small Business Marketing: Why Maintaining a Digital Presence is Important” PRWEB May 9, 2014

Digital Marketing Minute

Every week we share trends and articles on digital marketing. Posted on Tuesday, August 25 in Making Your Marketing Work.

EMAIL
Gmail, Outlook, Yahoo! & More: How to Optimize Emails for Different Email Clients
By Lindsay Kolowich, HubSpot.com

Email marketers don't have it easy these days. In the early days of email marketing, we only had to worry about a handful of desktop email clients. Now, we have to make sure our marketing emails look good in a variety of desktop clients, from Gmail to Outlook to Yahoo! Mail. On top of that, you have to consider mobile users, too -- after all, 53% of people read email on their mobile devices. In other words, there are a lot of boxes to check to make sure your emails look great to all of your recipients on all of their devices. Feeling overwhelmed? Don't let all the nuances between email clients and devices get you down. We're here to help you make sense of it all.
Read More

MOBILE MARKETING
Getting Started with Mobile Marketing
By Zach Heller, Business2Community.com

It doesn’t take another blog post from me on the importance of mobile to convince you that it’s a topic critical to your marketing strategy. I hope not, at least. But for most people, the concept of mobile marketing is still a confusing one. It’s vague and broad. And even though I know that I need to be thinking mobile, I’m not totally sure what that means. When people talk about mobile marketing, they could be talking about any number of things.
Read More

SEO
The Top 4 Basic SEO Principles That Increase Your Website Traffic 
By Deborah Mitchell, Entrepreneur.com

The basic SEO principles that make a difference and increase any business's website traffic.
Read More

Trending Now: Home Remodeling

Is Your Business Feeling the DIY Craze? Posted on Friday, August 21 in Increasing Sales.


Do-it-yourself (or DIY) is everywhere. From magazines to TV shows (and even an entire channel!) to social media and websites, the DIY trend has claimed its stake in the hearts and minds of homeowners and nesters.

With this level of saturation, has the DIY craze peaked? Hardly. Easy access to ideas, inspiration and tutorials, coupled with a still-recovering economy, continues to fuel more homeowners to undertake home remodeling work than in the past.i Today 72% of Americans say they will roll up their sleeves and tackle home improvement projects themselves, up from 66% in 2010.ii

While this is a boon for DIY sales, contractors and home remodeling specialists are losing mindshare with these DIYers: only 15% plan to hire a professional (compared to 22% in 2010).ii

At a time when it is trendier than ever for homeowners to do everything themselves, how can professional home remodelers remain competitive and keep top-of-mind?

It starts with leaning into the DIY trend rather than fighting it. Use it as a cornerstone in your digital presence, playing to the strength of the trend and capitalizing on heightened activity. Ways to do this include:

  • Demonstrate your DIY expertise through content marketing
    • Be a part of the DIY conversation. Perhaps you have ideas and projects of your own that you can share on your website and in social channels? Remind DIYers of your expertise.
  • Manage your online reputation by review site activation and management
    • Sites like Yelp and Angie’s List can thwart prospective customers with even just a few negative reviews, regardless of their validity. While you can’t buy – or fake – the reviews, you can take ownership of your profile and engage with any dissatisfied customers to correct the situation. In doing so, future customers will see you as responsive and responsible.
  • Be found easily through search
    • When DIYers are looking for professional services, they need to be able to find you. Start by optimizing your website so that you are in the top natural search results, then drive more interest and conversions by targeting specific search terms and keywords with PPC.
  • Place your ads where they are relevant with contextual ad network targeting
    • As DIYers research DIY projects across the web, you can keep top-of-mind by aligning your advertising efforts to their interest. An ad network buy allows you to zero-in on a target who is actively seeking this content.

In building a strong digital presence, home-remodeling businesses can draw in a prime target and convert them more easily when they have bigger projects they can’t tackle – or when their DIY efforts go awry.

There are plenty of other tactics that compliment and build upon a digital presence strategy. We can analyze your business objectives and partner with you to develop a customized solution that fits your needs. Contact us by calling 334-262-1611 so we can start the conversation.

 

i “The US Housing Stock: Ready for Renewal. Improving America’s Housing 2013” Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University Harvard University, 2013
ii “Real Estate Rebound: 37.5 Million Americans Say They Plan to Move This Year” Amex Spending & Saving Tracker American Express, Mar 2014

Are websites still relevant?

With social media dominating web traffic, do SMBs still need websites? Posted on Tuesday, August 18 in Building Your Brand.

Websites are work. They require volumes of content–copy, images, forms, links–and they can be costly to implement and maintain. Given social media’s ubiquity and the popularity of mobile apps, do small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) still need websites?

Value of WebsitesYes. And here’s why.

Websites are a critical and central component of any digital strategy: they are how current and prospective customers find and connect with products and services. With more than 70% of local customers checking out local businesses online prior to purchasing or visiting brick and mortar stores, having a website is important to activating and controlling the conversation. Websites provide an opportunity to communicate multiple levels of information, and they act as a “home base” for content efforts and digital initiatives. Websites are also a cornerstone of brand-building.

The cornerstone of your digital presence

Websites fuel digital efforts, such as search, which is built (largely) on and for websites. And while social pages, like Facebook, appear in organic search results, they are difficult to optimize[ii] and generally get buried in search results. Further, paid search efforts cannot drive to social channels and require an owned website destination.

Mobile apps have emerged as trendy alternatives to websites, but they require constant updating with mobile operating system updates, have low engagement and high attrition.[iii]

With digital influencing over 50% of all (online and offline) purchases by 2017, participating in and driving accurate and thorough product information has never been more important.[iv]

We can help. We offer products and services to build, maintain, optimize and grow websites, however big or small the need may be.

We’d love to talk more – contact us online or by calling 334.262.1611.

eMarketer 2013

[ii] Titlow, John Paul. “How to Optimize Your Brand's Facebook Page For Search Engines” ReadWrite, 19 Apr 2011

[iii] Flavelle, Mack. “Mobile Retention Benchmarks 2013 – 2014” Tapstream, 7 Oct 2014

[iv] Mulpuru, Sucharita, Carrie Johnson, and Douglas Roberge. “US Cross-Channel Retail Forecast, 2012 To 2017” Forrester Research, 29 Oct 2013

Trending Now: Weight Loss Centers

A New Revenue Stream – It's Not Where You Think. Posted on Thursday, August 13 in Increasing Sales.

The number of adults on a diet has decreased to a 30-year low,i despite the commonness of obesity among adults.

What does this mean for weight loss centers, which have a vested interest in dieting? The answer may not be in attracting more individuals. It may be time to shift focus to influencers rather than end users, specifically, corporate partners and businesses.

Offering weight loss services to employers is a major opportunity: the market for work-site weight loss programs is estimated to be more than $859 million,ii and interest in corporate wellness programs continues to grow.iii The Affordable Care Act is in part responsible for this growth, as businesses look to curb insurance expenses (it should be noted the average medical expense for people who are obese is $1,429 higher than those of normal weight).iv

The active audience you want to target is no longer as straightforward as obese adults – it should include business owners, key decision makers and influencers. Need help uncovering who these new targets are? We have a suite of blue-chip research tools in our sophisticated toolbox to do just that.

Contact us by calling (334) 262-1611 to talk more about how we can help.

 

I “The 27th Annual Eating Patterns in America Report” The NPD Group 7 Jan 2013
ii “Worksite Weight Loss Programs Market Is Worth $859 Million” Marketdata 6 Jan 2014
iii “Corporate Wellness Industry Revenue to Grow 8.4% Annually” IBISWorld.com 30 Mar 2015
iv Eric A. Finkelstein, Justin G. Trogdon, Joel W. Cohen and William Dietz. “Annual Medical Spending Attributable To Obesity: Payer-And Service-Specific Estimates” Health Affairs 27 Jul 2009

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