The Hottest Digital Marketing Trends in China Right Now

China is a digital marketing powerhouse. It boasts the world's second-largest search advertising market and spends more on digital advertising than Japan, Australia, Indonesia and South Korea combined. With the world's largest population -- more than 1.4 billion people live in the "Land of the Red Dragon" -- breaking into this market could prove lucrative for your organization. Here are three of the hottest digital marketing trends in China right now.

1. China is a Global Player When it Comes to Voice Marketing

Chinese brands have invested heavily in voice marketing technology in recent years, and experts predicted that the country's intelligent voice market was worth more than 6.21 billion in 2015. Millions of consumers across the country use their smartphone to search for goods and services with just their voice.

"One of the obvious reasons for more rapid adoption is the complexity of the Chinese alphabet," says Eye for Travel. "With thousands of individual characters, typing on a small screen is rather more difficult than for those using the 26 letters of the Latin alphabet."

While intelligent voice assistants like Alexa and Siri dominate the U.S. market, innovations like Baidu's Raven H lets Chinese consumers access information with simple voice commands. Raven H looks nothing like the Amazon Echo or Google Home -- it's essentially a stack of multi-colored squares.

As more people in Beijing, Shanghai, and Shenzhen purchase smart speakers and voice-enabled mobile devices, expect China's intelligent market to grow even bigger in the next few years.

2. Artificial Intelligence Marketing in China is Booming

China uses more artificial intelligence (AI) devices than any other country in the world, according to a recent report. Twenty-one percent of the country's population already has an AI device like a home robot or autonomous car and 52 percent plan to buy one in the future. In the United States, only 16 percent of people own an AI device.

The booming AI market has prompted Chinese marketers to engage with consumers in new and exciting ways. Marketers here use the latest AI technologies to personalize communications and offer customers unique interactive experiences that increase brand awareness.

Take AI apps, for example. Customers can immerse themselves in virtual environments where they can learn more information about a brand's products and services.

3. Search Engine Optimization Still Dominates

China has the world's largest online population -- around 772 million and growing -- which proves profitable for brands who break into this market. Despite recent technological innovations like voice-enabled devices and AI, search engine optimization (SEO) is still one of the most popular (and powerful) digital marketing methods here.

Although SEO is a little different to the US and other Western countries, the process is essentially the same. Websites that rank the highest on search engines like Baidu, Sogou and Qihoo 360 generally receive the most traffic. Marketers optimize sites in order to increase their position on search engine results pages.

One of the biggest differences between SEO in China and SEO in the US is mobile search. Mobile device owners in China make up the bulk of search users, with 88 percent of the online population searching for information through their smartphone or tablet.

Want to grow your organization's impact in China? The three trends on this list are a great way to generate leads and improve brand awareness. Use voice search marketing technology to target potential customers, AI to enhance the customer experience and SEO to move buyers through your sales pipelines. Expect these three trends to keep dominating China's digital marketing landscape over the next few years.


Marketing Automation and Big Data: A Perfect Match

In an age where digital data is not only valuable but ubiquitous, organization and automation becomes a marketing agency's pillars of time management and financial advantage.

 

More needs to be done to understand the motivations of a consumer. Content creation and targeting are only the tip of this iceberg and the start of a deep dive to converting a customer into a lead or sale. It's data that educates a marketer on what makes an individual tick. Through data, they'll be able to establish what exactly triggers them and the most efficient way to do so.

 

To do so, you need to build a customer profile:

 

"Through marketing automation systems, we should be able to build better-rounded customer profiles through variable data field capture during different communication touch points."

 

Using big data can gain a marketing agency advantages when it comes to developing relevant content and messages, collecting and analyzing data on how customers interact, and delivering a more consistent, positive customer experience across devices.

 

Digital advertising isn't just posting an ad online and hoping for the best. Leveraging automation enables agencies to determine what type of content is best at attracting leads, how they find you, and why they chose to connect with you. It can help figure out how, when and where customers tend to interact with you, as well as what platforms and devices they're reaching you on.

 

Even though we're online, you still have to imagine a face and personality behind that screen.

 

Online marketing may have muddied the border between buyer and seller, but it hasn't completely eroded it. The intimacy of conversation may get down to bare bones quicker, but getting to know one another, in order to build up a level of trust from the seller's side and understanding from the buyer's side, has not been completely lost.

 

Now instead of asking questions, you're simply provided with profiles through those variable data fields we just mentioned. You get to know their behaviors, tendencies, and interests, while marketing automation and big data work "together to create an effective way to collect, sort and gain insight from thousands of data points about customers, campaigns and products or services."

 

This can partly be done by the miracle of predictive analytics, which can predict the future by mining the past. Consider Amazon; they gather past purchase data, wish lists, similar purchases and customer ratings to predict future shopping patterns. They simply acquire all the data they need to build up an accurate enough profile that will efficiently usher you from point A to point B:

 

"With the increased accuracy of self-learning algorithms, marketers will be able to better deconstruct big data to create incredibly targeted and optimally timed user experiences."

 

Getting a customer from each of those points requires a meld of data and automation; the data working as the blueprint, and automation working as the tools, delivering quickness, accuracy, and an improved user experience, one that puts the user in the driver's seat:

 

"They can access the exact information they want, how and when they want it. But every potential customer isn't necessarily going to want exactly the same information. With automation, you can also create multiple paths, so each person can have a different experience, based on their own needs and interests."

 

When "80% of your sales come from only 20% of your customers", automation is a necessity to pinpoint just what type of customers will react and how. For example, say you're running an email marketing campaign and you're trying to deliver the best possible user experience, you might monitor:

 

  • When your customer open emails
  • When they engage with content
  • What content they engage with
  • The frequency with which they choose to engage
  • Conversions that take place

 

Platforms like AutoPilot can deliver a tailored experience that accommodates each and every one of your leads as a unique individual, rather than just another part of the catch-all. Sure they might share similarities by way of being interested in what you're selling, but they all have different triggers and ways of going about things.

 

On the other end, the Zapier platform can help gather that data and turn it into data you can use to create a more efficient workflow and finish routine tasks quicker.

 

These platforms and tools will not only help you get better organized, but they'll help you draw in more leads. You can't treat your audience as a monolith. They might all like your product or service, but they all arrived there differently, are using different devices, react to different content, and come from different areas where the product or service might serve a different purpose.

 

You may not see them, and that disconnect and widening gulf isn't helping, but there's still a person behind the screen and the only way to turn them into a sale or lead is treating them like one.


The Art Of Podcast Marketing

Where the people go, the brands and money will follow. Podcasts today are as popular as they've ever been because its convenience allows listeners to forgo traditional information outlets in favor of condensed lessons from their preferred dispenser.

 

That information can be anything. Whether it's financial advice, TV show breakdowns, history, or just your favorite comedian rambling into a microphone for an hour, there's a niche for everybody. If an interested listener wants to hear about a specific topic, there's a strong likelihood that podcast exists.

 

It's all a part of the drive for convenience. Humans have always invented for the luxury of convenience, but modern technology has ushered in an era where convenience is expanding at a breakneck speed. Why read or waste time listening to the news waiting for the information I need? I can find a podcast from someone more knowledgeable and in-tune with the subject to educate me.

 

For example, the 'Hardcore History' podcast, while extremely lengthy at times, can condense everything you need to know about World War 1 into a series of five episodes. So rather than reading through tedious detail after tedious detail, I can get all the important, need-to-know info from the guy who studied it for years.

 

Think back to the examples provided in the second paragraph and consider where the value is. A financial advice show will likely come from someone respected in that industry. A TV show breakdown podcast would be from an industry insider or someone who has developed an online following. A comedian with a successful podcast is likely genuinely funny even off stage and has an infectious personality beloved by their fans.

 

A digital marketing podcast will likely be from someone who else but a digital marketer.

 

Those are the keys to podcasting: being so passionate about a subject that you can talk for hours about it, and providing value by showcasing your expertise on a subject people want to learn about.

 

Its value shows. "Podcast listening grew 23% between 2015 and 2016, while "Libsyn, a podcast hosting service, found that podcast downloads increased to 3.3 billion requests in 2015 from 1.2 billion requests in 2012.

 

 

Podcasts being listened to on a smartphone or tablet has increased to 64%

 

While it's no surprise that digital startups and websites like Buzzfeed, Slate, and Radiotopia have made investments in podcasts over the past three years, it is noteworthy that legacy media like the New York Times and Wall Street Journal have also done the same thing. They saw where the people were going and addressed it, before they got left behind.

 

Now let's say you want to start a podcast. Where do you even begin?

 

As mentioned before, you start with what your podcast is going to be about; obviously something you're extremely passionate or knowledgeable about. If you love history, talk history. If you love basketball, talk basketball. If you love cooking, talk cooking. Remember: you're trying to provide value, so talk about something where you know things that less-informed people want to know about but don't have the time to learn.

 

Now you may know a lot about a subject, but need to organize it. People enjoy being educated about a subject they're interested in, but they're probably not interested in hearing that in the form of rambling that jumps from tangent to tangent. Instead, create and follow an outline that you make before every podcast:

 

"A podcast should have an intro, body and conclusion. You don't have to write a script that you read word-for-word, but just a bullet point list of what you'll talk about and in what order."

 

You also want to make it as long as necessary to cover the essentials, but short enough to keep it interesting. For example, I have a fascination for history and a specific time in history. That history podcast I mentioned earlier knew his audience well enough to break up his feature on that historical point into a series of episodes. So instead of what would have likely been a 20-hour podcast, it was instead five 4-hour podcasts.

 

Building off of that, segment your content. It's an effective way at "breaking up the rambling by providing structure of where you need to go during the show." I listen to a popular comedian's podcast and even though rambling and going off on tangents is a hallmark of the show, it can get exhausting. He recognizes this and breaks it up with ad reads and emails from fans.

 

Also, don't try to be too out-of-the-box when creating your podcast's name. It's fine to make a catchy or clever name, but ensure that it's a name that will show listeners that your show is on the topic they are interested in:

 

"Don't choose a name that needs further explanation to communicate what your show is about. No clever name is necessary if you can convince the potential listener that your show is precisely on topic."

 

So you got your podcast's content, its name, and its subject, now comes the hard part: building your podcast and sticking with it.

 

It cannot be reiterated enough how integral it is to be consistent in your posting. If you're that serious about podcasting, you can't become discouraged early on because nobody's really listening besides your friends and family. It's going to take a lot of podcasting and a lot of hard work. If you even stop for a week, it'll affect your positioning on iTunes podcast rankings.

 

Maximizing your iTunes rankings, and optimizing your podcast overall, is a different beast. Here are a few tips from a popular podcaster:

 

  1. Link to iTunes rather than to your site: "By doing this, the people who listen to the episode on the computer, go through iTunes and count toward downloads in iTunes. If you link them to iTunes, they are counted toward your iTunes SEO...iTunes usually takes about an hour to show new podcast episodes after you publish. So publish your episode and then wait an hour and post on social media with the iTunes link."
  2. Reducing keywords for episode titles: "iTunes separates the rankings of individual episodes. Release a series of episodes targeting all of the keywords your show is about with only one word: the keyword. So if your show is about online marketing, release an episode called SEO, an episode called Internet Marketing, an episode titled blogging, etc."
  3. Keywords: "Unlike Google that does not even make use of the keyword meta tag in determining search results, iTunes relies heavily on it."
  4. Video vs. Audio: "iTunes does have tools on some of its search methods to separate audio and video podcasts, but when results are combined, video shows often rank unbelievably high when compared to audio-only shows."
  5. More keywords: "The number of keywords your show could rank in: 'Reduce the number of keywords your show uses to target one main keyword.'"
  6. Reviews: "Apple Podcasts app is using reviews as a key ranking factor."

 

Understand the direction podcasts are going in, as it could very well be yet another medium that replaces traditional legacy media. "9 out of 10 marketers believe that podcasting represents uncharted territory and opportunity" and "overall, podcast listening increased from 11% to 36% [as of 2016], translating into an estimated population of 98 million."

 

Even more important are the age demographics:

 

"One in four Americans ages 12-54 listened to a podcast last month. Just 11% of Americans 55+ listen to podcasts monthly."

 

If trends can predict anything (and they always do), it's that the younger generation dictate them. Seeing as they're gravitating towards podcasts, then it's fair to assume that the podcast market will grow. It remains a burgeoning industry with unlimited potential that allows for independent broadcasting with no strings attached.

 

Sound familiar? That's YouTube, another rising star in the media madness.

 

You want some perspective of just how much podcasts and YouTube are winning? Joe Rogan, host of the Joe Rogan Experience, claimed he gets 30 million podcast downloads per month. By comparison, Fox News Channel, Cable TV's most watched-network in 2016, averaged "2,429,000 total prime time viewers and 1.4 million total day viewers."

 

YouTube's top entertainer PewDiePie had 109,563,8282 views between April 17-30th over 18 uploaded videos. You no longer need to work your way through the ranks to join a newspaper, online magazine, or even to get your face on the news anymore to cultivate a following.

 

All you need is a microphone, a concept, and an idea. No wonder more and more people are gravitating towards podcasts and YouTube as professions and outlets of information.

 

Did you hear that sound? That was the changing of the guard.


6 Digital Marketing Trends for 2017 and Beyond

1. Snapchat is only gaining in popularity among milennials (But Facebook is still king)

Among milennials, no social media platform is matching Snapchat in a short-term popularity contest:

"According to research by student loans company LendEDU, 58 percent of the 9,381 milennials it polled said they typically open up a Snapchat before Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn."

It's rise to social media supremacy has been unprecedented. Not only has it overtaken Twitter, Pinterest, and LinkedIn as America's second-favorite social network (It was fifth last year), it "grew as much in one year as Twitter had in four years combined!"

Don't give them the crown just yet, however. Facebook still sits on the throne and doesn't appear to be giving up its title anytime soon. In the same survey where Snapchat had become the second-favorite social network of Americans, Facebook blew it out of the water; "8% of Americans cited Snapchat as the place they visit most. It's still far behind Facebook, a place that 61% of social media using Americans say is their favorite."

But that doesn't indicate a shift could be gradually approaching...

"Facebook (including Messenger) remains the most popular social platform among Americans 12-24 years old, with 21% saying they use Facebook most. Snapchat is second with 26%, far outpacing Instagram at 17%.

"[In the past year], 10% of the entire nation's population of social media using 12-24 year-olds moved from Facebook to Snapchat as their platform of choice."

Only time will tell if Snapchat's popularity is a constantly ascending staircase or a bubble just waiting to burst. Seeing as it only appeals to the younger generation, whereas Facebook is still appealing to all ages, I'd side with the latter (Don't bring this up to me in 2032 when Snapchat is running the world).

2. Yes, More Social Media Advertising Spending

As social media expands its capabilities as an advertising platform, advertisers are fully committing to either standing pat on their current marketing budgets, or investing even more:

"61% of advertisers plan to spend more on Facebook, said ClickZ Intelligence. And the web publisher found that investment in Twitter is expected to increase by more than 25%."

This has less to do with brands suddenly discovering Facebook and Twitter, and more to do with different avenues through which people can be reached and engaged with. We're beyond link and image posts. On Facebook, for example, you can create videos, versatile Canvas ads, 360 videos, and video slideshows. It's all indicative of a new availability of advertising to pounce on and use to distinguish your brand.

In another survey by PointVisible, they found that over the next 12 months 39% of B2C and B2B content marketers plan to increase their spending, while only 2% planned to decrease it. 42% said spending will likely remain the same.

In content creation overall, 70% of B2B marketers and 73% of B2C marketers said they will be spending more in 2017 compared to 2016. Content marketing will be a "$300 billion industry by 2019 -- this means it will double in under four years."

And speaking of content...

3. There's going to be a lot more of it

Since we're on the topic of more spending, we can distinguish where that spending is going towards.

There's a perception that users are just overexposed to traditional advertisements and inundated by how ubiquitous it is. Think about it. There's no escape, unless you completely disconnect from technology.

New approaches need to be taken to reach out to users without overwhelming and irritating them to the point of exhaustion, and studies have been conducted to find them.

One of the more revelations from PointVisible's study was that "70% of people would rather learn about a company through articles rather than an advertisement" and "4X as many consumers would prefer to watch a video about a product than to read about it."

Content is getting more versatile as users have grown weary of seeing the same ads over and over again on a loop. Something new has to be offered to keep them interested. It's why we're expecting an increase in blogs as an advertising tool, and why "69% of companies report their video marketing budget is increasing."

4. But also, More Newsletters

Are you starting to pick up on this trend of more? There's going to be more of everything digital marketing-wise in 2017 and further on.

As mentioned before, there's a need for newness from our advertising efforts. It's become a life component that's unavoidable and needs readjusting, in order to provide users with a memorable experience once again. Just like with any technology, if there's a newer, more efficient, more convenient, and more stimulating competitor, users will gravitate to that.

So what if we try to find new ways to not only reach our audience, but to help it grow, as well. Aside from videos, "in 2017, more brands will launch targeted e-newsletters as the key method to grow audiences."

E-Newsletters are an excellent way of developing an audience without investing too much money and investing too many hours. But they have to be done right, because an E-Newsletter could be composed for nothing if its design isn't engaging enough or if its content isn't interesting enough.

It has to appeal to your audience, which you can find and add to your email list through lead generation ads and visits to your website asking for their email, with content that provides value. You want your newsletter to be informative, feature headlines that grab your attention, and be laden with designs and appealing images that keep the reader interested and their eyes darting from end-to-end of the email.

5. Mobile is still everything 

It goes without saying that if you're still not optimizing for mobile, you're selling your business short. As of early 2016, "mobile represented 65% of digital media time, while the desktop is becoming a 'secondary touch point' for an increasing number of digital users."

Basically, why go through the process of loading up your desktop or laptop when you have a computer within your pocket? It's all about convenience. Just give me the information and stimulation I need at the moment, without me having to get up and get it.

Life just keeps getting easier in terms of instant gratification. It's probably why "mobile will account for 72% of US digital ad spend by 2019" since that's where all the eyes are, as indicated by studies, mobile vs. desktop usage, and, you know, just looking around you at any given time while you're in public.

Go ahead and try it next time. When you're out in the city, and hopefully not peering into your phone, look around and notice how many people are buried in their phones. Then you'll realize just how important mobile optimization is. You're potentially missing out on the sales or awareness you could be generating when those users aren't home and need a distraction.

Think we're missing out on a trend? Drop us a message on our Facebook or call us!


Data-Driven Marketing is the Best Way to Improve Digital Performance

We live in a world driven by statistics and data. This new age we’re living in has made up-to-date metrics essential in companies deciding what's their next step. No longer do they need to rely on gut-instinct or intuition.

 

They have metrics do the job for them.

 

Modern technology has granted access to ubiquitous metrics that ultimately eliminate guessing over seemingly every aspect, in seemingly every industry. A retail giant can find which products sell and which don’t. A local government can judge the success of its funding efforts.

 

A digital marketing agency can base its entire philosophy on data. And for good reason. An agency’s job, after all, is to research, strategize, execute, and finally to report.

 

Notice what that proven plan is bookended by: Data-driven influencers. A marketer can’t begin to strategize and execute without first doing their research, nor can they report on their findings without heavily relying on data.

 

An agency without first doing its research would be the blind leading the blind. An agency then not reporting on their findings without utilizing data is misleading. It should be no surprise then that determining the successes and failings of a brand are contingent on what the metrics say.

 

Since statistics don’t lie, and never will, deciphering metrics for use in future campaign efforts is something every marketing agency should practice.

 

For example: Finding the right audience. According to Forbes…

 

“Whereas collecting and integrating large and disparate data sets to glean useful insights has been costly and time- and resource-prohibitive, technology has progressed such that the insights are ‘in the box’, can be tailored to the brand and business goal, inexpensive, and at your fingertips.”

 

These same technologies can be used to identify the best audience for a given campaign. Perform initial research into the brand by locating their audiences and then targeting them. You dilute your message less by sending it out to the broad masses. Instead, narrow the targeting to an audience that would be more receptive and inquisitive of the message for a more accurate perception.

 

Locating your audience is one of the most challenge parts of your campaign efforts because there seems to be a lot of guesswork involved. Technology, however, is catching up, as indicated by the same Forbes’ article:

 

“Front-end technology is catching up with the back-end such that ‘programmatic’ applies not just to the media buy, but also to the identification and creation of an audience.”

 

Targeting people who make $75,000 in the Northwest is good. But targeting people who make $75,000 per year, interested in mountain climbing, drive a Tesla, and likes Netflix and National Geographic is better. Your targeting yield might drop from 5 million to 1 million, but again you don’t want to dilute your message and waste it on those who it doesn’t speak to.

 

This way you can design campaigns around a 100% audience you know will listen.

 

This is all possible to identify through targeting. Facebook, in particular, allows marketers to target their campaigns through variables such as as income, location, interests, and behaviors.

 

Consider these before you run a campaign. That way you have a greater understanding of your target’s “actions, habits and propensities; their associations, networks and influencers; and the descriptive characteristics that influence and distinguish the group.”

 

That’s just one flap of the book, though. We can’t neglect the other side where we report on the campaign’s progress.

 

This is where metrics really start to shine, and where it showcases just how evolved this industry is. On the outside, metrics look to only be on the surface; likes, comments, replies, shares, retweets, etc. But indicating successes and failures goes far deeper, especially depending on the campaign’s purpose.

 

This isn’t to say those types of surface stats can be suitable indicators. They absolutely can predict which types of posts work well and which don’t. If one type of post is getting 100 likes on average, while another is getting only 25 on average, then it’s clear that one post obviously resonates and engages more with users.

 

But it’s the below-the-surface stats you really need to pay attention to; those available through deep insights and the tools needed to access them.

 

Surface stats won’t explicitly inform you of how many link clicks a post received. We actually saw this in practice with one of our premier clients. Although we were receiving tons of likes, comments, and shares, we noticed that we were basically garnering little-to-no link clicks on these same posts.

 

It wasn’t until we began to A/B test where we found the issue, and altered the posts. Only then were we able to boost our link clicks, albeit at the sacrifice of our engagement totals. Nevertheless, it was interesting to learn for future reference, such as running an awareness campaign vs. an engagement one.

 

But we can plunge even further into the sloping depths of digital metrics.

 

Metrics like bounce rates can indicate where users go after landing on your website. When you uncover and unleash the power of metrics, you can find out everything you need about the tendencies of people to improve your marketing approach.

 

As digital marketing grows, measurement platforms follow. With so many brands going digital, it only makes sense for ambitious entrepreneurs to take advantage by creating platforms that can measure and track metrics on their performance.

 

And since we live in a flourishing capitalist society, competition occurs that motivates these innovators to measure more metrics than the other. So when one platform can track how many seconds you spent on a specific website page, another platform sees that and creates a tool that does the same AND which page they’re going to after.

 

The insights just go deeper until marketers get the best available POV from their target audience. Remember that the greatest motivator to all of this is to nail down an audience’s behaviors and tendencies. That way a marketer can predict exactly what they do and how they make the transition from curious shopper to conversion.

 

This is the basis of what marketing was built on: Appealing to consumers within their sensibilities.

 

It was a lot more difficult to achieve that in the ancient time before measuring platforms came along. Marketers actually had to talk to people, hold focus groups, and stage surveys. Now they can pay a fee to have a website track what goes through the mind of their collective audience.

 

We wouldn’t want it any other way. Neither would you.

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Generate More Sales and Acquire More Leads with Programmatic Advertising

Creating a narrower, personalized buying experience for online shoppers has become one of the most imperative methods to securing conversions and generating leads in a campaign.

 

There are simply too many voices speaking at the same time to make a lasting impression on someone. Social media platforms are inundating users with ads that are making the overall online experience less appealing.

 

Spam emails may be on the decline, but that hasn't stopped advertisers from encroaching platforms in new ways; whether it's a promoted tweet on your Twitter stream, a sponsored ad on your Facebook timeline, or an unskippable 30-second ad on the YouTube video you want to watch.

 

So rather than painting potential targets with a broad stroke, the idea now is to narrow the audience to those most receptive and likely to buy. This approach limits dilution of the advertisement, costs less money, wastes less resources, and displays your advertisement to audience members that may actually purchase.

 

This is where programmatic advertising steps in, and why it's become so popular among marketers:

 

"Programmatic is all about delivering the right message to the right audience at the right time. It will give your creative team the data they need to improve branding message and make them more personally relevant. Using audience, contextual and environmental signals, you can create highly impactful dynamic creative that performs to each audience segment."

 

As any advertiser knows by now, "successful advertising all comes down to how well you know your customers -- not guessing or assuming their behaviors, activities, or intent. In the telecommunications industry, for example, the use of CRM data resulted in online campaigns that were 39 times more effective, according to Neustar."

 

The art of storytelling and investing in perfecting the buyer's journey and experience is becoming a consensus view:

 

"The general theme coming from thought leaders throughout the marketplace is to build a better experience for the consumer through great content and creative, innovative advertising. The power dynamic has shifted in consumers' favor, which means that marketers and advertisers will only engage target audiences and generate new business if they stop talking at audiences and start creating relationships with them instead."

 

As we'll soon learn, there are plenty of resources available for marketers to gain a deeper understanding of their audience, thanks in part to programmatic ad buying's capabilities.

 

Programmatic ad buying is at the forefront of this movement, and growing in popularity, because it "allows brands to pinpoint the audiences that they want to reach. This ensures they deliver the perfect message, in the perfect location, at the perfect time."

 

This is the most effective approach to targeting while still optimizing. Here's the process and why you'll soon see how it became so popular:

 

"Programmatic systems can analyze online profiles to determine if the potential customer is the decision maker, and deliver ads and content that can be customized for each step of the buying process. This help to ensure that decision makers see the ads or content, and it allows companies to guide potential buyers through the buying process."

 

But how does it do it?

 

"When a potential customer reads a white paper, visits a company's website, views a webinar, or reads a blog article; the programmatic system detects the behavior and display ads and content that are relevant to the potential customer. This can expand a company's existing lead base, generate interest, and establishes a company's authority on the subject."

 

There is no guessing or assuming. What you will possess, as a result of the metrics provided by programmatic, will be indicative stats of what works and what doesn't. Although skepticism in data-driven marketing spiked with Facebook's overestimations, it certainly hasn't deterred marketers from realizing numbers reliance is the future:

 

"The recent industry-wide drive toward data-driven marketing has set the stage for a creative renaissance, one rooted in and informed by a deeper, more precise foundation of consumer profiling facilitated by technology.

 

We now have the ability to apply data to discern the actual moment that people are planning vacations so we can serve them relevant and compelling messages about beach clothing, or to know when they are researching cars to serve them auto ads."

 

Is this not the overall endgame with any approach to marketing? The greatest challenge and responsibility of marketers is perspective; putting yourself in the shoes of your audience and finding out how they get from point A (wanting to buy something) to point B (buying that something from you).

 

Advertisers, more prominently before digital marketing's advent but even still practicing it to this day, employed every method you can think of to get a better idea of their audience's behavior and tendencies. Focus groups, phone and in-person surveys, and man-on-the-street interviews were all employed. But this only represented a small sample size, based mainly on anecdotal accounts.

 

Now you can narrow your audience and also collect vital info for future marketing efforts. This certainly isn't as personal as talking to someone one-on-one, but it is far less time-consuming and more resources can be devoted to the creative side of things:

 

"Customer data, also referred to as first-party data, paints a valuable picture and enables SMBs with the ability to draw meaningful conclusions about consumers from multiple channels....

 

Once data is collected, marketers are now able to unlock the full potential of their first-party data by uploading offline data (such as audience segments in a CRM system) to the online environment -- a process called data onboarding or CRM matching. Once there, it can be matched with digital data and activated for a variety of purposes within a Data Management Platform."

 

Through a lead generation campaign, you can have "names, addresses, emails, lifecycle stages, demographics, purchase histories, and even triggers of your existing customers and most qualified leads."

 

These are the keys to generating leads and sales. Once you have the metrics at your disposal, you can adjust your creative strategy to their preferences.

 

The entire process is fluid, as well. If you were to create an ad that wasn't performing well, "programmatic marketing enables the company to make changes to campaigns in real-time without extra expenditures. This means that companies can further refine their campaigns to change which content or ads are displayed to different target markets during the buying process, without starting new campaigns from scratch."

 

It shouldn't be a surprise then that "According to eMarketer, 83% of all ad buying activity will be programmatic by 2017."

 

One of the more effective, and most popular, personalization techniques is remarketing. Not every interested buyer is going to pull the trigger upon first glance of your website. They might want to buy something, but for any bevy of reasons they want to delay it. As an example, I have three items sitting in my Amazon cart. This doesn't mean I don't want the products. It just means now is not the right time.

 

Rather than rely on the user to make their way back to close the sale, you send hints in the form of retargeting ads. In the case of Amazon, it's not uncommon to see ads on the side of my Facebook of those very same items in my cart. If you had recently looked into flight information to a specific city, you'd likely find ads relating to hotels and popular destinations around that city.

 

 

It all leads back to one constant: You have to know your audience if you want to make sales and generate leads. And programmatic marketing is especially adept at this.


Save Your Marketing Agency Hours of Work with Automation

Time is money when you charge clients by the hour, which makes every minute all the more precious in digital marketing.

 

At some point, in order to limit spending as much as possible without having it impact the quality, shortcuts will have to be made in non-creative/strategy areas. It has to come at a point where critical mistakes can't be made that would disrupt the integrity of a running campaign.

 

Say your goal is to acquire leads. You get the leads through a series of campaigns and then you need to offload them to a separate document. But if you have several hundred leads, copying and pasting every name, number, and email address is a painstaking task that would take hours.

 

The process needs to be consolidated, so that the same result is reached in a matter of seconds, rather than hours.

 

Automation allows the process of organizing leads and building processes to be expedited:

 

“You don’t have to manually add every client or lead into your database. If someone wants to work you or just inform themselves, you could have them fill out a form. Then, that information can be automatically added to the database.”

So rather than tediously combing through campaign after campaign and uploading them individually, marketers can simply link their campaigns with an automation tool that will automatically upload the leads.

 

This cuts down hours of work that would otherwise be wasteful if done by any other method. It would literally take multiple staffers copying and pasting every name, number, and email address that we acquired, in order to save as much time as possible.

 

Since we employ automation, however, more time can be spent on important matters that need attention-to-detail, like creative and strategy.

 

Zapier, the automation tool we use, links with Google Spreadsheet, Facebook Forms, Twitter Forms, and Google Analytical Forms.

 

Automation is becoming an increasingly utilized tool because of how much it improves productivity. Backed up by Nucleus Research, “marketing automation drives a 14.5% increase in sales productivity and a 12.2% reduction in marketing overhead.”

 

Even more intriguing was a study done by The Annuitas Group, which found “Businesses that use marketing automation to nurture prospects experience as much a 451% increase in qualified leads.”

 

For any size business, but especially for larger ones that can be inundated with hundreds of leads per day, automation is a means of consolidating time and improving organization, which obviously factors into time constraints.

 

Once you possess those leads, thus begins the process of creating a workflow to reach out. Here’s a good example of an automation workflow from Marketo:

 

 

We take this approach with email marketing campaigns. Once we gather our leads, we’ll strategize an approach to reach out to these leads in a manner that isn’t too overbearing, but one that reminds our recipient that we’re here.

 

Put yourself in the shoes of your recipient. You don’t want email after email every day, right? It gets irritating really fast and actually leaves a sour taste in your mouth about a company that you were formerly interested enough in to give your email to.

 

Instead, create a personal relationship that doesn’t rely on a sales-y approach that makes your motives clear. I’ll leave the email marketing tips for another blog (This one I already wrote, in particular), but any good marketing manager will attest to quality over quantity.

 

Above anything else, ensure that you already have a plan in place, including your email marketing nurture flow and the automation tool that works best for you.


How Hotjar Provides Landing Page Insights Metrics Can’t

Understanding audience tendencies is imperative to facilitating success, no matter the cause.

 

In digital marketing terms, it is especially important when creating a landing page or website that serves your audience. It must create enough convenience that the user easily finds everything they were looking for.

 

As important as metrics are, they can only tell us so much. Sure they can tell us how many times a button was pushed, but can it show us the user’s behavior beforehand? Can it show us where they had to scroll to find it? How far down they are scrolling to find what they need before giving up?

 

Hotjar, which considers itself “a new and easy way to truly understand your web and mobile site visitors”, specializes and excels in measuring this type of audience behavior.

 

Our team of analytical experts heavily utilize two key features to improve landing pages and websites:

 

  • Heatmaps
    • “Understand what users want, care about and interact with on your site by visually representing their clicks, taps and scrolling behavior

 

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  • Recordings
    • Identify usability issues by watching recordings of real visitors on your site as the click, tap, move their cursor, type and navigate across pages

 

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These features provide us with the advantage of seeing exactly how our audience behaves on a specific website we are monitoring.

 

When finding out just how much it helps, I asked Emira Oliveros, One Twelfth Performance Ninja (her words, not mine), to provide a specific example.

 

I got two.

 

She regaled me in a pair of success stories that centered on a recently constructed website for a new client; one about the placement of a ‘Learn More’ button, the other about the lack thereof.

 

The subscription service being offered on the website wasn’t receiving as many clicks as it should have. A lot of visitors were also leaving way too early, especially on mobile.

 

When she looked at the mobile website on Hotjar, she noticed the ‘Learn More’ button was well below the fold. With the main CTA being so low on the mobile site, users gave up and left. Considering the importance of mobile optimization, the inefficient design was practically turning away conversions.

 

It wasn’t until we recommended placing the button higher that subscriptions via mobile began to pour in. Users also stayed on the site longer.

 

The other case is something we’ve all dealt with at one point. You go to a website, see the product information on the top image, and assume this is where you click to access the products.

 

Instead, users were met with a dead end. The image wasn’t clickable, no matter how many times the user clicked. We were able to see this thanks to the Recordings feature, which allowed us to see sporadic clicking from numerous users on the website’s main image.

 

Our recommendation was to create a ‘Learn More’ button overlying the main image that directs users where exactly to click. Suddenly, the random clicking around stopped and memberships started to roll in.

 

The main learning was to include as much relevant info and a direct CTA above the fold that would require little scrolling.

 

While you who made the page may understand where everything is, you have to put yourself in the shoes of your audience and assume they know nothing. Do everything you can to help them out by placing all the key info and CTA’s they need to convert right in front of them.

 

People want everything provided to them instantaneously. Make it as convenient as possible to ensure as little critical thought is necessary and that they don’t need to go on a scavenger hunt.

 

Where Hotjar really came through was the fact that this was a new business that was only just starting to gain traction. Sample sizes were going to be too small to appreciate a collective outlook, so we had to take an individualized approach.

 

Our client being a new business actually helped our cause because it allowed us to set the foundation for our audience’s behavior. Since we were able to understand where people clicked and what drove them away, it set a precedent for the future of this website and any other pages that may follow.

 

Measurement tools like Hotjar stand out because they offer marketers a different take on indicating marketing success. It should be in the best interest of every marketing professional to utilize every resource necessary. Hotjar obviously won't help you figure out the best strategies for your website, but it can help you create a fully optimized, easily navigable website.

 

Have you ever used Hotjar? Leave a comment on our Facebook and let us know what you thought of it!


What Stops People From Converting (And How to Make Them)

"The more they pass their heart around, the more jaded that they become."

 

I never thought I'd reference a Drake lyric when discussing conversions, but it's actually appropriate for the topic we're about to dive into. I'm talking of course about the buyer's journey.

 

Allow me to explain.

 

First, let's examine the lyric. What Drake is making reference to is how women can become more suspicious of a person's motives with every break of their heart. The more they try to love, the more suspicious they become of perfidy and that they may get hurt again.

 

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We've all been guilty of putting our trust into someone that turned out to be deceitful. You learn from your mistakes and take that newfound experience with you, but you also become dubious of a person's intentions. As a result, you sometimes paint with a broad brush, rather than tacking it up as a singular event.

 

Now, let's apply this to a potential buyer on your website and why they're cautious about buying. We'll conveniently ignore any financial issues and assume that the buyer is well-off, but remains hesitant about pulling the trigger on a purchase.

 

There are several reasons for this, and one of them is they don't want to get burned and garner the loathsome feeling of buyer's remorse again. This, too, we've all been guilty of. We've all seen a shiny new product and allowed a salesman to smile in our face and convince us that "You absolutely need this!", and "How much it will change your life!", and "How life will be so much simpler and easier!"

 

Then we bring it home and realize it does nothing that was promised. Not only are you out however much money you spent on it, you also feel bamboozled. You always believed that you'd never be the one to make a poor purchase, yet here you are now with five three-packs of Shamwow's when you could have just bought ordinary paper towels for more than half the price.

 

You just might require counseling if you let people know about your purchase and become a source of mockery as the 'Shamwow Guy'.

 

Naturally, you become more guarded. Your arms become shorter when you reach into your pockets and you catastrophize every future buy. You don't want to lose out on anymore money and you certainly don't want to feel like you were bested, so you question each purchase more and more.

 

Now you're looking at the purchase button with a cart full of books, just to use an example, and are hesitant to buy. Because some books you've bought in the past haven't been as resourceful and helpful as you thought, however, maybe you reconsider this haul.

 

You question it, and the more you question it the less likely you are to buy. So you decide to wait another day when you have more money, or if you could find it online for free, or if you even really need them anyway.

 

The full cart is now left in purgatory, overflowing with books that will never be read by their prospective buyer.

 

It's up to the marketer to navigate the buyer through this process and prevent them from abandoning for one reason or another. There needs to be a level of trust between the buyer and seller that promises the buyer they are going to receive exactly what they're expecting.

 

Transparency is an effective way of bridging this gap between seller and buyer. If you're selling a book, why not allow the buyer to get a small sample of what they'll be buying by offering them a chance to read a few pages first.

 

Amazon and eBay excel at transparency because they provide access into the seller's habits. There's a star rating, a counter of how many sales they've made, access to their full online store, a description of the product and reviews of the product from other buyers. In my experience, the first thing I do when buying a product on Amazon is look for the seller with the most customers and highest star ratings.

 

Let's say you're a traditional seller, though, and don't rely on individual sellers to set up camp on your website and sell their products. I liked this suggestion from Copyblogger:

 

"Everything on your site needs to show you can be trusted: Real contact information. Your photograph. Thorough responses to FAQs. Clear, reasonable calls to action."

 

Putting a face to your product shows potential buyers that they're not dealing with some faceless corporation that could care less if you're satisfied or not following your experience. When a seller puts their face and name to their product, they're plunging into precarious waters because they're putting something as important as money on the line: Their reputation.

 

A person only has one name and one face. If they're deceitful, it will follow them everywhere because they staked their reputation on it. If John Smith sells a lemon of a product, it would only take me one Google search of John Smith to know not to trust him, especially since his face will be accompanying him in those searches.

 

Everything you do when selling a product needs to revolve around creating a trustworthy environment for your buyers. The product is an extension of yourself and your identity. It's your idea come to life, so treat it as such. If you thought it was a good enough idea to turn it into something tangible, then you need to be honest with your potential customers.

 

Trust is difficult to cultivate, especially with someone you just met, mainly because of their past experiences. Your buyer's jaded and you need to lay it all out there that you're different. The only way to break through someone's tough exterior is to make yourself vulnerable first by genuinely letting buyers know who you are and what your product does.

 

Once the customer is satisfied with their experience, the all-important foundation of trust has been laid.


Are Heatmaps the Best Metric for Digital Marketing Success?

In the digital marketing setting, success is obtained by a thorough understanding of your audience and what they need to click 'Buy'.

 

Sounds easy? It isn't. Humans are unpredictable, fickle, erratic, and are generally influenced to make purchases either through necessity or triggers. Our ads may reach hundreds of thousands of people, all of which fit into our intended audience, but only hundreds will act and click on the ad, with the rare chance that a few make a conversion.

 

Attempting to gain perspective on human tendencies is no easy feat, which is why brands come to marketing agencies. We have the tools and the experience to at least comprehend and extract perspective.

 

There are plenty of metrics available to answer any question you ask:

 

  • Are people clicking on my ads? There's Click-Through Rate (CTR) for that.
  • Are people staying on only one page on my website? There's Bounce Rate for that.
  • Are people reacting well to the keywords I'm using? There's Cost Per Click (CPC) for that.

 

However, there is one tool out there that may have them all beat and it doesn't include numbers at all, nor is it even specific to marketing:

 

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No, this isn't a weather report gone wrong. This is what we call a heatmap. For sports fans out there, you definitely know what this is, since it's popular in basketball to see where a player/team is hot and cold:

 

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and baseball to see where a batter is connecting/missing or where a pitcher's throws tend to go:

 

 

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To this huge sports fan (I cannot emphasize this enough), heatmaps are one of the greatest tools you can use to learn about the tendencies and success of a player.

 

Let's use the basketball heatmap for an example. That player is clearly great at shooting from a certain area beyond the three-point line. If I'm that player's coach, am I going to look at this heatmap and run plays in that red area where he's hot? Or am I going to make him take a few steps in and shoot where the map is green and cool?

 

The heatmap tells me I should run plays for that player either straightaway or to the right of the basket, similar to how the first map tells me that most people have their cursor frequently in those red areas.

 

But not all heatmaps are alike. We have....

 

1. Hover Maps

 

These maps track mouse movement, rather than just where people click. Digital marketers can use these maps as a metric to track where users keep their cursors and how they read a web page.

 

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But this isn't always the greatest indicator. Unless the website is entirely click-based, most users are going to ignore where their cursor is. In fact, as I write this, I have the cursor randomly sitting in a spot on a website.

 

Some stats from Dr. Anne Aula, Senior User Experience Researcher at Google, shows this to be true:

 

  • "Only 6% of people showed vertical correlation between mouse movement and eye tracking."

 

  • "19% of people showed some horizontal correlation between mouse movement and eye tracking."

 

  • "10% hovered over a link and then continued to read around the page looking at other things."

 

That 3rd stat is near to what I'm guilty of committing right now. I'm reading around on a website, ignorant to where my cursor is.

 

2. Click Maps

 

Click maps are useful in seeing where and what exactly people are clicking on, but it's also very easy to know what people are clicking on. It's a stat thats widely accessible on every platform.

 

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However, you can also see where people want to click on. From my personal experience, I will come across websites with a certain word highlighted or italicized. Thinking it's a link to further information, I will scroll over and click, only to realize the word or image was just that, nothing more than a word or image.

 

By applying this to a website you run, you can add links to the words or images where users were clicking.

 

3. Scroll Maps

 

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No, this isn't Pink Floyd's latest album cover.

 

This is a scroll map, and it allows marketers to discover how far users scroll before exiting the page. Its most essential role, especially for long-form sales pages and longer landing pages, would be letting website designers know where the essentials of the website need to be placed.

 

If users stop scrolling at a certain point (as we can see in the image above, users are stopping around the last 25% of the page), the website's architect can determine that the essentials of the website need to be placed higher.

 

This would greatly assist a marketer determining where to place something like a banner ad. Are they going to pay extra to have their ad placed at the top or in the middle, or are they placing it at the bottom? Judging by the scroll map, placing the ad at the bottom of the page would be a waste.

 

Scroll maps are also a great way of judging overall interest in the content on the website. For one, you can learn just how interesting the content is at the top. If, as seen in the image above, users are at their most active in the middle, you can figure that's where your best content is and where people clicking off the page.