Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Improve ROI with These Trade Show Marketing Tips

In a world ruled by digital interaction, establishing authentic, face-to-face connections is good for business. Trade shows are great for fostering that one-on-one interaction while providing a host of growth-driving opportunities like generating sales leads, attracting new partners or buyers, and creating and furthering brand awareness. 

If you’re not doing so already, these events should be a central part of your marketing strategy—especially if you’re launching a new product or service.
  • 92% of trade show attendees say their main reason for attending trade shows is to see new products being featured. (CEIR: The Role and Value of Face to Face)
To be sure that you’re maximizing your trade show effort, consider these tips:

Keep it simple. Attendees should be able to quickly identify your brand and your product/service based on booth signage. You only have a few seconds to grab their attention, so make your booth simple yet memorable—and inviting: You want to draw people in.

Be consistent. As with any marketing channel, be sure to implement elements in your trade show that are consistent with your brand messaging strategy. A trade show shouldn’t be viewed as a separate event, but rather, as part of your seamless brand marketing effort.

Provide value. Give attendees what they came for—information about a new product or service, an enticing product demo (live or video), suggestions for using your product in a new or different way, etc.

Capture attendee data.
This is the ideal venue for building your database; consider launching a contest or giveaway that requires people to provide their contact info.

Make it interactive. To engage attendees and encourage interaction with your brand (for a lasting impression) feature a prize wheel, an interactive video wall, photo op, VR experience, etc.

Give them a reason to stay. Provide comfy seating, charging stations for phones and laptops, light snacks or beverages, or a compelling video

Offer a quality giveaway. Everyone likes to free swag, but only if its practical. Be thoughtful about what you give away…instead of handing out stacks of product literature, provide a jump drive with your product info pre-loaded   

What brand had the best booth you’ve experienced at a trade show? Chime in on our Facebook page.

Ellen Moriarty


Wednesday, May 15, 2019

A simple secret to delivering great service

A few years ago, I sat in on a client meeting with one of our sales reps who was meeting with a previous customer to reestablish a connection (and ideally, earn back her business).

While I mostly sat back and listened, I did ask the client this question: Can you give me an example of a supplier partner that does all the right things? And more importantly, what does that look like?

Her response was profoundly simple: “I want a vendor that will do what they say they’re going to do.” That was it. Whether you’re selling marketing solutions or widgets or technology support, her words summarize the ultimate customer service directive for all of us: To create lasting customer relationships we must provide exceptional customer service, which ultimately requires follow-through.

But, what does that mean? What does it look like for you? Sure, you need to ask the right questions to understand what your customers want and also anticipate their needs. But you also need to stop talking—and listen.

When you actually do that, you might be blown away by what you learn.

At Shamrock we employ Ken Blanchard’s “Raving Fans” approach to customer service as part of our culture. In his book, Blanchard identifies three steps to creating Raving Fan customer service:
  1. Decide what you want. What kind of customers are you looking for? What type of relationship do you want to build with them?
  2. Understand what your customers want. In other words, listen!
  3. Deliver plus-one. Whatever it is that you do—perfect that—and then add 1% more: It’s the extra push that will set you apart.  
Use that raving-fan framework as an auditing system, you can track how you meet and exceed client expectations and identify areas where you can improve. At the end of day, you must hold yourself accountable for doing what you said you were going to do.

But if you’re not writing these promises or commitments down, how can you track your progress? How can you hold yourself accountable?

By implementing an actionable business plan that identifies clients (or departments or market segments) and that details specific tasks, you’ll be well on your way to successfully managing yourself.

If you need help getting started on that plan, connect with me at bdegarmo@shamrockcompanies.net

Good luck!

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Use print to magnify your digital marketing touches

In today’s digital-driven marketing world, we’re learning that print is more relevant than ever. While social media and influencer marketing still have their place, print marketing remains strong because of its perceived value: A tangible printed piece, like direct mail, makes a memorable brand connection with a shelf life that outlasts a typical social media scroll.

Here’s a few recent statistics that underscore the influence of print:
  • 86% of shoppers bought an item after first seeing it in a printed catalog (misterclipping.com)
  • 76% of households read direct mail ads. (AllianceBusinessServices)
  • 39% have tried a business for the first time because of direct mail advertising (Canada Post)
  • 51% prefer companies use a combination of mail and email when communicating with them. (Canada Post)
When used as part of an integrated media strategy, print can greatly enhance digital campaigns, acting as a multiplier to boost digital efforts. Incorporating both digital channels and tactile touches is essential to marketing success. Here are four ways to put print to work to promote your brand:

Personalization.
Customized content creates unique value—and greater relevance. Personalization used to be a novelty; but today, people expect products and services to be adapted and relevant to them: The more you connect with your audience through personalization, the more resistance is dropped. Making a personalized connection increases customer engagement with your brand.

Print & digital integration. Blending online and offline channels as part of an integrated marketing strategy is the key to driving higher conversion rates and making lasting brand impressions. Use your print media to link your audience back to your blog, a landing page, an exclusive video, website or to one of social media channels.

Custom/unique coupon codes. Using a unique coupon is a smart strategy for not only increasing customer engagement but also in gathering personal data about your target audience. Unique coupon codes generate higher ROI than generic coupon codes because they cannot be shared or reproduced—they are aimed at an individual, which creates a more personal connection and an exclusive feel.

Texture. A study from the University of Iowa found that haptic (touch) memory is the type of memory that has the strongest impact on the human brain. The physical act of holding something makes a stronger connection with the audiences. And so, using print media engages our haptic memory, creating lasting brand awareness. Adding glosses, raised ink, embossing, matte finishes—these create interesting texture for even greater brand connections.

Have any of these print strategies worked well for your brand? Do you have other ideas for incorporating print in your marketing program? Join the conversation on Facebook.

Ellen Moriarty

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

10 Tips for Building Brand Loyalty

Does your brand have a dedicated following? Whether you sell pizzas or insurance policies, brand loyalty matters; it’s good for business. Attracting and maintaining customers long term ultimately leads to increased profits: According to Adobe, repeat customers buy nearly 30% more items per order than first-time shoppers and are nine times more likely to convert than first-time shoppers.

So, how do you drive brand love when immediate access to your competitors is just a click away? Here’s a few ideas for attracting and keeping customers:

1. Establish your brand identity. Know who you are—and then stick with it, using consistent messaging from the top of the sales funnel to the bottom, as well as across channels.

2. Make it personal. Develop messages that are tailored specifically to your target audience: That personal connection makes your customers feel like you are speaking directly to them, not to the masses.

According to an Infosys study, 86% of consumers surveyed said personalization plays a role in their purchasing decisions—and 73% said they preferred to do business with brands that use personal information to make their shopping experience more relevant.

3. Listen to your customers. Find out what they want or need—and then dig deeper: Why? How? Answering these important questions can help you better align your products/services/delivery methods to better meet customer needs and expectations. What’s more, we all like to be heard. Asking for feedback sends a clear message to your customers that their opinions matter.

4. Provide Raving Fan customer service. There’s a lot of competition out there touting better, faster, less expensive products/services, so exceed their expectations with standout customer service. Do the unexpected things that let your customers know you care: Make a follow-up phone call, send a personal email, share an article or video that aligns with their industry or interest, or surprise them with breakfast for their next staff meeting.

5. Prompt ongoing brand experiences. Keep your brand front of mind by making connections with your customers at various times during a transaction or program experience using blogs, emails, social media prompts, and more. In this age of immediate access, out of sight means out of mind, so keep your brand relevant with frequent, strategic touches.

6. Create Community. Engage with your customers and ask them to share photos of themselves at your event or using your products on social media—facebook, Instagram, twitter, Pinterest. Shared posts on these channels will start a conversation about your brand, and will also foster an emotional connection—think happy, exciting, motivating, inspirational, etc.

7. Innovate. Quality counts, as does innovative product/service offerings. By continuing to improve, evolve and introduce new products or solutions, your customers will associate your brand with what’s next.

8. Create a consistent experience. Give your customers the quality and the experience they have come to expect from your brand, every time. Example: I know I’m going to get the same bold cup of coffee from a new Starbucks location as I do when I visit my regular store—that consistency is expected.

9. Be transparent and honest. If there is a customer service issue, a product problem or a mistake, own it. Your customers will appreciate hearing directly from you, rather than through another source.

10. Recognize loyal customers. Whether you offer points for transactions, reward service anniversaries, or simply connect with customers who have been with you for a while, it’s important to show existing customers that you appreciate their business. And, a customer loyalty effort is less expensive than spending marketing dollars on new-customer development.

Do you have any tips that you’d add to this list for boosting brand loyalty? Please share your thoughts on our Facebook page.

All the best,
Tim Connor


Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Use Eco-friendly Promos to Build Your Brand

We live in an environmentally- and socially-conscious age where consumer shopping decisions are now closely linked to corporate values. Recent studies show that more consumers—particularly Millennials—are gravitating towards brands that demonstrate good will: 
  • 88% of consumers said they would be more loyal to companies that support social or environmental issues, and 90% would switch to a brand associated with a good cause, if price and quality were similar. (Cone Communications and Ebiquity)
  • Three out of four consumers are more likely to buy a product if the company is making an effort to be sustainable. (Sense and Sustainability Study, Gibbs & Soell)
The takeaway: Going green is good for business. Nearly 65% of end-buyers surveyed by ASI say they prefer to purchase promos that are eco-friendly. So, if you’re not already incorporating environmentally-responsible and ethically-sourced promotional products into your brand marketing, consider making the change. 

While price had historically been an issue with eco products, that’s no longer the norm. And with the obvious branding advantages associated with a greener promotional product offering, it’s wise to promote your brand using eco-products that make sense for your business or industry. Here are a few ideas:

Reusable drinkware. Whether it’s a glass mug etched with a logo or insulated aluminum drink bottle, these choices eliminate Styrofoam, plastic or paper drinkware, making them a more eco-responsible choice for the office, commute or home.

Cork and wood products are trending. Reusable tote bags made from cork are extremely durable and stylish; and wood lids, handles (on mugs) or cutting boards and coasters can be laser-engraved with a logo (no inks) for a clean, organic feel.

Reusable straws and silverware. Disposable plastic is out. Reusable straws and cutlery—in bamboo, rubber and metal—are in. The wood and metal pieces can be laser-engraved for a subtle brand touch with everyday functionality.

Hemp or other sturdy reusable bags. Hemp items are popular in the cannabis industry; and because they’re so durable, they’re a great choice if you’re thinking about a sustainable bag promo. Instead of a cheap, flimsy poly bag (that will quickly get tossed) consider a hemp, bamboo or washable cotton bag embroidered with a logo for longer shelf life.

If you’re interested in learning more about these products or other environmentally-responsible promo items, connect with me on Linkedin.

Tim Berry

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Use AR to improve the customer experience & drive engagement

When was the last time you browsed through a catalog and then picked up the phone to place an order? If you’re like most Americans, it’s been awhile: There are 217.1 million online shoppers in the United States—a number that’s projected to reach 224 million this year (Statista). So, how does that impact print marketing for retailers and other brick-and-mortar businesses?

Augmented reality (AR) is one answer. AR can be used to bridge the gap between print and digital, allowing customers to enjoy an immersive experience with your brand.

AR has changed how we interact with brands—and from a marketing standpoint, it has rewritten the rules of engagement. Now, print media can also be interactive. Once-stagnant displays or catalogs can spring to life using AR technology.

Here’s how it works: AR embeds virtual content layered over a real-world object, making a powerful, immediate connection with the user by providing information in a memorable or more convenient way (i.e. clicking on or scrolling over an item in an ad, which triggers the display of the item name and cost on the host website). The revenue-generating potential that AR provides is incredible.

According to a study published by the ISACA, 62% of consumers believe augmented reality has the potential to improve the shopping experience. In addition, AR has reached revenues of about $428 million in 2018, with that number expected to explode in the next few years, with display ad and visual search revenues via AR totaling more than $2.6 billion by 2022.

This case study from Brand United details how an AR-enabled catalog improved the customer experience and boosted retail sales by 3% for automotive brand Quadratec:


https://www.brandunited.com/case-study/quadratec-uses-augmented-reality-to-improve-the-shopping-experience/

According to Statista, the global market for AR is projected to grow to approximately $90 billion in the next two years. In addition, revenue generated by AR is expected to be three times higher than virtual reality (VR).  And that’s because AR is so versatile and accessible for consumers. It can be customized to hit your audience when and where you want: geo-tagged for proximity-based marketing campaigns (think festivals, annual meetings, sporting events, etc.). AR can be used to create engaging customer experiences like taking customers on a virtual tour of a new property or helping customers easily locate your products—all from their smartphones or tablets, all with a couple of clicks.

AR also helps us become better marketers: Because AR interaction is trackable, we use the data from the experience to strategically plan the next step, modify the message, shape future campaigns, and so on. Where do you see AR fitting into your brand marketing?  If you’re interested in learning more, connect with me on LinkedIn.

Tim Connor

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

10 tips for increasing customer engagement

It used to be that the quality of goods or services is what created a happy customer. But that was then. And this is the age of customer engagement: Today, customers want to feel appreciated, engaged and connected with their chosen brands. Here’s proof:
  • 86% of buyers will pay more for a better customer experience
  • By 2020, customer experience will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator (Walker)   
Research is also finding that, even in today’s digital era, customers are seeking more authentic, human-centered interaction—but without constant interruption. This is the challenge that we face as marketers: To connect with customers in ways that are real and relevant, while providing transparency, in a frequency that keeps them engaged.

If you don’t have a customer engagement program in place to create those connections, it’s time to jump on board: Excited and engaged customers bring in 23 percent more profits. (Gallup)

This article in Entrepreneur magazine offers 10 ideas for boosting customer engagement https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/310656. Here’s a quick-read summary of those tips:
  1. Share behind-the-scenes content. Think about sharing employee stories or a tour of your facilities/properties.
  2. Launch a user conference. Bring people together to meet and share their experience with your brand—these trigger emotional connections and lead to better brand attitudes. 
  3. Survey customer to better understand them. And then use that data to align your service or product offerings.
  4. Use personalization. Eighty percent of people say that brands are not tailored to their needs—stand out by making a personal connection with your customers.
  5. Package products in unique ways. Make it memorable.
  6. Create a purposeful brand. Generation X and millennials want to believe companies care about the same causes they do.
  7. Launch a contest. Contests on social media increase online audiences by as much as 34 percent and boost email sign-ups by a similar amount (Hubspot).
  8. Develop a product for an underserved niche. This offers the opportunity to quickly build brand loyalty.
  9. Focus on creating added value. Give customers what they want and need—that’s true value. Be deliberate about communicating that value statement.
  10. Try something new. Don’t be afraid to think outside the box and implement a new campaign element or try a new media channel—changing up your game could be what your brand needs to make breakthrough connections.
What tips do you have for creating engaging connections with your customers? I’m interested in hearing from you. emoriarty@shamrockcompanies.net

Ellen Moriarty

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Will your brand survive the next social media blackout?

A few weeks ago, Facebook and Instagram experienced outages, leaving users frustrated—and brands in the dark. Unable to post content and connect with their customers, many businesses lost revenue.

So, what’s the lesson? The social media blackout is a great example of why integrated, multi-channel marketing is so important for brand success. Placing all your marketing eggs in one basket—or relying too heavily on one central media strategy—is risky.

A recent article in Entrepreneur magazine reinforces that point, “you can’t build the foundation of your business on someone else’s platform.” The author argues that brands must protect and maintain the assets that they control: their websites and mailing lists. (read the entire article via the link below)

https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/330200?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email

While I agree that your website is an owned marketing asset that’s central to maintaining consistent and reliable brand-driven connectivity with your audience, I’ll take that one step further: For your brand to survive and thrive in today’s digital marketing arena, you need to establish relationships with your customers—connections that are guided by an integrated, cross-channel marketing plan.

This strategic plan should be revisited and updated on a regular basis:

  • Website. Ensure your website is primed for business: Your messaging should communicate who you are, what you do and the value you offer. Be clear and concise, using strong CTAs (call to action) that prompt action.
  • Email marketing is essential to brand success (72% of consumers prefer email as their primary means of communicating with brands). Optimize this channel by updating/maintaining your mailing lists; and use drip campaigns to keep your brand front of mind. Test your emails and redeploy campaign elements as needed.  
  • Product packaging. Review your current packaging: Does it provide an opportunity for customers to interact with your brand—either physically or electronically? Consider incorporating ways for users to consume your content or experience your brand using elements such as augmented reality or video.  
  • Promotional and printed products. How are you making brand impressions with your audience? Use tangible touches—like promotional products or unique printed items—to make those connections. Brainstorm ways to incorporate these items into your marketing plan, as they have a longer shelf life than digital ads or social media posts.

Social media is like most technology: It’s great—until it doesn’t work. Of course, social media is important and essential in brand marketing. But always, balance is key. To ensure your brand weathers the next social media blip, have a diversified plan.

Good luck,

Tim Connor

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Make Culture Happen. blog part 2 of 2

Picking up where we left off last week…

At Shamrock, our unique corporate culture is borne from the intentional work that we do—and most importantly, the way in which we do that work. Our charge is to help individuals and companies perform at their highest levels. Here’s how we make that happen for each of our key stakeholders: 

Individual Employees.
What attitude do you bring to work every day? How does that affect the people around you? We encourage and celebrate the four key concepts in the book FISH:

1.    Play – Have fun! Take your job seriously, but don’t take yourself too seriously
2.    Make Their Day – Find a way to make someone’s day, every day!
3.    Be Present – When talking to someone, give them your full attention
4.    Choose Your Attitude – Bring positive energy and enthusiasm to work every day

Implementing these principles is likely to make you better at your job and happier in your work.


The Company. We believe in nurturing a workplace environment where everyone works to make each other better. The book Gung Ho! provides some great guidance with three simple principles:
•    Worthwhile work – everyone’s work is worthwhile and important to the company’s success
•    Empower employees with the control to achieve the goal
•    Cheer each other on!

Work to reimagine your workplace: Create an office/warehouse/jobsite where people are free to ask questions and challenge the status quo. Celebrate teammates through continuous encouragement and positive feedback—this creates a cohesive sense of team comradery where everyone achieves more.


Community & Charity. We believe in giving back and helping others. And we do it together. Shamrock’s Culture Club keeps our team engaged with events like blood drives and kickball games, volunteering and charity fundraising. This provides quality time together away from work, and makes our employees feel better about themselves and the company they work for.

Our Clients. Satisfied clients are not enough; we want our clients to be Raving Fans! In his book, Ken Blanchard explains the three secrets of Raving Fans Customer Service:

Step 1: Decide what you want - Create a detailed vision of your future customer service model centered on your customers.
Step 2: Discover what the customer wants - Be prepared to alter your vision in response to your customer’s feedback and individual needs.
Step 3: Deliver your vision plus one percent - To create a raving fan you need to exceed on delivery of your customer service promise each time the customer deals with you, the customer needs to believe that they can count on you again and again. Consistency creates credibility!

Also consider that Raving Fan clients are less likely to leave, and more likely to offer additional opportunities and expand your business relationship.

Again, at Shamrock, we believe in being more than a company that provides great marketing related products and services. We believe in helping individuals and companies perform at their highest levels. We’ve created a culture where having a positive attitude and helping and cheering each other on is expected. We are proud of our commitment to giving back, and we celebrate when our clients send Raving Fan thank you notes because we’ve succeeded in exceeding their expectations.

We are a trustworthy, effective, and likeable company. Yes, culture matters!

If you’ve got questions about how to implement a corporate culture program like ours at your company, connect with me at bdegarmo@shamrockcompanies.net.

Good luck!

Bob De Garmo

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Culture Matters. blog part 1 of 2

Mission statements. Core values. These are the guiding principles that capture the essence of our businesses, articulating who we are, what we do, and why we do it. But these words on paper are only effective if they translate into everyday action.

That action is something we’re deliberate about at Shamrock: We work to align our actions—to not only do what we say we’re going to do, but to be thoughtful and deliberate about how we approach that work, and one another. In doing so, we’ve created a unique corporate culture.

By its definition, corporate culture is the beliefs and behaviors that determine how a company's employees and management interact and handle outside business transactions. Every company has its own culture. Some good, some not so good. So, how do you create and nurture a dynamic and engaging corporate culture? I have a few thoughts:

Define your purpose. If you want your employees to be inspired, they need to feel like there is a bigger purpose to their work and that their contributions make a difference. To accomplish this, start by defining your values and beliefs and then actively communicate them to all employees. This will set the standard and guide all internal communications and decision making.

This quote from Simon Sinek sums up the value of working with purpose: “If you hire people just because they can do a job, they’ll work for your money. But if you hire people who believe what you believe, they’ll work for you with blood and sweat and tears.”

Share your vision. Clients care about your beliefs, as well. “People don't buy what you do; they buy why you do it.” (Simon Sinek) So, be creative about including your clients in your work—invite them to be part of charitable events, use social media to share and engage them in your campaigns and encourage their participation. (On the flip side, offer to contribute and lend a hand in their efforts, as well!)

Get specific. At Shamrock, we believe in being much more than a company that provides great marketing-related products and services. We believe in helping individuals and companies perform at their highest levels.

So, what does that look like? How do we provide the support to drive that performance?

We focus our work on four areas (or audiences) in order to accomplish our mission, all of which shape our culture by validating what’s most important to us as a company. We’ve identified these as our primary pillars:
  1. Individual employees
  2. Our Company and how we work together
  3. The communities and charities that we support
  4. Our clients and how we serve them
In next week’s blog, I’ll break down each of these important groups and identify the programs we’ve implemented to support them. 

All the Best,

Bob De Garmo

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

7 Steps to Getting Brand Trust Right

At Shamrock, we’re all about sharing the wealth—so we’re reposting this article from Content Marketing Institute that offers valuable tips about how to build trust in your brand. Here’s the article in its entirety:

There’s a crisis in consumer trust. At least that’s the word in the research.

The 2018 Edelman Trust Barometer revealed that only 48% of the U.S. population trusts business as an institution (a 10-point drop from 2017).

Yet, brand trust is one of the biggest factors in consumers’ purchasing decisions.

According to PwC’s Consumer Insights Survey (2018), 14% of respondents put trust as their No. 1 reason for choosing a retailer. “Trust in brand” was the second most frequently cited reason for purchase decision-making.


But while 72% of CMOs feel pressure to secure brand trust, it’s not always clear how to take ownership of it. This guide can help.

Step 1: Know your brand-trust goals (and how to measure them)

Do you want your customers to be raving about your company on review sites? Do you want them to recommend your products or services to friends and family? Do you want loyal customers who patronize your business?

Define what brand trust means to your organization. Detail what success looks like and how you will measure it.

To monitor how your brand is talked about online, set up Google Alerts for your brand keywords. When they appear online, you’ll receive an email from Google.


You can also monitor how well your audience trusts your brand by checking out relevant review sites – Google My Business, Yelp, Trustpilot, or industry-specific destinations. You can track mentions and conversations on social media with social media management tools like Hootsuite.


You can ask your customers directly for their opinions on your brand through online tools such as Survey Monkey, which provides templates you can customize. You can conduct an online survey to find your Net Promoter Score (how likely they would be to recommend your business to a friend or colleague) or assess customer satisfaction.

Step 2: Appoint a brand trust lead

Although this step isn’t mandatory, consider it if you’re keen to get your brand trust right.


Your brand trust lead is responsible for ensuring that your brand’s goals and vision are well detailed – how you want to be perceived and how you go about achieving trust. The lead can develop blueprints and protocols for how to achieve trust in your content, across your marketing activity, and in your customer service.

This person also can be responsible for monitoring and evaluating perceived trust of your brand, and for leading changes to continually improve your brand trust.

Step 3: Be authentic through brand storytelling

Authenticity is proven to be at the heart of trustworthiness. Consumers today are not interested in the sales pitch, the marketing lingo, or the “key benefits.” They want to know who your brand is.

Achieving authenticity comes down to your company’s DNA – your values, your goals unrelated to profit, your culture, etc. Out of this comes your brand’s unique and authentic voice.

Be authentic by being present – respond to negative feedback, address complaints, engage with your customers online (failure to respond to customers on social media can increase churn by 15%). And when you make a mistake, own it.

Be authentic by telling stories, which can better engage your customers and help develop a relationship, and, therefore, build trust.

Getting your storytelling right means developing a brand narrative. Nike tells its brand story not by promoting its products or even its brand. It tells the story of Rory McIlroy as a child looking up to his hero Tiger Woods and then finally meeting him. Only toward the end does the viewer see the trademark swoosh and the slogan “Just Do It.”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L2e8sbpyj_g

TIP: Invite your customers to tell their stories. Share these on your social media platforms and use a relevant hashtag to attract other customers to tell their stories too.


Step 4: Offer consistent customer experience

Customer service, while critical to any business, is somewhat limiting in its ability to develop a trusting relationship. It’s transactional – answering a question, helping pick out the right product, or troubleshooting problems.

Customer experience goes further, looking at the person’s journey through your brand. If done well, it provides your customers with a personalized, unique, and consistently high-quality experience that demonstrates that you understand them and their needs.

The better the experience your customers have, the more likely they are to trust you as a brand. According to PwC, 73% of consumers cite customer experience as an important factor in their purchasing decisions, yet only 49% say companies deliver.


TIP: Review your customer journey and list the touchpoints between your customer and your brand. Identify the opportunities where the relationship can be enhanced through, for example, heightened personalization.

Step 5: Focus more on relationships than conversions

Businesses understandably tend to fixate on conversions, sales, and revenue. However, those that focus on customer relationships first will be paid dividends in the long run.

According to Wunderman Thompson, 56% of consumers feel more loyal to brands that “get them” – that have a deep understanding of their priorities and preference. These brands have taken time to understand their customers and made efforts to build relationships.


TIP: Treat your first-time customers like VIPs, set a high benchmark for your relationship from the beginning.

Step 6: Embrace transparency

Transparency about your business is a crucial factor in eliciting trust. According to research by Reach Solutions, 58% of consumers don’t trust a brand until they’ve seen “real-world proof” that it’s kept its promises.

Transparency is showing your customers the truth about your brand, your products, services, etc., so they can determine for themselves if you’re worth buying from. Don’t expect them to take your word for it.

How you prove your transparency depends on your business. Transparency, for example, could be publishing third-party research about your products, divulging ingredients for your products, or responding openly and honestly to queries on social media.

Step 7: Build social proof

According to a Nielsen study, 92% of global online consumers trust word-of-mouth and recommendations from friends and family above any other form of advertising (up 18% since 2007). While this illustrates consumers’ growing distrust of advertising, it also shows that peer reviews and social proof are more important than ever.

BrightLocal’s research also backs this up. In 2017 and 2018, reading a positive review made survey respondents more likely to use a business. Only a small proportion (15%) said they didn’t let reviews influence their decision.


TIP: Interact regularly on industry-related review sites with customers who are talking positively and negatively about your business. (Sign up through a tool like Mention to alert you of online mentions so you can respond in real time.)


Ready to trust?

Brand trust is a big deal for marketers in 2019. It’s time to be proactive about it.

Your brand trust relies on what you say to your customers, how you say it, and how you prioritize their needs. It is communicated in your transparency – how you own your mistakes and inject your personality – and how you prioritize relationships over sales.

Building trust with your customers isn’t easy, but leaving it to chance won’t cut it anymore. If you take steps to own it, consumers will choose you above your competitors and, if you maintain their trust, stay with you for the long haul.


Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Use AI to Improve Marketing Outcomes.

Some people argue that digital technology has dulled our minds. (Even our text messages are auto-corrected!) But the truth is, technology makes us smarter marketers.

It used to be that we manually analyzed mounds of consumer data in hopes of aligning our marketing programs for greater ROI. But Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology changes all that. AI automates the process of refining big data which we can use to better target our customers, serving them the right message, at the right time, using the right channels.

A recent article in Entrepreneur by Albizu Garcia outlines the benefits of using AI to drive marketing automation and make valuable brand connections. Here’s a quick summary:

Reach more qualified customers.
AI uses customer data to efficiently engage new customers who match existing customer profiles. It allows you to target customer leads based on personal interests, buying habits, geographic activity, and past interactions—these can then be combined to create a list of likely targets.

Based on this customer-profile data, you can send highly-targeted (and even better: personalized) content using email marketing, social media marketing, targeted ads, direct mail, etc. to engage them at every stage of the sales funnel.

Boost customer retention.
After you find new customers, keep them loyal to your brand by continuously providing value and relevant content. AI is a great tool to make that happen by serving up tailored content and personalized recommendations or by offering assistance via chatbots.

Drive operational efficiency. “Chatbots are a vital tool in increasing efficiency while decreasing overhead costs. A chatbot can use personalized information for each customer it speaks to, allowing it to provide real-time, valuable assistance or service in a targeted and friendly manner.”

Read the full article here. www.entrepreneur.com/article/326228

Improve brand consistency. Most of us use multiple digital devices throughout our day. AI allows you to create a seamless experience between devices and across multiple channels so that customers are engaged—and opportunities are not missed.

As AI technology continues to evolve, we’ll see it used more in marketing automation as a tool to simplify processes.

Are you using AI in your marketing program? If you’re interested in learning more about it, connect with me directly at tconnor@shamrockcompanies.net.

Tim Connor   

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Refine your processes. Reach your business goals.

When was the last time you used a map instead of GPS? Or an encyclopedia instead of Google?  Times have changed. Technology has evolved. But have your business processes kept pace?

Many of us have solid business plans. We set goals—but then we revert to old-school processes and practices instead of using efficient, technology-based organizational tools to help us map out and accomplish the tasks and activities required to reach those goals. 

It takes more than good intention to achieve success. I often meet with sales reps who know exactly what they want to accomplish. Their big picture: I want to sell $1MM this year. To make that happen, I need to change the way I service my existing clients, so I will pitch one new idea per month, conduct two business reviews, take the client to lunch quarterly, etc.

These goals are great. But what tools are you using to make sure you’re following up? To hold yourself accountable? In order to be successful, you need to proactively drive the tasks associated with achieving your specific goals. A technology-based organizational system gives you the structure required to manage—and accomplish—those everyday tasks. It allows you to break your plan down into individual tasks, and then prioritize and re-position those tasks, as needed.

Pick a tool that works for you. There are so many technology platforms and apps available for organization. (I use Wrike for project and task management. It’s a cross between a glorified to-do list and a project management tool.)  Wrike displays a dashboard for my day that lists my tasks, including notes, dates, etc. This is my charge: It reflects those things that I’ve consciously and mindfully decided I need to do to accomplish my goals.

Be intentional. You might be using the notes app on your phone or a pad of paper to keep track of your to-do list. I’ve seen sales reps use these “systems” to organize their tasks, only to result in chaos: Their days run them. Using an organizational system allows you to dictate how you spend your day versus letting email and phone calls take control. It’s the framework that leads to a greater capacity of work and more sales.

Make better decisions. Without forethought, most of us hit the easy button: We choose to spend our time in low-impact areas as opposed to those tasks that ultimately lead to bigger results. Using an organizational system challenges you to make the conscious decision to spend your time on high-level tasks, avoiding low-level distractions.

Jump in with both feet. This is a commitment! Incorporating an organizational system into your everyday routine or practice is a game-changer—but, for it to be effective, you must be fully engaged. I use my program to drive all business and personal tasks—it’s what keeps me on track and helps me manage the things in my life that are most important to me.

I challenge you: Formulate your plan, convert that plan into an executional task list, and implement a tool to help you start crushing your goals. Are you already using an organizational system platform or app? Please share your input with us on facebook.

Bob De Garmo

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Craft better CTAs. Get better conversions.

Do I have your attention?

If I do, it won’t be for long: According to Statisticbrain.com, the average person's attention span is eight seconds and most of us read only 28 percent of the words on a webpage. As marketers, that makes it challenging to engage and convert readers.

This is where strong calls to action (CTAs) come in: These buttons or links—on websites, landing pages, emails—are compelling, persuasive statements that move your visitors to act, guiding them through the sales funnel: Maybe you want them to watch a video, schedule a demo, sign up for a subscription, or learn more about your product/service. The right CTA can help you make those connections.

Here are a few tips to make sure your CTAs are fine-tuned to help you net the desired action-activated response:
  1. Be direct. Simple and effective is what you’re looking to accomplish, so craft your message using words that make it clear what you want the reader to do and/or why it’s of value. (Five words or less is ideal)
  2. Use multiple CTAs strategically placed throughout your site or landing page to attract and convert visitors at all stages of the buyer journey.
  3. Make it relevant. Your CTA should be specific to the content on the page—don’t use the same CTA throughout your website.
  4. Optimize for mobile. Remember that many of your readers will be accessing your website or email via their mobile devices, so not only do CTAs need to be brief, they also need to be formatted to make a visual impact on a mobile screen.   
  5. Keep it simple. By keeping graphics clean and uncluttered, your visitors will find your message easier. (Don’t make them search for it!) Hubspot offers a great example of a sleek, well-designed webpage with a CTA that stands out clearly:
  6. Offer a time-sensitive special. Most of us don’t want to miss out on a good deal or deep discount. So, instead of directing your readers to check out your new product, consider adding a “deal of the day” pop-up CTA that prompts the reader to check out your special offer before it goes away.
  7. Provide options. One way to get visitors to spend more time on your site is to offer multiple CTAs that lead them down different paths. Here is a great example from Humboldt County (source: Hubspot).
  8. Test your CTA. A small change in your CTA can make a big difference. You might not expect higher click-through rates as a result of moving your call to action above the fold, or changing the color, or swapping the word “my” for “your” but those subtle changes can greatly affect your conversion rates. Test and then redeploy to keep your content fresh and effective.
I’m always on the lookout for examples of CTAs that work for me. Can you think of any that have caught your attention or compelled you to act? Share your thoughts with us on Facebook.

Ellen Moriarty

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Convert Leads Using Customer Personas. Here’s How.

In last week’s blog, we talked about the importance of creating customer/buyer personas to drive better marketing outcomes—and what kinds of information you should include in those profiles. Remember, you’re digging deep to uncover basic data, as well as habits, interests and other preferences: This information helps you to create an avatar of your target customer(s). By speaking directly to this persona and addressing his/her needs or expectations, you’ll make a stronger brand connection. 

So, where do you get that important data to build your customer persona(s)? Here are a few ideas:

  • Conduct in-person interviews with your current customers.
  • Survey your current customers. 
  • Survey your ideal customers. 
  • Dive into your business data. 
  • Research your Google Analytics website traffic
  • Engage in social media listening. 

Source: Hubspot
The goal is to put yourself in your customer’s shoes to create a detailed and accurate profile. And then, to use that information to your brand advantage by aligning your marketing plan to connect with your buyer persona(s). Here’s some examples of how you can put those personas to work to convert leads: 

  • Use social media channels that align with your customer’s habits (i.e. spend your time where your customer hangs out) 
  • Create brand messaging that speaks your customer persona’s language—and that also resonates with his/her value system
  • Provide special offers that solve your buyer’s problems or add value to their lives
  • Cater your content to your buyer’s preferences: Write blogs, whitepapers and ebooks and/or create videos that speak directly to the needs and interests of your buyer
  • Co-market with companies or influencers that your customers like or frequent: Co-sponsor an event, feature them as a guest blogger, incorporate their product or service in your promotional campaign, etc.
  • Use dynamic content on your website to speak directly to your target buyer
  • Optimize your landing pages: Run A/B testing to see which CTAs resonate with your target customer
  • Audit your existing content—make sure it speaks to your customer persona(s). If it doesn’t fit the model, update it or eliminate it altogether

Are there other ways you’re using customer personas? Share your thoughts with us on Facebook.

Ellen Moriarty

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Use Customer Personas for Better Marketing Outcomes

Microsoft reports the average person’s attention span is just eight seconds. That’s not surprising given the amount of content we consume every day: According to the American Marketing Association, we are exposed to up to 10,000 brand messages a day. So, as a marketer, how do you make sure your customers don’t simply scroll right by your content?

Make it personal.

By connecting with your audience in more personal and relatable ways, you make stronger and more memorable brand connections. So, it follows that the best way to make such connections is to first get to know your audience or your customers—and then create campaigns that speak directly to them. This is where personas come into play.

Hubspot describes them well: "Buyer personas are fictional, generalized representations of your ideal customers. Personas help us all -- in marketing, sales, product, and services -- internalize the ideal customer we're trying to attract and relate to our customers as real humans. Having a deep understanding of your buyer persona(s) is critical to driving content creation, product development, sales follow up, and really anything that relates to customer acquisition and retention.”

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1onXUgvpExoRQqF6v0kPTn9ihogQeU5UG/view?usp=sharingTo develop accurate customer personas, research is essential—you have to dig down beneath the surface to gather the personal data about your customer that paints a crystal-clear picture about who they really are:
  • What is their age and gender?
  • Which social media platforms do they use: Are they Facebook devotees or all Snapchat?
  • What TV shows do they watch: 60 Minutes? Game of Thrones?
  • What are their values: Are they intent on making a difference through social change? Strong supporters of U.S. veterans?
  • What are their digital habits: Primarily PC users? Do they shop using Alexa? 
Click here for a handy persona outline graphic.

The more questions we ask and the clearer “customer” picture we paint, allows us to be more effective in our marketing efforts. Next week, I’ll continue with this topic, offering some tips for where to go to get this valuable customer data and then, what to do with it.

Ellen Moriarty

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Choose your words wisely for stronger brand connections.

Have you ever watched or read an ad only to immediately forget the advertised product or brand? I know I have.

As marketers, we’re tasked with making memorable brand connections. So, how do we improve our chances of creating content that sticks? In part, it requires using the right words.

         Click here to access a list of the 15 most powerful words in marketing and SEO.

There are also guidelines that can help frame marketing word choices. Below is information summarized from a SalesForce article that details the types of words you can use to drive your brand’s message home and evoke desired emotions from your audience:

Words That Resonate with Consumers. Put things in terms of “you” instead of “I” or “we.” In other words, speak directly to your customers about what they can gain (Value) from doing business with you, rather than explaining what your business does.

Words That Grab Readers’ Attention. Words like “free” and “discount” naturally resonate with customers because they automatically make a purchase look more attractive.
https://drive.google.com/file/d/15hkSnwaxHgsOCneGB4sUH45iWxwXoMxA/view?usp=sharing
Words That Create a Sense of Fear or Urgency. Some words may convey your message to customers, but don’t really do much to convince them to act. That’s where phrases like “limited time” or “don’t miss out” or “now” come in, tapping into the fear of missing out.

Example: Spotify offers weekly playlists for its active listeners based on their specific tastes and listening habits. The company could create one personalized playlist and update it every so often. But instead, each playlist is only accessible for one week. Then it’s gone. Spotify encourages users to access their weekly playlists based on that fear that they’ll miss out on something great if they don’t.

Words That Promote Exclusivity. If you’re offering a deal specifically to your best customers or to a select number of people, you can use words like “exclusive,” “select,” and “limited” to make an opportunity seem more special. When customers feel like they are valued enough to be granted special access to products and services, they may be more likely to purchase.

American Express is an example of one company that successfully uses this tactic. “Membership has its privileges” and “Are you a Card Member?” are some of its popular taglines. These words create a sense of exclusivity that makes people want to join.

Words That Position Your Brand. Carefully select words that make your brand stand out, either against the competition or to a specific type of consumer (proven, dependable. Depending on the way you’d like to appeal to customers, you can use creative wording to position your brand.

Example: Coca-Cola used to call itself the “Official Soft Drink of Summer.” Is there an official governing body that decides which soda gets to represent summer? No. But by using these words, Coca-Cola paints itself as the only real choice for families who want to enjoy some fun in the sun.

Are there other word rules you’d add to the list? Join the conversation on Shamrock’s Facebook page.

Ellen Moriarty

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Change your daily habits: The ultimate deep cleanse for your business

We’re already past the mid-point in January: So, how are you doing with those New Year’s resolutions? I’m still hearing people talk about reorganizing, streamlining, detoxing. But just how do you get there—how do you make those self-promises (or goals) stick?

I contend that this year, I’m “making healthy a habit.” And that goes beyond the obvious healthy habits of eating clean, exercising and keeping up with regular checkups. For me, making healthy a habit means making conscious choices/changes in my daily routine that will exhibit a positive change in my everyday life. Think about that concept—it’s a simple incentive that I’ve incorporated into various area of my life.

Making healthy a habit in your business starts with a look in the mirror—or an honest self-assessment. You might want to consider these questions to help lose the flab and shape up your business:
  • How often have I randomly reached out to current clients? When was the last time I picked up the phone and asked them how we’re doing? (the same goes for suppliers)
  • Are my compliance standards up to date? Could my team benefit from additional training?
  • What areas of our business performed below expectations in 2018? What changes can we implement today to change that course for the year ahead?
  • What areas of our business performed well this past year? Celebrate those victories—and then identify ways to replicate that success in other departments, territories, with new product lines, etc.
Again, making healthy a habit is a deliberate choice: It’s a change in mindset that offers great dividends. One resource about changing habits that I go back to time and again is The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg. You can find more about it at www.charlesduhigg.com.

Another resource is life coach and author Mel Robbins: You can read her book The 5 Second Rule or check out her TED talk—she is a great resource for recharging and realigning everyday practices. Check out her website at www.melrobbins.com.

You might consider tossing your new-year’s pledges, and instead, work toward starting a revolution with your habits.  It’s never too late to start.

Good luck!
Tim Connor

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Build trust by humanizing your brand. Here’s how.

Is your brand trustworthy? While you may be strong in your conviction, your answer might not resonate with today’s consumers: According to the 2018 Edelman Trust Barometer (the industry standard for measuring consumer trust) only 48 percent of Americans trust businesses—and that number is on the decline.

So how do you build trust among leery consumers? One way is to simply get real, making memorable connections with your audience by showing the “human” side of your brand.

A recent article in Entrepreneur magazine reinforces the argument for creating authentic, transparent connections with your customers: “according to PwC’s Global Consumer Insights Survey 2018, more than one in three consumers surveyed ranked “trust in brand” among the top three factors, other than price, influencing their decision to shop at a particular retailer. How do you get consumers to trust your company? You do it by showing them the human side of your brand.”

Read the full article here or continue reading for a summary of Entrepreneur’s tips for making a human connection with your brand:

Make them laugh. It’s ok to show your not-so-serious side. A little levity goes a long way toward breaking down barriers. The article contends that “showing your more playful side will help consumers see that you’re not just a business focused on selling a product; you’re a human who can put aside your seriousness and have some fun.”

Create original funny content or share popular or existing posts that will get people laughing: That carefree feeling is what consumers will then associate with your brand.

Introduce your team. Authentic content that showcases your team and/or your operations is a great way to put a face with your business. Candid photos, videos, meet-the-employee spotlights, a glimpse behind operations—these are simple ways to put your brand out there in a very human way.

Share user-generated content. “This works to humanize your brand in two ways: First, it’s exciting and flattering to the user who gets his or her photo featured on your website or social media feed. Second, it shows other consumers that you have great relationships with their peers and that those people already enjoy your products.”

Tell authentic stories. Don’t spend all your time talking about how great your company is; humanize your brand by sharing authentic stories about your failures, hardships and lessons that you’ve learned—this will help customers better relate to you.

Show appreciation for your customers. “Letting your customers know that you care about and appreciate them is one of the best ways to humanize your brand.” Consider sending your best customers company swag; offering special discounts; or simply connecting with a personal message or hand-written note. That personal touch goes a long way toward creating raving brand fans.

This “human” directive is one we’ve been incorporating on our Shamrock twitter feed—and we’re seeing positive results. What’s been your most successful “human” marketing touch? Chime in our Facebook page.

Ellen Moriarty 

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.