The viewers of online advertisements are changing as rapidly as the technology they are using, and the need to effectively reach this new audience has led to much innovation in marketing. With the goal of accessing and utilizing channels that traditional media fails to include, such as mobile devices, today’s novel advertising methods take a more subtle approach to attracting customers. Simple banner ads are no longer appealing to viewers, causing an expansion of current online advertising trends.
Content marketing is the most important buzzword to understand in this age of the business-customer relationship. The concept shuns the idea of marketing to the masses with overt messages. Inbound marketing is emphasized instead, which more successfully builds up brand loyalty through the creation of valuable content designed for a particular audience.
Generally, content consists of relevant industry information that either provides understanding of a topic or amusement. Articles on business websites, e-newsletters, case studies, videos, and articles taken from outside websites are all effective pieces of content that marketers can produce and disseminate through a variety of channels.
All content, however, must feature two things: images and simplicity. Viewers are looking for “snackable” content that is quickly digestible, which is why written content should be broken up with pictures or converted into an infographic. Image-based content also has higher chances of going viral.
Viewers prefer simpler messages to in-depth ones, and they are tired of being barraged by flashy ads with a sensory overload of information. Thus, marketing campaigns should be toned down and not overhyped, offering great content that people want to share.
A presence on multiple social media sites is crucial for success in online advertising. These sites are the places where content is definitively created and shared, drawing a large Internet audience. If content is of high enough quality, then viewers will be apt to give it their undivided attention, which is better than what a banner ad is capable of.
When a viewer shares a company’s content, they essentially become a marketer for the brand, but social shares are significant to more than just brand image. The amount of shares a piece of content gets is becoming more important to SEO. Search engines attempt to return the most relevant content possible to users, and lots of shares tend to suggest a level of perceived quality by viewers.
Branching out to multiple social networks, even some of the less used ones, adds weight to social signals in SEO and increases the likelihood of engagement, which is when consumers interact with a brand or its advertising on social media. A business should determine which sites best suit its own needs and those of its customer base.
Native advertising, also known as organic advertising or sponsored content, is another method that is related to the use of social media. Ad formats are created for a specific platform in order to take advantage of the way that consumers use the platform. Sponsored stories and suggested posts on Facebook, promoted pins on Pinterest, ads on Instagram, and branded Vines are all examples of native advertising. The inherent diversity of these ads, though, presents an issue in defining standards to optimize them and measure their success.
Marketers can also directly advertise on social media such as Facebook and Twitter, and in the future, these sites might solicit ad deals comparable to those maintained by television now. Direct advertising in the form of digital ads, however, has undergone a major transformation in recent years. Wireless networks now have the ability to stream video reliably, which has led to the popularity of online video ads. This banner ad alternative captures the attention of the viewer more easily and for a longer span of time, and it also gets readily shared on social media sites.
Mobile ads are on the rise as well, since 30% of all web traffic now comes from smartphones and tablets. The new mantra for marketers is “mobile design first”; mobile ads are not considered “add-ons” to campaigns any more. They are a must-have, and in order to capitalize on mobile traffic, content and ads have to be made accessible on either mobile apps or mobile-optimized sites with responsive web design.
Whether online, mobile, or both, digital ads consisting of rich media are much more effective than mere banner ads or social media messages. Rich media ads usually expand when rolled over with a mouse or tapped on with a finger. They occupy more screen space than other kinds of ads, and by their nature, ensure that the user interacts with them. This interaction generally entails clicking a video or playing a game, but it results in an immersive ad experience.
The advergame, a combination of advertising and entertainment that takes the form of a video game, is a type of rich media in which the viewer actively wants immersion. Since consumers spend a great deal of time on the Internet playing games, the usage of in-game advertising has grown. Apps and games specifically designed for the purpose of advertising are a natural result of this growth.
Three main kinds of advergames exist. The first is a game, which may or may not be product-related, that is placed on a company website to attract visitors. Another is a traditional video game developed to be played on computers or consoles, but created with the goal of influencing consumers about a product. The last is the product placement approach, in-game advertising where a product or ad for a product is an actual part of the game.
A branded app or game will engage its users more thoroughly than programming in a prime time television slot. While a traditional televised ad holds the viewer’s attention for 30 seconds, advergames have the capability to immerse users for full minutes or even hours, which results in psychological effects that lead to better brand retention and increased familiarity. Clever or entertaining games even have the potential to go viral.
Aside from types of digital ads themselves, new marketing strategies for these ads are popping up, one of which is ad retargeting. Browser cookies are utilized to track what websites users have visited. After leaving a certain site, the products or services users viewed on those websites will be shown to them again in ads across different websites they visit.
Only 2% of web traffic converts on the first visit to a site, so ad retargeting aims to increase this rate by reminding consumers of products and services they have already seen. This keeps a brand at the forefront of a consumer’s mind, with the simple re-exposure creating brand familiarity and trust, as well as increasing the likelihood of purchases.
After determining a solid online advertising strategy, a marketer must take one other factor into account—viewability of ads. This concept, whether or not paid advertisements are actually seen by real human beings, is a big issue in marketing, because half of ads are placed where no one will see them, usually at the bottom of pages. Using an independent company that offers solutions to make sure ads are being bought only in the places where viewers can see them will assist in the process of starting an ad campaign.
Online advertising is not the same playing field that it was twenty years ago, or even ten. Without an up-to-date, effective strategy for digital marketing, a business today will fail to reach a key demographic of their market, the growing sector of individuals who are turning to their smartphones and smart devices to access the Internet. For those users on PCs, improving the online ad experience for them is crucial to maintaining engaged and loyal customers. Brand image does not count for much if it cannot be portrayed well; understanding how to take full advantage of current advertising channels is knowledge no marketer should lack, if business success is to be achieved.
By now, social media is a term with which virtually everyone is familiar, and it is frequently used to describe sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Google+. What most people do not realize is that they have been using the term incorrectly; social media is often interchanged with its close counterpart, social networking. This inaccurate usage of the words fails to acknowledge the major differences between the two, and understanding these differences is crucial to maintaining a successful marketing strategy.
Social media is best defined as a channel in which information can be shared with a wide audience. Content is created and then social media is utilized as the distributor. This delivery-style format is meant to spread messages, with a focus on one-way communication from the content creator to the viewer. Therefore, social media is not really a visited location, but an information system.
Social networking, on the other hand, is the act or process of engagement between people with common interests. Accordingly, it places more of an emphasis on two-way communication. Social networking sites exist for groups of like-minded members to converse and associate with one another, sharing their experiences and backgrounds with specific subject matter. This is how social networking grows relationships and builds a sense of community.
A business should strive to be the best connected, not the most connected. The opportunity for direct communication offered by social networking makes it an invaluable resource for businesses. Breaking into social media is difficult for a brand that is not already well-known, and it can take a long time for any sort of following to develop, ruling out the potential for immediate individual conversations. Social networking, however, more easily leads to meaningful and personal conversations, especially since users choose the people with which they connect. Forming relationships with others enlarges a user’s network as the user becomes introduced to more and more people.
Despite the distinction between these two terms, there is still an overlap in the way they relate to one another. The most effective marketing strategies combine both social media and social networking. A smart business will not only post content to social media websites, but will also ensure that the content is being used as a tool to engage its audience, actively and simultaneously networking. Social media serves as the vehicle that allows for social networking.
While tech-savvy businesses tend to put a lot of effort into social media, social networking is sometimes an area that is lacking. Numerous networking sites are available that online marketers or small businesses owners alike may take advantage of, but LinkedIn is the most popular and established one. Learning to use LinkedIn can provide a business with many benefits.
Because one of LinkedIn’s purposes is connecting companies that share interests, B2B networking can be accomplished without difficulty. Vendors, suppliers, manufacturers, and other third party providers can all easily be found and contacted through the LinkedIn platform. What used to take days or even weeks of phone calls to compare vendors can now be done in several hours, sending and replying to a few “InMails.”
Additionally, evaluating a vendor’s online presence will help a user to form a better image of the company than merely speaking to a representative over the phone. LinkedIn users can also check to see if other businesses have had positive experiences working with vendors. This recommendation feature even extends to products and services that are added on company profiles. Companies can request recommendations from customers, boosting credibility to gain new clients. Companies must approve requested recommendations before they are posted on their profiles, but they cannot be modified by the company, which makes the recommendations strong and reliable.
LinkedIn can even be utilized as a social media channel to aid in B2C networking. Actively managing a company profile on the site can help to raise brand awareness and build brand image. Posting frequently and updating with relevant, topical, or entertaining content will increase the likeability factor of a brand and gradually build the trust of potential consumers.
Directly networking with these possible customers, as well as promoting products and services outside of a traditional advertising campaign, will help to generate new leads. Optimizing a company profile in combination with focusing brand image will result in organic leads when people find those pages on LinkedIn and like what they see. Companies retain all the benefits of word-of-mouth advertising, while being able to control what is posted on their profiles.
Since LinkedIn is a site intended to facilitate interaction, reaching an existing customer base through surveys, messaging, and comments is simple. Using these tools properly can help heighten customer satisfaction levels and show a company’s concern for its customers. Resolving customers’ issues and addressing complaints via the public and private messaging options on the LinkedIn social network demonstrates that a company is willing to listen to its customers.
Aside from communicating with a customer base, LinkedIn users can reach out to other industry members to participate in what is called “knowledge sharing.” Users can pose business questions to their connections through InMails, while the many groups on LinkedIn serve as forums for the discussion of industry topics. These forums are an excellent resource for learning of marketplace trends from groups of professionals. The introduction of LinkedIn Answers to the site allows users to ask business questions to their own networks as well as the greater LinkedIn community.
LinkedIn is also used by many business professionals who are seeking employment opportunities. Consistently relevant, active LinkedIn pages are likely to draw inquiries and applications from the multitude of talents who are searching the network for jobs. Quality of a profile directly corresponds to how much top tier talent comes its way. Attaching a current list of open positions on a company profile will make the page more easily found by someone who might be looking to join that kind of business.
Employers who are recruiting can search for candidates that fit their requirements themselves, although a monthly subscription fee is necessary for certain types of searches. LinkedIn does allow for potential recruits to be approached directly. In addition, companies can post job ads on the site, for a monthly fee dependent on location.
No matter a company’s business objectives, the versatility of social networking, especially on sites such as LinkedIn, will help companies to establish a solid network of useful contacts, whether it consists of experts, service providers, customers, potential clients, or somewhere in between. Valuable business relationships can be cultivated while driving traffic to company profiles and websites. With social networkers numbering in the hundreds of millions, there could not be a better time to begin taking advantage of what networking has to offer.
Finding innovative, effective ways to promote business is becoming increasingly difficult in today’s growing digitized world. With the attention span of the average customer getting shorter, marketing itself is undergoing a shift from its traditional tactics to more timely ones. As a result, social media sites are being utilized as a means of improving digital visibility and driving website traffic.
The main difference between the use of traditional advertising and social media is that the latter allows for interaction with customers, which strengthens brand awareness and builds a better online reputation. This personal touch reaches an audience that may not be accessible by any other way.
The basic purpose of using social media is not to overtly endorse a business, but to have followers advertise it themselves; businesses post their own content, and social media users view and share it. A business’s main goal is to cater to the needs and interests of potential customers instead of their own marketing campaign, in order to portray the business as customer-centric rather than solely profit-focused.
This approach both heightens the level of trust that social media users put into a business and helps to create a loyal base of followers. Users find valuable and unique content much more attractive than a sales ploy, which they can identify more easily than businesses might surmise. They want to be appealed to as a person or a friend, not marketed to like a customer, and this accounts for the trend in traditional advertising forms working less and less efficiently.
Thus, content marketing is the leading current strategy. The perfect place for content to be shared, with the potential for it to go viral, is the realm of social media. Occupied mostly by younger generations, social media sites are used primarily by millennials, who are more likely to trust their friends for reviews and opinions on products, services, and businesses.
Millennials will generally not check information straight from a website unless they establish some kind of credibility for it beforehand, which can come from their friends’ experiences, or lack thereof. This is why social media is an indispensable platform for exposing businesses to new traffic.
Businesses on social media sites essentially use followers to drive their own success forward. With the appropriate content strategy, a company can sit back and relax while their followers sell their service or product for them. For businesses that rely exclusively on social media as advertisement, their marketing budgets are essentially zero, since the sites are free to use.
This makes social media one of the most cost-effective ways to advertise, given that a business is willing to invest the time, energy, and human resources into writing, producing, and posting quality content. If a business feels that it is lacking in resources or is not confident in its writing ability, freelance content writers can always be hired to manage and update social media profiles and posts.
In this regard, the age-old adage of “give and you shall receive” applies heavily to social media, because what a business puts in is what it gets out of it. All posts should be made so as not to be off-putting to followers. Insincerity is easier for users to spot than businesses realize, so businesses should take note of the kind of language being used in their posts, ensuring it matches that of what the target audience would normally use.
Fresh, shareable content should be posted frequently. Not only does a steady stream of content continuously attract social media users and capture their interest, but Google also ranks websites with fresher content higher in search results. Share and follow buttons should be clearly displayed on websites, so that visitors have a smoother time sharing content directly from the source.
Depending on the niche of a business, various forms of content can be posted, including relevant articles, news releases and newsletters, photos, videos, and whitepapers. All of these types of content are more engaging than text-only posts, even text with links attached. Image-centric content is becoming highly important, since social media sites are starting to rank text-only posts lower in users’ feeds. Images are the most popular and effective way to capture the attention of followers.
Content should address issues that are meaningful to a customer base rather than sneaking in a sales pitch for a business. The company should not be referred to more than necessary, and the 80-20 rule can help to prevent this: 80% of posts should be about the business’s industry or otherwise targeted to followers, while the remaining 20% are meant for self-promotion. For the latter, social media can be used to spread exclusive offers and discounts, directed towards a certain market or customer type.
A business’s use of social media does not begin and end with creating content and designing posts. Social media should also be utilized to connect with followers and listen to their suggestions, ideas, and complaints. Customers tend to think of businesses that respond to their inquiries as preferable to others, so it is important to reply to feedback and comments quickly and thoroughly. Identifying and rectifying problems both satisfies the customer base and projects a business as responsible, reliable, and easy to access.
Once a business has built up a solid following on its social media profiles, there is a greater likelihood that users will check out that business’s website and make a purchase. Users perceive social media outreach as a form of transparency and openness, which makes them trust a business more. This greater trust is what increases the chances of users making purchases or requesting services, resulting in an upsurge of website traffic and conversion rates.
If customers are satisfied, they will usually make posts detailing their experiences and purchases on their social media profiles. Their online friends will then be exposed to the posts, and they will probably check out the business selling the product, continuing the cycle of promotion.
Creating multiple social media profiles can also help to increase digital visibility in a less obvious way; it plays a role in search engine optimization. Websites with more pages are generally ranked higher in search results than websites with fewer pages, and this rule of thumb applies to external as well as internal pages. Therefore, websites with social media profiles will be better ranked than those sites which do not have them, which can help to boost traffic.
Besides the big five social media giants of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, and YouTube, businesses should seek out other social media networks, such as Instagram and Pinterest, in order to most effectively reach their intended audiences. Whatever social media site a business is on, a link or button to the profile should appear on the business website. This way, the entire community of followers is linked to one another, and they can share content without leaving the platform that they are using.
There is no valid reason for a business not to take advantage of social media marketing; it would only face tougher competition from other companies that do use social media. Having a mere presence on social media sites, however, is not enough to see improvement; it must be properly utilized if all of its benefits are to be experienced. Providing engaging content with specific information suited for the tastes and interests of a targeted customer base will no doubt send ROI soaring.
Do you know which generation currently accounts for $1.3 trillion in direct annual spending? The answer might come as a surprise: it is neither the baby boomers nor the Gen Xers, but the Millennial Generation, whose population is currently in its late teens to early thirties. With different values than previous generations, as well as increased numbers, millennials represent a marked shift in spending power and consumer habits.
Recognizing these habits starts with understanding when and how this generation was raised. Millennials are a diverse group of individuals and can be split into two major age groups according to birth year. Older millennials born from 1985 to 1994 are part of Generation Y, while younger millennials born from 1995 to 2004 form Generation Z.
Living through an era filled with economic recessions, ongoing violence, and social change has shaped the mentality that millennials hold about life in general. Being raised with technology has also made them expertly accustomed to using numerous devices. In relation to making purchases, millennials are conscientiousness about saving money rather than spending it. They are informed consumers; not necessarily frugal, they seek affordable luxury and will buy what is personally important to them.
Status currency, defined as “the status and values that consumers wish to project through their purchasing decisions and brand affiliations,” is an intangible asset that millennials also prize. This generation is constantly looking for methods of self-expression, and the brands millennials favor are increasingly seen as an outlet for this— an extension of themselves, even.
Thus, what is known as the reciprocity principle becomes significant to millennials when evaluating brands. Basically, the relationship between the business and the customer must be a two-way street. The traditional linear framework of this relationship, with companies controlling and pushing the customer conversion process, is outdated, especially because there are factors in the marketing environment outside of company control.
A steady stream of one-size-fits-all brand messages delivered via traditional media is no longer cost-efficient or effective. Millennials shun direct marketing and appreciate multidirectional engagement, since they make emotional investments in and feel personal relationships with brands. There are five elements to the reciprocity principle that businesses should be aware of in order to market to millennials successfully: reach, relevance, reputation, relation, and referral.
Millennials are the most tech-savvy generation yet, and they are highly engaged with their devices. To adequately reach millennials, marketers must utilize all available media. Mobile and portable devices are what the majority of millennials prefer to use for connecting to the Internet, even while shopping. Besides public relations and endorsements, marketers need to take advantage of digital marketing and social media.
Not only distinct from prior generations, millennials are also an incredibly varied bunch within themselves. Some are already parents with families, while others still live at home. There are newly independent young adults and college students as well as dependent teenagers. The brand choices made by millennials are influenced by a wider array of people than before, so companies should focus on doing research to appropriately segment marketing groups, making sure their brand is as relevant and appealing to the targeted customer base as possible.
Because millennials identify with brands in a novel, emotional way, it is crucial that a brand’s reputation reinforce the same characteristics that millennials wish to see in others and project from themselves. A brand must cultivate a unique personality and stick with it, remaining genuine and authentic to its chosen image.
Millennials desire a mutual relation between brands and themselves. A two-way dialogue should always be maintained, since millennials want companies to listen to their comments and incorporate their input. They expect quick responses to their feedback and concerns in a personal and straightforward manner.
Companies should strive to build brand loyalty by referral. An ongoing relationship with customers should be developed through individual and online community communications, cause marketing, and advocacy programs. Millennials want to be persuaded to act as positive advocates of a brand.
The five elements of the reciprocity principle carry certain implications about the behavior and actions of millennials as consumers. The degree to which they use technology has led to a need to feel connected to family, friends, and strangers by sharing their experiences. Many millennials utilize social media to write product reviews online, post their own how-to product videos, or share photos of their recent product hauls. This is a far more extensive and personal engagement with brands than seen in previous generations.
A positive brand experience will usually result in a millennial taking to social media to promote the brand with favorable public action. A negative or disappointing experience, however, will give rise to the spread of criticism. Millennials value the opportunity to be vocal critics, and their opinions, whether justified or not, have the potential to go viral, causing either a boom or a bust for a brand.
This is due to millennials trusting the reviews and comments of friends, family, and strangers over the word of experts. For brand advice, they will even respond more to celebrity endorsements than traditional advertising. Millennials trust retailer websites, companies’ social media profiles, and digital ads more than previous generations.
They share and react to content, and millennials will be more likely to trust a brand if people they know are also using it. They enjoy “discovering” new brands and sharing them online, because they then become a source of brand information for others, which makes them feel even more connected.
Technological advances have also led to the concept of instant gratification, or the “we want what we want when we want” consumer mindset of millennials. This seeming sense of entitlement has more to do with an increasingly digitized and ever-connected world than it does with vanity and egocentrism. With such connectedness, millennials expect that brands will be easily accessible 24/7.
Furthermore, the proliferation of smartphone apps, online and mobile advertising, and in-store touch screen panels has transformed the millennial shopper. Instant gratification combined with multitasking across devices means that speed and ease of purchase is a top priority.
Given that millennials rely on recommendations and information from blogs, social networks, and company websites, it is imperative that businesses create fresh and interesting content as well as maintain a user-friendly, mobile-optimized website. Millennials view technology as more than a method of communication; it is a means to make life easier.
Additionally, millennials want to know that their purchases are contributing to the greater good. Social responsibility is central value for many millennials, and they will be less affected by a brand’s passion for a cause than by the difference that cause actually makes in people’s lives. Companies that “give back” resonate with millennials, who assess brands for actions that help the needy, prove social responsibility, pursue environmental stewardship, protect personal data, or otherwise indicate transparency and sincerity. In order for a millennial to choose a brand, it must add some sort of value to their lives.
The never-before-seen consumer habits of millennials necessitate that marketers formulate new strategies to tap into the spending potential of this demographic. Traditional media such as television, radio, catalogs, and newspapers are still being used too frequently, whereas more innovative digital domains are being left out. Both offline and online channels, including mobile devices like smartphones and tablets, must be utilized in order to reach millennials, and it should be determined which media channels are best suited to which segmented audience groups.
Businesses should set up millennial marketing plans, establishing goals that can clearly be measured as well as putting programs into place to achieve those goals efficiently. Value, relevancy, and authenticity is prized above all else for brands, since millennials want their intelligence respected and their minds inspired. Not being able to adequately reach this demographic will almost certainly result in a business’s failure within the coming years, but learning the tactics of millennial marketing now will ultimately prepare businesses for Generation Alpha, the next wave of consumers who have grown up with technology always at their fingertips.
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The vision has not changed since Cool Life Systems was founded in 2003: provide a solution that creates real value to our clients, by streamlining their data with their marketing operations. The key to providing a SaaS solution is to make it flexible, agile, and high scalability. The system was designed to handle the largest data sets at a high rate of speed.
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