Increase Your Brand’s Growth Online And Improve Ad Results

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Companies spend a significant amount of time and money on advertising and marketing their brand’s products or services.

It used to be that when you advertised on offline channels like TV and print, you just hoped for the best in terms of results.

[source: Forbes] Now, with digital marketing and digital advertising you can track and tweak your ads for better performance as often as you need to. Unlike old-fashioned advertising, what I love about the digital world is it’s real time tracking. You can monitor and make improvements instantly, or adjust creative to a different media channel and that’s it—you’re done! This means you don’t have to shoot that commercial all over again if it’s not driving results, or you don’t need to re-create and republish a new print advertisement when you want to make a change. With digital advertising, you simply adjust the content as needed and you’re ready to go.

While the benefits of digital advertising can seem endless, as a brand how can you make sure you’re maximizing performance and boosting ROI? When implementing digital advertising campaigns, there are certain best practices to keep in mind to garner the best results possible. I’ve outlined these guidelines below and provided some simple steps to explain how these tactics can be integrated quickly and efficiently into your digital ad campaigns and day-to-day digital marketing:

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Digital is changing business.

Digital refers to a set of technologies changing people, customers, industries, companies, products and services.

Digital technologies include mobile computing, social media, business analytics, big data, cloud, sensor networks and the like. These technologies have been coming ‘online’ over the past five years and are reaching a critical mass that is changing business.

An engaging, mobile-ready, relevant and search-friendly Web site is essential.

[source: Mark McDonald, Accenture] Digital changes business because it makes customer and business resources information intensive and connected. Digital technology applied to people, equipment, information etc., creates opportunities that were either impossible or uneconomical in the pre-digital world. The result is a wave of changes that increasingly face executives and corporate leaders.

Digital creates new business logic by changing customers. Customers change business priorities and values from inside-out to outside-in. New ways of thinking evolve the business and technology relationship and new demands for future success. That is why digital is changing business.

Digital is changing customers at the start

Digital technologies are customer oriented technologies. Prior technology was process oriented and transaction focused. Digital technology builds on top of transactions to concentrate on information and relationships. This is a fundamental reason why digital changes business. This change is often overlooked because it disrupts everything, but the logic is simple. Technologies that change customers revolutionize business.

Digital customers are different. According to our own and other research studies, digital customers are better informed, more demanding, more discriminating and more likely to change products and services when they have a poor experience. The result is a multi-trillion dollar annual growth opportunity created as customers switch products and services.

Digital customers represent the future. Digital is where customers expect you to be and where they look for your products and services. Customers expect you to have a presence at the time, place and context of their present need, else the business goes to someone else.

Customers define business on their terms

Business is a voluntary exchange, particularly whenever customers have information and choice. Customers have both in the digital world. This creates an ever changing digital economy with few incumbents giving leaders ability to redefine value and success provided those definitions start and end with the customer.

Digital is finishing what the Internet started. E-commerce pricing and product transparency is evolving into contextually heavy business services, consumerization and disruption. Digital is where business will be in the future with more than six billion mobile phones, billions on social media, and trillions of dollars in the online economy.

Digital customers are not objects in the business models. They are the subjects of their own story where you provide the actions (verbs) that lead to value. Just as our parents ‘xeroxed’ copies or “fedexed’ packages we will use new verbs in the digital world beyond googling, tweeting and facebooking.

Executives can no longer work from the inside-out telling people what to buy and remain effective. Digital business leaders recognize that digital turns the world outside-in.

Business must change its perspective and think from the outside-in

Business must change the way they think, act and learn in a digital world. Inside-out thinking provides clear plans and paths for growth and results as executives see the world they want to see. Executing inside out strategies guarantee success so long as the world works exactly as planned. Learning inside-out means avoiding failure and not learning at all. If a career marked by four wins and zero losses is better than one with eight wins and two losses then you live with the limitations of an inside-out perspective.

Think outside-in, start and more importantly finish with the customer. Use analytics and experiences to see the world for what it is. Act by placing emphasis on customer experience, their value and engagement. Finally, learn by recognizing customer and market dynamism values and applying the lessons of missed plans to create a better future.

Outside-in thinking changes the relationship between business and technology

Digital Business represents a radical revolution in the relationship between business and technology. Business and technology had a linear relationship. Business stated requirements and technology built to those requirements thereby enabling the business. Today the relationship is bi-directional and dynamic. Business still has requirements. But more importantly technical innovation creates new opportunities resulting in an iterative dialogue rather than a requirement specification. Evidence of this change is everywhere in IT from calls for shorter cycle times to agile development methods.

Business used technology to execute its processes in service to the customer. Now, customers use technology in service to themselves. Customers incorporate products and services at will and to meet specific needs. The shift is dramatic and revolutionary. We cannot call them ‘users’ any longer. They are people with technology selecting based business services rather than following IT enabled business processes.

Five things to get right in the digital world

Companies no longer control the customer. People use digital technology to engage and build their own experiences and meet their needs. Just look at your own smart phone. It is filled with task based apps rather than end-to-end applications. It is one way of seeing how digital is changing business.

How leaders forge links between customers, information, technology and services determines success in the digital future. Those links form five things executives must keep in mind in the digital world.

  1. People are everything, everyone and everywhere at all times. People become customers when they choose your products and services. If they lose their status as human and become customers or walking wallets, you lose your ability to create a compelling experience. People and their individual choices shift the balance of attention in just about every market. That is what much of the digital marketing fuss and the future of work is all about.
  2. Experience is everything. Experience is the reason why people continue their relationship with you, your products and services. Winners deliver the best experience. They win in terms of revenue growth and profitability. That is why customer centricity is a hot topic and product silos are under threat.
  3. Information is elemental. Information is the source of context, the proof of experience, the prism separating activity from results. Leaders confront the world the way it is – outside-in, rather than rationalizing it from the inside-out. Understanding, presenting, manipulating and acting on information is how leaders gain flexibility and efficiency in a digital world.
  4. Turn infrastructures into a platform that provide differentiated solutions from the same set of information, business and customer resources. Google, Amazon, Facebook are all platforms for understanding, change and growth. Transforming rigid channel/product/process infrastructures into platforms creates the yield on three decades of IT investment and operations.
  5. Learning is the new license to operate. Digital accelerates the pace of change as billions of people make billions of decisions every day. Controlling a market is vanity, leaving you vulnerable to those who know, think, feel and act with the market rather than against it. That is what makes the digital world dynamic and creating opportunity all the time.


Are you relying on referrals?

Referral marketing is not enough. ted360

Referrals provide, what in the marketing world is called social proof…

which means that others are have used your service and since they are referring you, the referrer must be happy with your services. For you, it’s a warm lead and a warm lead is definitely easier to approach than let’s say a cold prospect.

And let’s be honest, one of the main reasons why we tend to focus on referrals is that we feel uncomfortable approaching new clients.

Referrals are great until they’re not.

While all this is wonderful, focusing solely on referrals as a business development strategy has disadvantages that in our opinion far outweigh the advantages. Here are a few reasons why you shouldn’t rely on referrals as the only way to generate business.

Times have changed.
You don’t have to be a Fortune 500 executive to understand that mobile, social media, Google, smartphones and apps have changed the way that people communicate with friends, associates and vendors, research solutions, receive recommendations, and learn about your business (and your competitors).

So while referrals may have worked in the past, the reality is that digital technology has connected more people together giving them many more options than ever.

A highly competitive landscape
The interconnectedness of today’s marketplace has perhaps been a boon for your audience but it’s a double edge sword for your business. Today, you have hungry competitors both from the traditional sources as well as new competitors who act different, provide more complete solutions and who are savvy at marketing, and who employ more strategies than just referral marketing.

They are using social media to connect with new clients and customers. They are using content marketing to share their expertise, which assists potential clients and customers in researching various solutions. They use marketing automation to follow up and nurture clients and customers. This may seem overwhelming but it’s not. These same tools are available to all businesses.

Be prepared for ups & downs
This last and most important reason for not relying solely on referrals to generate business is that it’s just bad business. While working your existing clients and network to refer you new business feels great when times are good, it also puts an inordinate amount of control over to someone else for your lead generation. So, what happens in bad economic times? What happens when your network has no referrals to send you? What happens in months when referrals are just low or non-existent?

Now don’t get us wrong, there are people out there who are exceptions to the rule when it comes to how many referrals they receive each month, but more often than not, the ugly truth is that slow growth and inconsistent cash flow are the most common problems we hear from people who rely solely on referrals. Unfortunately, by the time people realize that this sole focus in a bad business idea, it is usually too late.

As business development method, having a referral strategy as part of your marketing mix is a sound tactic. However, putting all your marketing eggs in one strategy, whether its referrals or something else is just asking for trouble. Do yourself a favor and avoid the pitfalls mentioned above and remember, referrals are great, until they are not.


Engagement Marketing to Attract Customers

Today’s marketers must become stewards of the customer journey, building strong relationships with customers… wherever they are.

Build strong relationships with relevant experiences. - ted360
Unlike traditional approaches to marketing where you specifically target prospects with direct response offers, engagement marketing allows your audience and potential customers to interact with you and shape how they would like to communicate with you. Engagement marketing begins when an interested person takes an action to begin an interaction with you.

Engagement means someone is interested in listening to you, and you must engage that person in order to achieve your business objective while fulfilling their interest. As a commercial entity you will implement engagement marketing to drive your interested audience toward one of the following two key business objectives:

  1. Cultivate the individual as an advocate of your thought leadership and market image. Advocates will recommend your products and services enthusiastically to their network of friends and business colleagues.
  2. Encourage a dialogue with the individual to help them to make a purchase decision. An engaged customer is likely to become a loyal repeat customer.

Here are a few tips on engagement marketing to attract customers:

  • Develop an engagement strategy – To be successful you must prepare a clear plan and approach for your engagement marketing. Your plan will have to include how you will reach out to your listeners and how you will be able to respond and interact with your engaged participants.
  • Integrate with your marketing mix – All aspects of your marketing communications mix should include a ‘call to action’ for engagement from simply requesting comments or postings at your blogs or forums to encouraging reviews on your products and services.
  • Focus on content and relationship – Focus on relevant and interesting content as the key to engaging with your audience. Understand that building genuine relationships with content that is important to the individual is the best way to achieving the two key business objectives for engagement marketing.
  • Promote subscriptions – Use permission based techniques to encourage subscriptions with optimised web forms, RSS registrations, refer to a friend and social network sharing.
  • Invite listeners to interact with your Blog – Establish a culture and enthusiasm for engagement by encouraging your listeners to contribute with comments, suggestions and even as guest writers to broaden the points of view and resources available to your connected community.
  • Conduct surveys and polls – Run frequent surveys to give opportunities to initiate engagement while learning from and about your listening community. Use a surveys or web polls to start the dialogue that is relevant to the individual.
  • Engage with social networking – If you have not heard of Facebook, SnapChat or Twitter that are behind the social networking phenomena, you must not waste anymore time, go straight to these sites and understand how these sites that are capturing literally millions of people who are actively engaging on these sites every day. These sites work because social networking communities need to share and want to know what their circle of friends and relatives are up to. Find out how you can leverage the engagement and sharing of your content using these social networks.

Remember, once you have an interested community engaging with you, make sure you keep the lines of communication going, learn and adjust your strategy to ensure your engagement marketing will delivery bottom-line results to your business by increasing your customer base and repeat sales from your engaged customers.

Stand out

Digital solutions for small business. ted360

Get Noticed in Today’s Crowded Marketplace

You can surpass the marketing efforts of your larger counterparts–without spending beyond your means.

[source: Inc Magazine] Although being a small or medium-sized business can feel daunting when compared against bigger, longer-established corporations, there are definitely ways SMBs can still stand on equal footing–maybe even surpassing their larger counterparts–without spending beyond their means.

Donald Chestnut, Global Chief Creative Officer at storytelling agency SapientRazorfish, offers the following 5 specific tips that can help any small or medium-sized business better reach and engage with customers.

1. Analyze and understand the value of innovation
As more and more businesses begin to understand why they need to innovate and how to do it, the next step involves answering the question “What is the value of innovation? And how do I measure it?”

2. Redefine your entire business around operating in a digital world
Rather than simply introducing digital components into physical spaces, organizations must think of the balance that they want to strike between these two realities. Each company will be different and what works for one may not work for another. Think retail, location marketing, etc.

3. Align with the fast-paced evolution of mobility and mobile usage
Consumer mobile behavior continues to go beyond the pure “mobile” aspects of a device. Smartphones and their brethren can (and are expected to) now be used in novel ways to enhance consumers’ surrounding environments and experiences.

4. Evolve the test and learn mentality using new technologies
To keep up with the pace of technological advancement and consumers’ generational distinctions, organizations are evolving the agile structures and thinking that allow them to test and learn faster. In this case, digital and automation act as enablers/facilitators by sitting at the core of these structures and strategies, thereby allowing businesses to remain competitive.

5. Evolve your consumer insights and research to better understand unique journeys
Emotion insights, chatbots (as a testing ground), and artificial intelligence are just some of the evolved methods being used to better understand consumers and design personalized experiences.