It's All About Location: The Untapped Potential of Location Data

It’s clear that location data has immense value – especially for brick and mortar businesses that want to build a reputation in their area. But all too often, better results are left on the table when teams are unaware of all the ways location data can be used.

Location-based marketing is just what it sounds like – targeting your audience based on where they live, where they’ve recently visited, or where they’re currently at. Thanks to the widespread adoption of smartphones, it’s now possible to understand how most consumers move and interact in the real world – not just online.

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Aside from brick and mortar stores, brands that are participating in limited-time events or hosting pop-up shops can benefit from targeting local consumers who will be in the area or attending an event. Location data can encourage people to visit a specific location and track those visits as they occur.

Reach the Right People with Geofencing & Beacons

Geofencing technology uses cell towers to allow businesses to draw boundaries around the areas that interest them. These targeted area can be as small as a one-block radius or as large as an entire city. If a business owner needs more information about customers in a given location, geofencing is a direct way to obtain nuanced data insights. You can set geofences to determine which days or times are most popular for visiting a certain neighborhood. Geofences work best for larger areas, while beacons are more appropriate for reaching customers in the immediate vicinity.

Beacons allow you to target consumers who are just steps away from your location with special offers and deals. Beacons use Bluetooth technology to automatically recognize devices – typically smartphones – in the area. This allows for the right people to see your offer at the most convenient time – when they’re close by. Unlike geofences, beacons are more flexible in that they can be moved as needed. Businesses with multiple locations can make use of this data, as well as businesses that are considering opening additional locations.

Crack the Offline Attribution Code

Location data helps solve one of the most challenging problems marketers face: tracking offline customer behaviors. It’s a gray area many marketers struggle with – how to identify how a customer moves from Point A (learning about an offer), to Point B (making an in-person purchase). But interestingly, the majority of businesses have not yet implemented location data to fix this blindspot.

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Businesses need to understand the full customer journey, and technology makes it easier to do so when everything is online. For example, a customer can click an email marketing link and makes an online purchase – no mystery there. But what about a customer who is targeted with a mobile ad and then visits a store?

Whether you’re running a social media campaign, print ad, mobile app offer, or anything else, you need to know its true ROI. Location data helps illuminate which offers customers are taking action on. This empowers businesses to see which marketing channels are most effective and which ones need work.

Track Visit Frequency to Create Customized Offers

Because most consumers don’t make a purchase the first time they interact with your brand, having several touchpoints is key to building brand loyalty.

What can businesses do with visit frequency data (how often customers visit stores)?

First, they can intervene if their own customers are switching to a competitor’s products or services. In the same vein, they can reach out to a competitor’s audience who is dissatisfied and shopping around for a new brand. Brands can also target more frequent shoppers for special holiday offers and sales.

Get Creative with Consumer Insights

Location data isn’t just about drawing customers to your location – It’s about getting creative and finding ways to meet your customers where they are. Dominos launched their outdoor hotspots service in 2018, showing how location intelligence can be used to give customers a convenient new way to interact with brands. Dominos customers began ordering pizza from beaches, parks, and other hotspots.

Aside from reaching customers where they are, brands can learn about their needs and interests based on where they go and why. Discover what types of stores certain demographics prefer, or how far they’ll travel to a competitor’s store. These detailed insights can help fill in the gaps and complete the story of your target audience.

With the vast majority now owning smartphones, location data is quickly becoming ubiquitous. Whether it’s GPS, weather reports, local news, or app-based delivery services, most mobile users are already benefitting from location data.

Because data is now being shared so rapidly and at such scale, it’s important for companies to make sure insights are being accessed ethically. This means taking proper security precautions and ensuring user data remains anonymous. This will undoubtedly be an ongoing conversation as businesses and consumers navigate new territory in information sharing. If companies harness data responsibly and with consumer privacy in mind, it will be a win-win for all.


4 Ways Data Can Guide Your Branding Strategy

It’s easy to think of branding as a one-and-done activity – something that is determined early on in a company’s development. Creating the website, logo, and style guide, employing a general content strategy, and hoping for the best is what many companies did in the past. But as our understanding of consumer-brand relationships grows, it’s clear that a brand isn’t just a static ‘set it and forget it’ entity. 

Nowadays, we have a fuller picture of what branding really entails. Thanks to major rebrands by corporations like Apple and McDonalds, it’s clear that no company is too big or well-established to revisit its branding strategy.

So where does data come in?

Ultimately, a business can’t revamp its brand without any insights to support the changes. Anything from the slightest adaptation to a total overhaul needs data to ensure that the changes reflect the company’s vision for the future are also compatible with what its audience can connect with. Without careful consideration and research, a company might join the unsavory ‘failed rebrand’ hall of fame –businesses that wasted thousands of dollars and had to undo the changes made soon after a rebrand.

Data-Driven Storytelling

Data-driven storytelling is a concept that has gained traction in the past several years as marketers learn more about social engagement. Countless social media studies have shown that content that evokes emotion and tells a story drives engagement. If a brand can tell a captivating story in bite-sized pieces, it earns salience in the minds of its audience –

“Beyond simply getting noticed, brand salience is crucial for a more subtle reason. It turns out people are not the rational, utility-maximizing creatures in the way traditional economists and marketers once thought. According to a study by Kantar Millward Brown, “consumers rely on mental shortcuts or heuristics when they make their brand decisions. One such heuristic is to assign greater importance to things that have ready mental availability, the effect of which is to choose the most salient brand.” source

Storytelling is an ancient art for a reason. It helps people get to know others as individuals. Thus it makes perfect sense for a business to employ storytelling to earn the trust of its audience and share its core values.

Data insights reveal what topics appeal to readers and what stories make the most impact. Brands that tell stories with their content show who they are, what they know, and most importantly, why it matters.

Data-Driven Experiences

Data can inform not only how you choose to market and advertise your brand, but also how your audience identifies and experiences your brand. Much like storytelling, data-driven experiences create positive associations with customers. This strengthens their understanding of what you offer and how you offer it.

To start creating and tracking data-driven experiences with customers, it’s critical to know about touchpoints. 

A touchpoint is any time a potential customer or customer comes in contact with your brand–before, during, or after they purchase something from you.source

Customers will interact with your brand via your website, social channels, software, in-person stores, ecommerce checkout, newsletter, and many other touchpoints. The question your data should answer is: How can we reduce friction and make each of these experiences more satisfying? 

Brand Research

There’s no room for assumptions when it comes to business strategy. If a brand seems to be falling short of what its creators envisioned, it’s time for some research. What brand activities or qualities are missing the mark? It’s important to explore all of the possibilities.

One brand might be creating content that doesn’t match the attention span of its audience. Another might be using antagonistic language without realizing it, or even unflattering colors that drive people away from its landing page.

In order to know what needs to change, brands must assess their current identity – Who are they now vs. who they want to be in the future. In addition, data analytics paired with market research has enabled many brands to keep up with important new trends. After finding that a growing percentage of coffee drinkers were seeking non-dairy options, Starbucks introduced dairy-free alternatives. With this single decision, Starbucks expanded its brand to be more inclusive of health-conscious coffee drinkers. 

Content Creation

When people think branding, the first thing that comes to mind is often ‘content.’ The content a business creates is closely tied to its identity– What you say and do needs to align consistently with who you claim to be. This is the precise formula that builds brand loyalty.

Data can show what types of content receive the most ROI and what types receive the most meaningful engagement. Data can also expose opportunities your brand is missing out on (e.g. Is there a topic your audience loves that you haven’t talked about? A problem they’re having that you can directly address?) As these insights are observed regularly, brands can build a routine around what works and budget only for that content.

Some marketers may worry that being too data-driven will ruin spontaneity or deflate creativity. But in reality, these qualities of a brand work best when coupled with a sound data analysis practice. With data at the foundation of your branding strategy, your business can adapt to market shifts and new customer interests with confidence.


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!


The Art of a Successful Mobile App Push Notification

Locating the fine line between being helpful and being a nuisance is critical to cultivating a healthy relationship between buyer and seller. Unlike in the past when the most annoying part of advertising was seeing or hearing a commercial too much, now it's reaching your potential buyer through too many outlets.

 

Just consider how many avenues a marketer can go to reach their audience. They can reach them via social media, their email inbox, their search engines, websites they frequent, text message, and now even their mobile apps, through push notifications.

 

Now this is where the fine line is truly tested. Because push notifications can either be an extremely helpful tool that can maximize conversions when used correctly, or a reminder to that app's users to never buy anything from that company again.

 

For those who don't know, push notifications are those little messages that  pop up on your phone promoting something from an app. For example, I have an app that encourages me to write every day, so I set a reminder within the app to send at a certain time that pops up on my phone at that time.

 

But when used by a brand, it can be a promotional selling point. Those who opt-in to push notifications with your app can receive exclusive deals or sneak previews of products offered solely to the people who receive those notifications.

 

Unfortunately, push notifications have received a bad rap, often justified, because of how misused they are by those who ultimately decide its content, frequency and timing. According to Marketingland.com, "a whopping 52% of consumers view push messages and in-app messages as an annoying distraction."

 

Just like with all things marketing, you have to know and understand your audience before you develop a strategy to reach out to them. Find out what they like, what they don't like, what they'll be receptive to, when they're awake, when they're sleeping, and when they're most likely to buy. However, few things may be more important when it comes to sending a push notification that works than literally knowing who they are:

 

 

Take a look at this example from Business2community.com:

 

 

Success through personalizing push notifications is no different from social media or email marketing campaigns. Users are far more receptive to ads when it's directed to them, rather than a generic message that's blasted out to thousands of people connected through the same interests.

 

But don't think simply personalizing a message is everything you need. A strategy, naturally, still needs to be implemented:

 

"Personalization depends on a solid segmentation strategy. You can start by segmenting users based on their in-app behaviors or known information about them from your CRM (Customer Relationship Management)."

 

Your users aren't a monolith. They're all special in their own little way and want to be treated as such. We're here to make conversions and if that means coddling each and every individual to nurture them into following through, then do so.

 

Also consider the frequency and timing of your notifications. Once again, it's time to step into the shoes of your audience to understand their tendencies and behaviors. Consider local time zones and the time of the day.

 

Is your audience going to be interested in buying your product at 7AM when they first wake up, or at 7PM when they're unwinding from a day at work? Also, if you send a notification at 7PM to your eastern time zone audience, consider that your west coast audience receives it at 4PM, when they'll still likely be working. It's up to you to develop a method to stagger the timing of the deliveries to fully optimize your notifications.

 

The benefits of a successful notification strategy can be extremely rewarding, with "users who enable push notifications [being] far more engaged than users who don't. The study found that push-enabled app users logged 53% more monthly sessions compared with users who had not engaged with a push message."

 

They're also more likely to use your app over a longer period of time:

 

"Push-enabled users have higher longevity rates. After three months, 41% of push-enabled users were still using the app, far exceeding the 18% of push-disabled users who were still using the app."

 

Of course, you have to first entice your users into receiving push notifications. There has to be an added incentive other than the occasional offer or reminder. A solution to this could be making the app's experience worthwhile only if the user accepts push notifications:

 

"Companies often think of push notifications only as a means to re-engage inactive users. What if you changed your perception to seeing push as not just an integrated part of your communication strategy, but an integrated part of a user's mobile experience with your brand?"

 

There has to be value to your notification if you want people to stay interested. Make it engaging by including a product image, the product's name, the price info, and a CTA that are deeply linked with product views within your app.

 

Even better, be unique and spontaneous:

 

"Identify niche mobile use cases and channel them through push. Some examples include location-based offers, price drop alerts, time-sensitive offers. Think of push notifications only when you you want to tell your users about something that's useful in their NOW."

What do you think of push notifications? Let us know on our Facebook or give us a call!


YouTube Demonetization and Why It Should Worry You

Sometimes what's good on paper doesn't mean it's good in practice. Sometimes it veils something far more nefarious in its intentions.

 

Take YouTube and their recent controversy. In order to combat their definition of 'extremist content', the worldwide video-sharing platform responded to threat of a mass advertising boycott by "implementing 'broader demonetization policies' around 'content that is harassing or attacking people based on their race, religion, gender or similar categories'".

 

Honestly, it's tough to blame them for this approach when "analysts are predicting that Google will lose roughly $750 million as a result of an international ad boycott that kicked off last month, when marketers discovered that their campaigns were running against extremist videos on YouTube."

 

"The latest companies to pull their ads from the video platform include Pepsi, Walmart, Starbucks, FX, General Motors, Dish, JP Morgan, Johnson & Johnson, and Lyft, Variety reports. They join AT&T, Verizon, GSK, and Enterprise Holdings, which pulled their ads earlier this week, citing the same concerns."

 

Sounds great, right? While YouTube is headquartered in America, the hub of equal and free speech, it still exists as a private company, meaning it can ultimately decide which content it wants on its platform. So if they find a video that promotes harassment and just blind hatred, they have the right to 'demonetize' those videos or flat-out remove them.

 

Demonetization is the process of decreasing the money a channel can make off a video once it reaches a certain view count threshold:

 

"While creators can get revenue from ads, individual views don't account for much money until they reach the hundreds of thousands. Making sure your videos can reliably have ads matched with them is essential for creators being able to have long-term revenue."

 

Here's a list of things that may result in demonetization, according to YouTube's new policy:

 

  1. Sexually suggestive content, including partial nudity and sexual humor
  2. Violence, including display of serious injury and events related to violent extremism
  3. Inappropriate language, including harassment, swearing and vulgar language
  4. Promotion of drugs and regulated substances, including selling, use, and abuse of such items
  5. Controversial or sensitive subjects and events, including subjects related to war, political conflicts, natural disasters and tragedies, even if graphic imagery is not shown.

 

How idealistic. Unfortunately, I, as you should as well, have two major issues with this. For one, most of it is completely subjective, and two, it's vague. The fifth point, in fact, is absurd in how broad it's defined:

 

"Guidelines that contain something as broad as 'subjects related to political conflicts' do not provide creators with useful information. It makes it sound as if YouTube is no longer going to monetize channels that cover current events, which of course is not the case."

 

And in the case of subjectivity, who is ultimately deciding what constitutes as hate speech, especially in this day and age where something as simple as challenging a different opinion can be defined as such. If I'm a conservative with millions of subscribers and I have thoughts on illegal immigration, what's to stop enough people with different beliefs and a large following to report me enough times to have my video demonetized.

 

Take for instance the YouTube Heroes program rolled out last September; perhaps one of the greatest attacks on free speech based on subjectivity you'll ever witness on a social media platform:

 

"YouTube heroes gives users the option to flag a video for being inappropriate, and as a result you can get your video demonetized by it becoming age restricted or removed completely, which will add a strike to your channel and possibly lead to it being deleted."

 

 

Oh, but it gets better. And by better, I mean much, much worse. Here's the five-step process:

 

  1. Become a hero
  2. Learn more in seminars
  3. Unlock super tools that allow you to mass flag videos
  4. Get behind the scenes access, contact YouTube staff directly, and try new products first
  5. Top hero perks, basically become a full-time unpaid Google employee.

 

Imagine my shock when I saw comments were disabled on the official video, which currently sits with a Like/Dislike ratio of 30,722:956,895.

 

This is where a huge problem lies. A video can get demonetized simply because it offended the wrong person or people. What offends some may not offend others. This isn't as simple as a hardcore racist saying "I believe Race X is better than Race Y and Race Z is worse than all of them!".  A vast majority of the time it comes down to innocuous beliefs that other people simply don't agree with.

 

But again it isn't as simple as that, either. What it appears to be is an outright attack on YouTube content creators with good intentions. Because this demonetization process isn't just attacking the likes of virulent racists like David Duke. It's going after creators like H3H3 Productions, Philip DeFranco and even Jenna Marbles, who "have all had hundreds of videos no longer qualify for advertising revenue, and other YouTubers are claiming they didn't have a chance to appeal to their demonetization."

 

 

 

"It isn't just large channels that are being affected by these changes -- YouTuber Tim TV, who has been a fulltime YouTuber for about six months, told Kotaku that he saw that his revenue was, 'tanking faster than ever before,' and that he found the changes 'terrifying'".

 

Here's a little background from H3H3's Ethan Klein on just how out of line and lacking in transparency YouTube can be when it rolls out these vague stipulations:

 

 

You heard that right. Even tagging things like 'Suicide', 'Rape', and 'Drugs' can get your video demonetized, not taking any of the context whatsoever into mind. That means someone who tagged 'Suicide' because they wanted to give advice on suicide prevention, or a rape survivor who wanted to tell their story and tagged 'Rape', or a doctor who wanted to give medical advice and tags 'Drugs' would have had their videos demonetized.

 

And the worst part of it all? YouTube didn't even warn the creators. Just read how lacking in foresight this approach was:

 

"In 2012, YouTube began demonetizing videos based on new advertising-friendly guidelines. This was not done by people, but by an algorithm that looked at metadata of videos and other factors to decide whether it was likely to be something as an advertiser wouldn't want to be associated with."

 

But don't worry, because everything is better now, right? Well..

 

"Google currently uses a mixture of automated screening and human moderation to police its video sharing platform and to ensure that ads are only placed against appropriate content."

 

Look, we get it. YouTube is a massive platform with billions of videos from all over the world. Sometimes automation is the only way to keep some things in check that a human can't reach. However, this is a significant issue when YouTubers like Matan Uziel is no longer getting ad revenue on their videos dealing with "women about hardship, including sex trafficking, abuse and racism."

 

Why did it get pulled? Isn't it obvious? One of those automated screeners saw "sexually suggestive content", maybe some "violence", and "controversial or sensitive subjects and events", and was programmed to demonetize the video of a creator with obvious good intentions.

 

But they're not alone:

 

"Dr. Aaron Carroll runs a channel dedicated to healthcare policy and research and discovered this week that 27 of his videos were demonetized and had been for months. It seems likely that the algorithm regularly flagged a program discussing prescription drug costs, the opioid epidemic, and treatments for diabetes because it thought those videos were celebrating illegal drug use."

 

How is that for a precedent set by YouTube? If you dare used your large following to discuss the evils of addictive drugs or tell the stories of abused victims, no ad revenue for you. Oh, and like Ethan explained in the video, they wouldn't tell you about it, either. You wouldn't get notified and your video wouldn't even become age restricted. Your video would just be demonetized.

 

Fortunately, this policy changed last fall. YouTube now:

 

  1. Lets you know when a video has been demonetized
  2. Shows a notice next to demonetized videos
  3. Allows you to request a manual review of demonetized videos
  4. Re-monetizes videos that the review finds to be not in violation of YouTube's ad-friendly policy.

 

It's a great gesture sure. But why did it take four years to correct, and why were channels not even notified in the first place?

 

It was a shoot first, ask questions second policy. By thinking they're doing the right thing and acquiescing to the demands of their advertisers (Not surprising considering YouTube operates at a loss), they negatively affect innocent YouTube content creators who treat the platform as a full-time job and livelihood.

 

As YouTuber Arin 'Egoraptor' Hanson' said, "he wanted YouTube to 'be more clear about what advertisers are opposed to having their ads displayed on. What can creators do specifically to make their content more advertiser friendly?'"

 

But to really get into the meat of YouTube and its advertisers' intentions with subjective censorship and constant threats of demonetization for ThoughtCrime, I don't think we can go anywhere until we explore what I have dubbed The PewDiePie Situation.

 

For those who don't know, PewDiePie is basically the face of YouTube. He has over 54 million subscribers, and his videos are basically him talking into a webcam talking about one thing or another. His audience is mostly made up of the younger generation, mainly middle and high school kids.

 

But about a month ago, PewDiePie was attacked, seemingly at random, by the Wall Street Journal who took some out-of-context jokes and videos and decided to go on a character assassination spree.

 

"According to the Journal's analysis, over the last six months the YouTuber posted nine videos that included either anti-semitic jokes or Nazi imagery, including one, posted on January 11th, that featured two men holding a banner that stated: 'Death to All Jews'. Another video, posted January 22nd, featured a man dressed as Jesus saying, "Hitler did absolutely nothing wrong."

 

The entire premise was based on Fiverr, a company that asks buyers to pay just $5 to do absurd things, like having two people dressed in traditional native garb to hold up a sign that says 'Death to All Jews', or having a man dress as Jesus and saying "Hitler did absolutely nothing wrong." PewDiePie was convinced they wouldn't do it because of how insane the statements were, but they actually did it.

 

Out-of-touch, narrative-driven journalists who worked for traditional outlets discovered the videos and went on a crusade to take down the evil PewDiePie empire. They went through his videos, chopped up more out of context clips in his videos, and said, "See! See! Look how evil he is! How can parents let their children watch this?"

 

PewDiePie was not contacted by the WSJ to defend himself for their first hit piece.

 

As a result of this attack, PewDiePie actually lost out on a partnership with Disney's Maker Studios. Also as a result of this attack, PewDiePie's 50 million+ subscribers realized traditional media outlets are using out of context video clips to defame the character of a YouTuber who had exhibited zero anti-semitic or racist tendencies in the past.

 

The Wall Street Journal, worth noting, has 2.1 million subscribers. It was also voted as one of the least cool brands by 18-24 year olds.

 

And isn't it just ironic that the author of the original hit piece of PewDiePie was written by Ben Fritz, who composed a tweet in 2009 stating: "Just attended my first chanukah party. Had no idea jews were so adept at frying." Here's another in 2015 talking about having a "hard on purely for the Nazis" and one more stating "well obviously I'm not counting jokes about black people. Those are just funny."

 

So what's the meaning of this? Why is the Wall Street Journal of all publications going after YouTube's most popular YouTuber? Well, I did some research into the WSJ and have a theory, but let me preface it with this response from PewDiePie on the whole ordeal:

 

"Old-school media does not like internet personalities because they are scared of us. We have so much influence and such a large voice, and I don't think they understand that. The story was an attack towards me by the media to try and discredit me, decrease my influence."

 

While I would like to personally cite and specifically quote the Wall Street Journal's findings and rebuttals, I can't because I need to pay for a subscription. It's exemplary of how a bitter, dying, and desperate publication from the old guard is lashing out and attacking the new; latching onto a statement or joke that could be misconstrued as racist or anti-semitic, which is basically a death sentence to someone working in the public eye, and selling that to uninformed users.

 

In perfect media collaboration, the Washington Post, Vox (who had the slimy audacity to, once again, use an out of context clip of PewDiePie raising his arm and equating it to a Nazi salute as their cover image for the article), Wired, and Salon were all quick to jump on the "Is PewDiePie a Nazi/Alt-Righter/Racist?" bandwagon.

 

YouTube content creators, people like PewDiePie, H3H3, and Philip DeFranco, are independent and don't answer to anyone other than what appeals to their subscribers. They don't answer to advertisers, high-profile donors, boards of directors, executives, or producers. These are people armed simply with a webcam, a microphone, and a platform reaching tens of millions.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1BBmu_kFHrs

 

To the traditional media, this isn't just terrifying, it's a threat to their information monopoly.

 

Independent media, courtesy of the unbridled internet and social media platforms like Twitter and YouTube, have been on the rise and have shaken traditional media to its core. Distrust in these institutions is sewn as more and more people realize they're not getting the full story, while independent media, free of influence, is providing a perspective that's never discussed.

 

How do you attack these independents when they don't have a higher power that they answer to? It's simple. You hit them where it really hurts: Their ad revenue, their character through out-of-context clips, enlisting critics with opposing beliefs, employing other mainstream outlets to join your crusade, broad and extremely vague definitions of 'extremism', and using the platform they post on to crackdown on them.

 

But this isn't just an attack on popular YouTubers. It's an attack on counter-narratives and content creators not shackled by the constraining chains of producers, boards of directors, and advertisers.

 

So it's only natural that these dying publications in their death throes, like a cornered animal, are lashing out at its threats. Like YouTubers with over 50 million subscribers, or simply any YouTuber who is developing a following strong enough to take eyes off traditional outlets that are pushing a narrative delivered from on high.

 

Remember: "Whoever controls the media, controls the mind." There is nothing more integral to controlling the whims of the masses than the control of information. There should be nothing surprising that in the age of "fake news" a popular YouTuber is getting randomly attacked, advertisers are threatening boycotts, and traditional media outlets are doing their best to defame independent sources of info.

 

The only question that remains now is, just how long do the traditional media outlets think they have left?


4 Surprising Social Media Insights We've Made over the Past Week

One social media week has come and gone, one social media week of insights has come and is now here for your viewing pleasure!

 

Rejoice!

 

miami-heat-champagne-celebration-chris-bosh

 

We've done some extra special research for you, dear reader, today as we delve into four trends we've noticed, complete with plenty of evidence, that are currently shaping the future of social media.

 

You may be surprised to learn that....

 

1. Video is taking over

 

In our recent posts about Facebook brands doing it right, we mentioned the great work Samsung Mobile is doing by crafting social media posts that are fun, interactive and engaging to the user.

 

With nearly 41 million likes, Samsung Mobile has the ninth-most Facebook page likes among brands, trailing only the likes of McDonalds, Disney and Red Bull, but ahead of other giant corporations such as Oreo, KFC, and Starbucks.

 

What Samsung is doing that has vaulted them to the peak of social media is their content, namely the short videos they somehow churn out almost every day. These videos last between 15 and 30 seconds, but are usually intense, thought-provoking, and highlight features of their phones, without making the video too sales-y.

 

Check out their Facebook page if you want to see these videos for yourself. They all receive at least 1,000 likes, around 100 shares, and hundreds of comments, as well.

 

Samsung isn't the only brand on social media to employ this content strategy. In fact, there are plenty of other brands doing the same thing, such as McDonalds and General Electric.

 

They're doing this because video on Facebook and its newfound popularity. How popular? This popular:

 

"In September 2014, Facebook announced that its platform was generating more a billion views per day. Just months prior in June, the social giant revealed that for the first time ever, it had served more views than YouTube."

 

That's right. Facebook is beating out YouTube, the website whose content is dependent solely on videos, in video views.

 

And brands have taken notice, even incorporating sponsorships and partnerships (Samsung with the Tour de France and McDonalds with Minions). They're able to pump out these well-produced, creative videos on a near daily basis because more attention is being invested by those company's marketing departments.

 

Which leads me to my next point...

 

2. Facebook has become a legitimate advertising platform

 

Organic reach is dead, and brands killed it.

 

Prior to this recent flurry that has featured brands flocking to social media and mingling with their online audience, it was possible to make a stable social media living off of organic reach alone. Without spending a dime, you could create content that would get out to your audience and possibly more, simply because there wasn't a lot of competition that existed at the time.

 

In fact, it's causing a shift:

 

"The drop in organic reach has been apocalyptic for many businesses. This will force some businesses to reconsider Facebook as a viable channel and enable a migration to less noisy venues."

 

Now that you have innovative, bigger companies with even bigger pockets, social media has become pay-to-play.

 

According to Shoutlet.com:

 

"There's going to be a big shift in social media in filtering content from users and brands. Brands organic reach has declined significantly, while content is estimated to grow by 600% by 2020. Social media is no longer free and to see any results you'll have to 'pay-to-play'. "

 

Further to the point, the marketing budget towards social media is rising every day:

 

"28% of marketers have reduced their advertising budget to fund more digital marketing."

 

and furthermore:

 

"Social network ad spending is expected to hit $23.68 billion worldwide in 2015--an increase of 33.5% from 2014. Another forecast from the Social Times points out that Facebook's CPC rose roughly 8% between 2013 and 2014. The right time to venture into social media is now because, over time, this channel is only going to get more competitive."

 

Here's some advice: Don't even bother venturing into social media, especially on Facebook, and promoting your brand unless you're willing to spend. Now that there are corporations willing to invest their marketing budget into social media, smaller brands and pages can't compete with minuscule budgets or none at all.

 

But not all hope is lost....

 

3. Pinterest is becoming a lot more masculine and, therefore, more popular

 

For those who don't know, Pinterest is another social media network, but it differs in that it allows users to create their own Pin-boards, which feature all of the products, places, or people a user enjoys looking at. People can create all sorts of different Pin-boards that divert into varying categories, from DIY to a Christmas list.

 

That ringing you just heard in your ears is the bell telling you, "Wake up! This is an untapped source of advertising!"

 

Sure enough, Pinterest has made a name for itself as a network that makes people want to shop. Check out this revealing find:

 

"Pinterest users were bouncing from Pinterest to company websites at a rate almost seven times higher than they were in 2001. In fact, the Shareaholic study reports that 5% of all traffic to the 300,000 websites came from Pinterest."

 

and this one:

 

"Pinterest is second only to Facebook in the amount on traffic it drives to websites."

 

Really? What else?

 

"Pinterest has recently become the fastest-growing channel, surpassing Instagram."

 

Go on.....

 

"eMarketer predicts steady growth for years to come, reaching a total audience of 60 million in 2019; Pinterest's 24% growth will outshine Facebook's 9.2%."

 

Can you be any more enticing?

 

"The number of Pinterest users more than doubled in the second half of 2014....in the last six months of 2014, active users increased by 111%, and members increased by 57%."

 

THERE'S GOLD IN THEM THAR HILLS. GRAB YOUR PICKAXE, WHATEVER THEY NAMED PEOPLE IN THE 1870S, BECAUSE WE'RE GOING AFTER SWEET, SWEET PINTEREST ADVERTISING MONEY."

 

Of course, there is a catch, and it involves Pinterest's demographic. There's a reason why Pinterest is so successful at bouncing users from their page to a shopping website:

 

"Pinterest's audience, on the other hand, is dominated by women in their 30s with young families--a group that does the majority of the shopping. Pinterest draws this demographic because it conveniently delivers information on a range of products and services women need for their families."

 

And that's where the problem lies: Pinterest, at the moment, is too much of a niche community that serves only one demographic, which are young moms. This works out well for certain companies that pander to that demographic, but most advertisers would rather target an eclectic array of users and a much greater audience.

 

But not all is lost as far as advertising on Pinterest goes:

 

"In a November 2014 Business Insider interview, Pinterest head of engineering Michael Lopp claims the platform has doubled the number of men signing up in the past year, and that its male audience is experiencing faster growth than its female audience. Further, the gender split in emerging markets like China and India is closer to 50/50."

 

Get in while you can. Seriously.

 

And speaking of buying things off the internet...

 

4. The world is mobile

 

Are you somewhere in public? Look around you right now. What percentage of the people are looking down at their smartphones? Now look in a nearby window and use it as a mirror. What are you doing reading this in public? Jesus, dude, socialize!

 

OK, fine, you can keep listening since you, like so many people, are perfectly content not being sociable and contributing to the incredible lack of empathy that has stained society today.

 

BUT ANYWAY!

 

That little device that has consumed us and turned us into emotionless husks asking the closest person next to you, "HEY, DID YOU READ THAT ARTICLE ABOUT THE CAT THAT JUMPED OFF A 10-STORY BUILDING" is also becoming utilized as one of the most important tools in the social media battleground.

 

Mainly, it's being looked at as a tool you can use to buy with:

 

"Mobile payments are early today, but will soon skyrocket. In late 2013, just 6% of US adults said they had made a payment in a store by scanning or tapping their smartphone at a payment terminal. It will go up to 8% this year. Nearly 15% of Starbucks customers already pay with their phones. And, 60% of consumers use their smartphones to pay because of loyalty benefits."

 

Brands are getting innovative with mobile. Smartly, they're taking advantage of people already using their mobile as an extension of their arm. Without having to put their phone away to rifle through their wallet, brands, mainly Starbucks, allow their customers to never have to put their phone down!

 

Sad? Yes. Savvy? Oh yeah.

 

Dependence on mobile is especially huge on social media:

 

"31% of all traffic to the top 10 digital properties was mobile-only visitation....More than half of all social networks will occur on smartphones and tablets."

 

How do you make your content reflect better on mobile devices? When it comes to advertising, the shorter the copy, the better, especially on a website like LinkedIn. While you're allowed a maximum of 500 words in some cases for copy, mobile devices will only show the first 150 words before it cuts out.

 

Therefore, you're better off creating a 150-word piece of copy, rather than utilizing the full 500 words because of the great utilization of mobile devices to browse social networks.

 

With all of this information, remember to always stay updated with trends, otherwise you could be investing your time and money into a channel or practice thats popularity has already come and gone.


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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