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2021 Digital Marketing Predictions

2020 has provided a variety of new digital marketing options like the Spotify, Pandora and Hulu self-serve platforms finally making digital radio and OTT accessible for small and middle-sized businesses. Let’s have a look at a couple of 2021 digital marketing predictions.

 

Chat Bots

Chat bots already exist, but advances in artificial intelligence and natural language processing will tremendously improve their responsiveness. Most chat bots in the past relied on a limited amount of options to select, but the next generation will be able to come up with more sophisticated responses, including better product recommendations, e-commerce transaction support and troubleshooting. They are ideal for businesses focusing on solving customer requests online instead of relying on call centers. Mastercard has successfully implemented this element and others will follow this path in 2021.

 

Video Content

Video content will be quasi-mandatory for customer-facing businesses. While it was a desirable addition in the past, ImpactBND reminds us that:

  • At least 70% of consumers have shared a brand’s video.
  • More than 50% of consumers claim that watching product videos guides their online purchasing decisions.
  • 72% of businesses believe video content has improved their conversion rates.

Live streaming especially provides an opportunity for businesses not familiar with professional video production to produce valuable content.

 

Interactive Content

Marketers already familiar with creating effective video content need to focus on interactive content. There is something for all sorts of businesses:

  • Calculators and configurators
  • Quizzes, polls, games and surveys
  • Multi-touch photos and videos
  • Interactive e-books
  • Interactive infographics and data visualizations
  • Virtual reality and augmented reality overlays

A common example are interactive maps showing election results or the development of COVID-19 cases.

There is so much more to consider for 2021, so check out sources like AdWeek, the Content Marketing Institute and the AMA to get ready.

Digital Radio Advertising

Demand for digital radio services has been growing for years and many advertisers discovered this medium as a valid alternative to terrestrial radio campaigns. The big players in the market are Apple Music, iHeart Media, Pandora, and Spotify. You can directly negotiate a schedule with respective advertising representatives.  However, there are now two self-serve platforms available and we want to make sure you are familiar with their features as well.

Pandora

Pandora just recently introduced their self-serve platform via AudioGo. The minimum campaign budget is $250 and you can set the flight by determining a start and an end date. Commercials may be up to 30 seconds long and you can upload three different sizes of display ads that appear when your commercial plays: 300×250, 300×600, 500×500. They all link to a website of your choice.

You can target by gender and ZIP codes. Pandora uses similar age categories as Google Ads: 18-24, 25-34, 35-44, 45-54, 55-64, and 65+. You can also make sure commercials only run within specific music genres. In addition to the traditional genres, Pandora offers a couple of unique genres not provided by Spotify:

  • Christmas Music
  • Controversial
  • Schlager
  • Top40/Hits – Pop
  • World

Spotify

Spotify’s self-serve platform is intuitive and easy to use. Like Pandora, the minimum budget is $250 per campaign and you can set the flight by determining a start and an end date. Commercials can be up to 30 seconds long and can upload one 640×640 display ad linking to your website. ZIP code targeting is available as well.

Spotify has a couple of advantages over Pandora. First, Spotify produces your commercial without any charge. You submit your copy, select a voice (i.e. male/female, age, English accent, language), select/upload your background music and then Spotify will create the commercial for you to review. You will still have a chance to request changes, so there is no commitment associated with this feature.

Second, Spotify offers additional campaign features to promote artists like serving commercials to fans of certain musicians. Another feature focuses on announcing new shows or merchandise sales.

Third, Spotify offers unique targeting abilities.  These unique targeting opportunities include; targeting usual genres, certain interests of listeners determined by listener behavior and real-time context by focusing on playlists used for commuting, celebrating, studying and more. You will not be able to combine different targeting strategies, but you can target specific age ranges starting at the age of 13.  You can also select specific platforms (desktop, iOS, Android). Both platforms allow smaller businesses to access the marketplace for digital radio advertising after high minimum budget commitments have created barriers in the past. Please contact Adrian at adrian@medialinkinc.com if you would like to learn more about digital radio advertising.

Promoting Your Business During COVID-19

Our Senior Marketing Consultant, Adrian Vander Wille, participated in a Quad Cities Chamber of Commerce webinar series for small business owners. His presentation “Promoting Your Business During COVID-19” introduced a 5-step process for business owners to act immediately without any cost. You can watch and share the webinar recording on YouTube. Here is a brief summary:

Step 1 – Assessment

Take a step back and assess your situation. What are your main challenges? Who are your main stakeholders and what are their main challenges? How do you communicate with your stakeholders and are there alternative platforms you should consider? What information do you need to relay and how do you do this in a consistent and strategic manner?

Step 2 – Online Listings

People learn about your business through your website and social media, but there are many more online listings you may not have direct control over yet. Claim listings like Google My Business or Bing Places and learn how to utilize them to improve your online presence – without paying a cent!

Step 3 – Social Media

Learn how to improve your COVID-19 updates posts within seconds. Explore automated responses, online and live events, and see examples of a small business successfully applying these techniques.

Step 4 – Paid Advertising

Keep your business top-of-mind with Google Responsive Display ads. Use remarketing strategies and generate leads to follow up when people are able/willing to spend again. Consider selling gift cards and merchandise online.

Step 5 – Innovation and Strategy

Every crisis exposes weaknesses, but also strengths and opportunities. Use business analysis tools like the Value Chain Analysis to better understand what makes your business unique and competitive. Think outside the box and come up with innovative ways to improve your products, customer service or distribution network. Innovation is not limited to large corporations!

Please contact Adrian at adrian@medialinkinc.com for a copy of the slides. Don’t hesitate to connect with him on LinkedIn; he is more than happy to answer any follow-up questions.

2020 Marketing Predictions

There are plenty of 2020 predictions for the marketing industry, so we took a moment to weed through industry insiders’ comments. Here are our top 3 picks:

Digital Marketer

Digital Marketer provides 17 predictions from 17 industry experts. Videos will remain crucial for any campaign, and businesses will focus more on LinkedIn and IGTV. “Woke Marketing”, the mixing of politics into marketing messages, rises due to the election year. Companies will need to decide whether they want to be part of a public conversation by taking a stance or remain neutral. Both strategies have pros and cons. TikTok emerges as a potential new platform to reach the younger generation organically and via paid ads. Read more here.

Think with Google

Google provides 10 high-level predictions. Privacy concerns, automatization, machine learning and individualization reach critical levels. Marketers have more customer information available than ever, but concerns about people’s privacy are at an all-time high. Automatization may help keep data anonymous, yet allow us to utilize sensitive customer information. Read more here.

Single Grain

Single Grain provides an extensive list of 42 digital marketing trends for 2020. Not only does Single Grain explain trends, it also uses quotes, infographics, videos and other visual aids. They also provide plenty of valuable follow-up sources, so this is a great source if you are interested in the details. They address topics like conversational marketing, visual search, smart speakers and browser push notifications. Read more here.

Digital Consumerism

The Internet has played a vital role in changing the way businesses adapt to changing consumer preferences and how they retain customers. In the age of digital advertising, online shopping, and online reviews, having a strong digital presence is essential to connecting with your audience and stepping beyond creating awareness. The internet is unavoidable now more than ever with over 4.1 billion Internet users worldwide. These users are looking for places to share their opinions, research purchases, and connect with the brands they know and trust. Having a strong digital presence gives your customers a venue to reach out and interact with your brand in a way they never could with traditional advertisements like print or billboards.

With new technology has come new avenues for businesses to reach both their core consumer groups and new clients. The internet has become a central step in the sales funnel. Before making a purchase, 82% of smartphone users research the product or company online. Additionally, 45% of these users read customer reviews before the purchase of a product. Whether a consumer sees an advertisement on TV, the radio, a billboard, or a brochure, consumers are extremely likely to research the company and their products or services prior to a purchase. At the center of a customer’s research is a well-developed website that reflects a company personality, values, and informs them about your produce offerings in a low-sales pressure setting.

Consumers’ need for knowledge hasn’t changed, however, their patience in finding that information has dramatically shortened. If they can’t find you without putting in a great effort, they will likely move on to the more apparent option. Fortunately, with the internet being accessible 24/7, the convenience factor of researching a company or product at any time is possible. However, you must be able to communicate your message quickly and succinctly, as the average user is only scanning for 10-20 seconds before leaving if their attention is not caught. First impressions truly are everything! It’s a simple correlation: a bad digital presence is bad for business.

Keeping Up with Digital Marketing Trends

Digital media platforms are constantly evolving with the goal of meeting the demands of the consumer and keeping them engaged. A new feature may be popular at the beginning of the year, and become irrelevant a few months later. Companies are in never-ending competition to generate the next big trend in digital media. For example, Snapchat’s parent company, Snap Inc., unveiled nine huge new features in 2016 alone. These changes in trends are especially prevalent with social media platforms as they require new and exciting features to keep their users engaged on a daily basis. Top performing social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat are working every day to improve their algorithms and generate new features users will implement into their daily lives. To maximize your budget’s efficiency and generate a successful marketing campaign, it is vital to stay up to date with all industry changes.

Visual Content – Text-heavy content alone will not effectively attract your targeted audience. Visual content such as infographics, photos, and GIFs will captivate users initially while written content will keep them engaged. Finding a balance between the two will propel your marketing strategy to a new height. New features marketers should consider implementing into campaigns include:

• Facebook Video Ads – Over three billion videos are watched on Facebook each day. It is no wonder why companies have started to adopt this advertising platform into their marketing strategies. Facebook video ads are engaging and provide an eye-catching, fresh way to transfer information to users. Combine this with Facebook’s targeting options, number of daily users, and bid types, marketers have a unique opportunity to reach new audiences and generate a more effective campaign. To learn more about Facebook video ads, click here https://blog.kissmetrics.com/five-essentials-facebook-video-campaign/

• Facebook Collection/Canvas Ads – Collection/Canvas ads are available on mobile only, yet they present a powerful opportunity for marketers to reach audiences in a more innovative fashion. The ultimate goal is to increase traffic, which the platform has been rather successful in accomplishing. To read about success stories using Facebook Canvas ads, click here https://www.facebook.com/business/success/categories/canvas

• Video Ads in Instagram Stories – According to Instagram, at least 250 million users use the app’s Stories function every day. Incorporating ads within the Stories cycle is advantageous to marketers because they attract the user with visually appealing images and are not over bearing. The ad can be a max. 15 second video or a 5 second image, making it concise and effective.
Digital media is constantly evolving. Companies are working every single day to better position themselves in the marketplace. To better the position yourself and your company in the marketplace, take the necessary steps to stay up to date with digital marketing trends. For tips on how to keep up with media updates, use the following links:

Industry News: Oath

“Billion+ Consumers, 20+ Brands, Unstoppable Team. #TakeTheOath. Summer 2017”, tweeted AOL’s Tim Armstrong in confirming the new umbrella company, Oath, will control Verizon’s acquisition of early internet giants Yahoo and AOL. Business Insider was the first to report the nearly $4.8 billion buy that would give Verizon control over Yahoo’s core internet businesses, namely Yahoo! Finance and Yahoo! Sports, as well as the Huffington Post.

This merger is Verizon’s latest attempt to break out of their existing wireless and landline staples into a more powerful mobile environment and expand their advertising ventures, poising them to become a direct competitor with internet titans Google and Facebook. Armstrong outlined three goals Verizon has set for Oath to build on their newly acquired brands: attract more than 10 million content creators, reach two billion consumers, and achieve revenues in the $10 billion to $20 billion range.  These figures represent a 700 million increase over their current reach and a nearly 12% addition to Verizon’s revenues.

While these seem like lofty goals, Oath will center their new campaign across news, sports entertainment, finance, and technology segments. According to Tim Armstrong, “We are going to basically compete the same way you have cable distribution. We will have an analogous internet distributions system overall. We will also partner with every other major provider: Amazon, Apple, Google, Facebook, and Snapchat. We have an Omni channel business model that works basically, not just with our properties and our partners, but across the larger ecosystem.”

The merger with Yahoo will give Verizon access to Yahoo’s email, internet search and aforementioned news services dynamically enhancing Oath and its subsidiaries’ ability to brand advertise to a much larger market than previously available. Former president of digital media at CBS, Ezra Kucharz commented, “Oath can build on its global reach [with] unprecedented access to consumer data and behavior.”

Read more here:

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) focuses on making sure people who are looking for your goods and services online will find and explore your website. This primarily works though Search Engines such as Google, Bing and Yahoo.

This is basically a match-making process. An individual interested in good X types in certain search terms into Google. Google then selects websites that fit best to these search terms, ranks them, and presents them to the person requesting the information. This is where SEO comes to play.

Through SEO techniques, an advertiser can increase the probability of Google and other search engines finding a website, matching it to the search term(s), and ranking it in a specific order.

One way of doing this is through the placement of appropriate search terms/keywords on your website. The first step is to identify vital search terms potential clients are using to look for your product. Are they looking for “footwear”, “shoes”, or “Sneakers”? Do they add certain attributes such as “affordable”, “trendy”, or “for women”? It makes sense to select only the best search terms to ensure a good fit and prevent mismatches. Nobody likes to be directed to a website about flip-flops if you are specifically looking for classy dress shoes for a banquet. By the way, Google’s Keyword tool can help you find variations and estimate the average number of searches per month. This input will also help you with your paid search advertisements, which is a separate element of Search Engine Marketing (SEM).

The next step is placing these search terms strategically on your website. Here is where the structure of your website comes to play. It makes sense to create certain sub-sections that house corresponding search terms so Search Engines can easily recognize these terms. This structure depends on the good and services you are providing. Some firms might want to separate goods and services by brands, others by colors, and again others by price or special features – there is no “one size fits all” approach. These individualized pages should include pictures and links to useful internal web pages or even external ones. Getting visitors to interact with your page will greatly help you compete as it signals to the Search Engine that the content is indeed a good match – why else would someone continue browsing a webpage. Writing blogs about certain topics using these search terms will also help increase visibility and keep clients updated at the same time. Consider inserting a comment section to provide the option to give feedback and initiate a conversation.

If your website is relatively new and hasn’t experienced much traffic, you can increase your visibility by encouraging other websites/people to share your website. Google recognizes if a highly respected website directs people to yours by embedding your URL. You will basically profit from their good performance and reputation. This is probably the trickiest technique, but a great opportunity to become truly creative.

Last but not least: don’t stop improving! Use your Google Analytics data to refine your search term/keyword list and page structure. Experiment and find new creative ways of attracting paying customers who you might not even have considered, yet.

Marketing ABC’s for Small Businesses

When selling a product or service, marketing is the center point of success. From well established companies to start-ups, marketing helps you find your brand identity and establish yourself in the marketplace. There are several basic marketing strategies businesses can implement instantaneously without much effort and external support.

Establishing direct contact with your target audience is often the most effective and affordable way of advertisement.  Attend networking events with other professionals to build connections with colleagues in the industry and to inform them about what you do. Depending on your product/service, you could give out free samples to break the ice. These samples range from appetizers to brochures demonstrating your expertise. They help potential clients assess the quality of your products/services, but they can also create demand for products/services.

The virtual representation of your product is just as important as the physical. The marketing world today has taken to the internet, which means an online presence is a must-have. Having a professional webpage explaining your products/services has become an essential element and creating one has never been easier thanks to several online services. Ensuring your company’s webpage is mobile friendly is another milestone as the majority of people are now researching products and services on their phones and tablets.

Similar rules apply to your social media presence.  Creating social media pages on platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest is a great way to reach your audience in a beyond targeted way. Every platform has its specific characteristics and many have a rather homogenous audience when it comes to age, geography, gender, and interests. Facebook is always a good start, especially as it gives potential clients the opportunity to interact with the company online. This interaction has become the new customer service, so actively cultivating your social media presence with posts and responses is necessary.

Once this has become a daily habit you can consider paid digital advertisement, although running a SWOT analysis once a year will help you determine where you currently stand, where you want to be, and how to get there. Generally, being organized, patient, and consistent are marketing virtues to value. Start with your marketing ABC, let it work for some time, evaluate results, and then adjust piece by piece by adding the D-Z of marketing.

Google Partner Program

Media Link, Inc. is a proud Google Partner, but what exactly does this mean?

To join the Google Partners program, companies and their staff must demonstrate specific skills and capacities:

– Pass Google AdWords tests and get certified

– Meet AdWords minimum spend requirements

– Prove agency and client revenue growth

– Sustain and grow client base

 

Benefits of being a Google Partner are:

– Access to Google’s events and trainings

– Access to Google’s industry research, product updates

– Access to Google Partners Community

– Access to Google’s promotional offers for clients

– Being able to signal expertise and experience in using Google AdWords products

– Participating in more efficient matchmaking as organizations’ AdWords specializations are public and can be accessed by anybody looking for services

 

Certified Google Partners get permission to exhibit the official Google Partners badge on their website and collateral. We at Media Link are working hard on staying up to date with trends, participating in training sessions, and managing our campaign as cost-effective as possible. Being a Google Partners means our strong performance in managing Google Search, Google Display, and YouTube ads is officially recognized by corporate Google. We maintain this status by adjusting bids, targeting, and keywords several times a week if necessary. This guarantees your money is well spent at any time!

Please call us at 309-786-5142 if you have any questions about the Google Partner program.