Category Archives: Marketing

The Marketing Agency of 2020: A New Paradigm Is Around the Corner

The Marketing Agency of 2020 A New Paradigm Is Around the Corner

As the next decade approaches, the relationship between marketing agencies and their clients is evolving. On the surface, the goals of marketing agencies and their clients are the same: to attract more leads, customers and sales for the client. But when you look past shared good intentions and see how the traditional agency-client relationship operates, you’ll see that what incentivizes them is often at odds.

Let’s take a look at what savvy marketing directors and business owners need to consider as they evaluate their current agency providers and seek to maximize their marketing investment in 2020 and beyond.

The Old Paradigm: We’re In This Together … Mostly

In the current model, marketing agencies are contracted to do X amount of work per month, or to complete a project-based contract such as a new website or product launch. The model is deliverables-focused. Why? Because an agency has to know what they’re producing and how much they’re getting paid for it in order to manage costs and logistics.

Clients, on the other hand, are results-focused. They’re less concerned with how many blog posts or emails or social posts their agency produced this month and more focused on how many leads and sales they got from their investment.

After all, the whole point of marketing is to drive sales. For the client, marketing key performance indicators (KPIs) are leads and conversions. So ideally, from the client perspective, an agency should be compensated based on KPI results that prove the investment with the agency was worthwhile. And in a way, that’s what’s happening already, since a client isn’t going to renew their contract if they’re not seeing results.

Agencies know this, and they want to get results for their clients, both so they can keep the contract and because they take pride in their work. But there are a few challenges that make it difficult to realistically hold agencies fully accountable for KPI results.

Challenge #1: Factors beyond the control of the agency can influence results.

The fact is not all the factors that result in leads and conversions can be controlled by the agency. In most cases, the client has in-house marketing staff that is also partially responsible for meeting KPIs. There might be other agencies or contractors who also make contributions. Most marketers are too busy implementing projects to do the work of tracking who gets credit for what. Market fluctuations independent of the agency or the client also influence results.

There’s always a certain amount of risk in business: You come up with a great idea, you try it, and then you find out if it works … or doesn’t. And sometimes it doesn’t, despite the best intentions and hard work of everyone involved.

While agencies can promise to put their best effort into a project, they can’t guarantee it will have the desired result. This leads agencies to be focused on the thing they know they can guarantee: deliverables.

Because of this reality, it’s important that clients and agencies talk openly about what is and is not in the control of the agency, and the client.

Challenge #2: Results can take time to manifest.

Especially in today’s content-saturated marketplace, both online and offline, it can take months or even years to break through the noise and show up consistently enough to gain the trust of consumers. Oftentimes, clients will jump ship before campaigns have had enough time to gain traction. On the other hand, some companies keep doing the same thing over and over, hoping to see results that never come.

So clients and agencies need to begin their conversations not just by setting goals, but also by having a candid discussion about:

  1. How long a campaign will be given to achieve results
  2. How much money the client is really willing to invest in a project (it almost always takes longer and costs more than you think it will).

There are usually many more great ideas than there are resources to implement them, so clearly defining the top priorities is essential for managing budget and expectations. Investing in a few assets and giving them adequate time to produce results is usually a superior tactic compared to trying to do everything right away.

Challenge #3: Innovation is risky.

Clients want agencies to be innovative and come to them with out-of-the-box ideas … but those types of ideas are risky and don’t always work. If an agency’s compensation is tied to results, then it isn’t necessarily in the agency’s best interests to take risks. This happens with in-house marketing teams as well. By default, everyone is incentivized to play it safe. This also reinforces an emphasis on deliverables.

If clients want their agency to come to them with innovative ideas, it’s important to talk up front about how the risk will be handled, keeping in mind that both parties have to maintain profitability.

It’s also wise to have a process in place for vetting and prioritizing innovative ideas, and making sure there is a balanced mix of tried-and-true strategies with new strategies being implemented.

The New Paradigm: Fully Aligned Marketing Agency and Client Interests

Strong Agency-Client Relationships Thrive On 4 Principles - Eminent SEOTo overcome these challenges and become truly aligned, marketing agencies and their clients need to focus on improving communication and expectations in four key areas:

1. Realistic Expectations Regarding Results-Based Performance Metrics and Goals

As mentioned previously, it’s important at the beginning of an agency-client relationship to:

  1. Clearly define the client’s KPI goals
  2. Discuss realistic timelines and budgets to achieve those goals
  3. Clearly identify who has control over what (and which factors are out of both the client and agency’s control)
  4. Make sure the correct metrics are being measured

It’s important to discuss which metrics will be tracked, what information can be gleaned from those numbers, and ensure that those metrics directly influence or result from the big picture marketing goals. Just because a metric is available does not necessarily mean it is valuable.

2. Monthly Budgets with Flexible Deliverables

There are some tasks that need to be done regularly each month, and there are times when flexibility is needed to capitalize on timely opportunities. At Eminent SEO, we often see opportunities we can take advantage of on behalf of our clients, but sometimes it’s not in the budget.

For this reason, we’ve begun working up front with clients to establish flexible budgets that can be used for a default deliverable, such as weekly blog posts, but which can also be channeled (in whole or part) into another area if a better use for that budget presents itself. For clients with limited budgets, the entire budget may be flexible, each month focusing on the next priority in the queue, starting with the low-hanging fruit.

This allows us to pivot quickly based on sound strategy, take full advantage of the creativity of our team, and keep everyone alert for opportunities to make the most of our client’s marketing dollars.

3. Collaboration and Mutual Respect for Multiple Perspectives

In-house marketing staff members are experts on the company brand and immersed in the day-to-day reality of their industry. This gives them an insider perspective, yet it can also make it difficult for them to see their organization the way others do. Agencies provide a valuable outside perspective that can help identify opportunities to hone messages and marketing activities.

Close collaboration between the agency, the client’s in-house team and any outside contractors is essential in order to achieve success without tripping over one another and working at cross purposes.

Within an agency, there should be team members who are experts in the client’s brand and voice, so that the client doesn’t have to expend resources redoing work submitted by the agency. At Eminent SEO, we have our writers, designers and strategists assigned to cross-functional teams that specialize in messaging and production for each client we serve.

4. Balance of Risk-Taking and Safe Marketing Methods

Do you want your agency to manage your day-to-day marketing activities, implement innovative new campaigns, or both?

Clients who answer this question up front and communicate it to their agency will see better results from their agency because it sets clear expectations. Consider the following:

  1. Manage day-to-day marketing activities – Success is measured by high-quality work delivered consistently on schedule, using techniques that are already known to be effective.
  2. Drive innovation – Success is measured by finding new tactics that get results, with the understanding that there will be more failures than successes, but that successful new tactics can be amplified over time by moving investment into those areas.
  3. Both maintenance and innovation – Separating agency activity into separate budgets for routine work and innovative work allows for more accurate tracking and expectations of ROI.

Together at Last

It’s natural for a client to expect its marketing agency to be accountable for results. By shifting to a more collaborative approach in setting expectations, and working with an agency like Eminent SEO that takes this same collaborative approach, clients are more likely to see the results they’re looking for, including:

  • Agency efforts aligned with client’s business goals
  • Clear expectations for all involved
  • More effective use of marketing budget
  • Results-oriented reporting
  • Increased innovation
  • Faster response to market opportunities
  • Stronger working relationship

Read more about price-structure flexibility and six other traits of an evolving marketing agency:

More on the Marketing Agency of the Future

Sara Korn

Finding creative ways to give both readers and clients what they want is why I love being a writer! As a Content Strategist at Eminent SEO, I listen to clients and put myself in the shoes of their customers to create compelling marketing messages that drive engagement.

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The Retail Online Shopping Experience Differs for Generation Z: Are You Ready?

Generation Z Online Retail Shoppin Experience - Eminent SEO

There’s probably nothing more generic than the phrase, “Let’s go shopping”! Over the years, how people go shopping has changed just as much as where they go shopping because with online purchasing, the how, where, when and why of shopping shifts – in an instant.

Consumers demand choices, more than ever before. With Generation Z moving into the forefront of retail business owners’ minds (as they should), the face of the retail online shopping experience is only part of the larger picture in targeting consumers’ wants to equal product niches and availability.

Retail Websites Need to Drive Intrigue, Not Just Sales

Generation Z Girl Entertained By iPad - Eminent SEOSome U.S. retail hubs, like JCPenney, have totally missed the mark on changing consumer behavior. Sure, they have websites, but doesn’t everyone?

If your web presence isn’t more than a poster board for your corporate culture or a lengthy display ad for your wares, what is it really doing for you? Better yet, what is your website really doing for your customer?

According to senior national retail consultant Catherine Mountain, brick-and-mortar retailers have been closing their doors in record numbers in recent years because they were, and are still, “homogenized.”

“Generation Z wants a compelling reason to shop at your business,” said Mountain. “There has to be a good why. They have the money, but they don’t want their time wasted. When they figure out what they want, which might take a while, they are ready to act and don’t want to wait for delivery.”

Even online retail giant Amazon.com is opening physical stores, as Mountain pointed out.

If retail online shopping experiences don’t create interest or provide content that engages the viewer and leaves them wanting more, all you really have are multiple landing pages, a destination. Generation Z wants so much more. They want the journey.

Gen Z Craves Unique Experiences Where Retailers Provide the Tools

Though there are exceptions, as a whole, each generation comes with a mindset or unspoken cultural guidelines. The young people of Generation Z are fueled by innate intelligence and seldom take things at face value. Why should they? What gets their attention is unabashed authenticity, and more.

Generation Z appreciates:

  • Innovation
  • Craftsmanship
  • One-of-a-kind products
  • Customization
  • Anti-establishment
  • Quality
  • Meaningful customer service
  • Purchases with cause
  • Good stories

Discriminating? Perhaps. Selective? Undoubtedly.

Where did this mentality come from? It came from them, honestly. In fact, it’s how Gen Z was raised.

Childhood and Parenting Play a Role

Generation Z Parents Want Children To Work In High School - Eminent SEOThere is an interesting oxymoron embedded within Generation Z. On one hand, they are dedicated to social consciousness to a point where if you don’t have it, you’re just not good enough.

On the flip side, they want to be taken care of through a level of service that is more than attentive, but actually intuitive. Is this an impossible expectation?

Let’s dive deeper.

Digital communication for Gen Z is not a choice, but their only reality. The intuitive nature of the internet shopping experience over the years has blossomed and is somewhat oversaturated with deceptive pay-per-click ads and data-mining techniques that mirror online consumer behavior, to a point. Gen Z desires change, not merely for the sake of change, but with purpose. It’s just how their minds work.

Their parents believe in entrepreneurship and, more than likely, both are working. Helicopter moms were replaced by empowering role models that pushed coping skills instead of protective barriers.

These children and young adults are self-directed and do not have the fears that many millennials carry. If a Gen Z child wants to know something, there is no hesitation in asking. Their individuality is the new norm, as conventional attitudes are not only so yesterday, but offensive.

The Evolution of Shopping

2.6 Billion Generation Zers By 2020 - Eminent SEOFor decades, there was an art in shopping known as salesmanship. Today, people don’t want to be sold, convinced or coerced into a single purchase. Generation Z personifies the compilation of generations before it.

Baby Boomers want their shopping experience to be simple, Generation Xers want it fast and millennials don’t want the purchase to involve any work.

Meanwhile, Generation Z wants all of the above – but honest, transparent and specific to their needs, every time.

Loyalty Matters

Many retail online shopping experiences include special rewards programs or referral incentives. These fall flat on the Generation Z population. They know that these programs are geared to benefit the retail business more than the customer, as businesses are trying to pursue customer retention and build their list of prospects.

Ernst & Young learned in a 2015 study that only 30 percent of Gen Zers thought that a rewards program made a store worth their attention, compared to 45 percent of millennials. To gain customer loyalty from Gen Z requires the retailer to show them respect and loyalty first. It appears that the adage “respect is earned, not given” is resurfacing.

Cause and Conscience Matters

Even the way business engages social consciousness has transformed. In the past, many companies included a charitable component as an afterthought or a requirement to garner tax benefits and positive press from the media.

Generation Z can see through it and demand that altruism is an integral part of a business’ platform. Even Stevens, a local sandwich shop in Gilbert, Arizona, fulfills the Gen Z requirement. For every sandwich it sells, the owners donate a sandwich to the hungry. To date, Even Stevens has provided more than 1.2 million sandwiches to help eradicate hunger in America.

What’s Your Story?

When you appeal to Generation Z, your marketing world opens wide with possibilities. This is the target audience that yearns for a good story. They want to be part of something bigger than themselves, and if your product/service and company culture resonates with them, they will be your best marketers.

Your brand voice will become their brand voice, socially sharing their consumer experience every step of the way. If you have an on-site retail center or store – the benefits are even better.

The Resurgence of Brick-and-Mortar Shopping

With research and inquisitiveness leading the buying lifecycle of Gen Z, many retailers are fulfilling the need for more a personal touch with the redesign or new construction of actual on-site stores.

International retail chain AllSaints has addressed the changing needs of the consumer to positively engage Generation Z. Young people can go to any AllSaints location, after ample research online, and gain more product knowledge from hipsters who live in big cities and speak their proverbial language.

AllSaints’ website, physical stores and customer experience engage interaction through a consistent, no-nonsense brand voice, displays, and high-end, private-label products.

Brick-and-mortar shopping isn’t a dinosaur. Generation Z has provided the reason to bring it all back in the form of shopping with purpose.

If your business needs an online refresh or strategic update to align with new target audiences, Eminent SEO can help! Give us a call at 800.871.4130 today to learn how.

Melanie Stern

Looking at the world through word-colored glasses, I am continuously in awe of how we evolve as people in business. We strive to communicate in a direct approach and, when we see fit, through subliminal channels. As a content strategist, I look forward to sharing all perspectives to help entertain, enlighten and engage more in others.

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What Is Neuromarketing and Is It Better Than Traditional Marketing?

What Is Neuromarketing - Eminent SEO

Neuromarketing has been around for a few years now, and regardless of whether you’re familiar with the term, you’ve probably read or heard about some of the insights marketers have learned from it.

But what is neuromarketing really, and how much do you need to know about it? Is it replacing traditional marketing research, as some have suggested, or is it just a passing fad?

Getting Into the Minds of Consumers

Neuromarketing is simply neuroscience applied to marketing. Researchers use technologies that observe brain activity and biometrics (such as heart rate, eye tracking, galvanic skin response, facial coding, etc.) to determine how people respond physiologically to marketing messages.

Neuromarketing examples might include:

  • Tracking eye movement to see which parts of a webpage grab the user’s attention first
  • Using EEG imaging of the brain to determine one’s emotional response to an ad or product
  • Determining which version of an ad generates the most brain activity, as seen in an fMRI scan

The goal of neuromarketing is to better understand consumer behavior by gaining insight into the reactions and decision-making happening at the unconscious level. Since 90 percent of the information that comes into the human brain is processed unconsciously, neuroscience gives us valuable insight into automatic human responses that influence consumer behavior.

By contrast, traditional marketing research methods involve consumer surveys, focus groups and external observation to gather data about what people think, feel and believe. These traditional methods are better at revealing conscious decision-making processes.

The Pros and Cons of Neuromarketing

Neuromarketing Gives Insight Into Consumer Behavior - Eminent SEOThanks to neuromarketing research, marketers no longer have to rely as heavily on consumer self-reporting. For starters, it can be difficult to get people to participate in surveys and focus groups. And even when there’s a lot of feedback given, the results can be biased or inaccurate. Neuromarketing bypasses conscious thinking and identifies automatic reactions that tend to be universal across the population.

On the other hand, because these findings are so generalized, there is still a need for traditional research to understand a target audience in greater detail. And even though consumers’ decisions can be greatly influenced by their subconscious responses, what they consciously think and feel still matters – a lot.

Neuromarketing can be used to help your marketing messages appeal to human beings as a whole, while traditional methods help you hone your message for a specific audience.

You will still need to do plenty of trial and error to see what actually works for your target audience, in your market, with your products. Sorry, neuromarketing is not a magic bullet. Honing in on an optimized marketing strategy will always involve work.

Advantages of Neuromarketing

The biggest advantage of neuromarketing is that it can fill in the gaps left by traditional marketing methods, because neuromarketing provides insight into situations where consumers say they want one thing, but then act (i.e., buy) in a different way.

Neuromarketing has an advantage because it:

  • Does not rely on consumers to willingly and accurately report emotions,
  • Can closely tie physiological reactions to specific parts of an ad or message, and
  • Provides insight into automatic responses that take place at the subconscious level.

Limitations of Neuromarketing

However, it’s important to keep in mind that variances in how individuals process information and the limitations of testing can make it difficult to generalize results with certainty. Limitations include:

  • The high cost in doing neuromarketing research means it is conducted with small sample sizes and often funded by corporations, which could introduce bias into the results.
  • Since brain science is still evolving, there’s not a completely reliable way to connect the marketing stimuli to the emotions triggered.
  • Reactions observed in a lab test environment may be somewhat different than they would be in an actual buying environment.

For more information on how neuromarketing works, check out this enlightening TEDx Talk by SalesBrain cofounder Patrick Renvoise:

Why We Need Neuromarketing AND Traditional Marketing

A key point to remember is that people are naturally contradictory in nature. Human beings often say one thing and do another, and think one way and feel the opposite at the same time. We also may hold one view consciously while subconsciously believing something else.

This doesn’t mean that all people are hypocrites. It’s just that humans are complicated creatures with many competing desires, who live in a world where we’re constantly being sent conflicting messages. In fact, one of the biggest opportunities for marketers is to help relieve this internal conflict – either by guiding people through their options so they can make a clear decision, or by providing a new option that allows them to have their cake and eat it too.

Although all the stimuli humans encounter are filtered through the unconscious processing system first, the conscious decision-making process is also important. Traditional marketing research has given us plenty of valuable insight into why people make the buying decisions they do – or at least why they think they make them.

So while it may be tempting to get caught up in a debate over which type of research gives us better data – traditional or neuromarketing – savvy marketers would be wise to utilize both, because each method measures different factors and gives us different information, all of which is valuable to some degree.

Findings from Neuromarketing Research

The neuromarketing field is still new, and much of it has confirmed things that we already knew either through observation and experience or via traditional marketing methods. Few studies have been published, and the companies that are doing their own research aren’t often willing to share their findings.

Some of what neuromarketing has revealed is unexpected, but most is not. For example:

  • Emotions drive biases and subconscious decision-making.
  • Visuals are processed more quickly than words.
  • Images of celebrities, beautiful women, children and puppies are universally appealing.
  • Faces of any type draw the eye better than other kinds of visuals, and convey important emotional information such as mood, status, etc.
  • Messages that consumers find irrelevant reduce their positive responses.
  • Marketing elements that consumers can personally identify with create a positive response.
  • When a consumer purchases a product from a brand he or she is loyal to, the reward center of the brain gets activated.
  • Prices with round numbers (like $100) are processed more easily, yet numbers like $99.99 are perceived as a better deal.
  • Certain colors elicit particular emotional reactions.
  • The first and last parts of a message are especially important in setting the context for how a message is perceived.
  • Social norms such as reciprocity can be invoked to influence behavior.
  • Avoiding pain is often a stronger motivator than seeking pleasure.

Conclusion

Neuromarketing is a new and evolving science that can help marketers better understand consumer behavior in order to improve their:

  • Packaging
  • Pricing
  • Brand positioning
  • Promotion strategies
  • New product development

Both traditional and neuromarketing research can give us valuable insight into how humans process information and make decisions, consciously and unconsciously. As the science of neuromarketing improves, more reliable results should be available in the future.

However, information from both sources will always need to be applied thoughtfully and strategically, taking into account a company’s unique target audience, market, products and goals. Along with this will be the need to test out best practices in specific situations to see what’s really working.

Sara Korn

Finding creative ways to give both readers and clients what they want is why I love being a writer! As a Content Strategist at Eminent SEO, I listen to clients and put myself in the shoes of their customers to create compelling marketing messages that drive engagement.

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Email Marketing Is Far from Dead: Here’s Why

Is Email Marketing Dead - Eminent SEO

Many marketers are quick to tout the power of social media. Twitter, Facebook and Instagram provide quick and easy avenues for engaging our customers. When it comes to building a brand, there are few better outlets than social media. Facebook has roughly 1.7 billion users, according to Statista, and it’s hard to compete with that kind of reach.

While Snapchatting and tweeting may seem like best way to attract new clientele, one area where social media lags is measurable returns in the form of sales. Social media helps indirectly: It starts and drives conversions to get people in your industry thinking about your niche.

Email marketing, however, is often where you turn those visitors into customers. If social media gets your customers in the door, email marketing is responsible for making them loyalists.

On this Halloween, let’s investigate the claims of email marketing’s supposed death.

The Case for Email

Social media is undoubtedly a marketing revolution, but there’s a reason we keep turning to email: According to research from Campaign Monitor, every $1 spent on email marketing yields $8 in return.

And while we may twist our hands trying to compose the perfect viral status update, the same research shows email does more than simply edge out the competition when it comes to acquiring new customers. It squashes it. Email is actually 40 times more effective at gaining paying customers than social media.

Why, then, do we spend the bulk of our efforts perfecting our social media campaigns? It may be the result of several misunderstandings we have about modern email marketing.

Email Marketing Myths and Truths

91 Percent Of Consumers Check Email Daily - Eminent SEO

Marketers sometimes shy away from email because it suffers from two common misconceptions:

  • They think email marketing is spam.
  • They think it’s too “old school.”

Yet, statistics say otherwise. Consider the following:

Everyone Uses Email

Millennials are often a group we try to engage due to their massive buying power. They’re also the group most likely to check their emails in bed (70 percent), in the bathroom (57 percent), and in the car (27 percent), according to Adobe. Some other compelling facts about email:

  • Gmail alone has more than 1 billion users, with more than 90 million users who access their account(s) from a mobile device.
  • Ninety-one percent of all consumers report checking their email daily.
  • Worldwide, there are 4.3 billion email accounts sending 196 billion emails each day.

Email Drives Lead Conversions

Statistically, email is more likely to create paying and repeat customers. Email marketing was responsible for the most Black Friday transactions in 2015. Nearly a quarter of those sales originated from the marketing channel, according to Custora.

These Black Friday sales facts are especially important when we consider:

  • Nearly 90 percent of marketers say email is responsible for most of their lead generation.
  • Email marketing ROI can be as high as 4,300 percent.
  • More than three-fourths of consumers say they prefer marketing-related communication to be over email.

Clearly, email is still relevant. Making it work for you is simply a matter of sending the right email, to the right person, at the right time.

Crafting the Perfect Email

Your email marketing campaign can be streamlined into four steps:

  1. Find your audience
  2. Segment your contacts
  3. Pick the right time to click “send”
  4. Turn that lead into a customer

It sounds simple enough, but it will require some legwork on your part.

Find Your Audience

Email Blasts Entire List Or Segment - Eminent SEOWe obviously want to know whom we’re marketing to, and you likely already have an idea of who your brand attracts. But marketers sometimes fall into the “Field of Dreams” approach: “If you build it, they will come.”

Creating great content might organically draw people to your brand, but is it attracting the people you want to be your customers?

Understanding your target audience requires some introspection. Ask yourself questions such as:

  • What problems do we solve?
  • Who are our current customers? What are they like?
  • Who is our competition?
  • What do we do that our competitors don’t?

Answering these questions helps determine who is going to read your content, as well as why they should choose your product or service over that of your competitors.

Segment Your Contacts

Why is segmenting so important? Research from HubSpot suggests targeted emails received 62 percent more clicks than non-segmented ones.

If you’re in the B2B community, you should segment by:

  • Company size
  • Type of company
  • Industry

Alternatively, you can choose to segment by role: function, seniority, department.

If you’re selling directly to the consumer, use that marketing intelligence. Social media data and SEO search terms will help you segment your contact list. Remember, your email list naturally decays by about 25 percent each year, according to HubSpot, so continually pursue campaigns to keep it fresh and to add subscribers.

Pick the Right Time to Click ‘Send’

Timing is everything, and email marketing is no exception. Sending the right content at the right time is a matter of finding the opportune spot in your targeted buyer’s journey. Here are some examples:

  • In the awareness stage, you’re nurturing leads. Let potential customers see the value in your product or services with free tools, eBooks, videos or SlideShares.
  • If a potential customer is already familiar with your brand, you need to let them know what makes you better than the competition. Add links in your emails to white papers, webinars, case studies, or reviews from third parties.
  • Why should a customer choose you, for the first time or once again? Offer free trial information, demos, price quotes or ROI reports.

Turn that Lead into a Customer

Lead nurturing is simple: It’s the process by which you cultivate a relationship with a potential customer so they’ll choose you when they’re ready. According to data from HubSpot, nearly three-fourths of B2B leads aren’t sales ready. Most of your prospects require nurturing, so create emails that add value.

The Importance of Mobile

60 Percent Of Adults Check Email First Thing In Morning - Eminent SEO

If your email marketing campaign isn’t optimized for mobile, you’re far behind the curve. A 2015 survey by BlueHornet found emails that aren’t optimized for mobile will fail: More than 80 percent of recipients hit delete, and another 30 percent unsubscribe.

On the other hand, 63 percent of consumers report more interest in buying a product when it looks good on their mobile device.

Since 2011, the number of email opens on mobile devices has increased by 30 percent. In fact, nearly 60 percent of adults report checking their email first thing in the morning – in bed, or over a cup of coffee.

We no longer live in a world where we sit down at our desktop to read through emails. Everything we do is on the run, so emails must be optimized for mobile and easy to digest.

Video and Images Improve Click Rates

Consumers are more likely to interact with emails that contain images and video. According to Emma Email Marketing, adding a video can increase your click rate by 300 percent. While 35 percent of users report they prefer text in their emails, the majority (65 percent) state they prefer emails to contain mostly images. Therefore, make your emails all the more attractive by including one or both of these elements.

Personalization Is the Watchword

Email Subscriber Lists Naturally Decay 25 Percent Each Year - Eminent SEO

Want to get a prospect to open your email? The key is personalization. Consumers expect to be referred to by their first names: It shows a brand knows exactly who they are. It also helps if you send an email from a real person, not a general company name.

Research shows that personalization can help improve click rates by 26 percent. Consumers also expect to receive personalized content. It’s what makes segmentation so important.

Campaign Monitor reports that almost 75 percent of consumers feel frustrated when they receive content that doesn’t appear to be relevant to their interests. This is why three-fourths of all enterprises invested in personalized messaging in 2015. Also, personalization can reportedly lead to a 760 percent increase in ROI.

Email Isn’t Dead

Email is, and should continue to be, an essential part of your inbound marketing strategy. The right personalized email turns prospects into leads, and leads into customers.

Successful email campaigns address the right audience at the right time in their buying journey. Optimizing for mobile, as we’ve seen, can also make the difference between a sale and a deletion.

Don’t underestimate the power of email in your marketing campaign. While social media is important for creating brand awareness, emails net paying customers.

Not sure where to begin? Eminent SEO can help you with your email marketing strategy and content. Click to learn more about our Email Marketing Services.

Team Eminent SEO

Eminent SEO provides strategic SEO campaigns with measurable results along with expert website design, development, pay per click, content and social media and organic website marketing. 800.871.4130.

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Gatorade’s Example: Can a Company Be Health-Conscious and Sales-Focused at the Same Time?

Health-Conscious and Sales-FocusedMarketing is a tricky game: Businesses must convince consumers to buy their product, even when both the consumer and the business are aware of certain product drawbacks. No product can be everything to all people, though.

For instance, proper running shoes won’t look like Converse Chuck Taylors. What makes running shoes fly off the shelf isn’t their style, but their function. The reverse is also true: Converse can’t market their sneakers like they would athletic shoes. In this case, it’s about style over performance.

The Marketing Dilemma: Handling a Product’s Weakness

Companies in the food industry have a similar dilemma. In today’s health-conscious society, consumers are paying attention to labels. Dramatically high numbers of fat and sugar will turn off many customers.

If a business isn’t selling a health food, marketing can be tough. Most companies generally avoid pointing out unhealthy ingredients in their products and focus more on the items’ positive aspects, never addressing issues that might be considered a drawback.

Ad campaigns and marketing for these products tend to focus on taste and satisfaction. They even appeal to the bandwagon nature of people: “This celebrity likes it, so should you!” While this makes sense, acknowledging the perceived weakness of a product may be a boon to a marketing campaign.

Leverage Weakness for Better Marketing

One company is changing the game. Gatorade, the well-known sports energy drink, has a new video campaign that explicitly addresses the amount of sugar the drink contains. One 20-ounce bottle of Gatorade contains roughly 34 grams of sugar, although the specific amount can slightly vary, depending on the flavor. Sugar is often considered one of the worst ingredients in today’s diet, and people have a tendency to consume far too much.

Since the American Heart Association recommends that men cap their daily sugar consumption at 37.5 grams and women at just 25 grams, Gatorade’s high sugar content could be seen as a sales liability. Gatorade’s new campaign, however, turns this weakness into opportunity.

Gatorade’s Bold Marketing Strategy

Gatorade is addressing concerns about the amount of sugar in its product with a new video series featuring professional athletes. In the videos, professional athletes such as J.J. Watt and Karl-Anthony Towns confront ordinary people drinking Gatorade outside the context of sports or exercise.

The athletes challenge these individuals to “earn the sugar” by getting active and working up a sweat. For example, in one video Watt has one woman push a blocking sled in order to burn enough calories to “earn” a Gatorade. In another, Towns challenges a man walking calmly down the street with a Gatorade to try to dribble a basketball around the reigning NBA Rookie of the Year.

Gatorade’s head of consumer management, Kenny Mitchell, said the “Sweat It to Get It” marketing campaign was born out of a desire to address the amount of sugar in Gatorade – a key component of the product – without hurting sales. Essentially, the company wanted to make it clear their drink is intended for use by athletes who need to replace the sugar they sweat out during exercise.

An Uncommon Approach May Be Successful

The Gatorade campaign is a risky venture, but it looks like a surprisingly successful one. In addition to being used as a sports drink, Gatorade has gained popularity as a folk remedy for hangovers, as well as being popular with consumers who simply like it for the taste. The new marketing campaign, which makes it clear that Gatorade is intended for athletes, risks alienating these other consumer bases.

In contrast to the new ads from Gatorade, companies such as Coca-Cola and PepsiCo (the latter happens to own and distribute Gatorade) have been in the news for trying to protect their market share by lobbying against health bills meant to combat obesity by reducing soda consumption.

It’s a much more common strategy than Gatorade’s approach, similar to tactics big tobacco and alcohol distributors have used in years past. This approach also comes with some risks: No one wants to support a company that sacrifices their consumer’s health for profit. Gatorade’s campaign is different by showing that a company can send out positive, helpful messages to the public that address a product’s drawbacks but still encourage purchases.

Has the Health-Conscious and Sales-Focused Strategy Paid Off?

Recent sales data shows that quarterly and annual sales of Gatorade appear to be doing well. Data from the market research agency IRI shows Gatorade’s various brands of sports drinks (led by Gatorade Perform) dominated the field of sports drinks in 2015, with the overall market share rising 10 percent that year.

It’s too early to tell if Gatorade’s new campaign will result in increased revenue. However, the health-conscious campaign comes off as a legitimate branding strategy, rather than a gimmick to drum up sales.

It’s interesting to note that while Gatorade’s new approach seems to be helping its brand and sales, public consumption of sugared sodas and carbonated beverages is dropping off, in spite of Coca-Cola and PepsiCo’s lobbying efforts to protect consumers’ access to soda.

Although carbonated soft drinks still led in overall sales among convenience stores in 2015, sports drinks such as Gatorade were a much closer second than they’ve been in the past, and the product shows much greater overall growth.

Consider Other Health-Conscious Approaches

Gatorade’s new campaign makes for an interesting comparison to other efforts by brands traditionally viewed as unhealthy, which are trying to keep their sales stable in an increasingly health-conscious market. Take McDonald’s, for example. Particularly after the release of the documentary “Super Size Me” in 2004, the company has worked relentlessly to convince consumers its food isn’t all that bad for you.

McDonald’s recent “Always Working” campaign in the U.K. aimed to convince parents that they’ve made Happy Meals healthier over the last 10 years, and that parents shouldn’t feel guilty about offering them to their children.

Changing the Product vs. Changing Your Campaign

A big difference between McDonald’s and Gatorade, however, is that Gatorade hasn’t changed the product, just the marketing. McDonald’s campaign is trying to show that it is listening to its consumers and thus changing the product to make it healthier. Gatorade, on the other hand, doesn’t claim to have made any changes to the amount of sugar in their traditional drinks.

However, it’s worth noting that Gatorade recently launched a G Organic lineup of drinks. While these new products still contain a high amount of sugar, they are made with only seven ingredients, including organic cane sugar.

Gatorade’s new ads clarify that the product is meant for athletic competition and that when it’s consumed alongside exercise and sports activity, the amount of sugar isn’t overwhelming for your body. Mitchell actually states that Gatorade is proud of the sugar in their drinks and has no plans to change its formula.

Turn Weakness into Opportunity

Marketing is about explaining to your base why they want or need your product. If your product has a downside, there may be a way to leverage that perceived weakness into a strength, much like Gatorade has done.

The “Burn It to Earn It” marketing campaign shows that it’s possible for a company to stay true to itself while also responding to public health concerns, all without hurting the bottom line.

At Eminent SEO, we can evaluate your company’s brand messaging and marketing strategy for areas of weakness and potential opportunities. Give us a try! Call 800.871.4130 today.

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Eminent SEO provides strategic SEO campaigns with measurable results along with expert website design, development, pay per click, content and social media and organic website marketing. 800.871.4130.

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7 Elements to Look for in an Evolving Marketing Agency – and How to Avoid Being Left Behind

Futuristic Evolving Marketing Agency - Eminent SEO

Marketing practices have dramatically evolved over the years, and it looks like changes within this industry are not slowing down any time soon. The boom of the internet has rapidly altered the way we target niche audiences, which means that expectations for marketing agencies have shifted. Clients are expecting a much more symbiotic relationship in which the marketing agency is held accountable for its actions, or inaction.

Building Trust is Key!

Key Icon Orange - Eminent SEOWhen perusing the internet for a specific need, customers support the companies they feel are transparent and which have a simple and effective solution for their dilemma. The same idea applies when shopping for a marketing agency to boost a company’s online presence.

You want your marketing firm to show transparency and point out any inefficiencies in your current tactics or approach. Gone are the days of simply clocking hours and sending an invoice. Clients are looking for creativity, speed and efficiency, as well as an agency that can be proactive rather than trying to keep it “business as usual.”

Just Keep It Simple

With so many new technologies to track demographics, results, etc., marketers will have to take the initiative and become proficient in these programs and software to alleviate client stress. There’s just too much for the average client to keep up with. By becoming the expert, marketers are able to simplify the tasks of the client to save them time and labor dollars, as well as the stress of trying to learn new programs.

Pricing Structure and Effectiveness

Moving forward, evolving marketing agencies are beginning to get hip to the idea of pricing based on effectiveness rather than productivity. Clients now are looking for outside-the-box thinking and proactivity in their campaigns, and many of these tactics aren’t “billable.”

It’s easy to track time spent, projects completed, dollars per hour, etc., but how exactly do you bill a suggestion to change a strategy or creativity? Well, agencies sure are figuring this out if they want to stay relevant!

What About Content Marketing?

Content marketing has evolved and become much more intuitive and niched. Advances in technology have allowed this new generation of marketing to move at lightning speed to rival the shortened attention spans of millennial users.

Content marketing isn’t as simple and direct as it has been in the past. Marketers now have the ability to actually reach out to their demographic of consumers with features like geo-fencing and push notifications. This type of proactive and intuitive marketing allows businesses to gain more traffic by identifying their customers and sending them valuable content, rather than waiting to be searched for.

The Rise of Technology in Content Marketing

The rapid and relatively recent explosion of technology continues to challenge marketing agencies to improve their strategies by providing immediate feedback, tracking and general analysis of websites and content. Since a major goal of content marketing is to generate interest in and traffic on a particular website, simply tracking final sales would be an inaccurate and incomplete measure of success.

Evolving marketing agencies need to look for programs and software that provide enough information to be able to shift tactics in a reasonable time frame, so that they avoid investing time and money into a failing venture.

How Does an Evolving Marketing Agency Measure the Value of Its Content?

Measuring Tape Icon Orange - Eminent SEOThis is a tough question to answer since there isn’t a clear distinction between digital and traditional marketing anymore. Compelling content isn’t as simple and straightforward as it used to be. It isn’t just informational; it’s personal. It requires much more creativity and must possess an empathetic tone to customers.

Keep in mind, however, that the same blueprint cannot and will not work the same for each business. This is why it is imperative for agencies to invest in content creation and stop thinking of it as an expense.

The need for journalists with strong PR backgrounds is also on the rise. This particular skill-set is essential in creating the right type of content to generate “clicks.” The initial investment in this type of content has the potential to drum up business for years to come.

The Blurred Lines of Media Convergence

Another development that evolving marketing agencies need to keep their eyes on is the convergence of media platforms. This means that several current platforms will eventually blend into a single digital form. As this happens, content will become more diversified and the quality and value at which it is produced will increase.

The downside, however, is that as information becomes streamlined, many demographics will become underrepresented and unheard from. Those controlling the technology driven industry run the risk of losing potential customers when content is no longer relevant to diverse markets.

The Business-to-Business Element

As if the marketing game hasn’t changed enough, another element to consider is B2B, or business-to-business marketing. Creating value is the name of the game. Many companies are beginning to understand that other businesses are a huge source of revenue for them. However, some are now realizing they can’t market to a business the same way they market to an individual consumer.

B2B marketing promotes the sale of goods and services to other businesses in a way that adds value to the prospective client’s practices. The trick is to market in such a way that a business that purchases your product becomes willing to endorse your name. You have to make it clear what’s in it for them.

The Change Is Here

Max Monster Looking Out To Future - Eminent SEOThe content marketing arena has proven to be an aggressive force in redefining the slowly dying career track of journalism. Subsequently, evolving marketing agencies are currently paving the way for the future of their industry by quickly adapting to the technological advances in our ever-advancing digital world. Companies must be able to understand how their audiences are receiving and responding to their messages, so they must hire agencies that can provide compelling and creative avenues to reach a range of consumers.

The expectation of marketing agencies is changing, as are the litany of challenges they face in staying ahead of their competition. These agencies are required to be much more transparent and show more empathy toward potential clients. Evolving marketing firms are learning to get out of the driver’s seat and instead walk hand-in-hand with their clients. The relationship is changing, but if agencies and their clients can learn to meet in the middle, the result will be a new and satisfied customer – which is the greatest result of all.

Looking for a marketing agency that offers customized solutions for your needs and meticulously tracks all results while maintaining the utmost transparency? Talk to Eminent SEO today at 800.871.4130.

Team Eminent SEO

Eminent SEO provides strategic SEO campaigns with measurable results along with expert website design, development, pay per click, content and social media and organic website marketing. 800.871.4130.

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The Cost of Doing Business Versus The Cost of Marketing

BLOG POST PREFACE: I didn’t set out to write a blog, initially I wanted to just collect a few of my thoughts on the subject as I was talking to my team about the challenge we have helping our clients track their marketing ROI accurately. It turned into the blog post you see below when I realized that I want to share my thoughts with other businesses and start a conversation about this topic. I’d really like to hear from you on how you allocate budgets and track ROI, so please share your thoughts in the comment section here or reach out to me on my SEO social platforms:

Twitter (I am most active here and mainly tweet out SEO and marketing stuff)
Facebook (this is my professional page where I share business and marketing posts)
Google+ (I know G+ is dying, but I still find good info in the tech and SEO communities there)

The Cost of Doing Business Versus The Cost of Marketing

Eminent SEO offers a wide array of services to help other businesses find success online. Over the years we have developed and expanded our service offerings in order to accommodate the growing needs of our clients. This includes a lot of business and website services that are not necessarily marketing.

Here are some of the main reasons business owners hire us:

  • They want to increase their website traffic and leads (SEO, organic and/or paid marketing).
  • They need a new or refreshed website (design, content, development).
  • They need help with their brand (brand development and management).
  • They need help with an issue (audits, website cleanup, penalty resolution).

Before we begin, we ask: What are your needs and goals?

  • A new logo or site design?
  • Tools to track your efforts?
  • An audit of your SEO to see where you stand?
  • Help with your bad reputation?
  • Updated website content?
  • A new social media campaign?
  • Expert advice on overcoming a Google penalty?

We offer different services depending on your specific needs. Many of our solutions are marketing, but some of our services also fall into the categories of website management, creative work, preventative services or business expenses as well.

For example, is website hosting really marketing? Or, is it a necessary expense in order for your business to be online?

What about design? Although website design does enhance the user experience and can definitely help your website traffic convert, design in itself is not a marketing effort.

So, what are the differences in our services? What IS marketing, what is NOT?

 To keep it simple we have grouped our services into two buckets:

  1. Operations – The Cost of Doing Business Online
  2. Marketing – The Cost of Getting Traffic, Form Fills, Phone Calls and Conversions

Business Operations Versus Marketing - Eminent SEO

Clearly there is a lot of overlap, but this should help give you a better understanding of the intent behind each service.

So, how do we measure results?

Each service comes with its own measure of success, including operations and marketing tasks. Not all services are intended to have the same outcome, so there isn’t one single point of data or one single tool that can tell the whole story.

Lower-OnPageSEO

We suggest a combination of the following to properly track your marketing:

  • Google Analytics for traffic and visitor data
  • Google Analytics Goal Tracking for website conversions
  • Gravity Forms, fed to Google Analytics for form tracking (website form fills)
  • Call Tracking Metrics for calls and call conversion tracking (check them out, they are pretty rad)

The above tools will collect data that we can combine into a report to show you:

  • Changes to website traffic, by source (organic, referral, direct, paid, social, etc.)
  • Changes to user behavior (time on site, page views, top landing pages, etc.)
  • Where the traffic for the forms is coming from, and what action they took (subscribed to newsletter, filled out the contact form, downloaded your eBook, etc.)
  • Where the website conversions are coming from and how many conversions you received
  • Where your calls are coming from and (if you use the tool to enter in call sentiment and conversion data) what sources are driving the calls that convert

The data then helps us better understand:

  • What is working, what isn’t (with the site and the marketing)
  • What content/pages get the best visibility
  • What lead sources drive the best leads
  • What marketing channel converts the highest
  • What your ROI (return on investment) or ROAS (return on ad spend) is, per source
  • Where you should be focusing your efforts moving forward
  • How you should allocate your marketing budgets in the future

However, we would like to point out that no matter how many experts you have working on your team, no matter how many tools you have collecting data, and no matter how much time you spend evaluating the campaigns, there is no such thing as PERFECT reporting.

Why?

NONE of the tools are perfect, not even Google Analytics. Marketers report on inaccuracies all of the time. Sometimes it’s the implementation of the tool. Sometimes Google samples data. Sometimes third-party tools buy their data from someone other than Google. Some reports even say that Google only gives you about 70% of what they see. There are a million reasons, but the point is NO tools are perfect, and therefore you cannot expect to get perfect data from them.

Lead sources are never perfect. Even if you have cookies and sophisticated tracking methods, the lead source is only the first or last point of entry. For example, a visitor could find you on Facebook, follow your fan page and engage with your posts – having never clicked a link to your site. Later, when they decide to look you up they might go to Google and search for your brand. From there they could click a pay per click ad, your map (Google My Business listing) or your site in the organic results. What source gets credit for the lead?

Online Marketing Campaigns don’t come with clear parameters. At first, evaluating website and call tracking data seems pretty straightforward. If you see visits and calls from one lead source and not another, that must mean the second one isn’t working, right? Not necessarily. Big brands didn’t become household names by only focusing on the measurable data. They understand that it takes a multi-channel approach to get big results. For example, you will likely never be able to attribute a lead or call to a clean logo and website design. But, you know that your professional website helps users trust your company, leading to increased conversions. The same goes for blogging, social and even press. Although they CAN give you direct clicks (referral traffic) and phone calls, they are really part of a bigger marketing strategy intended to help your brand and website gain visibility with the search engines.

Branding is impossible to measure perfectly. I would almost never use the word “impossible,” but in this case, I feel confident saying it. Why? Your brand awareness began the first time you handed out a business card or sent your first company email. Your brand includes any mention of your company name and any image of your logo, online and off. Raising awareness for your brand doesn’t start and stop with marketing: It can be TV, billboards, radio, mailers, brochures, wearables, handing out your business card, emails, comments on blogs, listings on directories, the yellow pages, social media platforms, apps, blogs, press, attending events, newsletters, referrals, your storefront, signs, partnerships, etc. The list goes on and on. If you are using tools to track your lead sources, keep in mind that just because the tool shows one source, that doesn’t mean that the other campaigns and efforts didn’t contribute to the lead/conversion.creation-hosting

The Bottom Line

  • Website and online business services are not necessarily “marketing” and therefore should not be included in your tracking efforts as marketing, but rather the cost of doing business.
  • When budgeting for the year, always develop a separate budget dedicated to website changes, fixing issues, adding content, etc. Trust me, you need it.
  • When analyzing the effectiveness of your online marketing campaigns, don’t forget there is no such thing as perfect tracking and reporting. Don’t get so caught up in the details that you lose sight of the bigger picture. What’s most important is that your overall conversions are increasing… because that is why you are really investing into marketing in the first place, isn’t it?

Need Help?

If you have a question about business services verses marketing services and how to effectively track and measure results, give us a call at 800.871.4130, comment below or drop us a note. Team Eminent SEO is here to support you, your business AND marketing needs by working together to achieve the best strategy and reporting for you.

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Jenny Stradling

Owner and CEO at Eminent SEO in Mesa, Arizona. I started doing SEO and marketing work in 2005. I'm a {very} busy mom of 4 and I owe my sanity to my partner in work and life, Chris Weatherall. I love sharing and engaging in business and marketing conversations, and I'm heavy into social media and blogging on these topics. I love coffee, wine, food and other people who enjoy the adventure of seeking out the best places to eat and drink. In my free time (what's that?) you'll most likely find me studying philosophy and spirituality, cooking for my family or relaxing with a nice glass of wine, a funny movie and the people I love.

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Last-Minute Cyber Monday Digital Marketing Tips

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Cyber Monday Digital Marketing Tips

With Cyber Monday less than a week around the corner, many online and retail companies are preparing their ads for this huge online shopping event. The pervasive question that comes to mind for every business owner during the holiday season is, “How can I entice shoppers to buy from me during this busy season?” A quick answer to that question is to make sure your online store is easy for users to navigate and to designate items for sale that people actually want to purchase as a gift.

According to the National Retail Federation, about half of holiday shopping and research for gifts will be done online this year. Along with that, about 47 percent of shoppers are looking for free shipping promotions when making their final purchase decision.

The following Cyber Monday digital marketing tips will allow your online store to stand out from the rest and increase sales:

Have a Dedicated Cyber Monday Landing Page with Product Promotions

One of the first things to do (by now you should already have this) is specify which products and special offers will be available for Cyber Monday. The best way to do this is to have a dedicated landing page on your website for Cyber Monday Deals.

Dedicated Pay Per Click Campaigns

Now that you have a landing page with all of your deals, promotion needs to take place. A combination of ad platforms would be the best way to promote your deals. This includes ads for Facebook, Google Adwords Search and Google Adwords Display.

Having Facebook retargeting ads enabled will also be a great way to get the attention of existing clients and followers who are already interested in your products.

Personalized Email Marketing Campaigns

Since this is the season for deals, consumers are looking at their emails more to find out who has the best offers. Now’s the time to create a dedicated email marketing campaign that promotes your Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

Personalize these emails as much as possible to entice users to click on your message by segmenting out your email lists. Having dedicated lists for existing customers, shopping cart abandoned users, and past holiday customers will help you develop personalized subject lines.

Be Extra Social

Social media can be a great way to get your deals to potential and existing customers. Participating in Cyber Monday giveaways with a dedicated hashtag strategy will help promote your brand, as well as increase Cyber Monday sales. The great thing about giveaways is that everyone loves free stuff and has no problem sharing it with their friends.

Offer Free Shipping

Now is not the time to be stingy when it comes to sending your products to the customer. Consumers are looking specifically for free shipping offers this season. If the product they want to buy doesn’t qualify for free shipping, you could lose out on the sale, especially if a competitor is offering the same product with no shipping charges.

Create Exclusive Coupon Codes

Another way to promote your Cyber Monday deals is to have exclusive coupon codes for different campaigns in progress, such as social media, email marketing, and PPC. Each campaign should include a custom coupon code, which can also be used to track which campaign is most effective for a specific promotion.

Track Your Results for Next Year

Along with your coupon codes, there should be ecommerce tracking set up in your Google Analytics. This will help you understand which sources are providing the most sales during the holidays. Understanding your return on investment (ROI) will help you create more powerful campaigns for next year.

Closing Thoughts

Your online store should undoubtedly be taking advantage of Cyber Monday this year. To effectively promote your exclusive deals, it’s best to start teasing them early. However, promoting your deals this week can encourage your followers and potential customers to add your site to their Cyber Monday itinerary for awesome products at stellar rates.

Lacey Chic

Account Manager at Eminent SEO - Passionate About Digital Marketing. I love music, pitbulls, traveling, hiking, yoga, and learning.

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How to Market During the Holidays: 2015 Edition

Market During The Holidays - Eminent SEO

If your company is going about its marketing efforts this holiday season in the same manner as it does the rest of the year, you’re doing it wrong. Not only are shoppers in a frenzy searching for presents for loved ones, but there are several days during the season that are designed to encourage consumers to open up their wallets.

If you’re the owner of a business or at the helm of a marketing team, you’re about to receive several ideas on how to tap into the holiday spending craze and make your company’s products or services stand out. Before we get to those suggestions, let’s rewind a bit and take a look at just how big the holiday season is when it comes to how much money is being tossed around.

Looking Back at the 2014 and Previous Holiday Seasons

Marketing and retail experts now consider the holiday shopping season to stretch from before Halloween to after New Year’s Day. In fact, an estimated 30 percent of shoppers begin their search for holiday presents before Halloween. However, when it comes to measuring retail dollars during the holiday season, the standard window is from Nov. 1 to Dec. 31.

Analytics firm comScore has been keeping a very close eye on U.S. holiday spending in recent years. In 2014, comScore found the total amount in retail sales during November and December was $838.9 billion, about 3.5 percent growth over the previous holiday season. Shoppers are expected to drop $885.7 billion during 2015’s holiday season, which would be a jump of about 5.7 percent from the same time frame in 2014.

Holiday Transactions via Desktop

To the surprise of almost no one, online sales are on the rise during the holiday season – although transactions at brick-and-mortar stores are still significant. In 2014, consumers spent just under $70 billion online during the holiday season. That was up almost $10 billion over the holiday period in 2013.

Shoppers used their home or work desktop computers to spend $53.3 billion during the 2014 holiday season.

The following chart illustrates the steady growth in desktop holiday transactions since 2010:

When you look at the hottest days for holiday purchases via desktop in 2014, all but one of the top 10 days fell in December. Cyber Monday won the individual day battle for the fifth straight year, according to comScore. The day after Cyber Monday (sometimes called Cyber Tuesday) came in second. Black Friday finished in just fourth place, one spot behind Green Monday (a term coined by eBay for a day that is one week after Cyber Monday).

The 2015 holiday season will have a bit of a wrinkle, however. As two of the hottest online shopping days should fall in November. Cyber Monday lands on Nov. 30 this year, with Black Friday coming on Nov. 27.

Mobile Holiday Season Sales

As you’re probably well aware, consumers are becoming increasingly comfortable with making a purchase with just a couple of button presses on their mobile devices. According to an IBM report, mobiles sales constituted more than 22 percent of all online transactions during the holiday season in 2014. That was a jump of about 27 percent over the 2013 holiday period. Mobile holiday season sales are projected to surpass $36 billion in 2015 and skyrocket to more than $60 billion by 2019.

As you can see, it is ever so critical to make sure your business’s website is mobile-friendly. Every online asset that belongs to your company needs to be optimized for mobile. If some assets aren’t, you need to get somebody on the job, pronto. Don’t let your website sit with clunky mobile navigation and slow-loading pages this holiday season. That will ensure you miss out on your proper share of the billions of dollars that get poured into online purchases this time of the year.

Your Holiday Season Marketing Strategy

Now’s the time to bring your holiday-themed products to the forefront. If you don’t have any holiday-themed items, dig into your numbers and see which types of products or services tended to be more popular last holiday season. People are ready to spend money this time of the year, so you and your team have to prepare a consistent blitz on every channel available to you, including social media, email, digital ads and more.

Shoppers love specials, so now’s the time to mark down prices of your some of your products or services, and then you have to let online users know about it. At the very least, plan to slash some of your prices on the major spending days, such as Cyber Monday and Black Friday. You should have all promotions for those two days pinpointed at least the week before Black Friday, and be ready to send midnight emails on the day of those two shopping holidays. It’s also helpful to tease your promotions with an email or two starting exactly one week before Black Friday.

As for your website, you should benefit greatly from creating a dedicated landing page of holiday content, including the items that either pertain to the holidays or are going to be on discount during this time. You also might want to consider adding site-wide holiday design accents to show your celebration of the season, with sidebar or horizontal banners that take your visitors to either your holiday landing page or certain holiday-themed products or services. You may even want add holiday language to the meta data of certain pages on your site, specifically the ones of products or services that you’re really pushing during the season.

‘Tis the Season to not be Stingy

Shoppers are dropping some big bucks during the holiday season, so your business should too as you market during the holidays, especially if you’re trying to reel in some of those ready-to-spend consumers. Even if you’re not one to throw money at Facebook and Twitter ads, you’re definitely going to want to try it on Black Friday, Cyber Monday and perhaps a few of the other top shopping days listed above. Make it clear what good or service you have on special, and be sure to stress the urgency of the promotion.

If you want to go even further, set up pay-per-click campaigns through Google AdWords that lead to certain pages on your website (especially if you’ve created a holiday landing page). Banner display ads are also worth exploring, particularly if you have a talented graphic designer on staff who can deliver creatives that pertain to specific promotions you’re running during the season.

But What if I’m a Service Company?

If your company doesn’t offer tangible products and instead provides business-to-business and/or business-to-consumer services, it’s still possible to tap into the holiday shopping craze, even if you don’t have any offerings that directly apply to the season. If you’ve analyzed your sales over last year’s holiday season and even the ones before that, then you should arrive at a specific set of services that you want to feature and even mark down this time around.

Consider offering a gift card (even if it’s digital only) on your website. Even if a few of your website visitors during the holiday season decide they don’t need your services, they may have someone in mind that does. Thus, a gift card will come in handy. You may also want to look into going through an eCommerce marketplace like Groupon in order to offer one of your targeted services at an enticing rate to a large audience of consumers. On the days of the major shopping bursts, you obviously don’t have to promise your services on the same day, but you can lock in customers at a discounted rate for service you’ll provide later.

As a service provider, you might have to be a little more creative than retail stores and eCommerce sites are during the holiday season, but there’s no reason why your sales can’t spike during these two months in comparison to the rest of year. A focused marketing effort will put your company on the path to holiday success.

Don’t Stop at Christmas

As mentioned before, the holiday season doesn’t really stop once Christmas Day passes. Keep up your marketing push not only through New Year’s Day, which falls on a Friday in 2016, but through the weekend that follows. Use social media and email to stress that time is running out on select goods and services at special holiday rates.

You now know the hottest holiday shopping days, and hopefully you now have some ideas in mind on how you draw consumers to your business this season. Ultimately, your marketing plan will succeed if you understand, “What products or services do I have that will appeal to buyers this holiday season,” and “How can I best direct attention to these offerings.” It’s not a one-size-fits-all approach, but hopefully you’ll figure out which tactics work best for your business. Best of luck to you and your team on making this holiday season shine brightest of all!

Need Help?

Do the suggested steps to succeed during holidays seem outside of your team’s capabilities internally? Eminent SEO can help your company excel this holiday season through our wide range of digital services, including custom email and social media campaigns, website improvements, mobile upgrades, landing page creation and more.

To find out more or get started today, just call: 800.871.4130.

Andrew Gilstrap

Content Manager at Eminent SEO - I enjoy writing, editing and photography. I'm here to make YOUR website read better and rank better!

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5 Signs of When to Stop or Redirect a Struggling Online Marketing Campaign

Struggling Online Marketing Campaign - Eminent SEO

Sometimes, the best-laid plans simply go awry.

This phenomenon is fairly common in the sometimes unpredictable world of marketing. Although businesses can measure most of their marketing efforts like never before, part of the process remains artful, especially in the planning stages.

Every marketing campaign comes with some degree of a chance for failure. Sometimes, the reasons why they failed are obvious. In other cases, the reasons are hard to pinpoint. The answer could be the campaign simply didn’t get a foothold in the public’s consciousness, whether due to timing or other external circumstances.

If your team is currently putting forth an online marketing campaign — such as pay-per-click, email or search engine optimization — here are five signs that it may be time to pull in the reins on the project, or at least hand over the responsibilities to an experienced marketing firm.

1. When You’ve Given it Sufficient Time

It takes a certain amount of patience with online marketing campaigns. Rarely are they fruitful right off the bat. You’ve got to give every piece of the campaign time to coalesce. In the case of SEO campaigns, for example, you may have to wait at least sixth months before you start seeing results.

Before you launch any online campaign, have a time-frame in mind for when you’ll draw down if the effort isn’t paying off. Once you hit that deadline, you should know if it’s worth letting the campaign play out for a little longer or if that’s when it’s time to call the troops home. Just be sure not to abort the mission before you’ve really given it enough time to show signs of success. By the same token, don’t be too proud to call a campaign off if it’s readily apparent that it’s just not going to provide the returns necessary to sustain itself.

2. When Your Adjustments Aren’t Moving the Needle

Even for campaigns that take longer to pay off, you should know fairly soon after launch if the effort is receiving some degree of reception and if it’s on track to succeed. You should know this because of the abundance of digital tools at your disposal to evaluate various aspects of the online campaign.

So, before giving up on the effort, try to make any necessary tweaks to the approach. For example, this could mean using different imagery or a different tone in the copy. Or, maybe you’re targeting the wrong keyword. Also, you can try doing A/B testing to see which variation is getting more traction. If you’ve made adjustments to the best of your ability but the campaign still isn’t significantly getting off the ground, that’s when there would be little shame in calling an end to the whole effort.

Before the campaign reaches the breaking point, you may want to give serious consideration to contacting a business-to-business marketing agency. Yes, it will be more money poured into the project, but the experts you hire should be able to turn the tide on the campaign, as they’ll likely have resources and expertise that goes beyond what you have internally. If you go this route, give the agency your full confidence and ask for frequent updates and key performance indicators.

3. When Your Execution Can’t Get any Better

Similar to making adjustments, if you and your team have all put forth their best efforts and the campaign is still floundering, then it may be time to throw up your hands and move on to the next project. Just make sure you’ve allowed sufficient time for each employee involved in the campaign to perform his or her relevant duties. You may even have to hire new talent internally for this initiative or delegate additional tasks to current employees after launch. If you’ve done all this and the online campaign is still in neutral, then there’s simply a problem with the campaign, and not necessarily with you or your staff. If you identified the issues early on but you and your team still can’t seem to get the campaign to break even, despite everybody’s best effort, this might be the point where you seek help from an outside marketing firm.

4. When You’re Consistently Seeing Negative ROI

One of the areas you want to keep your eye on throughout the campaign is the return on investment. Basically, is the amount of money you’re putting into the campaign equal to or less than what you’re seeing in sales and new customers?

It’s not uncommon to be in the red the first few weeks after launch. After all, investments are often expensive and are rarely recovered quickly. However, if the campaign has been active for several months and is consistently yielding negative ROI on measured intervals of your choosing, you should put a stop to it before it drains your business irreparably.

What if the campaign is in the black but falling well short of expectations? Keep it going, period. It may hugely pay off down the road. Even if it doesn’t, at least it’s eliciting a positive net ROI for your business. If this is happening with your online campaign and you’re still thinking about getting help from a marketing firm, a well-qualified team should be able to take what you have and provide a major boost, reaping sizable rewards for everyone involved.

5. When Other Strategies Are Succeeding

If you have other campaigns and business strategies in place that are succeeding, then it makes sense to ditch the one lagging behind. After all, why keep throwing good money after bad? Something to keep your head up about is if you have several other strategies that are “winning,” then it means your business model is solid. Unless you’ve created a PR nightmare for your company with an unsuccessful online campaign, then have no remorse about calling for an end to an initiative that isn’t working out. It happens to the best of companies.

Final Word

Just because one campaign falls short of the mark doesn’t mean your entire business is doomed. Maybe you patterned the online marketing campaign after what you saw another company do. However, what works for one business isn’t guaranteed for the next.

Don’t beat yourself up for one failed campaign. Collect yourself, get back to what you know your company does well, and build upon those strengths.

A Different Direction

If you have an online marketing campaign that is struggling but that you still think has a chance to thrive, you can turn to Eminent SEO for direction or to hand over the duties involved in the project. Our talented team has powered hundreds of successful online marketing campaigns (SEO, PPC, social media, link acquisition, and more) for clients all over the U.S., starting either from scratch or mid-campaign. We know how to address areas of need, plus we always provide full KPI (key performance indicators) reports to keep you in the loop on the latest results of the campaign. If you’re ready for help or you just want to learn more, call Eminent SEO today: 1-800-871-4130.

Andrew Gilstrap

Content Manager at Eminent SEO - I enjoy writing, editing and photography. I'm here to make YOUR website read better and rank better!

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