Keys to a Successful Marketing Budget

6a00d83451b74a69e20163037ba3ab970d-piMarketing budgets can feel like a chore without a dedicated marketing team crunching the numbers, but every business needs one to succeed. Why?

Because every dollar spent differentiating your business from your competition can earn you five to ten dollars in revenue.

That’s how valuable having a marketing budget is, yet, most businesses find themselves marketing by the seat of their pants because budgeting is a challenge.

What’s The Challenge?

The time and resources required to develop an effective marketing budget are usually scarce, especially for small to mid-sized businesses. The budgeting process is more than just picking a dollar amount, choosing your marketing channels and then creating marketing pieces. It also has to account for research, personnel and tracking.

Before You Begin

It may be your first instinct, but marketing budgets should not begin with how much you are willing to spend. They begin with establishing who your target audience is and researching who can benefit from your product or service the most. Define what they look like, what they do for fun, where they go for information and what they value.Then ask yourself, “What about my brand will differentiate us from our competitors in the target audience’s eyes?”

With a clearer view of your target audience and vetted differentiators, you may research what marketing channels best communicate your differentiators to your customer. For example, if you’re marketing a professional service to other businesses, you might consider LinkedIn or a robust SEM strategy. If you’re marketing a product to millennials, you might consider Facebook or remarketing.

Set Your Goals

Set expectations and benchmarks to measure your progress, but be realistic. If your target audience is small, can you really achieve $5 million in new sales over the year? Can you truly convert 50% of leads when the industry average is 10%? This is not to say your goals shouldn’t be challenging, but make them achievable for the sake of your employee’s morale, your sanity and your bottom line – this is your opportunity to define what your success looks like.

Just having goals is not enough. You must establish tools and a process for tracking your success and making changes. Facebook provides HTML pixels to help you attribute website conversions to a specific Facebook ad. Landing pages or unique URL’s on your website will help you identify campaign related traffic and leads. Promotion or QR codes will help track the success of promotional offers. The key being, if you can’t measure it, don’t do it.

What’s Your Budget?

Traditionally, your marketing budget should be around 10% of your gross revenue. If you are a newer business with less brand awareness, that number could reach as much as 40%. If you are an established brand, that number may drop as low as 5%. No matter the case, your marketing budget should be built to meet the goals you previously set, and focused on reaching your target audience through the marketing channels you researched.

Luckily for businesses today, the digital age has made marketing much more cost effective. A Facebook ad can reach just as many customers as a newspaper ad for a fraction of the cost. A YouTube video can drive website traffic better than any ad buy for television or radio, and an optimized e-commerce website can move product faster than most high-traffic storefronts.

That being said, digital and social media marketing relies on your understanding of your target audience. If your target audience research is off the mark, your well crafted marketing will fall on deaf ears.

The Bottom Line

Building your marketing budget begins before you budget. Careful planning and thoughtful research will set your marketing up for success, and “(tracking) makes perfect.”

 

Advice Are Marketing Services Right for Your Small Business

465640-email-marketingDo you need extra help from a marketing services organization? Is the technology getting a little overwhelming? Maybe you just can’t keep up with your blogging and social media calendar. If you are the owner of a small business or a franchisee, you work hard every day to provide the best product and service, and for some reason – people are buying from an inferior competitor. What’s the deal? Shouldn’t having a great product be enough?

Here’s the deal. Consumers are overwhelmed with choices and messages about what to buy. Because of this they take shortcuts to decide what to buy and which vendor to trust. But here’s the good news. Once they find a vendor they like, they stick with them.

HOW SERVICES CAN HELP YOUR BUSINESS:

Marketing consultants usually make the distinction between traditional and digital marketing. Traditional marketing encompasses corporate identity, branding, telemarketing, PR and similar ‘real-world’ activities. Digital marketing on the other hand includes website creation and landing pages, virtual social networks presence, online press releases, email marketing, blogging, search engine optimization, paid advertising (on services such as LinkedIn, Twitter, Google, YouTube, Facebook) and others.

WHAT IF YOU JUST WANT TO RUN SOME CAMPAIGNS?

Marketing Consultants are smart, and they know you have to start with a great product and an in-depth understanding of your market and target audience before running campaigns. You can pay them to help you with marketing research, or you can simply work with a services organization to build and execute campaigns that drive immediate, mid term and long term results. We recommend this direction if you already have a good understanding of your market and the needs of your customer.

Marketing consultants can help you develop campaigns that span across email, mobile, social and online channels, Here are the most fundamental and effective campaigns you should consider running:

1. Email List Growth Campaign

I can’t stress how important this is. Growing you list can be done in lots of ways, including posting a contest with an email signup form on your Facebook page, in your store or on your website.

2. Referral Campaign

The best marketing in the world is word-of-mouth marketing. A simple, refer-a-friend campaign can bring in new business and it also gives you the opportunity to thank you more loyal customers with coupons and other V.I.P. benefits.

3. Loyalty Campaign

Loyalty campaigns can be extremely complex, with multiple tiers and prizes, or they can be very simple. We recommend you start simple before investing in an expensive system that requires integration with your POS systems. A simple way to get started could be the creation of a simple “loyalty card” that gets punched every time someone purchases something at your store. This is easily forged, but if you keep the “freebie” simple and low cost, your exposure will be low. Once you get some traction and have a chance to test different offers, we highly recommend you start to look at digital loyalty campaigns that enable you to track performance and customer interactions.

These are just a few of the campaigns a marketing consultant might recommend. They are good at not only figuring out what to do, but how best to go about it. The best ones will build the campaign from start to finish, and track the results.

The bottom line: Small Businesses can benefit from services groups, but make sure you get your bang for the buck by working with services groups that know your industry and will execute campaigns, not just come up with expensive ideas.

 

The Top 5 Referral Marketing Ideas for New Businesses

download (10)Do you have a brilliant business idea that’s taking off? Are you at a point where you have a product and your customers love everything about it? Have you considered leveraging the power of referral marketing to help even more people discover your product? There are numerous referral marketing ideas that can help you increase your sales.

Consider this – nowadays, a business has to sell more than just a product. You have to sell a full customer experience; An experience that has inspired your customer to share your products with friends and family.

Marketing conditions are continually changing. Unlike a decade ago, businesses these days do not only sell a product or service to customers, but also an experience. They are given a full experience that will inspire them to share the product or service with friends and family – all of whom are potential customers. Word-of-mouth referrals are the most effective way to grow your business, and this is especially true when you are just getting started as a business.

According to Entrepreneur, an ever increasing number of businesses in 2015 and beyond will try to be more open to feedback from their customers. Here are a few referral marketing ideas on how you can make the most out of your customer referrals.

1. IMPROVE YOUR REFERRAL MARKETING STRATEGY

A Nielsen Trust Study from 2013 showed that referrals are the most trusted form of advertising. This information should be good motivation to establish a solid referral strategy, one based on various referral marketing ideas.

Research is the foundation of any marketing strategy. When you want to craft a good referral marketing strategy, the initial research should include the basics, such as understanding customer desires and needs. But we also advise you to conduct research on any potential referral channels, such as news publications, influencers (bloggers and social media influencers), as well as finding all possibilities to produce customer reviews and opinions online.

Once your research is done, use the data to find the right referral marketing ideas, and then craft a successful strategy which includes:

– Exceptional customer service. Give customers or potential buyers a reason to engage, care about and tell others about your brand. Satisfied clients provide great referrals that are invaluable to small businesses

– The 80/20 rule of referral marketing

– Shareable product experiences. A simple Facebook post, Twitter tweet or Instagram selfie can now reach hundreds, if not thousands of potential customers in a few seconds.

– Referral marketing program. Consider including an obvious incentive in your referral marketing program. Customers are more likely to refer friends and family when there is a valuable incentive involved. If the incentives are worthless or undesirable to the company’s existing customer base, the customers won’t be interested enough to participate in the referral program. Make the program more visible by placing signs in stores and using any internet marketing tools that apply.

Influencer. Find a person who is sufficiently influential in your niche. It doesn’t have to be a celebrity; A popular blogger, YouTuber or Instagramer will do the job.

References. Use references as referrals because people consider other people’s opinions before determining whether they should purchase a product or not.

2. FOCUS ON ONLINE REFERRALS

Referral marketing can be highly effective in an online environment due to the popularity of social media and sharing sites. Internet referral marketing can potentially spread information faster and to a wider audience than most offline marketing strategies.

These days, average customer reach is much larger than ever before and for many people with strong social followings, it can be enormous. Customers now have the power to make or break a business by what they say about it online.

According to research carried out by social media experts, 78% of consumers trust peer recommendations, whereas only 14% trust advertisements. Perhaps that’s why online communities are so good at generating business referrals.

Dropbox, an online file storage company, implemented a very successful referral program in 2009 asking users to tell their friends about the service. The program offered rewards for both sides in the form of additional free space.

This program came to be very fruitful. Namely, by 2010, 35% of daily sign-ups were the result of a referral, while signups had permanently increased by 60% overall. The company estimated that within a 30-day period (April 2010), their users had sent more than 2.8 million direct referral invitations.

Dropbox debuted as a Y Combinator startup in 2007. It now has 300 million users and more than 500 employees. Follow the trend and take advantage of the variety of social media approaches to increasing your referrals. Brainstorm on various referral marketing ideas and try them out.

3. USE CONTENT AS A REFERRAL TOOL TO FORGE STRONG REFERRAL RELATIONSHIPS

Most often, customers are too busy to leave referrals, even though they are satisfied with the product or service. In situations like this, valuable content can generate referral introductions in ways that are constructive and valuable as opposed to shallow and fruitless.

Valuable content is an effective tool for attracting strategic partnerships as well. While many business owners focus most of their referral efforts on customers, non-competing businesses that serve your target market can be one of the most potent sources of referrals.

4. CONNECT WITH RELATED PRODUCTS AND SERVICES

The old premise “It’s not what you know but who you know” is still very popular in the business world. Even though you may be skilled and dedicated to your new business, your chances of success will rise exponentially when you connect with the right people.

Many companies collaborate with complementary businesses and cross-promote to each other’s customer bases. In order to promote your business, identify a connection that would be interested in setting up a barter program with you, one in which you’ll work for them and refer new clients to their business and vice versa.

Networking is the key to obtaining more customers and earning brand trust. For this reason, view every moment as a potential networking opportunity and watch your business grow.

5. SEEK CREATIVITY IN REFERRAL MARKETING IDEAS

Having a variety of electronic devices available to you and your customers, you have infinite possibilities of creating inspirational referral marketing ideas. If your client is willing, try to capture a testimonial on video. This can be a really powerful asset. Offer them an incentive to motivate them to make a creative referral.

Another idea you can try is thinking of a witty way to ask for referrals. There is an interesting example of a computer repair company using stamps reading “We Crave Referrals” on every paper that customers receive – including newsletters, marketing material, and invoices.

Remember, the best referrals are the ones you don’t even have to ask for. Thus, provide your customers with an exceptional experience that will make them eager to share it with others. Try various referral marketing ideas and see how they work for your business.

Torchlite is evolving the way businesses go to market. By seamlessly connecting digital marketing experts and business owners through our application, we make building effective digital marketing campaigns easy – driving leads, online traffic, customers and revenue. Let’s get ignited.

Different Ways Of Promoting Something

blog_promotingPeople are talking about the new forms of marketing today. It is no doubt that traditional marketing has been around for quite a very long time already. In fact, some are still being used by business owners today. However, with the Internet becoming popular and having a big role on how successful a business is, more and more entrepreneurs are now looking for ways on how they can market their offerings efficiently.

Indeed, there are already many different ways for promoting something.

Types Of Marketing

Internet – This refers to any strategy taking place online. It has a variety of forms such as search engine, video advertisements, and e-mail. It certainly needs a great approach in areas of design, development, and promotion.

Offline – This includes all the marketing efforts that are not done on the online world. Local advertising in newspapers and on radio or television are some of its forms. Today, more and more companies are searching for ways on how they can leverage their offline marketing campaigns with the online one so they can complement each other.

Outbound – This is also known as traditional. This includes any marketing efforts that are taken in order to introduce products or services to someone who is not looking for such product or service. Some examples are sending newsletters, cold calling, banner ads, and billboards.

Inbound – This focuses on having your business found by customers. In other words, the customers reach out to you, not the other way around. The most important thing to bear in mind is that a person determines the product or service he wants and then goes out to find it.

Article – Businesses today are writing articles related to the industry they are in and distribute them offline and online. These copies will educate people about a certain topic and provide the company that wrote it with more credibility in the market. Business contact information can be included in the article so interested individuals can easily contact them.

Trade Show – This is a form of event marketing that allows firms to demonstrate their offerings as well as to examine what’s going on in the industry.

Referral – This relies on the customers of the company. This is also known as word of mouth marketing, which is considered a more spontaneous way of getting new business. Entrepreneurs can’t solely rely on this strategy since results are not very predictable.

Viral – This relies on the marketer’s message being spread quickly on different social networks to boost brand awareness.

Telemarketing – This focuses on reaching consumers through phone. This is also known as cold call marketing. Remember though that this becomes efficient only when the right person is reached on the phone at the right time.

Tips For Measuring The Success Of Your Marketing And Promotions Campaign

download (9)One way you can make sure your current marketing and promotions campaign is effective for your business is to measure its success. Even if you think your current plan or strategy is working greatly for your business, without any hard numbers or proof to support this, you can’t afford to be complacent and close-minded. You need to be open to trying new strategies or techniques to ensure that your marketing and promotions campaign is really helpful for your business.

Measuring the success of your marketing and promotions campaign doesn’t have to be an arduous and complicated task. Here are some useful tips you can follow when measuring the effectiveness or success of your business’ marketing and promotions campaign:

Identify the appropriate, measurable goals you have set for your business.

Businesses have various goals they want to achieve. However, you need to identify the ones that are in line with or are the focus of your marketing and promotions campaign. Examples of these measurable objectives are the increase on your website traffic and if your brand reached the specific audience or group you were targeting. Keep in mind that the more measurable the objectives are, the easier it would be to evaluate the success or failure of your campaign.

Determine the specific marketing metrics you want to measure.

Marketing metrics refer to the collection of numerical data which enables you to get some perspective on the current campaign you have to see if it meets the goals your company set for it. Some of the most common metrics you can include or use for this endeavor include your website’s content, lead generation and conversions, page views, bounce rate, social media effectiveness, and search engine referrals.

Take note of or consider key benchmarks.

Documenting present key benchmarks is important to determine the success or failure of your campaign. One way of doing this is to conduct a website analysis and take note of the unique visitors, assess the new visitors compared to recurring visitors, the time they spend on the site, bounce rates, and sales conversions. You can also do the same for your social media sites, online ads, and sales leads and conversions.

Consistently track the results.

Lastly, measuring the effectiveness of your marketing and promotion campaign is not something that you should only do once a year or whenever it is convenient for you. Whenever you will launch a new campaign or strategy, consistently track and evaluate the results. Create a plan or schedule on how often you will document the results since this can help establish accountability. In addition, this will also permit you to adjust the campaign as needed.

 

3 Start Up Marketing Tips for the First 10 Customers & 100 More Thereafter

download (8)If you pick up a free marketing guide, you will find some tried and tested methods. But most of the ideas are inspired by big brands with large marketing budgets. A start-up may love to adopt a proven method and get to their first customers quickly. But that may sink their marketing budget and the idea may not find synergy with the start up’s DNA. The effort may eventually tank. If you really want to see results shun the age-old marketing tactics and get innovative.

Here are 3 things you can definitely do to get to your first few customers:

1. Think local: Don’t start thinking about Google and getting to the world yet. Do the people in your vicinity know you? Narrow down your geography and then make maximum imprints there. Be everywhere and let everyone know you. Yes, don’t think about your target audience yet. Even if somebody is not your customer, he/she can be an influencer or an advocate. Paint the walls, give out newspaper inserts, get referrals and sponsor a local event. And even if it looks silly, wear your branded t-shirt often. Make several designs if you like. But don’t miss an opportunity to market even subtly.

2. Give a face to your business: You may have a great business name but let your personal brand overshadow it initially. Your business may be a few months old. You have been around for a year now and people know you as a good neighbour, a good employee, a good student, a good relative and a good human being. Capitalize on your credentials. Let the first 10 customers be from your close-knit community. If your product is great, they will spread the word for you. The more, the merrier. Don’t make a common mistake start-ups make. They keep their business under wraps because they fear failure and social embarrassment. Shout out loud. Give your business a fair chance to succeed with the backing of your personal brand.

3. Be a hero: After the initial kick-start, you must bring your brand to the forefront. Build its credentials. Let people associate it with human qualities like kind and respectful. How do you do that? Save the day. If there are floods in your locality and you are burger seller, give away for free. That is a lot better than sponsoring a mega event for 10 times the money.

 

Why You are Not Better Than Your Competitors

images (4)Before I start, I just want to let you know that this article is my own personal view about this particular question.

It’s a common sight: marketing materials that tell you how much better one company is than another.

Is it right to do that?

No.

In my mind, your marketing should always be about your customers.

That means no grand statements about how great you are, how big your premises are or how you’re the ‘best in your field’ (unless you have some concrete evidence to back up such a claim).

Everything you write must be about your customers, how you can benefit them and how their lives will be so much better if they buy from you.

I’m better than you

It’s very tempting to write something that tells your customers how crap your competition are in comparison to you.

You could shout from the rooftops about how you’re cheaper (although they could lower their prices and blow that argument out of the water), that you give better customer service than they do etc., etc.

But is that really the right way to be going?

Is that the best way to sell yourself to potential new customers?

Are you hiding something?

To my mind, when I see a company taking this path within their marketing I immediately think they’re hiding something.

If they’re so much better than their competitors, why do they need to slag them off like that?

Surely, your marketing will have more effect if it concentrates on how you can benefit your customers rather than telling them how bad your competition are?

After all, if the only angle you come up with is to denigrate your opposition what does that tell people about you?

· That you don’t have enough confidence in your own company?

· That you don’t really have anything to shout about?

Does it portray you as the type of company they’d want to do business with?

My advice to clients has always been to never, ever slag off a competitor in their marketing and to always concentrate on the benefits of their own products or services.

But the big boys are at it

That is my view and I’m going to stand by it, but I was amazed to see two ads in the ‘I’ newspaper a few days ago.

Both ads were from 3 (the mobile network) and fly in the face of everything I believe in. Rather than telling the reader about a particular benefit you get from being on their network, they opted to highlight the charging policies of EE and O2.

So what does this mean? Is it OK to shout about the shortcomings of your competition to highlight how great you are?

To my mind, this is still a lazy way of marketing yourself. It doesn’t show any imagination, or belief in 3’s own service – surely, if their solutions are that amazing they should be able to advertise them in a way that makes them stand out rather than relying on a cheap tactic like this?

What are your thoughts?

OK, I’ve had my say, now it’s your turn.

What are your thoughts about this type of marketing?

Do you think it’s acceptable to slag off your competition to highlight the benefits of your service or products?

 

Lessons in Cross Selling to Your Customers Effectively

download (7)Does it drive you crazy to receive email offers for products you already own? What about suggestions for irrelevant products?

Millennials are hailed as the most brand loyal generation, and this loyalty frequently stems from interactions that are highly relevant and targeted. But it doesn’t just stop with Millennials; GenXers and Babyboomers appreciate contextuality all the same. “Send me offers and content I care about and nothing more.”

While a healthy customer base indicates that there is a clear need for your product or service, failing to build on your knowledge of these existing customers and capitalize on cross-sell opportunities can stunt your revenue growth. Successful brands look past acquisition and focus on increasing the customer lifetime value (CLV) by retaining their customers and continuing to sell to them.

Financial services firms in particular recognize the value of effective cross-sell. Their customers own on average 8-12 financial products, but only 2-3 at a single institution, according to The Financial Brand. And in an age where costs are squeezed and the largest source of future revenue is through acquisition and cross-sell/upsell, firms still frequently miss the mark of engaging with their customers in an individualized and timely manner.

When it comes to cross-selling competencies, bigger is not better. In fact, credit unions and mutual insurance companies (mutuals) sell more to their existing members, garnering more wallet share. Why? Credit unions and mutuals have more nimble (read: small) marketing departments and more importantly, loyal customers. Their customers feel trust and goodwill from their bank and thus they engage more with them, rather than their competitors.

Customer retention and cross-sell is important in any industry, not just financial services, yet it’s frequently overlooked. Many companies focus on new customers, but fail to apply similar efforts to retain a customer or sell more to an existing customer. And since retaining and cross-selling a customer is much less expensive than gaining a new one, creating a strategy around retention can make the difference in company profitability. Below are three critical factors to effectively cross-sell to your customers:

1. Send Timely, Relevant Responses

How can financial services firms, and other marketers, create engagement that results in better cross-selling? It’s all about the individualized and timely messages. Consider this: most banking customers feel that messaging they receive feels general in nature and frequently annoying. A Gallup study shows that 66% of ‘fully engaged’ customers felt the offers they receive are general in nature, 41% found the offer annoying, and 53% of customers already had the product being promoted. This creates disengaged customers that ignore and opt out of emails. However, when customers receive timely offers based on the products they’re actively considering directed at the buying stage they are in, engagement and conversions shoot up.

To engage buyers, digital communication must become less “batch and blast” and instead shift to be more like real human dialog. And that includes “listening and responding,” which requires automation that monitors for explicit and implicit (behavioral) cues, captures that data (listens) in a rich behavioral database, and then uses the data to customize a valuable response (responds).

One example of this is a regional bank listening for individual customers who visit a car loan rates page and responding by triggering an email offering a personalized quote for a new auto loan. Sending this email to all customers would be ineffective, but when it’s targeted based on behaviors, it can be quite successful. The same can be done for your company by monitoring a customer’s interactions with specific content on other products or services and then sending triggered responses based on those actions for successful engagement. In fact, triggered emails can double, even triple, email open and click rates-which makes sense because it’s based on timely behaviors, not on assumptions.

2. Content Matters

More than half of customers considering a new financial product do their research ahead of time. In fact, these customers who do their research convert at a 17% higher rate than those who buy products impulsively. This applies across industries, since the majority of buyers do their own research before ever interacting with your brand.

Producing valuable, non-salesy content that answers customer questions and leads them through the decision-making process can make a huge impact on attracting the right buyers who are hungry for information. It also builds trust and transparency, which fosters engagement. Furthermore, content consumption is a clear signal for buying behavior, allowing marketers to respond effectively with personalized messages that are appropriate for the customer’s buying stage and interests. A banking customer who downloads a content piece on how to plan for a child’s college savings shows clear interest in a certain set of financial products-perhaps also student loans or 529 savings plans.

3. Apply Science to It

Those who are the most successful at cross-selling marry the science and art of digital marketing. There’s a fine line between timely offers and annoying spam, and understanding buyer timing is critical to distinguish it. Thus, marketers need to continuously improve and hone their customer journeys with A/B testing, nurturing tracks, and metrics. Your content strategy is key to acquiring new customers and selling to existing customers, but you also need to understand how you will measure success. Is it by engagement with your content? Percentage of cross-sell or upsell success? Amount of revenue generated by program? There are many ways to measure, but be sure to be clear in your goals and nimble in your execution.

Whatever industry you’re in, don’t leave your hard-won customers in the dark. Engage in two-way conversations that listen and respond to each and every interaction. This two-way conversation should extend to your own internal teams, as you ask questions and measure outcomes to continuously improve the customer experience.

 

Spending Your Advertising Budget Wisely

images (3)A recent report by admanGo focuses on some recent Hong Kong advertising spending figures. Confirming everyone’s suspicions, the total ad spend in the city in January and February of this year was HK$6.01 billion – representing a 13 percent drop compared to the same period last year, and the first double-digit decrease since 2000.

Magazine advertising was particularly hard hit, falling by 28 percent, while Television Broadcasts Limited (TVB), one of Hong Kong’s major TV channels, recorded a 9 percent drop in its ad revenue.

The main reason cited for this drop is the continuing decrease in retail sales due to fewer visitors arriving from the mainland, and that is true to an extent – we have all taken a hit from that. However, the reality is that traditional media advertising has been becoming less popular for years.

The good news is that this doesn’t mean your advertising spend has to be less effective – far from it. By choosing the proper channels and targeting the right audiences, you can still ensure that your advertising budget delivers excellent value for money.

Digital brings targeted results and better returns
In Hong Kong, today’s typical consumer takes in brand information through a range of different channels. With digital becoming increasingly more dominant, particularly mobile channels, brands that apply multi-channel, multi-platform advertising are experiencing outstanding results. They are deepening engagement and increasing their interaction with their target audiences, and doing so at a reduced cost.

For years, experts have been saying that digital platforms are the future. That future has now arrived. With the incredible power and portability of today’s technology, digital advertising – especially mobile and social media ads – can send finely-tuned messages to highly-specific audiences at a very reasonable cost.

Digital can activate engagements across different touchpoints in both the digital and physical worlds, and soft selling via games, social media, or app-based promotions is helping to boost two-way communication and making messaging more personal. All this is driving customer behaviour and taking advertising in bold new directions.

Apps, with their relatively low cost and potentially huge reach, are becoming the preferred method of mobile engagement for companies. Apps using augmented reality can provide useful services like directions to preferred restaurants and instantaneous translation, or they can bring embedded digital content in static ads to life via QR codes. The best part is that when done well, these apps do not even seem like advertising.

Real-time location-based mobile ads are now becoming mainstream, allowing audiences who opt in to receive product news, deals, and discounts that are targeted specifically to them when they are nearby a particular store or branch. By filtering promotions based on location, demographics, and other available user information, this method of advertising allows companies to create highly specific promotions for precise audience segments at comparatively low cost.

Social media also provides ‘low cost, high reach’ exposure. Success stories of posts and videos ‘going viral’ on Facebook abound, while today some campaigns are run exclusively on Twitter and Instagram. Take the “1600 Pandas World Tour in Hong Kong: Creativity Meets Conservation” event as an example. The campaign brought 1,600 irresistible papier-mâché pandas to Hong Kong to raise awareness of the importance of panda conservation work.

Before the exhibition began, these small but loveable pandas began appearing at various landmarks like Victoria Park, the Hong Kong Cultural Centre, and on trams, with citizens and celebrities alike taking photos and selfies with the pandas and sharing them on Facebook. The campaign generated many shares and likes, creating a lot of excitement and awareness for comparatively little investment.

Aside from these new methods of ad delivery, we are also seeing incredible advances on the measurement side as well. Big data technology is allowing us to measure the effectiveness of ads in ways that were impossible even a few years ago.

Thanks to the proliferation of addressable media, including targeted online ads and traceable social media activity, we can now measure the return on investment of discrete digital marketing channels. We can also get a full picture of the effectiveness of a digital marketing campaign in real time, allowing for timely adjustments to an on-going campaign and recalibration for future campaigns.

Consistency is paramount
This is a pivotal development. Traditional media advertising delivered a one-way message. Today, social media ads are fully two-way – engaging with customers on a small-scale level, sometimes even one-to-one. The aim of traditional advertising campaigns was usually quite linear, designed to convert targets into customers and get them to purchase products.

Today, a campaign can have multiple aims, moving from online to offline and back again. Ads can be designed to drive traffic to a website, or attract people into physical or digital stores, or simply to get them to ‘like’ a particular social media page.

In this fast-moving and complex digital environment, it is vital that the brand promise and any associated messaging is clear, consistent, and rock solid. With ads running on multiple platforms and channels, every element, platform, and channel must be aligned with a single brand promise, and all messaging must be working in the service of that promise.

To spend your advertising budget sensibly, you must frequently review your strategy and make sure that it is relevant. Despite the downturn in the retail market, companies that embrace digital and follow a holistic, integrated strategy will continue to be successful and enjoy handsome returns on their advertising spend.

 

Why Your Retail Business Is Failing Without Content Marketing

download (6)Content marketing isn’t just publishing a few blog posts a week. It’s about more than just being a company-it’s about being a brand that believes in something.

Without a content marketing strategy that embodies the vision of your company and brand, your business will lose loyal customers and advocates. If your retail business is failing to build a stickiness with your customer base, here’s why and how to fix it.

INSPIRE CUSTOMERS, DON’T TREAT THEM LIKE TRANSACTIONS

The ideal customer is one that connects with your brand, and unless you have a steady stream of messaging that speaks to your customers to reinforce why you’re the go-to for the products you sell, they’ll forget. Instead of focusing solely on sales and discounts, inspire your customers with a message that resonates with them.

Fashion retailers, for example, can put together lookbooks for what style fits “you” best. Nordstrom advertises its lookbooks to several customers based on their web behavior and purchase history:

DON’T BE JUST A VENDOR

Not adding value beyond the products you sell doesn’t differentiate you from competition. Customer loyalty is built beyond being a vendor. Show your customers that you understand their needs and why they find your products valuable.

REI launched an extremely successful content marketing campaign this year when the company told shoppers REI stores would be closed on Black Friday, urging customers to spend the day outside and share their experiences using the hashtag #optoutside on social:

This campaign shows customers that REI understands them and their use of REI’s products. The company sells outdoor gear, so why not build a campaign around that and encourage customers to spend the day doing what they love – with the products they’ve purchased from REI. The added bonus beyond great press and encouraging customer loyalty? #optoutside being shared across several social platforms.

LACK OF BRAND AWARENESS

Brand awareness is always on the radar for marketing departments, but without incorporating content marketing into your digital strategy your company is missing out on massive opportunity. Brand awareness is more than pushing your name out to new audiences, it’s about showing your audience that your company is more than a store – it’s people running a business.

Content marketing helps gives brands a personality and connect customers with the people working inside of the company. Connect with your customers outside of being a brand that sells clothing they like; be a brand that believes in something. That type of messaging encourages social sharing, new followers, and a new way of reaching customers that puts you way ahead of competition.