New year, New plan: Resolve to revamp your strategy in 2013

I’m not always one for resolutions, but this year sees more reasons for change.  In 2012, we saw what a major role social media and digital strategy played in the presidential election – many people have gone on the record to say that one of the primary reasons for Romney’s defeat was the lack of an integrated digital campaign strategy.  Regardless of whether that’s true, it speaks to the profound implications that an effective social media strategy might have on your business.

So this year, I’ve decided to make it my personal resolution to help impress the importance of a digital strategy on our Orlando ad agency clients, as well as all of our friends in the advertising and marketing world.  It can be difficult to keep up with all of the new trends and ideas.  Two years ago, daily deals were the future of Internet marketing, while today, businesses like LivingSocial and Groupon are tanking.

This is why we consider it essential for businesses of all sizes to reassess their digital strategy to help grow their businesses through marketing in 2013.  Our Orlando marketing agency strives to provide our clients with successful digital marketing strategies on budgets of any size.

Our first tip is to remember to invest in marketing, but know how to do so wisely.  Generating a flashy marketing campaign won’t be worth the effort if the product can’t stand on its own.  We encourage you to work with a strategist or consultant who truly understands the intricacies of successful digital media.  Companies that have taken the plunge to invest a few dollars in professional marketing typically see high returns for the money spent.

Next, companies should invest resources in learning how to leverage social media.  As we’ve noted in the past, a college student might not be the best person to run your social media platform.  Smaller companies can resolve to use social media to their advantage, encouraging people to Tweet at them for the opportunity to win new products or encouraging them to share information in order to receive discount promo codes.

Finally, and most importantly, we urge you to resolve to continue to consider the end user.  Sure, you want to sell products, but think of the ways that your company might alienate users when you constantly send emails, overselling them on products or services that they might otherwise love.  While we’re not telling you to that marketing strategy is completely organic and reliant upon word-of-mouth, we do encourage you to carefully seed your strategy, and to allow it to take off from there.  Carefully review customer data to find out what people love about your brand, and use that information to develop plans that speak directly to your customer.

Above all, resolve to create a brand strategy that puts your customer first, thereby empowering you to extend your company’s resources to create the solid foundation for an invigorating digital strategy in the new year.

Check out some of the digital marketing and engagement campaigns we’ve done for our clients. We’re pretty satisfied with our work, no bragging needed.

The Write Way: Six tips for better email marketing

In some ways, email marketing is a necessary evil.  It’s a cheap and efficient way to reach all of your former customers, colleagues, subscribers and anyone else that’s randomly ended on your list.  It’s today’s version of direct mail marketing—only worse, in that it’s so cheap that nearly every company in existence can afford to do it.

If you find your company’s marketing emails struggling to distinguish themselves from that Nigerian prince who keeps asking you to send him money, then perhaps its time to reevaluate your email.  Here are some tips to help you pack the most punch with a single message:

KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid):  You may have the urge to pack your email full of stories, articles and news in order to make sure the subscriber knows everything.  But edit your message, and think about what the reader sees… does he really need to know that your friend’s mother’s brother saw Les Miserables and thought it was “pretty good?”  Cut out all of the extraneous information and focus on the important selling points.  If you want to offer news and about your company (and you probably do), offer short snippets and link out to full web pages and blog posts that explore the information in more detail.

Make the Email Part of the Marketing: Are you in the business of design, yet for some reason you send text-based emails?  In doing this, you dilute your message of innovation, no matter what types of services you provide.  However, it is important to note that some companies tend to stick to tech because some email applications, such as Gmail.com, do not automatically show images.  Account for this by naming your images accordingly so that the picture titles show up automatically, and do so in a manner that helps prompt people to click the option to open all emails from your given email address in the future.  Then, you can focus on ways to integrate your brand identity with your email design.

Use Catchy Subject Lines: This may seem obvious, but it’s surprising how many emails I get on a daily basis with titles like “January Newsletter” and “Blog Update.”  Unless these are from companies I rely on to provide me with relevant information, I immediately delete these kinds of messages.  Think carefully about what your readers want to hear about – is it a sale? A giveaway?  Maybe a piece of advice you know they’ll use?  If possible, come up with something catchy and use it as a lead-in to your email message, which will lead to significantly higher open rates.

Include a Call to Action:  If you’re able to get your reader to read through your newsletter, bulletin or sale information, why not use the opportunity to encourage them to also “like” your Facebook page or follow you on Twitter?  In doing so, you can get double the impact out of your email message.

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A call to action? You don’t say? Since we’re on the subject, why don’t you go ahead and like our Facebook page and follow us on Twitter. You’ll be glad you did.

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Optimize Your Email for Mobile:  This seems like a no-brainer, but so many companies these days still haven’t fully latched on to the fact that millions of Americans use their phones as their primary source of email viewing.  People check from their phones or tablets early in the morning to see what they missed overnight, and they continue to check throughout the day when they are away from their computers.  If people can’t see your messages, those messages will likely go down the tube into oblivion with thousands of other jumbled emails that people like you and me see daily.

Avoid Spamming Your List: Email glut is a reality these days.  In writing and sending emails, remember that you are asking for a piece of your subscriber’s time.  If you fail to offer interesting and informative information, your potential customer will hit unsubscribe faster than you can check your inbox.

Email lists are extraordinarily valuable to businesses of all sizes, and it is important to remember that every email is a potential sale.  Use the kind of courtesy in a marketing email that you would in a friendly email.  Our Florida marketing agency is certain that if you use these tips, you’ll notice immediate returns.

Want to launch a mobile app? Ask yourself these questions first

Mobile apps are all the rage.  There are literally thousands of apps in the iTunes app store, with more and more created every day.  You have an idea for how you think you might be able to grow your business through a mobile app, but you’re not entirely sure.  However, since everyone else is doing it, it must be the thing to do… right?

Not necessarily.  Lots of media companies that have developed complicated apps have watched them go bust as they find out that their subscribers, followers and readers aren’t necessarily interested in getting their information from a mobile app.  If you’re thinking of creating one for your brand or business, the team at our Orlando marketing agency thinks you should ask yourself these questions first:

Am I providing a service that no one else is providing?

While this question won’t hold true across the board (the New York Times app is always going to be able to compete with the CNN app), many apps fail because they are providing a service similar to, if not identical to, a service that’s already being provided.

[quote]Want to check out a success story in the mobile app market? BIGEYE teamed up with The Daily Mom to develop a unique and sophisticated app that reached the Top 25 Downloads Position on iTunes. [/quote]

Recently, someone turned me on to a new local neighborhood app.  The problem was, everything on the app is also available on Yelp, Google Maps and a variety of other platforms.  What would be the point of having another app to clutter my home screen?  I would advise that developer to pivot as needed to ensure that he is not duplicating something already in existence.

Will a mobile app provide features that a mobile optimized web page can’t?

If it takes a person as many steps to sift through your mobile app as it does for them to directly access your website, then it may be wise for you to save your money and focus on mobile optimization.

Along the same lines, it’s important to consider whether your app will add anything to current marketing efforts.  I overheard an individual at an independently owned media company say that his company had to kill its mobile app, as it was a waste of resources for them.  Why?  Because people were discovering his company’s content through social media links and email marketing, making it unnecessary for his email subscribers and social media followers to take the extra step to download the app.

Is this the best use of my budget?

A strong mobile app can cost a small fortune to develop, particularly if you’re trying to trying to do something innovative that’s never been done before.  But, it’s not just the cost of creating a mobile app – it’s the cost of maintaining it and continually feeding it content.  It’s also the costs to keep it up-to-date with the newest technologies, in order to offer advanced features.  In the first stages of an app, these items are crucial, as no one is interested in downloading an app that will only cause problems and headaches.

[quote]Once you’ve answered these hard-hitting, bottom-line questions, it’s time to determine whether your company or brand really needs a mobile app. [/quote] At our Florida advertising agency, we believe that in the future, mobile apps will be a necessity – but that it certainly isn’t the case today.  As of July 2012, only 55.5% of U.S. mobile subscribers owned smartphones, though this is sure to change in the coming years.

What are your favorite mobile apps and why do you remain loyal to them?

Still interested in creating a mobile app? Check out the web & mobile services we have to offer.

How content marketing will revolutionize brands in 2013

You know how those banner ads flash across your screen on just about every single web page in existence?  Well, they’ve been pretty much unchanged since 1995.
Inc. reported last month that content marketing is the wave of the future as part of its series on How (and Where) to Make Money in 2013 (and Beyond). And your friends at your favorite Florida advertising agency just want to say…

Duh!

Earlier this year at an industry conference, I heard from a range of speakers who suggested that if brands are treating themselves as media companies, they are going to fall behind.  As the traditional media outlet dies, branded content will reign supreme.  And, while there’s always going to be a place for hard-hitting, unbiased journalism, branded content is really just an extension of television networks that make money by selling relevant ad time during popular television shows.

Perhaps this is a bit confusing for some people.  But the Internet made it possible for brands to independently establish media companies as part of their digital identities, outside of the confines of the Viacom empire, NBC Universal, CBS, Disney, ABC or the stronghold of Rupert Murdoch.  In this digital world, brands no longer have to rely on such media companies to push their content – they can create their own.  Hence, branded content is taking the place of “traditional” media.  One example is The Zoe Report, a lifestyle blog from celebrity stylist Rachel Zoe, which tracks back to her own commerce site.  The Zoe Report also soups ups your inbox with daily tips and deals to subscribers’ inboxes, which leaves her with a solid email marketing platform to boot.

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Speaking of creative blogs, check out the rest of our blog posts! Be prepared to be inspired.

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Escape My Life, a web series from Ford Escape, stars comedian Natasha Leggero, perhaps most notable for her stint as a judge on NBC’s Last Comic Standing.  In a sense, it’s like an extended commercial, but the story drives the content and keeps it interesting with humor.

Does it still seem so far-fetched that content marketing is the wave the future (or even the present)?  [quote]Digital content is relatively inexpensive to make, and doesn’t have the added shipping and printing charges of direct mail marketing.[/quote] Companies who engage in content marketing have the power to reach millions of people, and can keep them coming back for more.  Marketers can reach out to people using tools as varied as Facebook to Reddit.

Even with items as simple as sponsored posts on already-popular websites such as Gawker counts as content marketing, which is the younger sister of the sponsored pull-outs you see in major newspapers across the country.  Many times, there is little difference between the type of content that the publication would typically publish and the sponsored content. Conversion Planet is vying for the top space in this growing digital field, with real-time content and analytics that help measure success.

Marketers can latch on to this field by developing interesting content strategies that involve text, blogging, social media and video content. Our Florida marketing agency encourages your team to develop an integrated content strategy this year in order to help solidify your team as leaders your field, and to keep people coming back to you for more.

7 tips to improve the impact of your business emails

Inbox overload is a real problem.  Each day, intersparced with the emails I get from Groupon, Amazon.com and Zappos about new products and flash sales, I receive long business emails from potential associates and partners.  Sometimes, there’s just not enough hours in the day to go through all of it.
So, I’ve compiled a list of patterns that I’ve noticed in the Florida advertising agency world that almost always trigger a response to business emails.  Because of the nature of my work, I might be dealing with a marketing executive with limited time, or with a overwhelmed assistant.  Here’s what you can do to help improve your business emails response rates.

Make Your Subject Line is Straightforward: If you’re trying to confirm a meeting, it’s incredibly important to include the name, time and location in the subject line.  First of all, this is much clearer to your colleague than a general subject line like “today,” plus that person can flag it to easily access it.  Also try this when scheduling phone calls and providing notice of events.

Make Sure It’s Important:  If you’re asking for feedback on a project that you should be able to handle yourself, then perhaps you can save your superior some time by exercising judgment. [quote] In this present landscape of agile techniques, many companies would rather their employees take risks up front, rather than have to wait months to get anything completed.[/quote]  Yes, there is the risk that your superior or colleagues won’t approve, but they’ll forget all about it once you’ve earned them a goldmine.  The simple realization that your coworkers’ time is valuable should be enough to help determine when you need a response, and when you don’t.

Respond on the Right Thread: You have two dialogues going on with the same two people; one is about your annual contract renewal and budget, while the other is about a small party you’re hosting.  Keeping information organized by replying on the right chain will eliminate the need to have to sort through a hundred emails trying to find the name of the restaurant the client recommended for the event.

Use Proper Grammar and Spelling: Conversational style is ok, but if u r wrting emails w/typos, it can b rly annoying 4 the rdr!  u c what I mean? its not hard. thx.

Keep it Brief:  Have you ever spent three paragraphs writing something, then realized you could say the same thing in one sentence?  Do your reader a favor and revise your message to be clear and concise.  A text-heavy email WILL get buried in my inbox, regardless of how important it is.

Ask a Question:  If you’re expecting a reply, make sure there’s something to reply to.  It’s easy to write “Thoughts?” but if you have specific concepts you’d like your colleague to address, why not save that person time by ask him directly?  Asking questions is a smart way to get your reader’s input, and also to also gauge your reader’s interest in the subject matter.

Make Attachments Easy to Open: This seems like a no-brainer, but every time someone shoots me a resume in an unrecognized file format, it’s enough to make me forget about that person during hiring time.  You can’t go wrong with a PDF, which stands for “Portable Document Format.”  PDFs were specifically designed to be universal, and anyone on any computer with internet access can download Adobe Reader.

Follow these tips, and I can ensure you’ll have a heightened response rate.  I encourage the team at our Florida marketing agency to implement these strategies… which is why I ALWAYS reply to my team members’ emails!

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Don’t know much about our Florida advertising agency? Check us out. You’ll be happy with what you learn.

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Your business’s missing link: Using LinkedIn for more sales

It’s a dusty collection of business cards you have over there, isn’t it?  You met what’s-his-name at the who’s-he-what for that startup thingy you can’t remember… right?

LinkedIn exists to help people find jobs, but it also survives as a networking tool to help people meet and remain in contact with potential business associates.  Your network is who you know, but those people might be connected to the businesses and business owners you WISH you knew.  LinkedIn can help you reach out to the people who can truly make a difference.

For example, a designer friend of a friend at our Orlando marketing agency wanted to sell his products online at a particular website, which he thought was a good match.  He reached out to a sales planner at said website through the mutual friend, and less than a month later, the site was carrying his products.  If that designer were to successfully do this with ten retailers, his business could grow tenfold.

Many people think networking is about passing out business cards and being able to drop some fancy jargon and a bit of understanding about the state of the industry.  If only it were that easy!  Real business thrives on relationships and opportunities.  And, friends-of-friends can be easy starting points to expand your inner circle.

[quote]LinkedIn may be the missing link in the chain of relationships that will help drive your company’s growth.[/quote]  If you want to use LinkedIn to improve sales, try some of the following ideas:

Ask Yourself Some Bottom-Line Questions:  Who are the people who you think may be able to help you?  How do you think these contacts might be able to help you?  What’s in it for them?  Addressing these primary questions will help you formulate a pitch.  If you’re blindly messaging your contacts and trying to get in touch with theirs, then it will come off as insincere, and may even hurt your chances of growing your business.

Create a Strategy: Once you’ve figured out the answers to the questions above, formulate a strategy for reaching out to the most valuable contacts with the least amount of time and effort.  Remember, if you run a small social media start-up, the CEO of a major brand may not be the best person to help your business.  Perhaps you have a connection in common with the company’s Director of Marketing, who holds the power to make decisions pertaining to new social media tools and applications.

Join a Group (or Ten): Joining a group will put you in contact with like-minded people in your line of business.  But joining a group itself isn’t enough – it’s important to actively engage with other group members, who may provide valuable leads and information pertaining to your field.  Try trade associations, alumni groups, and of course, groups containing current or potential customers.

Dedicate Time to Your Network: It’s easy to set up a LinkedIn profile, and then to let it get lost in the shuffle of all the other important things you need to do in order to maintain your business on a day-to-day basis.  Instead, actively seek out people in your line of work and dedicate a few minutes each day to following up with them.  Schedule time on your calendar each day to dedicate to this task, rather than waiting until you have a pocket of time to focus on your network (which may be never).

Follow these tips, and our Florida advertising agency assures that you’ll see results. While you’re at it – check us out on LinkedIn! LinkedIn may be the missing link your company needs to help grow to its fullest potential.