Marketing

A blurred image of a crowd of people. They make several different demographics.

Are You Still Targeting the Wrong Demographics?

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A blurred image of a crowd of people. They make up several different demographics.

Think carefully about which demographics you choose to target.

When you think about the term demographics, you have to remember that some people are categorized using very broad terms. The fact is that most companies need to shy away from going too far in that direction. If you are still targeting any of these three groups as your primary demographic, you need to narrow your target audience.

The Whole World of Demographics

If you think you can target everyone because everyone needs what you are selling, your marketing dollars are being wasted. First of all, you can’t please everybody, so even a great product isn’t for all people. Second, you can’t market to everyone. If you don’t have a narrower target, you’re going to miss more often than hit. If you can narrow things down, this gives you a means of focusing your marketing efforts. The result will be greater success, especially when it comes to the conversion rate of your efforts.

One-Factor Targeting

The problem here is not that you have too few people to target, but rather the idea of not having diverse enough criteria. You can’t select one factor, like people who like to read, and have that as your only criteria for a customer. Even if you are operating a bookstore, your individual campaigns need to target people who like specific genres of books, like those who listen to audiobooks. You may even need to target people who like movies that are based on books. After all, some people actually do like to watch the movie first and then go get the book. You may also need to target some individuals by age range or education level to market the right level of reading difficulty to people.

The Largest Living Generation

You’re going to say, “He can’t be telling us to avoid targeting Millennials.” The fact is that Millennials are a generation of people, not a legitimate marketing demographic in their own right. They come from all walks of life, education levels, financial statuses, etc. If you treat all Millennials the same, you’ll alienate more of them than you’ll reach.

You can’t make the entire target a bull’s-eye and say you’ve hit the mark every time. That’s just not how marketing works.

An office workers hands are holding a tablet. The tablets is displaying several metrics on the screen.

Too Many Metrics? Dump These Four

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An office worker's hands are holding a tablet. The tablets is displaying several metrics on the screen.

While metrics drive the direction of a campaign, some are unnecessary. 

Metrics can be the lifeblood of marketing. After all, measurable campaigns allow you to make needed changes on the fly, resulting in great ROI and profitability of marketing efforts. On the other hand, many aspects of the metric industry are flawed, and there are definitely a few things we can do without. Here are four of those things.

Sentiment Assessment Metrics

It’s not a bad thing to want to grow sentiment toward your social campaigns. The problem is that the ability to produce accurate metrics in this regard simply doesn’t exist yet, and it may never happen. The fact is that most sentiment analytic tools err on the side of the negative. This results in constant pressure on the marketing staff to improve a number that may be bogus to begin with.

Single-Score Metrics Provided by Third-Party Companies

Single-score metrics for social media are not necessarily the problem. The idea is that we look to a third party for this score, and they are trying to develop a single algorithm that works for every business across various industries and other factors. Remember that these scorekeepers can’t always tell the difference between a human and a bot. Is this how you want to determine which of your social followers are the most influential?

Traffic from Social Bookmarking Sites

The problem is that these sites provide little traffic with any value. The more that your metric for social booking traffic goes up, the more your bounce rate will also likely go up. You don’t need a metric to tell you this is bad for your site. Consumers like real social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram. Stick with those, and the traffic you measure will actually be worth something.

Stats Involving Check-Ins

Social sites that invite people to check in are nowhere near as popular as they once were. For example, Foursquare has about 55 million active users, but this stat refers only to people who use the app at least once per month. Facebook’s check-in feature is being all but abandoned.

If you find that you are swimming in metrics, the right ones to dump are the ones that can’t always be accurate or that don’t have any real meaning.

A couple of marketers at a conference table working of several content marketing strategies.

Executives Require Different Content Marketing Strategies

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A couple of marketers at a conference table working of several content marketing strategies.

When it comes to executives, you have to develop different content marketing strategies.

If your target audience is full of people with 3-letter titles that start with C, there’s no margin for error. However, the rewards for landing executive clients can be huge for almost every industry. With a C-level executive in your corner, you are assured to have a client with a much higher lifetime value. These are the type of influencers you can’t gain the backing of with a witty social media post. You have to design content marketing strategies specifically for executives, and that strategy has to be as elite as the people you are marketing to.

Here are a few things to keep in mind when you are trying to extend your business contacts all the way up to the top of the corporate ladder.

Hooking a Big Fish

If we take that analogy through to its completion, hooking a big fish means using the right bait, in the right location, and at the right time. Getting the attention of an executive requires the same factors. You need relevant content that is as current as possible. This means both knowing an industry well and being up-to-date on today’s news—and not just this month’s trends.

Creating the Right Degree of Value

We always talk about the need to create value for a consumer. For an executive, the level of substance has to be extremely tangible. You have to provide real business solutions, and be able to back up your ideas in order to gain credibility.

Break the Mold With New Content Marketing Strategies

You can’t market to an executive using the same material as for everyone else. You need to deliver something that really has an element of surprise,t and you have to deliver quickly with no time-wasting fillers. This is the content marketing version of an elevator pitch.

Being able to market to executives is a skill. It takes time to hone, and you can’t expect the same thing to work for every individual. However, the benefits of perseverance are tremendous. When you connect directly with C-level execs, it gives you a relationship with a company that you can’t have when working with project leaders, managers, or even directors.

A image of several headlines focused on climate change, a situation that is making marketing difficult.

How Will Your Marketing Be Affected by Climate Change?

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A image of several headline about climate change, a situation that is making marketing difficult.

In the era of climate change, marketing has a difficult task for advertising.

The weather has been crazy all across the U.S. and the rest of the globe. Western U.S. has seen a terrible drought resulting in wildfires. The Midwest has seen numerous deaths from way-above-average temperatures. The south has seen a lot of flooding. As climate change becomes more obvious, it alters how consumers think. What impact will global changes in the climate have on your future marketing endeavors?

Here are a few things you need to think about.

Seasonal Marketing Campaigns

We often market products seasonally. However, changing seasons are making that more difficult. For example, many locations that are popular winter vacation spots for enjoying winter sports are seeing less snow than ever before. This is shortening the ski season and making it necessary to alter the timeframe of campaigns.

Healthcare Marketing Is Also Affected

The weather is also having a tremendous effect on the areas where disease-carrying insects can live. Some diseases that were under control are now reaching an epidemic state again as the climate helps the disease to spread. As a result, marketing for certain medications, such as seasonal allergy medications and flu relief products, are seeing a shift in the timeframe when the products are most needed.

The Emergence of the Eco-Conscious Consumer

People care more about how products are sourced, the practices a company is involved in to protect the environment, and the role of recycling in a company’s efforts. Therefore, it is important to be more transparent in marketing about what a brand is doing for the environment, even in small ways such as using some recycled material in product packaging or using new packaging that creates less waste. Eco-related scandals are now more likely than ever before to hurt a brand’s reputation.

In fact, brand perception is the number one factor when it comes to adjusting marketing to climate change. If you want your brand to stand out as a champion of the planet, you need to take action and let consumers know what you are doing to preserve the Earth for future generations. You’re not just marketing to tree huggers anymore. Today, the average consumer cares about the environment.

A graphic illustration of the words "Market Trend" in the form of crossword puzzle. This represents digital marketing trends.

Attention CMOs — Focus on These Digital Marketing Trends

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A graphic illustration of the words "Market Trend" in the form of a crossword puzzle. This represents digital marketing trends.

Following the latest digital marketing trends will get you far in the advertising world.

You understand the value of using various digital channels to connect consumers to your brand, and to increase the frequency of interaction with potential customers. Those interactions are what drive revenue and other business goals. Consumers connect everything that comes from your brand, regardless of the avenue, to the products or services you offer—and to their perception of your company as a whole. With that in mind, here are a few digital marketing trends that will help you to reach those goals.

Three Digital Marketing Trends:

  • Building Trust in Your Brand

    Trust has become one of the most important digital marketing trends. How do you establish trust in a consumer relationship through your digital marketing efforts? The first thing is consistency. All of your content, regardless of how the consumer comes in contact with it, needs to tell the same story about your brand, convey the same values, and be delivered in the same tone. This reveals stability and focus, so that no matter where a consumer is between researching and making a purchase, they have the same experience with your company.

  • Take Advantage of the Small Screen

    The number of Americans using mobile devices continues to grow, and people are coming in contact with brands on every screen size imaginable, from the desktop and laptop to the tablet and smartphone. You never know what the viewer is going to do during a TV ad. The person may go grab a snack, look down at the cell phone for a text, or even head to the bathroom. Taking advantage of opportunities to reach that consumer with mobile advertising lets your ad go with the consumer (even to the bathroom since most people won’t leave a smartphone unattended, even at home). Use behavioral analytics to contact your consumers on the right screen at the right time with the right message.

  • Taking Your Consumers on a Journey

    Rather than waiting for a consumer to be ready to make a purchase before you start marketing, this is all about leading the consumer to the sale. It starts with educational content. Why does he need your product? Once he decides he wants your product, engaging content will keep your brand in the forefront of his mind until it is time for a sale. Then, when purchasing time arrives, good marketing content closes the deal. Give consumers compelling reasons to choose your brand, even if it may not be the least-expensive product on the market.

A young man discussing market research with colleagues in a meeting.

Be Careful Where Your Market Research Originates

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A young man discussing market research with colleagues in a meeting.

Without proper market research, your data has no real meaning.

One thing that modern brands can’t live without is market research. Unfortunately, you may be surprised by how much of that data is tainted. For example, we frequently rely on online researchers, but who is actually taking the surveys that provide this vital research? Often it is paid panelists.

It makes sense for the research company. After all, paying people to take surveys is a great way to end up with a large turnout. But that doesn’t mean the information that comes from the survey will be high quality. Is this the kind of data that you want to trust with your company’s biggest decisions? Bad data could doom a brand.

So how can you collect data that has real meaning for your company, rather than basing your brand decisions on the whim of people who are simply trying to make a buck for answering some questions? Mobile has provided us with a great medium for doing market research. Here are a few suggestions for putting it to good use.

Incentivize Responders

Hold on a second. Did I just suggest that you pay responders instead of the research company? Not at all. You need to provide enough of an incentive for a person to respond without it becoming the only reason they respond, as is the case with paid panelists. So what can you do? Instead of paying participants, give them an entry into a contest with a fun (but not too pricey) prize.

Design the Right Market Research Survey

Asking the wrong questions to the right people is as bad as asking the right questions to the wrong people. Be sure with every question that you stay on topic and work toward the overall goal of the survey. You need to design your survey so that your customers come into contact with it in the right place—a phone call, an app, in-store, etc.  Getting consumers to interact with you where they feel most comfortable will also result in better responses.

Remember that the secret to market research success is asking the right questions to the right people at the right time, so you get an honest and reliable response.

Transparency Is the Most Important Trend in Lead Generation

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The FTC has started a crusade against lead generation practices that can affect both consumer privacy and data security. It is now more important than ever to focus on transparency when it comes to how consumer data is collected and transferred between the lead generator, lead buyers, and any other industry players who get involved.

Lead generation prompts consumers to willingly provide personal information in exchange for everything, from information to free products. So what is the FTC’s beef?

Why Is the FTC Concerned About Lead Generation?

The concern is that most consumers do not realize how many hands their personal info will pass through (or be sold to) once they click that “submit” button. You’re not always just trading a name and email address for a white paper. Sometimes your name and email address ends up on dozens of mailing lists—all because you requested that one free product or download.

So here is where the discrepancy lies. Some lead generation services clearly tell the consumer what is going to happen with information (who it will be shared with, and so on). Others conveniently forget to tell the consumer that the lead generation list is sold, not only to the highest bidder, but perhaps to several companies. To the FTC, that’s bad form, especially if attractive offers that are too good to be true are used to coax info out of a person.

After that, it then becomes all about how the company handles the data. Some of the shadier lead generators are also the worst at protecting the personal information they collect.

Unfortunately, as is so often the case, a few bad apples make things a little tough on the rest of us. Now we all have to think about transparency. Retargeting, response time, and other factors are coming into play in this regard. Consumers start to take note if they request an insurance quote—and then get retargeted hourly for weeks on end. On the other hand, a student who makes an inquiry about an educational opportunity expects to hear back almost immediately after submitting a request.

Be sure when your company collect leads that each person clearly knows what will be done with his or her personal information, and collect only what you need, and then keep the information safe.

What Digital-First Marketing Really Means

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Where do your ad dollars go? It seems all too easy to blow the whole budget without having enough funds for important aspects of digital marketing. The switch to a digital-first marketing approach is a way to ensure that you don’t miss out on big online opportunities due to a lack of prioritizing.

What Makes Digital-First Marketing Effective?

One of the reasons that digital-first marketing is so effective is the fact that you can see immediate, measurable results—and can make adjustments to campaigns on the fly in order to achieve the best possible outcome. Because of this, digital campaigns lead to smarter marketing. In fact, your marketing team actually learns from previous campaigns, making the whole department more knowledgeable for future efforts.

With this in mind, digital testing becomes a key factor in strong campaigns. In one study, only about 1 in 3 chief marketing officers (CMO) said they do digital testing in order to see how conventional ads do with their intended audience. This is shocking when it is clear how much more cost effective it is to digitally test something like a TV commercial before paying for a spot, or testing brochure content before paying a printer.

Gain a Competitive Advantage Through Modern Tools

Modern analytic tools are the best way to track your campaigns to adjust for maximum profitability. Becoming proficient with the use of these tools is a vital aspect of digital marketing. Once you master the tools of the trade, it is important to be flexible, and be willing to update a campaign that is not performing as it should.

When it comes to your audience, you need to know how to spin a tale that will provide the needed engagement. Being digital-oriented means telling stories the way that your audience will respond to best—which changes depending on where your consumer meets up with your brand online. For example, you need to speak differently on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram in order to create the same engagement because users have a different expectation of the content that they will see while on each social network.

In the end, thinking of a digital-first marketing approach when planning your campaigns will help you to reach your target audience with the right content, and will allow you to make needed adjustments to both present and future efforts that result in the return on investment (ROI) your brand needs to thrive.

6 Things Marketers Say That Don’t Mean Anything

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The marketing industry is filled with a ton of jargon. Marketers love acronyms and speaking a language that laymen—and even most business executives—don’t understand. The problem is that we’ve greatly over-used many words and phrases, some of which don’t even really mean anything.

The Worst Offenders Marketers Use

  • Viral – We use a term referring to a disease to speak about anything that spreads quickly. Okay, we understand the reference. But we use this word too much, and we make the mistake of thinking of it as a goal. We should be focused on all content being high quality instead of searching for that one Holy Grail campaign that sweeps the planet.
  • Likes – Who came up with the idea of using this as a key performance indicator (KPI)? Most likes don’t mean anything. Ask companies that got on the “likes-for-sale” bandwagon. The fact is that the only likes that have value in social media are the ones you get from loyal customers.
  • Big Data – This phrase has really been used to death. Okay, we get it. There a lot of data. Let’s stop talking about big data and start discussing meaningful data.
  • Sales Funnel – This was an interesting concept, but it’s not really how sales work. The journey from consumer to customer begins and ends in different ways for different people. Some consumers don’t even start shopping until they need something. Others are happy to get all of your emails, newsletters and everything else, but are just browsing. Produce engagement, and learn to identify the motives of the consumer.
  • Native – The FTC will always make sure that advertising stands out as advertising. The idea of native ads is a pipe dream. Plus, most consumers see it as dishonest. Let’s stick to the phrase “sponsored ads,” which is what they really are.
  • E-Blast – Also, known as the “email blast,” this method of non-targeted email mass marketing was never successful in the first place, and that’s why it is becoming less and less common today. Small businesses can get away with targeting their whole database with an email, but even then it’s not an e-blast because they have such a small customer database.

The Three Quickest Ways to Destroy Client Relationships

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Client relationships are the lifeblood of a marketing agency. Let’s talk about three things agencies do that tank relationships before they even have a chance to get started.

Assuming What the Client Knows/Wants

We’ve all been guilty of this one, but it’s a quick way to get into trouble. First of all, you can’t assume the client knows what you do and don’t do. You have to be transparent. If you say “Blog Management,” clearly explain to the client what that entails. Don’t assume everyone knows your definition. Second, you can’t always know the client’s expectation. You may be thinking they want written content when “content” in the client’s mind means digital videos. The best client relationships exist when both sides define everything, speak plainly, and ask a lot of questions.

Telling Lies (or Leaving Out the Truth) Destroys Client Relationships

Obviously, you can’t go around being dishonest with clients, but dishonesty is more than just bold-faced lying. Leaving out little details that mislead a client into thinking they are getting more than they actually are, or hiding various expenses and fees, will leave the client with the same bad taste. For example, don’t say that the website development will cost $X and leave out that the client will have to pay an additional hourly rate to have content written. Don’t offer “website managing” unless it actually includes everything. Say what is included—and what can be had for an extra fee.

Not Talking About Objectives

What is the client’s endgame? Are they looking for site traffic, social media followers, improved email click-through rate (CTR), or a greater conversion rate? If you don’t have an honest conversation about goals, you can produce a lot of great work—and still have an unhappy customer.

Before your next client walks through the door, be sure to know what you need to ask, and also think about the things the client will look back on 6 months from now and say, “Well, I wish I knew that when we got started.” Then you can build long-term client relationships that increase the lifetime value of each customer.

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