How to Overcome the Email Overload Phenomenon

When you begin to see full length articles, countless blogs, and an endless stream of social media posts related to peoples’ frustrations with being inundated with email, you realize that this phenomenon is a real thing.  And, it is a real problem for the marketers who are hoping to capitalize on the direct connection with consumers.

Outlook focused inbox and Gmail’s multi-tab inbox are just two examples of what email service providers are doing to overcome the complaints of their clientele.  Yet, this puts marketers at a huge disadvantage.  After all, it is much easier to do a big sweep of email into the trash bin when it’s already been sorted for you.  That means fewer people taking the time to read your headlines, and far fewer taking the time to open the communications.

This is a quote taken from an opinion piece on Saulstar.com:

I’m specifically complaining about all of the marketing emails that pile up more than the banks of snow in Northern Ontario. Reviewing dozens of messages urging me to buy something, eat something, travel somewhere, donate to a cause, etc, all made me lament over the days when all I had to deal with was no mail, or an annoying chain letter.

One opinion piece may not mean much to your brand, but the truth is that there are millions of consumers complaining about the onslaught of email, and you must be good enough at what you do to entice them to open one of those “offending” pieces of marketing.

Based on this, there has been a push to learn more about the design elements that appeal to consumers, which just might help you avoid the trash bin.

  1. IMAGES, GRAPHICS, INFOGRAPHICS, EMOJIS and anything else that may capture the eye better than simple text can. There was a major uptick in the use of imagery in email last year and that trend is expected to continue.  Choose carefully! They say a picture is worth 1,000 words, but that isn’t always the case.  The right picture certainly is, but a randomly selected stock photo isn’t necessarily going to say much of anything to the frustrated consumer.
  2. A FACE, A NAME, AND A WHOLE HEAP OF HUMANITY If you really want to stand a chance of appealing to a hard-to-please crowd, then you best make your brand approachable and that means putting a face with the name. Storytelling and actually company photos were starting to pop up in 2017 and that is something that we will see more of in 2018.
  3. ANIMATION GETS ACTION The average marketer will not have the knowledge base to create animated figures for use in email. Of course, .gif files are one way to make this happen, but we are likely to see great budget allocations made for the animation of emails in the New Year.
  4. THE CONTRADICTION All of the above who indicate that marketers are striving for a more complex, intuitive, interactive email experience. Yet, one of the more notable trends in recent months is a move by some marketers to transition back to the simplest form of email – text only.  Why?  There is research that suggests that photos, videos, animation, and the rest turn some consumers off because they are unique to marketing email.  In order to blend better with work- and social-related emails, some marketers are opting for a super simple approach.

What to Expect from the New Facebook Algorithm

The coming changes to the Facebook algorithm have many marketers very concerned.  This will change the media marketing game in some ways, but this shouldn’t be cause for panic.  As always, changes like these happen and the best marketers will find that they are able to adapt their strategies so they continue to see the gains needed to grow the brand.

First, take a few moments to understand the reasoning behind this big change.  Influencers are big players in the social media realm these days.  Not only do they command large audiences, which means keeping more people active on the social platforms, but they also appeal to marketers who want to tap into those audiences.  Unfortunately, when it comes to creating social algorithms there is a disconnect between what best serves marketers and what best serves influencers.

Already, we have seen Instagram make the shift to an influencer-friendly model – one that focuses on users seeing more from their friends, family members, and associates, and puts far less emphasis on organic brand exposure.  Because influencers are using organic reach to build their audience bases, their content is treated like that of an individual and not that of a brand.  Thus, they get greater exposure and are able to continue expanding their reach.  Facebook’s new changes to the algorithm is going to push this level of favoritism even further.  Why?  Because Facebook is built to serve the individual user, not marketers.  The average user wants to see the photos and updates of friends and family members, not the advertisements and marketing jargon.  There is also a new motive driving the changes to the algorithm.  Fake news has become a big issue and a hot topic, with Facebook and other social platforms at the center of the controversy.  This is Zuckerburg’s answer to the problem.

So, how do you play by the new rules?

Find an Influencer and Budget Accordingly

In truth, the approach doesn’t have to be shifted a great deal, assuming you have been successful on Facebook for the past year or two.  This shift started in 2016, and while the new updates will change the social landscape once again, you will still find that the PPC advertising and influencer marketing serve you very well, perhaps even better than before, in fact.  After all, influencers are going to find the platform even more friendly to their objectives.

Keep it Real

Avoid misleading headlines and content that could be perceived as ‘fake news’.  This is something that you should expect to see highly targeted by the powers at Facebook.  If you have a real message, something of value, to offer your niche, and you can find the right influencer to help you push your message, you can do great things on Facebook in 2018.

The 2018 Approach to Mobile- and Social Marketing

Last year was a very good year for the mobile device manufacturers.  Usage grew by more than 30% in 2017, making it even more apparent that smartphones and tablets are not going anywhere anytime soon.  They are fully integrated into our way of life and account for a very large percentage of web searches, social media usage, and online shopping.

It wasn’t just the mobile market that saw a big boost of activity in the past calendar year.  There were also a couple of social media platforms that grew by leaps and bounds.  The most notable of these was Instagram, which reached the 700 million user mark.  With that kind of growth still taking place in the social arena, marketers see no reason to stop their efforts to reach their audiences via those channels.

The cost of reaching consumers via mobile and social have changed however.  It is getting increasingly expensive to gain recognition and sales in this manner.  This explains why the average advertising budgets allotted to these platforms increased by a whopping 60% in 2017.  That upward trend is not expected to come to an end this year.

The trouble is that, depending on what outcome marketers are hoping for, the increased cost is not necessarily leading to greater successes.  While the cost per impression has been on a steady rise on Facebook, the click through rates have not improved.  Those who have seen improved success rates on social and mobile are those that do data analysis well.

What is the most important piece of data to be considered?  While this point can be argue for all of eternity without reaching a conclusion, most marketers do agree that effectively narrowing the audience is the key to seeing greater returns on investment.  Often, what a brand marketer might consider a narrow niche is actually much broader than would be recommended.  For instance:

Assume a Facebook advertisement is aimed at 35-55-year-old people living in Fresno, Visalia, or Bakersfield, CA.

It seems like a fairly tight niche, but when it comes to data analysis, the brand is actually going to have to evaluate:

  1. Women, 35-44 living in Fresno
  2. Women, 45-55 living in Fresno
  3. Men, 35-44 living in Fresno
  4. Men, 45-55 living in Fresno
  5. Women, 35-44 living in Visalia
  6. Women, 45-55 living in Visalia
  7. Men, 35-44 living in Visalia
  8. Men, 45-55 living in Visalia
  9. Women, 35-44 living in Bakersfield
  10. Women, 45-55 living in Bakersfield
  11. Men, 35-44 living in Bakersfield
  12. Men, 45-55 living in Bakersfield

Many marketers admit that they will increase their mobile- and social advertising budgets in 2018, but that they will also attempt to refocus their efforts, so that the funds are not so widely spread.  This, of course, starts with some test ads to see which niche is most likely to respond to the content, followed by a more focused campaign.  In this way, marketers may just make the most of the growing audiences on mobile and social, without losing out to the rising costs of advertising.

The Modified Social Media Mantra and the Mistakes of Marketers

Are the negative sentiments of millions ruining your chances of scoring big with media marketing?

This is a question being asked by some of the biggest- and most successful marketers in the country, as fear spreads about how the general public is viewing social media these days.  Once upon a time, Facebook and its competitors provided a chance to escape into another world, filling with friends, family members, and faces from the past.  These networks gave the average individual the opportunity to watch nieces, nephews, grandkids, and friends’ kids grow from afar.  They offered a platform for sharing news about the big (and not so big) events in life.  At some point, though, the view of social networking changed.  Click bait is considered one of the biggest offenders, filling feeds with advertising-laden material.  However, even more upsetting, according to the masses, is the way in which Facebook and other such sites have become platforms for complaints, controversies, and cynicism.  That sort of negativity, for many, has ruined the enjoyment.

The fact that more and more people are resolving to spend less time on social media is bad enough for marketers, but add to this the ever-changing algorithms that seems to be laser focused on destroying any potential marketing success on these sites, and you have reason for wide spread concern among marketers.  This doesn’t mean that it is impossible to have successful social media marketing campaigns, but it does make it even more essential to avoid costly mistakes, such as:

 

Failing to Understand the Tools

There are many marketing tools at one’s disposal these days.  Many of these are built into the social networking platforms.  Others can be found in automatic social publishing services, and some are activated independently.  It is better to have a clear understanding of one such tool set than to employ several without really grasping the power within.  Too many marketers have multiple levels of data feedback, for instance, but don’t really understand how to make sense of any of it.  Thus, the tools prove essentially useless and campaigns are more apt to fail.

 

Failing to Have a Clear Plan of Attack

A lot of marketers have been known to launch campaigns without even knowing what they hope to accomplish with it, how they plan to call attention to it, and how they will measure its success. It was always foolish to do so, but with social media marketing being increasingly challenging, this is like throwing money away.

 

Measuring the Wrong Metrics

As mentioned above, a campaign can only be deemed a success after evaluation.  How to you determine the return on the investment?  A wise marketer will have predefined goals and will know which metrics can be used to measure whether or not those goals were met.

Local Marketing for Bigger Business Growth, Part I

Focusing on local marketing strategies often results in much greater business growth than when companies run much wider-spread marketing campaigns.  There are also a lot of incredible ways that you can appeal to local audiences.  Here are a few of the tactics that you can use for your business to start building up a strong local customer base.

Give Back First and foremost, be sure that you are helping to take care of the area where your business is located.  There are many ways that you can do this. For instance, it might mean supporting a local youth program, volunteering employee time to perform some community service, or hosting an event with proceeds going to a specified local cause.  This will paint a better image for your company, of course, but can also increase brand awareness while improving the area.

Partner and Cross-Promote It is always a good idea to consider how you can partner with other companies to improve exposure, brand recognition, and marketing successes.  Don’t just look at companies related to your industry.  Consider the other services and goods that your customer base would desire, and then reach out to the companies in those niches to develop a marketing campaign that can benefit both.

Understand the Balance of Supply and Demand You can really use this information to your advantage, particularly on a local level, if you truly understand what the given demand is over a defined period of time.  Reducing supply, without raising price, can lead to more people actively searching for your product.  Do this only for a short period of time, of course, so people don’t lose interest.  It can actually lead to greater brand recognition, though.

Be Active in the Community Don’t forget that part of building a loyal customer base in a localized area is going to rely on your ability to appeal to that niche.  The best way to do that is to get out and interact with the people who will be your consumers.  Volunteer your time, join the local PTA, chat with people at local sporting events, attend fairs and festivals, and partake in other such activities as often as possible in order to build the relationships that will really grow your company.

These are some good, simple steps that can be taken to start building your local customer base.  In the next post, we’ll look at some other, slightly more involved tips to continue that growth.

Five Essential Components of Content Strategy

A content strategy is an essential component of a business’ marketing plan.

Developing a solid content strategy is of vital importance as content is said to be king when reaching out to target audiences and acts as a bridge between the business and consumers.

Key content strategy development therefore, depends on who it’s being created for; the problems it will solve for a particular audience; its uniqueness; the formats its creator will focus on; and the channels on which it will publish on.

The seven major components of content strategy are:

  1. Defining your goal. Begin by asking yourself why you are developing the content strategy for producing content and subsequently creating the plan for content marketing. So, define your goals before the planning starts and it’ll be all the easier for you to ascertain what’s best for the strategy.
  2. Conduct a content audit. Even though a majority of people start with blogs, you could want to produce other types of content. However, you must learn to prioritize which content should come first. For example, instead of running blog posts weekly say, for a year, you could have an eBook containing all published blog posts as a new format for offering information. Your content auditing efforts should also include periodical review of all your efforts. This will help you work out what should be done differently in future and in setting new targets to reach.
  3. Do a thorough persona research. After all, you create content for a specific audience. That’s why you need to know your buyers’ persona first, especially important if you are in marketing. Once you know what the target audience wants, playing to the galleries becomes easier through more valuable and relevant content.
  4. Have a system for content management. This requires managing your content and having provisions for content creation, publication and analytics for measuring results.
  5. Social media calendar. The content strategy should also have a social media calendar to monitor and guide you on when to publish what, keeping changing customer trends in mind.   

What Makes Email Marketing Indispensable to Small Businesses?

Email marketing is indeed a most cost-effective tool for marketing, particularly for small businesses.

Now why is that? The basic advantages of email marketing are: it’s easy to use and manage, allows the business to establish direct contact with its customers and also have full control over the entire marketing process.

Tax cuts are awesome, but every small business should want to understand more about email marketing.

The exclusivity of email marketing 

Small businesses with tight budgets therefore, need to be careful about the email marketing strategy or service they choose because making the wrong choice could result in extra and unnecessary costs and terrible deliverability that could erode its bottom line further.

The following are the reasons which make email marketing stand out:

  • Creates engaging mails:

    A fantastic email service will help you create some highly attractive and engaging emails. Plus you get to manage all your contacts, categorize users into separate groups and also track the performances of all your email campaigns. More importantly, intelligent email marketing will ensure that all your mails are read.

  • More consumers are preferring email:

    There’s no denying that email is the ultimate method of communication today and the average consumer prefers email. The majority of small businesses work with tight marketing budgets and can’t experiment with marketing strategies that ultimately don’t work with their target audiences.

    Here, social media has certainly come to their aid for communicating more effectively. Since social media and email are inextricable, the latter is the most direct and professional medium.

    Research shows that over 72 percent of prospective or existing consumers prefer receiving emailed promotional messages because they are more personal, easily accessible, and instant.

  • eMail marketing is more impressive to consumers:

    Brands using email marketing are known to be more successful because of incentives they offer to consumers. These include discount coupons, rewards programs, contests, and free products.

  • Ensures a higher reach to mobile consumers:

    With mobile phones, email has become an effective tool for reaching out to the customer. Even though a consumer may not always shop through his smartphone, he tends to check his emails from it frequently.

Basics of an Ideal Social Media Marketing Strategy

Social media marketing is an effective tool to validate a brand.

If a company’s presence in social media is established correctly and powerfully, it sends out a positive message to all prospective and existing consumers that its brand is not only active but is also focused on communicating more forcefully with its consumers.

However, an effective social media marketing strategy needs to be developed first in order to get the best results. The inevitable question that now arises is: On what do you base your strategy?    

  • Create specific goals in your social media marketing strategy to tackle the crucial challenges:

    You first need to understand what results you expect from your efforts. Moreover, make an objective analysis of all expected hurdles and pitfalls as you implement the strategy and work on it accordingly.

    • Again, setting practical and attainable goals is also critical to strategizing because achievable goals will help you stick to your original plan and overcome hurdles faster. Choose the most appropriate channel that suits your brand’s goals best and avoid too many objectives and targets. Simplicity is the key here.
  • Increased brand awareness:

    Too many promotional messages negatively affect brand awareness. Instead, ensure that your social media marketing strategy focuses on meaningful and strong content that projects a dynamic brand personality through your chosen social channels.

  • Better sales quality:

    Analyzing the effectiveness of your selected social channels becomes almost impossible without specific keywords, hashtags or phrases. Efficient targeting of social media helps you reach the core audience faster.

  • Research your audience on social media:

    This is imperative to garner information on who’s buying your products, which age group is non-responsive to your appeals and the income levels of those customers who keep buying. Your social media marketing strategy therefore, needs to be based on the demographics of your most effective social channels and which correlate best with your ultimate goals.

  • Study your landscape for social competitiveness:

    Since content is a critical component of any social media marketing strategy, check out what your competitors are doing. This would help you identify new ways of look at and creating content that is ensuring success for your competitors.

    • Accordingly, create your content that fits your brand’s identity without being too promotional and irrelevant. Ultimately, it’s effective networking through engagement and/or conversations that does the trick.