Blog : Business Basics

Business transparency

Business transparency

Business transparency is the practice of making all company information available to the public. This can include anything from data to revenue to future plans, but the bottom line is that it’s available to everyone — customers, business partners, and employees. While transparency isn’t a new concept in marketing, its popularity continues to increase. In 2014, 68% of consumers said that business transparency was important to them. Just two years later, that number had jumped by 26%. Business transparency is becoming more of a priority for consumers, meaning businesses are starting to take a long look at shifting over to a transparent business model.

If you choose to offer more transparency to your customers, it might start off with the feeling that you’re airing your undergarments to the public. However, transparency has the potential to work miracles. In fact, a whopping 94% of consumers say that company transparency affects their likelihood of buying a product. Truth is, consumers are tired of being treated as “targets.” Business transparency shows your customers that you value them as humans and not as dollar signs.

One of the most well-known successes of a company utilizing transparency is McDonald’s Canada’s ongoing campaign, “Our Food. Your Questions.” The campaign aimed to debunk rumors regarding the quality and production of their food. The company has answered over 42,000 questions and increased customer trust by 46% since its launch.

Buffer went even further. Company transparency is such a core part of their values that they’ve even received some backlash. The company makes all of their information, from salaries to code to emails, open to the public. The result? An increase in revenue by one million in less than a year.

Other than the initial shock of baring it all for your customers, transparency marketing is one of the easiest ways to turn first-time customers into long-time returners, especially for small businesses. It builds the reputation of your company at no extra cost or manpower. Making company practices accessible and visible to customers develops brand loyalty and distinguishes you from the masses. Consumers today are slow to trust, so making information available to them from the get-go establishes rapport and assures them of your authenticity.

What is social media marketing?

What is social media marketing?

Social media marketing, or SMM, is a form of Internet marketing that involves creating and sharing content on social media in order to achieve your marketing goals. This includes posting text and image updates, videos and other engaging activities. These may include tools such as a hashtag, which drives audience interaction and engagement.

The use of social media in marketing has brought new consumers to businesses by expanding their audience and directly targeting the audience on platforms that they use every day.

Your business type should inform and drive your marketing strategy. When building a social media marketing strategy, it should reflect the following questions:

  • What are you hoping to achieve through social media marketing?
  • Who is your target audience?
  • Where would your target audience hang out and how would they use social media?
  • What message do you want to send to your audience with social media marketing?

Gathering data will allow you to pinpoint exactly what the consumer wants and how to engage their social media. When marketing is introduced to social media, consumers automatically participate subconsciously, which then drives sales for a business.

Great content and a consistent brand image are what will drive your social media marketing. By staying consistent with your brand and other forms of marketing, consumers will be able to retain your products and relate it back to your business’s core identity.

Social media marketing has expanded due to the increase in usage of sites that target consumers use the most. The most common social media site include:

  • Instagram
  • Pinterest
  • YouTube
  • Facebook
  • Twitter

Social media marketing is effective whether the company acts alone or has collaborated with others. In 2015 emojis became a trend among social media users. Brands picked up on this trend and started to use the emojis as well.

Taco Bell, who has an interactive social media presence among the youthful demographic joined in on the trend. Users simply had to tweet at Taco Bell with taco emoji and another of their choice, and the brand would tweet the user back with a humorous mashup of the two images.

Other companies such as Urban Decay used Pinterest to get users excited about a new makeup collection by creating a contest on the social media site where the winner would win tickets to the sold-out music festival Coachella.

Social media marketing has become a powerful marketing tool due to the usage among its target audience and growing youth population. It is an advantage to businesses on staying up-to-date with its audience, but also increase sales as well.

Integrity in marketing

Integrity in marketing

Marketing integrity is not just a virtue; it is a driver of choice. The main role of a marketing agency is to find ways to increase brand loyalty and customer sales for any given company, but a false advertisement could lead to a loss for the company.

In today’s society where fake news is everywhere, customers will stick with companies based on integrity and loyalty. Unless it is a last resort, no client will stick with a company that has lied to him or her. Yet, numerous companies have been known to be misleading in their marketing efforts.

In 2006, more than 75% of Opinion Research respondents said they preferred to buy from a company that operates ethically, even if they have to pay more. Yet how can an agency use expert writers to promote itself or provide clients with integrity? By taking a step back and analyzing their practice with these simple steps, a company can raise their loyalty and sales:

  • Prepare ahead by informing yourself, your staff, and your clients of the importance of integrity in marketing.
  • Look for evidence that integrity is important to a writer before you hire them, and emphasize that it’s important to you as well.
  • Give the writer only facts you can prove.
  • When reviewing a writer’s work, make sure that everything they say is true. A good writer will know how to phrase truth creatively, so the message is interesting as well.
  • When you find a good writer, commend them and keep going back to them with future assignments.

In his book, John Blumberg acknowledges that a great leader will take risks in not knowing and will be grounded with a core set of values, “we don’t go running away from our values, we go drifting away. And one day we wake-up in a place we never meant to be drifting in a direction we would never have chosen.”

The greatest loss of a company is the missed marketing of an unleashed set of core values. Customers base their choices on a guaranteed product. The false advertisement could lead to problems such as government agencies that have reportedly fined the pharmaceutical industry in excess of $3 billion in the past few years because of allegedly misleading marketing and sales practices. 

According to the adage, “A leading medical-device company admitted not long ago to failing to inform doctors about a potentially fatal flaw in their aggressively marketed heart defibrillators. The company’s stock price plummeted and the firm was eventually sold and rebranded”.

This could cause potential harm to the consumer but will cause more harm for the company. Integrity marketing is based on values that companies should abide by, yet not all feel that morals matter with business.

Virtual Reality: Life within a Screen

Virtual Reality: Life within a Screen

Virtual reality (VR) is a new, exciting technology to be explored. Only a few years ago, it seemed to be something straight out of science fiction; its roots can be traced into film history of the 1950s. The ‘Sensorama’, invented in 1956, presented short films in specially outfitted movie theaters with corresponding sounds and smells. Its creator, Morton Heilig, used this early VR technology to further immerse the viewer into a storyline.

Though no vocabulary existed for the technology until 30 years after this cinematic appeal to the senses, today Heilig is recognized as the “father of virtual reality”.

Modern virtual reality is experienced by its user through a wearable screen. It encodes head, eye, and motion tracking and conveys them onto an LCD display. This makes it possible to transform 2D images into 3D environments. By manipulating the senses, the user accepts the “reality” presented to them.

With no separation between your sight and the ‘world’ in front of you, virtual reality allows for a deeper submersion than does augmented reality.

The VR boom in the late 1980s was too short-lived to make real strides. Silicon Valley’s VPL invested heavily in the new technology only to declare bankruptcy a few years later. After the market failure of several VR systems in the 90s, interest in its development was lost until very recently.

In the last decade, virtual reality has been sought after by innovators as being the latest in computing technology. According to Palmer Luckey, it is the “final platform”.

Luckey founded Oculus VR, which sold to Facebook for $2.3 billion in 2014. As an authority in the industry, he has a definite understanding of the limitless applications of VR.

As its original backers hoped, VR is already advancing the fields of education, science, exploration and career training. It has also been implemented in treatments for lazy eye and PTSD. VPL’s original founder, Jaron Lanier has made the modest comment that virtual reality is merely the “next logical step” in human innovation.

Following Facebook’s purchase of Oculus VR, Mark Zuckerberg took to his personal page to write: “Our mission is to make the world more open and connected…we can start focusing on what platforms will come next.” Zuckerberg added that “Virtual reality was once the dream of science fiction. But the internet was also once a dream…The future is coming and we have a chance to build it together.”

Augmented reality

Augmented reality

Augmented Reality is the melding of the real world with the digital world found on your smartphone. Think “Pokemon Go.”

You have more than likely encountered augmented reality, even if the term is unfamiliar. It is not to be confused with virtual reality, another recent development in the tech world. AR is experienced alongside the real world, while VR simulates its own reality.

Charles Arthur, a contributor to The Guardian, describes AR as taking “a real-life scene, or (better) a video of a scene, and add[ing] some sort of explanatory data to it so that you can better understand what’s going on, or who the people in the scene are, or how to get to where you want to go”.

By blurring the line between what is real and what is not, AR enhances the digital experience.

The most well-known examples of augmented reality in today’s market are Snapchat filters and Pokémon Go. While it is more easily recognizable in entertainment, AR has also been utilized in marketing, educational and retail ventures.

Augmented reality is also starting to play a role in the workplace. It has been adapted for certain hands-on training exercises. An employee’s virtual presence erases the need for direct contact with different environments.

Where direct involvement is risky, the immersive qualities of AR allows for otherwise impossible experiences. For example, NASA has started to use it for scientific research. This enables advances in exploration that humans couldn’t achieve. We can’t send a person to Mars, but technology is taking that giant leap for us.

In the near future, you might not even be able to tell who is seeing the world through an AR wearable. Going through a single day without experiencing augmented reality in some way might even be impossible.

As the technology behind AR continues to evolve, its limits will be pushed even further. Think about how Pong and other early video games now seem so primitive, yet they were what introduced many the members of today’s workforce to computing. Their innovations have increased the capabilities of operating systems hundreds of times over.

These same kinds of giant strides in AR are still to come. The next generation might be taught about the game-changing nature of Pokémon Go just as today’s youth learn about Tetris.

Apple CEO Tim Cook has already labeled augmented reality as the ‘next new thing’. Anyone who is familiar with the tech industry will agree: now that AR has captured Apple’s eye, every competitor will be clamoring to take it to new heights.

Artificial intelligence (AI), your sales, and customer dollars

Artificial intelligence (AI), your sales, and customer dollars

Artificial intelligence (AI) is the use of computer systems that perform tasks that normally require human intelligence, such as visual perception, speech recognition, decision-making, and translation between languages. Artificial intelligence allows big data sets to be analyzed, segmented and filtered while also gaining the meaning behind them.

AI maximizes data and customer targeting. Most digital campaigns implement data in a broad way. They will identify users who fit a profile and send a mass campaign their way. This type of marketing will target a vast amount of people who may no longer interact with that profile or no longer identify with that profile.

If a retail chain wants to promote their newest pair of basketball shoes, they may target their entire sports audience. Yet, not all of these customers are basketball affiliated. By marketing this product to the all-sports sect, the business would be wasting its time marketing to customers who aren’t interested in the product.

The use of artificial intelligence is able to target specific users. By examining who engaged with the basketball shoe ad, artificial intelligence is able to predict who will engage with similar campaign ads.

In order to keep up with the increased efficiency of the digital age, artificial marketing is necessary to keep digital marketing consistently relevant. The use of artificial intelligence allows marketers to spend their time more wisely by managing campaigns rather than worrying about crunching numbers into data. As digital marketing continues to expand so will artificial intelligence.

Examine your User Experience (UX)

Examine your User Experience (UX)

A user experience is “the totality of the experience of a user when visiting a website”.

In recent years, improving the user experience (UX) has been prioritized by many companies. Shop Direct CEO Alex Baldock has said that when it comes to retail, “relevance wins”. A personalized online experience holds an appeal that is impossible to replicate in a physical store.

Recommendations or specific content based on details like previous purchases pique audience interest. This increases the likelihood of future visits and higher revenue. It adds a human element to the online experience.

Improvements in UX are intuitive. For example, an online retailer will learn to stop recommending winter coats to a customer if they begin to browse swimsuits. This kind of reactive change based on consumer behavior has been implemented by Amazon, Netflix, Facebook, LinkedIn, and nearly every other major online presence.

According to Invesp, retailers that utilize customer information to cultivate an individualized experience see a 56% boost in repeat sales. When done discretely, customers appreciate the increased ease of use that this provides.

Yet, 71% of companies do not use this technology. This is a missed opportunity for wider consumer appeal. In this crowded market, appealing to one’s audience over the competition is extremely important. Failing to adapt to new technology can lead to obsolescence.

The data harvested by mobile apps only heighten a company’s ability to tailor a personalized UX. Location-based advertising and push notifications allow for more opportunities to attract customers. Discovering when and how a customer interacts with your content help you to learn how to market to them. Targeted content helps your brand in becoming relevant to any user.

What consumers want most from a company’s online faction is ease of use. Flashy graphics and interactive content can be nice, but do nothing to simplify the experience. Your site or app only needs to succeed in selling itself. Working to create a user-oriented experience should be your main focus.

The importance of online micro-communities

The importance of online micro-communities

Online micro-communities help to define a customer’s needs and definition. If you follow a fitness ‘guru’ on Instagram, you have probably seen sponsored posts promoting health supplements or gym memberships. This reflects the prevalence of micro communities in social media. A brand can most easily gain traction among people with relevant interests.

Focused content means targeted engagement. Sticking to what is pertinent to your industry will lead to higher revenue. The best way to grow and keep your following is to only promote relevant content.

A critical action is discovering which social networks your target market. Seeking out popular users in relevant industries is also vital. Their support will direct followers to your page.

Using the power of micro-communities is a straightforward way to find your target consumer group. Once you have cultivated an audience, that user following will expand out. Those with similar interests can be introduced to your brand through social media engagement, such as their peers’ ‘likes’.

Engagement should be valued over community size. 5,000 Facebook Likes is nice, but 5,000 people on a mailing list or using your company’s hashtag is even better. Promote your brand, not just your business.

Having 10,000 to 100,000 followers is statistically proven to be an influencer’s sweet spot. As a page’s follower count grows, their interaction levels tend to decrease. The term is ‘micro influencer’ for a reason.

The effects of going viral are short lived. It rarely leads to continued success. Broader recognition can mean easily getting lost in the sea of other huge brands. It is therefore vital to recruit influencers with a more specific demographic.

Asking Kylie Jenner to promote your investment firm will get you some clicks. Will they convert to revenue and continued engagement? Probably not.

When promoting your company, stick to what makes sense. Utilize the right kinds of social media. If you don’t know how to engage, find people who do. The benefits of finding the right niche will be invaluable.

The importance of beta testing

The importance of beta testing

Mobile app beta testing is a stage in mobile app development during which the business tests the app on a selected group of people. This process of testing allows a business to receive critical feedback about their soon-to-be-released mobile app.

This step is often overlooked but is important because it refines the user experience of the app. It’s tempting for businesses to simply “test” the app with their own developers to avoid the process of selecting testers. Unfortunately, this can be counterproductive, as the developers are essentially too close to the project and can easily lose perspective of the larger picture. It can be nearly impossible for them to see the mobile app as if they were interacting with it for the first time.

When getting prepared to beta test for your business’ mobile app, there are a few Important factors to consider:

  • Choose whether you want to do open or closed beta testing. This decision really depends on the type of feedback you need. Closed beta testing will probably do the trick if you’re looking for very specific, pointed answers, but if you need to test your app on multiple platforms or study user behaviors, a larger open group will get you results closer to what you’re looking for.
  • Beware of selection bias. Choosing beta testers who seem like they fit well with your business can be a big downfall. It can mean that they don’t necessarily look like your user group.
  • Don’t let beta testing be your end of the road. While it is an important part of developing your mobile app, it should act as your starting point, not your final destination. Beta testing should give you a starting point as your continue to integrate new technology and features into your mobile app.

Beta testing is a crucial part of mobile app development. It gives you information on specific changes that need to be made before it is released. However, beta testing should also act as a launching point for the continuous updates and changes that will need to happen to respond to the consumer’s ever-changing needs.

What is “cost per registration (CPR)”?

What is “cost per registration (CPR)”?

In order to measure the fiscal health of a company, businesses must measure key performance indicators (KPIs). One critical measurement is determining the cost to acquire one new paying customer. For subscription base companies this model is known as cost per registration (CPR), or cost per acquisition.

The New York Times is in the media industry. In a simplistic model, the media outlet sells subscriptions as one of its revenue streams. For every subscription that the Times sells, some money is spent to cover the cost of advertising. Their net gain is the amount spent on advertising subtracted from the funds raised by the new subscriptions purchased.

No business can avoid this cost. To stop all advertising is to lose subscribers. Subscriptions cannot be attained without advertising. Yet, if there is no reliable consumer base, the Times cannot afford to spend money on ads.

Casual readers who have not purchased a subscription cannot be counted upon as a revenue source. Their inconsistency does not allow them to be relied upon for long-term sales. However, they can be persuaded to become subscribers. Special promotions that are tailored to their situation or lifestyle will increase subscription sales.

For example, repeat visitors to the Times’ website could be re-targeted for a free trial to the print version of the paper. If enough of these readers decide to continue with the service, the Times will have made more money in the long run. Or, existing subscribers could receive a discount flyer for the New York Times’ weekend edition. The revenue lost by giving a discount will hopefully be negated by a wave of new subscriptions.

A careful balance between advertisements and subscribers is the only way to maintain a successful, profitable business. If properly organized, any additional costs taken on in this model will be negated through sales revenues.

CPE Engagement

CPE Engagement

As consumers change the way they interact with brands, so do the advertising strategies that market those brands. The most common model of advertising is still Cost Per Mille (CPM), in which the advertiser pays the publisher per every thousand impressions (viewings) the advertisement gets. Unfortunately, this model is becoming outdated. We’re bombarded with thousands of advertisements and brand exposures every day, all competing for our attention. With that said, the average person actively interacts with only 12 of those ads.

What is Cost Per Engagement Advertising?

Cost Per Engagement (CPE) is a combination between Cost Per Acquisition (CPA) and Cost Per Click (CPC) models of advertising. In CPA, the advertiser only pays the publisher when their ad leads to a sale (or acquisition). CPC works by paying per click on the advertisement. CPE acts as a hybrid between these two models, in which the advertiser pays per engagement with the advertisement.

Engagement refers to any active interaction with an ad. What counts as an interaction varies from advert to advert, and can be anything from pressing the pause button on an advertisement video to typing out a word.

Why use Cost Per Engagement Advertising?

  • CPE motivates users to interact with your brand instead of merely passively glancing at it. Whether the interaction is answering a question or sharing a post on social media, you can be sure that they’ve recognized and connected with your advertisement on some level.
  • CPE delivers accountability that other models cannot give. It guarantees you (the advertiser) that the user has interacted and connected with your brand, with no ambiguity.
  • CPE ensures that you get your money’s worth. By paying per engagement, you can be sure that you’re getting value for publishing your ad. If users aren’t interacting, you don’t pay.

In essence, the publisher is offering something valuable to the user in return for their interaction with your advertisement. Hulu, for example, offers users the ability to watch their favorite television series for free in exchange for watching 90 seconds of commercials. This is a particularly attractive deal when considering broadcast networks show an average of 13 and a half minutes of ads per hour.

CPE advertising can be highly effective, especially when paired with audience targeting. By finding the right publisher and efficiently targeting your audience, you can reach users in an innovative way that counteracts the selective attention of consumers.

Click-through rates

Click-through rates

Click-Through Rates (CTR) are one of the most important pieces of data for measuring the success of your advertisements, but it can be confusing to interpret the numbers and apply them appropriately to your mobile app marketing and advertising campaign. Here’s a breakdown of what a CTR is and how you can maximize its use:

What is a click-through rate?

A CTR is the number of clicks that a pay-per-click (PPC) advertisement gets for every number of impressions (views). In essence, it tells you how many times your advertisement is viewed before someone clicks on it.

Why do click-through rates matter?

A higher CTR ultimately leads to lower costs for advertising. Google and other search engine platforms commonly offer lower prices for ads that offer a higher relevance to search engine users. Google, for example, determines the cost based on your Quality Score. The higher your quality score, the less you have to pay for a PPC advertisement.

How do click-through rates work?

What makes a CTR “good” really depends on your industry and the ad’s position, but overall, Google AdWords has an average CTR of 1.91% for search network and 0.35% for display network. With this in mind, your CTR should be as high as possible while still maintaining relevance.

How can I increase my click-through rate?

  • Use targeted keywords. If a keyword isn’t relevant to your business, it could end up costing more money than it’s worth because your ad is leading to click-throughs but not conversions.
  • Use visual content. Images and video boost engagement. In fact, research shows that using the word “video” in an email subject line boosts click-through rates by 65%.
  • Offer freebies. Consumers love free stuff, so promoting an offer like a significant discount off the price of a product is likely to increase CTR.

Click-through rates are used as a Key Performance Indicator (KPI), used to evaluate performance against the market competition. It allows for an apples-to-apples comparison. Numbers can be tricky sometimes. To understand those numbers, it’s important to see your company’s marketplace performance from another angle.

Social media marketing (SMM)

Social media marketing (SMM)

Business Basics

Every hour of every day, social media allows people to consistently create and share information. This constant interaction has driven companies to fully embrace social media as a vital marketing tool. It aids them in displaying their products; manufacturers connect with their returning and future customers. With over 2.3 billion active social media users, a company’s robust, social media presence will continue to solidify the company’s earnings.

Social media marketing (SMM) allows companies to market their brand on social media sites to increase traffic to their websites and stores. The goal of social media marketing is to raise brand awareness on a platform that the customer uses daily. By displaying ads on a site, home screens, or creating a company page with updates, customers are repeatedly exposed to the company profile and products. If the customer likes what the company has to offer, the customer is likely to share videos, images, ads, and articles about the enterprise. This media span reaches potential clients who have not seen the brand’s web presence. SMM allows companies to increase their brand recognition and draw in, as well as retain, customers.

Shoe manufacturer TOMS saw a huge boost in their brand recognition with their #withoutshoes campaign on Instagram. In 2015, Toms designated one day a year as “One Day Without Shoes Day.” Each year on that designated day, the company asks users to post one barefoot photo on Instagram with the hashtag #withoutshoes. For each post, one pair of shoes is donated by TOMS to a child in need. Not only did the campaign rapidly spread, but TOMS also established itself as a socially conscious driven brand. This type of savvy promotion allows customers to feel that their photo contribution and any purchase of TOMS shoes will add to a larger, positive impact on the company.

As seen in the TOMS campaign, social media marketing can increase web traffic, raise brand awareness, and broaden audience bases. Camera manufacturer GoPro frequently uses their Instagram account to show the quality of their product. GoPro extensively uses user-generated content for its Instagram page. Besides their company photos, GoPro encourages users to send in pictures of their best shots with their GoPros. This type of social media marketing not only promotes their product but helps customers to consistently use their GoPros and send in their photos with hopes of being featured on the account.

The prominence of social media in society has created a strong personalized sense of marketing. The life-blood of social media is built upon allowing people to create and share information with others. By marketing brands through ideas, social media allows people to be exposed to products they may not find elsewhere. This type of industry is not bound by a geographical location nor an allotted time slot; it is readily available. Whether the appeal comes from an ad, company page, or a friend’s referral, social media marketing is essential in staying relevant in peoples’ lives.

MAUs: Monthly Active Users vs Driving Downloads

MAUs: Monthly Active Users vs Driving Downloads

Business Basics

Online businesses need to identify their customer base to understand the relationship between themselves and their clients. How do companies measure success? Why do businesses keep track of their performance? How often should companies even keep track of certain information? These are questions critical to a business’ survival. Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) allow companies to measure almost every facet of their respective businesses interactions. With this data, they can understand their performance relative to the marketplace.

For some companies and mobile apps driving app downloads is the KPI but for those companies that operate solely digitally, a central KPI measurement is the Monthly Active Users (MAU). A standard definition of the MAU is defined as the number of “unique” users over the course of 30 days. This performance indicator is commonly used by social networking sites, digital gaming platforms, e-commerce businesses and mobile apps. MAU measurement allows digital services know who is using their product and how they use that product.

An active user is not just a person that may randomly access a site/service. An active user is determined as an individual who has created an account through email or username to access a site or service.

There are also two types of active users. There are first time users and recurring users:

  • A first time user is a new user who has accessed a site for the first time.
  • A recurring user is a user that frequents the site. It is important to clarify data to this extent when you are trying to track performance.

Ultimately it is up to the site or service to distinguish who they believe is an active user. Traditional social networking services like Facebook and Twitter have both have differing definitions:

  • Facebook defines a Monthly Active User as anyone that is a registered Facebook user, who has accessed the service through the website, messenger app, or mobile app at least one time in the last 30 days.
  • Twitter employs a slightly more complicated approach than its competitor. You must follow a minimum of 30 accounts and be followed by a third of the number of accounts you follow to be considered an active user. To put that in simpler terms, if you are a registered user who follows 30 accounts, with at least ten followers, and uses the site at least one time in 30 days, you are considered an active Twitter user.

It is crucial to measure user activity on digital platforms when examining performance especially with mobile app marketing. Calculating the metrics of Monthly Active User data is a practical industry practice. The proper manipulation of this data will help companies find the information they need to succeed.

If you need help tracking your audience’s habits, contact Colure.

Vital customer engagement (or how not to leave your customers at the door)

Vital customer engagement (or how not to leave your customers at the door)

Customer engagement (CE) is the living and breathing relationship that exists between a customer and a company. This critical relationship is a critical factor that helps to determine the success or failure of a company. The challenge to every business is that almost all buyers have different needs and wants. Consumers aren’t unanimous, even within similar demographics. There are different ages, lifestyles, ethnic backgrounds, etc. There’s an excellent chance that the motivating factors for one middle-aged customer may differ significantly from another. It’s incredibly important for a business to operate with their customer base as individuals.

So how do we go about the act of engaging a client? Here’s a few starting points to orient your mobile app marketing and digital advertising efforts:

  • An engagement marketing strategy is crucial. How will your company reach out to potential customers? How will you respond to their inquiries? Detailed analytics are necessary to help answer these questions. Actively learning about a customer’s lifestyles, rather than lumping people together based on a singular demographic. Remember, numbers are cold, your customers are real people. Think of them in that fashion. The more accurate and detailed your customer database is, the stronger foundation you will have for engagement.
  • Learn to predict consumer behavior. When looking at the unique lifestyle of your consumers, where can you see areas where they can benefit from your service or product? Big-box retailers like Walmart and Target do so by using data mining to notice trends in purchases. Walmart used data mining and discovered that Strawberry Pop-tart sales increased sevenfold before a hurricane in southern states. The reaction? Place Strawberry Pop-tarts at the cashier area of a store. More exposure to the pop-tarts increases sales even more. In the end, all parties benefit. Walmart and Kellogg’s experience increased sales, while customers have an emergency food source in case of natural disasters.
  • The benefits of customer engagement are limitless. Customer retention is critical. Customers can see the value in a company that puts the effort into satisfying their customer base. Satisfied clients can be the most powerful form of marketing. The family and friends of current customers are potential future customers. Nothing is more valuable than a recommendation from peer-to-peer. One survey even concluded that 92% of customers trust peer recommendations, compared to 47% trusting TV or magazine ads.

Customer engagement is beneficial, if not necessary, to a company’s success. Perhaps one of the most satisfying aspects of customer engagement is the company-client relationships built upon it. Increasing interaction cultivates and grows these relationships. Knowing that your company makes a positive difference in the life of your customers is a huge reward.

Creating a marketing plan

Creating a marketing plan

Every business needs a marketing plan. Businesses rely on sales and customers. These commodities cannot be generated without an effective marketing campaign that effectively communicates the company, product, and message. Though many businesses are well aware of the need for a strategic marketing plan, not all of them understand exactly how to implement it.

A marketing plan can include all of the following and much more: content development, emails and newsletters, market research and data analysis, SEO, social media management, sponsorships, website development, and mobile app marketing. While it is possible for a business owner to create, manage, and maintain a marketing plan alone, it takes a considerable amount of time and patience.

The ‘Do It Yourself’ approach

Owners thinking of a DIY approach should realistically calculate how much effort they can spare. For those undeterred by the tasks ahead, willing to tackle this challenge, below are three cheap and effective steps towards better results.

    • Do your homework: Research is key. Understand the market you are targeting and decide on your company’s message. Analyze competitors for blind spots and opportunities to shine. Don’t compete in areas they’re good—find your niche.

    • Email is big, cheap and often provides the highest ROI: It is also a preferred method of communication by customers.

    • Your website matters: Make sure it works on different platforms. Streamline the online experience. 81% of consumers use online to explore their options beforehand and gather information about purchases. Don’t give them a reason to be disappointed.

Hiring an individual or an advertising agency

Perhaps the amount of work ahead is too daunting, or perhaps you might not have the time to invest in creating something polished that best represents your company. While the immediate idea you might have is to hire an employee in charge of marketing operations, you’ll be surprised to realize that, in the long run, hiring a person could be more expensive than hiring an agency. Employees have more costs than salary once you include training costs, taxes, insurance, and the software needed. Excluding price, advertising agencies have other benefits, most notably:

    • Expertise: both in the niche market you’re seeking and in the types of marketing you might require whether that be mobile marketing or marketing online.
    • Experience: with creating and executing plans and consulting businesses.
    • Efficiency: a marketing agency does not require training. They can start often times immediately and implement a plan of action urgently.

Working with a marketer requires trust and a willingness to try new things. Communication is crucial to keep both sides on the same page. Both parties must have an understanding of the other party. You should discuss the roles each party with play in the process. Advertising agencies make life easier by freeing you up to focus on what you do best – running our own company. Regardless, they still rely on you for information and the materials needed to create the campaign, so there is no easy shortcut when it comes to marketing your business. The tools for success are out there at your disposal, but the drive ultimately comes from you.

Reach out to Colure’s development team to discuss a plan to advance your next project.

The function of ad servers

The function of ad servers

Business Basics

When we pull up a webpage, the page in front of us appears to be a single, seamless webpage, seemingly created by a single computer. However, that page is actually the end product of several computers working in concert with each other. Together, these computers or servers, each provide content that is compiled to create the final webpage that a user sees.

Ad servers provide a specific set of advertisements to a web page. Websites provide content that draw an audience to a specific web page. Publishers monetize this content by running ads for companies looking to reach that audience. Those advertising spaces on the web pages begin as an empty space that are filled with the appropriate advertising only milliseconds before it loads. Ad servers make that selection possible.

In generic terms, each server has its own function. The publishing server provides the bulk of a webpage’s content. The ad server provides the specific advertisements that have been selected for that user at that moment. The function of an ad server is to place the most efficient advertisements in front of a user. The conversation between these computers is the function that creates the displayed webpage.

An ad server is a platform that stores information and manages the display of ads. It works in the background to determine which ad is selected through a process of analyzing the targeting criteria. The marketer has established these criteria and the performance goals of the campaign. In addition, ad servers provide a way to test which ads perform better, helping marketers optimize the campaign. Publishers, or content-producers, use ad servers to determine which advertiser will be promoted while advertisers use ad servers to select which specific ad from the campaign to show to each user.

Ad Server functions:

Ad servers provide several functions that make the marketing process convenient and efficient:

  • First, they allow marketers to specify which ads to run on which sites and provide them with an easy way to edit the creative elements. Instead of contacting every publisher to update an ad, the marketer can provide updates to a single server.

  • Secondly, they are useful in targeting advertisements based on user’s geographical location and time of day.

  • Third, ad servers let the marketer set a start and a stop time for a campaign. This time-limit is then used in the algorithm that determines which ads will be shown.

  • Finally, ad servers provide all the statistical reporting of performance in one place, making it easier to analyze than getting several reports from different websites.

How ad servers assist agencies and clients:

A person at the marketing agency, called a trafficker, will upload the ads onto the ad server before listing the ad space their buyer has reserved and the specific targeting criteria. The ad server will store this information and provide the trafficker with an ad tag (an HTML code) for the trafficker to send to the publishers. When the publishers decide to serve the tag, the ad server is called upon and selects the most relevant ad to pick based on the criteria. It takes into account the format of the ad (banner, mpu, etc), how many impressions, and how much time is left, amongst other factors. After the ad is published, the server tracks the impression and any associated clicks to establish how people are responding to the ad.

Several ad server systems are available for your business. The system you select will be determined by a number of factors including your products, market share, budgets, and other variables. Ad servers aid marketers by making trillions of decisions a year at a speed difficult to comprehend. The process is as complex as it is effective. The end result is a crafted page that loads in a blink of an eye.

Unlike print, websites allow for the ads that appear on a page to change based on who’s viewing it. This advantage makes online advertising a customizable and more cost-efficient experience. It allows marketers to bypass some of the steps in the purchase decision chain by targeting people closer to the end of it. The better you understand the function of an ad server, the more you’ll understand the process of placing an advertisement online. 

The art of storytelling

The art of storytelling

The ability to communicate with your audience is crucial to every business. Your employees, your customers, and your potential audience all have the need to understand what your company offers in the marketplace.

Business Basics

The engagement of consumers with a simple idea is not a new concept, nor does it belong solely to marketers. The art of storytelling has long been central to society’s growth. As individuals, we might remember a terrifying story told to us as a youth, sitting around a campfire at summer camp. Others may remember a writer who evokes warm and cuddly feelings speaking of their first kiss. Be it terror or passion, the emotional component of the story is an element that often binds a narrative to our long-term memory.

We speak to our family, to our children, and to our peers with words meant to evoke a response. Whether we are writers, software designers, digital strategists, or graphic artists, we are all storytellers. The complexity of our stories differs from project to project, client to client. In the end, we ask only one thing – “remember my message.”

Storytelling components

If we are all shooting for the same goal, how do we stand out from the crowd? How do we send a message that is cleaner and more memorable than the competition? Emotion is one component that makes for an extraordinary story. However, knowing with whom you are speaking is incredibly important. A few gray hairs have provided me with these insights:

  • The K.I.S.S. Rule (AKA – Keep It Simple Stupid)

Try to keep your message focused. If you stray from the core of your message, you will lose your customer. Don’t fall victim to chasing ideas down a rabbit-hole. A creative environment allows for the creation of details. If those details are not kept in check, they can often dilute the original message.

  • Understand your audience

Be sure you understand your audience during this process. Be certain that you truly know your customer’s wants, needs, desires, and goals. If you just offer a message without focusing on the needs of your audience, there’s a good chance you’ll miss your mark.

  • Engage your audience

Communication is an interactive exchange of information between two or more people. This function requires a living, breathing relationship between those parties. Be sure that when you offer information to the next party, that they understand both the content and context of that information.

  • Don’t speak beyond your “voice”

As storytellers, we need to speak to our audience authoritatively. If a storyteller uses words, concepts, or ideas that are beyond their grasp, the audience will lose faith in the validity of the writer’s words. Readers have an amazing ability to identify rubbish when they see it. If you have to present an idea that is beyond your intellectual grasp, education, or base of life experience, attribute that idea to someone who possesses those skills. Don’t try to re-invent the wheel. If you have to discuss theoretical physics, don’t BS your way through it. Offer a hyperlink to someone who is qualified to speak on that subject matter.  For example, I’m not a theoretical physicist, but this team at UC Berkeley is pretty comfortable discussing these concepts. In short, you take a potential liability in your writing and create an asset by providing proper attribution to your sources.

Storytelling has been deeply engrained in the human experience for thousands of years. If you visit the Indonesian Island of Sulawesi, there you will discover the earliest known cave paintings. The images on the cave walls date back an estimated 40,000 years. These are the earliest visual stories known to be told by humans. The basic storytelling elements employed during this window in history remain the same today. Communicate an idea that can be clearly understood by your audience.

Sharing your thoughts in a context that is recognized by your audience is crucial to successful storytelling. As business leaders, you provide a material good or service that is desired by the consumer. Before they can appreciate your offerings, they must first be able to understand your story. You, in turn, must be willing to listen to what they are saying to you – not what you think they are saying. If you have any questions about reaching out to your customer base, contact Colure’s team to help you hit your mark.

Content at the core of all media

Content at the core of all media

Business Basics Series

A brand’s voice and personality depend on the type of content it produces. The effectiveness of a brand’s marketing campaign depends on the delivery method of that content. The substance of your media is intimately involved in every step of the purchase decision-making process. It is the most stable mechanism of brand promotion.

Customer engagement, which is a strong predictor of company growth and brand loyalty, is built through providing value to the consumer. This action is most often achieved through value, usually achieved through useful content. “Emotional engagement is far more important to consumers than promotional content,” thus making the quality of the content the main factor in its success.

A reputation…is it owned or earned?

While everyone recognizes the role of content in owned and earned media, it’s harder to determine if content has a place in paid media or if paid media is rendering content useless. Owned, earned, and paid media sources are almost always used together in unison. They’re used to build off each other, but they have key differences worth elaborating.

Owned Media refers to all channels that a company manages and curates, like websites, blogs, and social media. Its main strength is the control it gives a company over their brand image. Its main weakness is its limited reach—though 89% of marketers are using social media around 16% of Facebook fans see the brand’s content on their newsfeed.

Earned Media includes all mentions of a brand on third party channels. Sometimes referred as organic advertising, search engine optimization and mobile app store optimization. It is the shared, the reviewed and the viral. Its main weakness, that of having no control of what is being said when, is counteracted by its main strength, the power of word-of-mouth to influence people’s decisions. The skepticism people have when viewing ads is equivalent to the trust that comes from another person’s recommendation.

Paid Media is comprised of all of the advertisements that you have paid. These include Adwords, sponsorships, and content written by others for a fee. Many times, this can appear as sponsored items, appearing in a news channel feed. Another name is “native advertising”. It is expensive, yet, far-reaching. This is a highly targetable resource. While many have frowned upon it, paid media is important to a marketing campaign because, without it, your best content might remain hidden. It is not a replacement for “true content”, but it is a valuable tool in taking owned media and pushing it to possibly blurring the line toward earned media. Competition online has made it hard to sift through information on the basis of interest alone and paid media allows one to place an ad before eyes who are searching for it.

At the core of all three strategies lies content. It is content that draws people to your website. It is content that makes people want to talk about your brand and share it with their friends. And it is content that keeps people engaging with ads even when they’re savvy enough to recognize and avoid them. Paid media will reach an audience, but it will rarely keep them watching more than they have to.

Content is what makes consumers say, “Wow, I didn’t even know that was an ad for something!” Questions for the ad industry become “Where do we draw the line between advertising and content?” and “How visible do we make that line?”

Project performance and KPI’s

Project performance and KPI’s

Business Basics

The success or failure of any project can be measured if you keep an open eye and know how to measure your company’s performance. You must have measurable data order to understand the significance of any market action. Goals must be set as benchmarks of success or failure. These goals should be realistic and attainable. These measurable benchmarks are referred to as “Key Performance Indicators” or KPIs. These are items that “help an organization assess progress toward declared goals.”-TechTarget.

What is a KPI?

These measurements “are used to evaluate factors that are crucial to the success of an organization,” – TechTarget. KPIs allow organizations to measure the results of their campaigns. These items help to tweak current goals to better sell their product or service. Well set KPIs can determine the success of an organization. Simply stated – if you can’t accurately measure your established performance, there is no way you will be able to modify precisely those behaviors for growth toward your goals.

Differing from group to group

Because organizations in every industry vary, the KPI’s need to reflect those organizations must differ . Each KPI is relevant to a specific purpose. While the basic premise is the same, the goals for each team will be dependent on what the result needs to be. KPIs for a mobile marketing campaign can measure the lead generation and the capture of a customer, but those KPIs will differ from a hospital’s patient ER wait time. The goal of a KPI is to find the best possible way to gain success without spending enormous amounts of time, effort, and money to get there.

Why use a KPI?

When an organization thinks up a new idea, product, service, or campaign, the result and their needs goal has to be assessed. Which means, “before you start assigning KPI’s to everything you can think of, there needs to (be) a clear understanding of your business objectives and strategic directions,” Intouch Marketing. Organizations must ask questions before, during, and after the launch of the campaign to determine the importance of their KPIs.

For KPIs to be successful, an organization must know how to translate the data. “If management cannot translate the importance and understanding of the businesses KPI’s to their employees effectively, they will most likely fail,” Intouch Marketing. Management must be able to quantify the statistics to their employees, so those individuals can execute the campaign to drive success.

Success is something that every organization wants and needs. Measuring KPIs is a key tool to reach those achievements. Organizations must always have an action plan for end results whenever initiating and executing something new into the mix. Otherwise, not setting goals will inevitably end in failure. Be wise and use those KPIs!

If you need guidance on measuring your corporation’s growth and performance, contact Colure’s Project Managers to help you define your next step for corporate growth.