Tag Archive | "Brand"

Brand Transparency: Why It Should Matter to Your Business

Consumers nowadays have become savvier, thanks to the easy accessibility of information via the Internet. They are not easily swayed by false advertising claims and fancy marketing spiels. Younger consumers have become especially more loyal to brands that appear to be transparent in how they do business. 

But what is brand transparency, exactly? Why is it crucial for companies, and does it really have an effect on consumer behavior and loyalty?

Brands are developed as a means to identify and differentiate one business from the other. Effective branding creates inherent value that affects purchasing behavior and consumer preferences. These days, consumers are demanding more detailed information about a product before making a purchase. They want to know all the product specifications, the materials used to make it, where those materials came from, and the actual people who make and distribute the products. For these reasons and more, brand transparency should not be considered just another marketing buzzword; it should be a top priority for businesses.

Studies have shown that transparency resulted in increased loyalty and boosted brand worth.  2016 Label Insight Study, revealed that out of 2000 respondents, 94 percent were likely to be loyal to a brand that commits to full transparency. About 56 percent would remain loyal for life if a company remained open to its disclosures. Of those surveyed, 73 percent were willing to pay more for a brand that is completely transparent. 

Some consumers will even switch to a brand and consider its entire product portfolio, all because of its openness.  

Brand transparency builds lifetime loyalty and strengthens trust from consumers. About 58 percent remain distrustful of a brand without ‘real world proof’ of its promised claims. Businesses are seen as ethical if they are truthful in informing people of what to expect from offered products and services. It is a guiding principle for companies and advertising channels alike in their marketing strategy to earn trust. 

Full transparency requires a conscious effort in disclosing information to the public. It allows companies to prevent mistrust from happening when information is only made available after the incident. There are several ways to promote brand transparency and earn consumer trust.  

1. Holding Your Brand Accountable

Any lapses in brand standards should be pointed out and serve as an example to do better. A business is responsible for delivering its brand’s promise on products and services. If possible, everyone in the company should share accountability, as behaviors in the workplace also reflect the brand’s values.

2. Focusing on What Your Brand Represents

Avoid portraying the company inaccurately. Staying true to what your brand stands will help it to maintain a positive image. Amidst the changing business landscape, companies must remain open with their consumers without losing sight of the brand’s purpose. Core values and a clear mission statement should be communicated and upheld throughout the company.

3. Connecting With Consumers

Companies should take advantage of social media in communicating their messages to target markets. With digital-savvy consumers, businesses must turn to social networking platforms and acknowledge feedbacks or queries addressed through these channels. By adjusting how they communicate, companies can establish a recognizable brand voice and encourage engagement with consumers. This builds trust in the brand and establishes a loyal relationship with its customers.  

Keep in mind that brand trust and loyalty do not happen overnight. There are several factors involved in creating a long-lasting relationship with your customer, but one that stands out is brand transparency. 

[Featured image via Pexels]

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How to Use Instagram Like a Beauty Brand

Posted by zeehj

Does your brand’s activity on its social accounts impact its search rankings? Maybe. Maybe not. But does it matter anyway?

I shouldn’t have to convince you that investing in a social media for your company is worth it; even in light of Facebook’s recent data breach, we are so reliant upon our social profiles for real human interaction that leaving them is not a real option. In fact, the below statistics from Pew Research Center’s 2018 Social Media Use Survey indicate that we’re not going to give up our social media profiles any time soon.

Humans are social creatures. It makes sense that we love being on social networking sites. We crave interaction with fellow humans. We’re also highly likely to trust the recommendations of our friends and family (Nielsen) and those recommendations often influence our purchasing decisions. We ask our loved ones for advice on where to put our dollars in myriad ways, all at different price points:

  • What coffee shop do you like to go to?
  • Which mascara is that?
  • What are you reading right now?
  • Where’d you get that tie?
  • What neighborhoods are you looking to move to?
  • What schools are you looking to send Anna to?

Yes, those same searches occur online. They also frequently occur in tandem with testimonials from the people in our lives (depending on how thorough we want or need to be).

So if you have a thing that you want to sell to a group of people and you’re still not pursuing a social strategy, I don’t understand what you’re doing. Yes, it’s 2018 and I still find myself trying to persuade clients to proactively use (the right) social networks to promote their brand.

For the sake of this piece, we’re going to focus on organic usage (read: free, not paid advertising) of Instagram. Why just Instagram? 35% of US adults say they use Instagram as of 2018, up from 28% in 2016. This was the greatest growth across top social networking sites reported by Pew Research Center. Additionally, its 35% usage puts it at the third most popular social networking platform, behind only Facebook and YouTube.

Other good news? It may be easier for brands’ posts to appear in users’ Instagram feeds than on their Facebook feeds: Facebook still wants to prioritize your family, friends and groups, while The New York Times reports that Instagram is updating its algorithm to favor newer posts rather than limit the accounts in your feed.

So should every brand have an Instagram? Maybe? But notice I’ve been primarily using the word “brand,” not “company” or “business.” That’s deliberate. Companies (only) provide customers with a service or sell a product. Brands provide customers (followers) with an identity. (If you want to dive further into this, I highly recommend this presentation by former Distiller Hannah Smith.)

The best companies are brands: they’ve got identities with which consumers align themselves. We become loyal to them. We may even use the brands we purchase from and follow as self identifiers to other people (“I’m a Joe & the Juice kind of guy, but not Starbucks,” “I never use MAC, only NARS,” “Me, shop at Banana Republic?! I only go to Everlane!”). Not every company should be on Instagram — it doesn’t make much sense for B2Bs to invest time and energy into building their company’s presence on Instagram.

Instagram is not for your consulting firm. And probably not for your SaaS company, either (but prove me wrong)!

It’s for celebrities. It’s to show off your enviable trip. It’s for fashion blogs. Sneakerheads. Memes. Art. Beauty brands. It’s really great for beauty brands. Why? Instagram is obviously great for sharing pretty photos — and if you’re a beauty company, well, it’s a no-brainer that you should have an active account. And it also has incredible built-in features to organically promote your posts, engage customers, and sell products with actual links to those products on your photos.

So, if you’re going to use Instagram, do it right. If you want to do it right, do it like a beauty brand.

First things first: Why do beauty companies’ IG posts look better?

Glossier

Onomie

Milk

Let’s get the obvious out of the way: each account features beautiful models, pretty sceneries, and cosmetics in clean packaging. That said, it’s not just the subject of the IG photos that matters: each of these IG accounts’ photos have been curated and edited together, so that their photos look cohesive when you view them in IG’s grid format. How do they do that? Let’s look at three posts from these accounts.

Glossier

Onomie

Milk

It’s hard (for me) to pick apart precisely why these photos are aesthetically pleasing — and it doesn’t help that I’m neither a photographer, nor a designer. That said, here is my rudimentary, non-designer take on why these photos look great together:

#1: Their subjects are beautiful (duh)

#2: There are limited primary focal points, and tons of negative space (though the medicine cabinet and floral arrangement photos are arguably “busy”)

#3: Their hues are complementary (pinky-pearlescent-pastels, anyone?)

There’s a lot of pink. And white. And pastels. And more pink. And then, occasionally, pops of color (think: a new violet lipstick shade).

Color schemes remain consistent across Onomie’s, Milk’s, and Glossier’s photos — these beauty brands don’t suddenly change their color palettes from one photo to the next. In fact, they are most likely implementing the same Instagram filters for each photo, or at least editing the color balances so that the photos complement each other. They are deliberately catering to Instagram’s 3×3 grid photo format (or 3×4, or 3×5, depending on your screen size). While many users do see IG posts in their “feeds” when they open the app, users are still motivated to look at IG accounts’ for a number of reasons: IG profiles are the only place where you can add hyperlinks on Instagram, and is also where accounts can pin stories for users to revisit.

But how on earth do they do it? They may have professional photographers, or graphic designers they can beg to normalize their color balances across photos. However, I don’t think that most companies necessarily need this mastery in-house in order to have an Instagram profile that looks good to mere mortals.

What I can assure you is that they plan, plan, plan out their posts in advance. In order to do this effectively, of course, you need the right tools. Here’s your starter pack of IG apps:

  • VSCO
    • Freemium phone app
    • Enables you to edit photos like a master — VSCO goes way beyond a small set of filters
    • Has its own community and image feed within the app, separate from IG
    • VSCO can’t post directly to IG (yet), but you can easily download any edited photo
  • Planoly
    • Freemium desktop tool and phone app
    • Can visualize your photos in a grid format with your other IG photos
    • Built-in analytics
    • Can schedule and post directly to IG, with captions and hashtags
  • Unum
    • Free
    • Offers some photo editing tools
    • Can drag and drop photos to plan out how they will appear alongside your other uploads, in grid format
    • Can post to IG, but no scheduling features

This may sound like a lot of work, and for non-designers in particular it’s pretty challenging. That said, the fruits of your labor can be used again and again. In fact, that’s precisely what these beauty brands do on IG: if they’re featuring a product (again, hello lipstick shades), they show off that product’s different colors, on different skintones. Basically, rinse and repeat with your IG photos: this repetition is great for those with sparse content calendars, and still looks great.

Okay, but they’re not popular just because of their looks, right? Why are beauty brands on IG so damn popular?

Yes, looks matter. IG is a visual platform. Sorry not sorry. And yes, we’re talking about beauty brands that have budgets to advertise their accounts and products on IG, which also contributes to their popularity. However, that’s not the whole story.

They use hashtags and photo tags.

Hashtags

Just like on Twitter (and Facebook, to a degree), hashtags are a natural way to boost exposure and get “discovered.” That’s largely because IG users can also follow hashtags, in the same manner as following a handle. And, just like on Twitter, it matters which hashtags you use. IG also allows users to add up to 30 hashtags per post — and yes, this can look spammy, but if you’re using IG like a beauty brand, you’ll separate your caption from your hashtags with periods-used-as-line-breaks or as a separate comment after you post.

So, where should you begin hunting for hashtags? Unfortunately, the Cambridge Analytica debacle has extended to Facebook’s other properties, including Instagram. It seems like one direct response to this is to limit the number of API calls we can make of IG. This means awesome services like websta.me can’t serve up the same amount of information around hashtags as they once did.

That said, Tagboard is one option for content and social media marketers to use. I like to use it to suss out hashtag intent (in answering whether this the right hashtag to use for this post). *Readers: if you’ve got tools you love to find hashtags on IG, add them in the comments below for us, please!

Otherwise, your best bet (as far as I know) is to search for hashtags directly in Instagram’s Discover area, under Tags. There, you can see how many times those hashtags have been used (what’s popular?) and then click through to see what photos have been tagged.

Photo tags

Beauty brands also take advantage of photo tagging on their posts when they can: if they are featuring a celebrity (like the magnificent Tracee Ellis Ross), they can tag her IG directly onto this post. Not only does this let Tracee (or, more likely, her social media manager) know, but depending on her settings this photo now shows up under her tagged photos on her profile — for her fans to discover.

Similarly, if you’re a business selling products and you’ve been approved for shopping on IG, you can also tag your products in your photos so that users can click through directly to their product pages. This is a no-brainer. Just do it.

They talk to their followers.

We already know that it’s best practice to engage and respond to followers on social media (within reason), and IG is no different. Onomie, Milk and Glossier all have downright spirited conversations in their photos’ comments sections by prompt fellow ‘grammers to participate in a few ways. They:

They add stories.

IG’s “Stories” feature is another great tool that Onomie, Milk, and Glossier all use. They’re like IG posts, but ephemeral (they only last 24 hours) and do not live in your main feed: users can access these stories from the top of their IG feeds, and from the account’s main icon. In some cases — especially brands selling products — these accounts may choose to “pin” evergreen stories to their IG profiles, so that users can access them beyond the 24-hour lifespan.

Stories are an excellent way to gather additional insights from followers (outside of comments) because you can run polls (with clickable elements) to collect simple data (“Should our next product help alleviate dry or oily skin?”). What’s more is that, depending on users’ notification preferences, stories automatically push notifications to followers’ phone screens. This means that even if a user is not using the app, they will be notified of new, temporary content.

If your brand (or your client) isn’t taking advantage of IG’s great marketing tools, it’s time to stop waiting and get ‘gramming. Especially if your target audiences are using the platform, there is no reason not to test out all the ways it allows you to engage its community.

Share your favorite IG tools, tips, and accounts below, so that other Moz readers can get inspired. And if you’re passionate about marketing, come join our team, and help me convince more awesome brands to take over Instagram. (JK. Kinda.)

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If You’re Building A Personal Brand You Need A ‘Claim To Fame’ Breakthrough Result

I was recently a guest expert on a panel interview as part of a marketing summit. As I was listening to the other speakers and hearing their stories, it became clear that everyone involved had some kind of ‘claim to fame‘ result. They had experienced a breakthrough success in their past…

The post If You’re Building A Personal Brand You Need A ‘Claim To Fame’ Breakthrough Result appeared first on Entrepreneurs-Journey.com.

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Why Your Brand Should Consider Podcasting in 2018

Companies who want to succeed online in 2018 need to have a firm digital marketing strategy. Luckily, there are a number of strategies and tools open for marketers, like blogging, content marketing, email marketing, social media, and paid search.

Another prime vehicle for content marketing today is the podcast. Besides providing relevant information about your brand or product, podcasts come in an easily digestible content format and doesn’t need a customer’s undivided attention, unlike text-based or video content.

There are several reasons why your brand should consider delving into podcasts this year. Consider the following:

 

It’s Easy to DevelopImage result for podcasting statistics 2018

Making a podcast is relatively easy. You basically just need a high-quality microphone and headset to create your podcast. The software needed to edit it is free and easy to use and all you need to upload it is a solid WiFi connection.

It can be Distributed via Multiple Channels

Aside from being easy to create, podcasts are also easy to promote. It’s common for companies to broadcast their podcasts on their blog or website. But services like iTunes, SoundCloud, and Stitcher helps in expanding the reach of your podcast. You can also use different social media platforms to share your podcasts.

It Establishes Your Authority

A podcast gives you an arena to show your expertise and passion for your niche. Your enthusiasm and speaking prowess also adds an authoritative air to the topic, something that the written word can’t express. And coming out with regular podcasts that have sound information and good ideas helps establish you and your brand as market leaders.

There’s a More Intimate Connection with the Audience

Listening to someone on a regular basis can lead to a more intimate and stronger connection. Broadcasting podcasts regularly give listeners the chance to become more familiar with the podcaster’s style and voice. This familiarity and connection keeps your brand in mind and helps the audience have a better understanding of the company’s values.

Don’t be left behind by the other brands that have already discovered the power of podcasting. Start integrating podcasts into your marketing strategy and reach more people.

[Featured image via Pixabay]

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Moz the Monster: Anatomy of an (Averted) Brand Crisis

Posted by Dr-Pete

On the morning of Friday, November 10, we woke up to the news that John Lewis had launched an ad campaign called “Moz the Monster“. If you’re from the UK, John Lewis needs no introduction, but for our American audience, they’re a high-end retail chain that’s gained a reputation for a decade of amazing Christmas ads.

It’s estimated that John Lewis spent upwards of £7m on this campaign (roughly $ 9.4M). It quickly became clear that they had organized a multi-channel effort, including a #mozthemonster Twitter campaign.

From a consumer perspective, Moz was just a lovable blue monster. From the perspective of a company that has spent years building a brand, John Lewis was potentially going to rewrite what “Moz” meant to the broader world. From a search perspective, we were facing a rare possibility of competing for our own brand on Google results if this campaign went viral (and John Lewis has a solid history of viral campaigns).

Step #1: Don’t panic

At the speed of social media, it can be hard to stop and take a breath, but you have to remember that that speed cuts both ways. If you’re too quick to respond and make a mistake, that mistake travels at the same speed and can turn into a self-fulfilling prophecy, creating exactly the disaster you feared.

The first step is to get multiple perspectives quickly. I took to Slack in the morning (I’m two hours ahead of the Seattle team) to find out who was awake. Two of our UK team (Jo and Eli) were quick to respond, which had the added benefit of getting us the local perspective.

Collectively, we decided that, in the spirit of our TAGFEE philosophy, a friendly monster deserved a friendly response. Even if we chose to look at it purely from a pragmatic, tactical standpoint, John Lewis wasn’t a competitor, and going in metaphorical guns-blazing against a furry blue monster and the little boy he befriended could’ve been step one toward a reputation nightmare.

Step #2: Respond (carefully)

In some cases, you may choose not to respond, but in this case we felt that friendly engagement was our best approach. Since the Seattle team was finishing their first cup of coffee, I decided to test the waters with a tweet from my personal account:

I’ve got a smaller audience than the main Moz account, and a personal tweet as the west coast was getting in gear was less exposure. The initial response was positive, and we even got a little bit of feedback, such as suggestions to monitor UK Google SERPs (see “Step #3″).

Our community team (thanks, Tyler!) quickly followed up with an official tweet:

While we didn’t get direct engagement from John Lewis, the general community response was positive. Roger Mozbot and Moz the Monster could live in peace, at least for now.

Step #3: Measure

There was a longer-term fear – would engagement with the Moz the Monster campaign alter Google SERPs for Moz-related keywords? Google has become an incredibly dynamic engine, and the meaning of any given phrase can rewrite itself based on how searchers engage with that phrase. I decided to track “moz” itself across both the US and UK.

In that first day of the official campaign launch, searches for “moz” were already showing news (“Top Stories”) results in the US and UK, with the text-only version in the US:

…and the richer Top Stories carousel in the UK:

The Guardian article that announced the campaign launch was also ranking organically, near the bottom of page one. So, even on day one, we were seeing some brand encroachment and knew we had to keep track of the situation on a daily basis.

Just two days later (November 12), Moz the Monster had captured four page-one organic results for “moz” in the UK (at the bottom of the page):

While it still wasn’t time to panic, John Lewis’ campaign was clearly having an impact on Google SERPs.

Step #4: Surprises

On November 13, it looked like the SERPs might be returning to normal. The Moz Blog had regained the Top Stories block in both US and UK results:

We weren’t in the clear yet, though. A couple of days later, a plagiarism scandal broke, and it was dominating the UK news for “moz” by November 18:

This story also migrated into organic SERPs after The Guardian published an op-ed piece. Fortunately for John Lewis, the follow-up story didn’t last very long. It’s an important reminder, though, that you can’t take your eyes off of the ball just because it seems to be rolling in the right direction.

Step #5: Results

It’s one thing to see changes in the SERPs, but how was all of this impacting search trends and our actual traffic? Here’s the data from Google Trends for a 4-week period around the Moz the Monster launch (2 weeks on either side):

The top graph is US trends data, and the bottom graph is UK. The large spike in the middle of the UK graph is November 10, where you can see that interest in the search “moz” increased dramatically. However, this spike fell off fairly quickly and US interest was relatively unaffected.

Let’s look at the same time period for Google Search Console impression and click data. First, the US data (isolated to just the keyword “moz”):

There was almost no change in impressions or clicks in the US market. Now, the UK data:

Here, the launch spike in impressions is very clear, and closely mirrors the Google Trends data. However, clicks to Moz.com were, like the US market, unaffected. Hindsight is 20/20, and we were trying to make decisions on the fly, but the short-term shift in Google SERPs had very little impact on clicks to our site. People looking for Moz the Monster and people looking for Moz the search marketing tool are, not shockingly, two very different groups.

Ultimately, the impact of this campaign was short-lived, but it is interesting to see how quickly a SERP can rewrite itself based on the changing world, especially with an injection of ad dollars. At one point (in UK results), Moz the Monster had replaced Moz.com in over half (5 of 8) page-one organic spots and Top Stories – an impressive and somewhat alarming feat.

By December 2, Moz the Monster had completely disappeared from US and UK SERPs for the phrase “moz”. New, short-term signals can rewrite search results, but when those signals fade, results often return to normal. So, remember not to panic and track real, bottom-line results.

Your crisis plan

So, how can we generalize this to other brand crises? What happens when someone else’s campaign treads on your brand’s hard-fought territory? Let’s restate our 5-step process:

(1) Remember not to panic

The very word “crisis” almost demands panic, but remember that you can make any problem worse. I realize that’s not very comforting, but unless your office is actually on fire, there’s time to stop and assess the situation. Get multiple perspectives and make sure you’re not overreacting.

(2) Be cautiously proactive

Unless there’s a very good reason not to (such as a legal reason), it’s almost always best to be proactive and respond to the situation on your own terms. At least acknowledge the situation, preferably with a touch of humor. These brand intrusions are, by their nature, high profile, and if you pretend it’s not happening, you’ll just look clueless.

(3) Track the impact

As soon as possible, start collecting data. These situations move quickly, and search rankings can change overnight in 2017. Find out what impact the event is really having as quickly as possible, even if you have to track some of it by hand. Don’t wait for the perfect metrics or tracking tools.

(4) Don’t get complacent

Search results are volatile and social media is fickle – don’t assume that a lull or short-term change means you can stop and rest. Keep tracking, at least for a few days and preferably for a couple of weeks (depending on the severity of the crisis).

(5) Measure bottom-line results

As the days go by, you’ll be able to more clearly see the impact. Track as deeply as you can – long-term rankings, traffic, even sales/conversions where necessary. This is the data that tells you if the short-term impact in (3) is really doing damage or is just superficial.

The real John Lewis

Finally, I’d like to give a shout-out to someone who has felt a much longer-term impact of John Lewis’ succesful holiday campaigns. Twitter user and computer science teacher @johnlewis has weathered his own brand crisis year after year with grace and humor:

So, a hat-tip to John Lewis, and, on behalf of Moz, a very happy holidays to Moz the Monster!

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5 Future-Proofing TipsThat Will Keep Your Brand Relevant in 2018 and Beyond

Consumer trends move at such a dizzying speeds that companies have to work double time just to keep up with the changes. It’s understandable that company owners and marketers don’t want to be left behind. After all, there seems to be more competition for attention every year, more technological advances to absorb, channels to be active in, and higher expectations from customers.

Now more than ever before, companies need to future-proof their business and marketing strategies in order to stay relevant in 2018.

Understanding the Importance of Future-Proofing

“Future-proofing” describes a technological system, a product, or a service that would have to be updated as technology changes and improves.

In business terms, future-proofing means that you’ll need to implement a sound strategy to keep up with changes in your industry and the needs of your clients before they happen.

It should be pointed out though that regardless of preparation, you can’t really future-proof something 100%. However, companies can plan how they’ll adapt their systems in order to connect with their clients on the correct channels, using the most relevant content at the right time.

5 Strategies to Keep Your Brand Relevant

1. Always Listen and Touch Bases With Your Customers

Today’s marketing is all about dialogue, and it appears that this will remain true in the foreseeable future. Your company has to be able to communicate with your client in order to remain relevant. It’s also vital that you listen to customer feedback.

Image result for importance of online reviews statistic 2017

Graphic via StartupGuys.net

Regardless of whether you’re conducting a survey, using live chat to talk or reading customer reviews you have to pay attention to your audience and try to spot upcoming trends. The insights you get from listening and having a dialogue with them can help improve the marketing campaigns you presently have and those that you’re planning for in the future.

2. Make it a Habit to Learn New Things Regularly

Always stay on top of upcoming trends and why they’re important. Learn new things by studying vital and new marketing resources from reputable researchers and companies. Whether you’re outright studying a course, listening to content or just reading and watching new trends and technologies, always be open to learning about it.

3. Invest Smartly With Your Marketing

It’s never a good idea to blow your entire marketing budget on one strategy. The risk of losing is simply too high. A better move would be to invest small but smarter. Companies can try alloting small amounts of time, money and resources and invest them in various areas of marketing just to see which sectors perform well and which don’t. It’s also a good way to gain exposure and experience in different marketing techniques.

This approach will also be valuable if a particular marketing medium becomes more profitable or relevant over time. If that happens, you already have a foothold and have the right knowledge and experience to drive results in your expected direction.

4. Build a Pro-Active Team

Your team is just as important as your strategy. Build a team that’s pro-active and understands the importance of future-proofing the company’s marketing efforts.

It’s important that your team is comfortable and adept with changes. A good team is one that questions the company’s processes and strategies in a bid to improve them. They should also be aware of what’s happening outside the businesses and its impact.

5. Mentor Millennials

Millennials will dominate leadership roles in the future and you want your staff to be prepared. This generation prefers formal training and mentoring in order to learn the system and feel engaged. Design a program where a younger employee is paired with a mentor. Provide onboarding programs that will help this key group better understand your company better and their present and future role.

[Featured image via Pixabay]

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How brand marketers hitched a ride on the solar eclipse in social media marketing

Every few years, everyone everywhere stops what they’re doing to watch the BIG THING that is happening, whatever it might be — the OJ Simpson trial, balloon boy or, most recently, last Monday’s (moon-day’s) total solar eclipse.

Take tips from the brand marketers featured in this post on how to stand out from the crowd and grab customers’ attention through social media trend jacking.

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6 Tips to Make Your Brand an Email Response Rockstar

Posted by ronell-smith

Are you ready to create emails that get replies? Well, it’s time to step away from the clickbait-y subject lines hawking insincere or insignificant promises, and instead deliver messages worthy of earning a response. Despite rumors to the contrary, asking for a reply or using email templates or sample letters is not the best path to ensuring your emails draw more than a yawn.

If the goal is to deliver emails that consistently get responses, your brand must first focus on being authentic, sincere, and empathetic, putting the needs of the person on the other side of the screen before those of your brand.

By doing so, you not only earn clicks, eyeballs, and responses, you can also increase the number of conversions for your product or services, which likely won’t go unnoticed.

For the skeptical among you, I’ll use a personal example, one that involved me sitting at my desk when my former vice president stormed out of the executive team meeting, yelling my name as he walked down the corridor toward my office.

“Ronell! Where’s Ronell?!” he implored as I stuck my head out my office door to greet him. “I need you to explain these numbers to me.”

I — lump in my throat — looked at a printout with budget numbers for my department.

“I cut your budget 30%, right?” he asked. “But [the revenue for your area] increased 17% over the same period. What did you do?”

Before I could say a word, he ran off to another meeting as I scrambled to respond.

At the time, I didn’t really have a solid answer.

But the more I looked into it myself, the more I realized that I had made a small change that had added up to make a huge difference: I focused intensely on building connections via email with my core clients.

Whereas many of my peers sent ho-hum, “How are you doing? We should talk soon”-type emails that got opened but seemed to never garner responses, I resorted to employing a system that was successful and trackable:

  • Set aside 30 minutes a day for what I called “connectedness emails” — highlighting my knowledge of their new products or services, sharing my thoughts on them, and providing an informed opinion on how successful they were likely to be
  • Sent a minimum of two emails
  • Tied responses to future ad sales

What started out as a fun way to connect with my customers became a process I’ve continued to use for the better part of a decade, during which time I ran a members-only online newsletter that had email open rates averaging 47% (in a vertical where open rates averaged ~5%) and response rates averaging ~35%.

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I’m sure many of you reading this could beat these numbers in your sleep.

My point is not to show you how lucky I was to have some success at email marketing over a short period of time. My point is that email outreach can be the powerful tool we view it as, if only we’re willing to revise our processes and focus on doing the things that earn meaningful responses, not merely clicks or opens.

Who cares about email, anyway?

Despite all of the attention and dollars thrown at social media, email is one of the most effective tools we have in our arsenal to successfully conduct outreach and build lasting connections.

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But I’m sure you don’t need to be convinced, for you’re probably already sending emails more often than you’d care to remember.

What’s more, given the plentiful information on the email outreach, you’re probably wondering why you need to read another such post.

The answer: We can all be more effective at email, whether for marketing or for outreach. I’m of the opinion that the content marketing and SEO industries could be a lot more effective by placing as much emphasis on doing email better and more effectively as we do on social media. (I’m not talking resource allocation, mind you; I’m talking diligence and attentiveness.)

Before I share the simple but effective tactics I’ve used for the last decade, three housekeeping notes are in order:

  1. I’m not now, nor have I ever considered myself, an email expert.
  2. This post won’t cover, in any great detail, subject lines (e.g. length, words, etc.), open rates, optimal times to send emails, etc.
  3. Three things compelled me to write this post: (a) the prevalence of (often ineffective) email outreach; (b) the importance of email to SEOs and marketers in general; (c) and my desire to share a few simple elements I’ve used successfully for years.

How can your brand kick butt by creating emails that garner responses?

#1 -Tell me what’s in it for me

After the opening salutations, get right to the point. Show me you value my time and have used yours to identify my needs and how your brand can help me meet them.

The email below, which I recently received from GetStat, nails it:

  • The subject line not only intrigued me, it made me want to see what they’d collected on my behalf
  • The opening was brief and to the point
  • The information they compiled is in line with why I would likely be reading and subscribing to their blog
  • They were brief
  • (I’ll cover the CTA below)

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As you can see, any brand can create a similar email.

It all begins with having empathy for the person on the other end, clear brand goals and a willingness to respect people’s time.

#2 – Grab mobile readers’ attention with the first sentence

I have a confession: I don’t trust your subject line.

We’ve all become masters of the clickbait email subject line. If you’re going to get me to open your email, you’ll need to think different.

Like most of you, I open most emails on a mobile device.

To consistently get my attention on a smaller device, disregard the subject line and use the first sentence of the email, which is often shown via mobile.

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Yes, this can mean your emails have my name in the first line. But for brands I recognize, I don’t need to know you realize who I am; I need to know what you’re sharing is of value to me right now.

This should be an easy sell for SEOs who always include keywords in the first few lines and sentences to of a message, be it a blog post or an email.

So, while you’re laboring over that catchy subject line, go ahead and peel off some time — and a few choice words — to include in the first sentence.

#3 – Mind your grammar

One of my first jobs out of college was a business writer for a newspaper.

The metro editor had a standing policy regarding email correspondence that got everyone’s attention:

  • If you spelled his name wrong — no matter how great the pitch — he discarded it
  • If you misspelled a word in the email, it met the same result.

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In the years since, I’ve met many people who feel the same way.

Don’t focus on the message at the expense of respecting the person you’re contacting.

Take the time to figure out who you’re writing to. It might be a make or break.

#4 – Create & exhaust tension

If you’re really serious about wanting your email opened, show me that you can help me solve a problem you know I’m facing.

“I know you’re looking to…”

“Brands facing the challenge yours now faces…”

“Your content team is doing an excellent job, but are likely stretched thin…”

That’s when you step in with a worthwhile answer and can likely earn more than my attention.

The key is to show the individual reading your email that you feel her pain, have taken the time to find the solution, and, most important, you are the person to handle the job.

That’s how I got the newspaper gig, despite majoring in biology and having zero experience or training in journalism:

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(This is not the actual email I sent, but it is similar.)

  • I’d done my homework to know the issues the paper — and thus the editor — was facing.
  • I knew he’d likely discount a non-journalism major, but I reasoned that he had stories he’d want covered — that is, he’d want to go down swinging.
  • I wanted him to know I respected the business and the journalism, not simply the former.

I later learned that after reading my email, the executive editor said “Where did this guy come from?” He then set up a meeting with me.

I was hired the same day.

“Your email did it,” said my editor, months after I was hired, while admitting he was initially skeptical.

Your brand can achieve similar results. All it takes is a little investigation.

#5 – Have a well-defined call-to-action with clear next steps spelled out

One of my biggest weaknesses when I first started in content marketing was calls to action.

I’d write a blog post that simply ended.

There was no thoughts about intended next steps for the folks I was writing to.

Don’t be me.

At or near the end of every email you send, highlight, share, or link to the intended next step in the journey. (See the GetStat email above.)

#6 – End on a high note

A recent post regarding email outreach I wrote for Moz listed “thank you” as a better alternative to “thanks” as a closing.

Not so fast, says the latest research from Boomerang.

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While “thanks” seems gratuitous to me, their research shows it as outperforming every other closing but “Thanks in advance.”

The main point I’m taking from this research is the need to test, test, test.

At the very least, start experimenting with various closings while keeping track of the responses.

Your results will likely vary.

Over to you

As you can see, none of the tips shared above is particle physics. They can be employed by anyone, at any brand and at any time.

I hope you’ll give at least a few of them a shot.

We all spend so much time and energy on email each day, it’s worth taking the time to figure out ways to better engage people through the medium.

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Millennials and Affluent Prefer Mobile for Brand Connection After Purchase

Registria has released results from a new study which found that younger and more affluent consumers would prefer to connect with brands through their mobile device, over email and paper literature, immediately after purchasing a new product.

According to the study, 47% of consumers aged 18-34, and 47% of consumers who make $ 100,000 and above, say they would like to receive product setup instructions, tips, and service and warranty information directly to their mobile device.

“Consumers want to connect with the brands they buy. Their reasons for wanting to do so not only provide value to them as customers, but they are also significant revenue-generators for manufacturers,” said Chris McDonald, CEO of Registria. “The process of product registration has evolved over the past 40 years, and mobile technology makes it even easier for brands to use product registration as an engaging way to onboard customers.”

According to Registria, product registration has been the main vehicle for durable consumer brands to identify and understand their consumers. However, the traditional process of filling out paper or online registration information can be a barrier. In the study, 68% of all consumers say they never register their products, and of those:

- 38% intend to, but forget or just never get around to it
- 16% say it’s a hassle, and
- 12% don’t want to share their personal information.

56% of consumers say that receiving warranty and service plan information is the most important reason to register a product, while 25% cite safety and recall notifications as the most important reasons to register.

These priorities shift among younger consumers aged 18-34, who think it is more important to register products in order to be notified of deals on accessories and complementary products. In addition, consumers with higher income of $ 100,000 and above say staying connected with a brand for loyalty and VIP programs is the most important reason to register.

The post Millennials and Affluent Prefer Mobile for Brand Connection After Purchase appeared first on WebProNews.


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Using Brand Ads in Unexpected Ways Drove Higher Installs for Lyft

Can brand ads for apps drive installs better than traditional direct response ads? That’s what Lyft discovered working with Google’s Art, Copy & Code project.

In a case study published today, Google shares some surprising findings from their analysis of thousands of YouTube videos running TrueView app install ads for Lyft.

The case study takes two popular Lyft ads designed to raise brand awareness: Shaq disguised as a driver, and Seattle Seahawk star Richard Sherman undercover and trash talking himself and members of the Golden State Warriors pranking a teammate.

They A/B tested these branding ads against Lyft’s direct response ads to gauge if videos meant to drive awareness could also drive consumers to install mobile apps.

The Shaq ad had some impressive stats vs the direct response ads: 2x the branding lift , 8% higher click rate and a similar conversion rate.

Small tweaks to the Shaq ad, like adding music on top of the brand overlay, had some powerful results.

Unexpectedly, ads tested without a promotional offer lead to more people installing the app than ones with a promo.

It is unsurprising that ads featuring Shaq will outperform ones that don’t. The important takeaway from this study is that your best branding creative may be your best direct response creative and that you should test and tweak to optimize.

The post Using Brand Ads in Unexpected Ways Drove Higher Installs for Lyft appeared first on WebProNews.


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