Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Email Marketing Tips for 2019

Despite the pervasive draw of social media posts, shares and double-taps, email marketing emerges as a solid investment for your brand: Email has a median ROI of 122%—that’s more than four times higher than other marketing formats, including social media, direct mail and paid search (Direct Marketing Association and Demand Metric).

Looking to make the most of your next email marketing campaign? Here are a few tips that can help boost your click-through rates:

Optimize for mobile. If your email platform isn’t mobile-friendly, you’re missing the boat. According to Adestra, in 70% of cases, if the message doesn’t display correctly on a mobile device, it’s likely to be deleted within 3 seconds. Taking that one step further: Make sure your content is easy to digest: succinct, to-the-point copy using clean fonts and graphics is easiest to read on smartphones and tablets. 

Segment your list. One-size email marketing is out; personalized brand connections are in. By segmenting your distribution list, you can tailor your email message to speak directly to your audience based on region, market, age, gender, etc. The result is a more relevant and personalized brand touch.

Be authentic. With the rise of # sponsored ads, more consumers are craving authentic brand connections. One simple way to incorporate that personal touch in your emails is to use storytelling—share your brand story, focus on customers interacting with your products/using your service, show a behind-the-scenes glimpse of your team or operations. This makes your audience feel included in your brand journey.

Automate your email. Automated or triggered emails deliver an astounding 624% higher conversion rate than everyday business emails (Venture Beat). A few ideas for triggered email content include: Welcome, Thank you (post sale or post meeting), Upsell opportunity, or Milestone event.

Solid subject line. No matter how compelling your email content, you’ve got to get them to open it first: 33% of email recipients open email based on subject lines alone (Convince & Convert). And don’t be afraid to get personal: According to Campaign Monitor data, a personalized email subject line boosts open rates by 26%, and increases click-through rates by 14%.

Video, video, video. We know by now that video helps drive people to your website. But according to eMarketer, video in emails can also increase clicks, shares, and forwards as much as 50%.

Clear call to action. Your email content needs to be compelling, relevant—and it also needs a strong CTA, even if it is as simple as asking the reader to share on twitter or click through to a landing page. Consider using words such as “now” or “today” or add an incentive to help boost participation.

Time it right. The day of the week and time of day your email is sent effects open rates. Research from GetResponse shows that Tuesday is the best day of the week to send emails (followed by Thursday and Wednesday); and 10 a.m. is the best time to hit send.

Know your audience.
It sounds like an obvious rule of thumb, but too often marketers ignore their loyal base of customers, members or donors because they are too focused on chasing new prospects. Existing customers are one of the biggest untapped resources in marketing: The probability of selling to a customer is 60-70% (compared with 5-20% for new prospects).

Email marketing requires nuances, that when considered, can drastically improve your chances of making memorable brand connections. If you’re interested in talking about email marketing solutions for your business, reach out to me at emoriarty@shamrockcompanies.net.

Ellen Moriarty

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

10 Marketing Trends to Watch in 2019

 Marketing is being shaped by emerging technologies, methods and patterns. 

https://www.entrepreneur.com/


Deep Patel
VIP Contributor
Author of A Paperboy's Fable: The 11 Principles of Success 

It's difficult to predict which methods will connect with consumers most effectively in the ever-changing landscape of marketing. Just when marketers believe they understand their audience, a new technology, new behavior or even an entirely new audience alters everything.

That said, it’s practical to reflect on the past year’s patterns and pay attention to growing trends that will influence next year’s success. Here are 10 marketing trends you would be wise to keep your eye on going into 2019.

1. The marketing funnel is shifting.
The current marketing funnel accepts anyone, assessing them for profitability and rejecting them if they’re deemed unfit. As John Hall writes in Forbes: “Too many companies see customers as gatekeepers to wallets; meanwhile, customers feel ignored at best -- and insulted at worst -- when the journey ends.” Rather than opening up a marketing funnel that swallows whoever it can, businesses are starting to efficiently leverage content to target niche audiences.

Reaching out to people who are more likely to be interested in your brand is not only more cost-efficient; it’s also more sustainable and less time-consuming. Consumers do not want businesses to gloss over them; they seek legitimate trust and genuine relationships.

2. Content is everything.
In the current climate, content is everything. You already know that you need to entice your audience: inspire them, provoke their thoughts, excite them or appeal to their emotions.

The goal is not to simply put content in front of people and hope they respond to it, but rather to encourage them to share and engage with it. Content -- whether it’s an article on an outlet or a video on social media -- opens the door for two-way communication, which is crucial for building trust and letting customers know that you appreciate their business.

3. Chatbots aren’t going anywhere.
Customer service is essential, but not everyone feels comfortable talking to a real person on the phone or has the time to do it over email. That’s what makes chatbots so convenient. These are little AI helpers integrated into websites that can answer questions and fulfill requests quickly -- and many can accomplish this without sacrificing personality.

Grand View Research reports that the worldwide chatbot market will reach $1.25 billion by 2025, growing at an annual rate of 24.3 percent. Forty-five percent of end users actually prefer turning to chatbots for customer service, so if you have one, you can win the allegiance of people who enjoy interacting with these little programs.

4. AI continues to grow.
On a related note, artificial intelligence is growing in prominence. It makes data analysis more efficient, can target potential leads rapidly and can perform tasks that humans struggle with. Sometimes it takes the form of advanced machine learning, but even Netflix’s recommendation system that suggests new TV shows to watch is technically AI.

AI can also monitor consumers’ online patterns and help you understand their behavior in real time, though there are legitimate concerns about whether this is ethical or not. Even if you decide not to take advantage of AI in this way, however, it’s smart to pay attention to how consumers react to it and whether your competitors use it.

5. People are cautious about security.

Every company should ensure that its security is thorough. Even if customers do not notice it, they deserve the utmost respect when it comes to their privacy, data and financial details. Not every company promises this, though -- and customers are starting to notice. With the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) taking effect in Europe this year, consumers are beginning to pay more attention to how businesses handle their information.

Talk about your security with customers. What makes it better than others? In an economy where people are rightfully cautious about hacks, leaks and theft, they will favor establishments that can promise them the safest business experience.

6. Voice search is getting louder.
According to Search Engine Land, voice-based commerce sales in the United States reached $1.8 billion in 2017 and are projected to reach $40 billion by 2022. Yep, that’s 40 billion! This trend means 2019 is the year to get ahead of the game.

Voice searching is an ingenious bit of technology. After all, who doesn’t like being able to simply say out loud to the nearest smart speaker, “Place an order for school supplies”? Not only does voice searching make it easier to find information online without pulling out a device; people love it because it reduces their screen time. Next year, make sure you’re optimized for voice searches.

7. Vertical video is on the rise.
You already know that video is imperative. It used to be one aspect of your marketing strategy, but now you need an entire strategy just for your videos! People watch countless hours of video every day, and YouTube is the largest search engine after its sibling Google. Whether it’s on Facebook, Instagram or some other platform, video is not going anywhere.

However, people do not always like turning their mobile devices to the side. Instagram -- one of the most popular social media platforms at the moment -- launched IGTV in June for the express purpose of watching videos in vertical mode. IGTV allows longer content, so you could publish animated videos, demos, interviews, case studies, 360-degree virtual reality, live streams and more. Your social media strategy needs to keep vertical-form IGTV videos in mind.

8. It’s time to focus on Gen Z.
Gen Z is getting older, which means they are beginning to enter the workforce and possess buying power. You might recall how marketers scrambled to understand millennials (there didn’t seem to be an industry they didn’t kill -- but hey, they’re just broke and much harder to lie to), so now is the time to pay attention to Gen Z.

It is impossible to make monolithic statements about members of the second-youngest generation, but you should remember a few things: they seek authenticity, and they prefer socially responsible businesses. They’re growing up in a scary world and a struggling economy, so they’re more likely to turn to companies that make the world a better place.

9. Visual searches are taking off.
Besides voice searches, can you name another kind of search method on the rise? Visual. Google has long enabled reverse-image searches, but new camera technology makes it possible for people to take a picture of something in the real world and find information about it.

Pinterest launched its Lens feature back in February, and the social media platform reports that its users conducted over 600 million combined monthly searches with it. To leverage the power of image searching, don’t neglect Pinterest in your marketing efforts, and optimize your site (and social) images for SEO.

10. Influencers have different identities.
Influencer marketing is also a classic social media strategy, but who influencers are is beginning to change. Companies previously relied on celebrities to convince people that products are worth buying, but consumers are now leaning toward their peers.

The frozen-food retailer Iceland, for instance, recently switched from celebrity marketing to partnering with “real” people (micro-influencers) because their customers -- mothers, in this case -- trusted other mothers above brands and so-called industry experts. Next year, adjust your influencer marketing strategy according to who your audience is most likely to respond to.

Marketing is becoming increasingly complex, so it’s practical for marketers to keep their eyes on emerging technologies, methods and patterns.

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Setting Goals for Business Success in 2019

I’m a big believer in the power of planning. It’s that time of year again when many of us look back at our progress over the past 12 months, reassess our path, and develop a plan for making the most of the year ahead.

An article in Inc. magazine by Aha! CEO Brian de Haaff talks about the use of planning to achieve success in business. Here’s what he says: “Successful people take a methodical approach to setting career goals. It starts with defining what ‘success’ means to them, then building a career roadmap to achieve that vision.”

It all starts with a plan that defines where you want to go. de Haaff suggests that you come up with a career sentence—the overarching vision for your professional life. “Your sentence could be specific, such as ‘Help build software that changes the way people interact with their doctors.’” Or it could be more wide-sweeping, like “Provide world-class customer service.” Once you’ve set your destination, you can focus on the goals that will get you there.

Here are de Haaff’s five steps to setting career goals:

1. Make it real. Making measurable career goals and setting success metrics will help ensure that your career roadmap is realistic. With those benchmarks in place, you can track your progress in a meaningful way.
 
2. Push yourself. Your career roadmap should be a challenge, not a cakewalk. If your goals don’t make you at least a little bit uncomfortable, then it’s time to set your sights higher. Push yourself in your overall vision and in the tasks that will carry you there.

3. Write it down. Research shows that people who write down their goals are significantly more likely to achieve them. One of the many benefits is that it forces you to think about what you want to achieve in a concrete way.  If you have a hard time finding the words to explain your goal in a sentence or two, you probably have not thought it through.

4. Share your plan. Another benefit of writing down your goals is that it makes it easier to share them. Once you’ve told your friends and colleagues about your goals, you will feel a sense of disappointment if you do not follow through. Accountability is a great motivator.

Credit: Getty Images
5. Visualize your success. A common practice of high achievers is visualizing success. Sports psychologists teach elite athletes to picture themselves connecting with the fastball, kicking the field goal, sinking the putt. You can do the same with your long-term career goals and the efforts that will get you there. Use positive visualization to motivate yourself to work harder.

Read the Inc. article by clicking the link below:
https://www.inc.com/brian-de-haaff/how-successful-people-set-career-goals.html

Take the first step in driving success in 2019 by creating your career sentence and then setting your goals. After that, it is all about commitment and follow-through.  Establishing a set schedule to monitor your progress, whether that’s daily, weekly or monthly, will help get you there.

If you’re looking for someone to share your goals with and hold you accountable, connect with me and I’ll do the same. bdegarmo@shamrockcompanies.net

Good luck!
Bob DeGarmo 



Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Website Lead Generation Tips You Need to Know

You wouldn’t meet with a prospective customer without being prepared to discuss the value you bring to the table; that would be an opportunity missed.

Similarly, you don’t want visitors to log on to your website without providing them with essential information and a means for continued dialogue. Website lead generation tools do just that: They engage the visitor and provide them with important information, while allowing you to gather valuable data about them, as you nurture the lead and prompt continued conversation surrounding your brand.  

According to Forrester Research, companies that nurture their leads see 50% more sales-ready leads than non-nurturers, and at 33% lower cost. So, it makes good business sense to prime your website for lead generation. Following are tips and tools to help you convert visitors:

1.  Use forms (more than one) – Make it easy for visitors to contact you using content forms that are brief and to-the-point (you can gather more details later).

Use multiple forms throughout your site based on page content and site placement; and follow up with A/B testing to see which form(s) are getting best results.


2.  Include basic CTAs throughout your site, including on the homepage – Consider your end goal and then work backwards with thoughtful calls to action: Offer a perceived “value” with each, such as a free demo, a whitepaper, a free trial, special promotion, etc. Next, route these recipients into specific nurturing funnels and conduct A/B testing and then modify, as needed.

Make your CTAs command attention by using “power words” such as: Get, Overcome, Boost, and Join.


3.  Offer live chat – Today, people are starting to expect this customer service benefit on websites that offer services/vendors. Be prepared to answer questions about products/services. And use the live chat as an opportunity to actively guide a visitor through your site to a specific end goal.

4.  Provide social proof – Prove that you can do what you say you can do by sharing videos of customer testimonials, social media reposts or online reviews. These social moments are great opportunities for making brand connections and allow you to further customer engagement on social media channels.

5.  Build trust by being authentic – Tell your story using photos—provide faces with names to help customers make connections; and speak to visitors, not at them using 1-to-1 videos. Provide evidence of your skills/quality/capacity by promoting awards, certifications, ratings, etc.



6.  Blog – Use your blog to generate website traffic and drive SEO (not necessarily to drive leads). Be useful in your posts and people will come back for more. A few tips:
  •     Consider solutions-based posts
  •     Develop groups of posts covering industry-relevant topic(s)
  •     Incorporate keyword research into posts
  •     Include videos and graphics to drive interest
  •     Provide offers within the blog – free whitepaper, ebook, etc.
  •     Add CTAs when relevant
  •     Add links to specific pages in website – drive traffic back to site
  •     Include social sharing links
As we prepare to revamp our Shamrock website, these are some of the guidelines we’ll be using to optimize our new site. Are there any that you’d add to the list? Share your feedback at emoriarty@shamrockcompanies.net.

Ellen Moriarty

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Is Influencer Marketing Right For Your Brand?

In 2018, we’ve seen the continued rise of influencer marketing, with a nod toward more transparent partnerships between brands and their celebrities or ambassadors. And the latest data shows no signs of slowing, with more brands trusting influencers to help grow their audience and boost sales using social media channels—because it works:
  • Marketers received $7.65 in earned media value for every $1 spent on influencer marketing – Influencer Marketing Hub
  • Marketing induced consumer-to-consumer word-of-mouth generates twice the sales of paid advertising  – McKinsey
  • Customers acquired via word-of-mouth have a 37% higher retention rate – McKinsey.
  • 92% of consumers trust online word-of-mouth recommendations, while only 33% of them trust online banner ads – Nielsen
A recent MarketingProfs article about influencer marketing includes an insightful infographic (sourced by e-commerce platform X-Cart) that captures the power of Instagram (as the leading influencer platform) and explains how you can use influencer marketing to grow your brand reach:

Click here to view entire infographic

Do you plan to use influencer marketing in 2019? We’re interested in hearing for you.

Ellen Moriarty

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Website Design Trends to Keep Your Site Fresh

Keep up or get left behind. This is the everyday marketing challenge in today’s fast-paced, digital world. When it comes to your website, staying on top of the latest trends in relation to both site appearance and functionality is what will help you make a strong brand statement: Strive to make it accessible, easy to navigate—and memorable.

Here are a few trending design elements to incorporate to best position your site to stand out:
  
Mobile-first design. It seems obvious but is worth reinforcing: Studies show that readers won't stay on your site if it takes longer than three seconds to load. Make sure your website is user friendly for mobile and tablet access. And consider that Google prioritizes these websites over non-mobile sites.

Flat design. Taking a fresh and straightforward approach to connecting with users, we’re seeing clean, crisp, minimalist graphics with broken grids, asymmetrical layouts and more open/white space. With less clutter, it allows the reader to focus on the message.
Micro moments are user-focused animations that create quick, one-touch access to information on mobile devices. Also called micro interactions, these animations are take-action prompts that allow users to interact with your brand. When done right, these subtle animations can direct the reader to the right content at the right time, driving them to important messaging or to complete a form or initiate a download.


Movement using interactive video. There is power in video—and today’s trend is pushing more high-quality video content on websites. Video conveys messages quickly and effectively and boasts a higher retention rate than reading static copy.

In addition to product or process videos, we’ll continue to see more video in the form of cinemagraphs, particle backgrounds, and animated thumbnail images.



Hero images.
Bigger is (still) better: We’re continuing to see designers using over-sized leading images—these create a unique, compelling story and draw the reader in to learn more. Large typefaces with serif fonts are also having a moment.


Bold, saturated colors. Making a high-impact graphic statement, the trend is using vibrant colors and unique graphic treatments like double exposure, gradients, and drop shadows to create depth.

 
Personalized and customer-centric content.
The key is to drift away from traditional static content to a more dynamically-rich content. The best practice is to create a dynamic website and a smart marketing automation plan that delivers top content.



Our team at Shamrock is embarking on a redesign of our website and we’ll be incorporating a lot of these elements in our new site. Stay tuned for the big reveal!

Ellen Moriarty