Marketing Technology

Why Your Next Marketing Hire Should Be A Chatbot

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Editor's Note: Josh R Jackson is a contributing editor at BestMarketingDegrees.org. To compliment the new Emerging Media classes in our updated catalog, he joins us today to explain the way chatbots are changing CRM, and how companies can benefit.

 

Because the chatbot is associated with a long history of frustrating and sometimes humorous responses to human questions, many Internet users roll their eyes when they hear the word chatbot.

And while some searchers ignore chatbox pop-ups habitually, many users fight the urge to close a window or end a phone call when they know a chatbot is on the other side.  

Nowadays, some of those users are pleasantly surprised to find that chatbot technology has come a long way in only a few short years. In fact, marketing teams might go so far as to say that chatbot technology has matured into the full-fledged industry called conversational commerce.

Why?

Because conversational commerce technology has emerged from its novelty phase when chatbots like Microsoft's Office Assistant and AIM's SmarterChild were cutting edge, and now it's —and it's riding a new wave of interest.

Source: Google Trends

In no small part, this chatbot renaissance is due to the proliferation and popularity of messaging apps which - along with brand name chatbots and personal assistants like Google Now and Amazon Alexa - have seen the marketing and AI potential of chatbots grow immensely.

Source: BI Intelligence

In addition, the modern marketing team's demand for 24/7 brand messaging and the ability to deliver a message when no one's available to take a call has worked double time to generate big waves of chatbot interest in platforms like Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp.

Source: Google Trends

This means that the modern marketing team's demand for constant messaging has made the online environment ripe for innovation in chatbot marketing technology.

And while the most obvious function of chatbots may be in the realm of customer relationship management (i.e., attraction and retention of customers) the role of chatbots is expanding to include other realms for innovation in marketing: most notably, corporate productivity.

Here's why your marketing team's next hire should be a chatbot.

Big Customer Service Potential

Customer service, and specifically customer retention, is arguably the biggest, best, and most time-tested reason to invest in chatbot technology for your marketing team.

Over the years, customers have grown begrudgingly accustomed to going through the menu-items listed by interactive voice response systems (IVR), the ancient ancestors of the chatbot, that direct customers to the appropriate party via telephone keypad.

Source: Rob Guilfoyle, CEO Abe AI (LinkedIn)

Ask almost any customer what they think of interactive voice response, however, and you'll find that it's not a very good tool for retaining customers, much less maintaining customer satisfaction.

Today, free-flowing chatbot technology enables customers to interact with an AI system that - like a real employee - creates a conversational experience and learns a customer's preferences. Fostering such a natural language exchange rather than forcing a rote, numerical interaction is much more likely to meet modern consumer expectations, which increasingly depend on our ability to query interfaces like we would Google.

This is why adopting chatbot technologies early, and especially those that can handle customers' natural language queries, is likely to pay off in the long run—or in the words of Rob Guilfoyle, CEO of Abe AI, "likely [to] see quick and demonstrable ROI by getting ahead of the adoption curve."

Even Bigger Corporate Productivity Potential

Perhaps for the obvious reason that chatbots can avoid the complications that arise from human error, chatbot technologies have the potential not only to revolutionize the way we think about corporate productivity (i.e., as a means to the end of "the bottom line"), but also the very fabric of corporate productivity itself.

After all, if chatbots can take care of all our customers' service needs, could it become more productive for marketing teams to channel their energy into higher order, less tangible concerns, like accomplishing acts of social good? Could productivity become less defined as a measure of quantity than of quality?

Barring immediate answers to immaterial questions such as these, the prospect of a non-human future where someday, somehow, chatbots could replace human marketers is both frightening and exciting.

This prospect is frightening because chatbots really are beginning to spell a monumental change in the marketing profession for customer relationship managers. It is exciting because chatbots have the potential to more easily automate a processes that annoys customers at the same time as they develop more productive relationships with them.

All that is to say, good chatbots with good AI will make good customers, giving users and consumers the cutting-edge experience they crave with a company that is future-oriented.

And what better way to retain customers than to impress on them that you always have their interests (and their future) in mind?

Need more reasons why your marketing team's next hire should be a chatbot? Take OMI's newest classes on Emerging Media to see how chatbots are changing online marketing.

 


How to Recover from an SEO Rankings Drop

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Editor's Note: Anthony Tisara is a Content Marketing Strategist and SEO expert with My Biz Niche. Today he joins us to discuss recovery from an SEO rankings drop and troubleshooting guidelines that will keep your site on page #1.

 

For webmasters, few things are more horrifying than waking up to find their website has dropped out of page 1 of the search engine rankings for a particular keyword. They will naturally ask themselves, "Why did my website drop in Google?" over and over again, wondering why their coffee tastes more bitter than usual.

Panicking is a perfectly understandable reaction dropping in SEO rankings, but it’s definitely not the most productive one. In the midst of a crisis, online marketers have to keep a clear head and recognize that losing SEO points is not the end of the world. It’s not even the end of the website!

Websites fall in rank and recover all the time; this is simply the natural cycle of running a website, and it will happen no matter how hard you work. With that being said, after calming down, walking the road to recovery is the next crucial step. So in this article, let's discuss troubleshooting tips to determine why your SEO scores have gone down, and how you might recover them.

1. You got penalized by Google

Did you know that Google has webmaster guidelines? Whether intentionally or unintentionally, it's not very hard to play fast and loose with these rules. Google will automatically or manually penalize websites that don't follow these guidelines carefully, so reviewing them and auditing your site for compliance is important.

Finding out if you've suffered a penalty isn't too hard: pull up your Google Webmaster Tools account, and see if Google sent you any notifications about a penalty and the reasons for it. Dozens of Google penalty checker tools can also help with this step.

Whatever prompted the penalty—duplicate content, unnatural links, etc.—you just have to accept Google’s decision calmly and focus on fixing the problem. Remove the duplicate content, unnatural links, irrelevant keywords, or anything else that is strictly against Google's guidelines.

After cleaning up, send a reconsideration request to Google to recover from the penalties. Keep in mind, however, that getting back your position in SERPs can take some time.

While you’re waiting to recover, make sure to tighten up your website so future penalties are unlikely to occur. Employing honest white hat SEO tactics at all times is a good place to start. Don’t even think about trying to sneak in so-called black hat SEO tactics; Google’s latest though algorithm update dubbed 'Fred' is scrupulous, and you won't get away with it.

2. You lost important backlinks

It’s very possible that your rankings dropped because you lost backlinks from a high-quality website. There are several reasons why something like this would happen:

  1. The website with your backlinks could have gone offline
  2. Google may be having issues connecting to the host
  3. The page or content where your links were hosted may have been removed, updated or replaced

As a solution, you can contact webmasters and ask for links to be replaced, but your time and effort is better spent on building new, high-quality inbound links. The best way to do that, of course, is by creating more relevant and helpful content that will make your site attractive to other webmasters.

To prevent rankings loss in the future due to lost links, consider keeping track of backlinks to your websites using a variety of tools for that purpose. This will allow you to act before losing a backlink dings your site.

3. You need a better web host

Your website can check off all the "awesome" boxes. You can have all the bells and whistles like great content with rich anchor text, good SEO practices, and still suffer a rankings drop.

This can happen when your pages take an eternity to load, no thanks to your web hosting company.

No internet user wants to wait for extended periods of time to reach a website. According to statistics, if users have to wait more than 10 seconds for a page to load, they are almost certain to go somewhere else. This will cause your traffic to fall, which will eventually impact your rankings as well. Google has made it clear that website speed impacts Search Engine Rankings.

Speed tests can help to determine if your web host is bringing down SEO scores. If the problem lies with your web hosting company, find a better one. Even if your host is fine, your hosting plan may still cause problems: for instance, 'shared hosting' plans are popular because they are cheap. But a shared host serves hundreds and maybe even thousands of other websites.

Switch to a more expensive but infinitely faster dedicated hosting instead if your loading time stubbornly refuses to improve.

4. You redesigned your website

On the Internet, never underestimate the potential impact of small changes, much less big ones. If you redesigned your website immediately before experiencing an SEO drop, it’s likely that the launch had a negative impact on your search rankings.

You may have forgotten to install redirects, for one thing. It’s also possible that Google re-evaluated the relevance of your page for certain topics or keywords because of changes you made to content while redesigning the site.

When doing a site redesign, it’s always smart to have a 301 redirect plan in place. This way, you can send visitors to new and improved pages. In the process, you also get to tell Google to disregard the old page and rank the redesigned page instead.

5. Your competitor outranked you

Search Rankings are a competition, and sometimes going down doesn't mean you failed; it can mean someone else did a better job.

Getting to the top of a search page is one thing, but staying there is another. If you do not defend your position and keep an eye on competitors, sooner or later they will have their day at the top of the search engine mountain, pushing you down in the process.

Getting outranked by a competitor is an everyday fact of SEO life. Here’s one more fact of SEO life: your competitor’s rankings can fall too, and your site can take their place. Contrary to popular myth, SEO work never gets done. Just continue your optimization efforts. Monitor and analyze your competitor’s sites to get a clearer picture of what they’re doing, and adjust your SEO strategies accordingly.

6. The mysterious Google flux

At the end of the day, no matter how well you run your website, you are the mercy of almighty Google. And as Google tampers with its algorithm, unpredictable changes occur on a regular basis that upset the position of websites. This phenomenon is called "Google flux". Like a freak weather disaster, nothing can be done to prevent these fluxes, and if trial and error can't show you where you went wrong, maybe you didn't go wrong. Maybe you were the victim of Google updates.

On the one hand, this may seem depressing. But on the other hand, it can be comforting to realize that every dip in SEO rankings does not prove bad practice. To minimize the possible damage brought on by algorithm updates, just make sure to follow SEO best practices, and never put all of your eggs in one basket. Rank for several keywords so that a drop in one does not necessarily equate to a drop in another.

Also recognize that at the end of the day, Flux is just as likely to boost your website for a certain keyword as it is to sink you, so it will theoretically balance out.

To keep your website at the top of Google search results, learn more about best SEO practices with our expert-guided classes on search engine optimization.

Visit the Online Marketing Institute to browse over 400 classes in the digital and social media marketing space.

 


3 Ways Virtual Reality is Changing Brand Messaging

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Editor's Note: Josh R Jackson is a contributing editor at BestMarketingDegrees.org. To complement the brand new Emerging Media classes in our updated catalog, he joins us to discuss three ways the Virtual Reality is changing brand messaging today.

Right now, virtual reality is on its way to become the most disruptive trend in the media marketplace.

How do we know this? Because in 2016, virtual reality became the first and foremost emerging technology on Gartner's Hype Cycle, meaning it has passed the point of no return and reached the slope of viability. This is the same slope surpassed by innovative technologies like ephemeral messaging (Snapchat), which became one of the most popular marketing tools to emerge in the last five years.

So what does all of this mean?

In short, we can conclude that the immersive media experience called virtual reality is about to become a marketing technology that's not only viable for heavy hitters like Google and Facebook, but also sustainable, productive, and accessible for mainstream audiences.

And when virtual reality reaches this point, it will fundamentally alter the way marketers distribute and target brand messaging.

Just think about the possibility of a VR platform that could offer a more engaging social networking experience than Facebook!

But reaching the next phase in Gartner's Hype Cycle can be a long and arduous process, especially if new questions arise about expanding scales and climbing costs. In other words, it's still too early to say who's ahead in the race for peak VR productivity - innovators and investors will have to take a backseat to the free market, and patiently watch what happens.

In the meantime, mass market potential for virtual reality and immersive media has approached its most lucrative phase. Now is the time for marketers to use every spare second they have to observe key developments in the VR marketplace.

This is all the more true given that VR has already begun to change brand messaging as we speak.

Here are the three biggest ways virtual reality is doing that -

1. Virtual Reality is Changing How Marketers Sell Experience

Because virtual reality is a rich media format that sells an immersive experience, the technology is already revolutionizing the marketplace for experiential marketing.

Most theme parks have already caught onto this use of virtual reality, as many now furnish VR headsets to enhance their guests' experience.

Source: Mirror Online (2017)

SeaWorld, for instance, recently installed wraparound headsets to give riders of their Kraken roller coaster an experience they will never forget.

When the practice of selling people an experience has become the secret ingredient for tapping consumer markets—and particularly the Millennial consumer market that is so large, expansive, and accepting of new technologies—marketers cannot afford to underestimate the power that virtual reality has to reach new levels of engagement with global audiences.

The question is whether or not this method of delivery for virtual reality can be sustained and scaled to fit smaller media for less cost, but still deliver an unforgettable experience.

Right now, interactive designers and VR enthusiasts are at work bridging that gap with headsets that can browse the entire Internet in 3D.

When you consider the possibility of being able to see every video on the web in three dimensions, you open up a new world of possibilities for thinking about engagement with brand messaging -

That brings us to our second point -

2. Virtual Reality Is Disrupting How Marketers Track Attention and Engagement

When the practice of using a mouse or smartphone declines in the face of VR adoption, what happens to metrics like click rate? How do we measure user attention span and engagement with brand messaging if people aren't using their hands to interact with applications?

Part of the answer may lie in the startup potential of an emerging technology called Virtual Reality Eye Tracking.

Source: DTG Technology Readiness Levels (2016)

According to a method used by world militaries to measure an emerging technology's usability—the Technology Readiness Level (TRL)—Virtual Reality Eye Tracking has reached its full potential: enabling full gameplay for disabled persons.

As a result, it has become possible to measure engagement in virtual reality simply by tracking where a user is looking at a screen, and the technology which makes this possible is more than halfway to mass marketability.

What this could mean for brand messengers is that VR headsets have the potential to render taps and clicks obsolete in the near and distant future, especially if eye recognition technology becomes viable for larger screens.

It also means that attention—arguably the most important metric for determining user interest—is well on its way to becoming the next big metric for measuring a brand's success at attracting and retaining an audience.

3. Virtual Reality Is Disrupting How Marketers Sponsor Social Good

What if I told you that VR revenues are much more likely to come from markets of professionals who are undergoing vocational training for careers in computer science, engineering, and medicine rather than movies and passive forms of entertainment?

Source: Oculus - VR for Good

Of course, virtual reality is good for gaming - Eye Tracking technology can testify to that fact. But because this feature is primarily being developed so that disabled and handicapped users can play games without the use of their hands, the technology can also be thought of as virtual reality that sponsors a social good.

There are many developing uses for virtual reality technology that might accomplish something similar. For example, Oculus sponsors a challenge for aspiring filmmakers in high school to use 360-degree video technology to produce content that can inspire a change in their communities. Medical doctors and interactive designers are currently at work on developing applications for virtual reality that provide pain relief to children.

Today's marketers can likely think of many applications for this type of content as the viewer market for it grows. There already are opportunities for 360-degree video ads (and ad networks) that might be used to convey brand messaging that is socially moving. The next question for online marketers might be how can we use virtual reality for brand messaging to tell even more compelling stories than we are already telling?

Conclusion

However you look at it, virtual reality is on the cusp of changing the brand messaging landscape for marketers everywhere. Will you be one of the pioneers creating change, or a reactionary on the sidelines?

To learn how you can be one of the pioneers, take OMI's newest classes on Emerging Media.

 


The 5 Biggest Trends Redefining Digital Marketing

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Editor's Note: Josh R Jackson is a contributing editor at BestMarketingDegrees.org. To complement the brand new content marketing classes in our updated catalog, he joins us to discuss 5 trends that are changing the Digital Marketing industry, and how you can make the most of them.

 

Perhaps the best definition of digital marketing is that it’s always changing.

The industry’s constant and rapid state of flux is why so many field guides on SEO and content marketing have emerged over the last decade, only to be rendered obsolete by changing practices the very next year.

This is what makes digital marketing difficult to define at any one point in time: it behaves more like a moving target than an established industry.

As a result, to fully comprehend what defines digital marketing (and therefore, what’s redefining it) we must look at the rise and fall of some of the biggest trends that have defined online marketing since 2004.

We say 2004 because that was the year Google started keeping track of interest in the search terms that define our current moment in digital marketing history—a moment dominated by 5 big trends that have emerged over the past fourteen years

The Big Trends

Using what we know about topics in digital marketing that capture marketers’ imaginations, our current moment in digital marketing history is being redefined by conversations about topics that fall within the following 5 trends:

  1. Digital advertising
  2. Content marketing
  3. AdTech & MarTech
  4. Mobile SEO
  5. Blockchain

Thanks in large part to Google Trends, we know that some very specific changes have occurred to these 5 big trends over the past fourteen years: changes that have already redefined digital marketing as we know it and will continue to do so.

Digital Advertising Is Outstripping TV Advertising

According to one source, digital ad spending surpassed TV ad spending around March of 2017. Although some of us are still waiting for confirmation from other sources on this tectonic shift in spending practices, the trajectory of the market appears clear.

The waning of TV ad spend ultimately signals a changing of the guard, a marked shift from one marketing industry dominated by television, to another marketing industry which is increasingly dominated by digital.

We can see this shift reflected in the slow and steady rise of Google search interest in "digital advertising," and the more precipitous fall of Google search interest in "TV advertising" between 2004 and the present.

That rise and fall suggests that both interest and investment in digital advertising are redefining digital marketing, as digital advertising emerges not merely as one small part of the future of modern marketing, but as one of its most valued players.

Content Marketing is Reaching Untold Heights of Popularity and Making Waves

It’s no secret that content is the most valued player of the digital marketing industry. One study even projects that if investment continues at current global levels, content marketing will be a $300 billion industry by 2019.

But the fact that content marketing continues to rise in practice and popularity despite having been around since before 2004 may surprise some of its practitioners.

Over the last six years, content marketing has undoubtedly shattered expectations with its ability to touch almost every industry in the world and reach record heights of cultural interest and financial investment. This trend is mirrored in Google Trends’ tracking of interest over time for the search term "content marketing," which reflects a steady, sometimes explosive intensification of search interest in content marketing, especially as its influence has expanded over the past 3 years in particular.

What appears to be creating this change may occur on a slightly smaller scale. Social messaging has become more ambitious, clickbait has become more aggressive, and content marketing has almost become something more like "contentious marketing," or messaging that is designed to generate controversy rather than make a point.

Whether or not this newfound propensity for wave-making explains the intensification of interest in content marketing since 2011 remains to be seen.

But one thing is certain: content marketing has redefined and continues to redefine digital marketing on a yearly if not daily basis.

AdTech & MarTech are Converging

Advertising technology has seen a lot of hype over the years.

But ad blockers and the growing popularity of AdTech’s cousin marketing technology have taken a toll, while interest in advertising technology has waxed and waned considerably over the years.

Looking at Google Trends' search interest index, marketing technology also appears to have followed this downward trajectory on a somewhat smaller scale. On the other hand, MarTech  recently experienced an uptick in search interest, which for the first time in digital marketing history, placed ahead of AdTech on Google Trends’ search interest scale this year.

The optics of this suggest that, perhaps like digital advertising is overtaking TV advertising, MarTech is overtaking AdTech with respect to cultural capital and financial relevance—in other words, the age of MarTech has arrived.

It's likely that the two practices are reaching a natural state of equilibrium, as they converge, and both advertising and marketing become even more technologically intwined.

Mobile SEO is Exploding on the Scene After a Steady Hike in Interest

With more mobile connections on the planet than people, mobile marketing is the fastest growing media channel by digital consumption.

Following that trend, mobile content is fast becoming more popular among users and content creators than desktop content.

Much of mobile content’s popularity can be traced to the mobile optimization boom that occurred in 2015, the moment when Google informed the Internet that any websites which weren’t mobile-friendly would be see their content drop in the rankings.

We can see the results of Google’s heads up in the exponential uptick in search interest for the term “mobile SEO” in April of 2015, the same month Google released its mobile-friendly ranking algorithm. After the initial hype, interest mobile search engine optimization died down for a while, only to explode back on the scene in early 2016, since which time it has sustained peak interest.

What this means is that mobile content for the mobile web is here to stay and should not be ignored. It also means that mobile SEO should be at the top of content developers’ lists for trends not only to follow, but to participate in through 2017 and beyond.

Blockchain is Entering Conversations about Marketing Automation

Since it entered the popular consciousness in 2013, blockchain has captured the imagination of workers in every industry, from government agents to marketers and salespeople.

Aside from blockchain’s long-term potential to revamp how global markets operate and interact with each other, one of the main reasons blockchain has become important to marketers and salespeople is that it has the potential to safely and securely automate digital transactions in marketing and sales, as well as authenticate the origins of products for sale.

This automation potential has vast implications that could affect all of the trends discussed above, especially AdTech and MarTech. However, that potential may not come into play until 5 years from now. In the meantime, the fact of whether or not blockchain will affect all these trends is anyone’s guess.

Despite that, there is no doubt that every trend discussed above is working, in big and small ways, to redefine how we think about digital marketing, both today and tomorrow.

Wondering where you fit in with these trends? Take a class in digital advertising, content marketing, AdTech & MarTech, mobile marketing, and digital marketing automation today to find out what you can do to redefine digital marketing.

 

 


Get the Most From SMS Marketing With This Periodic Table

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Editor's Note: Anastasia Svyrydenko is a content marketer at Textmagic. Today, she joins us to share a graphical aid developed by her company to help SMS marketers build an effective strategy.

 

If you've kept up with SMS marketing over the last few years, you may have come across these numbers: open rate for SMS is 98%, and 90% of text messages are read within 3 minutes of receipt.

Now while these numbers may vary with changing trends, SMS still blows other forms of consumer messaging out of the water. There is no quicker or more effective way to clue customers in on a promotion, offer or event. As such, businesses are rapidly adopting text messages to keep their audience in the know.

Whether you've already embarked on your SMS marketing journey or you are just planning your first campaign, there are certain rules and practices you can follow to achieve desired results and make the most of these fantastic open rates.

The Periodic Table below will help guide you through the process of creating and conducting a text messaging campaign:

How to Use the Table

Start off by reading the SMS Marketing Guide below the table, which outlines the whole process. Then, get familiar with the table's categories. Some of these are multiple choice elements: Goals, Ways to grow subscriber list, Metrics. Other categories, like Text message elements and Delivery, are actually checklists so that you don't forget anything important.

Let's take a quick look at each category.

  1. Strategy. Develop an SMS marketing strategy that will align with your main marketing goals.
  2. Goals. Based on your strategy, pick one or two goals.
  3. Types of campaigns. At this point, it is vital to choose the right type of text message. Let's say your goal is to grow sales. You can choose one of the following: Time-dependent discounts, Coupons, Holiday offers, Special occasion offers, Exclusive offers.
  4. Elements of a Text Message. This category will help you make sure nothing has fallen through the cracks when it comes to composing a message. This will prevent you from writing an attention grabbing message and forgetting to include instructions for the recipient.
  5. Delivery Best Practices. This group of elements reminds you to customize messages for each segment of your audience, and stick to the best frequency and timing practices. A good rule of thumb is to send no more than 4-5 messages per month. Don't overdo it, or you'll end up with a skyrocketing unsubscribe rate. Send texts during working hours only, so that clients are not commuting or sleeping when they receive your message.
  6. Metrics. Pick the right metric to evaluate campaign performance.
  7. Ways to grow your subscriber list. Based on your industry and type of campaign, choose the most suitable way to grow your list. If you own a restaurant, include an invitation to subscribe on the in-store sign, and add it to customer receipts. Online marketers can follow list-building strategies like those used in email marketing; there are lots of creative ways forward.
  8. Types of segmentation. Segmentation and customization will help you ensure that you're sending relevant messages to your clients.

Now you're all set to start your next SMS campaign! Use the periodic table through all stages of the process, and rest assured that you'll get the most of your texting efforts.

Learn more with these related OMI classes:

Data and Analytics: Overview to Data Analytics

Email Marketing Getting Started: Build Your List Organically

Visit the Online Marketing Institute to browse over 400 classes in the digital and social media marketing space.

 

 


What’s AdTech & MarTech, and Why Should Your Business Care?

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Editor's Note: Josh R Jackson is a contributing editor at BestMarketingDegrees.org. To compliment the brand new classes in our updated catalog, he joins us to introduce AdTech and MarTech and explain their ever expanding role in marketing.

 

AdTech & MarTech are two of the biggest buzzwords and most difficult-to-understand practices in the modern marketing industry.

There are two reasons why:

    1. AdTech & MarTech are still developing. Trying to understand them is almost like trying to understand two teenagers based solely on the fact that they play the same sport. In other words, it's too early to know where they will end up with any certainty.
    2. AdTech and MarTech are virtually becoming the online marketing industry. Any time you use a service that provides you with analytics and feedback on how people see and engage with your business online (think: Facebook and Twitter for Business), you’re harnessing the power of AdTech & MarTech networks. Translation: AdTech & MarTech are an ever-growing part of an ever-widening industry.

Despite the fact that they’re moving targets, we can say two things for certain: AdTech & MarTech are converging, and they have been riding waves of venture capital-backed search interest for at least ten years.

But arguably the biggest reason they are so important is not because of top-down investment, but because of bottom-up interest. That is, because businesses are recognizing that AdTech & MarTech​ affect their digital footprint​​, no matter how large or small that footprint is.​

Look no further than the top three search results the next time you google your business or industry—those first three returns will likely come from Google’s Search Network, an adtech service hosted by Google AdWords. If you or your business isn’t in that network, it will appear below those entries.

Complex search algorithms are at work behind adtech systems like Google’s, and these algorithms require some awareness of data management to properly integrate advertising platforms. But ultimately, that integrated advertising platform - or omnichannel - makes online advertising much easier to use and understand.

Definitions for AdTech & MarTech: Two Sides of the Same Coin

Despite the growing size and complexity of the marketing industry they influence, AdTech & MarTech can be broken down into simple definitions that parallel and complement each other.

AdTech (noun; adj)

  1. Short for "advertising technology."
  2. The industry name for any tool or application for researching audiences and delivering targeted advertisements to them.
  3. A group of platforms and software for hosting the automated exchange process of buying and selling advertisements through a machine-based ad network or marketplace (e.g., Adobe Advertising Cloud).
  4. Used in a sentence: "Were you able to attend that conference on AdTech in NYC? Reps from Fortune 500 companies sponsored a great exhibit on this adtech and artificial intelligence platform that helps you advertise on social media."
  5. See: "Facebook Ads," "Google Ads," and "MarTech" 

MarTech (noun; adj)

  1. Short for "marketing technology."
  2. An industry term that encompasses a vast body of tools, platforms, processes, and applications that we use to market online products and services (e.g., Social Media Marketing, Content Marketing, Email Marketing, Mobile Marketing, Affiliate Marketing, Marketing Analytics, and Marketing Management).
  3. Platforms and software for managing marketing data and automating marketing processes (e.g., Oracle Marketing Cloud).
  4. Used in a sentence: "Did you see the martech issue of Ad Age? They did a cover story on how the number of companies in MarTech has grown exponentially since 2011."
  5. See: "Facebook for Business," "Twitter for Business," and "YUGE DEAL."

Advertising is just one form of marketing, and AdTech is just one form of MarTech. As such, it's best to think of AdTech & MarTech as two sides of the same coin: AdTech is the front (what most people recognize a coin by), and MarTech is the tail that most people touch and see everyday without noticing.

So What (Do AdTech & MarTech Mean for My Business?)

Data and Targeting

Because AdTech and MarTech are driven by data collection, data analysis, data presentation, and data management, they have a much more nuanced research methodology for delivering ads than traditional methods of marketing and advertising.

Traditional methods tend to operate on the principle of "shoot-first-ask-questions-later" (e.g., billboard ads, radio ads, television commercials, and online banner ads). Traditional methods do involve at least a small amount of research, such as finding the best locations to air an ad for a targeted demographic. However, they also reach a substantial number of people who are not the intended audience for their particular product or service. This overreach can result in annoyance (or worse, distrust) for brands that are particularly repetitive or intrusive. Just think about the last time an infomercial for cleaning products interrupted your regularly scheduled programming when you weren’t in the mood.  

AdTech & MarTech make it possible to target your intended audience without as much overreach, so that video or banner advertisements will reach an intended audience that is not only more likely to be interested, but also most likely to convert.

Ad networks like those owned by Facebook and Google are particularly good at this, since they can deliver "native ads" in user feeds to appear more like solicited information than annoying or intrusive advertisements.

How are you using AdTech & MarTech?

Whether you know it or not, you probably already are. If you want to learn more about controlling the size of your digital footprint in marketing and advertising technology, view our new classes on search engines, data management, and integrated advertising platforms, free for ten days!

 


11 Reasons You Should Care About Mobile Marketing

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mobile marketing header

Editor’s Note: Kent Lewis is the president of digital marketing agency Anvil Media Inc. In preparation for his upcoming Mobile Marketing webinar, he joins us today to discuss trends that make mobile marketing imperative for your business.

 

Since 2007, my measurable marketing agency Anvil has been claiming the ‘Year of Mobile’ is upon us every year. Why? Because every year, mobile has reliably become a more important part of the marketing mix. In 2017, most brands are finally beginning to think about how mobile marketing plays into their overall strategy, and some are even developing mobile-first campaigns. Here are a few compelling statistics about the immense impact mobile is having on the marketing world:

  • By the end of the year, 75 percent of internet use will be via mobile devices.
  • 36 percent of Americans now go online using multiple devices.
  • 86 percent of respondents say it’s important to create mobile apps, according to Salesforce Marketing Cloud’s State of Marketing report.

As I originally outlined in a 2012 article, Mobilizing Your Marketing is now table stakes; but as time goes by, a host of new trends has redefined mobile marketing. In this article, I’ve outlined eleven trends in mobile that your brand must consider when implementing or refining a mobile-friendly marketing program.

1. Voice Search

Searches originating from mobile devices continue to grow exponentially. Thanks to rapid adoption of Amazon Alexa, Microsoft Cortana, Apple Siri and Google Home, voice search will continue to increase in popularity. Amazon recently announced that Alexa now has 15,000 skills. According to recent research, 49 percent of US respondents use their voice assistants on a weekly basis, compared to 31 percent of global respondents. Interestingly, 57 percent said they would use voice search more if it recognized more complex commands. The good news is that each platform provider continues to increase the number of voice commands by thousands at a time. More than 20 percent of current searches on Android devices are voice searches.

This trend directly impacts search engine optimization and paid search, as both need to utilize voice-search-related initiatives to maintain a competitive edge. The first step is to optimize your website for long-tail search terms more common with voice-based searches. Similarly, paid search campaigns should target similar terms with mobile-optimized ads. On the web design side, leveraging Google’s Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) technology has shown to increase click-through-rates by up to 90 percent. Mobile searchers also spend 35 percent more time with AMP content than dedicated mobile web pages.

2. Location-based Marketing (LBM)

When Foursquare launched in 2009, the future looked bright for location-based marketing (LBM). For at least a year or two, mobile users were obsessed with “checking in” at local businesses via Foursquare or Facebook. While Foursquare may have gone the way of Groupon (still alive, but not exactly an Internet darling), LBM is still a thing. Key components of LBM include near field communications (NFC), radio frequency identification (RFID), wi-fi, geo-fencing, beaconing and local listings. Last year, beacon messages generated $44 billion in US retail sales. Nearly 80 percent of social media interactions now occur on mobile devices, which include location-based platforms.

While many consumers aren’t familiar with NFC technology, it is the missing link between location-based marketing and sales: Apple Pay, Google Wallet and other payment technologies rely on it for transactions. With greater support this year from Apple, expect much wider adoption of mobile wallets. Beyond leveraging RFID and beaconing to target in-store shoppers with unique messages, brands must embrace responsive-design for websites and proactive management of local business directory listings (Google My Business) and social platforms (Yelp!), including associated ratings and reviews, to ensure a holistic view of your customer journey.

3. Advertising Evolved

2017 is a special year for advertising, as it marks the first time in history that the total digital ad spend will surpass that of television. This year also provides a perfect storm of evolving ad options for mobile, with programmatic, video and native advertising. eMarketer recently reported that video ad spending for mobile will cross $6 billion in 2017, which is a 32 percent increase from 2016, according to another report.

Within mobile marketing, programmatic is expected to provide a major opportunity for advertisers. Brands are expected to spend more than $20 billion on mobile-programmatic advertising in 2017. Within mobile, video programmatic marketing will account for 28 percent of total spend by 2019. The third key trend in mobile advertising will be native advertising, which is expected to make up 63 percent of mobile display ad spend by 2020. Mobile advertising has clearly evolved from simple network and in-app display ads to today’s creative options across programmatic, video and native formats. Ensure your mobile advertising involves these developing technologies and trends to maximize ROI for your brand.

4. Augmented Experiences

Oculus Rift recently announced the ability to record real-world content and incorporate it into virtual reality (VR) experiences. Known as mixed reality, the new function will allow developers to bring video recordings from the real world into game/VR environments. This is an evolution from the other side of the spectrum, known as augmented reality (AR), which overlays virtual elements onto real world environments (Google Glass and Spectacles by Snap Inc.).

IKEA's VR showroom tech

According to Forbes, augmented reality technology will be a $5.7 billion industry by 2021. In comparison, global brands ranging from Coca-Cola and Ocean Spray to IKEA and Volvo have bet big on VR, creating immersive experiences to sell kitchen remodels, beverages and SUVs. Mobile devices are ground zero for the AR/VR experiences, as they are ubiquitous, powerful and highly personal. Google, Facebook, Samsung and Apple have all invested in VR technology, making it more affordable, accessible and engaging than ever. In the next 3 years, brands of all shapes and sizes should include AR/VR elements in their advertising.

5. Video Consumption

Over the past decade, mobile devices have dramatically changed how we consume video. According to HubSpot, video is the most popular online content format. Video is also viral: 92 percent of mobile video consumers share videos with others. In 2015, Flurry found that U.S. consumers spent more time on apps than watching television. Research also shows that younger consumers are less interested in watching TV, and prefer free or low-cost online video-streaming services. Remaining cable and satellite subscribers tend to multi-task on a second screen when watching TV, usually a mobile device. YouTube and Facebook dominate mobile video consumption currently, which means brands should actively create and sponsor content on those platforms.

360 video is growing in popularity, particularly on Facebook. Investing in 360 video can be costly and intimidating. For this reason, YouTube recently announced its VR180 initiative. According to recent Google research, 75 percent of 360-degree video users only look at the quadrant in front of them at the start of a video. With current 360 video offerings being largely under-utilized, grainy and unintuitive, 180 degree video offers a viable alternative for brands, as the same 4K resolution is condensed into half the viewing space, resulting in a sharper picture. With increased video consumption comes advertising opportunities. Mobile video ad spend is projected to exceed $6 billion by the end of 2017. This means that brands can buy into the conversation without committing significant initial resources to production.

6. Intelligent Messaging

A trend has been clear for the past few years: mobile device owners are downloading fewer apps, which creates challenges for brands looking to create their own dedicated mobile experience. Conversely, consumers are spending more time on mobile devices, which means more time on fewer apps. Nearly 80 percent of mobile users globally have downloaded messaging apps (including WhatsApp, TextNow, Facebook Messenger, Line and Viber), and that market continues to expand. Brands that embrace artificial intelligence (AI) based chatbots to connect with consumers are taking a leadership role.

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Pizza Hut's chatbot

The benefit of tapping messaging apps is that they shorten the sales funnel by understanding the context of conversations and feeding relevant information in return. The rise of in-app chatbots from the likes of 1-800-Flowers, Uber and Dominos validates further investment in the sector, particularly for customer service. More importantly, messaging apps are getting closer to commerce. Messaging app Kik, with more than 300 million registered users, recently announced its own digital currency Kin, which can be used globally to buy and sell goods. The opportunity for brands to create contextually-relevant conversations with a layer of commerce on top provides new ways to mitigate otherwise challenging mobile usage trends.

7. Shopping

Who doesn’t like shopping? According to multiple sources, not very many US-based digital consumers. In fact, 51 percent of Americans say they prefer to shop online. According to comScore, mobile ecommerce growth outpaced that of desktop e-commerce in the last quarter of 2016, growing 45 percent year-over-year (to $22.7 billion). 2017 looks to continue the trend, as Internet Retailer reports mobile commerce sales will top 30 percent for the first time. A ReadyCloud report found that 44 percent of retail internet minutes were spent on smartphones. That translates to roughly $2 billion in US mobile commerce, according to Invesp.

Mobile devices enable shopping on a whim, and 20 percent of American have purchased from the bathroom or while in the car. Social media plays an important role in mobile commerce, and 30 percent of online shoppers say they would purchase from a social media network. The most influential social platforms include Facebook, accounting for 38 percent of all e-commerce referrals. Pinterest comes in second at 29 percent and Twitter in third place with 22 percent of referrals. The bottom line: mobile devices make shopping as easy as a single click (patented by Amazon) and consumer brands need to adjust marketing and commerce initiatives accordingly.

8. Big Data Insights

Since Big Data came on the technology scene five years ago, marketers have latched onto the term and its implications for potential. The reason is that we know information is power, and we are surrounded by information. There are currently 2.7 Zetabytes of data in the digital universe today, and that number is growing rapidly. More than 5 billion people are calling, texting, tweeting and browsing on mobile phones worldwide (don’t look for that number to shrink either, as Facebook recently ran a successful test of its solar-powered drone designed to stay airborne for years to provide internet access to remote areas of the world). Speaking of Facebook, users upload 100 terabytes of data daily to its platform. To give you a sense of scope, 1.8 Zetabytes of data were created in 2011 alone, which equates to more than 200 billion HD movies, which would take you 47 million years to view.

Most alarmingly, the volume of business data worldwide across all companies doubles every 1.2 years. These numbers translate into opportunities, and Wikibon estimates that big data will be a $50 billion business this year. With all of the interest in big data, it may come as a surprise that far too many companies are not leveraging the opportunity as of yet. The DMA recently reported that up to 70 percent of companies are not collecting user content data from social media alone. Thankfully, a host of marketing technology (martech) vendors are providing solutions for big data capture and analysis.

9. Internet of Things

One area likely to contribute significantly to the big data vortex is the Internet of Things (IoT). Particularly relevant to mobile marketing, IoT offers brands an opportunity to gain insights into consumer behavior, as well as gain data-driven insights directly from smart products in and outside the home. Gartner, Inc. forecasts that 8.4 billion connected things will be in use worldwide in 2017, up 31 percent from 2016. It’s expected that there will be more than 30 billion connected devices in 2020 and 75 billion by 2025. In 2016, global spending on IoT across markets was $737 billion. IDC predicts that by 2020, this number will reach $1.29 trillion. With unprecedented potential to collect and analyze massive amounts of data from mobile and Internet-connected devices, marketers must be diligent in researching and adopting martech solutions to gain insights into current and potential markets and customers.

10. Mobile Wallet

Seasoned digital marketers may feel this article provides little more than validation. If you are one of those people, then this trend is for you. Living in the mobile Valhalla that is Portland, I’m sometimes privy to bleeding edge technology and trends. While we’re all familiar with mobile wallets, which provide convenient and secure payment options, you may not be aware of the potential power of mobile wallets for marketing. Mobile wallets can provide “passes” which are non-payment related, but can be transactional content, including loyalty cards, coupons, event tickets and ID cards.

Certain types of brands are natural fits for mobile marketing opportunities, including restaurants, hotels, grocery stores, sports teams and venues. Unlike paper or plastic alternatives, mobile wallet passes can be updated remotely and seamlessly. This is particularly powerful for couponing, since promotions expire regularly. A few examples of mobile wallet passes in action include WeChat’s social gifting, Alipay’s augmented reality coupons and PayPal’s “stores nearby” and “order ahead” functionality, which is designed to drive more traffic to physical retail stores.

11. Apps

I’d be remiss if I didn’t touch on mobile applications, and how they’ve evolved over the past five years. As I mentioned earlier, mobile users are downloading fewer apps but using them more frequently than ever. Research shows that only 6 percent of people use an app after thirty days and five out of ten apps are used only ten times, according to the Adobe Digital Insights Mobile Benchmark Report. The same report indicates that app launches grew 24 percent year-over-year in 2016, but app installs only grew six percent.

Despite the challenges, 197 billion mobile app downloads are expected in 2017, and mobile app revenue is predicted to reach $77 billion this year. Perhaps the most intriguing new trend in the world of mobile apps is Android Instant Apps (AIA), which work without installation. Announced at Google I/O in 2016, AIA are now available to developers. AIA offer a way for brands to distribute lightweight versions of Android apps without requiring a visit to Play Store for a download. Users click on a link in the web browser and are able to get the nearly-full app experience, while circumventing some of the most concerning statistics regarding download and usage rates.

Conclusion:

Regardless of your marketing objectives, target audiences, budgets and available resources, these are at least ten emerging trends to consider when developing a mobile marketing strategy. Ensure you’ve factored in each of the above mobile factors into your mix to ensure your marketing efforts are exponentially more effective in the near future. 

Author Bio: Kent Lewis is President & Founder of Anvil Media, Inc., a digital marketing agency specializing in search engine, social media and mobile marketing for clients worldwide. Based in Portland, Anvil was founded in 2000 and services over 50 clients. For more information, visit www.anvilmediainc.com.

Want to learn more about prepping your brand with a mobile marketing strategy? Join our FREE webinar with Kent Lewis on August 22 at 12pm PST / 3pm EST. 

 


How to Improve Customer Acquisition Using Artificial Intelligence

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Editor's Note: Nick Rojas is a freelance journalist who has written for Entrepreneur, TechCrunch, and Yahoo. Today he joins us to discuss how AI is changing the way that businesses acquire customers, and how to use it.

 

Every company needs new customers to grow, and anyone running a business knows that it takes time and planning to attract them. However, thanks to the growth of artificial intelligence, customer acquisition is getting a little bit easier.

AI is advancing and isn’t expected to slow down anytime soon: between this year and 2022, the AI market is expected to grow 62 percent, by a value of $16.06 billion. Marketers and businesses are wisely taking notice and implementing AI into their customer acquisition strategies.

With the right methods in place, AI can revolutionize your acquisition funnel, saving you time and money in the process. Let’s take a look at how this can be done.

Chatbots

Chatbots are a hot trend in tech marketing circles. You’ve probably interacted with them numerous times, even if you didn’t realize it.

Siri, Cortana, Google Assistant, and Alexa are all chatbots. You may find this confusing, since chatbots are usually thought of in very narrow terms. In reality, any AI which interacts with customers using natural human speech can be thought of as a ‘chatbot’.

So why are they such a big deal for customer acquisition? It’s simple: chatbots simplify the user experience and enhance customer support.

Simplified Experience

Consumers are more likely to buy your products if you remove barriers to entry. To remove those barriers, you need to facilitate an environment where moving from acquisition to decision is painless.

This is exactly what chatbots accomplish. Take for instance bots that live on Facebook Messenger, allowing customers to ask questions and buy products on-the-fly. If consumers become interested in your business through a social media page, they can do research and make a decision without ever leaving the application.

In this case, the chatbot enables your customers to act on a whim, moving them seamlessly from curiosity to a product purchase. In the long-run, ease of use and access streamlines your funnel, leading to more sales and consumer interest.

Customer Support

Chatbot customer support helps retain customers that you’ve already done business with, and thereby improves your brand reputation, which can attract new customers in turn.

AI allows companies to offer versatile 24/7 support to their customers. If a problem arises while your staff is away, your chatbot is always ready.

Advances in Artificial Intelligence enable chat bots to gather information about a problem, offer solutions, and also transfer the problem to a human when it’s too complex. Simple issues can be resolved on-the-spot without intervention, leaving the most important problems for your personnel to handle, with all the pertinent information collected and ready for review.

No matter how a problem is resolved, customer support chatbots enhance the customer experience while saving time and money.

Predict Consumer Behavior

Attracting new customers means understanding consumer wants and needs. AI helps this process by predicting consumer behavior on the basis of existing information.

Artificial intelligence is routinely used by companies like Salesforce to mine and process large data sets of customer information such as preferences, shopping habits, and comments left on your social media pages. Using a process called semantic analysis, AI can understand human context and intelligently guess how a person feels about a product or service based on their interactions with your company.

You can then use this information to tailor marketing strategies that target new customers. Essentially, the AI gives you a list of your product’s greatest strengths and weaknesses relative to your audience.

Is your product getting lots of views on social media? Then you should capitalize on social media.

Is your idea unique to a specific market? Then hit that niche with your advertising.

Chatbots and predictive behavior analysis streamline your customer acquisition process while also saving you time and money. As Artificial Intelligence continues to revolutionize online customer acquisition, the best time to get started is now!

Learn more with these related OMI classes:

Increase Lead Generation Quality, Conversion & Velocity

Mastering the Facebook Sales Funnel

Testing, Behavioral Analytics & Metrics Best Practices

 

Visit the Online Marketing Institute to browse over 400 classes in the digital and social media marketing space.

 


Know Thy Customer: Winning in Retail

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retail market

Retail seems to be taking a beating. For many companies foot traffic – and earnings – are in decline. The health of the US department stores and malls are “wavering between merely unwell to terminally ill,” depending on who you ask. Revenue from e-commerce is steadily increasing but can’t yet fill the gap created by weak in-store sales. (In Q2 of 2016, e-commerce sales accounted for only 7.5% of total retail sales).

The problem is consumers are shopping differently today, with a focus on online shopping and buying ‘experiences’ over ‘stuff.’ Smartphones and fast Wi-Fi / LTE are accelerating the change.

Industries that have been slow to respond are hurting. Department and discount stores like Macy’s and Sears have been forced to close brick-and-mortar stores. Even Wal-Mart decided to close more than 150 stores in 2016, in order to focus on improving their position in e-commerce with its $3.3 billion acquisition of Jet.com.

It’s yet another internet-age saga of change happens, adapt or die and all of that. But it’s true, the status quo keeps failing us lately.

Gary Vaynerchuck recently summed up the times very bluntly but honestly: “If you are running [TV] commercials for a brand that targets consumers 22 and under, you’re a *&^%face.”

It’s hard to know why we systematically resist change, but what we do know about the market today is this — know your customers. Really. Do it.

Do You Know Your Customers And Prospects?

The American retail industry was once facilitated by face-to-face transactions and dominated by predictable consumer shopping patterns. That’s gone. Today, retail is in the hands of the consumer – and the consumer wants one-touch purchasing and free overnight home delivery.

Retailers have reacted to changing consumer behavior in a wide variety of ways, including closing down physical stores, creating made-to-order products, offering in-store pickup, coordinating multi-channel offers, creating differentiated products, conducting brand collaborations and partnerships, and focusing on e-commerce.

All of these strategies are important and should be based in one critical piece of the puzzle—accurate, true customer profiling. Marketers are still relying solely on either old-school fictitious personas from creatives, based on anecdotal evidence. Or they use some data and do predictive modeling, but do it all manually, relying on human power instead of computing power.

Creative development, messaging and customer acquisition (prospecting) are lagging far behind, even as many other aspects of marketing today have become rigorous, highly automated and data-driven.

Cloud-Based Technology

Improving these specific marketing disciplines is certainly the job of predictive marketing—which is essentially the practice of customer profiling and prospect discovery. Yet, predictive marketing is a large hurdle for brands and agencies today.

This is because, when it comes to predicting which consumers will love and buy your brand—and how to best message and reach those prospective consumers—even the most advanced retailers and their agencies still rely on large physical data science teams and predictive methods that are decades old.

“74% of marketers using dynamic content powered by predictive intelligence, rated it as absolutely critical or very important in helping them create cohesive customer journeys.”
— Salesforce Research

Brands and agencies have yet to automate predictive marketing and move it to the cloud.

Fortunately, there’s a marketing platform that does just that.

If retailers commit to building better, data-driven profiles of their customers and the same for finding net-new customers, they’ll improve their ability to draw and retain more valuable customers. By learning to love automation, retailers might be able to – not just keep up with changing consumer behavior – but even get in front of it.

OMI will be launching exciting new Facebook and Content marketing classes in the New Year. Stay tuned. In the meantime, browse over 400 classes in the digital library at OMI. Ready to start learning? Sign up here.

 


How To Attract New Customers To Your Brand

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

Instead of seeking out new customers, 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 truly new customers: new to your business, and 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.