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Should I outsource my media buys?

DigiWorld Partners White Paper Shows The Value of Outsourcing Media Buys

According to recent statistics reported by eMarketer, total digital ad spending in 2017 is projected to exceed 77 Billion dollars, which equates to roughly 38% of all ad spending and will surpass television ad spending for the first time globally. A large component of that advertising pool comes down to PPC Management of paid search and social media campaigns on major platforms like Google and Facebook. The trajectory of global digital ad spending is also expected to reach critical mass in 2018 with a spend of more than $252 billion overall. Those numbers seem powerful, but how much of that is dead money chasing false targets, and what kind of ROI can buyers rely on when their spend is being managed by an in-house team of traditional ad buyers attempting to monetize the period of transition while they are learning new skills at the same time?

Modern media buying isn’t just slightly different from the sort of ad channels many traditional advertisers are accustomed to harnessing, it requires a new set of tools and a completely different approach due to the velocity of the audience and the rate of change trends now create. The reason this white paper is gathering so much attention is the fact that I have a background working in both B2C and B2B markets from the client and consultant sides of the equation. The purpose of the paper is simply to help companies establish a sensible plan of action as they seek to expand their reach into new media channels without wasting resources along the way.

DigiWorld Partners explores 7 key benefits of outsourcing media buys to digital professionals based on clearly identifiable elements of successful new media campaigns. Resource Management, Broad Market Insight, Big Data Insight, Specialized Tools, Team Scalability, International Expertise and Cost Effectiveness.

Some executives mistakenly assume they would be best off attempting to build a media buying team from the ground up. The fact is, the strategic aspects of running a for-profit business campaign require an immense amount of experience, and the learning curve is usually far more costly than some may expect. Getting the most out of each ad spend requires a massive amount of data collection, analysis, habit tracking, pitch tuning and testing. That work is made exponentially more complicated by variances in local cultures around the globe, an array of billing restrictions, trend and policy changes by major platforms in the market, so having a professional team that is already well-versed in what actually works makes a huge difference.

Among clients who opted to outsource their media buy activities after attempting to manage them all in-house, DigiWorld Partners reported a median sales revenue gain of approximately 18%, while their clients also reported a corresponding reduction in overhead costs of 25-35% which demonstrates the enormous power of working with an experienced team. The savings come predominantly from eliminating the need to orient, train and retrain staff because DigiWorld retains its edge by continuing to work with properly vetted, experienced buyers that have already established a proven track record in relevant niche markets. The revenue increases are a function of running the right ads, during their best efficacy and being able to evolve campaigns effectively as trends change, marketing materials become stale and audience demand new lures to earn their attention.

The proliferation of ad blockers, pre-paid credit cards and free content online along with the rise of a more jaded millennial consumer clientele have left some companies feeling left out. It’s no longer good enough to just throw-up passive advertisements and hope for revenue to return as a result. Modern marketing is much more about creating a sense of engagement, establishing a connection with cue givers, understanding your target audience and enticing them to want to participate in your campaigns. When a customer contacts you about your product or service, rather than being contacted by you, that’s when you know your latest campaign is a success.

It’s a very simple concept to grasp – You don’t go out and tell a twenty year old college student what car they should buy, or what kind of clothing that ought to wear. In fact, if you really want them to be interested in your products you don’t want to initiate interactions with them directly at all. You want their girlfriend to mention your shirts look sexy, or their friends to chat about your car as being the coolest one in their price range. Real social media engagement and ad buying these days is about building consensus, establishing trends and fueling conversation. In the end, when done well, your target audience identifies you before you even have the chance to identify them.

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How Web Site Hosting Impacts Revenue

A simple Google search of the phrase “web site hosting” yields a startling 180,000,000 results.  While the number of relevant results is certainly far less, it still begs the question: how does one choose from thousands of companies offering seemingly similar services? At the center of the digital universe, of all the money, clicks, bits and bytes moving around the internet – is web hosting.  In this world, slow speeds are a fast death and hours of downtime reverberate into the future like nails in a coffin. Web site hosting is often considered a commodity and for many use cases, it certainly is.  It’s easy to search, point, click, purchase and have a dedicated server or virtual space provisioned instantly.  This certainly lends itself to the notion that most hosting must be similar or equal in value with such ease and availability.  The truth is that web hosting is only a commodity until such time as one’s livelihood depends on it. Disagree? Well, your view will change the first time something goes awry. As I have always said, “You judge the worth of a web host not by the 99% of the time when things are well, rather, by the 1% of the time when things go terribly wrong.”

 

What is Hosting Value?

Everybody likes to save money, so let’s not waste any time and discuss this first.  True value is paying a fair price in consideration for the services received.  Honestly, it takes a technical ninja to consistently leverage success out of cheap and poorly built infrastructures.  Generalizing, consumers usually get what they pay for.  It is the success or failure on each of the criteria discussed below (reliability, performance, security, support, scalability) that one must consider when judging overall value. It’s easy to see differences in quality when you walk into a store.  You can touch and feel the goods, evaluate the store presentation and speak to the staff in person.  I know that when I buy clothes at Walmart they are essentially disposable after so many washes.  Colors fade, garments shrink, materials come apart.  They are engineered to fail and manufactured under second or third world conditions that would make my children cry.  I might possibly appear as a homeless person after two dozen washes.  I’m not offended, however, because I expected all of this to happen.  I paid what I knew to be a ridiculously low or convenient price.  I expected a short life-cycle that ends in the garbage or donated to the Salvation Army.  Conversely, when I buy clothes as a gift for my wife, I’ll go someplace like Saks Fifth Avenue or BCBG Max Azria.  Why?  They are still in her closet after 10 years, looking and feeling brand new.  In 20 more years, they’ll either be in some hipster vintage clothing joint, our closet or part of someone else’s wardrobe. But Brad, I thought we were talking about hosting?  LOL!  We are, but the lessons are still the same.  Online, however, the challenge of shopping is very different.  Buyers are intended to believe everything they read on a web site and have no easy option of investigation.  There are nearly infinite ways to build a network, a data center, an employee training program and even a “simple” server. The differences between good and great hosting don’t seem to matter when everything is working fine to the naked eye.  The measurement can often be abstract, such as opportunity cost.  What does it cost your business in views or clicks if an ad takes .5 seconds or 1.5 seconds to load?  What is the difference in conversion to sale when videos buffer at some point for a third of your viewers?  How much might it cost if your site was unavailable for minutes daily or an hour a month?  What is the cost to your business if site responsiveness decreases by 50% between 5 and 7pm EST?  What would it cost you if your server storage RAID failed or if your host had a corrupt backup?  How angry do you get when you call support and get a junior systems administrator with a thick accent in another country with limited systems access reading from a script?  What if the person who can solve your problem is two layers of support and 30 or 60 minutes away… what is your time and your up-time worth? Good hosting is the sum of its parts!  While it’s not easy to find the perfect provider, you may be closer than you think if you know how to look under the hood.

Reliability

…is not being online for 99% of the time, it’s being online for 99.999% of the time.  The difference is approximately 87 hours of downtime versus 1 hour of downtime, annually.  Reliability starts at the edge of a host’s network and ends inside your server.  Every piece, part and decision in between makes a difference in the reliability of your delivered hosting product.  Some hosts build computers out of consumer parts and cases and put them in rooms without proper power and cooling.  Consumer and enterprise components have different failure rates.  Proper cooling and power systems have perhaps the largest impact on hardware health and uptime.  Did you know that there are four reliability tiers for datacenter construction and that each level costs twice as much as the previous to construct per square foot?  Reliability in hosting is an infinitely large topic.  As a consumer of hosting services, it is your responsibility to decide what your ability is to survive downtime and outages.  If you are buying traffic and sending it to an unresponsive server, it could get expensive quickly.  If you are an advertising network, downtime affects your entire ecosystem and reputation.  If you are a subscription site with unique content and a loyal following of long-time customers, they may be more forgiving and the impact of downtime simply limited to the loss of new sales.  Figure out how much you can lose and what that’s worth to you in every respect and shop for a match in a hosting company that by appearances matches these core values.

Performance

…is measured in milliseconds more often than seconds!  Go with your gut.  Do your research.  Be the surfer, get in their shoes.  Talk to references, any legitimate operation should be able to provide you with a litany of satisfied customers who would speak of their experience.  Surf yours and other people’s web sites.  How do they load?  Check from different locations at different times of day.  What is the value of a customer to you?  If you are selling access to videos and content, customers surely won’t retain, return or stay long on your site if videos don’t play well.  You can’t make every surfer on the internet happy… but you can make most of them happy and you should insist on this!  In my experience, revenue always follows performance.  It is important to engage experts to tweak performance but always to balance this with your gut instinct.  Go with your gut, fearlessly into the future and don’t be afraid to be paranoid.  Question everything, this is how we learn and become the best.

Security

…is often considered “important” yet mysterious – until you’re hacked!  Poor security can ruin your business, lose your data, kill your business relationships, harm your surfers and create trouble with authorities.  What is the bottom line?  If you’re not a security expert, make sure you have access to them for resolving problems.  Security starts with server provisioning and deploying a long list of best practices on your hosting space.  It doesn’t end there!  A mature hosting company should also have protocols for giving customer support so that your account can’t be impersonated by email, instant messenger or phone.  Whether your business is big, small, interesting or uninteresting – you need to assume that every day, multiple people for reasons unknown are trying to break into and exploit everything you have online.

Support

…at MojoHost, we pride ourselves in the ability to meet clients wherever they are in the spectrum of technical knowledge.  Whether they require wholesale infrastructure or fully managed hosting, we have them covered. But we have our limits and we discuss these openly with potential customers.  For example, we are partners with Microsoft and license their products for use as an authorized Service Provider.  We do not specialize in fully managed Windows hosting the same as we do for Linux platforms.  Your business must be honest with itself so that it can pick a hosting provider that is a good match for its technical requirements.  If you need server ninjas for complex server tweaking and software debugging, then make sure they are available at your provider.  If you have intense database activity and page loads, chances are that you will need advanced support over the life of your business.  If your needs are simple and you don’t require assistance installing scripts, running backups, or configuring parts of your setup, then perhaps you need only a control panel or no support at all.  Support is often the area that customers are most likely to get what they pay for.  Whether the host is well staffed, outsourced and at what level of capability; is all in question.

Scalability

…matters whether you are growing OR shrinking!  While I hope that your business always grows, usually every business encounters challenging moments over its lifespan.  How quickly a provider can ramp up or remove services can make a big difference to customer success.  We’ve had the calls about clients going on Howard Stern in the morning, etc.  We have also followed customers from spends of hundreds per month to more than a hundred thousand per month, and all the way back down to zero.  What a host is willing to do for its clients, how fast it can be done, at what cost up front, at what cost over time and in consideration of what contractual term (none, multi-year) are all important considerations for hosting clients.  I know that for my business, we are happy to take risks with our best clients and ride the wave with them.  I would rather support a client attempting to innovate and take some risk with them than to not have the opportunity at all.  We would rather be on the side of success.  We believe in our business, it is always empowered with available millions of dollars in servers and infrastructure to empower clients with immediate turn-up of services.  Rarely do we have to order servers, network or components to turn up new orders, instead, preferring the ease of ordering hundreds of server builds in advance.  Depending on what you endeavor to accomplish and on what timeframe, questioning a host’s inventory of available servers, rack space, installed power and network infrastructure should never be out of the question.

Relationships

…are a funny thing, aren’t they?  Whether you ever know or have a conversation with your host, its owner(s), sales people or support staff is likely up to you.  These are all options and you’ll pay to play, if you want them.  This might afford the opportunity to wake up an owner in the middle of the night, if you want.  The host company owners or sales team could be savvy world-travelers and always looking to match-make and help clients grow their businesses.  You never know unless you explore.  Not everybody lives in a vacuum.  The best new customers are usually referrals from satisfied clients or business influencers with amazing credibility.  Hosts have a special fiduciary responsibility to their clients.  Like a lawyer, banker, priest or rabbi, they must protect you and your business at all costs.  The best advice I can offer is to find a web host that establishes themselves as great fit and partner for your business in whatever capacity meets your needs and values.  In your best and worst of times, this is one of the few relationships that can see you through the clouds to your dreams. 16dda61a-a848-4f3d-ba09-311b41d1293a

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Credit Card Processing for Dating Sites

DigiWorld Partners had the opportunity recently to sit down with Conal Cunningham of InovioPay to discuss some of his insights regarding credit card processing. More specifically, the short session was dedicated to credit card processing for dating sites, which has become a booming industry now estimated to have annual revenues of about $2 billion in the U.S. According to Pew Research, online dating among 18- to 24-year olds has nearly tripled in the past three years and doubled among 55- to 64-year olds. This trend shows no signs of slowing anytime soon. Credit card payments for dating sites, however, is considered risky business for many card issuers, which was a main topic during this interview. Why Dating Sites Are Different The reason dating sites are considered to be one of the most dangerous environments for credit card processing is because of the unusually high probability of chargebacks. If, for example, a legitimate charge is made on an individual’s credit card and this purchase is later discovered by that person’s significant other, he or she may dispute the charge and initiate a chargeback through their bank. When this occurs, the dating site receives a black mark from their card processor, even though the site itself has no control over the situation, since the purchase made on the card was totally legitimate. This is why businesses utilizing credit card processing for dating sites should have the necessary risk mitigation services in place to protect themselves from the negative aspects associated with this industry. Failure to stay ahead of chargeback problems and bank disputes so prevalent in the online dating sector can result in revenue losses, increased transaction costs and even fines.

 

 Charges Versus Fees While the percentages that banks charge dating sites per transaction are typically in line with those for other online retailers, the real cost stemming from disputes turning into chargebacks is in the fees your bank will levy. Cunningham explains that in many cases these can be as high as $45 per incident. In addition, many banks set fraud thresholds of as low as 1% for dating sites. According to Conal, anything in excess of this 1% can carry fines starting at $100 per incident.   Keeping Outside of the Chargeback Channel To get in front of these problematic chargeback issues, InovioPay works with networks that have good standing relationships with the big name banks that issue most of the credit cards used by dating site visitors. In the event of a dispute, rather than going to the bank whose name is on the credit card and initiating the chargeback process, it’s handled in the background without ever going through the card issuer. A refund is guaranteed to the customer and the entire matter is handled without incurring high fees or fines. This also keeps the incidence of fraud below the 1% threshold, thereby keeping the account in a healthy condition.   Friendly Chargebacks and Chargeback Mitigation No matter how sophisticated your credit card processing for dating sites may be, there will always be people who try to beat the system by purchasing your service and then later going to their bank, complaining for some reason and demanding a refund. This is called “friendly fraud,” and there’s basically nothing you can do to prevent it. If, however, you maintain a friendly relationship with the merchant banks that issue credit cards, Cunningham states that it’s possible that those banks will simply issue a refund without any fanfare and without incurring any charges, fees or fines.   Communication With Customers Good communication with your customers is another critical factor in keeping your relationship with your credit card processing company on a healthy footing. Conal explains the importance of the descriptor you include on customers’ bank statements. This message should provide them with an easy means for contacting your company, either by phone or on the website, if they have a questions, problems, or disputes. You want them to feel it’s easier to contact you than to contact their bank. This is why your customer service lines should be open and answered immediately. If someone goes to the website for assistance they should see a message that says: “Do you have a problem? Click here.” Communication should be quick, easy and responsive.   High-Risk/Low-Risk Classifications Conal goes into options the credit card companies have in classifying businesses as either high- or low-risk. He explains that much depends on your payment relationship with the banks. This can affect the 1% fraud threshold when fines start being levied. While businesses classified high-risk may have a higher fraud threshold, the downside is that some banks may decline charges from a high-risk business. Learn more about InovioPay and credit card processing for dating sites by watching the entire interview video. It’s important information for those in the dating site game. 2b672451-586b-4c06-a884-dc76d1ac8229

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5 Basics You Need For Effective Lead Generation

As a mark of an effective sales funnel, lead generation is an important metric for marketing. However, few marketers actually feel that their lead gen campaigns are useful. To make sure you’re creating the most leads,  here are five basic tips and techniques you’ll need to follow:

1. Create Irresistible Offers
Entice your leads by making an offer they can’t refuse, so to speak. There are certain keywords that can induce a psychological response that increase your offer’s appeal. In other words, while your product or service may be great, the way you present it needs to be greater. It should create a sense of urgency and need in your potential leads.

For example, one of these keywords is “scarcity.” When something is in short supply or only available for a limited amount of time, it creates a sense of exclusivity. Whoever is lucky enough to get in on the opportunity feels that they have been given a special experience.

It can also work to show how popular something is. As unique as people wish to be, they also don’t want to feel left out. If you can prove your product or service’s impact with numbers, it can be a great way to reel in potential customers.

Whatever method you choose, be sure to tailor these offers to different stages of your sales funnel to guide your leads through it. If your leads are at the later stages of buying, you don’t want to provide them basic educational materials, like you would for those who are just beginning the process. Use a variety of product formats with varied, interesting language to engage your leads and see the deal through to the end.

“You can’t settle for anything less than amazing when it comes to CTAs.”

2. Use A Superior Call To Action
If you aren’t using effective calls to action, you’re missing out on an important aspect of lead generation. CTAs are essential for driving conversions, so you can’t settle for anything less than amazing when it comes to this part of your marketing.

First, make sure they’re visible. You don’t want website visitors to gloss over your CTA, so make it visually enticing and place it in a spot where it can’t be missed.

Next, don’t think too hard about what it says. In fact, the more straightforward you are, the better. Marketers can get caught up trying to be pithy or clever in a CTA, but the result ends up confusing viewers and driving them away. Instead, help it stand out with color and position it strategically. For example, a “thank you” page that follows an action on your site is prime real estate for a CTA.

3. Enhance Your Landing Pages
In many cases, your CTAs will link to landing pages, which are vital to lead generation. According to MarketingSherpa, landing pages are effective for 94 percent of B2B and B2C companies. Clearly, you don’t want to let this part of your website falter.

The anatomy of a landing page isn’t very complex. You need a headline that matches the corresponding CTA, a brief description accompanied by an image and a form to collect information. You’ll also want to make sure visitors aren’t encouraged to move away from the page. You can delete your main navigation bar to do so.

Just as with your CTAs, the mantra for landing pages is to keep it simple. That means a clean, informative page that is clarifying, not confusing. If you’re looking to boost their effect, having more landing pages can be beneficial. The more content on your site, the more opportunities you get to generate leads.

x_0_0_0_14106087_800Keep your landing pages and their respective forms simple to enhance their effectiveness.

4. Optimize Your Forms
Forms are an important part of your landing page. They’ll help you gather information to convert leads.

While there is no exact right way to build the forms for your pages, some suggest that shorter is better. Long forms can look like a lot of work and visitors may avoid them altogether because of it. You don’t necessarily have to limit how much information you ask for, though. You can shorten the form visually by tightening the space between fields. However, the best way to determine these aspects is by testing them out for your company and target audience.

Another tip is to avoid using the word “submit.” Instead, associate the form with a specific action to let visitors know what they’re getting out of it, like “download our whitepaper.”

5. Generate Through Multiple Channels
While we’ve been discussing the many ways your website plays an instrumental role in lead generation, you’ll need to spread your efforts to other platforms. Some channels to consider are blogs, emails, social media and search engine optimization. By targeting buyers in a place that’s convenient for them, these avenues can help you significantly increase your outreach and overall success with lead generation.

With these tips, you have the tools to improve your overall marketing strategy. Lead generation is one of the most important steps in creating an effective sales funnel and increasing revenue, which is why it deserves your time and attention. For further reading, be sure to check out our ebook, “Top 30 Tips & Tricks for Lead Generation.”

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When’s The Best Time To Post On Social Media?

Any solid marketing strategy nowadays includes social media, but that doesn’t mean that everyone is adept at using these platforms. One of the more challenging parts of including social media in your marketing plan is knowing what times to post – the answer is certainly not whenever you want to or can.

Hubspot explained that ideal posting schedules depend on a few different factors, which include the platform, target audience, target region, the content of the post and its goals. While these specifications can influence your social media strategy, there is some data on when and how often you should post on certain sites. Fast Company went as far as saying there’s a certain science behind the right social media approach, and that following those parameters can almost certainly help you achieve your marketing goals.

“There’s a certain science behind the right social media approach.”

Facebook
Based on data compiled by SurePayroll in a handy infographic, Facebook’s highest average click through occurs between 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. The site’s peak is on Wednesdays at 3 p.m, which SurePayroll called the “afternoon slump” – a time when people take a break from work to check their phones.

Neil Patel, columnist and founder of Crazy Egg, a site that shows businesses where its audiences are clicking, also praised the afternoon as the best time to post. According to Patel, 1 p.m. posts get the most shares, while 3 p.m. posts get the most clicks.

SurePayroll’s data showed that the worst time for Facebook posts is on weekends, before 8 a.m. and after 8 p.m. – when users are presumably either asleep or out doing better things than browsing the web. However, Catriona Pollard, an author on PR and social media strategies, wrote for the Huffington Post that activity on the site increases just before the weekend, going up by 10 percent on Fridays.

For more insight to help you assess the best times to post, Facebook gathers the information for you based on your fan activity. In the posts section, you can regularly check up on the data in “When Your Fans Are Online.”

Twitter
According to the SurePayroll infographic, the best times to post on Twitter are Monday through Thursday, between 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. The site’s peak time is Monday through Thursday 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

It’s no coincidence that these times are close to lunchtime, when people are on a break checking their Twitter feeds. Commute times are also ideal for posting. Pollard pointed out that Twitter users are much more active on the site on their way to work, making posts at 12 p.m. or between 5 and 6 p.m. She also said that posts by business-to-business organizations should focus on Monday through Friday, while business-to-consumer organizations should target weekends and Wednesdays.

To boost your chances of engagement even further, tweets with images result in higher percentage of clicks, visits, retweets, favorites, conversion rates and leads. Pollard also explained that tweets have a much shorter shelf life than other social media posts, requiring a higher posting frequency – the publication recommends around four tweets a day to maintain exposure on a feed. As a time saver, try using a tool that can schedule your tweets. You can compose them in the morning and let them post on their own throughout the day.

x_0_0_0_14127563_800Beyond the basics, know when your target audience is online and adjust your posting schedule accordingly.

LinkedIn
LinkedIn is an extremely useful resource for B2B marketing. According to Patel’s infographic, 93 percent of B2B marketers rate LinkedIn as their top source of social media lead generation. Based on the site’s purpose and audience, it makes senses that LinkedIn’s peak times are during work hours on weekdays.

SurePayroll’s data showed that the best times to post on the site are Tuesday through Thursday at noon or between 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. Understandably, Fridays are a slow day for LinkedIn, when professionals are winding down from the week and straying away from work-related content.

SurePayoll also indicated that the number of mobile LinkedIn users are increasing – going from 38 percent in October 2013 to 41 percent in the 2014 survey. Unlike Twitter, Pollard said to avoid scheduling LinkedIn posts – it can give your audience the impression that you’re not really active on LinkedIn. Instead, make the effort to post once a day and ensure that the tone fits the site. Since your target reader will be looking for more professional content, it shouldn’t read as casually as a Facebook post or tweet.

Conclusion
Overall, the best rule of thumb to follow is to tailor your content and positing schedule to the platform you’re using. Each site serves a distinct purpose within the social media landscape, so believing that a post for one could be equally effective on another is a rookie mistake. Make sure you’re factoring in your audience, their goals and the times that they visit these websites with each post you make. It’s not an exact science, but treating your social media strategy like one can help.

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5 Important Marketing Trends for 2016 [Infographic]

While there are certain tenets of marketing that will always remain true, the industry is constantly being reshaped by new trends and technologies. For this reason, it’s all too easy for a marketer to fall behind and lose an edge on the competition. To get your efforts up to speed, look at these five important trends that are anticipated to make the biggest impact in 2016:

1. Community and Relationship Marketing
Consumers are more savvy than ever these days, which is why marketing in 2016 will stress the importance of building relationships instead of direct sales pitches. The goal of relationship marketing is to obtain customers who are loyal and engaged, instead of short-term goals like acquisition and sales. Having a solid relationship with your customers means ongoing business, free word-of-mouth promotion and leads for more business.

Having this kind of relationship must come from creating content that serves your audience in various ways, maybe through learning or problem-solving. Keep in mind that any communication with your audience, whether it’s through content or direct correspondence, should feel personal and interesting. A solid relationship is also contingent on having reliable and responsive customer service.

2. More Video Ads
Google searches already favor pages with videos, but it will also include video ads in search results this year. Now more than ever, this tool is an invaluable asset. When Google tested video ads with some of its business customers, most said it played a part in boosting revenue.

Regardless of Google’s plans in the coming year, videos continue to be extremely prevalent. In the U.S., 78.4 percent of Internet users watch videos online. The numbers are similarly high in other parts of the world.

Taking advantage of this popular platform follows the same protocol as any other type of content. On its website, ReelSEO, a resource for video and online marketing, wrote that those in the mobile generation, aka the demographic for videos, hate being the target of obvious sales pitches. Videos need to be fresh, creative and serve a bigger role than just promotion.

x_0_0_0_14121145_800Connected devices within the Internet of Things are becoming a pinnacle of marketing in 2016.

3. The Rise of the Internet Of Things
In any industry, the 2016 trend talk is all about the Internet of Things. With the advent of wearable devices and other technology that can communicate with one another, digital marketing has more platforms to work with than ever before. This means more insightful data for marketers, as well as an opportunity to better organize than information.

4. Location-Based Marketing
With so many people connected to devices, location-based technology has become a burgeoning focus of 2016. This type of marketing relies on data collected from consented location-tracking, whether it’s through a user’s check-in or in-store beacons, to deliver personalized advertisements to a customer’s phone when in a certain area. Across the U.S., digital markets have already begun using RFIDs and iBeacons in their strategies.

5. Increased VR Experimentation
As they’ve become available, marketers are also hopping on virtual reality products to provide more experience-based content for consumers. While it can cost more than other traditional methods, marketers are expected to have a worthy ROI.

While these aren’t the only trends that will crop up in 2016, they will make an indelible impact on how marketing moves forward in the next year. Anyone lagging behind will surely feel the disadvantage. So you can better remember some of these topics, check out this visual guide:

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The Growth of Video and How To Leverage It

Online video has shown tremendous growth over the last couple of years. From 2013 to 2014, the number of videos viewed increased by 49 percent, according to comScore’s 2014 U.S. Online Video Rankings. That upward trend is continuing into 2016.

In a recent report, Cisco found that by 2019, nearly three-quarters of the world’s mobile traffic will be video-based. This is a considerable jump from 55 percent in 2014. More so, video has grown as an important marketing medium. According to the Content Marketing Institute, 82 percent of B2C marketers use video as part of their content marketing tactics.

“In the digital age, your competitors expand beyond your own market.”

While online video has a certain prevalence, not everyone knows how to leverage its power. One of the biggest challenges is creating the content without spending a fortune. The other is standing out. In the digital age, your competitors expand beyond your own market – you’re in pursuit of someone’s attention against millions of other options.

However, there are a few ways you can make sure you’re producing quality content and using this rapidly expanding medium to best serve your marketing strategy. Here, we discuss four ways to do so:

1. Take an Integrated Approach
If you want to make sure your video content works with the rest of your marketing strategy, build your efforts around it. You want to offer consistency in your brand, which means no weak links in your content. According to Marketing Magazine, this means leveraging your budget to ensure that every aspect of your marketing strategy is working seamlessly.

2. Look At Your Competitors
If you want to stand out in an age so rich in video, you’ll need to study what your competitors are doing and see how you can do it differently or better. For even more inspiration, look beyond your industry at anyone making interesting video content. Marketing Magazine points to TV channels that create extra content for their websites. Ask yourself: How do they separate this media from what they air on TV? What about it reels in an audience? Identifying what makes good video content will help you create yours.

x_0_0_0_14125252_800Some marketing experts argue that content is more valuable than video quality when it comes to online videos.

3. Serve a Purpose
While video quality counts, the content is still worth more. Your videos should serve a purpose, like to educate or entertain. If the content is interesting, your viewers will respond to it. MediaMiser, a media monitoring and analysis software provider, said it’s better to focus on creating the content than perfecting it. While certain quality details – like sound – do make a difference, making videos that portray your brand identity and exhibit a passion for the subject or industry is what counts when it comes to captivating an audience.

4. Don’t Limit Yourself
If you’re creating video content, the last thing you’ll want to do is limit where you share it . Don’t just share your videos on your website – post them on YouTube and other social platforms and get them out there for people to see. The more exposure you seek, the more views you’ll get. You’ll also give your audience more chances to share the video themselves. You can further expand how you share by repurposing content so each platform gets a unique experience.

Despite any challenges, online video is a great platform for any company in virtually any industry. The ways that consumers engage are always evolving, but online video has maintained an impressive growth. Now is the right time to take advantage of this medium – when it can be cost-effective and show a return on investment.

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4 Major Mistakes to Avoid in a Product Launch

A product launch isn’t as simple as anyone would like it to be. It’s about more than just releasing and hoping for the best – that approach often leads to failure, especially in a saturated digital marketplace where quality and accessibility are highly scrutinized. It’s all to easy for apps and tech tools to make a bad first impression and never recover.

To have a successful launch, you need to tackle the processes leading up to it with meticulous and strategic planning. To help you sidestep any fatal errors, we’ve outlined the four biggest mistakes you could make in a product launch:

1. Promising What You Can’t Deliver
From a marketing standpoint, announcing your product and its launch date is great for building excitement. However, there are a few ways this announcement could eventually work against you. In some instances, companies announce launch dates that they don’t actually adhere to. This is frustrating to customers in the digital age who are used to immediacy and easily grow tired of hearing that something is “coming soon.” In this case, hype and impatience are two very different sentiments. You’ll want to avoid the latter as much as possible. You can do so by delaying your launch date announcement until you’re close to the day. This way, you’ll have a better sense of how ready the product is. Plus, you can hold onto the excitement from the announcement if there’s little time in between for it to fade.

Another way this announcement could hurt your product’s success is if you promise features that you can’t actually deliver. In your launch, you want to establish trust with your customers, but failing to provide the results can tarnish your credibility. Instead, make sure you’re managing public perception and ensuring your product can live up to these expectations.

2. Not Having a Defined Market
Just as important as defining the purpose of your product is determining your target customers. Because this detail is key to your marketing strategy, you cannot launch a product without it. Determine your audience from the start by asking who will be using the product and how to best reach that demographic. You will also need to consider the size of the market, both in its current state and in its projected growth. These questions will guide you as you develop, launch and promote your product.

x_0_0_0_14123249_800Without knowing your target customers, your marketing strategy will suffer.

3. Not Taking Feedback
Your launch day shouldn’t be the first time someone uses your product. Pre-launch testing is essential to making sure you’re releasing something of good quality and usefulness. You’ll want to recruit pre-launch users who aren’t close to the project to give you important insight on how your product is received by others. Releasing a tech product, like an application, with a lot of glitches will give users a poor first impression, deterring future customers.

When fishing for feedback, make sure you’re also asking the right questions. The point of these tests shouldn’t just be to determine whether the product works, but how well it works and how easy it is to use. The more you ask, the better feedback you’ll get and the more effectively you can fix any issues before your launch.

4. Having Poor Internal Communication
It’s understandable that for a small portion of its life before launching, your product will live in obscurity from the rest of your company. There comes a point, though, when this secrecy is detrimental to its success. All teams within your company can be valuable in releasing this product, so it serves you to include them in the process.

This is why it’s also important to have thorough internal training on the product before its launched. With any tech product, there will be a learning curve, and you’ll want your colleagues to be able to effectively field customer service questions. That’s why ancillary team members should be more than well-versed in using your product, but you’re welcome to extend communications company-wide. That solidarity behind the launch can only strengthen it.

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