Digital Marketing

Weekly Digital Breakdown

Google Is Listening To Its Users

If you are becoming increasingly wary of voice activated in-home devices, then you aren’t alone. The uncertainty around how much the speakers are hearing and where that information goes has become a major privacy concern. Speaker listening when not prompted in light of the recent leak of confidential data security policies has many wondering what is being recorded, saved and heard by real people 

Google’s product manager for search did in fact confirm these suspicions were rooted in truth but not for reasons many feared. However, the explanation for such practices was positioned as a way to help the user experience. Google insists conversations are reviewed by language experts in order to advance search query technology and advance product capabilities and speech recognition. The audio snippets used for these purposes are not associated with a user account and conversations not directed at Google should not be transcribed.

However, the concern that the devices could be “listening” to conversations when not being directly prompted or engaged in what Google calls a “false accept,” increases questions around the company’s practices These can be heard without any action from the users but still may be reviewed as part of the desire for product and voice recognition advancement.

While Google claims just 0.2 percent of all audio snippets are being accessed by language reviewers, there’s no way to confirm the validity nor if there are any user actions being inadvertently taken to prompt the recording.

As the industry continues to face mounting privacy and data monetization concerns, the confirmation that voice data is not being used strictly for AI but can be accessible to a live human may increase the wariness. Questions remain about that data then being leaked or used for malicious purposes with little to no trail leading back to the culprits.

Technological advances are creating increasing conveniences but at what cost remains unknown. Companies are recognizing the mounting dissent and are faced with trying to find ways to increase user’s trust. Confidence in a brand’s integrity is becoming paramount.

https://www.inc.com/jason-aten/google-is-absolutely-listening-to-your-conversations-it-just-confirms-why-people-dont-trust-big-tech.html

Prime Week for Retail

The 2019 Amazon Prime Day sales figures are still uncertain but are predicted to have surpassed Black Friday and Cyber Monday combined. With shoppers eager to snatch up deals at discount prices, the effect of the sale on retail as a whole is becoming apparent. No longer are the low prices exclusive Amazon. Instead, companies are embracing the hype for their own sales in an attempt to ride the momentum. According to Adobe Analytics, retailers with over $1 billion in annual revenue saw their own spike in sales on day one of Amazon Prime Day of up to 64%, compared to an average Monday. Proving the Amazon effect extends much further than the platform itself.

As the online event continues to gain popularity as a staple for summer shopping, other companies are leveraging the sale to promote exclusive savings of their own. Many of their offers extend longer than just two days in an effort to capture those eager buyers throughout the remainder of the week. Overall, visits to online retailers as a whole accounted for a 66% lift in revenue so far this week. With RetailMeNot reporting 35% of competing brands using clever marketing to play off Amazon’s messaging such as “Prime Savings” or “Prime Deals,” the impact of the strategy seems to be benefiting retailers across the board.

While competition continues to increase for what is now one of the biggest sales of the year, it appears Amazon’s reach combined with two day shipping continue to lift the company above the rest. However, as brands continue to refine their approach, it will be interesting to see who gives Amazon the best run for their money.

https://www.adweek.com/digital/heres-how-the-first-24-hours-of-prime-day-shook-out/

Facebook Guides Advertisers Through The Holidays

Media companies are increasing their arsenal of planning tools to help advertisers strategize and reach consumers more effectively. With the biggest shopping time of the year quickly approaching, this week Facebook released several tools that highlights trends, past insights, and tricks for gaining an edge on the holiday market.

The announcement included the release of an insights tool which is a compilation of previous year’s finding on how people shop and types of ads that drove purchases. The tool is an incredibly helpful aid for planning holiday marketing strategies. While it’s only July, marketers should already be reviewing their plans and budgets for the holiday season. Leveraging this data can assist in creating a campaign structure that is both impactful and cost effective for ad dollars.

In addition, a 2019 Holiday Marketing Guide was also unveiled. The guide walks through the consumer journey and how shoppers can be nurtured along the way to complete a purchase. Facebook also highlights its reach and influence throughout the process. The 63 page marketing planning tool covers through everything from important dates, in-depth analysis about how people shop, and step-by-step instructions on how and when to strategize as well as what’s needed at each phase. 

The goal of providing such resources is to help marketers which in turn, helps Facebook’s bottom line. Many other big tech platforms realize distributing this information comes with huge benefits for everyone. While Facebook did a similar guide in previous years, Snapchat released their own guide which walks advertisers through key events, including holidays on a much higher level as an assistance to marketers. The insights are incredibly valuable and are sure to help brands across platforms.

https://www.socialmediatoday.com/news/facebook-launches-new-holiday-season-insights-guide-to-assist-in-campaign-p/558982/

5 Must-Know Marketing Tips for Advertising on Amazon

The "Amazon effect" sums up Amazon's massive success and disruption of the ecommerce industry. As of 2018, the online giant amassed around 50 percent of the total e-commerce sales in the country and earned a 250 percent increase in third-quarter advertising revenue. But there's still good news for companies concerned with remaining competitive: You can utilize the Amazon site to market your products and gain brand recognition.

In the past few years, brands have moved toward advertising on Amazon. Recent studies suggest more than half of the brands surveyed plan to increase their Amazon ad spend while shifting their ad budgets away from Google and Facebook. Here are five essential tips for marketers who want to stand out from competitors while leveraging "the Amazon effect" for their businesses.

Choose the Right Advertising Format

There are several formats you can choose. To be successful, select the one that best meets your marketing goals. If you're unsure, experiment to find the best format. Options include:

 ●       Amazon Sponsored: Best for promoting a specific item and sending traffic to a product page for fast results, these ads are typically displayed at the top, middle, or bottom of search results and on individual product pages.

●       Sponsored Brands: These pay-per-click ads are best for increasing customer loyalty and brand recognition. They appear in the headline banner on the search results page to direct consumers to your preferred landing page.

●       Amazon Product Display: Effective in increasing product visibility during the last step of a consumer's buying process, these ads are interest- or product-targeted to help consumers choose between similar products offered by multiple sellers.

●       Video Ads: Best for reaching a large audience and building brand recognition, video ads appear on various sites and devices owned by Amazon, including the website, Fire TV, and IMDb.

 Create Clear, Succinct, Persuasive Product Pages

The purpose of your Amazon ads is to get consumers to visit your product pages. Those pages are what move people down the funnel, transforming browsers into customers. Choose your most popular products and those that are competitively priced and in stock. Make sure you have accurate, descriptive titles that contain your keywords whenever possible and include useful product information and high-quality images to entice buyers.

Use the Right Mix of Keywords

Most of Amazon's PPC advertising formats use keywords to help with targeting. Use match types to create a combination of broad, exact, and phrase keywords to extend your reach and get your ads in front of buyers most likely to make a purchase.

●       Broad keywords cast a wide net. For example, if your keyword is "handbag," your ads could appear in a variety of searches, including "leather handbag," "black handbag," and "formal handbag."

●       Keyword phrases can change the context of consumer searches. For example, "copper salad bowl" indicates you sell salad bowls. "Salad copper bowl" indicates you sell copper bowls, not just copper salad bowls.

●       Exact keywords are restrictive and require consumers to search for that exact keyword, with no words before or after.

Tip: Use automatic keyword targeting so the system targets the most relevant keywords for your ads. Also, use the reporting tool to keep an eye on ad performance.

Flag Keywords That Aren't Producing Results

Much like how marketers could block negative keywords with Google's AdWords, you can also flag keywords that don't lead to conversions as well as negative keywords that prevent your ads from showing up in front of the wrong people. For example, if you sell handbags but not luggage, you could add "luggage" as a negative keyword so only users looking for handbags will see your ads.

You can download search term reports to find out which keyword searches led to consumers seeing your ads. That also gives you valuable information about the keywords that aren't working, allowing you to flag them and move on with optimized keywords.

Get Familiar with Amazon's A9

Amazon uses complex algorithms to decide when and where products show up in search results. A9 is the powerhouse behind the search box. It decides the product recommendations to make, based on data from previous queries made by shoppers. A9 looks at everything from product titles and descriptions to listing conversion rates to seller feedback. Around 70 percent of shoppers never move beyond the first page of results, which is why you need to understand how it works to optimize accordingly.

Preparing Your Brand For Amazon Prime Day

The details of this year’s Amazon Prime Day still remain a mystery but one thing is for certain, it’s never too early for brands to start preparing for one of the biggest shopping days of the year.  With 75% of Americans relying on Amazon for product and brand discovery, and nearly 60% of shoppers spending time weekly to browse product availability, exposure during this sale can boost revenue and create lasting customer loyalty.  

Many businesses are already selling on Amazon, but being ill prepared for this event can have negative long-term effects. The following steps will help set your brand up for prime success in the countdown for this year’s Amazon Prime Day.

Optimize Your Strategy

The Amazon shopping experience is centered around search. Ranking high in the results will allow more customers to find your products, increasing sales.  Amazon’s search algorithm has more condensed ranking signals than found on Google or Bing. It’s important to understand the differences and refine your campaign structure in advance, including formatting keywords and creating copy that converts.  While this is always true on Amazon, it’s essential on Prime Day when users are searching for the best products and deals in a hurry.

Prepare bid adjustment strategies in advance.  As with the holiday shopping season, the influx in search traffic will influence bid costs. Increase click and daily budgets to offset higher costs ahead of time. Being at the top of the results will result in increased visibility and drive sales.

Focus on all the details of your products. Take time to review product information pages from imagery to copy. Shoppers are visual and rely heavily on photos for decision making. Make sure the main image follows Amazon’s guidelines but also utilize the additional image options to highlight product features and show real life use scenarios. Description copy should be accurate, concise and easily digestible. Consumers want the information readily accessible so they can review and make their purchasing decisions quickly.

While all this sounds good, some brand product catalogs are too large to examine every page and this can seem like a daunting task. In this case, it’s important to make smart decisions to best utilize your time and effort. Focus on best selling and highest revenue products first and work from there. Users are likely leveraging the sale to get those coveted items at a discount. Capitalize on this information and use this as your starting point.

Promote Your Presence

The tight time frame for consumers to find and purchase items makes it paramount your promotional strategies are prepared and tested in advance. Test copy leading up to the sale for the best results and conversion drivers. There isn’t time during the sale to make adjustments. It must be clear, concise and appealing.

Utilize additional coupon options that can be applied at checkout. The additional discount can be the decision maker for shoppers looking for the best deal. This also fosters a better customer experience, which encourages customers to shop your store again.

Don’t limit yourself only to Amazon. Market your presence for Prime Day at all opportunities. In the weeks leading up to the event, engage with loyal customers and new prospects to increase anticipation of sales opportunities and tease discounted products. You should focus your efforts on appealing to your social channel following, emailing your  customer base, and leveraging programmatic ads across platforms.

Prepare Your Operations For Increased Orders

Increased Prime Day sales are great, but if your back-end operations aren’t prepared, it could be a logistical nightmare.  Stock your inventory in preparation for higher than average sales, particularly best selling items. If your business utilizes Fulfillment by Amazon, it’s important to check their stock as well.  With over 100 million products projected to be purchased during the event, you don’t want to be unprepared.

Make sure all systems are ready for order processing and payment at high levels. Delayed orders or inaccessible customer service could impact the shopping experience, leaving a lasting effect and impacting customer loyalty. Double check these areas in advance, so that there are no surprises.

Continue The Message

Once you’ve survived Amazon Prime Day 2019, maximize the increased exposure. Continue the momentum from the sale to nurture shopper’s customer loyalty and brand awareness.  Follow up with shoppers on their experience while also encouraging them to register for additional communication, including sales and promotion emails, product releases or reminders for next year’s sale. This information can then be used to create ongoing personalized messaging and customer profiling.

Use the sales event data to your advantage. You now have a wealth of information about which products are most popular. Continue your marketing efforts, highlighting these items and those that are complementary to boost checkout revenue. If you overstocked for the event, use this information to sell off the additional inventory.

Finally, analyze the results to prepare for next year. Review your approach against the results and adjust accordingly. This will help not only your next Prime Day experience, but also how you go-to-market for the holidays and other big sales events.

As online shoppers continue to gravitate toward Amazon for their retail shopping needs, brand marketers must meet them on their journey. Taking extra steps to prepare your business for Amazon Prime Day can benefit your business all year.  

Weekly Digital Breakdown

Netflix Tests Extras On Its Mobile App

Finding what to watch on Netflix isn’t always so chill and the company is experimenting with ways to help users find something that interests them quicker.  With so many options, from movies to original programming, many viewers can feel overwhelmed with the amount of content available.

To help guide viewers, the company introduced an “Extras” option on the navigation bar of the mobile app. Users are now offered a variety of helpful programming suggestions including New Arrivals, upcoming releases and additional programming suggestions based on previous viewing history.

Delivered in a story format similar to those found on Instagram and Snapchat, video clips and photos of Netflix programming are displayed as you scroll.  Users can then add shows or movies to playlists for viewing or choose the “reminder” option and be notified when upcoming programming becomes available. While most Netflix viewing is still on television, the mobile app provides a unique opportunity to reach and engage a captive video audience.  

Based on the success from other platforms, moving to shareable videos is yet another way Netflix can not only personalize the experience, but also promote their own programming.  It’s also an effort to better connect fans with shows they love and expand viewing options.

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Netflix noted that the feature is still in testing and there’s no official word on a roll-out to the masses. The capability does allow the company to join a larger social discussion about content provided or what’s desirable, providing untapped audience insight and potentially increased time on the platform.

https://techcrunch.com/2019/06/05/netflix-tests-an-instagram-stories-like-feed-called-extras-in-its-app/

Snapchat Is Changing Its Story To Include Ecommerce

In the wake of Instagram’s recent release of the checkout feature and branded content ads, other social platforms are feeling the heat to close the gap and help influencers better monetize their content. Snapchat, in particular, added a shopping feature this week to boost its ecommerce efforts, increase the competition, and use influencer partnerships as way to more authentically reach audiences.

By partnering with Shopify, the company updated accounts of select high-profile influencers (Kylie Jenner, Kim Kardashian West, Shay Mitchell, Spencer Pratt and Bhad Bhabie) to test the capabilities. The native checkout will be enabled with the addition of a shop button that lets users purchase products from the influencer’s respective brands.

The enhanced commerce experience distinguishes Snapchat as one of the leaders in the space and creates focus on their ability to increase available user profile data and add monetization. Snapchat has been an industry sleeper, but the addition could help shift the pendulum in their favor, positioning the company to gain more influencer interest which translates into more ecommerce advertising dollars.  As Snapchat continues to build out its shopping capabilities they can more accurately attribute sales dollars to specific ads, increasing platform value.

The partnership further exemplifies the evolution of shopping from brand websites to social media channels. As Snapchat continues to refine its strategy and gain social momentum, the company’s innovation helps establish their growth in the market.

https://www.adweek.com/brand-marketing/snapchats-latest-updates-to-its-commerce-experience-hint-at-things-to-come/

Kid-Tech A Largely Untapped Market

With shrinking attention spans, marketers are under pressure to get their message conveyed fast.  This is even more true with kids who have grown up in an age where information and media are accessible at lightning speed around the clock. To reach this influential younger market, advertisers plan to spend more than $1.2 billion in ads globally by 2021, according to new research released by PricewaterhouseCoopers. The focus is primarily on international audiences across devices and platforms such as social media, search, and video formats.  However, the report magnified the need to market to this captive audience early and often.

“Kids-tech”, particularly social platforms, have been largely ignored by big tech due to the amount of red tape. While companies have released limited kid-friendly offerings such as Facebook’s Messenger Kids, Amazon’s Echo Dot Kid’s Edition and YouTube’s Kids app, advertising outside of these platforms has marketers feeling lost. The lack of attention to the space has since paved the way for innovative startups to create safe environments for both user and advertiser.  Programs are being developed to simulate what’s available for adults, but with stringent online privacy policies that prevent data being collected and used for ad delivery. Instead, ads are being served by site or page context without the use of cookies for personalized targeting. Platform moderation is also not left to chance with automation, but done manually by humans.

For big tech, their responsibility to this audience is great.  They must consider a myriad of factors such as online privacy which includes personal and geo data collection, strict advertising guidelines and ways to enforce policies with minimal for error.  However, with kids making up the fastest growing online audience, they can’t continue to leave this market untapped.

https://www.adweek.com/programmatic/advertisers-will-spend-more-than-1-billion-on-kid-centric-ads-by-2021/

Weekly Digital Breakdown

Chipotle Aims For Nothing But Net With Its Burrito Giveaway

The NBA finals are about to start and Chipotle is hoping for a slam dunk with its “Freeting” campaign, giving away $1 million worth of free burritos during final tournament play. The company is placing its bets on second-screen viewing to drive social engagement, online orders, and in-store traffic. With over 45% of US adults saying they use a second screen very often or always while watching television, it’s an opportunity to reach coveted NBA fans who are checking their mobile devices throughout the games.  

So how do you score free grub?  Every time an announcer says “free” on air during the first half of the game, Chipotle will offer up to 500 free burritos. The offer doubles in the second half, keeping viewers engaged for even more chances to win.  Unique codes will be tweeted on Chipotle’s Twitter account following on-air cues and viewers simply need to text the code back to receive a redemption coupon for a free burrito. Code users with orders over $10 will also receive free delivery on Chipotle’s app, website or through DoorDash during the games.

The promotion is powerful team strategy of multiple platforms to drive online and in-store traffic.  The company opted for the “Freeting” campaign in place of a much more costly official sponsorship or commercial during the tournament.  Chipotle is banking on the appeal of friendly competition combined with free food as a creative way to win new fans and a victory with game viewers.

https://www.mobilemarketer.com/news/chipotle-integrates-twitter-with-sms-to-dole-out-free-burritos-to-basketbal/555638/

Facebook Uncovers Record Number of Fraudulent Accounts

In the first quarter of 2019, Facebook removed a record 2.2 billion fraudulent accounts, most disabled within as little as a few minutes of being created.  The number of fake accounts is only slightly less than the reported 2.4 billion valid monthly active users and the majority of the false accounts were never considered active by Facebook’s metrics.  Many of the removed accounts are attributed to spammers who are continuously attempting to circumvent Facebook’s increased privacy security.

The increasing attempts to create large quantities of automated fake accounts simultaneously further exemplifies the magnitude of this ongoing problem.  While Facebook is diligently working to foster a safe user environment, this information shows that the problem has a broad reach. In the report, CEO Mark Zuckerberg stressed the company’s plans to increase resources and spending for online security including a combination of artificial intelligence and human monitoring, adding to its arsenal of defense.

While Facebook continues to seek ways to create a safe environment for users, it seems they face hurdles at every turn, including its own policies. The pending increased encryption the company plans to implement for additional privacy could make it more difficult to detect fraudulent accounts. Zuckerberg acknowledged the increased encryption security comes with trade-offs, but promises to make online privacy an ongoing focus of the company.

It’s evident that the company is tackling fraud head on with no intention of backing down.  However, this issue is far from resolved and will remain at the forefront of conversation for Facebook for the immediate future.

https://www.adweek.com/digital/the-amount-of-fake-accounts-removed-from-facebook-this-year-nearly-equals-its-number-of-total-active-users/

Google Indexing Gets Mobile Optimized

Google officially announced they will be utilizing mobile-first indexing as default for all new web domains starting July 1, 2019. The switch has been in the works since 2016, with testing since leading up to the announcement this week.  Google will use its webcrawler, Googlebot, which simulates a user on a mobile device, to confirm a site is mobile optimized for its indexing process. Existing sites will be monitored as well but that process will have an extended timeline.

With the number of mobile users worldwide expected to surpass 5 billion this year and over 72% of internet users projected to be solely on smartphones by 2025, enforcing mobile optimization is a natural progression for both Google and websites. To help assist with the transition, Google has dedicated a guide with instructions and resources to better explain the process.

The emphasis of a mobile-friendly experience, both with indexing and mobile site optimization, shows Google’s priority to focus on users. As online behaviors shift, the company continues to remain a leader of change and innovation.

https://techcrunch.com/2019/05/28/google-makes-mobile-first-indexing-the-default-for-all-new-domains/

Weekly Digital Breakdown

Macy’s Pins Its Summer Market

Macy’s is making a splash this summer by combining augmented reality and Pinterest Pincodes to creatively connect users to their products. With soaring growth in e-commerce and mobile, the company hopes to capitalize on its most engaged shoppers while creating a fun social experience centered around summertime activities.  

The campaign will link Pinterest Pincodes, accessible at popular summer hot spots, such as beaches, lakes and parks, with a pinterest board highlighting items from Macy’s summer catalog specific curated to the location. The boards are then shoppable, allowing for an effortless buying experience. The campaign will also feature stories on various social platforms to highlight summer’s best moments.  

With department store catalogs a thing of the past, this is a new spin to bring personalized styles right to user’s mobile devices. It also allows for authentic experiences with the company being shared socially, further propelling the campaign organically.

https://www.marketingdive.com/news/macys-summer-campaign-heads-outside-with-pinterest-pincodes/555124/

Twitter Toys Around With Updated Carousel Ads

Twitter is testing a reformatted version of carousel ads to boost app install and re-engagement campaigns for advertisers. In 2016, Twitter tested a version where several tweets could be used in a series, but had little popularity and was eventually discontinued. The revised format allows for multiple, swipeable images in a single ad unit which can be used for showcasing a series of products or using in a series to convey a story, tapping into the user’s emotions.

As other platforms such as Facebook have proven, the carousel ad is very visually appealing and engaging for users, thus increasing campaign performance for advertisers. In many cases, it also results in significant decreases in cost per conversion, upward of 30-50%.  As Twitter works to entice advertisers with its innovative ad units, it remains uncertain if the carousel ad will be heavily utilized by advertisers or well received by users.

https://www.socialmediatoday.com/news/twitters-testing-a-new-carousel-ad-format-for-app-install-campaigns/555064/

YouTube’s Bumper Machine Uses AI to Automate 6-Second Video Creation

In an effort to minimize mobile viewing interruptions, YouTube released a new tool for advertisers that transforms their current video ads into “bumper” six-second video format.  With the help of artificial intelligence, “Bumper Machine” condenses videos by identifying elements such as human characters, motions, branding and quality of focus and framing to consolidate the messaging in the shorter format, concluding with the final call-to-action in the last few seconds. The limited time frame makes it more imperative that messages are visually appealing and easily consumed for viewers. Marketers that use the tool are not limited to the first result but instead, it’s meant to be a process allowing for human review to create the final product.

With mobile ad spend growing exponentially and accounting for 65% of all digital ad spend, the Bumper Machine tool will help advertisers tap into that market in a new way.  While some will simply condense current longer-form ads, others may use the tool to create short teasers for a longer ad or create a series of bumper ads that can tie together. The addition of the free tool is yet another way YouTube is continuing to evolve to accommodate the market.

https://techcrunch.com/2019/05/13/youtube-bumper-machine/

Weekly Digital Breakdown

Snapchat Develops Its Own Mobile Network

Snapchat made a big announcement on Thursday about plans for a Snap Audience Network, its own mobile ad platform with targeting across various apps.  The initial launch will be strictly for iOS devices and will extend to Android at a later date.

There are still questions surrounding how this will operate as compared to similar networks.  However it’s projected to compete with Facebook, LinkedIn and Google with the added unique ability for app developers to utilize Snapchat’s same full-screen, vertical video ad format.

The announcement didn’t come with much detail, but it appears to be an effort by the company to help boost it’s own advertising agenda to partner with more agencies and businesses. While there are still a number of unknowns with this new platform, it will be interesting to see Snapchat competes with other social networks and what differentiates them in the space.

https://www.adweek.com/digital/snap-announces-plans-to-build-its-own-mobile-ad-network-to-connect-with-its-audience/

Facebook Exposed for Storing User Data on Public Amazon Cloud Servers

Cybersecurity firm, Upguard, uncovered more than 540 million Facebook user files stored on a public Amazon cloud server this week. Information included user actions on the site, comments and Facebook IDs, all of which were accessible on the server for public download despite profile settings.  Once alerted, Facebook immediately worked with Amazon to take down the database, but cannot verify how this may impact users.

While Facebook policies prohibit user data being stored on unsecure servers, this news adds to the growing data privacy concerns with the platform. After last year’s news that millions of user’s data had been misused by Cambridge Analytica, Facebook audited thousands of third-party data apps and suspended those who were mishandling. Despite continued efforts to protect user data, it appears the extent of the problem may not be fully known at this point.

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-04-03/millions-of-facebook-records-found-on-amazon-cloud-servers

Amazon Alexa Advances Healthcare Services

Amazon Alexa users can now utilize the smart speaker for healthcare information with its recently released HIPAA compliant skills.  Users can leverage the technology to manage healthcare needs such as booking appointments, checking a prescription status or accessing stored medical information such as ongoing glucose readings.  The skills are currently only accessible through select partnerships but will expand based on user adoption.

With the launch, some entities are unveiling HIPAA-compliant skills specific to their own recently discharged patients.  Boston Children’s released a skill known as “ERAS” which allows patients and caregivers to ask questions specific to recent patient care records and allows doctors the ability to follow up with patients remotely.

While data privacy remains a huge concern for patients, Amazon confirms data is encrypted and securely stored in addition to the strict guidelines HIPAA puts in place for patient protection.  This announcement is a major advancement in the evolution of remote patient care.

https://techcrunch.com/2019/04/04/amazon-alexa-launches-its-first-hipaa-compliant-medical-skills/

Weekly Digital Breakdown

Streaming Video Exceeds Cable Subscriptions

For the first time, video streaming service subscriptions surpassed cable, jumping up 27% to 613 million subscribers last year. The shift is attributed to the consumers being drawn to services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime for the 24/7 accessibility across devices and original programming.   This trend further is likely to continue as more cable subscribers “cut the cord” and rely on digital video for programming.

ttps://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-03-21/netflix-s-growth-helps-streaming-eclipse-cable-subscriptions

McDonalds Uses AI to Drive Personalization

In an aggressive move to integrate a more tailored dining experience, McDonalds acquired the personalization company, Dynamic Yield.  This technology will be used to create a dynamic menu that will adjust to variables such as weather, time of day or trending menu items.  It will also aid in upselling, or suggesting additional items that compliment your selections. They will begin leveraging the technology for drive-thru customers and plan to expand to self-serve kiosks and the mobile app.  McDonalds plans to roll out the new technology in the US throughout 2019 to increase customer service and clearly distinguish the company from competitors.

https://techcrunch.com/2019/03/25/mcdonalds-acquires-dynamic-yield/

Big News From Apple

On March 25th, Apple introduced its streaming service, Apple News+ to the public.  While some industry insiders remain skeptical about the announcement, publishers are hoping to use the service to expand their audience and drive digital subscriptions.  Apple News+ includes over 300 magazines and select newspapers for a monthly fee. Publishers view this as an opportunity to reach and engage a news centric audience, driving their own revenue through advertisements.  While the audience is shared across multiple publishers, this approach offers the chance to reach readers who may never interact with some publications and gain loyalty. Publishers are not expecting this to be a magic solution but an added layer to in their efforts to increase readership and expand audiences.

https://www.adweek.com/tv-video/publishers-view-apple-news-as-an-experiment-not-a-solution-to-the-industrys-woes/


Facebook Amends Targeting to Fight Discrimination

Facebook is refining it’s targeting options as they pertain to employment, housing and credit advertisements as prompted by a recent settlement agreement with leading civil rights organizations.  Brands promoting these items can no longer target users based on demographic information such as ethnicity, age, gender, religious affiliation or family status. Based on the previous set-up, targeting could include or exclude these criteria or create look-a-like audiences to target similar users.  While Facebook continues to be under right scrutiny for it’s policies, this is just another step they are taking to earn user’s trust and continue focus on data privacy concerns.

https://www.adweek.com/digital/facebook-is-revamping-its-targeting-for-housing-employment-and-credit-ads/

Your Guide to Keeping Consumer Data Secure While Personalizing Campaigns

Customers expect personalization. A well-crafted email with a customer's first name and a product suggestion related to a past purchase, for example, has become the norm.  Research shows 98 percent of marketers believe personalization advances the customer relationship, with 74 percent claiming it has a "strong" or "extreme" impact on the relationship, according to Evergage.

While marketers see the value of personalizing messages, creating them requires customer data. To market effectively, you have to know a lot about a customer. That can range from basic information (such as a customer's name and hometown) to more intrusive information like buying history and spending limits.

Having this kind of coveted data provides amazing targeting applications, but it also comes with great responsibility. Customers are concerned about privacy. One survey shows 91 percent of Americans believe customers have lost control over how their personal data is collected and used, according to Pew Research.

So how can brands provide personalized marketing and protect customer data at the same time? Here are some tips:

Get Consent to Contact

Before reaching any customer digitally, make sure you have permission to do so. Aside from being a best practice, it's also mandated by new privacy legislation. The European Union's GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation), for example, requires businesses to get consent from digital customers before collecting, storing, and using personal data.  Although this legislation was passed in Europe, experts say more laws aimed at protecting personal data elsewhere in the world are likely in the future.

How do you get consent? Ask customers to voluntarily join your email list, or run a promotion on social media that asks for permission to contact the participant with future offers. Whatever the tactic, get permission to make contact.

Don't Assume You Know What Customers Want

Many marketers make assumptions on behalf of customers, and that is starting to bother those customers. What kind of assumptions? Marketers sometimes use pre-checked boxes on forms that automatically sign up subscribers for promotional emails. These pre-checked boxes assume every customer wants to get coupons or a weekly email digest, when customers might not want that at all.

Or, let's say you're at a trade show and you exchange business cards with dozens of people. When you get back to your office, you add everyone to your email list. Why? You assume everyone wants to stay in touch after the show. But they didn't give consent to join your email list at all. That's another assumption.

One of the best ways to respect customers and their privacy is to avoid making decisions for them.

Explain How Information Is Used

One of the best practices pushed in laws like the GDPR is transparency. GDPR requires brands to tell customers how their personal information is collected, tracked, and used.  Many brands use cookies to track a customer's online activities. Since GDPR was enacted, brands must explain how their sites' cookies collect, track, and store data. As a result, you've probably seen "cookie consent" messages pop up on your favorite websites, like this one:

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In this case, customers can accept the data tracking policy, select how much data they want collected, and see how their information is used by the company.

Whether you use cookies or not, one of the best ways to show customers that privacy matters is to explain exactly how you gather and use their personal information.

Be Honest About Data Breaches

Data breaches happen, and some of the biggest companies have experienced them. While they're embarrassing, it's important to tell your customers about it, and quickly.  

In the U.S., Uber was forced to pay a $148 million settlement when a 2016 data breach was found to have been covered up by the transportation company's then-CEO, Travis Kalanick. The breach wasn't made public for a year, according to USA Today.

Customers want transparency. In Europe, the GDPR sets strict requirements that companies notify customers of any stolen data within 72 hours.

Personalization and privacy have become a balancing act for brands across the globe. Customers want personalized experiences, but they want to trust their data is safe and being used in ways that they approve of.

The Power of the Hashtag

Hastags are now a normal part of social media activity but you may be wondering how you can leverage them for business.  When used strategically, hashtags hold an amazing power to reach large audiences and there's little doubt they can serve as effective tools for marketers when properly implemented.

One of the major benefits to marketers are the countless ways to measure hashtag campaign performance. Engagement, for example, could include metrics about retweets, replies and comments. Awareness might be measured with reach, exposure and volume. Traffic to your website could be measured in clicks, conversions and shares.

Hastags can create opportunity and increase visibility.  Here are some examples of successful hashtag campaigns at work.

• #TweetFromTheSeat

After launching its #TweetFromTheSeat hashtag campaign, Charmin earned "Time Magazine's" vote for the "Sassiest Brand on Twitter."

RESULTS: Approximately 80,000 new followers

• #WeAccept

This Airbnb campaign used images of people of various ethnicities with the hashtag #WeAccept to demonstrate the founders' commitment to welcoming groups such as refugees.

RESULTS: 1,954,277 YouTube views, 109,000 Instagram views, 14,022,922 Facebook views

• #LikeAGirl

The Always brand used the #LikeAGirl hashtag as a call to action, inviting women to tweet about the positive things they do "like a girl" to remove the stigma from the phrase. They complimented it with a #LikeAGirl page hosted on Always.com..

RESULTS: Twitter followers tripled in the first months; 177,000 #LikeAGirl tweets in the first three months, including celebrities

Ready to get started on your next hashtag campaign? Consider these guidelines:

1. Research existing hashtags.

You want to create a hashtag unique to your company, so do your homework to ensure you're not diluting your messaging by distinguishing yourself from competitors. Incorporate trending hashtags into your campaign to complement your main hashtag.

2. Create a tag that's unique to the brand.

Generic hashtags are fine as supplemental pieces, but your primary hashtag should be unique to the brand. Good examples include Lay's #DoUsAFlavor, Ryu's #WhatsInYourBag and the Worldwide Breast Cancer organization's #KnowYourLemons.

3. Create unique tags for different promotions.

Be creative and use different hashtags for different campaigns, products, etc. Oreo, for example, has used #MyOreoCreation, #OreoHorrorStories, and #PlayWithOreo.

4. Use the hashtag across multiple social media platforms.

Hashtags aren't just for Twitter. Use them on all social media updates.

5. Test varying amounts of hashtags per post to find your sweet spot.

As a general rule, use two hashtags on Twitter and seven or fewer on other platforms.

6. Choose niche hashtags.

Stay away from generic hashtags and get more specific, such as using #BigAndTallTuxedos over a broad term like #Tuxedos.

7. Follow your hashtag on social media.

Keep an eye on what others are saying by following common hashtags you use.

Using these tips, you'll find hashtags can make an impact on your marketing strategy and increase your reach.

Tips for Marketing to Spring Break Travelers

No matter your target audience, spring break is an excellent time for brands to get in front of their consumers.  With college students spending an estimated $1 billion on spring break every year added to the amount spent by families who take advantage of the time off school for travel, spring break has become a huge marketing opportunity.

For business, you can use this time to boost your brand, attract more followers and promote sales. Here are four tips to get started.

Hold a Spring Break Sale

Regardless of your business, running travel-themed marketing campaigns can entice consumers to try your product or service. Spring break is the ideal time to clear out inventory or offer promotional items to drive more traffic to your website or physical locations. One example of success was a direct marketing campaign by Great Wolf Lodge.  They offered a promotional discount to travelers who booked rooms during spring break to increase reservations and attract repeat customers.

Leverage Social Media

Spring break is a great time to host contests, giveaways and live events for your followers. It's also an opportunity to create a campaign centered around themed stories and invite your followers to contribute. This could include videos, photos or written content detailing their adventures with your product, letting everyone in on the fun they're having. Users with the best stories or photos could then win products or services.  The authenticity of showing products in use resonates with consumers and creates the feeling that your brand is part of the spring break experience.

Deliver an Experience

Experiential marketing tactics are all about becoming another factor in the fun surrounding spring break. They aren't about making revenue as much as they are geared toward exposing travelers to your brand and letting them interact with it, creating a positive impression to share with friends, coworkers and families. In a recent example, Axe took a two-pronged approach by setting up a tent and games on a popular beach to attract spring breakers, in addition to sponsoring toiletries at popular hotels.

Stamping your presence on a hot spot is not the only way to take advantage of experiential marketing. You could have brand ambassadors hand out samples and free gifts or use your social media strategies to drive traffic to your website with interactive games or events.

Sponsor Events

Whether it's a party geared toward college kids or a families, sponsoring spring break events can increase brand awareness, provide an opportunity for engagement and help your brand gain traction. Many times this doesn’t require you to be on the site to reap the benefits, but attendees will likely take note of your name on the promotional materials or sponsored activities.


Spring break is a tradition where people of all ages are ready to celebrate the end of winter with some fun in the sun.  Use this time to your advantage to get in front of consumers and be part of the action.


Leveraging Platforms for March Basketball Hysteria

Basketball viewing during the March tournaments used to be restricted to only the game(s) that were playing on cable at the time. Now, fans have the ability to watch multiple games on various devices while staying up-to-date with bracket-busting news via social media.

Social platforms alone have become a hot spot for hoops hysteria.  During the 2015 tournament, there were 350 million impressions on Facebook and Twitter, according to Koeppel Direct. In 2017, March Madness Live (MML) brought in 69.1 million live streams. All the excitement is prime opportunity for brands to leverage the influx of users streaming the live action and catching up on the day’s wins and losses. To help your brand slam dunk its campaign, we’ve provided some strategy tips.

Facebook

Facebook profiles are full of customer-specific data, including a user's college history and location, which provides ready-made segments for your ads. This presents a variety of strategic campaign options to appeal to various audiences.

A company selling sports gear, for example, can create Syracuse Orangemen ads for Syracuse alum, or a travel agency can create an ad for a Final Four trip aimed at fans vying for the chance to see the games in person.

Instagram

Instagram has access to Facebook data allowing for similar segmenting of users.  It also presents the opportunity to leverage trending hashtags around game excitement.  Adding a relevant hashtag to your message can tie basketball and your brand together. The searchability increases your brand presence when used correctly.  For example, Acme Footwear asked users to pick the game winner by combining the predicted winning team name with its company name for responses like #dukeacme. Fans love to show their team fandom and get excited to be a part of the celebration.

YouTube

To get the most bang for your buck, consider launching a campaign via YouTube during the tourney.  With audience-specific targeting available, you can show ads to users who have watched a specific video or tournament related content.  You can also leverage remarketing capabilities to further your reach.

Digital Video Ads

With people now watching sports via live-streaming channels at all hours, digital video ads are a great way to stay in front of consumers.  This spans platforms, increasing opportunity for exposure. Facebook, for example, will interrupt a live stream with breaks for ads. Since viewers are already engaged in the game and ads are limited, you have a captive audience who are more likely to remember your brand and product.

The hype surrounding bracket success, or the sleeper team that’s sure to be a bracket buster, presents a great opportunity to reach consumers with fun and memorable ad experience.  Fans are engaged and playing into the excitement is sure to be a marketing win.

Leverage First-Party Data to Boost Personalization

To succeed in today's marketing world, personalization is crucial. Research shows 84 percent of customers say being treated like an individual and not a number is important to winning their business, according to Salesforce.

To treat customers like real people, you need to know who they are. But this isn't always easy. Sure, you might remember a few customers who frequent your business, but it's impossible to know everyone, let alone create marketing messages tailored to each person.

Personalized messages rely on customer data. You need to collect data in every category possible. From collecting email addresses at checkout and tracking order histories to asking customers to fill out forms and surveys, your data collection strategy should be diverse and continuous.

Any data you collect is considered first-party data. Thus, the emails you collect on your website form, the information shared when customers join your social media contest, and the data collected as customers browse your site are all first-party data. You collected it.

To help marketers take personalization to the next level, we'll dive into the data world and explain what first-party data is and how to utilize it.

  • Tips for Using First-Party Data Effectively

Once you have first-party data, it's time to put it to work for you. Here are a few tips:

  • Do a Deep Data Dive

At the beginning, you probably focused on collecting the basics from customers, such as their names, email addresses, and ages. Now, it's time to go deeper. You need behavioral data like past purchases and browsing history to create more detailed messages.

  • Refined, Smaller Segments

As you collect more data, you can create more defined segments. Essentially, you should segment your segments. For instance, if you segmented your customers by sex, take it one step further and segment based on past purchases. So rather than just sending an email to all female customers, you can send an email to all female customers who made two shoe purchases in the last month.

The further you define your segments, the more personal the messages become. An email aimed at your female customers isn't as targeted as an email sent to shoe-loving female customers who have recently made purchases

  • Use Data for Targeting

You can leverage first party data to improve your advertising strategy. Platforms like Facebook, for example, allow you to input data to customize audiences that see your ads. The more data you have, the more likely you are to attract interested customers.  

  • Deploy Retargeting Messages

By monitoring customers' online actions, you can deploy retargeting campaigns that are specific to each user. Let's say a customer comes to your site, searches for shoes, and spends considerable time looking at a pair of black heels, but never makes the purchase. They can then be retargeted via a variety of platforms (social, mobile, desktop, etc) with a tailored message that includes that same pair of shoes.  Retargeting gives you the ability to deliver personalized content to customers who have actually shown interest.

With these tips, you can up your personalization game and start connecting with customers on a deeper, more meaningful level.

Getting Started With Marketing Personalization

To reach customers, a generic email, text, or Facebook ad won't cut it. Today's customers have high expectations. They expect personalized advertising that's relevant to their lives, and they are willing to help make that happen.

As many as 57 percent of consumers are willing to share personal data, as long as it results in personalized content and offers. At the same time, the majority of consumers (88 percent) aren't happy with the level of personalization they receive from brands they like, according to research presented by Econsultancy.

To help marketers better meet consumers' expectations, we'll explore what personalization is and why it's important, and provide a few tips to get started.

Personalization Defined

Personalization is more than just adding a customer's first name to an email subject line. Personalization is the act of knowing your customers and creating customized content and messages that resonate with each one. Customized content can take many forms. From sending a personalized promotion to customers based on their purchase history, to targeting a specific audience for a Facebook ad.

Why Personalization Is Important

Personalization helps brands attract and retain customers. By crafting messages and ads that are relevant to customers, you’ll draw more people in and keep the customers you have delighted with your efforts.

In time, you’ll build a relationship with your customers. It's similar to building a relationship with a friend. The closer you get and the more experiences you share, the more trust you develop.

As we've mentioned, customers want personalization. In fact, 58 percent of customers are willing to switch half of their spending to brands that excel at personalization, according to a recent report.

Tips to Achieve Personalized Marketing

To put your new personalization strategy into place, here are a few tips to get started:

●       Collect the Right Data

Get to know your customers. In today's modern age, that means collecting personal data. You'll likely need a tool or platform to collect, store, and utilize the data. Ideally, you'll get both demographic information (like name, age, and sex) and behavioral information that tracks things like past purchases and visit frequency.

●       Segment Audiences

Your customers are likely a diverse bunch. To pull off personalization on a large scale, you'll need to segment your customers, or break them into smaller, like-minded groups. Doing so gives you the power to create content for each niche.

●       Start Small

Create a small list of ways you can personalize your next marketing campaign. Don't try to do it all at once. For example, segment customers by location and send a promotion that's specific to a store in that area.

●       Test, Test, Test

As with any marketing campaign, you should test to see what's working and what's not. You can test many different personalization tactics. For instance, you can send an email that includes a customer's name and test it against a generic message that doesn't include the name.

Personalization is an important marketing and advertising tactic, but it takes some time and effort to perfect. You need to collect data and leverage it in a way that customers will respond to. Doing so will help you build a strong relationship with your customers.

Brand Perception: What It Is, Why It Matters and How to Measure It

When was the last time you really thought about your perception of a product brand or service? Sure, we might use online brands every day in our work or at play, but do you think about how you perceive a brand? You should.

Brand perception is important. It's the sum of our feelings, attitudes, and experiences with a product or service. Brand perception is what moves the needle for companies, taking a common product and giving it elements that evoke emotional feelings. Every car ad during football season is appealing to a viewer's emotions about the brand. Every skincare ad seeks to sway a consumer's emotions into creating a favorable brand perception.

Ultimately, the customer is the one who decides their perception of your brand. Whether you're marketing a consumer commodity like clothing, or a high-level B2B web application, how consumers view the brand can make or break a product.

Let's break down exactly what brand perception is, why it matters and how you can measure its impact in your daily work.

What Is Brand Perception?

Put simply, brand perception is the sum of feelings a consumer has about a brand. These thoughts and feelings happen when a consumer is aware of the brand, and what follows when that consumer hears, sees, or interacts with the brand and its product.

Brand perception incorporates a multitude of areas that touch upon the brand's customer interactions. From product development and packaging to public relations and social engagement, brand perception is a top-level measuring stick of a product's visual presence, goodwill, and emotional character. All of these can play into the product's success.

Think about Facebook, for example. Last year Facebook's brand perception fell out of favor with many because of privacy issues and the platform being found to be the conduit of false or misleading news stories. Brand perceptions of Facebook were significantly changed in 2018, which is why the company is now making moves to make public opinion of its brand more positive.

Even for small companies, brand perception is one part of a larger marketing equation. How does your product or service resonate with its target audience, why does it matter, how do consumers feel about your brand, and how can you measure this?

Why It Matters

Brand perception is important because it reflects what consumers think about a company's culture. We've mentioned Facebook, but this affects even emerging online brands such as Fashion Nova and Everlane.

You might see a branded TV spot, read a review, or catch a pre-roll YouTube ad. These brief interactions can quickly change a consumer's perception of a company from negative to neutral, or from neutral to positive. That's the power of brand perception, and that's why it matters.

Once consumers formulate a perception in their minds, whether positive, negative, or neutral, it's hard to change their beliefs. That's why companies are trying hard to measure brand perception on their own.

Measuring Brand Perception

How can companies measure brand perception? There are agencies that would be glad to charge $5,000 to $25,000 a month for the privilege, but your own team can scout the web to get a fairly reliable reflection of consumers' perceptions of your brand. Some ways your research and marketing teams can do this might include:

●       Setting up Google alerts to track online mentions.

●       Reading online reviews. (This is critical for all brands. Efficient customer response can also help with brand reception.)

●       Social listening, which means monitoring social media comments, hashtags, and other mentions.

●       Measuring metrics for pay-per-click brand search and dwell time.

Overall, companies need to work hard to measure brand perception. A brand owner must measure the brand from the outside to truly understand how people view it. To do so, companies can try a variety of methods to gauge brand perception:

●       Track metrics in your target audience around your brand.

●       Use custom research among primary and secondary target audiences.

●       Conduct a brand audit on your company's brand perception against that of your leading competitors'.

●       Track customer sentiment through each stage of the purchase cycle, including information search, product evaluation, comparison research, buying decision, and post-buying feelings.

Brand perception is a critical part of your company’s marketing effectiveness. Getting a handle on it and putting your resources into knowing how to use it will help your company better plan its marketing campaigns.

4 Ways to Make Better Decisions With Marketing Data

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Effective digital marketing campaigns are built on data. Conversions, cost per click (CPC), traffic sources — with so many potential variables to analyze, it's vital to identify the data that is most important to your business. Data-driven marketing decisions can increase spending ROI and provide better, faster results. We've outlined four effective ways to make better decisions with your marketing data.

Use data to answer business questions. Where can we get the most value for our ad spending? How can we better reach our target demographic? By using marketing data to answer business questions first and provide insight second, marketers can speak the language of business with data-driven evidence. Individual statistics, such as the highest converting traffic channel or the lowest CPC ad campaign, work together to give insight into overall business goals.

Combine marketing and sales data for a complete consumer view. Remove the silos that separate marketing and sales data to form a clear view of the complete customer journey. Which traffic source produces the highest sales? Which ad campaign results in the lowest return rate? Data can tell the story of the customer's complete journey to product satisfaction, from the first ad view to a positive product review.

Use data to find new opportunities. Data can help you look outside your current campaigns for indications of new opportunities. Is there a surprising new source of traffic with high conversions? A new market may be revealing itself in your analytics data. After combining marketing and sales data, is there an ad campaign that produces high product return rates? Drill down on the advertising messages that resonate best with your customers. 

Make every marketing decision with data. Including data analysis as part of every marketing decision (rather than as an occasional addendum) ensures the process becomes a habit. Data-driven decisions can produce better, faster results than trial-and-error methods, and provide a mathematical basis for marketing campaign effectiveness.

A digital marketer has a mountain of analytics data at his or her fingertips. To use data efficiently and effectively, it's important to align your analysis with the goals of your business. From finding new business opportunities to increasing product satisfaction, marketing data has the potential to impact every facet of digital business.

5 Key Ways to Leverage Snapchat Marketing for Millennials

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It may not be Facebook or Instagram, but Snapchat has its rightful place in the marketing arena. This may be especially true when it comes to brands' engagement with millennials. From the app's simplicity and its easy integration with social media browsing to the appeal of its impermanent nature, Snapchat has captured millennials' attention for a number of reasons. That's why marketing to this generation via the app has so much potential. Here are five key ways brands can market to millennials via Snapchat.

Create Customized Geographical Filters

Millennials use geofilters to set their content apart from others. Brands can implement the same strategy to promote products and services, promotions, events, and location. Think of it as a step up from traditional text-based tagging. Geo-filters add more expressive content to snaps, giving viewers immediate access to your brand's activities and current location. Snapchat is the ultimate organic method for users to promote your brand to their followers, and a terrific way for users to become brand advocates within their networks.

 Exclusivity is one popular feature of geofilters. When Snapchat users activate location service on their smartphones, the app identifies if the user's location is within the boundaries of the geofilter. If it is, the user can apply exclusive geofilters based on location. As a result, content is more freely shared. Another popular feature is Snapchat's variety of geo-filters for streamlined customization.

 Here's where you can personalize brand messages and quickly get them out there to your followers, and to the followers of your brand's followers. There's also the success brands gain through sponsored geofilters. Remember, people trust the opinions and experiences of those they know, which makes word-of-mouth a powerful tool for targeted ads. This is the perfect opportunity to connect your ads to the user experience, which is what Snapchat's geofilters do best.

Taking Advantage of the Geofencing Feature

When you want your followers to be where you are, geofencing does just that. It tells Snapchat where a filter can be used geographically. When drawn right, your geofence gives the right audience access to your brand's filter. When promoting an event, for instance, your filter's exposure depends entirely on your geofence.

 Snapchatters snapping within the boundaries of your geofence are more likely to see and use your filter, post the snaps as stories, and expose you to their followers. Opportunities for engagement abound further if a user creates a geofenced story from your location. This will inevitably encourage others to add their stories, and to do so with your filter!

 To get the most out of this feature, consider these tips:

●       Ensure your filter is a minimum of 20,000 square feet, as 50,000 square feet is where geofencing tops out.

●       Avoid excessive use of circular points or shapes with small areas to ensure proper coverage.

●       Purchased filters aren't viewable, and an email usually follows once they're approved.

Placing Video Ads in Live Stories

With nearly 200 million daily users viewing about 10 billion videos per day, Snapchat paves the way to connect with millennials on a grand scale. Delight your audience by highlighting activities or events as a day in the life of your brand unfolds. If it's a captive audience you want, implementing video ads in live stories on Snapchat is the place to be.

 Your Snapchat ads can either be vertical video ads or full-screen, and last about 10 seconds. These are ideal to drive traffic to your site or to motivate them to watch long-form videos. Entice followers to interact with your brand, and encourage photo shares of the interaction or their use of your products. Promotions or contests are great incentive boosters to get engagement rolling. Say you decide to run a challenge each week for a few months; you can later repost the content in a Snapchat video story when advertising to expand your reach.

 What's more, video ads always play with sound. You want your following to pay attention to your brand, right? Why not generate video ads with a great audio track? Your following will not only watch, but also listen intently. There's even the option for users to drag the video upwards to see additional info, like entertaining content or informative articles.

 Also, the more your audience can relate to your brand, the better. Talk with your audience, not to them. Tell good stories, because more people are turning to video for stories than ever before. Keep things fresh and share news or customer videos with the latest industry happenings. Be casual, funny, and even a little silly. Snapchat is where brands get to foster endearing relationships with potential customers, so be real. The more you relate, the more you can sell.

Using Longer Videos and Direct CTAs

Snapchat makes it easy to link a snap to long-form media to quickly play when users swipe up. It's a great teaser for use in a 3- to 10-second snap to present a commercial or new trailer. Direct calls to action (CTAs) are strongly encouraged because Snapchat allows viewers to quickly act on ads. This, of course, is a more valuable commodity to marketers when results are key.

 When designing your video, take both the orientation and length into account. Why? Well, there's only a small window of time to make an impression. Besides, once the video is played, it disappears forever. Consider one of these two paths: Either create amusing or memorable long-form videos to impress in a limited time span or aggressively drive conversions to encourage viewers to take swift action. Mind you, the action is to invite a "Swipe Up" to follow your CTA.

Using Snap Ads Templates to Create Video Ads

Brands can also take advantage of Snapchat's gallery of templates to create compelling ads. The selection is diverse, and offers several options to dazzle viewers. There's even a wide range of customizations for animations and to have fun using various creative studio and design tools.

 Every template shows well, whether on mobile or vertical videos. Campaigns can always be managed manually if ad spend needs to be adjusted throughout campaign duration.

 Snapchat can prove to be the right medium for direct response marketing, especially for B2C marketers. To reap the rewards from its popularity, focus on its plethora of attributes to generate brand awareness. Brands simply can't go wrong with Snapchat, and will find it easy to create ads — and a lot of fun, too.

Refining Your Marketing Strategy with Google Analytics Data

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Google Analytics is a gold mine for marketers — a very large gold mine that can provide vast amounts of data to analyze. Breaking down that data and applying it to data-driven marketing decisions can have a big impact on business goals. We'll show you how to use the three main Google Analytics sections — audience, acquisition, and behavior — to identify your customers, discover what brought them to your company website, and understand what they do while they're there.

Google Analytics Audience: Who Are Your Customers?

The Google Analytics Audience section provides information about who your customers are — including basic demographics such as their gender, age, and location, as well as more detailed information including their interests, engagement, and accessing devices.

Audience data can confirm if your campaign is reaching its target demographic, as well as provide opportunities for growth. Marketers can use this information to identify the campaigns that produce conversions within a demographic and optimize advertising to deliver higher return on investment (ROI).

For example, a small, local boutique without e-commerce capability would only need to advertise to a local audience. An effective digital marketing campaign would optimize location data to increase views by potential customers within this single location.

Google Analytics Acquisition: Where Do Your Customers Come From?

The Google Analytics Acquisition section provides information about where your customers come from, whether it's organic search, referral, direct, social, or paid search, and how customers from each of those sources interact with your website.

Acquisition data can help identify the sources of your best customers. In this analytics section, each source is broken down by behavior (such as bounce rate, pages per session, and average session duration), as well as by conversation rate, number of transactions, and total revenue.

By breaking down each traffic source, Analytics offers the opportunity to focus marketing dollars and effort on the channels that produce the highest conversions. For example, a social media campaign may produce high traffic statistics but low conversion rates. This analytics section can help separate the effective from the ineffective and deliver higher campaign ROI.

Google Analytics Behavior: What Do Your Customers Do on Your Website?

The Google Analytics Behavior section provides information about how your website visitors interact with your website. How many pages do they typically view before leaving or purchasing? How much time do they spend browsing? Which pages are the most popular?

Digital marketers can utilize this information to develop more engaging content, improve website flow, or increase the number of events per session. Each of these improvements could result in increasing the overall conversion rate and improving marketing ROI.

By refining your digital marketing strategy with Google Analytics data, a savvy marketer can improve many aspects of the customer's online experience, as well as increase conversions and have an impact on your business's bottom line.

2018 Review - The Year in Digital Marketing

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Digital marketing had a tumultuous time in 2018. Technology moved into new areas for growth over the past year that affected the way we shop, communicate, and live. From the growth in artificial intelligence and automated voice systems to live video and changes in Facebook’s algorithms, it was clearly a year to remember in digital circles. Let’s take a closer look.

Facebook's News Feed Algorithm Changes

This year started with a shock when Facebook announced changes in its feed algorithm to promote more content from local news sources, friends, and family for “more meaningful social interactions.” Facebook also wanted to lessen the number of publishers’ news items in feeds, and the company may have wanted to thwart the rise of hackers and bots as well. Regardless, the January move by Facebook threw a wrench into marketers’ plans for the year, creating a period of adjustment. This link shows all of Facebook’s algorithm updates over the years.

AdWords Grew Into Google Ads

In mid-year, Google announced it was switching the nearly 20-year old brand “AdWords” to the simpler “Google Ads.” Google said the change reflected that its ads are all over the digital landscape now in web display and video ads, text and shopping, and even in app installations; ads are not just words on search platforms. Today’s web advertisers with Google can now run ads on Google’s search platform, on apps and websites, in Gmail, and on a variety of YouTube offerings. The name change represents a shift in digital thinking for marketers, and one that will likely pay big dividends to Google in the years ahead.

AI Technology Growth

Another huge trend in 2018 was the advancement of artificial intelligence (AI) technology by marketers across our data streams. Increasingly, companies are using smart systems, chatbots, and devices for more accurate customer segmentation and improved customer interactions.

We all contribute to the increase in AI when we personalize our recommendations on services like Netflix and Hulu. Other brands including Hilton, Levi Strauss and Co., and Nordstrom are using AI in chatbots to customize sales interactions with customers. Look for this digital marketing category to expand in 2019 and 2020.

Smart Speakers and Voice Search

In just two years, smart speakers have invaded our homes. Today, nearly 50 million Americans own a smart speaker, and that number will likely increase as people get more comfortable with sharing their living spaces with these devices.

Voice search is also growing fast. Web research firm Comscore predicts that more than half of all searches by 2020 will not be done by type or text but by voice. You are already seeing more people at work talking into their devices on search requests. It has become as commonplace as our desktop searches were a decade ago. Marketers will have to adapt to reaching consumers on smart speakers in the home.

Growth in Instagram Stories and Live Video Outlets

Another trend we saw in 2018 was the rapid rise in the use of live video and Instagram Stories. The number of users who create live video on their mobile phones and share with the world rose dramatically in 2018.

Google’s YouTube is the frontrunner in live video, dominating the amount of time spent by users watching video online.

The number of daily active users on Instagram Stories rose to some 400 million, Instagram reported in August. That’s from a universe of over a billion active monthly users. By contrast, Snapchat finished the third quarter with just 186 million daily active users.

Marketers are following those numbers, too. eMarketer noted that 86 percent of marketers use Facebook and almost 70 percent of marketers use Instagram. Only 28 percent of marketers use Snapchat. 

Personalizing the Consumer Experience

A growing trend in 2018 was the increase in personalization in many of our customer experiences. With our mobile devices and search immediacy, we are able to move quickly between purchase considerations and actual purchases. Increasingly, our expectations have risen across all our customer experiences. The winners will be those businesses that can deliver on the personalization process.

Marketers recognize this and have advanced to using SMS messaging, mobile apps, social media, and voice automation to personalize their communications with us as consumers. It’s a world in which we’re becoming increasingly comfortable, and we anticipate more of these personal customer journey touchpoints around us in the coming year.

3 Ways to Promote Your Business Using the New Year's Holiday

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During the holidays, consumers have the spending spirit. Americans' holiday spending in November and December (excluding automobiles, gasoline and restaurants) has risen between 4.3 percent and 4.8 percent in 2017, for a total change of between $717.45 billion and $720.89 billion. The forecast, according to the National Retail Federation, compares with an average annual increase of 3.9 percent over the past 5 years.

To capitalize on the expected spending frenzy this holiday season, you should consider these three ways to promote your business during New Year's: 

1. Position products as "resolution solutions."

A new year means a fresh start. As a result, many Americans make resolutions as a way to improve their lives or reach new goals.

While up to 40 percent of Americans make resolutions, just 8 percent actually keep them, according to the Huffington Post. Why not help more people achieve their goals this year? Market your product as a tool that helps people keep their resolutions.

Your product or service might help people lose weight, improve time management, or limit stress. Think of ways your company can sell ''resolution solutions'' during the new year. 

2. Have a "fresh start" sale.

 As a new year rolls in, many people have an ''out with the old, in with the new'' mentality. You can capitalize on this concept by hosting a ''fresh start'' sale. Maybe you're looking to bring in new products and need to clear out some of your old inventory. New Year's is the perfect time to do it.

Promote your sale on social media, hang in-store banners, and create postcards you can add to shopping bags as a reminder.

3. Create content that helps people start new habits.

Since consumers are looking to learn something new or focus on improving certain habits, you can create content surrounding that idea while subtly promoting your product or service. 

Content marketing is big right now. It costs 62 percent less than traditional marketing and generates three times more leads.

A company selling cookware, for example, might offer online cooking classes to help people learn something new. An investment company might create an eBook that offers wise investment tips for the coming year.

By using these three promotional ideas, you'll start your new year strong. Even hosting an impromptu New Year's sale or an online flash sale promoted via email can give your company a financial boost heading into 2019.