6 Ways to Better Engage Consumers in the Digital Age

As we've become more connected, we've drifted further apart. That might sound philosophical, but is a real marketing problem today. In 2018, your audience is more likely than ever to skim through your digital content without actually engaging with it, simply because they have so many digital channels to pay attention to.

Topics: content engagement digital marketing Marketing Strategy

The Latest Video Trends To Enhance Your Marketing Campaign

Social video took the inbound marketing world by storm as it was found that content with video was far more likely to be seen and widely shared. Just as content with images sees an increase in interest from your audience, adding music and cinematography to the mix engages your online audience on several levels. You can also convey a lot more information through a short social video than you can with text alone.

As long-form videos and video-interactions rise in popularity, metrics are finding that online audiences will spend more time with a video than with other content. And now, technology is allowing videos to actively engage your audience. While the how-to videos and social media interviews of 2017 are still going strong, brands on the cutting-edge of social media marketing need to keep up with today's video trends. Here are six of hottest ways to use video in your social media campaign right now.

1) Shoppable Video Content

Inbound marketing in all its forms focuses on turning passive content into an interactive experience. Links can liven up a blog, social media posts can spark discussions, and marketers have been exploring what video can unlock. One recent development has been shoppable video content, a way to allow viewers to immediately shop for products that appear in your videos. This can be done with clickable links embedded in your video, something possible with YouTube marketing, or links outside the video through other platforms.

Some marketers are experimenting with 'swipe to buy' on the Instagram and SnapChat platforms after viewers look at specific ads, something that can make their ads more interactive and neatly encapsulates their own call to action. Give your viewers ways to follow up on the content of your videos and to interact with the video itself if possible. Of course, shopping for products isn't the only possible interaction. No matter what you want your audience to do, invite them to engage through interactive videos.

2) Integrate Your Platforms

There are so many social media marketing platforms available today, and your potential audience is spread across all of them in various distributions. Twitter and Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat, not to mention the wide variety of chat and social applications used primarily through mobile apps. Your social video needs to be able to reach out to as many platforms as possible, preferably in a clean, automated fashion.

Make sure you're working with a cutting-edge and flexible social media scheduler that can add new platforms as they roll out, because trends are hot and the best platform for your content may not always be the same. Don't forget to adapt your videos for each style of platform. Some communities like their videos short and suite, some like them long and involves, some absolutely require on-screen subtitles. Know your audience and work every social video for everything it's worth.

Strategically re-using content has become the name of the game, especially if you want wide-spread impact with a reasonable flow of content. The best marketers figure out how to re-use good content year over year in order to keep their page-rankings and online resources fresh. Consider looking back through previously successful content and turning it into multi-platform video this year.

3) 360 Video Tours and Adventures

360 video is quickly becoming one of the most effective forms of marketing video in the business world. The interesting thing is that it's not at all like your traditional form of video. 360 filming is traditionally used to create a virtual reality space, a defined area that viewers can explore by moving from point to point and click-dragging their view.

360 video is filmed by placing a special camera in the space you want recorded and allowing it to take a picture in almost every direction around itself. This gives video viewers the ability to 'look around' and see how the location or event would look if they were really standing where the camera was placed.

For real-estate and static displays like a virtual showroom, you can keep the room exactly the same and move the camera from point to point, allowing the viewer to essentially 'walk around' the tour area. This works much in the same way Google Maps does, with points you can stand and look from. The real estate and auto industries have found a great deal of benefit from 360 videos in offering virtual close-up tours of products for distant or busy customers.

However, you can also film events with a 360 camera, allowing viewers to stand in one place, like a stadium chair, and watch a show play out in front or even all around them. This can offer viewers an incredible experience of live or staged events and can even be used for placing the camera in unusual places a person might never stand.

4) Go Live for Longer Views

Live video has been growing in popularity for several years. It seems like every social media marketing guide you read these days suggests going live, as if we all haven't heard it before. But new metrics are in. Live video continues to grow in popularity and viewers will spend more time watching your video if they realize it is a live feed. There is something inherently exciting about watching something play out in real time, and you can take advantage of that simply by shooting a few live videos a week along with your normal stages and carefully arranged social video content.

Your best bet is to put together a more casual video series with personable hosts who do interesting off-the-cuff activities. This significantly reduces the risk of live feeds by making 'bloopers' an expected and enjoyable part of the show. Anything from flubbed lines to messy spills are part of the 'behind the scenes' fun of a live broadcast. This is also a great way to deliver longer-form content because viewers will be engaged and motivated to watch the entire video.

5) Online Hangouts

One major thing that is changing about social video is its passive nature. Audiences want to engage more one-on-one or even in shared group chat than they simply want to absorb push-media. Millennials and the Gen Z teens behind them are happier talking to representatives, each other, and chatbots than watching filmed commercials and marketers are responding.

Rather than filling your feed with images and social video (or in addition to doing so), you can open up a video hangouts room and invite audience members to join you for a bit of Q&A or even just shooting the breeze with community managers. With good moderators, you can even invite key audience members to cam-up with you and become part of the show.

6) Don't Forget to Archive

The primary focus of social video has always been to capture interest in the moment. You want to catch the attention of bored people browsing social media or make people laugh so that they share your promotional joke with friends. However, it's also important to realize that you're building a cumulative experience. The best social video series will start to build inside jokes and references to previous work, but this can also leave new viewers out in the cold.

To counteract this, make sure there is always a handy link nearby to an organized video archive. This is not only a great source of reference-clicks for you, but it can also allow your viewers to go back and watch their favorite social videos of the past on your website (instead of a third-party host) and for new viewers to catch up on anything they missed. Archiving is good for SEO, good for user experience, and allows you to easily call on content you've used in the past.

Social video is a constantly evolving medium for marketing and your team needs to be on their toes to keep up. With the right attitude and tactics, you can easily keep pace with the latest interactive video trends. In fact, you might even think up the next big thing. For more tips on how to build your local business marketing campaign, contact us today!

How to monitor social media in less than 10 minutes per day

Topics: inbound marketing strategy Inbound Marketing digital marketing social media marketing

Digital Marketing Strategy: Getting Earned Media By Using HARO

Since the dawn of commerce, businesses have tried to find ways to spread the word about their products and services. From sword smiths leaving their mark on a blade so everyone knows who forged it, to ancient Romans getting popular gladiators to endorse their products, the struggle for exposure and attention is not new by any stretch of the imagination. However, in the Age of The Internet, we have tools that previous generations would never have dreamed of. With the push of a button, we can send a message that will be seen by thousands (and in some cases, millions) of potential customers. We can instantly reach customers from the other side of the globe, and in many cases, we can send products to them in a few weeks (or a few days, in some cases).

The best strategy going forward, though, is not to simply depend on modern technology to miraculously deliver the results you want. Instead, you need to combine these tools with tried-and-true methods in order to generate the best possible results for your business.

One of those older methods is called earned media, and it can be a lifesaver for your business.

What Is Earned Media?

The short answer, according to HubSpot, is that earned media is any publicity created and owned by a third-party that you did not pay for. This includes customer reviews (the good ones and the bad ones), bloggers writing about your products, newspaper and magazine articles that reference your business, or even interviews for television. Anything that gives you publicity, and makes your business more visible, is earned media as long as you don't pay for it.

If you pay for publicity, whether it's putting ads in a newspaper or getting a paid review from a popular blog, that's called paid content. If you publish content on a channel that you control (your website's blog, your YouTube channel, etc.) that doesn't count either.

Why Is Earned Media Such A Big Deal?

When was the last time you actually stopped to listen to an advertisement? Whether it was a commercial on the radio, a pop-up ad on a website, or a full-page spread in a magazine, did it even register on your consciousness? Or did you see it, recognize it as someone trying to sell you something, and immediately block it out?

That's what makes earned media so important; it's seen as impartial (and thus more trustworthy) by people who come across it. Whether it's the 5-star Yelp review of a restaurant that goes into detail about how attentive the staff were, or your program making a popular tech blogger's top 5 apps of 2018, readers are going to trust those sources. Because those third-parties stand to gain nothing if your business makes sales, or gets more customers. So your earned content is, in this case, getting an endorsement that people will actually listen to.

Where HARO Comes Into It

HARO (which stands for Help A Reporter Out) was originally started as a Facebook page by Peter Shankman. The goal, according to Forbes, was to create a place where journalists, bloggers, and other writers could post daily PR opportunities that anyone could respond to. This allowed writers (the third-parties that we talked about earlier) to get put in touch with companies, experts, and others looking to grow their audience. So whether reporters needed to hear from diet professionals, gardening entrepreneurs, restaurant owners, or tech gurus, HARO allowed them to make those connections.

HARO eventually grew much too large to operate as a Facebook page, though, which is why Shankman moved it to its own website at Help A Reporter Out. Currently, it's the most popular English-speaking sourcing service on the Internet, which is no mean accomplishment. Especially when you consider there are over 55,000 bloggers and journalists on the site, and over 800,000 sources.

And, if you sign up as a source, then you can get in on this action absolutely free of charge. So the next time a reporter is looking for sources to put in their article, say for Forbes, The New York Times, or Newsweek, your business can be the one quoted (and more importantly linked) in the article.

5 Tips For Getting The Most Out of HARO

If you join HARO (which you definitely should), you've taken the first step toward making yourself a useful source for thousands of journalists out there just waiting to give you and your business a boost. Once you've joined, you'll receive a few emails a day, each with pitches from reporters. The pitch will tell you what the reporter is looking for, as well as how to contact them.

So what do you do now? Well...

Tip #1: Narrow Your Search

When you subscribe to HARO, you are automatically added to the master list. Unfortunately, that means you are inundated with requests from all across the spectrum, and that can quickly get overwhelming. Instead, take To The Wild's advice, and join different lists. By going into your account preferences, you can join more specific lists, which will ensure that the pitches that show up in your inbox are going to be relevant to you, and to your business. This saves you a lot of time, which is important because...

Tip #2: Respond Quickly

Reporters operate on deadlines, and when it comes to which sources make their articles you often wind up with a first-come, first-quoted basis. That's why it's important to note when HARO sends out its list emails and to make sure you dig through them as quickly as you can. Because if you put it off till after lunch, chances are good that a dozen other people have already answered, and now you're the equivalent of the fifth page of Google search results. The reporter might seeyou, but your chances of getting name-dropped and quoted have fallen dramatically.

Tip #3: Respond Completely

When a reporter is looking for information, the worst thing you can do is write them an email that says, "Hi, I'm Mr. John Jacobs, and I run Tech Gurus incorporated. Please contact me, and I'll be happy to give you any information I can."

Reporters aren't just on a deadline; they're busy. Any response from you that requires them to put in more work is going to be ignored. So don't make them hunt you down to get quotes, or to interview you to get your expertise. That's not how this works. Instead, read their pitch carefully, and make sure you understand what they're looking for. If you've published content on the subject they're asking about, then send them links to those, along with pull-quotes from you, information about who you are, and how you can be contacted.

Treat the pitch as if it were a question. Give the reporter everything they need and gift-wrap it with a pretty bow. If you do that it will save them time, reduce the amount of effort they have to put in for research, and it makes your response a lotmore likely to be the one they give a shout-out to in their article.

Tip #4: Establish Your Bona Fides

Perhaps the most important thing, according to eLife Tools, is to establish your bona fides to the reporter you're reaching out to. Because if you send out a request asking for help regarding the latest developments with the large hadron collider, who are you going to listen to? Someone with a Ph.D. in particle physics who has been keeping close tabs on the experiments being done? Or some guy who lives in the middle of nowhere that's never been to college?

Sure, that second person might have an equally factual grasp of the situation, but when in doubt, reporters tend to rely on experts. So if you want to be taken seriously by the reporters you respond to, it's important to make sure you give them your bona fides. Because you are a lot more likely to get quoted and linked if you are someone with a decade of experience in the field,or someone who has worked first-hand with the subject in question, than if you just give someone your name and email address.

Tip #5: Be Unique

If you want to get noticed, then you have to make your response stand out in some way. As an example, you should make sure your email subject line reads like the title of an article; intriguing, and hooking the reporter's attention. Additionally, make sure the information you provide is unique, and when possible, detailed in ways that most aren't likely to report. Because if you are giving the same answers that everyone else is, then there's no reason to pick your response over anyone else's. If you present unique information that no one else provided, though, then you are much more likely to end up in that reporter's final submission.

As a word of warning, though, unique must also be useful. If you're highlighting your text in odd colors, using eye-catching font, or using some other kind of trick, then that is a gimmick. Avoid those at all cost, because substance is what is going to get you noticed.

For more information on how you can get earned media, and other forms of marketing success, simply contact us today!

Topics: digital marketing Marketing Strategy

How to Turn Good-Fit Posts into Great Fits for Stronger Inbound Marketing

Inbound marketing is all about being there when your target market needs you. Instead of being interruptive and sending consumers advertisements when they have no interest in your solutions, inbound marketing lets you be ready and waiting for customers at any stage of their buyer's journey. 

Topics: Inbound Marketing Marketing Strategy

How to Give Your Site a Strong SEO Foundation with a Web of Great Content

When you start your business blog, it can feel impossible on what to write first. Eventually, you and your content creators will hit a good stride. But then, once you run through your first list of brainstormed ideas and breaking news, there will be a lull. It can seem like you've written everything there is to be written about your business's core services. 

Topics: Content marketing Writing succesful content content engagement

3 Ways You Lose Money If You Don't Know Who's Reading Your Content

There are two main types of money loss your company can face. The first is by not reaching new audiences fast enough to get the revenue they represent. The second is by incurring expenses you don't need. 

Topics: Content marketing social media marketing marketing campaign

2 Key Factors That Make Your Social Media Posts Sink or Swim

Social media has been in the news recently, and not in a good way. If you haven't developed a robust social media strategy, all of the recent controversies about data and fake accounts might make you leery about getting started. But social media is still one of the most under-utilized marketing avenues. The earlier you start reaching out to customers and your target market across multiple channels, the stronger your brand grows. 

Topics: social media marketing social media marketing strategies

Social Media Marketing: Tips to Get More Followers On Twitter

Twitter is definitely a numbers game. In fact, the goal is to have as many followers as possible. The thought is that the more followers that you have, the more likely your content will be seen. Most people follow everyone that follows them.

Topics: digital marketing Twitter Twitter marketing social media marketing

5 Clever Ways to Boost Your Local Marketing Campaign

Marketing a large online business is the norm. Almost all digital marketing guides assume you are some big or growing brand focused mainly on some form of e-commerce service. The tactics are all also nearly identical. Use Google Ad Words, competefor global keywords, and try to get ahead in the page results game. Local marketing, however, is different. While you are still reaching out to your audience through online means, you have a far greater variety of opportunities to spice up your campaigns and specifically target the people who matter most: your own community. Local marketing has the potential to be much more interesting, creative, and engaging than traditional digital marketing because you are weaving the digital experience into a personal experience as well.  

Topics: digital marketing marketing strategies Marketing Strategy

Email Marketing: 2 Must-Use Email Sequences that Will Keep Your Audience Clicking

Your subscriber list is the most important asset your business has.

It matters more than your products because anything can be sold online. It matters more than your services because nobody's services are unique. It even matters more than your selling process. If you had to start from scratch and you could only take one thing from your business, it should be your subscriber list. Everything else is reproducible.

That's why social media sites and websites, in general, can be sold for far more than the actual sales and advertisement profits seem to warrant. The sales aren't about the actual online infrastructure, even if they have unique algorithms or progressive learning bots. It's about the data and the brand: websites come with a prepackaged list of people who trust the brand, and that's valuable. Whether the buyer is after readership, influence, or eventual profits, they need a list of people who are ready to convert from leads to customers. 

Why does a mailing list matter so much for your business?

Just like mass media conglomerates want those terabytes of categorized consumer data, data feeds your business, too. Starting with cold customer traffic is expensive. The majority of your online visitors won't become subscribers, let alone paying customers. And that's okay, so long as they aren't consuming any finite resources. You don't want to spend too much time and attention on people when you won't recoup your marketing and content creation expenses.

But once people subscribe to your company's content, they're much more likely to make a purchase. Giving up their email address is a huge hurdle, and it means they trust your company to both not be a liability and to be valuable. The gap between them giving you no information and giving you their email address is much wider than the gap between giving up their email address and typing in their credit card number. That's one reason. 

The second reason is that you can now start to build profiles for your high-value leads. Your automated emailing system can curate content based on their history of opened emails. They can select which mailing lists they want to be part of. You can give them more and more targeted value so, when they have a problem that needs a paid solution, they think of your company first.

But getting them to subscribe is only the first step. You have to keep providing relevant, valuable content that gets them invested in your brand. Even a single misstep could result in an unsubscription. That means you need email strategies that will keep people clicking on your emails. 

Here are two:

1. Build routines with email-based courses.

People like learning information, especially if it isn't hard. Even just signing up for a course makes people feel more successful and accomplished or like they're gaining momentum on their goals. But most people also won't go back to a site to continue those courses, especially if the content is spaced out over weeks. That's why the email course format is so successful: the content is sent to them. There are fewer friction steps. 

Email courses are particularly adept at getting past people's refusal to give out their email address. 

  • They are numbered. Whether you have a five-email course or a thirty-email course, that number means people know to expect your emails. The emails have been invited into your lead's inbox and their day. Even if you offered the same content through a general newsletter, the course would be better received just because it was expected.
  • It's not a quid pro quo arrangement. Internet users know the general idea behind mailing lists. They give you their email address and, in exchange, you give them good content. The deal is settled and no debts are owed. But an email course is different. You're not asking for their email address as part of some sort of exchange. Email is just the best mechanism for the course, and giving you their mailing list is to their benefit. In the shadowy world of favors owed and consumer psychology, you still aren't square. That means your calls to action have a bit more power.

Email courses are also a great format overall. Educated consumers are better consumers because they feel more comfortable making purchases. If they're familiar with whatever tool or product you're selling and they know how to make use of it, there are fewer barriers to buying it. Even better, you've set yourself up as a reliable teacher. Your brand now carries authority.

2. Automate your drip emails so your emotions aren't involved.

Email sequences aren't just a series of email you create ahead of time so you have something to sed every week. They're a system of marketing that should be fully automated. Once you write the emails, set a schedule or a decision tree and walk away. 

A good reason to automate emails is that you're going to be busy. The fewer manual clicks and processes you have to operate, the better. But the main reason to automate your email sequences is that cold emailing is emotionally draining. 

A lot of your emails won't be answered. A lot of the follow-up emails you send to those same prospects won't get answers. When you're the one clicking send, you might think "What's the point?" and stop sending them. Or the fatalism of clicking the button and expecting silence will carry on throughout your day. 

With automation, you don't know who isn't answering every time there's silence. Sure, you'll see the percentages in a report, but that's different than frequent, daily reminders that people are ignoring you. The same is true with unsubscriptions. You don't need an alert every time a lead becomes a former lead. So automate the process and get on with your day.

No matter what email sequences fit your business, it's important to have a plan. A plan keeps your emails on schedule. It makes you create content that matches your customer personas. Even better, it keeps you buoyant when your emails are initially met with silence. Go to BOLD Worldwide here to start building email sequences and a strong reputation that will convert your prospects into leads and your leads into customers.

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Topics: Email Marketing email strategies