technology

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.

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3 Myths About Programmatic Advertising Every Business Should Know

programmatic-topt-tipsContinuing along the theme of automated marketing, I wanted to discuss programmatic advertising as it has changed the face of online advertising. As a fairly new concept, I wanted to debunk a few myths that are already surfacing about it.

“Programmatic” ad buying is like using machines to buy ads. Software purchases digital advertising, as opposed to the traditional process that involves human negotiations and manual insertion orders.

Myth 1: Robots are replacing people
Yes and no. Technology is being used to replace some of the more menial tasks that humans have historically had to deal with, like sending insertion orders to publishers and dealing with ad tags, but they’re still required to optimize campaigns and to plan strategies. Programmatic technology will probably mean there are fewer ad buyers in the world, but it could also allow both marketers and sellers to spend more of their time planning sophisticated and customized campaigns instead of getting bogged down in bureaucracy.

Myth 2: Programmatic advertising takes humans out of the buying equation
While it is true that digital ads were bought and sold by ad buyers and salespeople and that programmatic advertising technology has replaced them in this role, the human element in programmatic advertising is in the strategy. Think of it like this – the machines are the brawn and humans are the brains.

Myth 3: Programmatic advertising is the same as real-time bidding
Real-time bidding (RTB) is a type of programmatic advertising but not all programmatic advertising uses RTB. Programmatic advertising refers to the purchase of ads through real-time auctions, but programmatic software also allows advertisers to buy guaranteed ad impressions in advance from specific publisher sites.

Programmatic ad buying is definitely on the rise and some agencies are eager to buy as much media as possible through programmatic channels. Some major brands have also dedicated programmatic ad buying to their in-house teams.

Although it is still mainly online ads that are traded programmatically, it is clear that on the horizon and coming to an agency near you is the opportunity to buy “traditional” media this way, including TV spots and out-of-home ads!

Do you think programmatic advertising is something only for large brands and agencies? Are you currently using programmatic advertising for your company? After reading this blog, will you be considering this for your business? I look forward to your comments.

Kick Start Your Automated Marketing – Not With Technology

Screen Shot 2015-07-21 at 8.35.58 AMMarketing automation (MA) can seem quite a complicated, misunderstood, multi-faceted beast to some organizations because it is more than a centralized platform to handle all online communication – with its many moving parts and strategic decisions, it’s hard for many to get started.

The media would have us believe that MA is all about choosing the right technology and voila, you have MA! Well, sorry to break it to you, but buying the technology is a small part of the story; it’s really all about creating a framework and a strategy.

Knowing your MA strategy will require you to do all of the thinking upfront BEFORE you invest in the software, I have outlined a few key aspects you should consider to kick-start your MA program:

  • Conduct some research up front, including outlining what you want to get out of this program, and making sure to put your audience at the centre of your MA
  • Build an MA team comprised of key stakeholders from customer service, marketing, sales, and product development. You may want to include an agency representative or MA consultant at this point.
  • Conduct a situation analysis outlining where you are now, what systems are in place, what content, and what data do you have today and what is planned for the full rollout of the program
  • Set business objectives to be clear as to why you are doing this, including ROI, reducing overhead, KPIs, communicating better with a target audience, or improving the customer experience
  • Develop strategies for scoring, nurturing, website, and content marketing framework
  • Set tactics with a 12-month view but look at a 3-month window with tactics and clear goals
  • Set responsibilities to be clear who is going to do what when, and if a controller is needed (externally or internally) to help measure success, and create and measure the program to a project plan
  • Review the various MA platforms available to decide which is the right one for your business e.g. Hubspot, Infusionsoft, Pardoc, Marketto are a few leaders
  • Begin implementing by adding a tracking code on your website, landing pages, etc.
    • Assess your reach including how much traffic, social media engagement, email contacts
    • Document audience personas and then create segments to better understand who these personas are (company size, level of person in company, etc.)
      • Processing leads from initial engagement to opportunity enables you to build and nurture workflows in line with the objectives laid out in your tailored strategy.
    • Align segments with your CRM campaigns (e.g. SalesForce opportunities)
    • Building content framework is key to this type of program so keep building on it depending on your objectives. The content could be awareness content like whitepapers and webinars, or inbound-focused with downloads.
    • Leads will not be created by this software, but rather will be created by your ability to provide or repurpose amazing content which the software then serves up
      • You will target, segment and personalize on relevancy, which turns sales into customer service. Nurturing your customers from cold to warm enables you to give them what they are looking for.
    • Analytics will score each visitor interaction on the basis of profile and behaviour, resulting in a prioritized marketing database.

MA allows us to imagine a world where machines and not your staff perform the majority of your marketing activities including reviewing analytics, creating performance reports and data visualizations, writing and scheduling social media updates, determining blog post topics, copywriting, curating content, building strategy, and allocating resources. The result of implementing a solid MA program is that the marketer’s primary role will be to collect and enhance algorithm-based recommendations and content, rather than to devise them.

Are you armed with the knowledge to launch your automated marketing strategy or do you need some help? What help would you need to get started? I look forward to an active discussion!

The Rise of Digital Marketing

Screen Shot 2015-02-09 at 1.26.20 PMThe digital world is tied directly to data, and data is everywhere. When it comes to marketing, data informs marketers about audiences, their interests, intentions, and where they choose to interact. I believe that being able to analyze big data, create original content and having a sound digital strategy are three key factors a company should consider while aiming for success in the current digital climate.

Big Data

Because of the rise in available data, digital media has become an incredibly integrated part of consumers’ daily lives, and digital platforms are constantly updating themselves in order to provide the best user experience.

Being able to analyze and report data is a key component to any marketing strategy (at least it should be). Everything will be enhanced by the growth of big data – get ready!

Content

I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase, “content is King”. When content is relevant and interesting, consumers cannot wait to read and share your brand’s content. This includes video content too (Instagram recently introduced a looping feature on their videos!).

Also, blogs are making a comeback because SEO matters now more than ever, and you need content to post on your social media sites – what better content than your own, right?

Digital Strategy

The changing digital landscape means digital marketing is constantly evolving, and marketers, like myself, are forced to learn how to use new software, how to use different platforms (including mobile), how to apply new techniques, and how to manage and optimize marketing efforts.

Location matters more now too. As the Internet grows at an incomprehensible rate, users are looking for more local experiences. We’ve seen the emergence of companies, like Uber and UberX, providing local goods and services at the push of a button. Being able to offer customers a local experience (that’s easily accessible via their smartphone – think convenience) keeps you relevant. This means we should see a rise in the amount of geo-targeted advertising, and social content created.

Content creation, SEO, and social media, shouldn’t be treated as specific departments, but rather as skills that exist inherently within your marketing agency (or internal marketing team).

What does this mean for businesses today?

Before you, or your company, settle on a marketing budget, I recommend you look at the latest trends and technology, and understand which of these your customers use so you can create a plan that leverages all available data. The success of today’s marketing campaigns largely relies on sound marketing strategies that have adopted new digital technologies.

If you’re unsure of where to start or if your marketing strategy is outdated, please contact me at info@creativeworksmarketing.ca to see how I can help your business.

Does your company have a digital strategy in place? What are your biggest challenges with digital marketing? Comment and share your thoughts with me!

My Weekday: Unplugged

unplug

As a CEO of a marketing agency in one of the largest cities in North America, imagine my horror when I realized on a busy weekday morning that I had left my iPhone at home!  After pulling over on the road to search my car, “maybe it slid down between the seats,” I thought. I checked my pants,jacket and briefcase several times. Nothing!  I headed to the office thinking maybe I left it in the office last night when I left late.  As I walked in the office door, one of my colleagues told me my wife had called to say I had indeed left my phone at home.  With meetings planned and my daily schedule booked, I knew I was going to spend the entire day disconnected.  Could I do it?  I actually thought of going back home, but it would have thrown off the timing for my day.  This seemed like such a huge decision, but I decided to challenge myself and spend the day without the phone.

At first it was extremely difficult. I found myself reaching for the phone every few minutes. It was even more difficult when I left the office for some client meetings, as being in the car without being “plugged in” highlighted my dependence on this device!  I didn’t know what emails I was receiving, what my staff was doing, I couldn’t make up time with client calls from the car, and there were no texts or LinkedIn updates!  I was in the car thinking about all the things I could be doing but couldn’t.  I felt very disconnected.  By the afternoon, I was looking forward to getting back to the office to see what I had missed while on my technology vacation.  My biggest surprise was that there were no immediate client needs, no burning staff questions… in fact it was business as usual.  I had always thought that my iPhone helped me to make up for time I would otherwise not find anywhere else, but the reality was that it wasn’t the device, but instead, my desire to feel like I am connected and am moving things forward.

So, on my drive home that night, I did what I haven’t done in a long time, I rolled down the window and played with the air through my fingers as I cranked up the stereo and enjoyed the ride!

My challenge to all the other business owners and CEOs out there, is to see if you can last one weekday without your mobile device.  Can you do it and if so, what was the most significant thing you noticed?  Will this have any impact on how you conduct business when on the road or out of the office?