marketing

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: 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!

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.

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.

Podcasts – Digital Marketing’s New Best Friend

Although podcasts are not new, I’ve noticed a recent resurgence in their popularity that’s worth noting.

If you may recall, podcasts are digital media files that feature audio recordings, and originated in the early 2000’s, but it wasn’t until technology advanced and distribution methods expanded that podcasting exploded in popularity. In fact 2016 alone, there were an estimated 57 million monthly podcast listeners, a 75% increase since 2013.

Much like blogs, podcasts are used to deliver great content to your audience and have become a key tool in many company’s content marketing strategy. You may be thinking, “why use a podcast when I already have a blog?” Well, let me explain a few of the key advantages that podcasts offer:

Attract New Audiences: Some people prefer to consume their content through listening rather than reading text. By adding podcasts to your marketing mix, you are pulling in a new demographic and gaining more leads.

Multitasking Capabilities: One of the biggest advantages of podcasts is that they can be listened to on-the-go and while doing other tasks. This is great for your brand, as it means your message will reach your audience more frequently during the day.

Hidden Advertising: The casual, conversational nature of podcasts allows you to include a few “hidden” advertisements in the audio without it sounding too blatant. Advertising in your blog, on the other hand, tends to come across as too overtly promotional.

Brand Loyalty: Think about your favourite radio show you tune in to in the morning. Does it keep you hooked? Well, podcasts are very similar. When you offer engaging content, you’ll begin to create a following. And when you create a following, you’ll develop brand advocates for your business.

Stay tuned for my next blog, which will outline some tips you might want to consider when incorporating podcasts into your marketing mix.