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

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

3 Key Strategies for Succeeding at Marketing on Mobile

With the explosion of the mobile market this decade, marketers need to be constantly on the lookout for ways to tailor their efforts to the mobile user. After all, Mary Meeker’s 2018 internet trends report shows that more than half of the 5.9 hours that people spend on the internet each day is through mobile devices.

At the same time, those individuals are growing increasingly accustomed to navigating their consumer decisions through their smartphones and tablets. For that reason, mobile marketing is a critical channel not only for directly driving sales ordered through mobile platforms, but for maintaining brand visibility and loyalty.

The problem is, knowing just how to optimize your mobile marketing campaigns is not always obvious. It’s important to understand the options you have and to implement them effectively. Done well, the following strategies will help you and your company make the most of mobile marketing.

1.) Gamifying your approach.
Although consumers may no longer be impressed with gimmicky gamification, being able to engage their attention through something legitimately fun and mentally stimulating can still be a powerful technique for keeping your brand in their minds. Given that mobile is well integrated with online social networks, gamification can enable friends and family members to act as brand advocates as they bring new people to the games.

Although innovation and creativity are crucial to good gamification, there are some basic principles that you should keep in mind. A system of rewards is important because people like to know they are making progress in the game or getting closer to some real-world discount. Badges and points systems are perhaps less appreciated now that they’ve been standard features of gamified ads and websites for some years now, but they can still be valuable if used skillfully.

2.) Playing well with Google and the robots.
All of your digital marketing efforts should be adapted for mobile use, including your website, email newsletters and other channels. This is especially imperative now that Google is indexing based on mobile sites rather than desktop sites, an approach called “mobile-first indexing.”

And if you're not considering AI in your marketing efforts, you should be. Demandbase reported that 80 percent of marketing executives believe that AI will “revolutionize” marketing in the next two years.

That is not surprising considering how well-suited AI systems are for chugging through user data and finding the patterns that can inform your marketing efforts. This includes identifying the best leads, as well as determining the time of day most favorable to pushing out updates and offers.

3.) Building the infrastructure you need.
In order to successfully use the tech required to make your mobile marketing dreams a reality, you need to invest in the right infrastructure. Part of having the right infrastructure means understanding the importance of speed. For example, Google found that when the load time for a page on mobile went from one second to five, the bounce rate went up by 90 percent.

Another essential infrastructure element is a secure network. According to Alissa Lovens, leader of Zayo Group’s global marketing strategy for its finance and professional services sector, “Private, dedicated connectivity to a public cloud provider reduces many of the performance and security concerns associated with public internet environments.” Lovens notes that this approach provides solid network reliability, keeps the costs of infrastructure down and ensures your bandwidth is able to handle your needs. She adds, “Applications must be up and running when customers want to access them, whether … through a mobile app or at their desktop or laptop computer.”

With these strategies in place, let the devices and the culture of sharing on mobile do the rest of the work. Mobile devices are the new horizon for marketers, and they need to be taken seriously as a key priority. Fortunately, technology continues to make this platform a faster, more secure and more enticing experience for users. By keeping in mind a few central issues, you can capitalize on this new opportunity. In the end, companies that create compelling mobile marketing campaigns will be the big winners in the years to come.

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Marketing Success On Pinterest: Lessons from 5 Leading Brands

With more than 150 million active users, Pinterest has become the go-to resource for everything from recipes and makeup tutorials, to furniture refinishing and tattoo designs. Pinterest positions itself as the world’s catalog of ideas—but it’s also a prime channel for brand marketing: In a recent survey, 93% of pinners said they use Pinterest to plan for purchases—and 87% have purchased a product because of a pin.

What does it take to be a standout on Pinterest among the more than 75 billion pins? Following are five lessons from top brands that are killing it on the social media channel, building brand loyalty one pin at a time.

1. Offer variety. Don’t pigeon-hole your brand. With 4.5 million followers, upscale fashion retailer Nordstrom is one of Pinterest’s most recognizable brands. They’ve created a devoted following by casting a wide net—men’s fashion, prom, handbags, denim, baby. With 443,000+ pins on 78 boards, you’re sure to find something that speaks to you at Nordstrom.

2. Find a common thread. Specialty retailer L.L. Bean is a great example of how to make a brand connection by appealing to your audience and their interests. With 5 million followers, they’re doing it right: Boards like Outdoor Fun and Take Me Fishing draw pinners to the brand based on lifestyle, activities, pursuits, etc.

3. Provide value. Give them more, and they’ll keep coming back: Home improvement retailer Lowes goes above and beyond basic product info—they also provide step-by-step tutorials to show pinners how to use those products to complete DIY-projects.

4. Make it user-friendly. How many times have you searched for an item online but then struggled to find a retailer to make the purchase? Global marketplace Etsy simplifies the process, allowing you to search, pin and purchase products directly from your digital device.

5. Keep it subtle. Instead of leading with a product pitch, why not welcome your audience in like a good friend? Lauren Conrad does just that—her Pinterest page feels like that of any user, rather than that of a brand. With 1 million+ followers, she shares inspiration and introduces new ideas and products with fellow pinners without making a hard sell.

Which brands are most prominent on your Pinterest feed? I’d be interested in your feedback.