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4 Digital Marketing Trends That Small Businesses should invest in for 2019

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As a marketer, I get it. Our time is precious and it is usually split between various efforts that range from customer acquisition to budget management.

However, I’ll never forget what a coach told me: a business without customers (or clients in my case) isn’t a business. It’s a hobby.

Initially, that was a hard pill to struggle but now serves as inspiration for the moments when I want to become laxed with my marketing efforts.

With that said, I’d like to highlight 4 digital marketing trends that you should keep top of mind as you plan for 2019. Some of these may already be in rotation, but if they aren’t, do your research and decide if it fits your business marketing model.

1) Chatbots

If you are in the retail space, then I recommend that you look into chatbots. Chatbots are similar to instant messaging, which allow you to interact directly with your customers to find out how you can help them.

Many customers actually prefer to interact via chatbot because they are responsive, more personalized and use artificial intelligence to keep track of the buying history (usually via chat archiving).

The majority of my clients already have chatbots installed on their websites and so far, my favorites are Zendesk and Tidio. Be sure to do your research and ensure that integrations are available between your website host and the chatbox.

Examples of businesses who have Chatbots:

AllDemShades

Mel Sharell Paper & Company

Why this matters: With 1.4 billion people interacting with chatbots, 80% of savvy businesses are already using or plan to use chatbots by 2020. Don’t get left behind!

2) Influencer Marketing

Think about the latest product you tried. How did you find out about it? Did you google it or did someone tell you about it? If the answer is the latter, then you can classify that as influencer marketing.

Influencer marketing is a type of word-of-mouth marketing that focuses on using key leaders (i.e. influencers or ambassadors) to drive your brand’s message to the larger market. As such, instead of traditional marketing that may come directly from your business, you instead pay an influencer to promote your product or service for you.

With more than 81% of people using the Internet to make purchases, it’s pretty clear that people are seeking some kind of proof or assurance that your product/service will be of good quality and/or a good experience, which is why we rely on what other people say about it. One of my clients, a travel-based startup, has been able to gain a large influx of customers due to influencer marketing.

Influencers include celebrities, Instagram or YouTube stars, well-known bloggers and journalists. These differ by industry so be sure to do your research before you reach out.

Examples of influencers include:

Tonya Rapley, Creator of My Fab Finance

Lita Lewis, Creator of ThickAthletics Apparel

3) Personalization

In a world full of automation, personalization feels like a taste of magic.

If you want to stand out in 2019, you need to personalize your marketing – and that means personalized content, products, emails and more.

This can be done in a variety of ways, but utilizing your data is key.

With your data, you can segment your subscriber list to send trigger emails which range from empty cart reminders to feedback requests after each purchase.

Personalization can also extend beyond email and into website optimization. For example, if you are running a social-based campaign, create a custom landing page that tells customers more about your offer that was originally promoted on social media. As a bonus, you can create custom tracking codes so you can measure how effective your promotion was.

Example of business who utilizes personalization:

Side Hustle Pro (she’s currently promoting her “Your First 1,000 Downloads” Masterclass)

Why this matters: 96% of marketers (including me!) believe that personalization advances customer relationships. Don’t get left behind!

4) Video Marketing

Video is a versatile and engaging content format that not only gives a real-life picture of what is going on, it’s also easy to share across multiple platforms. Consumers like it because it’s easy to digest, entertaining and engaging, and you, as business owners, should like it because it can give a potentially huge return on investment (ROI) through many channels.

One of my clients has been on the fence about doing Instagram stories weekly, but the numbers don’t lie. When we look at the top posts from the week, our videos receive the most engagement. As such, she has committed to “showing up” once a week.

A few ideas that make for great videos include:

  • How-to’s (great for products)
  • Behind the scenes footage (great for new launches)
  • Q & A sessions (great if you want to offer a new product or service; or make changes to an existing one)
  • Takeovers (great if you are a lifestyle brand – think Essence – and want to build buzz prior to an event)

You may feel pressured to go out and buy a bunch of equipment, but here’s my advice: don’t. Instead, pull out your phone/laptop and start there. Use video marketing to show your authenticity and personality. That’s what consumers are looking for anyway.

Popular video platforms include:

  • Instagram
  • YouTube
  • Facebook

Why this matters: 70% of consumers say that they have shared a brand’s video and 52% of consumers say that watching product videos makes them more confident in online purchase decisions.

What are some of your predicted digital marketing trends for 2019? Comment below!

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Three Tips for Effectively A/B Testing your Emails

In a world where everything has become “social”, email has proven to continue to be a valuable asset in the world of online communications. In fact, according to the Radicati Group, the number of worldwide email accounts is projected to grow from over 4.1 billion accounts in 2014 to over 5.2 billion accounts by the end of 2018. That’s almost 27% in growth.

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With the huge opportunity to truly capture new subscribers, companies are spending more and more dollars on testing – specifically A/B testing.

Campaign Monitor defines A/B testing (also known as split testing) as:

 A way of working out which of two campaign options is the most effective in terms of encouraging opens or clicks.

In an A/B test, you set up two variations of the one campaign and send them to a small percentage of your total recipients. Half of the test group is sent Version A and the other half gets Version B. The result, measured by the most opens or clicks, determines the winning campaign and that version is sent to the remaining subscribers.

It’s imperative to run A/B tests when trying out new techniques or formats for your email campaigns. The result is the improvement of open, click through and conversion rates, which will funnel down to other marketing efforts and ultimately, if sales-related, profit for the company. Now that you understand the importance of testing, let’s break down exactly what you want to test – as everything cannot be tested together. It’s important to only test one thing at a time to get accurate results.

  1. Timing

The time that you decide to send an email is very important. Some believe the hours between 8:00 pm – 12:00 am are best. Others believe mid-day is best. Truthfully, ideal times will vary by your subscriber list, industry and/or the content/offer. Try a variety of times to determine which works best and go from there. Some email databases offer paid scheduling testing services, such as Mail Chimps’ Send Time Optimization, which handles the work for you by 1) requesting a sample list (dividing it in half – hence the phrase A/B testing) 2) determining the best sending time for its subscribers and 3) distributing based on the most favorable time.

  1. Call to Action and Subject Line

When it comes to testing your offer, there is no clear-cut plan. Different subscribers respond to different offers. The key is dynamic offers – i.e. targeted e-mail offers that are customized for each individual subscriber based on the information you’ve collected on them. A few examples include:

  • Seasonal Offers (e.g. Holidays, Back to School deals)
  • Free Option Offer (e.g. Shipping, BOGO, upgrades, downloads)

Percentages and specific dollar amounts (e.g. 5% off, $20 off)

  • Reminder/Time Sensitive Offers (e.g. Last chance to buy and/or earn, 5 slots left)
  • Exclusive/Membership Based offers (e.g. New items in store, restocked requests, private shopping events)
  1. The Layout

The layout of your email may seem like a trivial thing to consider but as the world becomes more mobile, it is imperative to ensure that click through rates and open rates remain high. A few popular things to test are:

  • Body text (Single column vs. double column; font size and type)
  • Images vs. Videos (and whether or not to integrate at all)
  • Personalization (Jane vs. Mrs. Doe)
  • HTML text (Keywords vs. brand language)
  • Placement of the offer (and the repetition of the offer)

Testing can be seen as a long, thorough process but when done right, and often, can yield positive results for your business.

What are some of your best practices for testing emails – specifically related to A/B testing? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below.

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Consider Remarketing as Part of your Digital Strategy

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Have you ever searched for a topic online, went to a relatable website and then left the site – only to see a targeted ad that relates to what you initially searched for? It’s not just your imagination. It’s actually called Remarketing. Remarketing is something that online consumers often encounter but probably are unfamiliar with.

By definition, Google AdWords defines Remarketing as:

“…reaching people who have previously visited a website. It shows the previous visitors ads that are tailored to them based on which sections of the site they visited. The ads appear to them as they browse other sites that are part of the Google Display Network or as they search for terms related to your products on Google.”

The central principle of remarketing is to maintain the attention of people who have already expressed an interest in what you are advertising, as opposed to just trying to raise awareness about the business. When Kayak created a remarketing strategy, the site began to see an increase in not only traffic, but in sales. People who visited the website continued to see Kayak ads even after they left. This is how I discovered the effectiveness of remarketing.

After doing some initial research for flights to escape the frigid East Coast, I headed to my favorite blog site. Prior to that, I visited Kayak.com and American Airlines to compare pricing. While on the blog site, I came across a rotating ad, which showed me all of the flights that I looked at previously.

I then went back to Kayak.com to purchase – after the ad mentioned that there were only 3 seats remaining on my preferred flight. I’m sure you are wondering how they were able to track my viewing history. Well, after the implementation of the Cookie Law – which states that websites must tell visitors that they will use cookies and provide them with an opt-out function – advertisers have been able to use this information to collect the cookies of each visitor and use it to their advantage.

Remarketing has continued to thrive online – though it originally began as an offline strategy (think Loyalty Marketing). Remarketing allows you to:

  1. Reach people and persuade them to immediately purchase with a promising ROI.
  1. Build creative, targeted lists based on information collected. Your lists will vary according to buyer personas. For example, is the buyer just an “all-around” fan of all Apple products or do you they tend to frequent the iPhone section of Apple.com? Furthermore, be sure to consider their shopping cart for clues as well as a personalized member section if applicable. Lists can also be created with celebrations in mind such as the Holidays and Back to School campaigns.
  1. Attract millions of people with a smaller initial cost compared to other forms of paid search. Think about all of the people who visit Google daily. Over 2 million websites and mobile apps are apart of the Google Display Network.
  1. Have control over design and creation by utilizing the various images, text and video options available to you. Keep in mind that the design should be in sync with the rest of your brand.
  1. Determine where and how your ad is performing – all while keeping your budget in tact and overseeing analytics related to your ad (for future testing purposes).

Now that you are familiar with why remarketing is popular, I encourage you to begin to do some research on the different ways and platforms to use remarketing. Google Adwords is the most popular. However, Criteo, AOL, Yahoo and Retargeter are other popular platforms.

Remember, the underlying goal is to convert consumers from shoppers to buyers.

Have you ever encountered a strong remarketing ad? Tell me about it in the comment section below and good luck on remarketing strategy building!

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Non-Profit Marketing: The Impact of Powerful Messaging

I am so excited about a new pro-bono client opportunity that just came my way! Philanthropy has always been very dear to my heart.

I came across a great article that highlights six reasons why non-profit marketing messages may not be connecting with their audience. A lot of these tips can easily be applied to the for-profit sector as well.

 

The Inward vs. Outward approach really stood out to me. This approach basically states that many organizations tend to focus their marketing messages on themselves; when it reality it should be used to connect with their target audience which include the donors, volunteers, participants involved, employees etc. of that organization.

Read more about this here.

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Different Ways Brands Use Pinterest to Authentically Connect

Although it is still fairly new, plenty of companies have delved and completely excelled in the new social media channel of Pinterest. The online visual board has been predicted to grow measurably in the next few years. As such, brands all over the world are looking for ways to authentically connect with it’s current and potential consumers on the site.

As with any other social media channel, a well-thought out strategy is needed to excel. To assist you with this, I came across an article that details 5 ways a few brands have used Pinterest to authentically connect with fans.

Feel free to check it out here.

What tips and strategies have you implemented that have been successful on Pinterest?

Advertising · Branding · Campaigns · Content Marketing · Marketing · Public Relations · Publicity · Social Media · Strategy

Three Myths about What Customers Want

I recently came across an article that outlined the three myths of what customers want. I found it to be very interesting. In my opinion, it was truthful in a sense, but it definitely cannot apply to every brand out there.

A lot of brands, especially lifestyle brands, thrive on establishing and communicating with their community. As such, they do not call them customers. If anything, they are brand ambassadors (I love that term, in case you haven’t noticed yet).

Check out the article below. It is apart of a three part series, so I encourage you to check out the other articles as well!

What do you think? Is there any truth to the three myths the author cited?

Most marketers think that the best way to hold onto customers is through “engagement” — interacting as much as possible with them and building relationships. It turns out that that’s rarely true. In a study involving more than 7000 consumers, we found that companies often have dangerously wrong ideas about how best to engage with customers. Consider these three myths.

Myth #1: Most consumers want to have relationships with your brand.

Actually, they don’t. Only 23% of the consumers in our study said they have a relationship with a brand. In the typical consumer’s view of the world, relationships are reserved for friends, family and colleagues. That’s why, when you ask the 77% of consumers who don’t have relationships with brands to explain why, you get comments like “It’s just a brand, not a member of my family.” (What consumers really want when they interact with brands online is to get discounts).

How should you market differently? Read more here.