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.


Top 5 Marketing Automation Tools for 2018

Top 5 Marketing Automation Tools for 2018

The right use of marketing automation can increase customer lifetime value, make your marketing processes more efficient, and even help increase your revenue. By harnessing all the data at your disposal, automation can help you execute a more comprehensive marketing strategy that cuts across channels. For instance, you can follow users around on the web, delivering relevant messages to them when they are more likely to engage with them. Granular personalization is possible with automation, and it does not come as a surprise that most marketers swear by these marketing automation tools. However, to reap the benefits of data and analytics, you need to choose the right marketing automation tool for your needs. Here are five of the best out there, right now, ranked from top to bottom.

1. Pardot

If you are looking for a tool that can handle all your marketing automation tasks, Pardot should be on your priority list. In addition to having one of the most comprehensive template libraries for workflows, Pardot also has a built-in search marketing automation tool and a social media marketing tool. The search tool can pick up data from Bing, Google, and Yahoo, and you can post real-time updates on all leading social networks, including Facebook and Twitter. Pardot even allows you to test your automated workflows so you can see all your imagined user-case scenarios in action before you make them live.

What we like about Pardot:

  • Really clean UI, which is very intuitive and easy to learn
  • Comes integrated with Salesforce, which allows seamless integration of your sales and marketing processes
  • You don't really need API integration, thanks to Pardot's form handlers. Even if you aren't using Salesforce CRM, bringing your third-party data into Pardot is a breeze.
  • Comprehensive search marketing capabilities
  • Blended lead scoring and grading, which allows you to hone in on your most interested customers, and hence, improve your conversion rates.

2. Autopilot

Right alongside Pardot, in terms of capability, is Autopilot. This cutting-edge marketing automation tool offers seamless integration with Salesforce, Slack, Zapier, and Segment. Perhaps the best part about Autopilot is its smart lists. You can combine lists, behaviors, and UTMs to create dynamic segments. These segments can then be engaged with predefined action-based workflows. Autopilot releases new integrations and features regularly, and most of them are handy for marketers.

What we like about Autopilot:

  • Clean and intuitive UI
  • Neat drag-and-drop functionality
  • A 30-day free trial for those new to marketing automation
  • Real-time activity reporting, which allows you to optimize your campaigns in real time
  • There is no cap on third-party integrations

3. Marketo

Marketo is one of the most popular marketing automation software out there. While it may not be the most intuitive automation tool, it has an extensive feature set. Marketo's in-depth reports are especially useful for marketers. The predefined templates allow you to get off the blocks quickly, and the report templates can also be customized extensively, depending on what you want to focus on.

The tool takes a modular approach to marketing. Marketing automation, customer engagement, marketing management and real-time personalization are all different modules that you need to pay for separately. This means you pay for only what you need. However, it can lead to more expensive marketing automation for companies that need all the features.

The software's landing page and newsletter builder are a bit clunky, too. If those are your primary marketing objectives, you might be better off elsewhere.

What we like about Marketo:

  • A comprehensive feature set that covers the whole gamut of modern-day digital marketing
  • Native integration with Salesforce and Microsoft Dynamics, which allows you to integrate your sales and marketing reporting easily
  • Deep reporting, with report templates to get you started quickly
  • Fast and reliable customer support

4. HubSpot

HubSpot's marketing automation tool is meant for small businesses. The beautifully designed UI is intuitive enough that you won't need to hire an IT expert. The capabilities are limited, especially when it comes to handling complex workflows. In fact, the custom automation workflows only give you "Yes" and "No" options. However, if you are a startup or a small business, HubSpot has plenty to meet your needs. Lists are easy to make, and integration with third-party CRM is a breeze. If you want A/B testing functionality, you will need to pay for HubSpot's highest plan.

What we like about HubSpot:

  • A quick learning curve -- HubSpot is intuitive enough for someone new to marketing automation
  • Really neat landing pages, with impressive built-in SEO for fast results
  • An active community and a huge reservoir of knowledge on marketing and marketing automation -- especially useful for first-time users
  • Free trial

5. Infusionsoft

Like HubSpot, Infusionsoft is also popular among small businesses. It is one of the best-designed marketing automation tools, and its campaign builder is especially impressive. The company also allows easy integrations with over 300 third-party tools, although there is no native integration. Infusionsoft can be useful for small e-commerce stores, given its built-in inventory tracking and payment processing capabilities.

What we like about Infusionsoft:

  • Universal tracking, which allows you to track your audience across channels
  • Integration with more than 300 third-party tools in the marketplace, which cover almost everything in marketing automation
  • The intuitive campaign builder -- easy for creating complex marketing workflows
  • Decent testing capabilities

When deciding on a marketing automation tool, keep in mind your primary objectives and the size of your campaigns. For instance, if A/B testing landing pages forms a big part of your digital marketing strategy, Marketo might not be the ideal choice, given its clunky design capabilities. Take into account what you want to achieve with marketing automation. It is the best long-term strategy to fully utilize the power of data and analytics.


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!


Connecting with Your Audience on an Emotional Level

When you write, you build a connection with your reader. Every sentence should be made with great care and preparation since you are investing the time and effort into bridging a gap between yourself and the reader to get the emotional response you're hoping for.

 

That response is what drives people to become conversions. If you're trying to convince someone to make an impulse buy, there's a need to evoke an emotion that yearns to help satisfy a need. They dominate our decisions and experiences. They're dangerously overwhelming.

 

Take being in love as an example.

 

When you're in love, you obsess over it and become irrational. Suddenly, logic is absent and you start to do, say or think things that are almost alien to you and your ideals. When emotion fades away and you come to your senses, you look back and ask yourself what you were thinking. You might even be embarrassed by your actions, yet you can't explain them.

 

Emotions can blind and lead you down paths you've never experienced, for better or worse. This is the level copywriters need to establish with their audience. Emotion in copy is a necessity because it's how you engage and build a relationship with your audience.

 

Your words have to tap into a recess of the mind that are going to convince the user to take action. Otherwise you're just writing for the sake of writing; affecting nobody, treating the task like a chore and letting everyone know about it because of how sober it is.

 

If readers aren't engaged in your writing, they're not going to keep reading. They'll get bored or distracted and move on to something else that they hope can captivate them. You can't blame this as a phenomena of our times. If your work is passionless and devoid of substance, the response will reflect it.

 

The importance of connecting on an emotional level cannot be overstated:

 

"Everything starts with emotion. Memories affect our thoughts and opinions; feelings affect our moods and behaviors. The human limbic system is the gatekeeper for all higher thought processing and evaluation."

 

Since you're not writing the great American novel with every post, email or piece of web copy, you are limited in your ability to fascinate. This ability to enable focus and generate undivided attention is a pillar of connecting with someone. Think back to grade school when you used to bring something from home for show and tell. You weighed every possibility in your possession to find something that would impress your peers.

 

Something that would fascinate them.

 

Now the question is, "How can I apply this to my writing?"

 

Fortunately, bestselling author and brand consultant Sally Hogshead commissioned The Kelton Fascination Study, where she discovered seven basic facets to fascination:

 

Alert

 

Write something that will get your reader's heart racing and make them see red. Evoke thoughts of danger, sirens, and hysteria to keep your audience fascinated and what action they should take next. Whatever the warning may be, it's fear that you should be generating.

 

Basically, watch CNN or FOX News for an hour and apply that to your content.

 

Mystique

 

Just think back to any unsolved mystery or conspiracy theory that fascinates (There's that word again) you.

 

This is CNN spending days on what could have possibly happened to a plane disappearing, BuzzFeed exclaiming that "YOU WON'T BELIEVE" this minor thing that happened, or unconfirmed reports of Polish explorers finding long-lost gold from World War II.

 

People are inherently curious and love a good mystery. A lot of people will take things at surface value, but there are many others out there that want to dig deeper.

 

"To create mystique, begin your introduction with a juicy question that begs for an intriguing answer. Jump in with a descriptive story, tapping into the senses, to trigger passion. Establish trust with supporting facts and figures, or maintain a consistent (yet engaging) style your readers can count on."

 

Innovation

 

I alluded to this in a previous blog about the prospect of something 'New' and just how powerful of an influencer it can be:

 

"People are constantly on the lookout for something new that’s going to add a breath of fresh air and an extra boost to a life that may be entrenched in the trudging pace of mediocrity and routine. With a promise of something new, it represents hope for a change for the better.

The prospect of ‘Something new on the horizon’ excites people. Your curiosity and wonder is heightened because ‘new’ represents mystery, possibility and discovery. A ‘new’ car means newer, better features. A ‘new’ home means updated, modern designs and the start of a new life. A ‘new’ job means new opportunity."

 

Prestige

 

A staple of advertising geared towards high society and those with deep pockets, prestige is all about one-upsmanship.

 

Your neighbor gets a nice car, now you need a nicer car. Your co-worker gets a brand new phone, now you need to pre-order the phone that hasn't come out yet. Your friend gets a nice house, now you need a bigger house.

 

Just look at this ad by BMW reeking of smugness and achievement:

 

bmw-prestige

 

If BMW telling Audi, "Good job, good effort" isn't the ultimate sign of elite one-upsmanship, I wouldn't like to know what is.

 

Trust

 

Before anything else, you need to build trust with your audience. This is also something I mentioned in a previous blog post:

 

"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."

 

Your audience needs to be secure in their decision-making when dealing with you. Build it through transparency and honesty displayed through your work with previous customers. Use testimonials to showcase how trustworthy you are.

 

Of course, you can only gain those testimonials by being honest and reliable in the first place.

 

Power

 

Offer your audience something that's going to make them feel powerful and in control. Something that will give them power over "people, circumstances and self." Even if the power is minimal, make your reader feel that the knowledge they wield will break down walls and reconstruct the norm.

 

We're addicted to it and it's evidenced by any recently promoted manager who suddenly gains control over the actions of five waiters at your local restaurant.

 

Passion

 

If you're not passionate about what you're writing about, then how could you ever expect your reader to be interested?

 

Passion is a beautiful, wondrous thing that leads to groundbreaking discovery and innovation. A man passionate about history can indulge readers in comprehensive events of a significant time. A woman who is passionate about music can enthrall listeners with new mixtures of sounds that can take your mind to new places. A child who is passionate about computers can keep innovating throughout his life before making scientific achievements never once thought possible beforehand.

 

Elon Musk wouldn't be trying to send people to Mars if he wasn't passionate about technology. Michael Jordan wouldn't be the greatest player in basketball history and usher in a new era of kids emulating him if he wasn't passionate about competition. Jonas Salk wouldn't have saved millions of lives through the creation of the Polio vaccine (and then refuse to patent it) if he wasn't passionate about humanity.

 

Be passionate in your writing and you can move the world to do things that were once thought impossible. Be emotional, expressive and animated enough so that your reader becomes as passionate about the subject you're writing about as you are.


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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Guide: How to Inject Personality Into Your Website and Stand Out

Your website is often the first impression a prospective buyer will garner of your business. And seeing as studies have reported that “you have less than 10 seconds to impress and engage a new visitor to your website”, it’s of extreme importance that your website is fully optimized.

 

It needs to be clean. It needs to be strategically concise in some areas, but lengthy and descriptive in others. It needs to be accessible. It needs to present a clear understanding of who you are, what you do, and why you’re the best for the job.

 

Basically, it needs to act as an extension of your business’s personality. Remember that this is essentially the first thing your next client (or buyer depending on what industry you serve) will see.

 

If I’m running a marketing agency and I can’t properly communicate my message, there’s a high likelihood that visitor will take their business elsewhere. How could they trust me to communicate their message when I can’t even communicate my own?

 

In broader terms, if you’re on a first date, are you not going to take the time to prepare yourself and put the best version of you out there? Of course you are! Because when your date sees you for the first time, you want to provide them with a clean, well-kept image before you even open your mouth.

 

Effectively communicating your services on a website goes beyond copy, which we’ll get to momentarily. Just like how you can communicate without saying a word, simply based on your appearance, mannerisms, and demeanor, you can do the same on a website through its design, layout, accessibility and quality.

 

Take pride in your website! After all, this is a representation of who you are. Ensure the photographs are colorful, original, and eye-catching. If you’re going for more of a sleeker, modern design, then be consistent. If you’re relying on neutral colors from the beginning, stay the course the entire website.

 

Accessibility, for both desktop and mobile, is perhaps the most notable and necessary website feature, in terms of the digital era we live in now. There is no better way to instantly lose website visitors than if your website is confusing, devoid of direction, and lacking key info.

 

Let’s step into the real world for a second again. Place yourself at the front of a large department store with a need to find a specific item. You enter and look up for the placards hanging from the ceiling to indicate which aisle has which items. They’re not there. Immediately your shopping experience is negative.

 

 

So you go through each and every aisle. You’d ask for help, but there are no employees in sight to reach out to. After awhile, you finally find your item. Now it’s checkout time. Oh, what’s that? You can’t even find the registers. Forget this. It’s too frustrating, so you just find somewhere else that’s easier to navigate.

 

Now apply the same principles to a website. You want something from a marketing agency—let’s say lead generation help—and you enter the website hoping to find if they can help. Instead, you can’t find anything. There’s information in there about lead generation, but you just can’t find it.

 

Maybe you can find someone to help? While it would be nice to have a ‘Live Chat’ or ‘Contact Us’ option, those, too, are nowhere in sight. After awhile, you get frustrated and leave to find a marketing agency that can actually cater to your needs.

 

Had your website been organized, helpful, easily navigable, and accessible, you wouldn’t have lost that potential client. This is the first step people are taking in this sort of territory and having them meet an inaccessible, confusing website is the worst possible scenario.

 

Make everything as clear as possible. In laymen’s terms, idiot-proof it. Ensure everything is right where it needs to be found and can easily be accessed. Place your contact information right at the top of your page so it’s the first thing they see. Have a search box available. Implement a live chat that pops up at the bottom of the screen. Give visitors a clear call-to-action button.

 

However you design it, just keep it simple and ensure it’s organized. The same goes for mobile, where “over 38% of web traffic now comes from”. That percentage may not seem like much, but it would be foolish to alienate four out of every ten visitors to your page because you’re not mobile optimized.

 

Once you have your layout setup and organized, you can begin the fun, and my favorite, part: Writing the copy.

 

Revisit what I said in the first paragraph: “You have less than 10 seconds to impress and engage a new visitor to your website.”

 

That quote applies to copy as much as it does your layout. You need to address what your business specializes in and it needs to be done in a dynamic way that’s going to get attention. Of course, this goes back to your layout. Copy can be stimulating, but layouts are the first thing people are going to notice.

 

Take for example our very own One Twelfth website. We capture the attention of our visitors immediately. The copy we place is concise, but it’s on a slideshow featuring several dynamic, interesting images that shifts every few seconds to the next one.

 

It’s quick. It’s efficient. It’s simple. You don’t want a wall of words as the first thing your visitors see. Making a creative, striking layout with branding and a basic readout of what your business serves does pass the test. However, you always want to offer your reader something that’s really going to capture their attention like, for instance, a slideshow.

 

Your website’s copy needs to consist of everything you can do in the most efficient way possible. But before even writing that copy, first create an outline and a flow that will effectively demonstrate your company’s services. Nail down all the pages you’ll be creating and what each will consist of, as well as which you think are the most important to your reader.

 

In the same way a retail business will showcase its best sellers at the top of its page, an agency can put its top services at the highest pedestal.

 

You want to separate yourself from the pack and there’s no better way to do this than through your copy. This is the opportunity to inject personality into your brand. That means avoiding common buzzwords you’d expect every other brand in your industry would use. It doesn’t mean to avoid them altogether, just not to harp on them continually.

 

Instead, have fun with it! Unless your brand is already well established and known, you have to find a way to stand out to convince clients to hire you. Here’s an explanation on how it works:

 

“People trust brands they know. If the voice of your website copy is bland, boring or cold you’re missing out on that magic connection. Use your personality to build that connection and draw people into what you’re talking about.”

 

That first point really rings true. It’s far more likely if you provide potential clients with transparency, as opposed to relying on the crutch of sterile information and cliché buzzwords, that you’re going to build a mini-relationship right then and there.

 

Plus, it gets them a little more intrigued. Again, you’re doing everything you can to stand out while still maintaining professionalism. You need to be informative and professional, but also instilling that unique personality only you can provide.

 

Pull back the curtain a little bit for visitors to see just who they’re dealing with. Exhibit how cohesive of a team you are by displaying pictures of your team taking part in after work activities; showcase any charitable work you’ve done; show life inside the office.

 

Transparency has become huge in today’s social media age. People now more than ever want to see who they could be potentially working with, simply because they know you can provide that.

 

Once it’s all said and done, give it time to see how well it performs. Use tools like heat maps to see where people are clicking and where they’re scrolling. That way you can make adjustments to your page to optimize it. You’d be surprised just how simple adding a CTA button can increase conversions. We’ve made numerous observations at our agency, when checking on a client’s website, where visitors click around on a certain space thinking it’ll redirect them to another page, only to leave disappointed.

 

And if you need any help doing this, I know of a certain marketing agency that specializes in website copy and design. Maybe you’ve heard of them.


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.