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What Does It Really Mean Series: Mobile Friendly

electronics-1851218_1280Next in our “What Does It Really Mean?” series is the term Mobile Friendly. I admit it sounds odd to think of mobile in terms of it being friendly or unfriendly. However, the reality is that for most businesses to succeed in this competitive marketplace, understanding what Mobile Friendly is all about is very important.

What does it mean to be mobile friendly?

We typically think that mobile friendly means responsive design – a website detects the screen size of the user and delivers your site’s content in a way that’s optimized for that screen size. However, mobile friendly refers to more than just websites; it means that all aspects of your marketing and sales efforts play well on mobile devices. After all, don’t you engage with your customers via email and on a variety of social media platforms? These forms of engagement can all be impacted by mobile.

According to Google, a website must include the following features to be classified as “mobile friendly” by their Googlebots:

  1. It avoids software that’s not common on mobile devices (like Flash)
  2. Uses text that is readable without zooming (don’t make users pinch to zoom)
  3. Sizes content to the screen so users don’t have to scroll horizontally or zoom
  4. Places links far enough apart so that the correct one can be easily tapped (design for the fat finger)

Why is it important for your company to be mobile friendly?

Last year, the CRTC stated in its Communications Monitoring Report that there are 28.8 million wireless subscribers in Canada. As well, a new Pew Research report states that 67% of Canadians own a smartphone. As the use of mobile devices increases, Canadians are spending more time on mobile apps than ever, even as global growth in mobile app use slows down. And, you need to be where your customers are – on mobile devices. According to Flurry, Canadian mobile app use grew by an average rate of 74% in 2016, far exceeding the global average of 11%. The top five categories of apps all had 55% growth or more:

  1. Health
  2. Fitness
  3. Shopping
  4. Business
  5. Finance

How being mobile friendly improves the customer experience

The best way to differentiate your company from the competition is by providing an exceptional customer experience. Being mobile friendly is an increasingly important part of that customer experience. With more of your customers engaging on mobile devices, you have to ensure that not only your website, but your company, is mobile friendly. Your customers’ experiences have to be consistent across all devices. You want your customers engaged and coming back for more. Unsatisfied customers look elsewhere.

Geo- location targeting can also enhance the customer experience. A mobile device can identify its location and report it to an ad server that maintains a database of location data and ad campaigns. When a customer enters a particular location, the ad server will send relevant ad notifications to their mobile device. Have you ever walked in a store and immediately got a text message offering you $10 off on your next purchase of $50 or more? That’s geo-location targeting.

Marketing campaigns use geo-targeting to reach the right audience because location does impact demographics and buying behaviour.

In order to reach your customers on all devices and provide them with a stellar customer experience, I believe that it’s important for every company to be mobile friendly. If you’re interested in learning more about becoming mobile friendly or are ready to take the plunge, contact CreativeWorks Marketing today. We have the technical expertise to ensure that your customers are engaged and coming back for more. And we’ll be to explain everything to you in real people-speak and work with you to determine the best approach for your company.

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.

The Secret to Marketing Campaign Success: Plan, Plan & Plan Some More

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Failing to plan is planning to fail.

-Alan Lakein

Successful marketing campaigns don’t just happen; they take careful planning and a lot of time and effort. They’re focused, tactical initiatives designed to achieve specific marketing objectives. Successful marketing campaigns are thoroughly researched, focused on the details and executed perfectly. And, they must answer these seven questions:

  1. What are your goals and objectives?

The first thing you need to do is to clearly define your goals and objectives. Do you want to build or enhance your brand? Launch a new product? Introduce a new service? All of these goals and objectives are attainable with the right marketing campaign, and would vary depending on the needs of your business.

  1. Who is your target audience?

A marketing campaign is all about reaching customers, but who are they? Do market research to define your target audience, understand your customers, their preferences and why they come to you. Learn how your customers define your brand and how they compare you with your competition. Speak to your customers, use focus groups, surveys… You’ll understand what people will buy, why they’ll buy it and how to incite them to buy.

  1. Who is your competition?

Identifying your competition helps you understand more about your own business and how best to market yourself. Competitive analysis is your secret weapon. Who is your competition? How is your competition different than you? What are they doing that you’re not? How are they perceived in the marketplace? These are a few questions you should be asking yourself when analyzing your competitors.

  1. What differentiates you from your competition?

Now that you know who your competition is and have a better understanding of them, you can clearly define what differentiates you from your competition. What is your value proposition? Is your product offering more aligned with your customers’ preferences? Are your prices more competitive? The more information you know, the better you’ll be able to differentiate yourself from them.

  1. What’s your budget?

Before you begin planning how to reach your target audience, you must first establish your budget. On the basis of how much you have to spend, decisions can be made on which channels will deliver the best bang for your buck.

  1. How will you reach your audience?

There are many ways to reach an audience, many types of messaging and many avenues with which to deliver the message – social media, email, SEO/SEM, sponsored links, banners, newsletters, radio, television, newspapers, magazines, billboards, signage, sponsorships… The channel(s) ultimately chosen will be dictated by the goals and objectives of the marketing campaign, your target audience and your budget.

  1. Was your marketing campaign successful?

The key to measuring the success of your marketing campaign is monitoring and measuring. What were the sales numbers? Increases in revenue? Downloads? Subscriptions? Calls? Increased traffic to your website? Click throughs? Conversions?

Launching a marketing campaign is a long and complicated process that requires a professional touch. Each step along the way has to be carefully planned, executed and measured. CreativeWorks Marketing has over 20 years of experience designing, executing and measuring successful marketing campaigns. Take advantage of our knowledge and expertise. Give us a call and let’s discuss your next marketing campaign.

 

 

Research PART II: Competitive Analysis: Secret Weapon – The Mystery Shopper

In our last blog we discussed Market Research – Your Roadmap for Success. Today I’m going to delve into competitive analysis and more specifically, using mystery shopping to conduct competitive research. This blog will explain the importance of mystery shopping as a key approach to learning about how your business can be differentiated and why it’s equally important to hire a professional to conduct mystery shopping research.

Do you know your competition? How are they different from you? What are they doing that you’re not? How are they perceived in the marketplace? More than any other marketing approach, I have found that conducting a competitive analysis for our clients has proven time and time again to be so crucial to the success of a marketing strategy. Mystery shopping is a tried and true research method used to conduct competitive research.

What is mystery shopping?

Mystery shopping is a research methodology that uses trained, professional mystery shoppers (not your mother, your aunt or your junior marketing assistant) acting as prospective customers to ascertain particular aspects of your competitors’ businesses. While posing as customers, mystery shoppers perform a series of assigned tasks designed to elicit a particular type of behaviour or information. They observe, measure and report back on their findings.

Types of mystery shopping

Mystery shoppers may employ several techniques to achieve their goals.

  • Visit in person
  • Make phone calls
  • Send emails
  • Create custom ‘customer’ websites

How mystery shopping can benefit your company

In order to fully understand how to compete in the marketplace you must first understand your competitors:

  • What are they offering?
  • What are their prices?
  • What is their value proposition?
  • What is their brand experience like?
  • How is their online experience?
  • How effective is their customer service?

Once you understand your competitors you can make informed business decisions on how to differentiate your company. And you can use mystery shoppers to see how your company fares against the competition using the same set of criteria.

Use a professional agency to conduct mystery shopping research

It’s very important to use a professional agency when conducting mystery shopping research. There is a strategy to competitive research. Based on the information you’re trying to elicit, you pre-assign tasks to the mystery shoppers. They must be professional or they will be detected, wasting whatever time and money you’ve invested in the effort. The information they return needs to be analyzed and a marketing plan created on the basis of those results.

The Missing “Link”

LinkedIn is one of my favourite social media platforms to use. Like many of you, I use it to conduct business development activities, discover potential new talent, and find out what some of my peers are working on. As a business owner and marketer, I also use it as a platform to target my potential clients and “tout” my expertise through the sharing of my company’s updates as well as industry-related articles.

LinkedIn has two distinct options: the LinkedIn profile page which most of us have to showcase our personal “resumes”, and the company page that is set up for your company.

While I know many business owners and marketers have an LI profile, many small businesses still do not have a company LI page. So what exactly is the difference between a profile page and a company page on LinkedIn? A LinkedIn profile is probably the most powerful tool you can use for business development as it allows you to highlight your professional experience, connect with your peers or potential clients, join industry-related groups, post your blogs or other articles, and share awards and updates.

I have seen many companies use the profile page as their company page, but LinkedIn has a distinct company page that provides your business with the opportunity to engage with followers with targeted and regular news and activities, share career opportunities, and expand your online brand presence.

If you are a business owner or marketer with a B2B business, an LI company page is a must! If you have a B2C business, it is still a good idea to have some presence on this platform, as this platform is great for SEO and for expanding your reach to influencers.

Here are some reasons I‘d recommend considering using an LI company page for your business:

1. Show How You are Unique

In the description on your company page, emphasize how you stand out from your competitors. You might want to include company news and share information about your company culture. This will help you reach potential customers and also new hires. Support the content with professional videos, or images to help you show how your company is different.

2. Improve SEO

We all hear about SEO, but did you know that Google and other search engines rank LinkedIn company pages and posts highly in the search engine results pages? Having the page and posting on it frequently will help you increase your SEO and increase site traffic.

3. Share Content

It makes sense that you need to write posts that your viewers want to see and share with others. The more you can engage your viewers, the more likely you are to expand your global reach and influence. You can also link your post back to your website for more information and to convert them into a warm business lead. It’s a good idea to create a media mix on this platform as well, so consider using different formats such as SlideShare business presentations, blog posts, infographics, webinars, podcasts and videos.

4. Measure Success

Like most social platforms, you can view analytical data about your company page to help you gain deeper insights into your page performance.

Having a LinkedIn company page will help you network and prospect to a targeted audience for quality sales leads, while establishing your business’ public image on a global scale as a reputable and trustworthy organization. In my opinion, it’s a no-brainer!

Lately, We Just Don’t Communicate

Imagine your business is about to launch a new campaign. You are sending out an e-blast to give your customers 20% off their next purchase. You’re confident this will be one of your company’s most successful ventures to date. On the day of the launch, your office is flooded with emails and phone calls regarding your new offering, and while you’re ecstatic, your team is frantic. But why?

While your campaign was crafted to a tee, the internal communications to your staff informing them of the upcoming campaign and its details were non-existent.

There are two sides to any marketing campaign. External marketing allows you to get your message across to your intended audience, and internal marketing allows you to effectively market your campaign within your organization. In order for any marketing campaign to be successful, you need to create a plan for both.

We all know that running a new campaign can be time-consuming and we get wrapped up in the details and often don’t take the time to keep our staff up to date. In order to ensure a successful campaign however, you’ll need to bring your staff up to speed so they know how they are impacted and what, if anything, they need to do.

Here are a few key tips on how to effectively prepare your staff for an upcoming marketing campaign:

Give Advanced Notice

After working with your marketing team to develop a new idea for a campaign, share it with your staff. If a new campaign is being implemented without staff members knowing all the details, it’s easy to get the message confused. Sharing your ideas for the new campaign will allow staff to prepare, and will also encourage them to contribute their own thoughts and ideas towards the new campaign.

Provide Supporting Materials

After giving your team the heads up about the new campaign, it’s time to get ready to launch. Depending on what kind of campaign it is, you will need to provide your team with supporting materials that will allow them to carry it out as you had intended. For example, if you are promoting a new service for your clients and they are encouraged to call in and inquire about it, prepare a script for your front line staff. If calls should be directed to your sales department, then the person answering the phone needs to know where to direct the call. The more informed they are, the increase in likelihood of a successful campaign.

Measurement Matters

It’s one thing to let your staff know about a new campaign; you also need to follow through with them about it. Ask them how the campaign is going; are they getting a lot of calls/emails/website requests? If your team is dealing with customers directly, you need to communicate with them effectively so you can measure the success of your new campaign.

Share Success

Your campaign has just ended and of course, it was a hit! Share this success with your team. Not only will sharing the success encourage your employees, it will also give you a chance to evaluate what went well, and discuss how you can create an even stronger campaign the next time around.

In order to effectively market any campaign to your customers, you need to be prepared to market it internally as well. Keep your staff in the loop when launching your next campaign; you’ll be surprised at the difference it makes.

Can’t Buy Me Followers

In December, Instagram announced Selena Gomez as the most followed celebrity on the platform with 103 million followers. As a small business owner, I could only imagine having a following that large on my business’s social platforms, and what it could mean for my brand awareness. Social media, as we have been led to believe, is a numbers game.

Recently, I was alerted to the fact that websites promising fake social media followers exist. I can see the appeal. Who doesn’t want to have more followers? Having more followers generally means you have a popular account, and in turn, a popular product or service. However, using a website to generate or purchase fake followers is a faux pas in the marketing world, and here’s why:

First and foremost using a third party source to gain followers is against the code of conduct of most social media websites, whether you pay for the service or not. For example, Twitter outlines in their rules and regulations that any accounts found to have used a third party source with the intention of gaining fake followers will be shut down. One particular problem associated with these websites that promise followers is that they have access to your account and therefore can easily compromise it at any time. These websites have the ability to spam your account and your followers, which just happens to be another practice that will get you suspended from a social media channel.

Rules against these websites have been around since these fake follower generators have been, and they’re becoming especially necessary today. With all the fake news going around, social media platforms are cracking down on the amount of fake content shared on their channels, and one way to do that is by eliminating accounts that appear to have purchased followers or spread spam-related content.

To that extent, it’ not difficult to find accounts with fake followers. “Ghost Accounts” are easy to spot because they have strange names, follow a lot of people with minimal followers themselves and only post spam-related content.

As a consumer, I follow a number of brands on their social media channels. Say I go on to check out my favourite retailer’s page and I look into their followers. If I find a bunch of empty spam accounts, I’ll know they’d have likely purchased or subscribed to fake followers, and my trust in this brand will have almost diminished. While every brand aspires to have a lot of followers or likes on social media, deceiving your audience into thinking you have more than you really do positions you as untrustworthy.

In a previous blog I discussed the importance of Google Analytics. If a large majority of your followers are coming from third party sources or unlawful social media practices, the metrics will be thrown off. As a marketer, I adjust marketing plans based on the data I see from analytics, so if the numbers aren’t accurate, it’s difficult to come up with effective marketing strategies. In order to see a return on investment with social media, you need to be able to get your message across to the right people and create authentic content that will engage them. It’s hard to get engagement when your audience is 90% spam bots.

One thing I suggest to my clients when they want to generate more engagement and followers in a short amount of time is to boost content. Most social media platforms offer businesses an option to reach wider, more targeted audiences at a cost. Boosting is an authentic way to encourage people to check out your brand.

I have been working in this industry long enough to have seen the tricks that can be used to try and engage audiences and attract followers, but as a professional marketer and business owner I always want to provide my clients with honest marketing services that follow best practices. As much as we all like to see high numbers of followers on our social sites, if the followers were generated by a spambot site, then what value do they really have to your business? In marketing as in business, honesty is always the best policy.

 

 

 

 

 

Marketing in 2016 and What We Can Learn From It

What a year! 2016 has been an amazing year to showcase the power of marketing. From the unanticipated election of America’s first president-elect who has never held political office before, to the explosion of Snapchat marketing; it’s been a busy year. We have covered a range of marketing stories from 2016 in our blogs this year, like this one on the blurred lines between social media and advertising.

In my final blog of the year, I’d like to take the time to reflect on some of the marketing lessons we have learned throughout 2016.

Social Media is more powerful than you think. Donald Trump was elected largely due to his participation in social media, mostly on his notorious Twitter account. Years ago, it was unheard of for high-ranking political figures to speak directly to their voters in such a medium. Now, anyone and everyone has a platform to reach out to their target.

Even if you think your small business doesn’t need a social media presence, you could be missing out on audiences just waiting to listen to what you have to say.

Fake news is dangerous. In marketing, we always make a point to create authentic content. However, 2016 proved that not all Internet content abides by these same rules. The “pizzagate” scandal has left a lot of people confused about what’s real news and what’s not. Facebook’s algorithm issue has also contributed to this fake news epidemic.

For businesses that run their own social media accounts, this could be a problem. If you’re sharing engaging social media posts from a fake news source, you’re hurting your brand’s reputation. As someone who has been in the marketing world for a number of years, I may see through these fake stories, while many others may not and that is concerning. In 2017, audiences need to learn how to be more media literate and dismiss fake news stories instead of sharing them with a larger audience.

You get what you pay for. As a marketer, I am constantly writing. It takes time and effort to communicate a message on behalf of my clients, and I often speak to them about what their opinions are on topics I would like to write about. That’s why I was surprised to hear that this year, there has been an increase in public interest for websites that promote pre-written, paid content. On these sites, you can plug in some information you would like to write about, and then it will be outsourced to a writer from anywhere in the world to write about this topic.

From a marketing perspective, I need to know my client before I can write for them. I find out who their target audience is, and how this message should be communicated. While these paid-for content websites may be a cheap alternative to authentic content creation, it’s no substitute for quality written work.

After this hectic year, I am interested to see what’s coming next in 2017. Will VR make its mark in the marketing world? Will Twitter still be as popular a platform after the buzz of the election dies down? I’m looking forward to seeing what surprises the New Year brings into the marketing world, and I hope you are too.

Analyze This! Why Your Google Analytics Matter

If there’s one thing I’ve come to learn about my clients, it’s that they expect results. Many of my clients place a lot of value on measurement, and I am often asked, “How were our leads this quarter compared to last? Are we seeing value from the amount we put into new content on our site?” I find it interesting that a lot of business owners and marketers are unclear of the value they can receive from their Google Analytics reports.

At CreativeWorks Marketing, we dedicate the last week of each month to compiling and analyzing Google Analytics data. Google Analytics is a free tool in which you are able to monitor the traffic to your website in terms of audience demographics, behaviour, referrals and more. Like any good tool, you get out of it what you put into it. A simple Google Analytics report is only valuable when analyzed to help you understand what it means to your business.

The analyzed data is central to your business as it allows you to understand what is and isn’t working on your site so you can implement strategic, not just tactical, initiatives. While many web companies offer Google Analytics reports as part of their services, few of them supply much other than the raw data itself. Being able to read and fully understand what is being told through the data is imperative to your marketing success.

I have worked with multiple clients over the years that receive monthly analytics reports from their “web person” and disregard the information due to a lack of understanding. By ignoring the information provided in each analytics report, you might be missing key information about your business. Variances in online behaviour are important to determine problems and identify trends.

Google Analytics go above and beyond recording how many people have visited your site, it can also help to identify “unusual” behaviour. For example, when one of our clients was the victim of a website scam, we were able to identify new visitors to the site that came from suspicious sources. Finding out this information and alerting our client was imperative to the security of our client’s site, and without Google Analytics we wouldn’t have been able to act as fast as we did.

Analytics are a key part of the marketing process, and website analytics are only one form of such data. If your business is on digital platforms, you need to make sure you have clear analytics reports that also include relevant data on your social media efforts, and ideally include summaries and recommendations for adjustments and changes for improvements.

If you are investing your time and money into a robust website, it’s important that you have an understanding of how your audience is using it. Ask your marketing agency to provide a detailed analysis of your digital assets and explain what changes, if any need to be made. The goal of truly understanding website behaviour is using analytics to its fullest potential.

Knowing Your Customers: A Market Research Case Study

 Several organizations I have worked with over the years claim to know their clients inside and out, but is that really the case?

Many of them often tell me they know how their clients perceive them because they explicitly ask for their opinion. However, I would argue that much like we rarely tell the waiter/waitress that we don’t like our meals, our clients are unlikely to tell us the truth unless there is a real issue. However, if third-party sources ask the same question to your clients, your clients are more likely to tell the truth. This fact alone is why unbiased market research is a crucial step in any marketing strategy.

In this blog, I’d like to share with you a case study that perfectly illustrates the importance of market research and how it helped them better define who they are to their customers.

Overview

Our client, a mid-sized educational toy distributor in Toronto, wanted to conduct research to identify their customers, the views they have of their brand, and the values they tie to the brand and its products. Specifically, they wanted to determine if there was a difference in buying behaviours between the company’s two key markets, establish any product leakage, and validate their brand recognition in the marketplace.

 Conducting the Research

Based on the client’s goals for this research project, we determined both qualitative and quantitative research was needed in order to receive the answers we were looking for.

First, we started by conducting preliminary qualitative research. Qualitative Research is the process of talking to someone through open-ended questions about a particular subject to gain insights into their thoughts and opinions. This can be done through a conversation, phone call, or focus group.

To complete this research, we conducted eight discussion guide-driven phone calls with a targeted cross-section of buyers within our client’s target audience.

With the results of the pre-field research, we crafted a highly customized survey that allowed for each audience to only see questions specifically directed at them. We further segmented the questionnaire by programming it based on the role of the individual by type of organization and then by responsibility. This type of research, called Quantitative Research, allows us to track data with closed-ended questions and more numerical information.

Findings

After analyzing the gathered information, we were able to provide our client with an in-depth analysis of their customers. The key findings indicated that their customers with the most purchasing power in their target audience reported the least amount of brand exposure. It also clearly identified that their brand was very well known in one of their key target markets and less known in the other, and lastly, their catalogue is highly utilized and highly regarded. 

Next Steps

Once the deeper analysis was complete and revealed more about their customers’ buying behaviours, preferences for price vs. product quality, and delivery times, our client was able to develop a marketing strategy for 2017 that was truly in line with their customers’ needs and wants.

Market research is a crucial step in your marketing strategy. It provides you with insights you would not be able to get by just asking your customers yourself. Market research helps you get to know your customers better, and what is more valuable than that?