6 Must-Dos To Maintain Human Connection in Digital Marketing

customersweb

Digital marketing is one of the fastest changing industries in the world and today’s digital marketing technology is more advanced than ever before. Automation and technology lets marketers do so much more in a fraction of the time. Technology helps us track, analyze and reach target customers.

According to a recent Forbes Insights survey, nearly 62% of brand and agency representatives around the world are satisfied with how well their current marketing technology is meeting their expectation and 57% plan to make new technology investments.

We have technology to help us understand customer behavior and characteristic trends. Growth in smartphone adaption and the popularity of mobile and messaging has exploded since 2005 with 50% of searches done on mobile. Artificial intelligence such as Facebook’s Bot Engine for Messenger, that offer consumer assistance, is one of the biggest trends of 2016. Marketing cloud solutions like Adobe, Salesforce, and HubSpot help us help us automate data across customer lifecycles.

Multi-platform internet usage requires marketers to manage email marketing, social media marketing, content marketing, paid and organic search and more across platforms. And more new technologies are coming!

With such powerful automation at our fingertips, it can be easy to overlook the ‘human connection’ involved in digital marketing. How do you think about your customers? How well do you understand your audience? What do they want?

Digital marketers can, and should, be considering customers and prospects in all aspects of digital marketing. Some ways to do this come right out of the traditional marketing playbook. Knowing your customer is the first step to winning others like them to your brand. Customer demographics like age, gender, income, education and occupation are on nearly every marketer’s radar. But what about customer psychographics? What do you know about a potential customer’s interests, activities and opinions?

Here are six ways to understand your customers and to maintain a human connection.

1. Focus Groups. Focus groups offer a great advantage to marketers. Invite a group of people who meet the demographics of those you want to attract to have a discussion. Ask them questions to get at a better understanding of what they want in a product, how they choose to make a purchase, and what motivates them actually make the purchase. The more people who join in, the better your chances to really understand your customer base.

2. Build Relationships. When promoting your product or service avoid pushing information or advertising at your audience. Instead focus on building an ongoing relationship. Social media is designed to let customers look for help and for you to provide feedback and resolve problems. Can you be empathetic with your audience? When you truly understand them and care about what they want, the better that relationship will become.

3. Create a Customer Persona. Consider creating a marketing persona to represent your customer. Include demographic information, their goals and challenges, their values and fears, as well as their interests, activities and opinions. How do you do this? Review your website analytics to determine additional demographic information about your customers. Use social media listening to find potential customers. What are they saying already?  You could also bring a group of colleagues together—human resources, customer service, accounting, etc—to share their customer perspectives with you. And, a really sound approach is to ask your customers questions directly. Conduct a survey, a focus group or one-on-one interviews. Once you’ve pulled together a customer profile or persona, give her/him a name. Bring them to life for your marketing team so every interaction is personal.

4. Use Emotion in Marketing. People are, after all, human and as humans most of us have emotions and often make purchasing decisions based on emotions. Rather than base marketing strategies on hard data, add emotion to your marketing. Tell a story with humor, excitement, action, adventure…whatever motivates your customer.

5. Show Your Own Humans. Marketers usually promote a company filled with people. Why not show—through photos and videos—those who connect with customers? This helps humanize your company and your marketing efforts. Use testimonials, statements about company philosophy, why customers matter, etc to show that the company cares about customers.

6. Get Personal. Can visitors find a telephone number easily on your website? When they call, do they get an automated answer or does a person pick up? The last thing you want is to lose a prospect because they can’t reach a real person. Ensure that customer service representatives—or anyone who interacts with customers—knows how to be friendly and professional on the phone. And, set up policies and procedures that reflect how you feel about your customers so everyone within the company understands how important this is.

Try not to get mired in digital marketing technology and automation. Learn to listen to your customers. Treat them like people by keeping human relationships at the forefront of your marketing and customer service.

How to Establish Your Mobile App and Keep Users Engaged

Mobile Apps Concept

So you have a website and a bunch of followers on Facebook, but what’s next? Creating a mobile app can be the next big step for many small businesses. Here are five steps to ensure your app will reach your audience and how to keep users engaged once they’ve downloaded it:

  1. Start by reaching out to existing customer touch points. Share the grand opening of your mobile app on the homepage of your website. This way, you’re reaching people who already know and love your company and you’re not spending your marketing dollars.
  2. Remember all of the things phones can do, and incorporate them. You can add QR codes, short URLs, and even SMS codes promoting your mobile app to all of your existing forms of communication.
  3. Turn to social media. Facebook and Twitter both offer app-install ads you can purchase, or you could simply post about the launch of your new app.
  4. Ask yourself if you would download your app. Your app must offer something unique in order to merit a user’s download. Make sure your app has value.
  5. Plan ahead for a seamless app experience. Once your app in launched, use your app analytics to understand which features of your app are most valuable to your users. Use this information to decide which areas of the app to grow and which ones to get rid of.
  6. Create a tie between other sources of media. Ask users to allow push messages to their notifications center on their phone. Use consumer information such as email and phone number to send updates.

Now you’re ready to drive traffic towards your new mobile app! Using these tips, you can be sure that once users are there, they’ll be there to stay. Don’t forget to spice up your app to keep long-time users interested. Bring on a digital marketing expert if you want more tips on mobile apps.

Natalie Kane contributed to this blog post.

5 Things We Learned From Viral Media About Marketing In 2015

starwars

More than ever before, there are tools available to marketers that allow them to understand who their customers are and what they’re interested in. Marketers are learning how to tailor their approaches to what their customers want using email, digital advertising, and endless other methods. How can we keep all of this in mind moving forward while also learning where to go from here? The answer can be found by looking where our consumers look: at viral media posts on social media.

In past years, memes dominated the viral media space that reaches millions of users. Viral media in 2015 was more about activism, entertainment, news, and politics. Here are 5 things we learned from viral media about the inner workings of digital commerce:

  1. Big name influencer marketing can weaken the merits of a practice to the point of harm. Taylor Swift’s public disagreement with Apple Music and Spotify was a huge detriment to both services.
  2. “Nerd” culture has completed its transition into the mainstream. The vast success release of Fallout 4 and the release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens are prime examples of this.
  3. Social media puts consumers directly in touch with companies and organizations. Regular people candidly share their opinions about products, services, and even political candidates.
  4. Buy buttons are starting to pop up everywhere. They are now directly on Pinterest pins, Twitter ads, Facebook ads, and beyond.
  5. Personalization is key. Consumers are watching, retweeting, and sharing heart-wrenching videos of people’s personal accounts. They’re looking at other individuals in a sea of people and considering themselves individuals. Treat them that way.

By watching consumer trends, we can become more aware of what works and what doesn’t. As the new year moves forward, watch viral trends to become more aware of what’s happening in consumer spaces and you’ll likely be on top of your game when it comes to knowing what your consumers want.

What viral media did you notice making a marketing impact in 2015? We’d love to hear from you!

Natalie Kane contributed to this blog post.

 

 

How to Target Your Audience in 5 Simple Steps

target group

Every good marketing plan starts with a target audience. This is the segment of consumers you want to target to see the highest return on your investment into a marketing plan. To define a target audience and channel your marketing efforts towards them, follow these five steps:

  1. What is Your Product or Service? Analyze it to find out what problem it solves for the consumer who buys it. Is it a cleaning product for messy houses? Is it a medication to relieve extreme aches and pains?
  2. Who Has the Problem Your Product Solves? If you’re offering a cleaning product you will want to target the head of the household, maybe a mother or a father with children. If your product relaxes the body and mind, you may decide to target individuals by age group or ailment.
  3. Where Does Your Audience Get Their Information? The parents with a messy house who need your cleaning product might receive a daily or weekly email newsletter. Baby Boomers may look to Facebook to learn what others in their age group are doing to relieve arthritis or chronic pain, while college students may turn to Instagram or Twitter. Consider advertising in the email newsletter, create and use the appropriate social media platform, or simply be present wherever your audience tends to get their information.
  4. How to Engage Your Audience? Pay special attention to sources your audience trusts and begin to associate your brand with these sources. For example: parents may rely heavily on Parenting Magazine and people with physical ailments might frequent WebMd looking for relief ideas. Also be sure to explain why your product or service will solve their problem more successfully than all other products.
  5. What Does Your Audience Profile Look Like? Create an audience profile. This way, your sales team, writers, and designers can refer to the profiles to ensure the product is being represented to the correct audience in a constructive way every step of the marketing process.

Forming a relationship with your customers takes time, but once you do, you can be sure that you’ll have a marketing plan that is sure to have a solid return on investment. Bring on a marketing expert to help create your target audience and expose your product to those who need it most!

Natalie Kane contributed to this blog post.

iOS9 Changing How We Advertise; 5 Rules to Follow

iOS-9

Ad blockers have been around for years, but recently, when Apple released iOS9, they made their way out of our web browsers and onto our mobile devices. iOS9 users can now purchase apps that will block ads on their phones and tablets.

These ad blocker apps (for example, Crystal) function similarly to AdBlock Plus that many people use on their web browsers such as Chrome, Firefox, Safari, etc. to ensure that online users have a stress-free, comfortable online experience.

How can a small business ensure that its digital ads are still seen? Here are five steps to take while creating your online ads to make sure  they aren’t blocked by an ad blocker:

  1. Make sure your ad file size is small and loads quickly.
  2. Steer clear of animations and pop-ups. Ads that interrupt the user experience are the reason ad blockers were created.
  3. Cater your ads to the environment they will be in. Ad blockers are more likely to block ads that blatantly stand out from the rest of the site.
  4. Clearly mark your ads as an advertisement.
  5. Be sure that your ad doesn’t distract too much from the content on the site.

As a company looking to advertise online it may be your first inclination to ask for flashy, complex advertisements to attract users’ attention, but with the increasing rate of ad blockers used it is clear that simple ads will be more successful and reach more consumers.

Contact a digital marketing expert to assist in the creation of your online advertising campaign to assure that your ads will be seen by users.

Natalie Kane contributed to this article.

6 Tips to Ensure You Get Most Out of Social Media

Social Media

Presenting your business in a bright light on social media is a daunting, but important task. Using social media can be very time consuming, but when managed correctly, can be invaluable to a small business (especially with a tight marketing budget).

Here are six tips to make sure you’re getting the most out of social media for your business:

  1. Choose the Right Social Media Platform(s). Begin by determining your target audience. Once you have a concrete target audience, you can focus your efforts on the specific social media sites that cater closest to them. For example: Jimmy John’s markets heavily to younger people who like things “freaky fast” and want instant gratification. For this reason, they have chosen to have a strong presence on Twitter.
  1. Avoid Brand Confusion Across Sites. Your brand is one of the most important tools in your marketing kit. The way your business is presented on social media must be coordinated across platforms so as not to cause brand confusion. The message and language used may be tweaked slightly across sites to target the specific audience who uses each site most.
  1. Handle Negative Remarks Appropriately. Just about every business owner I’ve worked with has been concerned about controlling negative comments. No matter what social media platform you choose, unpleasant remarks can occur. Respond to negative posts and apologize for whatever inconvenience the consumer may have experienced, but do not solve the problem on a public forum. Directly contacting the customer if possible—use direct messaging, texting, or calling them on the phone—will provide you with more information about their complaint and let you better solve the problem.
  1. Manage Your Time on Social Media. Don’t get distracted by trying to be in too many places at once. Focus your time and efforts where they will be most effective. This means sticking to the one or two platforms that you’ve chosen and working to only create profiles that will be active. Set aside 15 to 30 minutes a day to manage your social media accounts.
  1. Up Your Engagement Game. Try to focus on more than just your number of followers or likes on a platform. Get to know the flow of the platforms and when your targeted audience may be viewing them. Pay attention to what users say about your business and industry, and work toward an engaging experience with them. Provide relevant and regular posts to keep readers engaged. If using Facebook, be sure to read Facebook’s tips on how their new Newsfeed algorithm works to make sure that your posts are reaching your audience.
  1. Measure Your Results. Measuring the success of social media interactions can’t be done with traditional ROI metrics. Pay attention to analytics provided by a social media platform. For example, boosted/paid Facebook posts can provide a great deal of information. The number of views might reflect an increase in awareness and the number of click thrus could indicate interest in a product or service. You also want to watch the impressions frequency and reach. At the end of the day, true success will come when social media visitors convert into customers. (that’s a topic for another full post!)

Social media is here to stay and is a wonderful way to share your expertise, services and products as well as learn about your targeted audience. Roll up your sleeves and have fun! But, be sure to bring on an expert when you’re not sure of what to do next.

Natalie Kane contributed to this blog post.

Get in the Race to Re-Energize Website Traffic Volumes: 7 Questions to Ask Yourself

Misaki Digital Marketing helps small businesses win the digital marketing race.

Are you winning the race in website traffic and engagement? According to a November 2014 poll by VCita, only 31% of small business owners were satisfied with the volume of new clients obtained through their websites.

That leaves 69% of small business owners in need of a serious digital overhaul. In this digital age, it is not enough to simply have a business website, your small business needs to commit to a digital work up and work out.

Here are some questions you can ask yourself in the race for digital optimization:

1)    Is social media part of my marketing strategy? Am I focusing on sales and leaving relationship building behind? Today’s consumers are using social media. In fact, according to a recent Pew Research report, 52% of online adult users now use two or more social media sites; a significant increase from 42% of users in 2013. Your presence on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Instagram, Pinterest etc. will make it easier for them to find you and for you to engage with them.

2)    Is my website mobile-friendly? Check out your website with Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test to determine how user-friendly it is. Google will analyze your site and spit back a report. Check it now. In April Google will begin penalizing websites that aren’t mobile-friendly.

3)    Would a paid search campaign benefit my business? Often referred to as pay-per-click or PPC, such a campaign doesn’t have to cost a lot. At $300.00 per month, the return could outweigh the price.

4)    Is my business appearing in local searches? Google’s Pigeon update makes optimizing local searches more valuable than ever. Contact me for a FREE audit of your local listings status.

5)    When was the last time I distributed a web release? Web releases are wonderful tools to use to not only promote new products and services, but to help boost your search rank with reputable incoming back links to your website.

6)    How old is my current business video? People love to watch videos. If it’s been a while since you’ve posted a new video, now’s the time to consider it. Then post and optimize it on YouTube.

7)    Are my keywords still performing well? Keywords are the muscle behind your digital strength. The keywords people use to find products and services can change. Have they changed for your business? Not sure? There are many free keyword building tools out there including Google AdWords Keyword Planner, Keyword Spy, and SEMRush.

Make a commitment to a serious digital workout for 2015. Hire an experienced content marketing writer and strategist. You don’t have to take on every aspect of your digital footprint today, but by starting with a strategy and a plan, you will stay ahead of your competition and secure a winning spot in the race for digital optimization.

Do you want help with your small business digital marketing? Contact me for answers.