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BRANDE : Marketing

June 22, 2015

Report: Social and Mobile Marketing Are on the Rise

Salesforce just released its 2015 State of Marketing report, and the results are very intriguing for online marketers, recruiters, and branding professionals. As Salesforce put it: “Marketers are shifting attention from traditional metrics like conversion rates to metrics that better reflect customer satisfaction.” More fascinating findings are below.

Salesforce surveyed thousands of marketers around the world and found that the top metric for digital marketing success was “return on investment” at 32% — but followed close behind by “customer satisfaction” at 30%. “Customer retention” was just as important as “customer acquisition,” with both rated at 23%.

Salesforce - Metrics for success

Marketers aren’t just engaging online; they’re listening, too

Some of the ways that companies are seeking customer-oriented success stand out to me. 44% are using social media engagement, which Salesforce separates from social media listening at 37%. Just a few spaces down, 38% of marketers use blogging as a strategy, 37% use videos, 31% use content marketing, and 15% use podcasts, of all things. This proves that there are a number of compelling, innovative, and just plain fun ways of reaching your audience online. I also find it interesting that social media listening rated a “very effective or effective” rate of 68%, the highest on the list, tied with email marketing. Are you using social media listening software in your marketing or recruiting efforts?

The importance of social marketing

Globally, the value of social media marketing is becoming more clear. 66% of marketers now believe social marketing is core to their business, and the same portion now have a dedicated team managing their social media efforts. Perhaps most significantly, the number of marketers who categorize social as a primary revenue source has doubled since last year.

What channels are brand using? The top five are Facebook (80%), Twitter (70%), LinkedIn (62%), Google Plus and YouTube (both at 56%). But the Salesforce report discovered a range of new or niche channels, including Line (11%), MySpace (17%), Flickr (20%), and Snapchat (13%). As for the most effective social marketing, only one site beat out simply “videos” at 81% — a site called Tagged, “the social network for meeting new people” (86%).

Salesforce - Currently using social sites

This proves not only that your organization needs to be on the “big five,” but that you should look for other sites that better reflects your brand or speaks to your audience. Along with text posts and blog articles, consider photos, videos, infographics, podcasts, and specific content for sites like Vine, Line, and SlideShare.

Mobile finally makes a big splash

Salesforce’s headline is “The Year of Mobile Has Arrived — For Real This Time,” and the numbers back that up. In 2014, only 23% of marketers were using some form of mobile marketing (like apps, SMS, or location-based functions). In 2015, that number has doubled to 46%. 58% of organizations (and 73% of US organizations) have a dedicated team for mobile marketing — which means that more than half of all brands have specific stakeholders for both social and mobile, a crazy concept five years ago. If your marketing department is too small, it may be time to bring in an agency partner to manage at least one of these important initiatives.

I also find it interesting that 35% of marketers consider just “brand awareness” a metric for success. That means that even non-profits or B2B brands without a retail location can still leverage mobile to expand your customer base and increase revenue.

Salesforce - Marketing ROI

Looking ahead to 2016

The cost of inaction in social and mobile marketing looks to climb higher. Three of the top five areas of increased spending for American companies are in social media; another is in location-based mobile tracking. When asked which technologies are “most critical to creating a cohesive customer journey,” 52% of marketers named mobile applications. And since responsive design can lead to a 130% increase in clicks for emails read on a mobile device, 68% of marketers say responsive design is “absolutely critical” or “very important” to their email marketing campaigns. Another 46% always or often integrate responsive design into their website landing pages. Thus, even “old” marketing methods like email and websites are being affected by social media and mobile devices.

According to the report, the third-biggest challenge for all marketers around the world is “remaining up to date with current marketing technology and trends.” Brandemix has had great success with online marketing, branding, and recruiting efforts with organizations of all sizes. Check out our portfolio or contact us for more information. And be sure to download the full Salesforce State of Marekting report here.

Jody Ordioni is President of Brandemix.

May 18, 2015

Mobile Marketing Best Practices

CIO magazine just reported that 28% of sales take place on mobile devices. 80% of internet users own a smartphone. These and other statistics show that mobile is the future of marketing and branding. How can marketers make sure they’re best using this crucial tool? Here are the latest best practices. 

Make your website responsive

As I’ve discussed before, responsive design is critical for mobile web-browsing. That means that your site looks the same across all devices — the text is legible, the images are visible, and the buttons are easy to tap. Responsive design also lets your website respond to how your device is being held, so if you turn your tablet sideways, the text doesn’t run off the screen. This is more than just an issue of aesthetics; Google states that responsive websites are its “recommended option” for mobile search results. Google also favors sites that are designed for mobile (like, say, m.allstate.com), so it’s crucial to “get mobile” to work with Google’s important algorithm. If you can’t afford to optimize your website right now, creating a separate mobile site can still increase your organic mobile search traffic.

Get local

80% of people use their smartphone to search for local information, so make sure your organization is listed on location-based sites such as Google Places, Yahoo Local, Yelp, Foursquare, and Swarm. You should also submit your site to Google My Business, which will connect it to people who are using Google Search, Google Maps, or Google Plus to find a business nearby.

Once potential customers have found your site, you want to make it easy for them to contact you. Make sure your address is easy to see, with a link to a map (Google, Yahoo, Mapquest). Make your phone number clickable, so users don’t have to memorize your number, close their browser, open their keypad, and type in ten digits. Also highlight your hours of operation and include a photo of your location so users will know what to look for.

If you offer discounts or coupons, your mobile site is the place to do it. Many location directories double as review sites, so if you please or surprise users, they may reward you with kind words and share your site with friends.

Don’t forget about email

Did you know that 51% of consumers say they most often check their email on a mobile device? That means your  email marketing must be optimized for mobile as well — or else you risk a delete or even an unsubscribe.

Best practices for mobile email include short subject lines, single columns of text, and large links or buttons that can easily be tapped. And those links should lead to mobile-friendly sites, of course. Use contrasting text colors so it can be read in bright daylight. Make sure the most important information is above the “fold,” the point on a small screen which can only be seen by scrolling. Trade the fancy, interactive designs of your “regular” email for mobile-friendly email templates (like those from MailChimp), to make the most of the mobile experience.

Resist the app urge

It seems every organization has a mobile app now. But they require a lot of time and money to produce, and many don’t provide more features than a mobile site does. It makes sense for a bank to have a secure app for customers to access their accounts, or a pizza restaurant to have an automated process for ordering, but why does your business need one? A recent study by comScore found that 66% of smartphone users download an average of zero apps per month, while Localytics has determined that many apps are downloaded once and never used again. Salesforce advises companies not to let the “siren song” of the idea of your app on thousands of home screens make you waste resources on something that will be rarely used even by your biggest fans and most loyal customers.

Socialize your online presence

A recent Pew study found that 91% of teenagers view social media on a mobile device, while WeAreSocial claims that 50% of the North American population has “active mobile social accounts,” which equates to about 176 million people. Customers continue to engage with social networks while they’re on the go, so your organization should have a presence on the biggest sites, like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube. Depending on your business, your audience, and your content, you may also consider Pinterest, Snapchat, Vine, or Meerkat.

Setting up a social media presence addresses some of the other best practices — social networks are searchable by location and they’re optimized for mobile devices.

Ready to get mobile?

Brandemix has been studying and implementing mobile strategies for a decade, and we’d love to help your organization expand your reach and increase your business. Contact us for a consultation.

Jody Ordioni is President of Brandemix.

December 29, 2014

The Most Popular Blog Posts of 2014

As 2014 comes to a close, I thought I’d take a look back at the year’s most popular blog posts. The topics range from social recruiting to employer branding to video marketing. I hope these articles will help you reach your target audience in your most important marketing, branding, and talent acquisition initiatives.

Thanks for reading and happy new year.

Jody Ordioni, President of Brandemix

Here are the BrandeBlog’s six most-read posts of 2014.

Social Recruiting is Still the Next Big Thing
Jobvite released its 2014 Job-Seeker Survey, speaking to 2,135 adults both in and out of the labor force. The report shows that social and mobile recruiting are still trending upwards. How can you use social media to reach top talent? Read our findings.

An Internal Communications Guidebook Will Save Your Culture
Internal communications can be challenging for large organizations. It’s sometimes difficult to speak with one voice and reflect the organization’s mission, vision, and values when corporate communications are created by many different people, sometimes in locations scattered around the world. Internal communications reinforce the business strategy to all employees, so it’s important that they’re consistent, effective, and on-brand. The solution for many organizations is to create a communications guide or toolkit. Here’s how to do it.

Employer Branding Global Trends and Surveys
Employer Brand International just released its 2014 Employer Branding Global Trends Study Report, a survey of more than 1,100 leaders from around the world. The goal was to discover how their organizations use employer branding to attract, engage, and retain talent talent, and their plans for their employer brand’s future. Here are the survey’s most important findings.

Social Media PR Disasters: Think Before You Post
Several small-scale disasters have shaken social media over the past few days, and they all have one thing in common: poor judgment. There’s something about the immediacy and brevity of Twitter and Instagram that leads brands to post with little thought to the consequences. Learn from their recent mistakes.

Nothing Engages Audiences Like Video Content
Integrated marketing success hinges on having a great website. And consistent, relevant social media. And consumable content across responsive media. But the crucial element to bringing it all to life is video. Validated in the latest surveys and best-practice case studies, it’s evident that video is truly changing the way we brand, market, inspire, and engage with our target audiences. Here are the latest statistics and discoveries.

Social Media Fun Facts
What’s the most photographed location on Instagram? The most popular tweet on Twitter? The most shared video on YouTube? The answers may surprise you — and can help you decide what content to create and share with your own audiences.Want to be more popular to job-seekers, employees, and customer?

Put Brandemix on your to-do list for 2015.
September 11, 2014

Responding to the Latest Design Trends

Websites. PowerPoints. Banner ads. We think we know how they’re supposed to look and what they’re supposed to do. But just like technology, design is marching on and changing the way we consume content. Our creative team has mastered the latest trends and can share the most important ones with you.

Responsive Design

People are visiting websites, digesting social content, and reading documents on multiple devices, making it harder for organizations to ensure a great experience across all these platforms. The key is responsive design, which allows content to change based on the size, resolution, and capabilities of the device upon which it’s being viewed, whether it’s an iPad or an Android phone or a Kindle Fire. Responsive design ensures that reading and navigating is easy on every platform.

A good example is Vogue magazine, which looks exactly as it does on an iPhone as it does on a laptop. There’s no sense of “Oh, this is just the mobile version; What am I missing from the full site?” This type of design even responds to how you’re holding your device — ever turn your iPhone and have a web page suddenly become unreadable? I’ve found that responsive design often results in text and photos separated vertically, so that images fill the screen when viewed on a mobile phone. This makes them easier to view on a small device and easier to tap with a thumb.

There’s one casualty with this innovation — mobile versions of sites, with URLs like “m.mywebsite.com.” Responsive design works on every device, so there’s no need for a separate mobile version.

Vogue mobile

Vogue’s mobile site; a duplicate of its desktop version.

PowerPoints with Power

I think it’s time to update the 20-year-old PowerPoint slide show that relies on white screens, black text, and royalty-free clip art. (You may be as sick as I am of the faceless alien that shows up in virtually every PowerPoint from Corporate Communications.) Two ways to do this are Prezi and ScrollDeck, which add motion and animation to presentations, making them much more interactive and compelling.

I’ve found some plug-ins and add-ons which can shake up the traditional speaker-and-audience relationship that make some slide shows so dull. A good one is YawnBuster, which lets you create quizzes, polls, games, and group activities that are sure to keep your viewers from, well, yawning. It’s aimed at keeping students’ attention in class, but adults can become just as bored as children. Going one step further, you actually don’t ever have to use PowerPoint to create a presentation again. New apps like Haiku Deck let you produce beautiful decks, with great stock images, right on your iPad.

Haiku Deck
A slide from HaikuDeck

Enhanced Banner Ads

People want to visit websites. They are often voluntary participants in polls, presentations and surveys. But most people aren’t big fan of banner ads. Sure, they’ve evolved from static text images to include flashing colors and primitive animation, but they’re still routinely ignored, with a click-through rate of less than 1%.

Interactive designers have accepted the challenge of making banner ads irresistible. FedEx turned their banner ad into a clever clock that displays the user’s current time in FedEx boxes. Volkswagen’s ads featured a blank space before “like a Rabbit,” and whatever the user types in that blank, the car does. Gatorade let users play with a push toy, while Brastemp water purifiers made users put their cursor into the an animated water stream to see the company’s (funny) message. As with presentations and websites, the key is interactivity: responding to user’s situations, letting them play with their online content, and using video or animation to take any message beyond simple, static text. Brastemp’s and Volkswagen’s banner ads also included audio, from the trickling of water to a love song between two enamored Rabbits.

New Faces and Designs

Another change in design is in the people featured in photos and videos. I’m seeing a lot more diversity, including older, “natural” women (i.e., not models) and dads playing with their kinds instead of working at the office. I’m seeing all different races and ages, and people with disabilities.

I’ve also noticed design starting to reflect the personal, homemade look of Instagram and Vine — photos with lens flare, intentionally imperfect pictures of food, hand-drawn sketches instead of faceless-alien stock images.

Lastly, I see that mobile devices have just about driven designers away from the shadows and color gradients that used to give websites a three-dimensional look. Instead, everything has a “flat” look, with nothing floating above or peeking out from below the page. While I miss some of that clever design, it did make for harder reading and navigation on a phone.

Hand drawn chart
A hand-drawn chart

Takeaways

So what can you do to make sure your design and content is as compelling as possible?

– Your content should be responsive to user’s needs, device, and location. If they want to view your PowerPoint on their Samsung phone, they should be able to — with no loss of quality.

– It should also be interactive, to keep users engaged. Banner ads are easy to ignore. Slide shows are easy to sleep through. The more people feel they’re part of the conversation, or if they’re required to act to keep the action moving, they’ll absorb more of your message.

– Everything is important. Volkswagen didn’t have to create a crazy game with lots of animation to sell cars. Look at every piece of content, from a tweet to a homepage, as an opportunity to surprise and impress your audience

Need help navigating the new frontier of web design? Brandemix can help.

Jody Ordioni is President of Brandemix.

August 23, 2014

Aiming at Generation Y? You May Miss Generation Z

Many experts have examined the challenges of marketing to and recruiting Millennials, or Generation Y; people born between about 1981 and 1998. But coming right behind them is Generation Z — and they have the capacity to turn decades of strategy upside-down.

For years, professionals in marketing, branding, and recruiting have used to Facebook to target both Generation X and Millennials. But Facebook’s 2014 Demographic Report has just announced the news that 3.3 million users aged 13-17 have left the site since 2011. That’s 25% of the country’s entire age group. And Twitter? Only 10% of high school students are on it, according to Statista.

Where are the young social media users going instead? As Mashable points out, “Gen Z favors SnapchatWhisper, and Secret — ephemeral and visually engaging platforms that cater to the youngsters’ eight-second attention span”…and which are yet to be penetrated by any sort of marketing presence. Luckily, the age group is also joining Instagram, where brands like Audi and Oreo have found great success. 12% of Generation Z was on the photo-sharing network in the fall of 2012; a year later, 23% of them were on it.

What does this mean for brands trying to reach this rising demographic? Let’s quickly review the latest info on Millennials to see how the two groups differ.

60% of Millennials upload videos, image, and blog entries to the web, compared to 29% of other age groups. 84% say that user-generated content on company websites has at least some influence on what they buy. 95% wants brands to actively court them, while 80% expect brands to entertain them. Millennials also send about 20 texts per day.

When it comes to talent acquisition, 53% of Millennials are applying for jobs through LinkedIn — but 19% are also doing so through Google Plus and 10% are using Facebook. 39% of Millennials want their jobs to have a positive impact on the world. And here’s a useful stat for non-profits in both marketing and recruiting: 73% of Millennials volunteered for a non-profit in 2012.


The next generation of workers

What about Generation Z? Forget about Generation Y’s two-screen activities; every day, Z’ers multi-task across at least five screens, according to a Sparks & Honey report, and 41% spend at least three hours on computers or mobile devices for non-school activities. The internet plays a huge role in their lives: 52% use social media, including YouTube, for school research assignments. 20% read their textbooks on tablets. 32% collaborate with their classmates online.

While the Y’ers are texting, Z’ers are sharing images (such as on Instagram) and videos. Generation Z is also focused more on creating social media content, as opposed to just sharing others’ creations.

In terms of employment, 26% of 16- to 19-year-olds currently volunteer, a number that I’m sure will rise as the rest of cohort ages out of middle school. 60% wants their jobs to impact the world — 21% higher than Millennials. And 76% would like to turn their hobbies into full-time work, compared to 50% of Millennials.

And lest you think that Generation Z is “just kids” — their average weekly allowance is $17, which adds up to $44 billion a year.

So, marketers, branders, and recruiters, you need to be where the two generations overlap — and where a huge segment of the population is heading. That means looking beyond LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter. It means more images and videos. It means “snackable” content for short attention spans. It means campaigns with user-generated content, so Gen Z’ers can create their own stories. For recruiting, it means highlighting corporate social responsibility and environmentalism, concepts that have not been embraced by the generation before them.

Generation Z is just now entering college, which means they’ll be interning and working during the summers. Some will forgo college and its mounting debt altogether, and head directly for the workforce. They’ll be looking for jobs and for ways to spend their money. Will you be there for them when they are? My agency can help.

Jody Ordioni is President of Brandemix.