Best of Online Marketing

How to Develop a Crushing Video Marketing Strategy

by

Video was bound to become the new go-to marketing tool sooner or later. Good videos can communicate as effectively as text and image based content, and often more powerfully. With new video sharing technologies and a myriad of formats to choose from, video should become an integral part of any marketing campaign. Since this is still a relatively new medium, marketers are still in the process of understanding what works best and what goes into making a crushing video marketing campaign. To help you along the way, here’s a list of points to consider when developing your video marketing strategy.

Choosing the Right Type of Video

There are so many video formats and techniques you can choose from, it can be overwhelming. Each can accomplish a different set of goals, so when it comes to choosing the right one, you should consult the broader plan for promoting your business. One of the first things you need to consider is video length - a conventional TV commercial lasts for about 30-45 seconds. On the internet, video ads can last even longer than that, since they are not constrained by the rules that apply to TV ads.

When it comes to choice of style or format, there are a number of valid choices. Animation tends to be the preferred format when it comes to explainer videos, since it can easily represent abstract concepts. Animations are also much easier to make than live action videos, and offer a broader range of stylistic choices and storytelling options.

Live-action videos with actors, props and sets can be more expensive, but they also lend a certain credibility to your brand. This format is especially suited for testimonial videos, which are also fairly easy to produce. Unfortunately, effective live-action videos can be more expensive and less permissive than animation. Both of these styles have a place, so take some time to consider what will work best for your individual needs.

Hire a Team of Professionals

When it comes to the production of your videos, there is a lot of free video-making software you can use. These may suffice for some organizations, but tend to offer only basic customization options. It’s also likely that many other companies use these free programs, so your video may end up looking like those produced by many other companies. That runs counter to the whole point of crafting a video strategy: to generate brand awareness, and create a memorable look for your business. With generic tools and software, it’s unlikely you will be able to create a memorable video. And failure to differentiate can mean the failure of your entire strategy.

If you’re looking to develop an amazing video marketing strategy, there’s no better option than to hire a professional team. Trust these video professionals to handle the creative side of things, and you can focus on strengthening the rest of your campaign.

Know Your Audience

Obviously you should enjoy the final cut of your video, but remember, you are not the target audience; your customers are. 

So, when you are planning the strategy, it is them you should be thinking about. Consider the age group you are addressing, but also the context in which these videos are likely to be seen. Are customers going to view them at work? In that case, you should invest in videos with a focus on descriptive imagery, so the story is easy to understand even with the sound turned off. Is your audience more likely to view the videos on mobile devices? In this case, animations with simple shapes and bright colors can work better for the relatively small screens of smartphones or tablets.

You don’t need to do special research to understand what kinds of videos your audience will appreciate. You can target your audience using the same metrics you’ve used for other marketing strategies. You can certainly ask more specific questions as the campaign evolves, but to begin, you can segment your audience in much the same way you have for other purposes.

Don’t Neglect Entertainment Value

When creating video campaigns, many companies focus on providing their customers with information about their business, offers and promotions. And that’s definitely what the ultimate goal of a video campaign should be. 

But that agenda is only relevant  to you and your company. Audiences certainly want to learn something by watching a video, but they also expect videos to be entertaining. Ignoring entertainment value will make your videos dry and uninteresting, and in the end, your audience may tune out your humorless infodump.

That is why, no matter what information you want to share, you must consider how you’re going to package it. The best way to get your audience’s attention and keep it is crafting  a story around the information you want to deliver. Envision a situation in which that information could become relevant to your customer and say something meaningful about it. Entertaining stories can bridge the gap between your business offers and solutions, and your customers’ needs and preferences.  

Consider Each Part of the Video

Creating a compelling story for your video might seem like a daunting task. But you don’t have to be an award-winning scriptwriter or director to understand how to craft a video that delivers a message effectively. The key is timing the different segments of the video so they form a coherent narrative. In a sense, it’s not much different than writing good text, which is why videos always begin as a written script.

You will have an introduction. This is where you establish your character/characters and the context in which the story happens. Next, you’ll want to establish some sort of conflict or issue that needs to be resolved. The middle of the story is the climax: how the issue escalates, and the implications of that escalation.

Arguably, the most important part is the ending, or resolution. Here you will weave your solutions into the plot. This is the message you want to communicate: that your solution solved a problem for the characters. How you end your video determines the meaning of the content, and the effect it will have on your viewers.

Don’t Give it All Away in One Go

Depending on how long you want your campaign to last, you should also consider the broader story your videos will construct. In order to make your whole strategy effective, you need to spread out information, and deliver it bit by bit.

That way, audiences will keep coming back for more. Curiosity is a very powerful force, and if you’ve hit the mark with your first couple of videos, your viewers will be hooked. Resist the temptation to give it all away in the first try, or your viewers won’t have any reason to tune in later.

If you do want to extend a campaign that’s been going well to maximize its potential, you can switch up the format you’ve established. Perhaps change styles in a radical way. But always try to maintain the same basic tone and principle. Serialized videos need to have some consistency in order for your audience to see the bigger picture that is fundamentally about your company, and how it is relevant to them.

Want to learn more about any of the topics discussed in this article? Visit the Online Marketing Institute  to browse over 400 classes in the digital and social media marketing space. Ready to start learning? Sign up here.

Author bio: Cristopher Tuckerman is a digital marketing strategist and a zealous writer who's interested in all things SEO and design-oriented. He believes that since almost 50% of our brain is involved in visual processing and 70% percent of our sensory receptors are eyesight related, it’s reckless not to be interested in design principles. Do yourself a favor and follow Cris’ advice: make your business more visually striking!

 


Do Your Marketing Videos Cause “Failure to Differentiate”?

by

Workplace with person working on laptop watching video player, concept of webinar, business online training, education on computer, e-learning concept, video tutorial vector illustration

Person watching marketing video

When buyers can’t figure out what differentiates a company’s solution, bad things happen:

  • They rule out the company.
  • They spend more time consulting third parties.
  • They put off the decision.
  • They just do nothing.

That’s according to a recent Gartner report titled “Failure to Differentiate.”

I’ve come to believe that the traditional approach to technology “explainer” videos may be contributing to the buyer’s failure to differentiate.

How traditional explainer videos can get in the way of differentiation

“Explainer” videos have been around for a dozen years or so. They started with IT solution and software vendors who needed to explain unfamiliar concepts that are hard to grasp quickly in text format — concepts like business process management, service oriented architecture, etc. These short video overviews became popular with tech companies and their salespeople as a way to engage prospects with content that was quick and easy to understand.

The traditional approach was straightforward: tell the viewer what problem you solve, how you solve it, and how it all pays off. This is still how most explainer videos are structured.

The trouble is that now there are many more technology solution vendors who claim to “solve” the same problem in different ways. And so many short videos are competing to get buyers to do something. The result is that the buyer is seeing lots of videos that start out with dramatizations of the same problem.

It’s true that animated characters coping unsuccessfully with problems have featured in terrific cartoons for more than a century [seek out Fantasmagorie (1908) on YouTube]. But in view of today’s short attention spans, the first 20 seconds or so of a video are crucial. If differentiation is your goal, you probably shouldn’t use those 20 seconds to tell the same story others are telling — even if you tell it better.

Stories around buyer motivations

A 2015 OpenView B2B Buyer Insight survey set out to find out what motivates buyers to contact salespeople. This is interesting from the standpoint of explainer video production for two reasons:

  1. Explainer videos are generally viewed during the part of the buyer’s journey where the buyers are doing their own research and actively avoiding contact with salespeople
  2. The main purpose of a technology solution video is to get the viewer to seek more information — the same thing they do when they reach out to sales

Here are the main reasons buyers said they would reach out to a salesperson:

  • To research a market
  • To replace a solution that isn’t working well
  • To bring about a major change in the organization

Keeping these motivations in mind as you plan out a video makes sense. You will develop the story buyers want to hear, and one that will immediately differentiate your message from the old problem-solution-benefits story your competitors are probably telling.

Videos for buyers researching a market

Buyers who are researching a market are probably not trying desperately to get out from under some problem — more likely, they wonder what cool new thing they might be missing. This calls for a cooler approach — like dramatizing the new possibilities your solution opens up for them. For example, Cisco’s Workload Automation solution has been around for a while (as Tidal Enterprise Scheduler), but was recently updated to integrate cloud and big data workloads. This is good news, but it means different things for people with different responsibilities. If you’re responsible for Big Data jobs, you may be looking into better ways of getting data into and out of the Hadoop ecosystem. If your responsibilities extend across a hybrid data center, things would be better if you could integrate new kinds of workloads into the job schedule. Cisco made short videos geared to these specific points of view, in addition to a traditional product overview. Same product, but different messages about big data workloads and hybrid cloud integration.

Buyers motivated to replace an existing solution

Many IT managers in non-profit performing arts organizations are looking to replace existing box office management and ticketing solutions because older solutions lack agility and don’t talk to software used in other parts of the organization — notably marketing and fundraising.

A video we produced for the software vendor PatronManager redefines the problem instead of dramatizing it. Instead of contrasting the confusion of siloed systems with the efficiency of integrated operations, the video simply shows how everyone can easily share quality data on the people who support the organization by buying tickets and making donations, and how that contributes to business success. You can see the PatronManager video here.

Buyers motivated to bring about a major change in the organization

Buyers who are eager to bring about a change certainly don’t need to be told what you think their problem is. You just need to encourage them to find out more about your better way of doing things. It’s “Here’s something you can change right now” (vs. “Here’s what we can do for you”)

So, for example, Software AG is a vendor active in the government market for solutions to help improve government service delivery. So their explainer video on the subject starts out “Sometimes, you just need an app.” It assumes that the viewer is motivated to make a big change in how things are done, and shows how new applications can be quickly assembled from pre-built components in the cloud. You can view the Software AG explainer video here.

Thinking differentiator-ly

The examples here are not templates for videos or meant to be prescriptive. They do illustrate our conviction that if you want to differentiate your solution, you need to stop talking about problems your buyers already know about.

A good way to come up with different approaches is to think about some of the reasons buyers reach out to sales — which are probably the same reasons they have for visiting your website and watching your videos.

  • To learn about what’s new in the market
  • To replace a solution that isn’t working well
  • To bring about a major change in the organization

Giving buyers some of the information they’re looking for in a video will encourage them to seek more information. And we believe that should be the goal for a tech company’s videos.

Want to learn more about any of the topics discussed in this article? Browse over 400 classes in the digital library at OMI. Ready to start learning? Sign up here.

About the Author:

Since 2004, Bruce McKenzie, founding partner of 2 Minute Explainer has been developing videos to increase sales engagement for companies such as IBM, Cisco, Brocade, Compuware and many B2B technology startups. His free guide “Apply eLearning insights to improve your technology marketing videos” shows tech marketers how they should be designing their videos for sales enablement. Download this free guide here.

 


What’s the Best Strategy When Making a Viral Video?

by

While some people might get lucky when it comes to getting a video to go viral, most of the time when it comes to videos made by brands, there is a highly tactical strategy in place before the video ever gets made. Did you know for example that the average viral video is anywhere between 15 seconds and five minutes. 15 seconds you might ask? Well think about Vine and its highly popular six second loops.

The golden rule of course for making any video with the aim of getting it to go viral is to focus on extracting an emotional response from the video’s target audience. Whether your aim is to make them laugh through slapstick comedy antics, make them cry with a heartfelt sob story or make them angry by purposely portraying a controversial topic in all its grandeur, the bottom line is connecting your audience with a story they will want to watch.

Have a look at the below infographic for a snapshot of top tips to assist you when planning a viral video, or for a more in-depth read around the strategies behind them, see this guide produced by One Productions.

one-productions-top-tips-to-make-viral-videos-igWant to learn more about any of the topics discussed in this article? Browse over 400 classes in the digital library at OMI. Ready to start learning? Sign up here.

 


Top Lead Generation Strategies for Startups & Small Businesses

by

43864555 - lead generation - letters on wooden desk with laptop computer and a notebook. 3d render illustration.

Let’s face it. Running a business is a lot of work.

You have to deal with long hours, sleepless nights and tight budgets. Tons of things that just suck the life out of you. Stress just keeps on building. But you’re cut out to be an entrepreneur and never give up.

You figure out that digital marketing is the next big thing, your ultimate chance to best the competition. So you launch a website, write several blog posts, and create social media accounts to share stuff. But for some reason it’s just not working.

Why?

Sergey Grybniak, a digital marketing expert and founder of clever-solution.com, knows the answer. He’s sure that owners of small businesses and startups make one very glaring mistake: They focus on driving visitors, not generating leads.

I am going to interview Sergey to find out more about the best lead generation strategies that bolster conversion rates and are guaranteed to shoot revenue through the roof.

Sergey, what’s the thing with lead generation?

Generating leads is the most important objective for every business owner. And you know why? Because leads mean money.

Let’s have a closer look at how businesses do digital marketing. They are obsessed with getting more visitors, and invest thousands of marketing dollars to drive traffic to their product pages.

While having lots of visitors is vital, it doesn’t make sense if a business lacks the tools to convert and close them. If owners just tried to capture leads, they would turn their marketing into an effective revenue generator. But what they actually do is more like using carpet bombing vs. laser-targeted missiles.

Businesses need money. So, let’s get to the point. What’s your first lead generation strategy?

This strategy is quite hard to master: Learn the mechanics of online lead generation.

Most business owners are bad at lead generation because they know nothing about it. Let’s do some learning together, shall we?

The lead generation process is based on four crucial elements: offer, CTA, landing page and form.

Your product or service is your offer. And your goal is to make it irresistible.

How? Rely on psychological tips and tricks. Use limited-time and limited-quantity offers to show your prospects that they may be missing out on a good offer. The law of scarcity will spur them on to convert.

You can rely on a tried-and-tested tribal effect as well. Convey a message that others love your product and reduce anxiety with social proof. Humans often copy each other – take advantage of it.

Your next element is call-to-action. Ensure that your CTA:

●  Stands out “above the fold”

●  Has a clear copy

●  Is linked to a dedicated landing page

●  Matches with the landing’s title

A landing page is your secret sauce. Use it wisely to reinforce the message about your product's benefits.

How? Well, tweak and test relentlessly until you come up with:

●  A catchy title

●  A subtitle with the offer description

●  Up to five “value” bullet points

●  A visually appealing image

●  A clickable and noticeable CTA

●  User-friendly social buttons

●  A neat form to fill out

The final element is a conversion form. Test it well because users hate long, unfriendly forms. Minimize the number of fields to fill out.

When you master these four elements, your conversion rate will improve. And, moreover, you will have a clear picture of how your funnel with the sales prospects is actually doing.

This strategy isn’t a dark art but still rather complex. What about the second one?

Unfortunately, it’s not too simple either: Rely on multi-channel lead generation. You should promote your product using as many marketing channels as you can.

Blogging, email marketing, social media, organic search – every little thing matters.

Though it takes some time to learn how to capture leads with blog content, emails, social posts, or through organic search, it’ll help you get the right marketing mix to spur your business on.

And what can any business owner do right now? I mean, do you have any kind of a foolproof strategy?

Absolutely! And this one is just a piece of cake: Register on lead generation platforms.

There are dozens of platforms to drive free leads from. As a rule, these are digital marketplaces. Your goal is to find ones that fit the needs of your business.

If you lease cars, search for marketplaces that provide car leasing services (e.g. Carvoy, ZipCar). If you own more of a mixed-bag company, register on jack-of-all- trades marketplaces (e.g. Opporty). Want to make a bigger splash in the travel industry? Get your company noticed on Vericost or Rome2rio. It is a little more difficult than just submitting your company to some directory. You should be connected to information distribution networks. But once it is done you can get get a significant amount of orders absolutely for free.

There’s no shortage of examples.

And it’s not rocket science! Just find a marketplace, register, and bring in leads to your website. Anyone can do it.

Any final thoughts?

I’d like to sum it up. Basically, you have five strategies to generate leads:

  • Learn about online lead generation mechanics
  • Utilize multiple marketing channels
  • Register on lead generation platforms (marketplaces)
  • Build strategic partnerships
  • Hire a professional digital marketing agency

The first four depend on each other in a sense that they require hard work and constant fine tuning on your part. The fifth is a one-size-fits-all strategy.

Thanks for joining me, Sergey. Pleasure talking to you.

Interested in digital classes on the topics discussed above? OMI recommends the below classes to get started:

Increase Lead Generation Quality, Conversion, and Velocity, Creating Content that Converts, How to Build a Lead Nurtuting Campaign, and How to Generate High Quality Leads with Paid Search

Want to learn more about any of the topics discussed in this article? Visit the Online Marketing Institute  to browse over 400 classes in the digital and social media marketing space. Ready to start learning? Sign up here.

 


How to Create a Successful Online Ad Campaign to Accomplish Brand Awareness

by

Man creating brand awareness campaign Concept

Man creating brand awareness campaign

While technology has significantly changed how companies market their products and services over the years, the guiding principles behind successful advertising campaigns have remained constant.

Before you launch an advertising campaign, whatever the media and channels, you first must know be able to answer these questions:

  • What is the marketing budget?
  • How long will the ad campaign run?
  • What are your marketing goals?
  • Who is your audience?
  • How will you measure your marketing goals?

It also helps to know what your competitors are doing. More on that later.

First things first

Let's not put the shopping cart before the horse, so to speak. That is, one of your first tasks is to determine the campaign's overall goal. If your goal is to sell products or services, you will be creating a much more aggressive campaign than if your goal is to increase brand awareness.

You can find a great deal of information on digital advertising campaigns designed to drive conversions. Somewhat less prevalent are articles focusing on the creation of online advertising campaigns simply designed to create brand awareness. We're talking apples and oranges or, in this case, conversions and clicks.

The ultimate goal of an online brand awareness campaign typically is to drive traffic to your site. Once the visitor clicks through to your site, you have the opportunity to educate and engage via relevant, valuable content. But we're getting a bit ahead of ourselves here.

Your ad campaign will be impacted by the factors listed above, which means you may have to tweak your original goals along the way. For example, if your original goal was simply to create top-of-mind awareness for your brand, you might want to inundate the web with banner ads. You would place ads based more on reach and frequency than on targeting a specific audience. However, if your online marketing budget is limited, you probably would have to rethink such a broad-based approach.

Consistency is key

You may not be able to blanket the web with your banner and search ads, but you can (and should) be consistent in your creative efforts. In doing so, you will build visual recognition with your online audience. Over time, elements such as your color scheme, logo and fonts will instantly resonate with viewers.

The banner ads below are good examples of consistency in advertising. It just so happens the ads are promoting BP, which has had to dig its brand out of the PR hole created by the oil spill back in 2010. And with the release of the "Deepwater Horizon" movie, the BP brand may take a bashing again.

screen-shot-2016-10-01-at-11-40-46-am

A brand awareness campaign such as BP's hovers between the worlds of advertising and public relations. Because BP is already a known brand, the overarching goal may be brand awareness, with a campaign devoted specifically to altering the public's perception of the brand.

Note, too, the call to action (CTA) for each of the banner ads. It is not an "in-your-face" CTA like BUY NOW. Instead, the CTAs encourage the viewer to "Learn more" or "Read the Report." In the most simplified sense, brand awareness campaigns are soft sell vs. hard sell.

In fact, your brand awareness campaign could be the precursor to a straight sales campaign. This ties in perfectly with the consumer buying process:

AWARENESS --->  RESEARCH --->  EVALUATION --->  COMMITMENT

Just keep in mind that it most likely will take longer to see results from a brand awareness campaign. Patience and persistence will pay off in the long run.

If you want to learn more about brand strategy and awareness, OMI recommends How To Be The Most Talked About Brand. 

How to get the most bang for your buck

The Google Ad Network is a popular choice for setting up a digital advertising campaign. According to Google AdSense, the most successful banner ad sizes are:

  • 336x280 large rectangle
  • 300x250 medium rectangle
  • 728x90 leaderboard
  • 300x600 half page
  • 320x100 large mobile banner

Whether you're resizing an image within each ad or the ads themselves, this can eat up a lot of valuable time. That's when a tool like the Image Resizer comes in handy. Simply upload your image, plug in the desired width and height in pixels, and you've got yourself a resized image.

The tool also comes in handy when prepping ads and images for social media. That's right, don't overlook advertising on social media sites. These can be particularly effective for brand awareness campaigns. Admittedly, it all can be a quite overwhelming. Here's a helpful guide to ad sizes on social media.

With search engine marketing (SEM) campaigns, be careful in your keyword bidding. If you're running more than one campaign at a time, you don't want to bid against yourself. With Google AdWords, you can use the AdWords Editor to avoid duplicate keywords.

As mentioned above, it's important to know what your competition is up to online. This is especially true when it comes to keyword bidding. Your competitor may be bidding on your brand name, and you can return the favor.

If you want to learn more about Social Media and Branding, OMI recommends Brand Advocacy Strategies for Social Media.

Getting them to 'click' with your content

So someone clicked on your ad and ended up on your website; now what? Your first inclination might be to take the visitor to your home page. For best results, however, create a dedicated landing page. Even better, create (and test) several landing pages to see which ones perform best. If you don't have the bandwidth or budget to design multiple landing pages, use an online service such as Unbounce, which provides landing page templates (no HTML coding needed).

The content on the landing page should follow search engine optimization (SEO) best practices. It also should be tailored to complement the banner ad. That way, when the visitor arrives at your page, there is no disconnect. It's a seamless experience. We often think of site design and functionality when we're discussing user experience (UX), but content also can dramatically affect the online experience.

Are we there yet?

How do you know if your brand campaign is a success? Many marketers are leery of brand awareness campaigns because they can be more difficult to measure. But that's the beauty of digital advertising; it's easy to track your campaigns online.

In addition to monitoring your Google and other paid search campaigns, you can use Google Adwords Keyword Planner and Google Trends to track the volume of searches for your brand name.

Be sure to conduct social listening, as social networking sites offer keen insights into how consumers react to your brand (or not). Several social listening platforms, such as Hootsuite, offer both free and paid plans.

Assuming you've integrated an email component into your online campaign (as you should), you also could conduct a survey to gauge brand awareness.

Want to learn more about any of the topics discussed in this article? Visit the Online Marketing Institute  to browse over 400 classes in the digital and social media marketing space. Ready to start learning? Sign up here.

screen-shot-2016-10-06-at-10-46-02-am

Darcy Grabenstein is a freelance copywriter with more than 20 years experience in print and digital advertising. In the digital world, she has worked extensively with e-commerce and email campaigns. Connect with her on LinkedIn.

 


4 App Store Optimization Aspects You Need to Master

by

App Store Icon On Apple Deivice ScreenWith the consistent year-on-year increase in mobile apps, app users and app downloads, it's essential that you understand how app stores work in order to use this knowledge to your advantage.

All app stores present a varied landscape of players, from app development companies with million dollar budgets, to small developers or hopeful entrepreneurs. Regardless of your marketing budget or type of app, everyone realizes that getting your app discovered and then download is progressively more challenging.

What is App Store Optimization (ASO)?

In contrast to search engine optimization (SEO), ASO deals with understanding of algorithms of app stores. However, what SEO and ASO have in common, is that ASO is concerned with controlling and managing everything that is possible to increase the likelihood of being discovered as well.

Why is ASO essential

In contrast to SEO, the exact ASO ranking factors and their importance are not so well known. Additionally, you are unable to consistently add value on app stores to potential users through blogs or other content. Because of this, it's essential you ASO your apps.

Failing to do so will cost you an enormous amount of traffic and possible users. According to Forrester, 63% of all apps are discovered via app stores.

You need to start thinking about ASO in order to:

·         Be discovered by users, as app stores are the biggest source of app downloads

·         Outrank your competitors

·         Rank higher for your keywords

·         Rank higher in Google´s semantic search for applications

·         Present your app and brand professionally and improve your other business assets

There are numerous ways to quickly find out how well you are optimizing your app store. You can test your knowledge with fun and detailed app store optimization quizzes that let you know exactly what needs to be improved, you can use automated tools, or refer to a checklist like the one we're about to share with you.

We will look at 4 crucial aspects of all ASO campaigns. In today's article we won't describe the importance of updates, screenshots, preview video and ratings. We will however talk in detail about your app's:

·         Name

·         Keywords

·         Description

·         Icon

1.    App name

The importance of your app name (also known as title) hopefully doesn't need to be explained in too much detail. Because it guides understanding of what your app is, it needs to be short and easy to remember, yet unique. A long name will be hard to remember, and you run into a possibility of having the name shortened with added ellipses. However, including keywords to app names is highly recommended. It will help your ranking, but stay away from keyword stuffing. Including your main keywords is a strong indicator of your app's relevance to the search term. A research by TUNE found that apps with a relevant keyword in their title ranked, on average, 10.3% higher than apps without a title keyword

Ideally, include a maximum of 3 keywords in your app name. To preserve and increase the value of your brand over time, try not to change the name too much - unless you have a good reason to do so. To my big surprise, TUNE also found that 84% of apps in their research didn't include keywords in their description.

Having an optimized name is a crucial aspect of ASO, and you must use it to its full potential.

2. Keywords

As mentioned above, adding keywords to your name is advised, but don't overdo it. Keywords must be also present in your description.  It represents a space where you can 'sell' your app. However, similarly to SEO, keyword stuffing your description is considered to be a black-hat technique and is likely to hurt your rankings. Apart from the description, you can add keywords also to other areas of your app store, such as updates and reviews. Although not confirmed, reviews with keywords can possibly contribute to higher rankings. However, asking for fake or inauthentic reviews is considered black-hat, so doing this on a mass scale is not advised. There is, of course, a dedicated area just for keywords too. Use all the 100 characters offered. The best practice is to list your keywords with a comma between them. However, don't add a space before or after the comma.

3. Description

We touched on keywords in point 2 above. Instead of spamming your description with keywords, focus on providing accurate description of your app's features and benefits that will convince the reader to download it. By doing exactly this, you will (most likely) include contextual keywords. You should always adhere to one rule when writing a description: write for readers, not search engines

The content needs to be compelling and written for people who will make the final decision of downloading your app. After you finish writing your description, revisit it and edit it by adding keywords where appropriate and where it will sound natural. It's important to remember that people will see only the first 3 lines of the description. Because of this, use the well-known copy writing technique of front-loading the benefits.

Front-loading benefits 

Ads, app stores or any other content for that matter on whatever medium represents a battle for your audience's attention. The chances that a user will read the whole description are close to null. Therefore, you must spark the interest with your readers as soon as possible. A proven way of doing so is by including the main benefits early in your copy. This will entice them to continue reading or to download the app straight away. On the other hand, if you decide to save the best for the end, you are making a great mistake. The reader is more than likely to be bored and disinterested quite quickly.

Lastly, make sure to include a compelling call-to-action in your copy. If your app has a low acquisition barrier (i.e. it's free), a great copy and call-to-action will entice users to try out your app.

4. Icon

Last but not least, we need to talk about your icon. Actually, your icon is one of the most important elements of your app. Similarly to your title, it is likely to be the first touch point with your brand or app. The users will instantly compare it with other icons, and make a split second decision whether they like it or not, and whether they will want to know more. Because of this, your icon needs to be optimized to the highest possible standard. If poor design will deter a lot of potential users, all the work you put into other elements such as the description, keywords, screenshots or video will be in vain.

Best practices

·         iOs dimensions: 1024x1024

·         Android dimensions: 512x512

·         No words in your icon

·         Simple and salient design

·         Colour and style consistent with your app

·         Unique (design, colour, idea) to differentiate yourself from others

·         Once launched, don't change it (unless necessary)

Making minimum changes to your icon is essential for brand consistency and recognition. Remember that users will see only the icon on their phone. Therefore keeping it same will contribute to the mere-exposure effect (liking something because you are frequently exposed to it) as the time passes on. App designers often overlook this important point. However, when Instagram changed their icon, even social media gurus like Gary Vee reported that they stopped using it as much! And if this can happen to a social media giant like Instagram, what consequences will brand inconsistency cause to your app?

Wrapping it up

ASO is a complicated concept involving a lot of small elements that need to be carefully optimized. However, tackling these one-by-one with a strategic approach can significantly improve your rankings.

Remember that the competition for your users is increasing on a daily basis, while your users' attention is decreasing!

ASO plays an important role to your overall success, and therefore it needs to be tackled with the seriousness it deserves. Because ASO is an ongoing process, you need to keep on top of the latest algorithm changes to stay ahead of your competition.

The strategies discussed will however give you a great start to optimizing your app store.

Want to learn more about any of the topics discussed in this article? Visit the Online Marketing Institute  to browse over 400 classes in the digital and social media marketing space. Ready to start learning? Sign up here here.

David Kanika is the CEO and marketing strategist at App Marketing Mind’s (http://appmarketingminds.com), an agency providing marketing services and education to app developers. He uses a variety of marketing techniques to acquire customers and oversees implementation of client campaigns. He is a vegan and he loves to tell people. You can connect with David at david@appmarketingminds.com.

 


How To Attract New Consumers (Like, New-New) To Your Brand

by

image001-1You

You certainly want to draw new people to your brand. Who doesn’t? But are you bringing in people who are new to your space, or just fighting for existing share?

When it comes to acquiring new customers, the best strategy is a balanced approach across the consumer journey. Companies commonly get stuck perfecting the later stages – i.e., in the intent, purchase and loyalty stages – and fail to attract true net-new prospects into the journey in the first place.

The beginning of the journey is usually left to mass brand awareness efforts with poor targeting. This creates a gap in the journey between brand awareness and purchase consideration. This also wastes a lot of effort on generating awareness with never-to-be-customers, while not gaining consideration from high-value prospects.

One of the more acclaimed strategy books of the 2000s was the book Blue Ocean Strategy, by W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne, about how to open up a new market space and create new demand.

The authors compare what they call “red oceans” and “blue oceans.” Red oceans are markets where companies fight with little differentiation for the same customers, and therefore have to compete on price. The blue ocean strategy details how to avoid getting caught in red oceans.

When it comes to customer acquisition strategies widely used today by brands, it strikes me that they’re still defaulting to a red ocean strategy.

Brands tend to focus acquisition efforts where competition is the fiercest, and often fail to do true net-new prospecting. For example, brands fight for:

  1. Past Customers: Reactivation campaigns to past purchasers are common, in an attempt to re-engage customers and subscribers who’ve made a purchase in the past but have since gone dormant. This is a useful tactic, but won’t power the start of the consumer journey.
  2. Competitor Customers: Some conquesting efforts are intentional. Some happen by accident due to lack of transparency. For instance, with co-op databases, you may accidentally find yourself conquesting when you thought you were net-new prospecting. When targeting consumers via a data co-op, you provide a list of your current customers and in return you more-or-less get a list of your competitors’ customers.
  3. Intent-based Prospects: These prospects are people who’ve declared a clear intention to make a near-term purchase, based on their behavior. When people provide contact details on an auto website, or ask for a quote from an insurance broker, they’ve made a clear statement about their being in-market or nearly in-market. Intent data is an important factor in calculating net-new prospects, but it’s one piece of a larger data puzzle. With intent-based prospects, once the prospect has registered her name, it’s sold to 3 to 15 brands who are left to win her over on price.

Not sure where to start with Lead Gen? You're not alone. Online Marketing Institute recommends these classes on Demand Gen. These classes make it easy for anyone in the digital space to understand the fundamentals of demand generation.

So why do brands neglect true prospecting efforts?

One reason is, there’s a lot of short-term reward for focusing on the end of the consumer journey and efficiently acquiring low-hanging fruit. Having a high conversion rate from consideration-to-purchase looks and feels great. The problem is the inherently lower volume in this stage in the journey, and even that volume fizzles over time without a strong early-stage acquisition process.

The other reason is status quo. It was the norm to purchase or rent “dumb” prospect lists for acquisition campaigns meant to drive new consumers to your brand. These lists were easily available, but lacked statistically relevant targeting, and mainly resulted in poor campaign performance. Yet, for a long time there wasn’t a better alternative. Some brands invested in manual data science to attempt to better predict future prospect behavior, but this was a time-consuming and costly process. And results varied.

Today, with automated cloud technology, it’s now possible to identify net-new prospects who are new to your business and who are the most likely to love and buy your products. And it can be done more accurately, in less time and with less cost. This is a game changer for the early phases of the consumer journey. Rather than rely on un-targeted brand efforts to people who will never become customers, brands can now spend brand dollars intelligently to reach large prospect pools, specifically those who have a significant chance of becoming a new customer in your space.

In the end, lower-journey strategies are important, but don’t dedicate all your marketing efforts to the zero-sum game. Real net-new prospecting will move you beyond fighting on price and features. Done right, blue ocean prospecting generates higher margins and is by nature a positive-sum sport.

Want to learn more about any of the topics discussed in this article? Visit the Online Marketing Institute  to browse over 400 classes in the digital and social media marketing space. Ready to start learning? Sign up here here.

This article was originally posted on the Reach Analytics Blog.

 


How to Maximize Your Blog and Work Smarter, Not Harder

by

How to Maximize Your Blog and Work Smarter, Not Harder

How to Maximize Your Blog and Work Smarter, Not Harder

Reduce, reuse, recycle. You’ve heard the mantra, only now it doesn’t just apply to saving the planet. This mantra can also be applied to marketing, specifically digital marketing. Rather than ramping up content creation, it’s time that digital marketing professionals work smarter, not harder.

Here are a few tips to help you maximize the content on your blog and work smarter.

Build Themes into Your Editorial Calendar

An editorial calendar is not merely a holding place for blog topics and content ideas. It’s the ideal place to put down in writing the overall trajectory of your content marketing strategy.

Start by building themes into your editorial calendar. The easiest way to do this is to pick a larger topic for each month and have all the blogs for that particular month address certain aspects of that topic.

For example, an editorial calendar for a corporate recruiting firm may cover resume writing in May, preparing for an interview in June, and negotiating benefits in July. In May, the four blog posts will cover the main things to include in a resume, common resume mistakes, tools for checking grammar in resumes, and unique takes on resumes. Each of those blog posts will roll up to the general topic of resumes for month.

Repurpose Blogs into Downloadable Guides

A successful content marketing strategy does not rely solely on creating blogs. Rather, it incorporates multiple types of content to appeal to a variety of potential clients.

Instead of starting from scratch for each ebook, case study, white paper, or how-to guide you create, look to your blog. You can take content from a blog, especially a popular or well-received blog, and repurpose it into a white paper that can be gated and downloaded from the website. Or if a particular blog discusses what works, use a particular client to demonstrate how those approaches work and create a new client case study.

Turn a Blog into a Visual

Many marketing departments are fully utilizing their awesome designers or design team. Take advantage of their wonderful skills by having them turn a blog or ideas from a few blogs into a visual, like an infographic, tip sheet, or chart. This is one of the easiest ways to repurpose content, mainly because it requires chopping down content to the very basics so that the visuals tell the bulk of the story.

A great opportunity to create a visual content piece is a how-to article. How-to blog posts are the easiest to convert into an infographic or a presentation because a visual can take the place of a 200-word description. For example, if the recruiting firm creates a blog on what to include in a resume, they can work with a designer to turn it into a downloadable visual that a job seeker can reference while drafting his or her own resume (without writing new content!).

Use Analytics to Pick Topics

When topics aren’t resonating with prospects, ditch them. Stop covering topics that prospects and clients don’t care about. Eliminating the topic duds is a great way to streamline your process and focus on what matters to your potential clients.

The only way to know the difference between a dud and a winner when it comes to your blog posts is by reviewing the analytics. If you have Google Analytics installed on your website or blog, take a look at the traffic and track the downloads of your content pieces. We always suggest looking at a couple of months of data to weed out seasonal traffic spurts.

If a particular blog post does well, add more topics to your editorial calendar that address different aspects or takes on that particular topic. Using the recruiting firm again, if they wrote a topic on how to dress for an interview and it got 2x as many views as a topic on how to clean up your social media when job hunting, they should add more topics that discuss dressing the part for an interview.

Not sure where to start with Google Analytics, you're not alone?  Take, Getting started with Google Analytics, to learn to identify your preforming channels, and how to optimize them. 

Promote Your Blog Posts

It’s very rare that a blog post goes viral after sharing it on one social media channel. Don’t produce 20 blog posts hoping to hit on a topic that will have a viral reach. Instead, focus on producing 5 – 10 quality blog posts and spend time promoting them.

First, share them on all your social media channels. If you have multiple blog posts to share, be sure to share each post multiple times (at different times and days of the week). This will enable you to reach a higher portion of your audience and put more eyeballs on your blog posts.

Next, pay to promote your posts. Sponsoring your posts on sites like LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest enables you to reach users that aren’t part of your existing audience. Allocating a portion of your budget to promotion enables you to maximize the value of your blog posts. Even a small budget can have a dramatic impact in helping your post reach a brand new (targeted) audience.

Want to learn more about how to get the best visibility for your blog posts?  Take Getting Your Blog Content Shared On Social Media, for practical tips that work really well to get more of your blog content shared.

In an ideal world, you have the bandwidth to create a ton of blog posts, but in the real world, there just isn’t time. By following the tips here, you can maximize the blog posts you are able to create and increase the ROI of each one.

Want to learn more about any of the topics discussed in this article? Visit the Online Marketing Institute  to browse over 400 classes in the digital and social media marketing space. Ready to start learning? Sign up here here.

Jeremy Durant About the Author: Jeremy Durant is Business Principal at Bop Design, a B2B web design and digital marketing firm. Jeremy works closely with businesses in need of a website, marketing and branding strategy, helping them to develop their unique value proposition and ideal customer profile. Jeremy received his BA from Merrimack College and his MBA from California State University, San Marcos.

 


4 Leaks to Plug in Your Lead Generation Strategy

by

Stop losing money. Convert more leads. 4 Leaks to Plug in Your Lead Generation Strategy

There are a lot of different visuals that come into play when discussing a lead generation strategy. The lead funnel. The sales pipeline. The marketing workflow.

For whatever minor differences, they all share the metaphor of water flowing through something. For lead generation this is appropriate. A single crack in your funnel or pipeline and your carefully designed system begins to fall apart.

Over the past few years, the amount of content and social media messaging companies are creating has exploded. The main goal of this has been to increase website traffic and draw in more and more leads. In fact, HubSpot found that the top marketing priority in 2014 and 2015 was increasing the number of contacts and leads.

Now marketers are starting to ask an even more important question, what are we doing with those leads? In 2016, the number one marketing priority is converting contacts and leads into customers.

Your funnel/pipeline/workflow are full of leads, but how many of them are coming out the other side as customers? Are there any leaks in your lead generation strategy? Here are four areas to optimize to make sure no qualified lead is falling through the cracks:

  • Lead Capture

All of your inbound marketing works hard to grow an audience on your blog and social channels, but those follower counts don’t mean anything if you aren’t able to capture enough information to move the conversation forward.

This is one of the mistakes marketers make when trying to convert visitors and followers. The key is to only ask for enough information to move the conversation forward. Asking for too much information too early in the lead capture process can scare a potential lead away.

With the amount of marketing messages people are receiving on a daily basis, your audience is already apprehensive to give anyone their valuable contact information. Don’t make it difficult to exchange that information for whatever you are offering in return.

Want to learn more about Lead Capture techniques? These 8 classes from the Online Marketing Institute can help anyone in the digital space learn the fundamentals of demand generation.

Optimize Landing Page Conversions

Once you have an optimized and streamlined way of capturing lead information, avoid the temptation to overcomplicate it with a distracting landing page. Your landing page should clearly convey the value the lead will gain from providing their contact information. It should also be extremely clear on the action you’d like them to take. Unfortunately:

  • 48% of landing pages contain multiple offers. Keep yours simple to increase conversions.
  • Only 16% of landing pages are free of navigation bars. This gives your leads an option to leave your page without converting.
  • Only 48% of marketers build a new landing page for each lead capture campaign. Each landing page should be customized to the specific offer and campaign you are using.

Creating the perfect landing page for your offer can be a major challenge for marketers. By measuring and testing different approaches, you can zero in on a strategy that works for your business.

  • Have a Compelling Offer

If you’ve done your job correctly, your audience sees your company as a thought leader and a source of valuable information in your industry. The lead magnet is your chance to deliver on that promise.

While you may be able to capture your leads information with a great sounding title and an optimized landing page, it won’t do you any good if the magnet itself isn’t a valuable resource. You’ll have your leads information but you’ll have lost their trust. As you create different whitepapers, training videos, email courses and free trials, make sure you are asking whether or not this is content you’d be willing to pay money for.

Unsure of what your audience will find valuable? Using social media can give you insights into your audience’s preferences. By adding your follower’s social activities to create more enhanced lead data you’ll be able to develop much more targeted content.

As Jay Baer says, “the more you know about your customers, the more you can provide to them information that is increasingly useful, relevant, and persuasive.”

  • Start Lead Scoring

According to Gleanster Research, 50% of leads are qualified but not yet ready to buy. Moving your leads effectively through your pipeline requires a complete understanding of where they are in the buyer’s journey.

This understanding can only come from developing a system for scoring your leads. Despite its importance, 79% of B2B marketers are not engaging in lead scoring.

Rather than giving each lead the same amount of attention and lead nurturing – which means some leads receive more than they should and the more important leads receive less – rate your leads based on activity such as:

  • Subscribing to your blog
  • Following you on social media
  • Opening your email
  • Filling out a form on your site

A lead scoring system allows you to qualify and rank your prospects to engage with them over social and other channels in a much more customized and engaging way.

No matter what you do, you will never convert 100% of the leads that flow through your funnel. However, by creating an automated workflow and carefully analyzing it to ensure there are no major leaks, you can greatly increase your company’s ability to convert.

Screen Shot 2016-08-22 at 9.00.16 AMTeena Thach is Socedo’s social media and marketing specialist. Socedo is a demand generation system that empowers marketers to discover, engage with and qualify prospects through social media to generate revenue at scale.

 

Want to learn more about any of the topics discussed in this article? Visit the Online Marketing Institute  to browse over 400 classes in the digital and social media marketing space. Ready to start learning? Sign up here here.

 


What is the Difference Between Paid Content Marketing and Display Banner Advertising?

by

Girl pondering the

What is the difference between paid content marketing and paid banner advertising?

Paid content marketing and display banner advertising (also paid for) are often thought to be at war with each other.

At first glance, their opposition seems obvious. With informative articles, free promotions, and interactivity that drives traffic inbound with users not even knowing it, content marketing appears far less intrusive than does display advertising, the old guard of online, outbound promotion, which gave us the Internet’s billboards: pop-ups, pop-unders, leaderboards, skyscrapers, and everything rectangular in between.

The reality is these forms are far less at war with each other than they are at peace. In fact in recent years, they’ve merged through a combination of methods employed in the fields of both native advertising and social media marketing. In this post, we explore how these two forms of marketing emerged, evolved, and combined to form much of what we see today when we visit a commercial website, as well as what a good marketing degree should offer in the way of training for these fields.

So how did banner ads and paid content get their start? By trading notes, essentially.

In 1994, banner ads initiated a boom through the 90s. Largely due to novel clickability afforded by their debut on several popular early websites like Hotwired and Yahoo, they earned a place of prominence among users of the World Wide Web. Around 1996, at the same time these ads were allowing a huge surge in the number of content-driven publishers like Hotwired that were able to generate substantial revenue selling ad space, the novelty of banner ads wore off—just as paid content was starting to spread its wings. In 1999, after a large dip in market value when banner ad effectiveness was measured to find 0.1% conversion rates, a rise in fear surrounding y2k, and the bursting of the Dot com bubble, online ad revenues dropped 32%, and investors started tightening their pursestrings during the first two quarters of the year 2000.

At this time, paid content and display advertising in particular retreated to lick their wounds. A period of market volatility ensued. That is, until Google AdWords came to the rescue. With new clickthrough and performance-based tracking technology available in 2002, Google introduced a new ad program that overhauled the landscape of online advertisement, transforming it from a predominantly paid placement model (i.e., the more buyers pay, the more their ad plays) to a predominantly pay-per-click model. This new advertising paradigm, which is still by and large the paradigm we use today, ranked and placed advertisements based on relevance to the user’s keyword searches rather than the size of a buyer’s bid at auction. Thus, a new era of online marketing was born: the era of search engine optimization, user-determined virality, and clickthrough-rate above all—an era in which paid content became king.

So what happened to banner ads after their crash opened up the road for paid content’s preeminence?

They went native. That is, they began to take notes from king content on how to be less intrusive. Much like product placement in movies or TV shows usually goes unnoticed but still leaves impressions that have been shown to influence comsumer behavior, the success of native advertising pressured brands to pay for dynamic content rather than throw money at static “Click Here!” ad campaigns. The result is that in this new age of adblockers and textual content, banner ads would no longer be able to fill our periphery with flashy pop-ups, or at least not on websites that had become conscious of the importance of publishing relevant content and creating pleasant user experiences. Some of the most popular examples of native advertising today are advertorials, promoted tweets, and those little branded posts we scroll past on our Facebook News Feeds: Sponsored posts (which are based on paid placement), Suggested posts (which are based on your Google searches), or posts from organizations that your friends have liked or shared (which are based on your well, your friends).

Now, the (quite literally) billion-dollar question. Where are we headed? If banner ads have been eclipsed by paid content, then what does their future hold? And if paid content is king, then what else do we have to look forward to in the fields of social media marketing and native advertising? More of the same regime?

These are very big questions that no one post can presume to answer in full. But it is safe to say that we can expect greater things than more of the same. Banner ads are predicted by some, including Forbes’ online advertising expert, Robert Hof, and an eMarketer study, to be making a comeback in 2016. Due to innovations in ad-buying technology, new understandings of user search behavior, and increased awareness of user demographics, both banner ads and paid content are being traded through a practice that blends the stock exchange with online advertising to produce a new, largely automated industry called programmatic buying. Since display ad trading comprises a big portion of this ad exchange market, and because the emperor Google has decreed that “programmatic is here to stay”, it’s safe to say banner ads are nowhere near extinct, and that the paid content industry should consider other ways to incorporate display advertising’s outbound techniques into their inbound marketing campaigns.

For all these reasons, we should expect colleges and universities to offer marketing degrees that train their students in the art and science of social media marketing, native advertising, and programmatic buying. Without them, students will be left behind in a time where paid content and banner ads were supposedly enemies from different industries, instead of friends with the same ends. Isn’t that the goal of marketing after all? To unify people over a product for which they can share their mutual appreciation?

This article was originally posted BestMarketingDegrees.org

Want to learn more? Visit the Online Marketing Institute to take classes in Content Marketing , Digital Advertising, and more.