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Jul

12

2017

How to Deliver Data-Driven Web Design to Clients [Free Ebook]

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As agencies continue to adopt principles of Growth-Driven Design, their client service-offerings must shift to reflect the new needs of this approach.

Continuous improvement cycles — the structured, on-going validation process within Growth-Driven Design — is one of the primary advantages for clients and agencies over a traditional web design and development offering.

Agencies maintain a steady, ongoing pipeline of work, while clients experience incremental improvement in results and refinement of their web properties.

As a part of implementing continuous improvement cycles within an optimization program, agencies must leverage data to make informed decisions around website development efforts. This data is often acquired by research methods such as user testing, A/B and multivariate testing, session replays, optimization-focused analytics reports, usability reviews, or on-page surveys.

During a testing period, agencies can present the results of specific optimizations made to a website around increases to both unit and top-level goals such as revenue, leads generated, average order value, completed purchases, and more. Previously, if done at all, traditional web design and development projects may have been evaluated against site-wide metrics, which are often less reliable given the number of variables impacting results.

By using these approaches in an optimization program to test design variations against a control, agencies can more definitively show the impact around web design and development efforts. And because optimization services rely on data, agencies get quicker client buy-in, and reduce the inefficiency of back-and-forth decision-making on design choices.

Looking to offer conversation rate optimization services to your clients? Download the ebook here to learn more about how to implement CRO services today.

Top 6 Tips for Offering Optimization Services to Your Clients

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Jun

27

2017

10 of the Best Ads from June: Boomerang, Bugs, and a Perfectly Useless Chatbot

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It’s finally, finally summer.

To celebrate the sun emerging (and the temperature in our offices dropping to subarctic extremes), I attempted to find some summery ads to feature in this month’s roundup. Instead, I ended up with a weird chatbot, a novelty phone, and several ways to kill bugs. 

Regardless of seasonal appropriateness, this month’s ad roundup showcases some inventive ad formats and new concepts from agencies around the world. Check them all out below. 

10 of the Best Ads from June

1) Bufdir (The Norwegian Directorate for Children, Youth and Family Affairs)

This heartwarming ad from Oslo-based agency Kitchen (Leo Burnett/Publicis) racked up 120 million views in just one week — and the hype is completely deserved.

To emphasize the importance of community in raising a child, “The Lunchbox” tells the story of a young boy who finds himself without a lunch at school. After wandering the halls of his school to kill time, he returns to his desk to discover each of his classmates have pitched in an item for a complete meal. 

 

2) Arby’s

Chatbots are shaping up to be an inescapable trend in 2017, and it seems like every brand is jumping on the wagon — regardless of industry. 

With the ad world fawning over Domino’s pizza tracking tool, Arby’s teamed up with Minneapolis-based agency Fallon to create a high-tech chatbot of their own: The Arby’s Pizza Slider Chatbot. Despite the name, this little Facebook Messenger bot will not actually help you order a pizza slider (or anything) from Arby’s. In fact, it’s designed to do absolutely nothing helpful. 

Check out my conversation with the bot below. (Unsurprisingly, the Arby’s Pizza Slider bot has no time for vegetarians.)

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3) Howler Magazine

Back in the late 80’s, Sports Illustrated released an exciting new offer: Buy a subscription to the magazine, and you got a free football shaped phone. If this ad was any indication, people were psyched. The kitschy little device convinced literally millions of people to shell out $55 for an SI subscription.

Fast forward to 2017, and the folks at Howler, an American soccer magazine, teamed up with Kovert Creative to produce a delightful, celebrity-studded spoof on the classic campaign. Their version features — what else? — a soccer ball phone, and includes appearances from comedians Sarah Silverman, Will Arnett, and Jack Black, among others.

Unfortunately for novelty phone aficionados, Howler only made one soccer phone. And according to their website, it’s already taken.

The Soccer Ball Phone

Introducing the Soccer Ball Phone! We teamed up with some of our favorite comedians to parody those iconic magazine commercials that were all over TV in the early ‘90s. Go to https://fifa.wtf/soccerballphone for a special subscription offer now!

Posted by
Howler Magazine on Tuesday, June 13, 2017

 

4) Showtime – Ray Donovan

The copywriting shines in this ingenious promo spot for Showtime’s crime drama, Ray Donovan, now entering its fifth season. The first half of the ad features an ominous, threatening voice over from series star Liev Schreiber. In the second half, Schreiber’s phrases are repeated in reverse order, taking on a completely different tone: reassuring and protective. The ad — created in-house at Showtime — perfectly captures the title character’s duality.

 

5) Nutella

Using a special randomizing algorithm, Ogilvy & Mather Italy developed seven million unique jar designs for Nutella. Each colorful package is 100% one-of-a-kind, but if you’re looking to pick one up, you’re late to the game: According to the agency, all seven million of the limited-edition jars sold out in one month at Italian supermarkets. 

 

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6) SM Supermalls

This Father’s Day ad from the Phillipines went viral for its heartwarming (and hilarious) twist ending.

Created by Tribal Worldwide Philippines for SM Supermalls, the ad follows a family as they prepare for the daughter’s extravagant birthday bash. Throughout preparations leading up to the event, the father looks like he’d rather be anywhere else. We soon find out he’s not quite as unemotional as he seems. 

Daddy’s Girl

Most of us share an emotional bond with our moms. But with our dads? It’s a bit more complicated. Watch now and share with us your own #DadsDayFeels!👨❤ #HaveAHappyDadsDay

Posted by
SM Supermalls on Saturday, June 10, 2017

 

7) Delta

According to research from Wieden + Kennedy New York, singles who feature travel pictures on their Tinder profiles are more likely to be swiped right. But if you can’t afford to travel to an exotic locale for the selfie opportunities, Delta has you covered. 

The airline worked with W+K to create the #DeltaDatingWall, a mural in Brooklyn that features perfectly Instagram-sized selfie backgrounds of cities around the world. So if you want to trick your future husband into thinking you visited Honolulu and Zurich in the same day, this is the ideal place to do it. 

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8) Nature Conservancy Brazil

To bring attention to the not-so-distant consequences of climate change and inspire some environmental urgency, the Nature Conservancy Brazil launched a line of apocalypse supplies called The Products of Tomorrow.

Presented in slick, futuristic packaging, the products seem innocuous at first: an apple wrapped in a silver bag, a canister of sunscreen, a bottle of water. But on closer inspection, the details paint a scary vision of our future: the apple is only 3% fruit, the sunscreen is SPF 350+, and the bottled water is “low-acidic rain water.”

 

9) Bacardi

In this colorful, BBDO New York-produced ad for Bacardi, the residents of a idyllic Caribbean town are quite literally caught in a repetitive loop. Inspired by Instagram’s Boomerang effect, the summery spot features a catchy beat from Major Lazer. 

 

10) Flora

Who says print ads can’t break some new ground? This Brazilian magazine ad for Mat Inset insecticide from WMcCann invites consumers to “Discover two ways to kill insects.” One is the product, and the other is this delightfully low-tech innovation:

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Jun

23

2017

10 YouTube Pre-Roll Ads You'll Actually Enjoy

Published by in category Daily, marketing agency | Comments are closed

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You technically can’t skip these ads. But you wouldn’t want to anyway.

Last year at Sundance, YouTube unveiled a new ad format to brands: the unskippable, six second “bumper” ad. To prove it was possible to cram a compelling story into such a short window, they recruited a handful of creative agencies to test drive the format — and the results were pretty convincing. 

After that, huge brands like Under Armour and Anheuser-Busch adopted the new six second ad format to tell quick but gripping stories that actually stuck with audiences.

In fact, according to Google, 90% of bumper ad campaigns boosted global ad recall by an average of 30%. That’s pretty impressive for taking up only six seconds of someone’s day.

It might seem like you can’t accomplish much in that amount of time, but with a little creativity, brands can use it to forge an emotional connection with their audience and implant a vivid memory of those feelings in their minds.

Why Six Second Pre-Roll Ads Work

Suffering through 15, 30, or even 60 second pre-roll ads prompted so many head shakes and back button clicks that eventually YouTube added a skip button to their ads in 2009. In theory, though, an ad’s first five seconds are enough to hook viewers and hold their attention for the rest of its duration.

But we all know this rarely happens. Whenever a YouTube ad pops up and shields you from your favorite video, what do you usually do? You immediately glue your eyes to the skip button’s countdown clock and wait … until those lingering seconds finally slug by.

Fortunately, the six second pre-roll ad better engages viewers. When YouTube plays such a short ad for them, it’s not as annoying as a full length ad. And when brands craft these ads into fast, captivating stories, they can resonate well with audiences.

This lets YouTube sustain their ad business while helping brands create a more enjoyable and memorable user experience for its viewers.

So if you’re leveraging YouTube’s six second pre-roll ads right now, then hats off to you. If you’re not, here are 10 examples you can reference to inspire YouTube viewers faster than a Vine could in 2013.

10 Exceptional Examples of Six Second Pre-Roll Ads on YouTube

1) YouTube

To further promote their new ad format’s creative potential, YouTube challenged filmmakers and ad agencies to retell classic pieces of literature in just six seconds.

These are some of the most complex novels ever written. So creatives needed to convey each story’s core in a simple yet spellbinding way.

Rethink, a Canadian agency, did just that. Their rendition of Hamlet is clear and concise (we all know that everyone dies when modern day Claudius spams the buy button). But it’s also unexpected and funny because it gives us a glimpse of how Hamlet could’ve transpired in today’s digital age.

2) Old Spice

You’re probably not surprised that this is an Old Spice ad. But you’re also probably laughing so hard you’re crying like that guy’s armpit.

When you watch this ad, you’re so amused that you forget Old Spice is trying to sell you deodorant. And while you’re still mid-chuckle, your favorite video begins. It’s a seamless transition. And viewers crave that. All advertisers should strive to satisfy their audience, and Wieden & Kennedy, Old Spice’s agency, know exactly how to indulge theirs.

3) Chipsmore

I know you fell for it too.

When I first saw the red face of doom, disappointment started spilling over me. But, luckily for us, the Chipsmore’s Cookie Guy saved the day.

The thing is, we just wanted to watch the ad. Imagine how someone who wanted to watch a video after it must’ve felt.

They were probably frustrated at the initial sight of the “broken” video link, then surprised when the Cookie Guy appears, which grabbed their attention. And, finally, delighted when their favorite video starts.

This ad takes its viewers on an emotional roller coaster. And, honestly, who doesn’t have fun on those?

4) Road Lodge

This is a prime example of insanely honest marketing.

Road Lodge sets the expectation that their hotel is best suited for relaxation. And not so much for partying.

You might think they’re deterring potential customers from their hotel — and you’re right — they are. But it’s actually a good thing because these people would never stay at their hotel in the first place. 

And since their honesty signals confidence, builds trust, and shows that they value their customers’ experience more than short-term profits, their target market becomes more attracted to them.

Road Lodge knows that if you’re brutally honest about your product or service, then you won’t disappoint your customers. This makes it a lot easier to maintain their loyalty.

5) Under Armour

When you play baseball, nothing matters more than your stats. They’re a direct measurement of your performance and can even define your value as a person.

Under Armour sought to uproot this belief.

In six short seconds, Droga5, Under Armour’s agency, injects purpose into ball players everywhere, motivating them to place their value in their character instead of their numbers.

6) Mercedes-Benz

Mercedes uses swift video cuts and a roaring engine to engage their viewers’ senses. This way, their audience can actually see and hear the intensity of reaching 60 MPH in only 3.8 seconds.

7) Universal Pictures

Universal Pictures used this pre-roll ad to promote the full Jason Bourne trailer, which garnered over 14 million views.

And since the ad is chock full of non-stop action, it piqued viewers’ interest and generated tremendous hype around its trailer release.

8) Burn

Burn’s pre-roll ad is so effective because it’s snappy and visually engaging. And since you can process visuals 60,000 times faster than text, a flaming fist across the face will definitely catch your eye.

The slow-mo effect also makes the ad seem longer, intensifying your viewing experience.

9) Airbnb

Family vacations are the best.

You get to explore incredible places and create timeless memories with your loved ones. Is there any other way you would want to bond with your family?

Airbnb agrees too. So their agency, TWBA, produced a charming ad that showcases the benefits of a family vacation: loads of fun and connection.

10) Geico

The Martin Agency, Geico’s creative partner, deserves a lifetime supply of car insurance for this masterpiece.

“Unskippable” was so refreshingly original, it won AdAge’s 2016 Campaign of the Year. And for good reason too. It sympathizes with your annoyance of pre-roll ads, so it ends before you can skip it. But it’s also so unique and witty that you’ll actually watch the entire ad.

Geico says this ad is impossible to skip because it’s already over. But really, this ad is impossible to skip because it’s so clever.

Seen any ads that top these? Share them in the comments below!

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May

31

2017

How to Turn Your Marketing Team Into Your Agency's Best R&D Department

Published by in category marketing agency | Comments are closed

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Every time I try a new recipe for a dish at a party, I try a little sample before I serve it to my guests — and not just because I’m always hungry (which I am). I do it because I would never want to serve something new to my guests that I can’t be sure actually tastes good.

How can I confidently stand there and say to my friends and family, “Go ahead and try it! You’ll love it!” when I have no idea what it’s really like?

I bet you probably do this with new recipes, too. But if your agency doesn’t use a similar process when it introduces new products or services to clients, you could be leaving them with a bad taste in their mouths.

If you’re going to sell your clients on something new, you’ve got to have a solid understanding of how it works, how well you can deliver it, and what the impact on the clients will be. You can’t confidently recommend a product or service to your clients if you don’t know what it’s like. And what’s the best way to find out?

You’ve got to give it a try.

How to Turn Marketing Into R&D

Most agencies don’t have the luxury of devoting an entire department purely to research and development. My agency sure doesn’t. What we do have is a marketing team that’s equipped to test potential new services internally before we make the decision to release them to clients.

A perfect example of this in action is Influence & Co.’s first venture into creating full-length books. One of our core services is helping turn leaders into consistent content creators, and over time, we started noticing a trend of clients asking if we could help them take the next step and write and publish their own books.

Without trying it first, we couldn’t answer that question truthfully. So we decided to test a process for writing a book on my co-founder, John Hall. The end result, “Top of Mind,” was published by McGraw-Hill and released in April.

By asking ourselves some important questions and detailing a plan in our documented content marketing strategy, we were able to transform our marketing team into a one-of-a-kind R&D department — and it’s already changed how we market and introduce new services to clients.

To turn marketing into a testing machine and create your agency’s own R&D team, start by asking yourself the following questions:

1) What exactly are we testing? 

This first step seems intuitive, but you might be surprised by how easy it is to jump into an exciting idea before nailing down exactly what your goals are. Are you testing a potential process for a brand-new service offering? Maybe you’re testing your team’s capacity?

When we set out to write our first book, our test was to determine whether our current content marketing teams had the skill sets required to produce it. The main goal was to learn whether we had the ability to create a book efficiently enough to make a profit and to explore how that process actually works.

This understanding of what you’re testing and why brings your marketing and leadership teams together and keeps them focused on your goals. With that foundation, marketing can begin transitioning into R&D to answer those driving questions.

2) How will we measure the success of our test? 

Just like you shouldn’t begin a content marketing program without matching your key metrics to goals, you shouldn’t start a test without understanding how you’ll measure its success.

For my agency, because our goal was to test whether we could efficiently and profitably create a book with our current team, we measured success by tracking how many hours each team member spent on the project. We also recorded details of the exact process we used so we’d understand how much it cost and what might need to change to make it work better for a client.

Success was measured by whether we could create and publish an awesome book and do so within a timeline and budget we thought clients would agree to.

3) What will expanding this test to clients look like? 

Imagine that your new R&D team tested this service, measured its results, and found that it achieved the goals set out from the beginning. Congratulations! Your next step, then, would be to go ahead and roll out this service offering to all clients, right?

Not yet.

When you test a new service internally, your team should constantly ask itself, “What would make this different for a client?” “How would a client respond differently than we do as the internal client?” and “What works better or worse for an external client?”

These kinds of questions will help your team avoid a stalling phase in which your test worked internally but you’re unsure what to do next. Instead, you’ll be able to expand this test to its next phase: select client testing.

This is critical because your R&D team will behave differently from your normal clients. Once you’re confident in your test and in your decision to move forward, consider rolling it out at a major discount to one client as a beta tester. This will help your team understand how actual clients interact with your new service and processes before you spend resources introducing it to every one of them.

Setting Up Your R&D and Client Services Teams for Success

Your marketing-team-turned-R&D-department will get into a groove after it’s got a test or two under its belt, and specific processes will evolve with each one. Still, there are a couple of best practices you should follow each time to set up your teams for continued success:

Track your time carefully. 

Regardless of your specific test goals, you need to know how much time you’re spending and what you’re investing in this research for two big reasons: to understand how much it costs your agency to test new services and to get an idea of what to charge your clients.

Be transparent with clients. 

When we signed on our first client to expand the book test, we told him directly that we’ve successfully completed one so far but that he’d only be the second project. We set up a system for collecting feedback and offered him a discount. Disguising your test as a totally normal full-fledged service won’t help your agency or your clients. Everyone needs to be clear that this is still a test so that expectations are realistic.

Introducing new services to your clients and trying out a new recipe aren’t exactly the same. But by giving your marketing team the resources and support to transform into your own R&D team, you might discover that the ideas and approaches that make testing successful aren’t all that different. So before you encourage clients to try your latest service, give it a try yourself.

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May

30

2017

10 of the Best Ads from May: Hot Dogs, Rhinos, and an Accidental Viral Hit

Published by in category Daily, marketing agency | Comments are closed

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In May, agencies got creative with alternative advertising mediums.

While there were still plenty of traditional video and print ads on our radar, some crafty designers and copywriters turned to apps, bottled scents, modeling clay, and even an icy road trip to get their messages across. 

Among other things, this month’s roundup features an accidentally viral print ad, an unusual Tinder profile, and a pop-up travel agency that uses custom scents to encourage spur-of-the-moment excursions. Check them all out below.

10 of the Best Ads from May

1) Visit Sweden

In a clever stunt to generate some tourism buzz, the entire country of Sweden recently listed itself on Airbnb.

Gothenburg-based agency Forsman & Bodenfors (you might know them as the agency behind Volvo’s “Epic Split” ad) developed a stunning video to advertise the listing, showcasing Sweden’s natural beauty and explaining Allemansrätt — The Right of Public Access that enables Swedes and visitors to explore the countryside freely. 

 

2) Syoss

While most hair care ads depend on formulaic, slow-mo shots of unnaturally swishy, sparkly, CGI-enhanced hair, this new work for Syoss by walker Zurich highlights a hair dilemma most of us can actually relate to: where do you find the time to properly style your hair before your morning commute?

Laced with existential dread (and fabulous copywriting), the ad portrays harried commuters as helpless victims of lost time and bad hair. “With this film, we wanted to create something that was different to the usual mould that hair ads stick to,” Pius Walker, Creative Director at walker Zurich, said to Adweek. “We’re lucky enough to have a client who allows us to do this and push away from the conventional.”

 

3) Kenya’s Ol Pejeta Conservancy

Sudan is the last male Northern White Rhino on Earth, and he needs some help finding a mate. So naturally, he joined Tinder.

Since Sudan can’t mate under normal conditions, scientists at Kenya’s Ol Pejeta Conservancy need to raise money for research into Artificial Reproductive Techniques to help him breed through one of the 7,000 Southern White Rhinos currently in existence.

Ogilvy Africa launched a campaign around the effort, starting with signing Sudan up for a Tinder account. When users on the dating app swipe right to “match” with Sudan, they’ll be sent a link to donate money via the app’s messaging system. 

Chris Wall, Ogilvy’s late vice chairman who passed away earlier this month, was notably one of the writers on the viral campaign. 

 

4) Thalys

Particular smells can conjure vivid memories and stir up old emotions, but can they spur us to travel somewhere new? In this inspired campaign for French rail company Thalys, Paris-based agency Rosapark set out to bottle scents that captured the essence and energy of different European cities.

Thalys then set up a pop-up travel agency in a Brussels art gallery, inviting people to select trips on the spot based on their favorite bottled scents. The stunt is captured in the artful spot below.

 

5) Merck Consumer Health

In an effort to change the perception that you can’t learn new skills after a certain age, German pharmaceuticals company Merck Consumer Health teamed up with Ogilvy Italy to film this “social experiment” with parents of the Turin diving team. 

As the parents watch their children practice in the pool, they’re asked if they would ever take up diving themselves. Their responses are pretty unanimously: “I’m too old to start.”

Perfectly on cue, 79 year-old Pino Auber executes a perfect dive from the highest-platform, spurring applause from the parents. We learn that Auber didn’t start diving until age 57, setting the ad up for its main message: “Today we’re living longer. There’s always time for a first time.”

 

6) The Friars

Thanks to some seemingly lazy but actually ingenious copywriting, this simple ad for an English pub went viral in May after someone uploaded an image of it to photo-sharing website Imgur.

The ad features a text conversation between the owner of The Friars, a Bridgnorth-based pub, and designer Dave Blackhurst. At first glance, it looks like Blackhurts simply used a real conversation as the ad, but it turns out he cleverly fictionalized the whole thing. 

“The irony is I don’t have a smartphone, I have a Nokia C2, so it took me about three minutes to come up with the idea but a few hours to put it together with an online message generator and Photoshop,” Blackhurst said to a local paper, The Shropshire Star.

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Image Credit:
Tom Wysocki on Twitter

 

7) Oscar Mayer

In an effort to bring hotdogs to every remote corner of America, Oscar Mayer’s team of professional “Hotdoggers” (yes, this is their official title) hopped into the iconic Wienermobile and trundled off towards Whittier, Alaska.

The branded adventure, orchestrated by Mcgarrybowen, Olson Engage, and Starcom, was documented in the below film. Watch as the two Hotdoggers — Kayla and Franscico — heroically navigate precarious roads on their quest to bring nitrate-free joy to Whittier’s 220 citizens. 

The whole thing is like a fever-dream version of Ice Road Truckers — in a good way. 

 

8) Play-Doh

In honor of the company’s 60th birthday, Play-Doh teamed up with DBB Paris to create a series of epic, imaginative sculptures for use in a print and poster campaign. 

“I had written a series of headlines that each described one aspect of this world that is governed by the imagination and positive values,” Jean-François Bouchet, senior copywriter at DBB Paris, said to Adweek. “And with [senior art director Emmanuel Corteau], we thought it would be wonderful to actually hand-make the ads and be 100 percent in the DNA of the brand. We also wanted to speak both to parents and adults, who could each discover a multitude of details in each print and experience the excitement of a child in front of a Christmas shop window.”


Image via
Adland

 

9) Apple

In this charming, energetic spot from Apple, the iPhone 7 plus’ new Portrait Mode setting helps transform a quiet neighborhood barber shop into a popular destination.

When one of the barbers starts snapping professional-looking pictures of satisfied patrons and displaying them in the window, word quickly spreads — and pretty soon there’s a line around the block. The ad excels at showing how easy it is to use Portrait Mode, without boring us with the specific details. 

 

10) Alzheimer’s Research U.K. (in collaboration with Shazam)

To raise awareness for the devastating effects of Alzheimer’s disease, Alzheimer’s Research U.K. worked with agency Innocean Worldwide U.K. to create “The Day Shazam Forgot.”

The popular app, which can identify song names on the spot, started to temporarily “forget” the names of songs and artists. Once the app “remembered”, users would be directed to a page on Alzheimer’s awareness and encouraged to donate.

What were your favorite ads from May? Let us know in the comments.

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May

26

2017

How to Personalize Transactional Emails With Dynamic Content

Published by in category Daily, marketing agency | Comments are closed

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According to the latest Radicati report, the total number of business and consumer emails sent and received in 2017 is likely to reach 269 billion. And that number is expected to jump to 319.6 billion by 2021.

Email marketing isn’t going anywhere.

But there’s a big catch. With so many emails landing in our inboxes, there needs to be something unique about your emails so that you stand out from the crowd.

You’re probably already acutely aware of this, and have already started to incorporate personalized elements into your promotional emails.

But what about transactional emails?

Transactional emails are those triggered by a user interaction on your site, such as a purchase receipt or a delivery confirmation. Most companies don’t give too much thought to these types of messages, but they represent an important marketing opportunity to interact with your customers at their most engaged.

Research from IBM company Silverpop’s 2015 Email Marketing Benchmark Study found that transactional emails enjoy an average open rate of about 45%, compared to just 20.8% for non-transactional emails.

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Data source: IBM

The click-through rate for transactional emails also has a significant edge on other marketing emails at 10.4%, while the average CTR for non-transactional emails is 3.2%.

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Data source: IBM

So before you write off these messages as boring, think again. In fact, you can harness transactional emails to amplify your marketing efforts. Their potential is way beyond just welcoming a new subscriber or sending ecommerce-related updates.

What is a Transactional Email?

There’s a general perception that transactional emails are only sent after a customer has bought something from your website — an order confirmation email, order shipment email, order delivered email, etc.

In reality, transactional emails have a broader defintion.  A transactional email is a message sent to a subscriber because of a certain action they took on your website, such as visiting a particular page, signing up for blog updates, or abandoning a cart. 

Personalization in Transactional Emails

We all love to receive emails that are tailor made for us. And that is the reason why personalized campaigns help improve click-through rates by around 14% and conversions by 10%. We all know this is true for promotional emails, but few marketers have begun to further optimize their transactional emails with advanced personalization. 

As a general rule of thumb, your transactional emails should be 80% informational and 20% promotional. Transactional emails are intended to deliver important information, so you can’t compromise this with too much promotional content. The key is to give users the information they need and expect, and offer them a personalized next step to continue their journey with your company. 

To help you start harnessing the power of your transactional emails, we’ll take a look at three impressive examples of optimized and personalized transactional emails sent by real companies. Each example represents a different type of transactional interaction, enabling you to create messages that are extremely relevant to recipients and profitable for your business.

The Welcome Email

The welcome email is the first email you send to a person who has opted in to receive your emails, or someone who has made their first purchase on your website. As your first direct interaction with a user, the welcome email is an important chance to start things off on the right foot.

To help you gather data for a positive personalized experience, It’s important to ask for a few key pieces of information about your new subscriber at the time of sign up. The information can be used to tailor your welcome email to resonate with the subscribers.

If you have asked for their name, you can go ahead and open with a personalized greeting . Isn’t it natural to like someone saying “Hey Joe” rather than just a “Hey there”? If you have collected their zip code, providing local store information is also a good idea.   

Here’s a simple yet awesome welcome email from Upwork. They have made good use of the of the subscriber information they collected at sign-up. The global freelancing platform makes the person feel special with just a few simple, personalized lines.

They welcome Mike and provide all the information he needs to know to get acquainted with the platform. Prominent CTAs can be used to guide the user back to the website for more relevant info.

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The Purchase Email

After a customer makes a purchase, there are 3 types of emails that are usually triggered: order confirmation email, order shipment email and order delivered email.

We know none of these sound exciting, but they’re important to the customers who are waiting to know the status of their order and should thus be very important to marketers as well.

To interact with your customers at their most engaged, you should customize these emails with relevant content. Apart from the basic dynamic information of the order, you can make best use of upsell and cross-sell techniques, which direct users to content or products relevant to their purchase.

When someone purchases something from your website, you get an idea as to what kind of apparel they like or what kind of holiday destination they prefer. Dynamic content for these type of emails can be fetched on the basis of the customer’s current purchase, past purchase history or any other real-time interaction.   

It might seem a little dicey when it comes to recommending products, but if used carefully, recommendations have the potential to make a strong impact. After all, it costs 5 times more to attract a new customer than to retain an existing one.  Also, convincing your existing customers to buy from you is easier than convincing a new subscriber, isn’t it?

Make sure you do not bombard the customer with a big list of recommendations or they might soon lose interest in you or feel overwhelmed. Restraint on the number of suggested products serves to keep the customer engaged.

We love this purchase confirmation email from Teespring. It provides all the essential information about the order — which the subscriber needs to know. But they’ve also taken full advantage of relevant cross-sell opportunities, presenting the user with customized information about other products. 

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Cart Abandonment Email

It’s a nightmare for a business to see abandoned carts. But they exist in big numbers. According to a SalesCycle report, around 74.52% carts were abandoned in 2016.

But it is possible to recover some lost carts through email marketing. And personalization of cart abandonment emails makes things easier. Generally, when a subscriber receives relevant suggestions, they are more likely to take the desired action.

Lux-Fix.com, a fashion retail brand, implemented an email personalization program to get 85.7% rise in email conversion rates and a 136.2% rise in recovered sales from cart abandonment emails.

By personalizing the email with products the customer or prospective customer was looking for, you can create context and remind them about their interaction with your brand. Also, you need to make sure that when they click on a product image or description you send in your email, you take them to the exact product page on your website.  

Moreover, you can also cross-sell in this type of email. By giving color options of products they put into the cart or recommending similar products that they may like, you are actually broadening the horizon of your brand in more ways than one.   

You can also segregate the cart abandoners on the basis of what caused them to do so. By implementing your knowledge regarding shopping habits, stage of a particular subscriber’s journey, etc. we have a few ideas you can make use of:

  • First time visitor/ price-sensitive visitor:  a discount works the best
  • Those deterred by shipping cost: offer free shipping
  • If someone puts a product in the cart and it is out-of-stock: send an email when the product is back in stock

This email by MCM is an excellent example of cart abandonment emails. The top menu is in place and there’s a major focus on reminding the subscriber about what they left in the cart. Apart from all this, they have cross-sold well by adding some similar products that the subscriber may like.   

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Don’t Forget Your Transactional Emails

Personalization plays an important role in increasing the probability of your email campaign’s success. While personalization often gets limited to just promotional emails, it’s important to consider personalization options in your transactional emails as well to improve open and click-through rates.

Customized transactional emails can perform even better with this targeted approach.  

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May

24

2017

9 Reasons Your Marketing Agency's Retainers Aren't Bigger

Published by in category marketing agency | Comments are closed

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I’ve seen the inside of hundreds of marketing agencies over more than a decade, including my own.   

Most marketing agencies struggle to generate recurring revenue. Many suffer through the ups and downs of the cash-flow roller-coaster because they never make the switch to recurring-revenue engagements.

Some inch their way to consistency by securing one, two, and three thousand dollar per month engagements. But, those low fees aren’t usually enough to justify much work, and after failing to make a big impact on their client’s business, they get fired after 6 months or a year.

On the flip side, I’ve also had the opportunity to see many agencies prosper as they’ve secured bigger and bigger clients that stick with them for years. When I met Stream Creative (now a Platinum HubSpot Partner) in 2010 at HubSpot’s INBOUND event, they told me they had no recurring revenue. Every year I’d ask them, “How much revenue is from recurring contracts now?” Every year, their percentage would go up. Last year, their response was, “All of our clients start as retainers, and now we add projects on top of that.”

I have hundreds of stories like this. This kind of success continues to fuel me in my mission to help agencies grow their recurring revenue. It’s why I started HubSpot’s agency partner program in 2008, and why I’ve launched an agency partner program at my new company, Databox.

Below, I’ve compiled a list of some common dumb moves that prevent agencies from winning new retainers, landing bigger ones, or losing those precious few ongoing contracts — and what to do instead.

9 Reasons Your Retainers Aren’t Bigger

1) Your Own Marketing Sucks

You wouldn’t hire a dentist with rotten teeth or hire an account who has filed bankruptcy 6 times over.

So why the hell would a company hire an agency that doesn’t prioritize their own marketing?

I’m not going to lecture you on how to do this. If you don’t know how to market your own business, you have bigger problems.

But if you want to start winning more, get more at bats by doing inbound, internet marketing.

If you need some inspiration, follow the lead of Impact Branding, a HubSpot Diamond Partner who now gets more than a quarter million visitors to their site every month. “We’ve grown from two to thirty-two people and the majority of our clients have found us through our online marketing. The smartest decision I made as a startup agency was to dedicate time to it and when we were bigger, to dedicate a full time person to it.”

2) Your Clients Are More Tech-Savvy Than You

Marketing technology is a given these days. Clients expect you to have expertise in the software products they’ve chosen.

When I ran my own little agency, marketing software was pretty new. Google Analytics, Moz, and Constant Contact were really the only well-known tools. There was such a lack of tools, we often edited websites with Notepad and configured our own email server for sending email campaigns.

 When I joined HubSpot in 2007, web content management systems were still pretty new and HubSpot was really just a blogging platform with some keyword research tools and a form builder built into it. Today, HubSpot is a full marketing and sales growth stack that makes it possible to execute a multi-channel marketing campaign. And at Databox, our average paying customer visualizes key performance indicators from more than five different tools.

You need to be a tech-step ahead of your prospects.

3) You Aren’t Aligned with Marketing Technology Vendors

Marketing technology isn’t just a fact of life you must adapt to. It’s a massive business development opportunity for agencies.

Here’s why: marketing technology is booming. Investors have been putting billions of dollars behind marketing technology companies (known as martech) and it’s cousin, salestech, for more than a decade now. There are a bunch of marketing technology companies generating hundreds of millions of dollars — and a few generating more than a billion dollars in annual revenue. In fact, marketers are expected to spend more than $120 Billion over the next 10 years.

Where do you think they’re investing all that money? They are putting much of it into marketing and sales, or what they like to call it: customer acquisition. In fact, they’re putting more into sales and marketing than they make in many cases, as investors continue to put money behind them and their unprecedented growth curves.

When I started HubSpot’s agency program, partnerships between martech companies and agencies was a pretty new idea. But, today, most of these companies have agency partner programs. And the benefits of partnering are great for agencies.

In addition to earning commission when you resell their products, you can also do co-marketing to generate leads, buddy up with their sales teams to get referrals, and market and sell your expertise directly to their install base. In other words, you can leverage their customer acquisitions machines to generate new clients for you.

If you pursue these partnerships to help you win new clients, you can’t fake your way through it, though. First assign someone from within your agency to identify, learn and drive adoption of new software programs.

“Clients hire us because of our experience identifying and using technology to improve their marketing and sales results. They’ve come to depend on us for evaluating new technology and presenting new opportunities to them. Even though HubSpot is a broad “all-in-one” marketing and sales platform, our average client uses more than 5 pieces of software integrated with it,” said Elyse Meyer, owner of Prism Global Marketing Solutions. Her firm won HubSpot’s Integrations Innovations Award for leveraging HubSpot and other software that is integrated with HubSpot to drive client results.  

Maybe you’re just not that into technology, though, and this doesn’t feel natural. If for no other reason, do it for the leads. “Not only do our clients get better results, but we get more opportunities with larger companies that are looking for a tech-savvy agency that can focus on their business holistically,” Meyer added.

And if you’re clinging to your “We’re technology agnostic” line, stop it. Like any other personal or business relationship, the benefits of picking a mate are greater than going it alone. Plus, I usually find that technology-agnostic agencies are actually just technology-ignorant. I bet your prospects will make the same conclusion.

4) You Look and Sound Like Everyone Else

If you work at an agency and you haven’t read Blair Enns, “Win Without Pitching Manifesto“, you are doing yourself a disservice. He says it as concisely as possible:

The world does not need another generalist design firm. There are enough full service advertising agencies and marketing communication firms. The world is drowning in undifferentiated creative businesses. What the world needs, what the better clients are willing to pay for, and what our people want to develop and deliver, is deep expertise. Expertise is the only valid basis for differentiating ourselves from the competition. Not personality. Not process. Not price. It is expertise and expertise alone that will set us apart in a meaningful way and allow us to deal with our clients and prospects from a position of power.

As I was building HubSpot’s agency program, Enns and fellow agency luminaries David Baker and Tim Williams started warning me that the sheer volume of HubSpot partners marketing themselves with the same message and the same tactics will soon make them all look like a commodity.

And even though demand for inbound-certified practitioners still outweighs supply, inbound agencies do tell me they are being shopped around more and more and under-cut by new entrants all the time.

But this doesn’t mean your agency shouldn’t do inbound marketing. Inbound is an unstoppable movement driven by buyer’s interest in self-educating, self-serving, and ultimately, being served better.

What it does mean is that you must differentiate yourself by establishing an expertise no one else can match in another way. A great example of this is TREW Marketing, an inbound marketing agency and HubSpot partner that helps companies market to engineers. But they don’t market to all kinds of engineers. They’ve specialized even further than that. They focus on working with specific types of manufacturing companies like control and automation companies, embedded semiconductor solutions, and just two other specialties that I (nor you, probably) will understand even if I name them.

Here’s an excerpt from their website: “TREW helps design and embedded companies generate demand for their wireless chips, reconfigurable FPGAs, UI development software, and electronic control solutions (to name a few!) in this rapidly changing space.” Find another agency with that on their website. Go ahead, I dare you. They even wrote the book on inbound marketing to engineers.

“By focusing on these niche markets, we bring our collective knowledge of what works to each client, making it a win-win for both agency and client,” explains Rebecca Geier of TREW Marketing. “Not only can we serve them better than anyone else because we understand their products, markets and technical buyer, we can do it faster and more effectively than any other agency. Based on our knowledge and relevant experience with similar industries, we can help them create a differentiated position, develop content engineers are seeking, and drive conversions to fuel demand and business growth.”

5) You’re Trying to Be All Things to All People

Most agencies are small. According to Digiday, “Two thirds of advertising agencies in the U.S. employ fewer than five people.”

There is no way you can be an expert at everything. Instead, partner with firms who are truly experts at things and focus your own resources on developing one or two core competencies.

“Thousands of HubSpot customers use our website templates. We’ve worked with hundreds of them one-on-one to lower their Cost per Customer Acquisition with Conversion Rate Optimization.” said Joe Jerome, owner of Brand Builder Solutions. “Not only does our efficiency allow us to beat the competition on price, but we’re continuously investing in our processes and systems around this type of work.”

I personally know several other agencies who outsource their work to Jerome’s team because his quality is high and because he stays in his lane. He doesn’t offer the kind of services his agency partners do. Therefore, agencies trust him not to steal their clients. And Jerome is often in a position to refer agencies work too.

Find partners who are experts at one or two things, and be more like them too by building your own deep expertise in one or two things.

6) You’re Not Using Data To Justify Investments

Marketing results are more predictable today than they’ve ever been. It’s not an exact science, but over time, more and more things have become measurable.

Just a few years ago, it was possible only to measure CTR of paid ads and not ultimate conversion rates. Now that’s easy. As technology continues to advance, marketing and sales activities will become even more measurable and improvable based on data.

And if you’ve been doing digital marketing correctly, you know the longer you work with a client, the more data you can collect, and the better you can predict the outcome of future marketing activities.

When you’re starting out a relationship, it’s hard to predict how much value or ROI you can deliver. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try, though.

According to a survey we ran at Databox, most agencies use data in their sales process sometimes, but only 30% require their clients to give them access to data every time. In addition to putting forth a more relevant and customized proposal to the client, there must be a reason these agencies always request access. Maybe they close deals more often because they do?

Here’s how they do it …

Without even asking for anything from your prospect, you can use tools like HubSpot’s website grader to evaluate issues with a prospect’s website or competitor grader to evaluate how they compare against their competition. You can use a tool like SEMRush to evaluate ways to increase organic search traffic.

Don’t stop there. If the prospect has Google Analytics setup, ask for access so you can evaluate issues and find improvement opportunities. If they’re already using tools like HubSpot or Databox, ask for access to those, so you can look for opportunities deeper in the funnel.

If you want to make this process systematic, consider developing standardized report templates for your agency that allow you to quickly view the data the way you want to view it, like HubSpot Platinum partner, FullFunnel did, “We’ve created templates for our core funnel metric reports that make it even easier and quicker to roll out new reports to new clients and prospects.”

By doing this in your sales process, you’ll demonstrate your approach to data-driven marketing and set the stage for using data to justify future investments too.

8) You Are Too Focused on Top of the Marketing Funnel Services

There are not enough agencies that know how to grow sales for their clients.

I’m not suggesting you should stop building or re-designing websites, ignore search engine optimization, or social media marketing, but at a minimum, you need to be able to connect those efforts to sales.

To do that in a B2B or high-ticket B2C client, you need to serve the sales leader as much as you serve marketing. Marketing is essentially a support function for sales, so it’s ludicrous that an agency wouldn’t.

In the early days of HubSpot, we taught agencies how to generate leads for clients, which certainly helped turn top of the funnel results into client revenue. Then, as marketing automation became popular, generating qualified sales leads became the norm.

Today, generating qualified leads is no longer good enough. Agencies need to help drive CRM usage, align sales and marketing goals and messaging and enable sales teams with training and content for use during the sales process.

Many agencies have told me they’ve doubled their retainer sizes by offering sales enablement services. Other than the fact they have no reason to lie to me, I believe them. Why? Enabling a sales team is a time-consuming activity when done right. And it is a very quick return on investment when done right too. In one case, an agency reported they created a “a more stable pipeline and consistent flow of opportunities” just be getting the sales team to send out a sequence of pre-written templated emails to one additional prospect per day.

9) You Aren’t Introducing New Ideas to Clients

Typically, companies hire agencies because (a) they don’t think they can execute on certain concepts in-house or (b) because the same old stuff isn’t working as well as it once did.

It’s an enviable position to be in where clients are expecting you to pitch them new things. Most companies are expected to just do what they’re hired to do.

If your agency isn’t introducing new ideas to clients, you’re not only failing to deliver on expectations, you’re squandering an opportunity to retain and grow your client accounts.

Don’t have ideas of your own? Leverage technology to find opportunities for improvement. LeadG2, a HubSpot Platinum Partner leveraged SeventhSense, a send-time personalization solution, to do just that. Email marketing is an extremely important marketing channel for many of their clients, and they were at a loss on how to improve deliverability, opens, and click-through rates. By using SeventhSense to send emails to individual recipients based on the recipient’s activity profile, they achieved “a 26% Increase in open rate, 141.38% increase in read rate, and a reduction in hard bounces to almost zero.”

There are plenty of technology companies with clever ways to help your clients grow traffic, leads, and sales. Don’t feel like you have to figure it out all on your own.

Do These Things to Land Bigger Retainers

Most agencies really struggle to grow. The most common blocker I’ve seen is they take on project after unprofitable project.

While conventional ‘marketing agency’ wisdom says you need to go upstream to get bigger retainers, my work with HubSpot partners proves you can get bigger retainers from small and mid-sized businesses too. Sure, it helps to go upstream and you can gradually move upstream if you want. But, don’t fool yourself into thinking you need to go out and miraculously land big clients to get there.

Instead, stop making the mistakes above. Alternatively, start doing the things below.

  • Commit to consistently doing great marketing for yourself
  • Get tech-savvy
  • Partner with marketing technology companies
  • Differentiate yourself from all other agencies
  • Become an expert at one or two things
  • Use data to convince prospects to hire you and clients to pay you more.
  • Use real-time data to improve the results you deliver and ensure you hit goals that are meaningful to your clients.
  • Offer down-funnel services like CRM setup and sales enablement in order to deliver and prove ROI more easily and more convincingly.
  • Always be introducing new ideas to existing clients

Start doing all of these things and I guarantee you’ll never have cash flow problems again. Instead, you’ll start growing revenue and profit consistently. Oh yeah — and you’ll have bigger retainers too.   

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May

23

2017

15 Fashion Brands You Should Follow on Instagram for Marketing Inspiration

Published by in category Daily, marketing agency | Comments are closed

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No other B2C industry has thrived on Instagram quite like the fashion industry.

Between their carefully curated photos, expertly targeted ads, and decisive adoption of Instagram Stories, fashion and beauty brands have become masters of consumer engagement on the visual content platform. And brands from any industry could learn a thing or two from these inspirational feeds. 

Back in 2015, business intelligence firm L2 found that fashion and beauty brands were growing their community size and engagement rates on Instagram at a rapid rate. 


Source:
Digiday

The L2 report also found that among fashion and beauty brands, Instagram had firmly become the social media platform of choice — far outranking Facebook and Twitter.


Source:
L2

In 2017, the industry’s love affair with Instagram isn’t showing any signs of slowing down. Digiday recently checked in with a number of fashion and beauty social media insiders at SXSW’s Decoded Fashion and Create & Cultivate events, confirming that Instagram remains a top priority in their digital marketing strategies.

“Instagram is always a priority for us,” Rosi Sanchez, a social media strategist at Fossil, told Digiday. “We have more reach and a larger new follower group there, so it leads to more conversions. Until we get to 1.5 million or 2 million followers, it’s going to be our number one priority.”

Fossil isn’t alone. Social media strategists from more established brands like L’Oréal USA, Shopbop, and Murad also indicated that Instagram was their top social media priority for the foreseeable future.

Brands from any industry looking to level up their visual storytelling chops should keep a close eye on fashion brands for inspiration. To help get you started, we’ve compiled a list of 15 fashion accounts — both big and small — who are crushing the Instagram game. Take a look below, and start planning your next big Instagram push. For a deeper dive on how to build a presence on Instagram, check out our complete guide to Instagram marketing

15 Fashion Brands to Follow on Instagram

1) Everlane @everlane

While Everlane’s account has no shortage of beautiful product imagery, they also feature photos of their customers wearing Everlane clothes, inspiring travel photography, and tips on food and art destinations in different cities around the world. 

  
 

2) Nike @nike

The behemoth athletic brand has enthusiastically embraced video content, and can be regularly found sharing clips with their impressive 7.1 million follows on Instagram. Their feed features a motivational mix of professional athletes and regular, everyday fitness enthusiasts. 

  
 

3) Teva @teva

Teva’s Instagram feed is perfect proof that it’s possible to give your brand a modern update without losing the spirit of what made you successful in the first place. Their feed includes customer-generated photos of their sandals out in the wild, as well as sleek product shots highlighting their new styles. 

  
 

4) Zara @zara

Zara has made a name for itself by emulating the marketing of more expensive, luxury brands, and their Instagram feed is no exception. Their account looks like a high-fashion magazine, with professional editorial shots of their men’s and women’s styles.

  
 

5) Fossil @fossil

If you like photos of neatly organized items, then Fossil’s Instagram is definitely for you. The accessories brand curates an impressive feed of food, fashion, and celebrity influencers like Kristen Bell. 

  
 

6) Kate Spade @katespadeny

Despite being a well-established label, Kate Spade’s Instagram has a distinct personal touch that sets it apart from similar brands. Their social media manager shares daily outfit pictures, snaps from around New York, and behind-the-scenes shots of the design process at the Kate Spade studio.

  
 

7) Fjällräven @fjallravenofficial

The Instagram feed for Swedish outdoor apparel brand Fjällräven is less about their products, and more about the adventurous spirit that has defined the company for almost 60 years. 

  
 

8) Madewell @madewell

Apparel brand Madewell is known for their relaxed, classic styles, and their Instagram clearly reflects this aesthetic. With bright, sunny images of their latest products and collaborations with brands like Vans, their feed is a fashion lover’s delight. 

  
 

9) The Row @therow

Another account that focuses less on their products and more on visual inspiration, The Row features vintage photos of art, architecture, and fashion — only occasionally sharing images of their actual products. 

  
 

10) Asos @asos

British online fashion and beauty retailer Asos keeps their feed updated regularly with colorful and bold product images and editorial snaps from their latest campaigns. 

  
 

11) Aerie @aerie

Scrolling through Aerie’s Instagram feed is like taking a tropical beach getaway. The lingerie and bathing suit brand has been applauded for their commitment to unretouched photos in their print ads, and they continue the effort on their Instagram account by celebrating a diverse range of women and body-positive messages. 

  
 

12) Eileen Fisher @eileenfisherny

Eileen Fisher keeps the emphasis on their quality materials and environmentally friendly production processes Instagram presence. By featuring images of women from all walks of life, they prove that style is truly ageless. 

  
 

13) Anthropologie @anthropologie

With colorful close-ups of their brightly patterned styles, Anthropologie’s feed is a visual smorgasbord of inspiration. We especially love the travel shots featuring their clothes around the world. 

  
 

14) Girlfriend Collective @girlfriendcollective

This leggings startup has yet to even officially launch a full collection of clothing, but they already boast an impressive 60.2k followers on Instagram. Thanks to a free leggings promotion they advertised earlier this year on Instagram and Facebook, the brand has enjoyed explosive social media growth. Their feed keeps customers engaged with stunning product photography of their minimal styles, and screencaps from inspirational movies.

  
 

15) J.Crew @jcrew

J.Crew has mastered the art of follower engagement on Instagram. With daily-updated Stories and regular contests to select new styles for clothes and accessories, their vibrant feed keeps customers inspired and interested.

  
 

What fashion brands do you follow on Instagram? Let us know in the comments.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in November 2015 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

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May

17

2017

How to Leverage Social Intent Data in Your Next Nurturing Campaign

Published by in category Daily, marketing agency | Comments are closed

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As marketers, capturing buyer attention is everything. Without it, we’re just throwing more content, emails, ads, and offers into the abyss. Yet, there has never been a harder time to earn buyer attention.

Thanks to advances in technology and the abundance of information on the internet, today’s buyers have a lot more knowledge and power. They can learn about our companies and products through many channels — online and offline.

Meanwhile, technology has made it much easier for marketers to create more content, push ads, and send emails, — and we’re doing it more, more and more.

The convergence of these two forces has resulted in diminishing returns for marketers. Our prospects are overwhelmed by the amount of content they’re exposed to, and they are tuning us out.

Consider that the average office worker receives 121 emails a day. With that staggering number in mind, it’s not surprising that people are unsubscribing from emails at higher rates. Research shows that the number one reason users unsubscribe from email lists is because they get too many emails in general, not necessarily because they don’t like the content.

At Socedo, our nurture emails get a 1% CTR on average. A 2% CTR is now considered “good”.

At this point, simply turning up the volume doesn’t work anymore. As marketers, we need make sure that our engagement is more targeted and valuable.

To get there, we need to listen to our customers before we act.

Instead of pushing what we “think” customers want, we should wait for them to tell us what they care about. Instead of starting a campaign because a senior leader thinks it’s a good idea, we can use customer data to inform the campaign strategy, content and execution.

What is Intent-Based Marketing?  

Intent-based marketing is a methodology of listening to signals that show a prospect is researching a specific topic or problem area so you can send the right message at the right time.

It’s the kind of marketing that aims to listen, learn, and then engage. For example, an intent-based email would be sent to a prospect as soon as they show interest in a relevant topic, and the email would reference the prospect’s interest and provide relevant content.

While intent-based marketing has been around for awhile now, marketers have traditionally just focused on buying intent.

But intent-based marketing is not just about serving the right ad or message to trigger a purchase. It’s about responding to people’s intentions in the right way, wherever they are in the buying journey. It is this level of personalization and relevant engagement that will make people choose your brand versus your competitors.

You can start this process by gathering intent data from the broader web.

What is Intent Data?

Intent data is generated from actions that tells you what a potential buyer is interested in.

It includes internal data (collected from engagement with your owned digital properties, such as website clicks, email opens, downloaded offers, etc.) and external data (collected from activities outside of your owned digital properties, such as social media platforms, user reviews, competitor mentions).

At this point, marketing automation platforms have enabled us to nurture leads, and personalize our emails, website content and ads based on the data we’ve collected. This is a great start, but it’s not enough.

If the only actions you’re tracking are email clicks, webpage visits and other engagements with your company, you are only tracking leads that are “in-market”, or actively in the buying process. In reality, the majority of the B2B buying cycle is over by the time a buyer lands on your website. According to Corporate Executive Board, prospects have made 60% of their buying decision before talking to a sales rep.

The buyer journey starts when someone starts to do research on the web to increase their understanding of a problem they want to solve. This is known as the Discover stage within the buying journey.

According to Forrester’s Business Technographics Survey in 2016, buyers use 15 vehicles during the Discover stage. More than half of these vehicles are online, and thus represent sources of digital insight.

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Source: Lenovo’s presentation on Intent-Based Marketing at B2B Marketing Exchange 2017

Social Media-Based Intent Data

Social media is a good place to start because there is a wealth of intent data that exists within social media platforms and much of that data is public.

55% of B2B buyers search for information on social media and 84% of CEOs and VPs use social media to make purchasing decisions.

Social intent data includes any action potential leads take on social media. Today, many people go to social networks like Twitter and LinkedIn to learn about and discuss news and business issues in our industry. Some of us go on Quora to get perspectives on how we might tackle certain business challenges, or go on Meetup.com to find in-person events where we can gain a broader view of our industry.

On Twitter, we can identify potential buyers based on their tweets and following relations. On LinkedIn, we could find potential buyers by looking at people’s group affiliations (i.e., specific product user groups), the influencers they are following, the articles they are sharing and commenting on. On Quora, we could do the same by looking at who is asking questions related to our product category. On Meetup.com, we could see people’s profiles and their meetup attendance history.

At this point, there are data providers that can tell you which contacts or prospects in your marketing automation database are showing interest in your space, based on keywords present in social media conversations.

With contact/lead level intent data from social media, you can start to segment your leads, use this data to trigger personalized emails in real-time, and to score your leads.  

How to Leverage Intent Data from Social Media

1) Start With Social Keyword Research

Finding the right keywords to use to target and trigger your marketing campaigns requires you to look at keyword research a little differently. You’re not looking for the keywords leads are using to find your website, because that’s only a small percent of their overall activity.

Instead, you want to know:

  • Which influencers your leads follow
  • What topics your leads research most
  • The events, news or keywords your leads care most about
  • Which competitors they’re following

Other than your own social accounts, who else do your leads follow? This information will give you a mix of obvious influencers in your industry, but it will also reveal connections that you may not have realized existed.

2) Look for Keywords and Hashtags Mentioned

This is another important set of social intent data that will tell you what topics your leads are researching — even if they aren’t actively performing the research directly on your site.

Social intent data means you aren’t limited to the keywords strictly associated with search research. Event hashtags, industry topics or other keywords could all indicate a good fit and need for your product or service — especially from your more passive leads who aren’t actively searching Google.

3) Identify Social Activity With the Greatest Opportunity

Unlike traditional lead scoring, where your leads’ actions are limited by the amount of content you create and promote, tracking keywords and social actions in this way could give you hundreds or even thousands of results. You can track as many keywords as you want, but you don’t want to create a campaign around every one. You want to prioritize the keywords where you see the most opportunity.

There are two main factors you should use to evaluate the opportunity of potential keywords:

  1. Volume: How many users are engaging with each hashtag or keyword in a set timeframe?
  2. Lead Engagement: How much do leads who take that social action engage with your company?

The first point is straightforward. The second point requires you to compare your social keywords with the lead scoring you already perform. If leads using a particular keyword also tend to visit your website, engage with your emails and download your offers, then other leads using that keyword are likely people you want to market to.

On the other hand, if a keyword has been used by a lot of leads in your system, but that’s the only thing these leads are doing and they don’t have a high lead score, you should not spend time crafting content on that topic.

Here is a sample report you can run to compare the minimum lead score of the different keywords identified in step 1. By comparing the keyword research above with your existing lead scoring you can gain an even better idea of which social activities indicate qualified leads. Eventually, you can incorporate social actions into your lead scoring model alongside email clicks and form fills, to keep your pipeline full with the most qualified leads.

This sample report has dummy data:

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Next, look at how many leads are using a specific keyword or social activity to know whether or not you should focus on it. We’ll talk about measuring and improving this list in the last step, but this data will give you a good place to start.

3) Conduct a Content Audit and Start Planning

When you perform research on social keywords, you may learn things you expect, i.e., your audience is engaging with a social keyword you’re already creating content around. You may also find a few surprising keyword opportunities that you weren’t focusing on at all. The least surprising keywords are where you want to start.

Before you begin creating campaigns, you need to determine what content you’ll use to educate and nurture the leads taking these specific social actions. This process begins by auditing the content you already have.

For each potential keyword, ask:

  • Do I already have content on this topic?
  • How does that content perform? Does it need to be rewritten or revised?
  • What’s my specific message or call to action for people who are interested in this topic?
  • What new content do I need to develop for this audience?

At the end of this process, you should have a clear idea of the buyer personas you’re targeting for each keyword and the message you want to send to properly nurture them. Your keywords will end up in one of three buckets:

  • Keywords you’ve actively targeted and rank for. These have always been your main SEO focus. You have good quality content on the topic and know the best way to target the audience.
  • Keywords you create content for but haven’t made a priority. Before this research, you may have known there were opportunities here but didn’t realize how valuable they were. The content created probably needs revisions and you may need to create some new content to support it.
  • Keywords you didn’t know your audience cared about. These are the ones that really surprised you. You currently have no content to support these campaigns and need to develop the right messaging to approach this new audience.

All these keywords still present strong opportunities. As you begin creating campaigns, you’ll be able to test out the process on keywords you know you have strong messaging for while you build out your content and messaging for the rest.

4) Leverage Social Intent Data in Your Email Nurturing Campaigns

Once you have the social actions that indicate a qualified lead, you can create marketing campaigns around lead actions like following a relevant influencer, mentioning a specific keyword, or using a relevant hashtag. 

Start by focusing on two to three of your strongest keywords, and build campaigns around those. Based on your content audit in Step 3, you should be able to identify a few “low hanging fruit” keywords where you already have good content to share. Your early concern shouldn’t be building out long sequences either. Create one to two follow-up emails per campaign and see how they perform.

Once you feel like you are getting good results in terms of email open rates and click-through rates, you can expand these initial campaigns and move on to other keywords where you already have content to promote.

Here at Socedo, we are currently sending 500-1000 real-time emails per week that are triggered solely from social media actions. Here’s an example of the email we send out when a lead uses the keyword #ContentMarketing, a topic we blog about frequently:

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This email averages a 38.8 % Open rate and a 4.8% click through rate. It performs twice as well as our typical nurture emails.

Depending on how broad each social action is, you may need to further segment your campaign or send it to everyone who uses that hashtag. For example, we found that while leads using a keyword like #ABM had a variety of job titles, almost all the leads following particular accounts are senior decision makers.

Consider Leveraging Social Intent Data

By turning to intent data from the broader web and social media, you can understand your buyers, segment your accounts and prospects into the right campaign tracks, trigger real-time emails and more accurately score your leads.

Use these five steps to start your intent-based marketing campaign but remember to constantly return to each step to further improve and refine your campaigns as you learn more about your audience and the right way to target them.

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May

12

2017

The Best Advice for Marketers in 2017: Insights from 11 Experts

Published by in category Daily, marketing agency | Comments are closed

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Don Draper wouldn’t know what hit him. Gone are the decadent days of the liquid lunch, three-piece suits, and Madison Avenue dominating the marketing landscape. Modern marketers have to be a jill-of-all-trades, with one foot in the real world, and one in cyberspace.

We live in an age of digital disruption and a constantly evolving marketing playground. 96% of B2C marketers believed they were experiencing “significant change” in 2014. That number would likely be 100% today.

Radio, television spots, billboards, full-page spreads in glossy magazines, and direct mail packages have been replaced by their online counterparts. In fact, companies with a comprehensive strategic vision combined with digital tactics perform 26% better on average.

Even online, though, certain tactics have already become obsolete. Banner ads and email blast campaigns, for example, don’t really cut it anymore. Evolve, or perish. Embrace digital, or be left behind. Diversify your channels, or risk being invisible.

Today, your marketing mix should include social media, SEO, influencers, PPC ads, a mobile-first mentality, segmented and transactional email, remarketing, content marketing, detailed buyer personas, big data, analytics … and probably about a dozen more components I’m forgetting at the moment.

Obviously, that’s a lot of moving parts. So what’s a marketer to do? Where do you focus first if you want to improve?

As always, you turn to the experts. I reached out to a handful of experts and influencers, asking them two simple questions:

  1. What’s the most important advice you can give a marketer in 2017?
  2. What are some traits and qualities that make a marketer successful?

Here are their responses. Read, learn, enjoy.

Marketing Advice for 2017 From the Experts

1) John Rampton, Due

john-rampton

A prolific contributor to The Huffington Post, Forbes, and Entrepreneur, Rampton is an online influencer, serial entrepreneur, and CEO of Due

Question #1: “Don’t get stuck in a rut, relying on the same tactics year after year. Continually reassess what you’re using and doing because online marketing, social media marketing tools, and audience preferences change faster than you realize. You will be left behind. I re-evaluate what we’re doing at least once a year and stay on top of new platforms and channels I need to incorporate in an upcoming marketing strategy revision.”

Question #2: “A successful marketer needs to be flexible, open, an active listener, and creative.”

2) Ann Handley, Annhandley.com

ann-handley

Handley hardly needs an introduction: she’s a bestselling author, keynote speaker, LinkedIn influencer, and chief content officer at MarketingProfs. Forbes named her the most influential woman in social media. See what all the fuss is about at her personal website.

Question #1: “Us[e] voice and tone consistently across all channels and accounts to convey brand. Your tone of voice is a differentiator in a sea of same, yet most organizations vastly undervalue it. Most spend a lot of time on the visual elements of their brand — but not a lot on tone of voice (what you sound like). So — embrace tone of voice as your gutsiest, bravest asset!”

3) Hiten Shah, Quick Sprout

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Shah’s list of SaaS startups reads like a who’s who of success: He’s the co-founder and former CEO of Kissmetrics, co-founder of Crazy Egg, and co-founder of Quick Sprout.

Question #1: “Always strive to find uncommon ways of marketing yourself and your business. That’s how you’ll discover some of the biggest, high leverage opportunities that others have not caught on to yet.”

Question #2: ” A childlike curiosity will serve you well not only in marketing, but also life in general. Never lose it.”

4) Michelle Killebrew, Nomiku

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With over 16 years of high tech marketing experience, Killebrew has led teams at both IBM and Fisher Investments. She describes herself as a marketing technologist, and is currently working with Nomiku.

Question #1: “This advice is a longstanding truth: Always put the customer first. Customer-centricity has always been a foundation to good marketing, but it’s becoming exponentially more critical as the customer has more control and less attention, more options and less tolerance for poor experience.”

Question #2: “Marketers must be inquisitive with a true thirst for learning. The landscape is changing daily — everything from the consumer expectation and attention, effective channels, strategies and methods, and the technology required to execute it all. Marketers must be inventors with a love of experimentation and iteration to serve their customers well and stay competitive.”

5) Michael Lykke Aagaard, Unbounce

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Aagaard is an international speaker and senior conversion optimizer for Unbounce, the landing page and conversion specialists. With stints in Europe and North America, Aagaard describes himself as a practitioner and theorist on the subject.

Question #1: “Do everything you can to understand your target audience. The better you understand what reality looks like through their eyes, the easier it will be for you to make the right marketing decisions. In online marketing, we’re seeing everything through a digital lens. It can be easy to forget that you’re in the business of influencing real human behavior and decision-making — not just moving numbers around in a spreadsheet. Your marketing activities will only be effective if they have real impact on your real target audience. My best advice is to invest heavily in customer insight and market research.”

Question #2: “Having a strategic approach to problem solving is absolutely crucial. You need the ability to approach a complex situation, look at the data, cut through the clutter, carve out the best way forward and then ‘attack’! Also, being bold enough to admit when you’re wrong is very important. Stubbornly clinging to cherished notions and personal darlings rarely leads to insight or better results.”

6) Michael Brenner, Marketing Insider Group

michael-brenner

He’s the CEO of Marketing Insider Group, an internationally recognized keynote speaker, and an in-demand author, blogger, and contributor. Brenner has passion for and insight on both leadership and marketing strategies that work.

Question #1: ” Set a measurable and customer-centric goal focused on the impact you create for them and your company. My favorite metric to use is subscribers. Subscribers will tell you if the content you create is actually helping your customers. And subscribers have the added bonus of having real value to your company!”

Question #2: “Successful marketers have the courage to support the best ideas from across the organization. Not the stuff you did last year, or the thing your boss thinks will work, but the ideas that create real impact for customers.”

7) Laura Bilazarian, Teamable

laura-bilazarian

Bilazarian is the CEO and founder of Teamable — an employee referral and diversity hiring platform. Previous investment banker, Vietnam hotel builder, and rugby player, she’s a graduate of the Wharton Business School.

Question #1: Be authentic and hold yourself to a high standard in terms of the quality of content that you associate with yourself and your brand. Make it genuinely data-driven and tactical. Go back to the standards of a college thesis with the content you create — cite scientific sources, offer unique and contrarian insights supported by data, and so on. Learn real data science so that your experiments lead to the right conclusions with the minimum input. Understand how to optimize ROI with limited resources. Learn from your cutting edge customers and put what they’re doing out into the world, again in a scientific manner, so that the discipline your product supports evolves forward.”

Question #2: “Data-driven, creative, contrarian, and intuitive. That’s the kind of marketers we need today.”

8) Talia Wolf, GetUplift

talia-wolf

Wolf was previously the founder and CEO of Conversioner, and is the founder and chief optimizer at GetUplift, a boutique conversion optimization agency. She’s a guest blogger, keynote speaker, trainer, and advocate for using emotional targeting and persuasive design.

Question #1: “You’re not the hero of the story, your customer is. Most businesses tend to focus their entire marketing strategy by talking about their product or service, the features they provide, and their pricing. However, no matter what you’re selling, customers care more about the why than the what. If you make it about them, they will listen, they will read, they will convert, and they will come back.”

Question #2: Skills and techniques can be taught, but passionate, dedicated people are extremely rare and should be held on to. It’s not about how advanced they are, or if they know how to set up a campaign in AdWords or a variation in an A/B testing platform. It’s about their passion to learn, grow, and drive the company forward.”

9) Jason M. Lemkin, SaaStr

jason-lemkin

Lemkin is a SaaS founder, investor, and enthusiast, as well as the driving force behind SaaStr, a company that provides advice, wisdom, and investment funds to four to five SaaS startups each year. He previously worked at Adobe, and is a top three most popular author on Quora.

Question #1: “Understand what playbook works at which stage. Eventually, all playbooks converge. That, and protect your brand at all costs. Later, that and the quality of your team is all that will matter.”

Question #2: “Humility. A great marketer knows what she knows how to do, and what she doesn’t, and she seeks out help wherever she needs it. An arrogant marketer — or worse, a defensive marketer — is one destined for a series of short stints.”

10) Shama Hyder, Marketing Zen

shama-hyder

Hyder is a digital marketing strategist, bestselling author, CEO of Marketing Zen, a web and television personality, and a prolific guest contributor to sites including Forbes.

Question #1: Marketing today is an entire ecosystem and it is evolutionary. The best marketers approach it in that way — by constantly learning, measuring progress, and focusing on the bigger picture.”

 

11) Lars Lofgren, I Will Teach You To Be Rich

lars-lofgren

Lofgren is the senior director of growth at I Will Teach You To Be Rich, the lifestyle and finance company started by Ramit Sethi. He previously worked in growth and marketing for Kissmetrics before switching to his current position.

Question #1: “If there’s only one thing you do as a marketer, work to be a solid copywriter. It’s the foundational skill of all marketing and also has the highest leverage. It’ll help you with every single campaign and every single project. It also teaches you the core concepts of marketing such as target market, value props, positioning, persuasion, sales, and so forth. And as most marketers are terrible copywriters, it’s the fastest way to uplevel your own career and set you apart.”

Question #2: A relentless drive for truth. The best marketers don’t delude themselves about what’s working and what’s not. They’re great at self reflection, taking feedback, and understanding when the market wants something different than what they’re offering.”

What Marketing Means in 2017

If there’s a running theme here, it’s that you need to be excruciatingly careful with your brand, and an all-consuming sense of curiosity is worth more than any formal credential.

Your brand is your digital word. Protect it. Your curiosity can keep you on top of emerging trends, new tech tools, and developing platforms, channels, and tactics. It can allow you to stand out.

Modern marketing isn’t about where you studied the field, or what company you interned for, or even how clever you can be with taglines and slogans. It’s recognizing that not only have the rules changed, but it’s an entirely new game. It’s customers first and foremost: where are they (online), how are they accessing (mobile), what do they want and expect (premium service and experience)? Your job is to identify and then think like them.

Are you up for the challenge? Do you have the right people in place to make it happen? The individuals here are walking the walk, and talking the talk. Their advice is good advice.

Are you set up to follow it? If yes, then do. If not, make the necessary changes. Your future self will thank you.

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May

10

2017

5 Podcast Episodes That Will Make You a Better Agency Leader

Published by in category marketing agency | Comments are closed

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It’s one thing to read thought leadership on where a certain industry is going, or to talk about theoretical best practices in a given role or situation. It’s another thing entirely to get tactical, practical advice on what to do today about a specific problem — delivered by someone who’s actually been in your shoes.

Agency leaders get plenty of the first type of guidance through industry publications and events. But when it comes to the second bucket, they’re often out of luck. Unless you have a group of networking contacts to talk shop with, you’re often left flying blind, potentially doomed to repeat the exact same mistakes peers at other companies have made countless times.

In need of some tactical advice? In lieu of dramatically increasing the time you spend networking and building your cadre of personal contacts, Drew McLellan‘s podcast is the next best thing. 

Each episode of “Build a Better Agency” affords listeners a sneak peek into the world of someone deeply entrenched in the agency world, and the conversation always ends with at least one tactical takeaway. 

We’ve partnered with Agency Management Institute by becoming the presenting sponsor of the Build A Better Agency podcast because we’re confident that the insights and real world examples in every episode will help our agencies grow and profit.

Here are a few of my favorite episodes, sorted by the issues discussed. Take a listen if you’re grappling with the same problems.

1) Defining Your Agency

  • Guest: Jami Oetting
  • Listen if: You can’t quite seem to get your content off the ground

Does it feel like you’re putting in a ton of work into your content, but it’s not quite working for you? Learn how to create content that actually delivers results from someone who built an agency-specific publication from the ground up, as well as how to adjust unrealistic expectations on time to ROI.

2) Increasing Your New Business Odds

  • Guest: Peter Levitan
  • Listen if: You’re not getting new business as often as you’d like

Sales doesn’t always come natural to agency leaders, but learning how to effectively pitch and win new clients is critical for survival. Discover some of the mistakes you could be making when it comes to selling your services, and learn a few practical ways to differentiate yourself against competitors.

3) How to Do Website Development and Still Make a Profit

  • Guest: Brent Weaver
  • Listen if: You’re almost ready to swear off website redesigns because they’re so painful

A website overhaul is never as easy as it seems in the beginning — but it doesn’t need to be as expensive, time-consuming, and painful as they often end up becoming either. Heading off future roadblocks by doing rock solid discovery at the start of website projects is the key; learn how to do just that and save yourself a headache.

4) What Your Agency Needs to Do to Charge a Premium

  • Guest: N/A — this one is all Drew
  • Listen if: You’re ready to seriously up your agency’s game

You might think that your agency is dominating, but could you be leaving opportunity on the table? Take your rose-colored glasses off and get practical tips on how to assess whether or not your agency is best-in-class — and if not, how to get there.

5) How to Establish Yourself as a Thought Leader

  • Guest: Aaron Agius
  • Listen if: You’re having a hard time standing out

Increase your mindshare, increase your market share. Discover how to create a distinct voice that gets noticed by prospective customers and keeps current clients engaged. 

If you give one of these episodes a listen, let us know what you think in the comments. If you’re looking for more advice or personalized guidance, head over to the Agency Management Institute’s website and peruse their content, workshops, and remote coaching options.

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May

9

2017

7 of the Best Mother's Day Ads We've Ever Seen

Published by in category Daily, marketing agency | Comments are closed

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Sometime in early May each year, search volume for “When is Mother’s Day” begins to reach a panicked spike.

Consider this article your official reminder: Mother’s Day is this Sunday (May 14th), and we have a selection of hilarious and heartwarming ads about moms to get you in the spirit.

From a lighthearted garden gathering with the royal family to a moving tribute to mothers of sick children, each of these campaigns celebrate those authentic moments that bond us with our moms.

A word of caution to those of you currently in the office: you might want to get some tissues ready. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

7 Great Examples of Mother’s Day Advertising

1) Moms Explain What Their Kids Do in Advertising | MRY (2015)

If you work in the digital marketing or advertising space, you’ve probably struggled at some point to concisely explain what your job entails to your family. To celebrate Mother’s Day 2015, the folks at digital agency MRY posed a seemingly simple question to their moms: What do you think I do for a living?

The answers — delivered via web cam by the moms themselves — range from “Online Advertising Through the Computer for Any Kind of Internet Kind of Thing” to “Annoying Pop-Up Creator” — and more than one childhood art project is unearthed for some unsolicited praise. 

 

2) The Body Shop | British Roses for the Queen (2016)

The Body Shop enlisted the help of London-based agency Mr. President to produce this candid, home video-style ad featuring a cast of (very convincing) royal family doppelgangers celebrating Mother’s Day in the royal garden.

Allison Jackson, a BAFTA-award winning director best known for her lookalike photos of celebrities, was brought on to ensure the video looked authentic. 

 

3) SickKids vs. MomStrong | Sick Kids (2017)

A somber follow-up to the SickKids vs. Undeniable ad released in 2016, this Mother’s Day spot from SickKids Hospital underscores the agony and strength of mothers with chronically ill children.

If the anguish depicted seems real, that’s because it is — Cossette Toronto, the agency behind the ad, cast real mothers in the short video, gently revealing personal, often unseen moments of pain and resilience.

 

4) FlyBabies | JetBlue (2016)

After watching this ad from Boston-based agency MullenLowe, maybe you’ll think twice before judging the mother with the screaming baby on your next flight.

For Mother’s Day 2016, this JetBlue stunt offered passengers a 25% discount on their next round-trip flight every time a baby cried on the plan. With four babies on the plane, their odds of getting a completely free flight were pretty good. This ad ultimately achieves the unachievable: getting airline passengers to clap and cheer each time a baby cries.

 

5) Swear Like a Mother | Kraft (2017)

74% of moms admit they’ve accidentally sworn in front of their kids before. The other 26%? “Full of sh*t”, suggests Melissa Mohr, author of Holy Sh*t: A Brief History of Swearing.

To champion Kraft’s message of giving yourself a much-deserved break once in a while, CP+B Boulder asked Mohr to share some of her tips for those not-so-perfect parenting situations. Because being a mom is tough, and it’s healthy to remind yourself you don’t have to be perfect.

 

6) Texts From Mom | Samsung (2015)

Long ago, your mom taught you how to do things like eat, roll over on your belly, and use the bathroom. Some things are just not as intuitive as think, so don’t be too hard on your mom for her lack of texting expertise.

This R/GA-produced Mother’s Day spot takes a hilarious look at some of the texts you might get from your mom, and reminds you to give her a call this Sunday.

 

7) Tattoo | American Greetings (2017)

In this heartwarming spot for American Greetings, MullenLowe took inspiration from a friend of creative director Allison Rude. After her father died, the friend discovered a card from her father, and got a meaningful handwritten line tattooed on her wrist. In the ad, a daughter gets a similar inked tribute to her late mother. 

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May

5

2017

The Responsibility of Advertising and PR to the General Public in 2017

Published by in category marketing agency | Comments are closed

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There’s been a lot of talk recently about the responsibility of journalists to tell the truth.

However, there seems to be one part of the news-making equation that has so far been given a free pass, and that’s the information provided to newsrooms by PR.

Due to cutbacks in journalism, and the demands of the new media environment we live in, short staffed newsrooms are tasked to produce high quantities of content every day. Some are even faced with unprecedented output quotas to compensate for the newly diminished workforce.

Something has to give in this scenario, which means an increasing percentage of journalistic output is reliant on the information fed through by PR.

According to the PR Census 2016, the PR industry employs 83,000 people in the UK. In comparison, a Labour Force Survey released in June 2015 discovered that 64,000 people were involved in a job role concerned with journalism (e.g. editor, reporter etc.). That’s a big difference, so perhaps it’s time we started talking about the responsibility those working in PR and advertising have to the general public.

This responsibility is one taken seriously by the vast majority of PR professionals. David Woodward is a former journalist who is currently a strategy director at Weber Shandwick, one of the world’s leading public relation firms. He is acutely aware of the situation PR currently finds itself in.

Our business is founded upon relationships with a free press. Professional journalists rely on us to tell them the truth, and in turn share that information with audiences who hold all of us accountable. Increasingly, we are also content creators ourselves. Of course, branded content is not journalism. But we must never deceive and always be completely accurate in what we say and advise our clients to say.

In an industry which has the sole purpose of spreading the good word about a client, towing the ethical line when pitching to journalists has been a stumbling point for a selection of brands throughout history.

This needs to stop. As an industry we need to ensure a certain code of ethics is adhered to. And while agencies are bound to the rules of bodies such as the PRCA, legislation shouldn’t be the only thing stopping false claims getting out into the world.

Here are three ethical pillars of public relations and advertising professionals — that under no circumstances should be breached. It’s a steadfast list, which leaves the door open for the odd superlative here and there. After all, we are in the business of marketing.

1) Tell The (Whole) Truth

This is the over-arching theme for this entire post, so to include it as a separate point might appear redundant. However, I believe it’s an area worth indulging in. As does Becky Merchant, an account manager at the Stand Agency in London.

It is the responsibility of Public Relations practitioners to ensure that all their communications are accurate and they offer truthful and insightful stories to cover. While organizations no doubt have to be more transparent these days, 2017 is no different from other years; it’ll always be the responsibility of PR to represent clients in an accurate and honest way.

While accuracy and honesty might have been the responsibility of PR ever since Edward Bernays set up shop in New York City back in 1919, it’s certainly the case that things have come in leaps and bounds since then. Take the 1940s for example, a time where claims like the one below were allowed to go out in front of millions without being questioned …

Camel Ad Image via AdAge

Camel cigarettes actually ran with this slogan for eight years, and it was even featured as an advert in the American Medical Associations official journal. It will come as no surprise to learn that the recent nationwide survey was carried out by an agency who had supplied said physicians with cartons of camel cigarettes just days earlier.

While it’s tempting to look back and laugh, it’s worth reminding ourselves that these practices are still happening today for example …

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Image Credit: Apple

Yes, the iPhone 3G courted controversy when the announcement press release read like this…

Just one year after launching the iPhone, we’re launching the new iPhone 3G that is twice as fast at half the price.

Neither of these claims turned out to be true, and when consumers decided to complain, the matter went to court. Apple’s lawyers responded with a less than solid defense

No reasonable person in the plaintiff’s position could have reasonably relied on or misunderstood Apple’s statements as claims of fact.

Arguing that consumers shouldn’t believe their own marketing messages is probably the exact opposite of what you should be doing. As you would expect, this bonkers reaction generated a lot of negative coverage across the media. The whole thing could have been avoided through a bit more honesty from the get go.

2) Don’t Misrepresent Statistics 

As the previous point touched on above, calling something a nationwide survey — when It really isn’t — is bad form. Besides the fact that journalists will probably ask for at least some documentation to back up your claims, lying about the public’s perception of certain issues is just not cricket.

When it comes to sharing internal statistics or survey results, there really is no excuse for anything but the cold hard facts.

Here are a few golden rules to stick to when carrying out your next piece of market research.

  •  If you’re commissioning a survey through a third party, ensure they adhere to the market research societies code of conduct, these are based upon the ESOMAR principles.
  • For UK wide surveys, a pool of 1,000 respondents is the minimum response rate to be considered usable by most media publications. Of course, the more comprehensive the research the better, and the number should certainly be higher when tackling serious topics.
  • The statistics need to be 100% accurate. Manipulating data in order to support your message or branding will inevitably blow up in your face. Just ask Volkswagen …

Image credit: Fortune Magazine

 Around 10.5 million Volkswagen cars worldwide were sold under the pretense that they were fitted with a ‘ground-breaking clean diesel’ engine … that never actually existed. In September 2015 it was revealed that in fact these vehicles were emitting 40 times the level of emissions they said they were.

Civil suits could inflict Volkswagen with an excess of $45 billion in fines, and the company’s reputation has been almost irreversibly tarnished. And let’s not forget about the environmental impact of all this.

While manipulating data led to more green-thinking consumers purchasing a Volkswagen in the short term, it has put a big question mark over the future of the company in the long term. Now that’s what I call bad PR.

3) Be Thorough 

Contrary to what you might think after reading this article, not all misinformation is down to PR. Some of it is down to a message being misconstrued by journalists.

A hastily put together press release which is not clear can be just as damaging as one that is full of bare faced lies.

As explained earlier in this blog, the pressure on journalists in 2017 is astronomical, meaning the time dedicated to sub-editing copy is at a minimum. This means mistakes are more likely to get through unless your press release is clear and concise. If it’s not, you run the risk of being ignored completely, or your message being lost in the final story.

To avoid these outcomes, you need to be competent on the fundamentals, and it’s always handy to brush up on these in an industry that moves at a thousand miles an hour.

  • Keep your messaging clear. If a journalist doesn’t know what the news hook is within the first two lines, you haven’t done this.
  • Your copy must be spot on grammatically. Because this isnt’ acceptabel.
  • Your information must be correct. (See points 1 and 2)
  • If you’ve included a contact for journalists to follow up with, make sure they are available to talk to. The line “XXXX was unavailable for comment” never looks good.
  • Be prepared. Brush up your knowledge on the publication you’re pitching to, and always have additional information and imagery on hand, just in case.

The Rewards

Brands being open and honest with the public is proven to be the most important thing to consumers time and time again. An industry survey conducted by Cohn & Wolfe in 2014 stated that the number one behavior people demanded from brands was “to communicate honestly about products and services.”

In 2015 a survey revealed that 85% of people were more likely to support brands that are open and honest. And just last year, a survey by Label Insight found that 94% of consumers said transparency from brands and manufacturers was important and impacts their purchasing habits.

So with that in mind, how can an open and honest PR and Marketing agenda reward your brand?

You’re doing your bit for journalists, and stemming the tide of fake news.

This is not just good news for society as a whole, but will result in better relationships within the media – leading to increased coverage of open and honest stories.

Customers will appreciate your transparency, and be more inclined to buy into your marketing and use your services.

The stats don’t lie. And while this is easier said than done in a world of shareholders, quotas and deadlines, companies who strive to stick to a core principle of ethical responsibility will reap the rewards.

You stay out of trouble!

The less time spent in the courtroom the better.

It’s a cut throat world out there, where companies with the best marketing thrive and the rest settle just to survive, if they can even do that. And while journalists and bodies like the Advertising Standards Agency  and the PRCA are in place to protect the public from spurious claims, it’s vital that individuals assess the ethics workload and ensure the information the public is exposed to is legitimate. 

I’ll give Weber Shandwick’s Woodward the final word on the responsibility of PR…

“The top line is this: we help organisations manage and protect their reputations, either through what they say or what they do. When fake news damages or harms reputations and breaks the public’s trust, we will take steps to undo the damage by insisting on truthful reporting. We have to hold our partners and vendors to the same high standards. We won’t intentionally do business with any business that deliberately traffics in fake news or distributes content to fake news sites.”

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May

3

2017

3 Strategies to Increase Employee Retention

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employee-retention-strategies.pngYou started young. You were still growing when you started your first business. You felt the thrill of making something out of nothing. Or maybe you needed a taste of the real world and you got a job after college. Either way, here you are now.

You’ve got a business.

You worked through the tough times. You had credit card debt and you put it all on the line because you knew there was something there. Now your relentless entrepreneurial commitment has, at the very least, led to putting food on the table. Or even better, perhaps you’re killing it, driving a Tesla to your hip office with brick walls and an industrial ceiling.

Check out our comprehensive guide on how to start a business. 

The only problem … one of your key employees left this week. It wasn’t about the money. It was “about the future … the opportunity ahead. It’s not you. It’s me”.  

You’ve got other key players in your business that you need to stick around to make it tick. What are you going to do to make sure you don’t lose another?

I was the one that went to college, got my MBA, and stepped on the first few rungs of the ladder. I worked for some huge software companies and consultancies. I was told by my manager one day that I “lacked a sense of urgency.” He offered some advice … when I walk down the hall, I should “walk faster and smile less, because perception is reality.”

I was fired.

I started my own software business on the antithesis of his advice, and sold to private equity 14 years later. I built a culture that attracted some of the best talent and kept them around for the long haul.

Through the years, I learned three strategies that you can begin to implement today to ensure you keep your key employees around not only through thick and thin but, as Yvon Chouinard of Patagonia, says, “coming to work on the balls of their feet climbing the stairs two at a time.”

3 Strategies to Increase Employee Retention

1) Motivate from the inside.

Look at the organizations around the world that drive their followers to do unbelievable things. Look at SpaceX, Google, HubSpot, and the tens of thousands of charitable entities driving people to do amazing things.

What do they all have in common? They have followers and employees that believe in a vision and mission so much so that it’s aligned with their personal values or even becomes their own mission. These are the people that are passionate and committed. They are not leaving that organization any time soon. So what can you do to motivate and therefore retain your key employees?

Try it out: Start the dialog around why you’re doing what you’re doing. Bring your employees into the conversation. Spend weeks on this, if not months. Don’t rush it, but be deliberate about it.

Identify a purpose. The why… Watch Simon Sinek’s “Start with Why” TED talk. With purpose comes dedication. With a purpose comes the person that goes well beyond the job description. With a purpose you have an employee who is by your side faithfully.

It’s not the salary. It’s not the bonus. Those are nice, and the money is necessary, but it’s not what really drives people and keeps them around. You may even find a couple other little things like a vision and values come out of this little exercise, as well.

2) Trust your employees like they’re family.

I don’t mean trust that they’ll pay you back for the $20 you let them borrow at the casino 3 months ago. And I’m not talking about the trust it takes to open up and spill your soul. I’m talking about the trust it takes to give them something important to figure out, knowing that it’s going to be ok.

Giving them a project without necessarily weighing in on it, uninvited. Give them a little dang breathing room. If failure is too common, figure out why, but have some faith that you hired the right people for the job. Because, here’s what happens: The employee starts to own it. I mean really, really own it. They begin to take pride in it. And nothing drives someone as much as pride, except maybe autonomy and mastery… Yep. That’s Dan Pink.

Try it out: The next time you give someone a project or something to figure out, let them own it. Give them the desired outcome and ask them to report in on regular milestones.

Here’s the one rule: You need to let them own it and intervention can only happen if it’s going to hurt the business. That’s it. Mmmmm. Try it. Hey, try it at home with your kids too. But don’t hold me responsible for that one.

3) Create a cadence that form good habits.

So think about all those nasty habits you have. Ok, you don’t have any, but others do … like your grandmother who smokes a pack a day and she’s almost 90. And your college friend that hasn’t grown up yet still drinks too much because cool kids drink, right? Why is it that we don’t do good things as habitually?

Well, we do actually. You have a morning routine. I’ll bet you work out, brush your teeth, and clean yourself. Let’s open that up to the office now. Every business has a cadence — your team meetings, your company meetings, your financial reporting, Taco Tuesday, etc … There are other things, however, that you can start to make routine that will help drive employee engagement and therefore retention and loyalty.

Sustainability is all about the habit forming cadence. Recognition and feedback often lack consistency. Cadence. Career and professional development often lack consistency. Cadence. Attention to strategy often falls on the way-side. Cadence.

Try it out: Identify a few things in your company that are hard to keep top of mind. For example, employee recognition. This is something we tell ourselves we need to do better. I’ve even talked to some entrepreneurs that set calendar reminders to give props to their employees. It can be easier.

Get your employees helping you out. Establish a peer to peer recognition program and set it up with a cadence that creates a habit. It might be a weekly or monthly routine. Or find something else you need to do better. Turn it into a cadence. Turn it into a habit.

At one point, while building my business, we ran into a difficult period. We were losing money. We needed to either let some people go or reduce compensation across the board. I reached out to my key employees and told them the scenario. I needed to ensure they were behind me on this. All of them confirmed they were on board. I made the difficult announcement and over the six month recovery, we didn’t lose a single employee.

We had built a strong culture and money was not the key motivator. There was trust and autonomy. And our best habits were driven by a cadence.

Put These Strategies Into Practice

If you’re successful at embracing these three strategies, you will never ever lose another key employee, even in the tough times — or at least it reduces the likelihood.

In fact, you’ll have their friends hitting you up for jobs. You’ll have customers and clients asking to work for you. And you’ll see your employees walking in the door with smiles on their faces. They’ll arrive to work in the morning “on the balls of their feet climbing the stairs two at a time.”

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May

2

2017

13 Project Management Terms You Should Know [Infographic]

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The legendary management consultant Peter Drucker once famously wrote, “There is nothing quite so useless as doing with great efficiency something that should not be done at all.”

This nugget of wisdom is especially relevant to project managers. Effective project management is all about cutting through the clutter to focus on the things with the biggest impact on the project’s bottom line — the basic pillars that hold your project up. There’s no use optimizing the details if your core process is flawed. 

This handy infographic from Taskworld identifies 13 basic, big-picture project management terms you should know to keep things running smoothly and on-schedule from kickoff to post-mortem. 

Some of the areas listed might seem self-explanatory, but they’re worth your attention as you start planning out your next big project. They’ll help you communicate your goals effectively, allocate resources efficiently, and keep your team focused and supported. Check them out below.

How do you make sure your big projects stay on track? Let us know in the comments.

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Apr

28

2017

Why Agencies That Conduct Market Research Grow Faster

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You’re a busy marketer. Your days are full of client meetings, brand research, marketing strategy sessions …

Who has time to do market research for their own marketing agency?

If you think market research is for clients only, better think again. As a marketer, it’s equally important for you to understand your market, its wants and needs, the state of your competition, and your place in the marketing ecosystem and pecking order.

Make no mistake — market research for your own firm is no purely-academic exercise. Think of it this way: the better you know your audience, the more easily you can turn prospects into clients. Incredible as it may seem, most professional services firms, including marketing agencies, don’t know their audiences as well as they should. As a result, they’re missing out on opportunities to gain more clients and get more business out of current ones.

So why don’t more marketing firms do research? Well, because many think, for some reason, their clients are “different” so that the input won’t yield any insights. Others think research simply won’t impact growth.

We beg to differ.

We’ve conducted our own research on research (yes, really) and discovered that there are some significant benefits for marketing firms. Firms that regularly research their client markets (at least quarterly) grow more than ten times faster than firms that don’t conduct research. 

If you’re willing to go all-in and conduct research on a frequent, more-than-quarterly basis, your firm can really take off, compared to agencies that do no research. Our research confirmed that more than one-third of high-growth firms conducted target audience research regularly and at least once a quarter (see below chart). Virtually none of the no-growth firms conducted frequent research.

Data from Hinge’s 2017 High Growth Research Report

Research not only drives growth, it also impacts profitability. For instance, when Hinge studied the effects of research on growth and profitability, we found that firms that conducted frequent research realized 19.9% profitability, whereas firms that did not conduct research reported only 11% profitability.

What makes research so effective? There are a number of ways that firms become better positioned to secure prospects and grow their client relationships through research. These include:

  • Having a clear understanding of emerging issues and trends in order to determine which services to develop and offer.
  • Uncovering areas in which your firm has misjudged or misread their clients, such as what market influences are keeping them from growing their relationship with your firm.
  • Identifying purchasing or other types of patterns that you haven’t noticed since you are so deeply engrossed in your day-to-day interactions with your clients.

As Hinge has done research for ourselves and our clients, we’ve identified ten research questions that can drive growth and profitability. Below is a sample of the questions we have found to have a big impact for our clients.

Why do your best clients choose your firm?

Understanding what great clients find appealing about a firm can help the firm attract others like them.

What are those same clients trying to avoid?

This is the flip side of the first question and offers a valuable perspective. The answer can provide clues as to how to avoid being ruled out during the early rounds of a prospect’s selection process. The answer can also help shape business practices and strategy.

What is the real benefit your firm provides?

Firms are often surprised to hear the true benefit of their service, as viewed through their clients’ eyes. Once they understand this, they are able to enhance or even develop new services with other real benefits.

So what’s the best way to conduct research?

Believe it or not, Rule Number One is do not do it yourself. That’s right. Have someone else do it for you. Why? Because respondents are more likely to provide honest answers to a third party. If you insist on doing the research yourself — which is better than doing no research at all — be aware that you may capture only a portion of the overall picture.

Here are three more tips for conducting effective research:

1) Phone interviews are best. 

Nothing beats a live interview. Even reluctant participants will open up to a skillful interviewer. In fact, the greatest insights are often volunteered outside the scope of the questionnaire.

2) Online surveys are second best—but they don’t have to be second rate. 

An online survey will never capture the same insights as an interview, but a well-crafted online survey can still reap valuable information. Surveys also tend to be easier and less expensive to implement. Just remember, your response rate is likely to be very low.

3) Don’t limit it to your current clients. 

Cold prospects are more difficult to get on the phone, but they provide—by far—the most accurate picture of your marketplace. Clients who got away offer invaluable insights into your weaknesses. Similarly, lapsed clients can help you understand how to become more relevant and engaged.

And what should we do with all this research?

There are any number of ways you can use it, limited mostly by your goals and imagination. Here are just a few ideas on how you can use your research to enhance your reputation, generate leads and bring in more clients:

  • Tweak or redefine your positioning to differentiate your firm from competitors.
  • Introduce new services that prospects have indicated want.
  • Use it as an entrée to bring former clients back into the fold.
  • Offer new services to current or former clients.
  • Anticipate clients’ needs.

Most important, you can boost your credibility with your target market and increase your visible expertise by pulling data and results from your research findings to write blog posts and articles that address urgent market challenges, to publish a research study, and as fodder for speeches, seminars, and webinars.

So what are you waiting for? It’s time to get researching. The sooner you get started, the sooner your firm will reap its rewards.

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Apr

27

2017

10 of the Best Ads from April: Hygge, Apocalypse, and a Robot Baby

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Although we haven’t been fortunate enough to see more than a few scattered days of sunlight here in Boston, I’m told it’s technically spring.

In addition to rain, April also brought us some stunning new creative work from agencies around the word. Our monthly ad round-up features a German-produced animated short, a delightful Danish beer ad, and a clever insurance spot from Japan starring a rugby team from New Zealand. 

Did you miss any of these ads from April? Scroll down to check them out, and get inspired to tackle your next big project. 

10 of the Best Ads from April

1) AIG Japan

New Zealand’s national rugby union team, the All Blacks, hit the pedestrian-heavy streets of Toyko in this unexpectedly charming spot for AIG Japan. The three-minute ad opens with the uniform-clad players tackling seemingly random (and reasonably stunned) Tokyo residents — but things quickly take a heartwarming turn.

About half-way through the TBWAHakuhodo-produced video, it becomes apparent that the All Blacks were actually saving people from unpredictable disasters — a car running a red light, a pile of debris falling from a construction site, and a sudden laptop fire.

“[The ad] was an arresting way to show our fantastic relationship with the All Blacks, demonstrate the idea of risk prevention, and create a strong connection to the Japanese audience,” said Matthew Walker, AIG Japan’s senior vice president and regional chief marketing officer.

 

2) Carlsberg

Danish actor Mads Mikkelsen ponders the secret source of his home country’s enviable happiness in Carlsberg’s latest UK campaign. Produced by London-based agency Fold7, the ad follows Mikklesen as he peddles his way through Copenhagen, magically passing through hedges, into stylish, minimal apartments, and over a rustic table set for a hyggelig gathering.

His tour ends (where else?) at a Carlsberg brewery, where Mikklesen enjoys a cold Carlsberg pilsner and decides that this is the real secret of Danish happiness … probably.

 

3) Student Flights

If you’re young, you better enjoy traveling while you can — before you become an uncool, perpetually exhausted parent. That’s the message of this spot for Student Flights, a company that specializes in travel deals for the university set.

To really drive that message home, Johannesburg-based agency TBWAHunt Lascaris convinced a hip millennial to carry around a wailing, pooping “Babybot” for a few days at a music festival. The poor guy in question, Loyiso Madinga, is promised a free trip to New York if he can survive a weekend with Babybot unscathed. His initial assessment of the challenge? “How hard could this be … right?”

As expected, having a baby at a music festival isn’t super fun — even if that baby is Wifi-enabled and made of metal. 

 

4) Netto

Ever wonder where the Easter Bunny came from? European supermarket chain Netto teamed up with German agency Jung von Matt and production house Mill+ to share their whimsical imagining of the egg-laying rabbit’s origins (Hint: it starts with a hen and a rabbit meeting each other at a night club.)

Set to a innocent, heart-wrenching rendition of “Beautiful, Always,” the animated short packs a surprisingly poignant punch. It’s sure to make even the coldest little hearts grow three sizes.

 

5) The New York Times

Oscar-nominated director Darren Aronofsky (of Requiem for a Dream and Black Swan fame) lends his talents to this Droga5-produced spot for The New York Times. The stark, one-minute ad series is part of the Grey Lady’s first brand-focused ad campaign in a decade.

Aronofsky met with several New York Times photojournalists, asking them to recount their experiences covering some of the most impactful stories from recent years. As the photojournalists discuss their fieldwork and motivations, images from the trips in question flash across the screen.  

 

6) Unilever

Pricey, trendy beauty products aren’t necessarily worth the hype, according to Unilever’s latest marketing stunt. Vice’s digital agency Carrot invited a group of real beauty influencers to try a fake new shampoo: Evaus (Spoiler alert: that’s just discount hair care brand Suave spelled backwards).

Packaged in a sleek, minimal bottle, Evaus products were a big hit with the influencers, who raved about how shiny and soft their hair felt after 10 days of using the line. When producers reveal that the “startup” hair care brand is really just $3 Suave shampoo poured into fancy schmancy bottles, the influencers are shocked — and then seemingly delighted at the great value.

“We found seven of 10 women think higher-priced brands are more trustworthy,” Jen Bremner, Unilever marketing director explained to AdAge. “That really was the inspiration. We wanted to peel back the labels and convert the skeptics.”

 

7) Entourage

To promote Entourage, a French app aimed at reconnecting neighborhoods with their homeless populations, TBWAParis decided to take an unconventional, offline approach to viral marketing: writing directly on banknotes.

The agency asked homeless community members to pen short messages directly on paper bills. Each hand-written note reveals something that homeless people wish everyone else knew. Take this example from the case study video below: “For me, Pierrot, homeless for 19 years, this bill has a lot of value, but not as much as a hello.”

The hope is that the simple messages with encourage Parisians to download the Entourage app, which helps people offer support and make social connections with homeless folks in their neighborhood.

 

8) SubHub

When the inevitable robot apocalypse finally spells fatal disaster for the human race, won’t you wish you shelled out to see that Sia concert?

Goodby Silverstein & Partners produced this cinematic, YOLO-fueled spot for StubHub, encouraging you to buy those concert tickets “before it’s too late.” The ad balances sleek, action-movie pacing with an unexpected, hilarious ending.

 

9) Pedigree

BBDO New York resurrected a little-known story from the Revolutionary War to promote Pedigree’s “Feed the Good” campaign.

In 1777, General George Washington and his troops were in the midst of a battle against British Forces Commander-in-Chief William Howe when one of Washington’s men discovered Howe’s dog wandering lost near the American camp. Instead of harming the lost pup (as some of Washington’s men reportedly suggested), Washington benevolently returned the dog to Howe with a kind note. The true story reflects Pedigree’s belief that dogs bring out the best of us.

 

10) Hewlett Packard Enterprise

Here’s one for the IT guy or gal in your office.

In this playful Publicis New York-produced ad for Hewlett Packard Enterprise, a sad, bobble-head IT employee named Brian is forced to deny his colleagues’ earnest requests due to inadequate legacy technology. That is, until his office gets Hewlett Packard Enterprise — at which point Brian transforms Pinocchio-style from a plastic bobble head doll into a guy who can finally say “yes.”

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Apr

26

2017

7 Steps to Documenting a Content Marketing Strategy That Works

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I already know what you’re thinking. You saw the words content marketing and strategy together in the headline and thought, “Oh, cool, another article telling me how important it is to have and actually write down my strategy — just what I need.”

Don’t worry, that’s not what this is.

You already know that having and documenting your strategy is important because you’ve probably read the same reports and case studies that my team and I have read. But there’s a pretty big difference between knowing you should do something and knowing how to do it — which might explain why 89 percent of B2B marketers use content, yet only 37 percent have documented strategies.

The marketing team at Influence & Co. spent the last couple months of 2016 carefully researching, planning, and creating a content marketing strategy for this year. What follows is an exploration of exactly which elements our team determined a successful plan must include to drive results, empowering you to create your own documented content strategy.

How to Document Your Content Marketing Strategy

Part of what makes a documented strategy so powerful is that every person on your team — from your content creators to your senior-level directors and everyone in between — can see what, why, and how your company is communicating.

This alignment makes it easier to get buy-in, crowdsource content, and pull employees into the distribution process, and it makes your efforts stronger because it extends your reach beyond the marketing team.

For your strategy to be helpful to your whole company and not just your immediate marketing team members, it has to address a few major questions, like:

  • Why are we utilizing content marketing as a strategy?
  • Who are we trying to reach with our content?
  • What are we hoping to accomplish?
  • How does this fit into our overall marketing strategy?
  • How will we measure success?

If you start with these questions in mind, the actual pieces of your strategy should come easily. In fact, each of the following components of your strategy should help you clearly answer those questions, align your team, and hold you accountable. Here are seven key elements your content marketing strategy must include:

1) Overall Mission

Before you get too far into the weeds, ask yourself, “What’s the real reason we’re investing in content?” And if the answer is anything close to “Well, we just know we should be doing content,” stop immediately and spend more time thinking about why you’re making this critical, valuable, and time-consuming investment in the first place.

If you do have a well-thought-out answer, write it down. Are you preparing to use content so your marketing team can generate leads and attract new customers? Are you trying to build brand awareness and credibility?

No matter your reason for investing in content marketing, it needs to take a prominent place at the beginning of your strategy; that overall mission will guide the rest of your document and keep your team on track when it’s time to execute.

2) Target Audience Personas

You may have included some general ideas about your audience members when you outlined your mission, and while that’s a helpful place to start, it’s not nearly detailed enough to start creating content for them.

Before you craft any content or develop any distribution plan, you have to know who you’re trying to reach. You aren’t creating content for the general public, you’re creating it to attract specific individuals who can contribute to your company’s goals.

You need to research and create detailed audience personas. If your personas inform the content you create, your content will do a much better job of speaking to the exact audience you’re targeting.

3) Content Mix Plan

Once you know why you’re creating content and for whom, you can determine what type to create. Depending on what your marketing funnel looks like, you’ll need a couple different types: content that educates and engages prospects at the top of the funnel and encourages them to learn more, as well as content for the bottom of the funnel that answers very specific questions and addresses objections to working with you.

That content can take any number of forms, from guest-contributed articles on online publications to blog posts, white papers, email campaigns, sales enablement materials, and more. What’s especially important here is thinking through the variety of earned, owned, and paid media you’ll need to keep prospects moving through this funnel.

4) Content Creation Process

You could follow each of the above steps exactly and still fall flat on your face when it’s time to actually put pen to paper. Creating content of your own and turning your company leaders into content creators takes time and effort.

So before you dig into executing your content plan, determine which processes, workflows, and resources make the most sense for your team. Perhaps taking advantage of content creation tools will make your job easier, or partnering with an agency to help may be a better solution.

5) Editorial Calendar

Consistency is key in content marketing. It’s your opportunity to build trust with your audience members, nurture them, and become a resource for them. Once you know what kinds of content you need to create, it’s time to develop a calendar or schedule to make sure you deliver.

Your editorial calendar should detail how often you need to publish to keep your audience engaged and when you’ll distribute your published pieces. Mapping out your target deadlines for different pieces will keep your process on track.

6) Distribution Plan

Distribution is all about getting your content to the right people at the right time. That can mean publishing articles in publications your target audience members are already reading, using a paid distribution plan on social to attract readers to your white paper, or simply including your content in your email newsletters.

Your distribution plan should be part of your documented strategy because knowing where and how you plan to distribute your content informs the type of content you create, how often you do it, and which processes you utilize. It’s a key part of your content marketing strategy, so don’t start executing the strategy until you’ve thought it through.

7) ROI Calculator

Remember when you identified your overall mission at the beginning of this document? You need to identify from the beginning how you’re going to measure success with this campaign, and now’s your chance to match metrics to your goals to gauge how well your content is helping to achieve that mission.

Set some benchmarks you want to hit concerning traffic to your website, leads generated, or opportunities created through content, and set up a plan for tracking this using anything from your own modest spreadsheets to a robust software package.

If this documented strategy seems like a lot, that’s because it is. Nobody said that content marketing was simple, but it’s well worth the investment, especially when you set yourself up for success. And with these seven must-have elements detailed in your documented content strategy, your team will be off to a fantastic start.

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Apr

19

2017

4 Strategies to Spark On-Demand Creativity

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Back in the “Mad Men” days, only writers and artists were held accountable for driving an agency’s creativity. Today, that dynamic has expanded to include just about everyone.

Whether it’s the account services team bringing fresh ideas to clients, the business development team finding new ways to engage with prospects, or creative services producing content, everyone has to be creative for the agency to succeed. Individual contributors also must be able to tie their creative efforts to measurable ROI.

Why is creativity so important? Because for agencies, creativity is currency. The successful execution of good ideas separates top agencies from closed shops. The barriers to entry for marketing are lower than ever — anyone with an idea and an hour can build a website or whip up a logo. Agencies must communicate their value proposition as the owners of the best ideas and know how to measure that value.

But creativity alone is not enough. Agencies and the people within them must be creative on demand. To do that, every department and every employee must become part of a culture that excels at creative problem-solving.

Bringing New Ideas to the Table

Often, creativity is talked about like it’s a magical ability of the chosen few — something we have little control over that strikes at random. But Jason Keath, founder and CEO of Social Fresh Conference, says universal creativity is not as hard to achieve as some entrepreneurs would imagine.

I spoke with Keath recently, and he said that creativity is less about inspiration and more about learning to solve problems. “Anyone can be creative,” he says, adding that creativity is a process that we fail to teach in schools or in business environments.

This is good news, though, because it means creativity isn’t something the muses bestow upon you. Rather than wait patiently for lightning to strike, you simply must learn the process. If you want to teach people to become creative on their own and within a group, a lot of it comes down to management, Keath notes.

The first step in bringing new ideas to the table is banishing the notion of bad ideas — early in the creative process, bad ideas are an essential building block to create a better final product. A lot of times, a bad idea can trigger a better idea.

“One person might have a bad idea he considers to be the obvious solution, but he doesn’t mention it to avoid looking stupid,” Keath says. “However, as obvious as that solution might seem to one person, it probably hasn’t occurred to 80 percent of the people in the group. Plus, even the most obvious solutions are useful to put on the board because connecting to that is another idea.”

One tactic to encourage your team to get over their fears of offering “bad” ideas is to require anonymous ideation prior to creative meetings. This allows people who don’t normally consider themselves creative to contribute to the solution. “Judgment kills great ideas,” Keath says. “To preempt judgment, ask people to come to the meeting with 10 or 20 possible solutions to the problem. Have the person organizing the meeting anonymize the answers, and suddenly, ideas can be discussed on their own merit without fear of rejection.”

4 Tactics for Cultivating On-Demand Creativity

If agency leaders want to infuse creativity and new ideas into their agencies — and communicate that value proposition to clients — the path is twofold. First, leaders and team members must learn to take new steps as individuals. Second, agencies need to create an environment that enables creative individuals to collaborate. Here’s how to accomplish both:

1) Encourage individual growth.

Most creative people have a core competency that they build upon by brushing up against life. This means seeking out new experiences and connecting them to the areas they know most about.

That connection between the known and the unknown encourages people to seek out new experiences rather than hide within their comfort zones. A hiker might not know much about photography, but learning to take better pictures of hiking spots combines a known pursuit (hiking) with an unknown (photography) and allows the person to explore new ideas without feeling overwhelmed.

2) Pursue new experiences.

To achieve great output, you first need great input. According to principals of neuroplasticity, experiencing new things enables us to make connections and think in ways that would have previously been impossible. Experiences big and small can inform our decisions in surprising ways down the road.

Think about it like this: You’ve just returned home from a long trip. You need to cook something to eat, but you’ve been gone for a while and the kitchen is bare. Now, compare that to a kitchen that has been stocked with a variety of ingredients. Creativity works similarly: It’s much easier to create something interesting when we have a lot of raw materials to work with.

3) Always present two ideas: one safe, one scary.

We constantly hear CMOs complain that their agencies are phoning it in. Same old ideas, same old approaches, same old results. Of course, CMOs share the blame by selecting safe ideas, but that doesn’t mean their point isn’t valid.

No matter how many times your agency’s wacky idea gets shut down, you need to continue to bring new thoughts to your presentations. The unusual idea won’t get selected often, but bringing something new to the table shows clients that you’re willing to do things differently. And if a client decides to go with the crazier idea, that provides an opportunity for an agency to showcase its talents.

4) Host company outings.

Most of us haven’t had a field trip since high school, but they can still provide meaningful learning experiences for adults. Whether it’s catching a new animated movie, visiting the art museum, strolling the zoo, or something completely off the beaten path, getting your team out of the office together in a low-pressure environment can generate surprising discussions. The more inputs people have — especially when they share those inputs outside of work — the more creative connections they can forge.

We love to tell clients to think more broadly about their goals, but if we don’t mix up our own experiences, we fall prey to the same traps we ask them to avoid. By seeking opportunities to broaden our own horizons and building processes that facilitate creative discussions, we can transform our agencies into creative powerhouses that are capable of handling any challenge.

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Apr

18

2017

How to Pick the Perfect Font Pairings for Your Website: 7 Free Tools

Published by in category Daily, Design, marketing agency | Comments are closed

With so many custom fonts readily available for download, selecting a combination of typefaces to feature on your next project can be an unexpected time sink. There are seemingly endless pairing possibilities — how can you be expected to choose?

Whether you’re diving into a major website redesign or a creating a simple infographic, you need a font combination that looks professional, polished, and doesn’t distract from your content. And you need it fast. 

These designers have heard your cries for help, and developed free tools to help you make better typeface pairings faster and more efficiently. Pairing fonts doesn’t have to be a lengthy guess-and-check process when you have the right tools at your fingertips. 

7 Free Tools for Selecting Font Pairings

1) Google Fonts

You’ve probably used Google Fonts at some point to select fonts for a web project, but did you know they also offer suggested font combinations?

From the list of available fonts, hover over a typeface. In the bottom left of the typeface preview area, click See Specimen.

This will open up a font preview page where you can enter preview text, adjust the background color of the page (using the paint bucket icon in the upper right corner of the page), and view information about the typeface’s history and usage. Towards the bottom of the page, you’ll see a section called “Popular Pairings with X.”

In this section, you can preview a selection of popular font combinations featuring your selected typeface. You can add complementary fonts directly to your Google Font library by clicking the “+” symbol beside each recommended pair. When a pairing is selected, you can use the up/down arrows beside the font names to change which typeface is used in the preview as the headline and which is used for body copy. 

2) Typ.io

This expertly curated database allows you to view trendy font combinations used on real websites, and take a peek at the CSS designers used to style and format them. Spend some time browsing through Typ.io’s impressive archives or categorized lists, and when you find a site that catches your eye, simply click “Get Under the Hood.”

This will let you view the exact fonts used on the website, see where the fonts are available for free download or purchase online, and scope out how the designer plugs them in on the back-end of things. Even if CSS isn’t really your area of expertise, Typ.io is still a useful tool for viewing professional typography combinations in action.

Typ.io also offers a useful search feature, enabling you to filter websites by primary font, desired font type, and font availability. You can even see which font combinations are popular on different types of websites (e.g., blogs, portfolios, etc).

3) Web Font Blender

Web Font Blender is a quick, intuitive way to test font combinations in a minimal environment. Set up like most text editing programs, this tool lets you mix and match different web font combos, edit the body, subheading, and headline copy, and adjust the styling of the preview text to your liking.

Choose from a wide selection of popular web fonts and play around with the settings to find a group of fonts that work well together. Once you have a combo you’re happy with, you can even grab the CSS for your creation under the “Grab Code” tab. 

4) Fonts In Use

Fonts In Use is an independent archive devoted to showcasing creative typography from designers around the world. Whether it’s a website, a print campaign, a package design, or something else entirely, the curation team at Fonts In Use is committed to uncovering interesting font combinations wherever they appear.

Scan through their archives for seemingly endless pages of inspiration, or check out examples of popular typography in your specific industry using the “Industries” option from the top drop-down menu. If you have a font in mind you want to use, but aren’t sure what font to pair with it, you can also filter results by typefaces.

5) Canva Font Combinations

This simple tool from Canva lets you select a font and instantly discover complementary typefaces and examples of your chosen font in action. Just pick a starting font from the main drop-down menu, and the tool will automatically produce some aesthetically pleasing combos for you to peruse.

Once you get a perfect match, you can edit the preview text to see how the fonts will look with your content.

6) Font Combinator

Font Combinator is a sleek typography tool developed by Typotheque, a type foundry and design studio based in The Hague, Netherlands. If you’re looking for a way to preview font combinations with lots of customization options, look no further.

Use the drop-down menu in the upper left to select a pre-made font selection designed by the Typotheque team, or use the settings to build and test custom font combinations of your own. You can adjust the size of any text group using the sliding bar above each section. Not loving the current combo? You can introduce a new font to the mix by dragging and dropping from the typeface list on the left.

7) Font Pair

Hayden Mills, a design student at Indiana University, developed this tool to help designers quickly and painlessly find proven font combinations using Google Fonts.

Organized by typeface categories, each of the combos featured on Font Pair are curated by Mills himself or suggested via a Google form available on the site. Want to plug in your own copy? You can click directly into any of the font pairing examples and edit the preview text anywhere on the site.

What are your current favorite font combinations?

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