How People Use Smartphones for Shopping: Infographic

How Smartphones Are Used for Purchasing

From initial discovery to final purchase, smartphones now serve as purchasing tools.
The research below can be used to feed your mobile strategy, and even help you hone in on potential micro-moments that can be a tipping point to either purchase or exit.

infographic-04

infographic-mobile-12

Does your mobile marketing deliver an optimal experience to your customers and prospects? Is it giving them what they are looking for? Is content helpful, intuitive, and fast? Do all that, and you will be well on your way to becoming a necessary go-to resource for your customers. That will be bad news for your competitors.

Brand Performance on Social Media

Brands have a lot to learn about engaging on social.

A report from Sprout Social provides important information about brands and social media, especially how they could improve. They surveyed over 1,000 Facebook, Twitter and Instagram users to learn what brand social actions drive them away, and what entices them to follow.

Surprise. They seek relevance and authenticity.

  • 58% are annoyed with too many promotions by brands.
  • 1 in 4 respondents are annoyed when brands don’t respond to them. As Sprout points out, since only 1 in 10 brands actually do respond, that leaves a lot of disappointed brand followers (or maybe ex-followers) out there.
  • 35% find a lack of brand personality to be annoying.
  • 38% are turned off by the use of slang by brands.
  • 32% are annoyed when a brand tries to be funny.

In other words, a brand that is not clearly defined and authentically communicated is less likely to encourage followers.

Sprout recommends, “Instead of bombarding social feeds with stock images or forced copy, do the work: Identify your brand values, collect data, identify audiences and target your content accordingly. Additionally, pull together guidelines that steer clear of over-played phrases and stay true to your brand’s personality.”

Repeated Exposure is Important

75% of respondents purchased something because they saw it on social media. But 60% need to see a product or service 2-4 times before purchasing. So brands have to find a respectful and creative balance between promoting enough and crossing the line too much.

Is It Worth the Effort?

57% of respondents are more likely to buy if they are following your brand. In today’s digital world, brands have to be present where, when and how customers want them. Having good content and carefully managed promotions in the right social media channels, is one way to do that.

The Bottom Line

  • Success begins with a clear brand strategy and appropriate brand messaging.
  • Be prepared to commit the time and resources to create quality content.
  • Likewise, make sure you commit to responding in a timely way. Treat your followers as respectfully as you would treat your real life friends.

3 Secondary Research Resources for Better Decision Making

The difference between a smart business decision and a disastrous one can come down to whether you have the right information on hand.

Research and data is the lifeblood of great marketing. When conducting marketing research, you can go two ways: Either you gather primary research data, which is new information specifically collected for your immediate research needs, or you avail yourself of secondary research sources, which is data material collected by others and readily available in the public domain or for purchase.

The information you need may already be waiting for you.

While new and tailored to your needs, primary research can be costly and time-consuming. Moreover, you may be collecting data that is very similar or even identical to existing sources, making your efforts redundant. So it’s usually best to start with secondary data sources.

Advantages of secondary data:

  1. Far less expensive than primary data. Other companies may have already collected data that is available at no cost, or sold to you for much less than it would have cost you to.
  2. Fast and easy to obtain. Often, the data is sorted away on websites just a click away.
  3. Useful to design primary data research. With collected secondary research on hand as a basis, you can now build your strategy to collect what you need to complement your existing data.

Secondary data is quite valuable, as it can be used for purposes such as fact finding, model building, and database marketing. Your own company may keep internal records for sales, expenses, and customers which may be useful. To identify market trends, patterns and changes, tap into the many sources already available.

A few useful sites to gather information for all kinds of topics, demographics, and markets are the following:

US Census Bureau – 
census.gov
The principal agency of the US Federal Statistical System produces all kinds of data about our society and economy. With over 5,500 employees, you have a huge staff that gathers information and the ability to keep it current. Learn about the fastest growing counties or research income and poverty levels. Curious about US retail e-commerce sales as a percent of total quarterly retail sales for the last decade? A nicely compiled PDF will give you a compelling report.

Data.gov – 
data.gov
Managed and hosted by the US General Services Administration, this site is developed publicly on GitHub, an open source project where you can contribute. Not only will you find data sets, clearly marked with available file formats, but also news and articles that relate to all kinds of topics that pertain to our economy and life in the US. Topics such as manufacturing, health, finance, consumers, energy and many more topics are covered. Data sources are available in csv, html, xml, pdf, or zip format, depending on the kind of information produced. Thousands of data sources can also be narrowed down by state, county or zip code, making data.gov a very flexible search site to narrow down the information relevant to your needs.

Euromonitor International – go.euromonitor.com/passport.html
Euromonitor offers over 115 million standardized statistics from around the world for topics such as consumer goods, healthcare, and travel services. Whether you want to research an industry, consumers, or other economic topics, Euromonitor’s intuitive interface offers objective views into a variety of topics to gain global and local insights. Follow trends that impact business and make your strategic decision-making easier with readily-available data.

If you want to be successful in the marketplace, conducting research is vital.

Secondary research is often a way to begin, and these are just a few of the many sites to find valuable information to conduct marketing and business research. Leverage readily-available information from data sites to make your business more successful.

Is Your Business App-Savvy?

Apps aren’t just for games and social media any more.

This infographic shows that smartphone use should really be called “app-phone” use. Even though the major apps are listed here, there are endless opportunities for companies to engage customers with helpful apps.

infographic-01

infographic-mobile-09

 

Companies are finding all kinds of useful ways to use apps, from customer service and sales, to providing fast access to the team out in the field.

For instance, we recently developed an app that revolutionizes how medical practitioner certifications are maintained. We’re getting more and more requests from B2B businesses for app advice. How about your company, are you app savvy?

Two Faces for Facebook?

When is it appropriate to show multiple brand personalities in social media?

A client had an interesting question. Their events management business, based at a beautiful, unique location, hosts all kinds of events, from weddings to corporate meetings. They wanted to know, with these very different audiences, should they use one Facebook page to build the brand, or two separate pages which might not be as brand-centric, but would better serve the target audiences?

Opinions from digital marketing and brand marketing professionals varied. They generally had an immediate response, as though the answer were obvious, but their answers differed. Some said it should be one page, others said two.

The one-page argument pointed out that it puts everything in one place, is easier to manage for a team with limited time and budget to keep the page updated, and it would be easier to ensure optimal SEO. All practical considerations, especially for a small business. They also pointed out that if the brand were broken into two pages, it could cause people to pigeonhole them as only a wedding venue, or only a business events venue. Viewers would miss the complete story.

The two-page advocates admitted that it added management complications and would demand additional, precious man-hours to keep the content fresh. That’s especially challenging in a small business where people already wear multiple hats. They weren’t as concerned that people would only get half of the brand offerings if they only saw one page or the other. They pointed out that each page should reference the other with fresh updates for both.

Back to fundamentals: know your audience and speak their language.

The more complicated marketing gets, the more important it is to practice the fundamentals. In this case, that meant putting the target audiences first, and asking, “What’s important to our clients?”

An excited bride-to-be, searching for her dream wedding location, is not going to be inspired by a Facebook page that shows updates with pictures of pinstripe suited executives. Likewise, a business meeting planner will not be comfortable recommending a potential location to his boss if it looks like bridal bouquets will be flying through the air. Because these target audiences are so different, they demand a dedicated page for each segment.

Yes, this means more staff time invested in social media. But here’s the thing with social: it’s, well, social. Social settings demand certain appearances and behaviors. Most of us dress and talk differently in an important business meeting than we do for a Saturday evening cookout with the neighbors. Likewise, companies participating in social media, especially a personal channel like Facebook (as opposed to a professional channel like LinkedIn), need to consider the situation and participate accordingly.

Just as in real life, be socially appropriate for the situation.

Like real life, there is no perfect answer. Weigh your options, make a decision, and then monitor and measure. Remember, too, that you can always change it and try a different way. The beauty of online content is that you can test different tactics to learn what works best.

Research: Friend or Foe?

Oh come on—of course research is our friend.

But some folks (particularly creative types) think of market research as a dastardly plot conceived by zombie hordes of humorless quants on a mission to destroy everything that is vibrant and alive in creative commercial communication.

Why does anybody think this?

Well, one theory is that these people are full of themselves. If I may ascend my deluxe model hardwood soapbox for just a moment, allow me to emphatically declare (using my double-stitched, Corinthian leather megaphone) that any communicator with a license to write embraces research as a gift from the gods of marketing.

Good research does not kill good ideas.

To put it another way: If an idea seems promising at first, but then dies because research reveals that it would not resonate with the target audience—well, that idea deserved to die. Come up with another one!

Has it ever occurred that a genuinely brilliant idea got sidelined because a data-dazed researcher didn’t grasp the idea’s awesomeness? Yes, this has happened. And we in the creative community mourn those fallen concepts every single day, in a special ceremony we don’t tell anybody else about. So act like you never heard about this, because you’re not supposed to know.

But much more often, research provides the essential raw material from which interesting communications are crafted.

As Houdini knew, you do your best work in chains.

The restrictions that research can introduce to the process of coming up with, say, a brand idea or a web video aimed at a tightly-defined audience—these restrictions are, paradoxically, liberating. We’ve all heard of the proverbial blank page that has stricken terror into writers since the days of papyrus scrolls. Well, the blank page is scary because there are just too many ways to fill it up. The creative imagination considers the infinite possibilities, and freezes.

When a researcher says “See this conceptual direction? And this one? Don’t go there. It won’t work,” a wise ideator breathes a sigh of relief. Good! Now I’ve only got to deal with 2.2 billion possible ideas, instead of, you know, infinity.

Good research versus evil research.

There is one kind of research that yields poor results. This is the kind in which a moderator presents, say, a storyboard for a television commercial to a panel of 10 people rigorously selected for their unique ability to desire $100 plus free snacks. The panel is asked to analyze something they have never, in their time on earth, spent a moment analyzing. They are asked to respond to a crude approximation of a spot—represented by drawings and a script, perhaps, or maybe with assembled stock footage. We should not expect a woman who works at a payroll processing company to be able to imagine the emotions evoked by a powerfully directed video.

In my long career I have spent many hours behind the one-way mirror, observing the behavior of the Legion of Free Snackers. To be fair, much of what I heard was quite useful. Open-ended questions about a category or brand can reveal things about the target’s predilections that you might never have guessed. I recall, for example, attending a series of focus groups in cities across America, learning that even rich people sometimes stay at Motel 6, and they have their reasons.

But the same people who enlightened me about their motivations for choosing the plain-but-perfectly-fine motel were also presented with some radio commercials written by my talented friend and colleague, David Fowler. These spots went on to become the first of a now-legendary radio campaign that drove millions of customers to Motel 6, and which is still charming radio listeners decades after being conceived. It’s surely one of the most successful campaigns ever. And yet, in the context of a sterile focus group room—even though stocked with M&Ms aplenty!—the assembled commentators rejected the soon-to-be famous radio commercials. They didn’t like voice talent Tom Bodett, nor his unfunny (to them) observations.

Research shows I should end this blog now.

I could go on, and I will surely do so in another post. But my good buddies in research tell me your interest is probably flagging at this point. Am I bitter? A little. I would like to go on. But if I want you to ever pay attention to me again, I will abide by the advice of my data-obsessed colleagues.

The Black Hole of Content!

The internet has become a massive black hole of content.

Sadly, huge investments are being made in content that is just not being consumed. Beautifully created content is getting lost in cyberspace—dropped off on the side of the road in the most remote areas of the information superhighway, with no one around for light years. If you are developing content without a plan to promote it, this is exactly what you are doing: dumping your content into a black hole. Here are some tips to help shine a light on your content and avoid feeding the black hole with your wasted time, energy, and money.

Start by developing great content, then promote it.

 That means content that provides value and a unique perspective for your audience. Subpar content will disappear quickly into the black hole even if you promote it. But, having great content can get you only so far. After developing your content, you must take necessary steps to both gain some love from the search engines and to get it in front of the right people by promoting it across multiple channels. With over 88% of B2B marketers in North America cranking out new content as part of their marketing programs (Source: Content Marketing Institute/Marketing Profs), it is essential to have a strong game plan to get your content seen, and avoid getting lost in the informational abyss.

Here are 10 keys to keep your content from getting lost in space:

1. Wave to the Bots! Give yourself a shot with the search engine bots. Conduct keyword research to understand what your audience is searching for related to your topic. Make sure your page is visible and attractive to Googlebot and the other search engine crawlers by setting up on-page SEO with the appropriate title tags, headings, meta descriptions, and image alt attributes for your content. While there are a lot of factors that play into effective, modern SEO, it is still important to have a solid foundation of basic metadata for your content to help you get discovered online and keep the bots happy, so to speak.

2. Sell it in the SERPs. Create compelling, creative, and inviting page titles and meta descriptions to maximize your click-through rate on the search engine results page (SERPs). This is the copy that will show up for the user on the SERPs when the user is trying to decide which search result to click on. Think of the meta description as the ad copy for your page. Describe your page in a way that sells the content to the “customer”—which, in this case, is the search engine user that is looking for information related to your content topic.

3. Don’t be afraid to repeat your tweet. If you are posting a link to your content via Twitter you will want to schedule multiple tweets to promote your content since all of your followers will not be online at the same time. You can vary these posts with a different focus featuring a key quote, statistic, or question addressed in the content. Use the following posting schedule for Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook as a general rule of thumb.

  • LinkedIn:
    • Same day as post
  • Twitter:
    • On publish – Share Title/Topic, Link
    • Same day as post – Provide an interesting quote or stat related to the blog
    • Day after post – Pose a key, teasing question that is answered in the article
    • Week after post
    • Month after post
  • Facebook:
    • On publish
    • Month after Post

4. Pay to play. Unfortunately, the social media landscape is quickly becoming a pay-to-play venue. As algorithms continue to evolve it is increasingly difficult to get a lot of eyeballs on your info without paying to promote a post (even if you have a large following). Invest in boosted posts in a way that will get people to your content AND will also increase your future ORGANIC POWER. In other words, use boosted posts on Facebook/LinkedIn/Twitter to drive people to your content but also with a goal of increasing the followers and email subscribers. This is a marathon, not a sprint, but with consistent contributions you can continue to build a following and leverage their individual networks to expand your organic reach.

5. Images = Everything. To increase the “shareability” of your content, be sure to include engaging visual elements. Use quality custom images both in the content pieces as well as the social media posts promoting that content. There is a lot of visual noise in social media feeds, so consider what type of images will stand out and catch the eye of your audience.

6. Use network multipliers. Utilize networks of key team members in your organization as appropriate to expand your reach by sharing your content via social media, especially if your company presence on social media is young and immature. Encourage your team members to like and share your content only if part of their network would fall into your target audience. Also use hashtags (only a couple) in social posts that will help mark the content by relevant topic or event to expand your audience reach beyond your existing followers.

7. Go serial. Leverage the power of “To Be Continued” and create episodic, multi-part content to get return visits. Combine these parts and pieces to build powerful long-form content that will promote referral links from 3rd party sites.

8. Click-to-Tweet. Make your share-worthy content easier to share. Include appropriate/relevant social share buttons on your blog post page, and make it easy for those who want to share tasty bites of content, like a key quote or statistic from your article with in-context click-to-tweet buttons. You can find a number of “Click-to-Tweet” plug-ins available to make this easy to setup.

9. Keep your troops in the loop. Make sure you keep your loyal email subscribers up-to-date with your latest content. This is a group that raised their hand to say they are interested in what you have to say, so don’t leave them hanging. This may seem obvious, but it can get overlooked.

10. Captivate your captive audience. In addition to your email audience, keep your current website audience engaged by cross-linking between related content on your site. Feature new content with links on your home page, and provide cross-links to new content from related blogs, product pages, and service pages. Make this new content easy to discover for your website visitors. Connecting the content dots across your site will help get more views and shares on the new stuff, as well as provide an SEO boost with increased engagement on your site overall.

If you create beautiful, valuable content, give it a chance to survive out in cyberspace.

Strap some jet packs on those blog posts, infographics, and videos to make sure you get that valuable content in front of the audiences that need it, and avoid the black hole.

If you have any questions about how best to strap jet packs to your content, please give us a shout. We keep rocket fuel in the office.

Nielsen Media Consumption Updates

It’s long been predicted that TV and radio will lose a Darwinian battle to subscription on demand services like Netflix, Hulu, Pandora, etc.

The recent Nielsen Q1 2016 Total Audience Report indicates the media evolution trend is continuing, however broadcast—that’s TV and radio combined—is still the most powerful medium. For now.

TV and radio may not dominate the universe the way they once did, and statistics show they continue to lose share. But the chart below confirms their staying power as a resource to reach an audience. If you’re seeking to build awareness with the Boomer generation — who also have the deepest pockets — live TV still holds a 53% share of time spent. Combine TV and AM/FM radio (not streaming services), and you’re looking at 70% of a Boomer’s daily media consumption. Conversely, if your targets are 18-34, you’d best be paying attention to reaching them digitally and by subscription video on demand (SVOD). In fact, the average time per day spent on digital devices in this age group grew 74% in the last 2 years. But still, live television and radio claim a 46% share for the younger generation.

Somehow, AM/FM radio still hangs in there at 17%, though its audience skews older. 18-34 year olds spend an average of 10:19 minutes per day listening to radio, while 50-64 year olds top the average at 15:09.


So what does this mean for your strategic planning and your media commitments?

Broadcast is still a powerful tool to build awareness.That awareness gets translated to better engagement when customers seek your brand in digital mediums. But it’s more important than ever to be well informed, and to aim carefully before you fire off precious media dollars, because the landscape is shifting constantly.

The Bottom Line

When things get complex, applying the fundamentals of understanding how, when and where to reach your customers and prospects is more important than ever.

Google Gives Primacy to Expertly Written Content

Though the all-knowing algorithm remains under lock and key, Google’s Search Quality Guidelines were released less than 6 months ago. A cursory reading of these guidelines shows that Google now gives primacy to content written with higher levels of expertise. In short, the internet’s most powerful force is now behind skillful, authoritative writing that helps people more easily find the information they want. This is especially true in sensitive areas like medicine, finance, and healthcare, where the stakes for misinformation are higher.

More Expert Content

This is great news for us as internet users because we’re exposed to better and better content from more qualified sources. But no dynamic change is without resistance. Content farms—known for paying writers measly sums to generate loads of chiefly insufferable material—were undermined greatly by this change. It was also met with ire by flimsy organizations like Anti-Vaccine Movement, The Flat Earth Society, and Ken Ham’s Creation Museum, all of which claimed their voices were being stifled. Yet overall, Google’s new guidelines make for a better web experience with more respected voices now separated from the masses of chaff.

Lousy Content Brings Lousy Results

These changes confirm what Red Letter Marketing has stood for all along: valuable content that makes a difference for target audiences. There is still a plethora of false prophets in this territory, ready to sell you cheap and easy solutions to content marketing. Some have even recommended hiring a college student on the cheap to churn out blogs to keep your website content fresh. But the fact is, this won’t work, and is even less viable now than when it actually had some—albeit slight—impact.

The New Standard

Though more vital in fields like finance and healthcare, no industry is exempt from Google’s new E-A-T standard. This is the acronym for Expertise, Authority, and Trustworthiness. If you’re looking for information on air movement, Google is more likely to drive you to reputable sources like Dyson, Boeing, or Big Ass Fans. Though each of these companies operate in distinct industries, they have expertise in the realm of air flow.

Offering Valuable Content, Interestingly

What’s the lesson in all of this? Chiefly, you need to have an expert writer to produce your content, especially if content marketing is a main artery in your business development strategy. But industry expertise alone won’t cut it. You need to present that information in a way that inspires engagement. Hierarchy of information, scanability, and relevance all become significant elements in the presentation of content. You need to keep a reader interested, even excited about the content. Valuable information that’s poorly presented will drive visitors away faster than a toupee in a hurricane. It’s vital to keep your readers… well—reading. They want to leave the page feeling that you’ve provided something useful and accessible. If you’ve succeeded, they’ll remember, and are more likely to come back. If not, they may end up at a competitor’s site.

As marketers, we take content quality seriously. To do anything less is to disrespect readers, and consequently, customers. Because Google is now reviewing websites using the E-A-T standard, your site ranking is affected by the quality of your content. If you’re wondering how to create effective content marketing that gets the attention of both Google and customers, let’s talk.

RLM Marketing Madness: The Final Four

Last Update:  Tuesday, April 5

SEMrush are the 2016 RLM Marketing Madness Champions!

SEMrush capped an amazing tournament run with a buzzer beater upset victory over giants Google Analytics in the Finals of the RLM Marketing Madness Tourney!  After making it through the earlier rounds with impressive victories over social media superstars Sprout Social and Simply Measured as well as a tough win over rival Moz, SEMrush seemed destined to go all the way.  Thanks to all of the 16 great marketing tools that participated in the tournament.  We saw some riveting matchups this year and are already looking forward to next year’s tournament.

For a complete recap of the tournament action, follow RLM on Twitter and/or search for #MarketingMadness.

RLM Marketing Madness Final Bracket


 

Semifinal Results

@Sprout Social vs @SEMrush – SEMrush wins and advances to the Championship

@GoogleAnalytics vs @Optimizely  –GoogleAnalytics wins and advances to the Championship

 


Elite 8 Results Recap

Survive and advance.  That is what tournament time is all about, and it is no different for our 2016 RLM Marketing Madness Tournament.  After two intense rounds of marketing tool battles we are down to the Final Four!

Sprout Social enters the semifinal round riding high after escaping with a win over social media rivals Hootsuite in Round 2.  Optimizely is leaving a trail of marketing automation dust behind as it advanced with tough victories over powerful platforms Hubspot and Marketo.  In a difficult SEO matchup, SEMrush muscled out an impressive victory over feisty Moz to book their place in the Final Four.  And, in the final Elite 8 matchup, it was Google Analytics bouncing email marvels MailChimp from the competition to round out the Final Four.

The Final Four will tip off on Thursday March 31st featuring Sprout Social vs SEMrush in the first semifinal and Google Analytics vs Optimizely in the second semifinal.


Each match up was decided by a 24-hour Twitter poll.  The team with the most votes advanced to the next round.

For a complete recap of the tournament action, follow RLM on Twitter and/or search for #MarketingMadness.

The Madness Marches On! 

The Elite 8! Round 2 of RLM Marketing Madness

Round 2:  Elite 8 Matchups Set for Monday, March 28th!

Updated March 29

ROUND 2 SCHEDULE

1 @Hootsuite vs  2 @SproutSocialSprout Social advances to the Final Four!

3 @Marketo  vs  4 @OptimizelyOptimizely advances to the Final Four!

1 @Moz  vs  3 @SEMrushSEMrush advances to the Final Four!

1 @GoogleAnalytics  vs  2 @MailChimp  – Google Analytics advances to the Final Four!

After a whirlwind Sweet 16 round, we are down to 8 teams left in the 2016 RLM Marketing Madness Tournament. We have some amazing matchups slated for Round 2.  Social media superstars Sprout Social and Hootsuite face off to battle it out for a spot in the Final Four.  We will also see two SEO powerhouses, Moz and SEMRush, go head-to-head in the second round!  On the other side of the bracket heavy hitters Google Analytics will try to “convert” a victory over MailChimp.  Will MailChimp face a “hard bounce” from the tournament or will the team deliver and start “clicking” at just the right time? Rounding out the Elite 8, an Optimizely upset over Hubspot in the first round sets them up for another marketing automation matchup against Marketo in our final pairing.

MarketingMadnessAnnounce-Elite8

The Round of 8 tips off on Monday March 28th.  Each match up will be decided by a Twitter poll that will run for 24 hours from tip off.  The team with the most votes will advance to the next round. Make sure you follow the matchups on Twitter and place your vote for the marketing tool that you cannot live without!  You can also follow #MarketingMadness on Twitter to stay up to date with all of the tournament action.

Follow RLM on Twitter and #MarketingMadness to stay up to date on all the tournament action.

The Madness Marches On!