Archives

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.

Customer Service in a Digital World

We touched on customer service in one of our blogs a while back, and we would like to use this opportunity to share a new emerging form of customer service with you.

The number of social media users is continuously increasing and at the same rate, their behavior is changing. In fact, according to Nielson, the Facebook messenger app was the fastest growing app in 2015. The behavioral change can be seen in that people now utilize Facebook messenger rather than ordinary text messages to chat with their friends and family. Additionally, more often customers would now rather reach out to companies on social media platforms than contacting the traditional customer service department. As a matter of fact, 67% of consumers have utilized a company’s social media presence to solicit a customer service response. Social Media has now become a fully recognized customer service tool for various businesses such as Starbucks, Nike, and Wal-Mart.

Facebook reacted to these trends and has undertaken several update to turn this platform into a full service customer hub. Among these changes are the “call to action” button that allows customers an easy way to get in touch and make updates on the direct messaging system. Now companies can track response rates and can even earn a badge based on how quickly that company responds to customer inquiries.

Many large corporations now have staff available 24/7 to ensure immediate response to customer inquiries on social media. This is especially important when operating globally, taking different time zones into consideration. However, Facebook as a customer service tool is not only important for multinationals, but also for small and medium sized companies.

To use this new tool successfully, follow some simple guidelines to ensure satisfied customers. First, make this platform a place where customers are encouraged to engage and feel comfortable reaching out to you. Often companies post questions or utilize online competitions to engage the customer. Make your customer feel like a part of your “family”. Secondly, companies need to ensure quick replies. Especially when utilizing social media, customers expect a fast reply. This not only applies to customer complaints, but also to positive statements made by satisfied customers. This leads me to the last point: let your customer know you value their opinion. Regardless of the nature of the comment, always reply in a friendly and professional manner and try to solve your customers’ issues in a timely manner. The way you interact with your customers can truly affect your business, because customer experience will ultimately increase or decrease your sales.

http://www.forbes.com/sites/miketempleman/2015/12/22/how-facebook-is-becoming-a-customer-service-hub/#1708a2fe758c

http://www.forbes.com/sites/blakemorgan/2016/02/01/5-ways-to-turn-facebook-messenger-into-your-best-customer-service-tool/#f88f7ac5d9e7

The Rate of Return

Marketing agencies are frequently confronted with questions regarding the rate of return (ROI) of our service. People are used to investing a set amount of funds on the stock market and receiving a clear cut ROI statement at the end of a specified period. There is either a positive (profit) or negative (loss) ROI depending on the performance of the stocks. An investment is either successful or it is not. Period.

This is not the case in marketing. Marketing involves a process; a process that potentially necessitates an extensive amount of time. This amount of time depends on the nature of the campaign. Advertising a holiday special can be done quickly and the success be measured relatively well. People either respond to the special offer, or they don’t. A sustainable marketing campaign aiming at creating long-term brand awareness and permanently increased profits is more complicated and hardly measurable in the short and medium-term.

Brand awareness takes place in people’s heads. It increases the likelihood of individuals choosing one product over another. This decision is not only based on the quality and price of the good or service, but depends especially on the overall perception an individual has about a company or organization. A sustainable marketing campaign will shape a whole bundle of feelings towards a company and establish the company as prime choice in people’s heads. This process takes time as people don’t change their consumption habits from one day to another. There is a reason you have a favorite desert.

Just because sales does not increase immediately after the start of your marketing campaign does not mean the campaign isn’t working. It is working on a subconscious level! Brand awareness must be built step by step. Just imagine convincing a person using all kinds of Apple products from using a Samsung Galaxy or vice versa. A well executed campaign can actually do this – as long as it delivers a consistent message over a certain period of time. The length of this time period depends on the good or service. People tend to be more faithful towards certain products/services (car make), but not at all towards others (cable providers).

This brings us back to the main topic: the rate of return. How can you measure developments happening in your subconscious? Does one person’s subconscious influence the purchasing behavior the same way another person’s subconscious does? And these are only internal developments. What about all of the external factors influencing an individual’s behavior? Having a degree in economics helps me to maneuver the fine line between humanistic disciplines and natural sciences. I am a social scientist, trained to analyze human behavior using mathematical models, especially regression analyses. Being able to mathematically predict human behavior is the holy grail of economists. You can certainly account for specific external influences like taxes, unemployment, technological developments, and family; yet, it is impossible to account for everything (!) happening around you.

These are the two reasons why marketing agencies cannot seriously promise a certain rate of return. Successful marketing takes time, and the gradual and mostly subconscious developments taking place in your mind can hardly be measured, especially if taking into account countless external factors. Patience is a virtue for a reason.

Native Advertising

According to Copy Blogger, approximately 50% of consumers do not know what native advertising is although 41% of brands are already using it. It’s about time to shed light on this topic.

Native advertising is sponsored or branded content embedded into print or online publications. In most cases, it is either a print advertorial or paid editorial spot. Branded infographics or sponsored videos are alternatives. Its main characteristic is that it looks and reads almost exactly like editorial content; yet, it is an advertisement.

Native advertising is somewhat controversial. For example, readers of a scientific publication might not be able to distinguish editorial content from native advertising content. A subtle branded article about the surprising efficiency of a specific diet pill might be mistaken for an unbiased editorial article about the same pills.

Nevertheless, native advertising provides great opportunities to reach the target audience in a manner in which they are already consuming related information; as long as it’s done the right way:

  • Successful native advertising must be transparent. Clearly brand your article, video, etc. Trying to deceive your audience can damage your reputation for good.
  • Content must fit the publication and catch the readers’ attention. Matching the tone of the publication can add additional credibility.
  • Don’t be shy to ask for native advertising, even if a media kit does not mention it. Many publishers are open to it and already have plans to implement it.

For more information about native advertising and examples, see:

http://acsmediakit.org/blog/native-advertising-what-you-need-to-know-for-success/

www.wordstream.com/blog/ws/2014/07/07/native-advertising-examples

http://www.copyblogger.com/native-advertising-2014/

5 Deadliest Sins of Marketing

We all want to make our mark in business, and to make sure our business gets noticed. But what makes a successful message, and what is really “too much”? One very notable publication addresses these issues; and here is our highlight of that article. INC. Magazine tells us there are 5 important “sins” that businesses can commit when attempting to get their message out there:

  • Vanity; don’t make the message all about you all the time. Engage your potential customers with issues that they may feel will directly affect them.
  • Authority; avoid just presenting your business as the authority on a subject or service. Make sure that your reach out to your potential customers on a more personal level. They need to feel a connection with your business, rather than just the facts.
  • Insincerity; Stray from making promises your business cannot keep at this time. Never “cry wolf”, or your respect and trust from your customers are quickly lost, and harder to regain.
  • Puffery; Is your message based on reality? Or is it just a bunch of fluff and hype to make your business look cool? Again, if you do not honestly present your business you will lose the trust and respect necessary to grow your business.
  • Finally Gimmickery; everyone enjoys a good laugh. Just remember that trying too hard to be funny could backfire. Try to avoid making every message contain a “gag” of some kind.

These are just a few highlights of a great message at: http://www.inc.com/minds-zetlin/5-deadliest-marketing-sins.html  we invite you to read more.