What Does It Really Mean Series: Native Advertising

570074655_1280x720Next in our “What Does It Really Mean” series is Native Advertising. This is another one of those confusing industry buzzwords, but one that’s important because native advertising is everywhere. With more people turning off traditional forms of advertising, marketers are employing more subtle forms of messaging. You may have engaged with native advertising and not even know it. Let me demystify native advertising for you.

What is native advertising?

Native advertising is paid advertising that’s so artfully created that it blends seamlessly into the non-paid content that surrounds it. It’s designed to trick you into believing that these native ads are actually part of the content. As a result, they’re much less disruptive and more engaging than traditional advertisements.

How does native advertising differ from traditional forms of advertising?

Traditional display ads are the boxes and banners we’re all used to seeing at the top of search engine results pages. These ads are obvious promotions with calls to action; their purpose is to get you to buy. Native ads are totally different. They’re created to match the look and feel of the content they’re seamlessly integrated with so that they appear to be part of the content itself. When executed well, you shouldn’t be able to pick out the native ad in the content. They’re not designed to sell; they’re designed to influence content, generate brand awareness and improve site traffic. It’s quite a piece of clever trickery.

What are the benefits of native advertising?

As consumers, we’ve become ad savvy. We can spot paid ads a mile away and we don’t trust them. Many of us don’t consider traditional ads relevant anymore and as a result we block them. According to a new report by PageFair, ad blocker usage surged 30% in 2016. There were 615 million devices blocking ads worldwide by the end of 2016, 62% (308 million) of those mobile. Desktop ad blocker usage grew 17% year-over-year to 236 million. As a result, native advertising is proving to be more successful than traditional online advertising. On mobile devices the average click-through rates are four times higher for premium native ads versus non-native display ads (Business Insider). Native ads are not easily identified as paid advertising and therefore there’s a greater chance that the consumer will trust a native ad and engage with it. According to Forbes:

  • People view native ads 53% more frequently than traditional ads
  • Native advertising can increase brand lift by as much as 82%.
  • Purchase intent is 53% higher when consumers click on native ads instead of traditional ads
  • Native ads containing rich media can boost conversion by as much as 60%

Are there any disadvantages to using native advertising?

Native advertising is very effective as long as people remain unaware that they’re reading and possibly engaging with an advertisement. The potential problems arise if the ad’s cover is blown. You then risk a backlash by people who feel tricked and could potentially develop a negative mindset against your brand.

If you’re interested in learning more about native advertising or would like to incorporate it into your marketing campaign, contact CreativeWorks Marketing today. Our expert advice, strategy, planning and execution can make a significant difference to your bottom line.

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What Does It Really Mean? Series: Marketing Automation

Marketing AutomationThere are so many buzzwords being tossed around these days in the marketing world that it’s hard to keep up. It’s important that you understand what these terms mean so that you can make an informed decision on what’s right or wrong for your company. That’s why I’ve created this new series: What Does It Really Mean? I’ll take each of these confusing buzzwords, one by one, and explain them to you in “real people speak”. The first in our series is Marketing Automation.

What is marketing automation?

Although the term marketing automation makes it sound as though the art and science of marketing has become entirely automated, nothing could be further from the truth. There is much more involved than the click of a button. Marketing automation is a category of software that can automate certain repetitive tasks such as social media, lead management and tracking and monitoring campaigns. Marketers use marketing automation to help us keep up with the many platforms we’re often engaging with on a daily basis. It allows us to be more operationally efficient and help you to grow revenue faster.

How can marketing automation help your business?

  • Save time and money. Labour intensive process that traditionally have been done manually, such as scheduling social media, can now be automated, saving time and money and increasing productivity.
  • Increase efficiency. Multiple campaigns can be scheduled well in advance and fewer touch points reduces errors.
  • Simplify multiplatform management. Consumers can be found on any number of platforms and it seems that more are cropping up daily. It’s become increasingly difficult to keep up with the management of all of these platforms. Marketing automation can help monitor multiple platforms on a daily basis.
  • Improve lead management: Marketing automation systems can integrate with your CRM system so that you’ll be able to nurture your leads, not lose track of them.
  • Improve customer retention. Marketing automation collects data that provides relevant insight to your customers, allowing you to anticipate your customers’ needs.
  • Personalize the experience to the user. Marketing automation tools allow you to personalize your relationship with every customer with strategies like lead qualification.
  • Track and monitor. Marketing automation can help track your marketing expenditures and monitor the responses to your marketing campaigns.

What are the pitfalls of marketing automation?

The number one pitfall of marketing automation is not having the resources or training to make it work. This is why I strongly recommend that you engage with a reputable marketing agency. Left to your own devices, you may automate the wrong processes. In addition, many people are under the misconception that marketing automation does marketing and lead generation for you; but that’s not the case. You have to build a pipeline of targeted, pre-qualified leads before you engage marketing automation. Only then can it help you manage and nurture your leads.

How can you integrate marketing automation to complement your marketing activities?

I read an article recently that described marketing automation software as the “Swiss Army Knife” of the software world because it’s so versatile. Marketing automation software works with your marketing activities; it doesn’t replace them e.g. it can leverage your data to tell you which leads are your hottest prospects and give you greater visibility into which marketing campaigns are generating the best ROI. It can streamline manual processes, improving efficiencies, increasing productivity and saving time and money.

Marketing automation can provide many benefits for your company as long as you have a clear plan and a strategy to execute. In order to realize the benefits, you need a marketing automation expert on your team. CreativeWorks Marketing has the one-two punch – expertise in marketing and marketing automation. Take advantage of our 20+ years of marketing knowledge and contact us today.

Influencer Marketing: 3 Tips For Finding The Right Influencer For You

photo-634069_1280.jpgIn my last blog I discussed if influencer marketing is right for your business. I highlighted how 94% of those who used influencer marketing believe the tactic to be effective. It appears that when an influencer speaks about a product or service it comes across as a genuine recommendation, not an ad or marketing campaign. It’s believable and people respond. So baring that in mind, I’ve outlined below my three tips for finding the right influencer for you:

  1. Look for an influencer that speaks to your audience. Social media has many of us believing that bigger is better, but this just isn’t so with influencer marketing. Sure, you want an influencer with a big following, but you’re trying to reach a targeted audience – not everyone. Is their audience relevant to your brand? An influencer that speaks to your audience will have the biggest impact on reach, engagement and the bottom line. You’re looking for quality, not quantity.
  2. Evaluate the quality of content they post. Is the content high quality? Does it reflect your brand? Would this person be a good representative of your brand? Are your values aligned? How do they communicate with their audience?
  3. Engagement is a key indicator of what type of results you can expect. How often do their followers respond, comment and share? How active is their social presence?

Influencer marketing takes time. It takes time to find the ‘right’ influencer, evaluate what the value of their content is and also what type of results you may be able to achieve when working with an influencer. Some influencers cost money and, therefore, you do need to invest the time before you decide where to invest.

There’s no doubt though that influencer marketing works, and if you are new to the game and need some help getting started contact CreativeWorks Marketing. We can harness the power of influencer marketing for your company.

Influencer Marketing: Is it Right for Your Business?

CWM Aug 1We all know that in the digital world the only thing constant is change. It seems that every day I hear about a new social media platform emerging and with it a new “superstar”. These “superstars” are not famous for anything except their ability to influence online buyers making them in some ways just as or more powerful than that of actors, actresses and athletes. They have millions of followers on various social media platforms who hang on their every word and accept what they say as gospel. Leveraging these influencers to promote your product or service can be extremely lucrative for your company, but is it right for your business? I’ve outlined below some information on influencer marketing and a few tips to get you started.

What is influencer marketing?

If you are wondering what is influencer marketing; it engages key individuals with large followings to leverage influence among their followers. In essence it’s about having a person of influence drive your brand’s message to a larger market in a way that’s perceived to be authentic and organic. As people ignore traditional ads in ever increasing numbers, the most lucrative opportunity for companies looking to drive brand awareness and sales is influencer marketing.

Does influencer marketing work?

When an influencer speaks about a product or service it comes across as a genuine recommendation, not an ad or marketing campaign. It’s believable and people respond.

  • 94% of those who used influencer marketing believe the tactic to be effective (Lingia’s State of Influencer Marketing Survey)
  • Influencer marketing’s top benefits entail creating authentic content about their brand (87%), driving engagement around their brand (77%) and driving traffic to their websites or landing pages (56%) (Lingia’s State of Influencer Marketing Survey)
  • Marketing-induced consumer-to-consumer word of mouth generates more than twice the sales of paid advertising. And of those that were acquired through word-of-mouth had a 37% higher retention rate (McKinsey)
  • Twitter reports that 49% of consumers seek purchase guidance from social media influencers
  • 40% of Twitter users said they had made a purchase as a direct result of an influencer’s Tweet
  • 20% said that a Tweet from an influencer inspired them to share their own product recommendation

Now that you know what influencer marketing is and that there are solid stats to support that it does work if done properly, stay tuned until next blog when I’ll outline a few tips on how to get started.

In the meantime, if you have any questions about the power of influencer marketing contact us today!

Are You Missing the Boat with Social Media?

28011015990_8ff191ee0f_bSocial media is buzz word on everyone’s lips, yet it remains a mystery to many people. According to Social Media Examiner, 97% of marketers are currently participating in social media—but 85% of participants aren’t sure what social media tools are the best to use. I can’t tell you how many times I get a phone call from a business saying that social media doesn’t work for them and can I help. Of course I can help and I do because CreativeWorks Marketing has been helping companies succeed in the “social” space for years. I thought I’d take this opportunity to demystify social media for you – explain what it is and how best to use it.

What is social media?

Many people are under the mistaken impression that the content posted on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and the like is social media because we’re using the term generically to describe any online content. Let’s look at what social media really is. The word social refers to interacting with people by sharing and receiving information. Media refers to which virtual community, platform, application or network the interaction takes place.

How can you use social media effectively?

Social media is an extremely effective way to connect with your audience and build relationships. It’s about useful, relevant and engaging conversations. Ask questions, encourage comments and opinions. It’s not a broadcast channel for you to bombard your audience with highly generic content that they will surely ignore. Audiences respond to conversation, not promotion. Conversation seems genuine while promotion is perceived as an advertising ploy. Social media is a meeting place and an integral part of the brand and customer experience.

  • Set goals and objectives
  • Make sure your content aligns with your message
  • Ask questions that start a conversation
  • Respond promptly
  • Share your expertise
  • Provide value
  • Monitor, track and evaluate

Ask yourself these questions before posting content on social media

Many people feel compelled to post, even when they have nothing to say. There must be a purpose and objectives.

  • Who is my audience?
  • What platforms are they using?
  • What type of content should we be posting?
  • Is our content personalized for our audience?
  • Are our social media posts aligned with our messaging?
  • Are we engaging our audience?
  • How can we measure our results?

Is social media for you?

92% of marketers say they have increased exposure through social media, and 80% see positive results for traffic (Social Media Examiner). When used effectively social media offers real opportunities for growth, engagement, increased brand recognition, customer loyalty, improved customer experiences, decreased marketing costs, improved search engine rankings, increased inbound traffic and higher conversion rates. Social media is important for every business! There are over 3 billion internet users and over 2 billion of them have active social media accounts (wearesocial.net).

However, as you no doubt have discovered, an effective social media campaign is very complex with many variables. Contact CreativeWorks Marketing. We have a great deal of experience creating social media strategies as well as ongoing social media services (writing and posting). Let us put you on the path to social media success.

5 Tips to Increasing Your Business’s Online Reputation

feedback-1977986_960_720With almost all business being conducted online it’s no wonder that businesses, not just individuals, are concerned about what the ‘online world’ is saying about them. From sites where employees can review their managers to social reviews speaking about brand experience, businesses today need to consider adding reputation management to their online marketing mix.

Reputation management, or online reputation management (ORM) as it’s also referred to, controls how others see you when they look for you online. It allows you to take control of the online conversation. A multi-pronged process, reputation management analyzes, establishes, protects, restores and monitors your brand’s image online. Negative items online can seriously impact your company’s reputation. Reputation management can bury the negative material found on the Internet, defeating it with more positive material to improve your credibility and customers’ trust in you.

The importance of reputation management

Reputation management should be a top priority for any business. You’ve worked hard to build your business but one negative review can negatively impact your company’s reputation and bottom line. We all know that your buyers turn to the Internet when looking for a business and/or to read reviews about your business. And they believe what they read, take a look at these stats:

  • When looking for a local business, 97% of people read online reviews (BIA Kelsey)
  • 92% of users will use a local business if it has a 4 star rating (BrightLocal)
  • 88% of consumers say they trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations (Forbes)
  • 72% of consumers say that positive reviews make them trust a local business more(BrightLocal)
  • Two out of three people see the Internet as the most reliable source of information about a person or a business (Edelman Insights)

Now that you know the stats on how important it is to your business, here are a few tips I’d like to share with you about how to increase your business’s online reputation:

  1. How do you identify and monitor the issues? You’ll need the talent and resources to identify and monitor your company’s reputation on an ongoing basis, as this is not a one-time deal to defeat any negative material and create and promote positive content that will give your company a great online image. At CreativeWorks Marketing we provide Reputation Management Services and can help identify and monitor your online reputation.
  2. What is your company’s online reputation? The first thing we need to do is to determine how others see you when they look for you online. Is your brand and image being perceived in the way that you had envisioned? We scour, search and monitor websites, social media platforms and review sites on an ongoing basis.
  3. We get your story out there. The best way to promote a positive image or to counteract a negative comment is to get your story out there. Positive, accurate content is needed on an ongoing basis to create and/or improve your online presence – blogs, videos, podcasts, ebooks… You control the story.
  4. Promote your company on social media. LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook… You need to be where ever your customers live. And social media sites will help your search engine results rankings which can positively impact your online reputation.
  5. Search engine optimization (SEO). SEO is very important to reputation management. It can be used to help potential customers find you and to emphasize positive information about your company. SEO is an excellent tactic when trying to bury a negative comment. The negative comment is pushed down and supplanted by positive content, minimizing or eliminating its effect.

Don’t take a chance with your company’s reputation! CreativeWorks Marketing can identify and monitor your online reputation, deal with any negative material found on the Internet and promote a positive image that will inspire customers to do business with you. We know how important your business is to you and we will make every effort see that your reputation is stellar and that you control your digital footprint. Contact us today.

Building a Cohesive Brand Identity

489783302I know companies understand that they need to have a brand, but many miss the mark on creating a cohesive brand identity. Although many may see this as ‘fluff’, creating a strong brand identity can be a complicated process that’s difficult to master.

As I tell many of my clients, brand identity is not just a logo; it’s the entire visual language that your company uses to communicate with its audience. It’s the art of portraying the right message and making a lasting, first impression.

Brand identity answers the questions what do you want your story to be and how do you want to be perceived in the marketplace? I’ve outlined below 7 steps that will I hope will help you in developing a cohesive brand identity:

  1. Review your current brand and your competition: Think about how your brand is being perceived in the marketplace and whether the message you’re delivering is clearly understood and reaching your target audience. It’s not enough to just review your brand; you need to understand what you’re up against. Have you done your market research? If not, now is the time.
  2. Audit your audience: Know your audience! Build a brand around what they want (not what youwant). It’s a competitive world out there. If your customers don’t find what they’re looking for from you, they will find it from someone else.
  3. Choose your theme: Choose your theme wisely. A well-conceived theme creates a powerful and effective communication platform which will deliver a higher ROI. A theme is compelling and engaging because it’s able to communicate your brand identity more effectively. It takes brand identity to a whole new level.
  4. Develop a consistent colour palette: Your colour palette is typically defined by the colours in your logo and is the foundation of your visual brand identity. The colours don’t have to be identical to those in your logo but should complement them. Very important – your colour palette must work well with your website and printed material.
  5. Don’t go overboard with fonts: There are hundreds of fonts to choose from but don’t go overboard using too many fonts that may look creative but are difficult to read. Less is more. You can use a different font for headlines than for body text, but the font must be easy to read, and be consistent across your website and print materials.
  6. Use custom design elements: Looking off-the-shelf isn’t going to help you stand out. Custom design elements can be a huge asset to your brand identity. A professional graphic designer can create your logo and various elements of your website. The images don’t have to be the same throughout your website and print materials but all of the visuals should contribute to a consistent look and feel.
  7. Use a consistent tone of voice: You can’t tell your story without words. It’s important to give a great deal of thought to what style of writing will be consistent with the image that you want to portray in the marketplace and mesh well with your imagery. Consistency is key to a successful brand identity. A professional writer will be able to understand your voice and produce work consistent with it.

Every company needs a cohesive brand identity to compete in the marketplace but many miss the mark because they attempt it on their own. You need a professional marketing agency with strategists, graphic designers and professional writers. CreativeWorks Marketing has over 20 years of experience helping companies like yours build cohesive brand identities. Give us a call today and maximize your return on investment.