Video Marketing Trends of 2021

YouTube DIYs and explainers. Instagram Reels. TikTok duet trends. The online world of 2021 is dominated by video content in every corner, ranging from a few seconds for a quick laugh to hours-long livestreams of new products. As marketers, they are a huge part of our toolbox in getting messages out to people in an engaging and cost-effective way, and even Google’s own stats say that at least half of people considering a purchase will look up a video on the product first – even if they’re standing in front of it on the shelf. The rise in popularity of video content is impossible to ignore, and when you look at the trends for the last few years, it’s clear to see that if you’re not exploring your video options, your brand is missing out on major opportunities.

 

Why Video Marketing Matters

So the big question you might have: why is video so important?

To start, think about the difference in engagement between plain text posts and image posts. Our eyes are primed to react more strongly to the colours and imagery presented within pictures, and this effect is compounded when it comes to videos. People are much more likely to stop and watch a video, even a few seconds of it, than they would be to stop and read a block of text – no matter how well-written it is. Video is designed to catch attention and keep it, and when the phones in our pockets can make any post look professional and engaging, it’s almost impossible to resist.

The ubiquity of smartphones, quick-editing apps, and posting platforms has launched a creative revolution that is pushing the limits of what great videos look like and are able to accomplish. This is not limited to individuals, either – companies with their fingers on the pulse of their audience are using video strategies to great effect, too. If you’ve ever paused while mindlessly scrolling through a social feed because an interesting clip caught your attention, you’ve seen just how effective a well-done video can be. And if you’re not there already, the next step is to start making them on your own.

 

How to Create Effective Brand Videos

So you’ve got a decent smartphone, an editing program, and a few hours to spare. There’s never been a better time to jump into video content, nor a more friendly atmosphere for learning and finding your niche. Here are some helpful tips to get you started.

 

Creating a Full Video Strategy

The first step is to think of your video strategy holistically. It shouldn’t be something that comes as an afterthought to everything else, and it shouldn’t result in one 30-second clip every few months. Work them in to accompany your regular content, and boost their appeal by creating them to cover a range of uses and purposes, while feeding in to the broader brand style that ties it all back to you. Videos are just one part of a solid foundation that holds your brand up for all to see.

 

Balance Your Content Types

Sometimes quick and off-the-cuff works great – but sometimes you need a product that’s a bit more professional. The good news is, they both have their place in a strong strategy, and you no longer need to spend huge amounts of money trying to get full camera crews and equipment.

For quick videos for social media, any smartphone with a decent camera will do. You can invest in a relatively cheap microphone to help with sound quality, but that’s enough to produce great content on the fly. If you are doing a longer, scripted video instead – such as an educational video for a product, or hosting a webinar – simple equipment like a tripod and lighting will go a long way towards a credible end result. These longer videos can also then be cut or modified for use as promos or social media, too, further establishing your presence online.

 

It’s About Connection, Not Perfection

No one will ever make the “perfect” video, because such a thing doesn’t exist. Express your values and voice in the ways that work best for you, and that is all you need. Take the time to learn the basics and discover what your audience responds to, and remember that it’s okay to learn along the way. Just stay authentic and you’ll reap the rewards.

 

Using Short and Long Form Video

Shorter content – but not necessarily with low production values – finds its home on some of the most popular apps in the world, like TikTok, Instagram Reels, or Facebook Live. These apps are like having a whole production crew on hand to edit, add effects and music, and unleash your creativity in full. And with TikTok having more than a billion monthly users by now, the audience is there, waiting – even if your content is just a one-shot video with a simple premise and no big budget. It’s possible to reach the entire world with a few taps on your phone.

Short videos are just one part of the equation, though. As a brand that wants to establish yourself with your audience, longer videos will be the main attraction that brings attention to you. Think educational videos that people can follow along with, DIY sessions that show how to do something new, or webinars about an interesting topic that live on your website or YouTube channel. Everyone’s heard of Twitch streams, TED Talks, and DIY repair videos – they’re some of the most popular content in the world. In fact, in 2018, 70% of YouTube viewers said they watch helpful videos for their studies, hobbies, or work, and that number has only increased in the years since. Right now, a lot of people are stuck at home with very few in-person events going on. This means you have a perfect audience to educate, entertain, and bring on board to your brand.

As the capabilities of our devices get more powerful, it’s clear that video content – and the ease with which we can access it – is here to stay. With a bit of planning and strategy, you can establish yourself as a source of information, entertainment, or inspiration for your customers and clients, and deliver your message clearly, in your own words, for all to see. It looks simple, but there are many facets to consider, so if you need help in the process, William Joseph is always here to help!

Current Trends in Content Marketing

Staying on top of trends in content marketing is crucial for companies to remain relevant and engage their audience. At William Joseph, we are constantly researching and discussing the latest trends in content and how we can help our clients utilize those avenues to achieve success. Trends are extremely timely, so it is important for your business to be aware of what content is most popular and jump on the bandwagon – that is, if your audience has already jumped on.

Currently, the rise of rich media is prominent for 2021 and is a key factor for engagement, especially for mobile devices. But what exactly is rich media and how can you maximize its potential?

Rich media includes different formats such as video, audio, or other elements that enrich the customer experience and allow them to engage with your brand. It moves, scrolls, and expands – offering a more interactive and wholesome experience that will speak to users. As we dive into the different types of rich content that are disrupting the conversation right now, it is important to reflect on how you can use it to your advantage and what tools are necessary to do so.

 

The Next Phase of Audio

Audio content is one of the pioneers of communication, having remained a staple throughout the evolution of media – and, from radio advertising to podcasts, it still resonates with audiences at any place and time. These days, thanks to rapid advancements in technology and increased consumer demand, the way you use audio to tell a story is constantly changing.

Podcasts and audiobooks are currently trending content mediums, but executing well can be a big undertaking. However, there are applications out there that make the process easier for beginners and simplify the learning curve. Alitu was designed for beginners and makes the discovery of podcast creation fun. If you are not quite ready to commit to your own podcast, find one related to your field and be a guest on an episode. It is a great way to dip your toes in the audio world without being overwhelmed. Canada is one of the top countries in the world for podcast listenership – with over 54% of Canadian adults consuming podcasts on a smartphone. Furthermore, audio ad spend is expected to keep growing, with an estimated annual growth rate of 11.18%.

 

What is Clubhouse Drop-In Audio?

Audio storytelling is so popular now, there’s even hype and exclusivity just trying to access certain applications. Clubhouse came into the scene in April of last year, enticing audiences by offering valuable audio content and interactive potential. But the social media platform is by invite only, which as consumers, only makes us want it more; and to add to the exclusivity, you must have an iPhone.

So, what exactly makes this app so unique other than having to cut through red tape to get in? Users not only receive exclusive content but can also participate in discussions and engage in networking opportunities. They join ‘rooms’ – which feature different topics of discussion to listen in on live conversations with leading experts and celebrities. Now that you know about this trend, how bad do you want in the club?

 

Video Content: Crucial for Success

Think about the last compelling video you watched. Did it pull at your emotions? Or make you feel connected to the content? Why did it pop into your mind when that question was asked?

Visual storytelling is one of the best ways to authentically convey your message and make real connections with your audience. Offering a more meaningful experience for users to become acquainted with your brand will help you grow organically, and if executed correctly, can greatly increase sales. Video content is worth investing both time and money, with 87% of video marketers saying it gives them a positive Return on Investment (ROI). Videos also satisfy the hungry social media algorithms, further amplifying your message to the world.

Consistency and authenticity will set you up for success in your video marketing efforts. The use of ‘stories’ on social media platforms allows you to share content in real-time, which will leave a genuine impression on your audience. Video should also be used to compliment your written content – which should still be a fundamental part of your strategy.

 

Tik Tok: Content Around the Clock

Did you know that Tik Tok users spend almost 900 minutes per month interacting with the app? That is almost half an hour each day that the over 1 billion Tik Tok users are engaging with content, that you could be sharing. But how do you tell if Tik Tok is the right platform for you to share content? While the app is most popular with younger audiences, more demographics are signing up and seeing what all the fuss is about. And they are loving it. So, first decide who you are trying to target and do a bit of research to see if Tik Tok could help you reach your goals.

Managing a content strategy is critical – giving you the foundation for your marketing. The strategy should also evolve as the trends do while providing a road map to guide your content creation. You must test your marketing ideas and strategies, then use your analytics and reporting to inform future decisions. Have fun with rich media and use it to your advantage. Experiment with audio by trying a podcast or hop on Facebook Live to offer behind-the-scenes footage of your business. Trying different ways to tell your story will show your audience you are committed, engaged, and keeping on top of the latest trends.

Why Invest in a Website?

When you’re getting your business off the ground, you’re likely to wonder what kind of assets you will need to have the biggest impact. Your business cards and brochures were a breeze – but what comes next? 

With many smaller organizations using only their social profiles online, the temptation to do the same can be strong, especially when the amount of work that goes into a fully custom-built site becomes clear. You may thinkis it worth the time and money? Why do I even need a website? What benefits will it bring? 

Well, the short answer is that a website is a vital and efficient connection to your prospects, customers, associates, and suppliers. When one is designed to meet your vision and your audience’s needs, it makes your operations vastly easier and paves the way to greater profitability. 

 

Benefits of Building a Business Website 

The most important thing to understand about any marketing channel – be that a website, social media, or a separate digital marketing strategy  is the overall benefits it will bring to you and your customers. In the age of modern marketing, the advantages of having a website are hard to overstate, and are often downright necessary. 

 

The benefits for your customers 

Customers and clients are what drives your business forward, and you need them to keep operating. So why not make it as easy as possible for them to support and connect with you? One of the most thorough and effective ways to do this is through a website. 

Websites allow prospects to research your business and your brand before they contact you, on a timeline that works for them. The information they receive can easily be updated to stay relevant, and they have 24-hour access that is not limited by your employees’ schedules. Your online presence also gives an intangible element of trust, sparking the foundation of a strong relationship that may have otherwise been lost. 

In an online world, a great website that satisfies the needs of your audience is an excellent lead generation and capture tool. To make the most of this, you want a website that: 

  • Provides a lot of valuable, useful information in an engaging way 
  • Helps foster an online community where like-minded people can interact 
  • Simplifies and secures the online transaction process, allowing people to conveniently buy your products and services 

A small business website – especially when combined with a good SEO strategy, slick web design, and strong brand visuals and language – is a 24/7 salesperson that is always acting in your best interest.   

 

The benefits for your business 

So, creating a website is good for your customers – but is it good for you? Does it make your operations easier, or save you money in the long run? As it turns out, websites are not only great sales tools, but they improve communications, increase efficiency, and create excellent opportunities to stand above your competition. 

Because they are always available, you save both time and money with customer service tools like submission forms and help requests. This is incredibly useful for small businesses, who likely do not have the extra funds to hire for a dedicated customer support role. Additionally, the ability to update or modify a website from any computer means that you can not only keep your customers informed and engaged, but also that doing so is much cheaper and more environmentally friendly than traditional tactics like physical mailouts. 

Finally, a website will allow you to clearly state and support the reasons why you stand out from your competitors, and identify what potential buyers will gain by choosing you over another organization. Laying out a compelling, differentiated brand, a smooth sales funnel, and the right functionality and resources makes it easy for people to see your value and make a decision on their own. 

 

The benefits for digital advertising 

Of course, one of the biggest benefits of having a website ties into both of these prior concepts in turn. With a site, you gain the ability to implement an enhanced digital marketing strategy. From exactingly precise key audience selection, to 1,000%+ ROIs, to retargeting that entices people back again and again, the e-commerce possibilities unlocked by your website are endless. 

With the right optimizations and strategic direction, your website will pop up early in the results for critical key words in your industry, and anyone who visits your site once can be “tagged” and prioritized in further marketing efforts. From anywhere in the world, you can serve web-only promotions or discounts to visitors, or use drop-shipping to fulfill orders without needing a whole warehouse of stocked itemsAs your customer list grows, your network of marketing contacts will expand, too, constantly refining and improving. If you like, you can even earn revenue from ad placements on your website, to help offset the cost of web hosting and server fees (though that’s entirely up to you). 

 

How to Build a Successful Website 

With so many different types of businesses serving so many industries, there is no single “correct” way to build a site for you. It will depend on your goals, your budget, and your abilities. The most important thing to know, before you start buying domain names and searching for web developers, is that research and data are the keys to success. 

Research of all kinds – customer research, market research, competition research – is what will help you focus your efforts for the best results. And, if you have set a clear website objective from the start, knowing how to measure those results is simple. Applying these two factors together, and consistently and constantly optimizing, will streamline your website’s performance. Just remember, this is not a one-off process – it does require some monitoring, as the internet is an ever-changing place. 

There are some website best practices that can be broadly applied to any website and industry, which should supply you with the information you need: 

  • Define project goals and objectives 
  • Develop audience personas 
  • Create a journey map 
  • Identify key channels 
  • Develop a content strategy 
  • Develop a content calendar 
  • Plan resources 
  • Measure results 

With these tools and tips at your disposal, investing in a high-performing website becomes much less challenging and much more rewarding. If you need any additional insights on the website-building process and how to do it effectively, remember that you can always reach out on ours to get a helping hand! 

Cause Marketing

We spend a lot of time at WJ discovering, highlighting, and enhancing your brand values. While that may seem like just another bit of marketing jargon, in reality those values are all the things that make your brand unique. They are what you stand for, believe in, and work toward. They define you, and understanding them in full is your gateway to a concept that is coming to define the business atmosphere in 2021cause marketing.  

Cause marketing, sometimes known as ethical marketing, is an extension of the principles that drive your company forward. It means finding an issue that resonates with you and your beliefs, and promoting or addressing it through your business and operations. Whether you are focusing on mental health, world hunger, environmentalism, social justice, or another topic that is important to you, cause marketing is becoming a big factor in the purchasing decisions of many consumersWith all the events of 2020 still freshignoring this cultural shift means choosing to stay silent when it’s important to speak up. 

 

RISKS AND BENEFITS OF CAUSE MARKETING 

Some companies may hesitate on moving into this realm of marketing because there is a high risk of backlash and poor executionIn fact, it’s probably a lot easier to remember the bad examples – Kendall Jenner’s ill-fated Pepsi ad, Burger King’s baffling 2019 #FeelYourWay mental health campaignMasterCard’s pledge to donate meals to starving children only if certain soccer players scored – than it is to think of any good ones.  

 

Burger King Happy Meal cause marketing ad

Burger King ‘moody’ meals. (from CNBC)

 

These risks almost always come down to insincerity, confusion, or customers feeling deceived. In the Burger King campaign mentioned above, the backlash came from a mismatch between the company’s stated values and actions, and the cause they were claiming to support. In turn, the conversation they started about mental health quickly turned around to show that they did not even consider, let alone prioritize, those same ideas and ideals within their own daily operations. The whole campaign was topped off with what many assumed to be a thinly-veiled cash grab, the “Unhappy Meals”, leading to an overall sense of shallow opportunismThe cause itself was noble, but the execution was not. Trying to quickly cash in on trending fads will never be successful, because real cause marketing is a long-term investment motivated by values and beliefs – not money or popularity. 

So with such potential for failure, is it worth the trouble? Absolutely. 

When done well, and with the right intentions, cause marketing becomes an intrinsic part of your brand and is associated with who you are. Current and potential buyers alike will know immediately where you stand and whether you align with their beliefs – and importantly, you don’t compromise on them, choosing not to be everything to everyone. You have a vision for the world you want to live in, and you work toward it. 

A great example of this is the outdoor equipment and clothing company, Patagonia. Founded by avid rock climbers and environmentalists, from the very start they have done endless research and development into increasingly eco-friendly materials and practices. They have made difficult decisions that may have cost customers, but stayed true to their ideals. When you visit their website, that story dominates everything else, because it is the core of their entire brand. You can immediately tell it is authentic, important, and respectable.  

 

cause marketing advertisement for patigonia

Patagonia Blue Heart Campaign. (from @patagonia)

 

How does this translate into real-world brand benefits? It creates stronger brand loyalty, with deep connections and a relationship that goes beyond transactions. It sets you above competitors in crowded marketsand builds association between your brand and positive change. It can have auxiliary effects, like boosting your employee retention and increasing their engagement, ambassadorship, and support. And all of this together will improve your bottom line – which is a bonus, even if it’s not the point of your advocacy. 

 

EFFECTIVE CAUSE MARKETING STRATEGIES 

So you’re interested in putting your brand to work in a cause-related campaign, or even in a larger cause marketing strategy. How can you make sure you get the best results possible?  

It should all start right at the core of your brand and business. Ask yourself what is important in your everyday work, and what values you exemplify. In other words: why is your brand here? There is no “right” cause to choose, but there is a “right for you” option. Finding one that emphasizes your values is the first step. 

Next, prepare a long-term strategy. Capitalizing on a spur-of-the-moment fad might be good for a single post, but it’s not an appropriate way to use cause marketing – you will have to dig in and really create something genuine and sustainable. Build the cause into your brand story and clearly explain to all stakeholders why you support it. When you intertwine the cause with your own goals, everyone comes out ahead. 

Once the cause and strategy are solidified, go beyond the basics. Contributing money is one way to help, but it’s not the only one – you can volunteer time, create new partnerships, change your operations or policies, raise awareness, and much more. This generates organic and real stories among your employees and others, showing that you are doing more than lip service. Remember, a great cause marketing strategy is one that boosts both sides, not just your own. 

 

IS IT RIGHT FOR MY BUSINESS? 

If you’re interested in pursuing cause marketing, it’s important to first know your brand inside and out – and that involves taking the time to discover your values, your key differentiators, and your why. Staying true to these means you are walking on the pathway to success.  

We believe there’s a worthy cause out there for every business. We can help guide you toward it by identifying not only what sets you apart, but also what brings your company together. When you’re ready to take the next step in your brand journey, we’ll be ready to lead the way. 

Digital Advertising: Cookies and iOS 14

In the world of digital advertising, staying up to date with the latest changes, best practices, and legal requirements is an absolute must. It is a field of constant refinement, where even the most dedicated experts need to stay aware and educated.

Recently, Apple’s operating system for mobile devices, iOS, received an update that changed the way developers and applications can use customer information. This seems simple enough on the surface, but some of the minute details buried in the terms and conditions have big implications for the future of digital advertising.

 

What Has Changed In iOS 14?

It’s no secret that laws and regulations regarding technology can often lag behind in a lot of important ways. After all, the same speed at which technology changes – one of the reasons we love it and find it useful – makes it difficult to anticipate all the possible applications of it that may arise. And almost nowhere is this more apparent than in the area of data collection and use.

We all have heard jokes about how “Facebook is always watching” or “Alexa is always listening” – but recently, the sometimes-reckless distribution of protected data has become a major topic of interest and debate among not only lawmakers, but among the companies that can be held ultimately responsible for breaches. Apple, which has one of the world’s largest app stores with nearly 2 million offerings – and hosts unimaginable amounts of customer data that each app has varying access to – has tried to address this in the latest update to their OS. They have created a new policy that app developers must ask users for specific, informed permission to collect and share information.

While this can be considered a win for those who want to keep their information private, it is a big blow to the abilities of advertisers, marketers, and other data analysts who deal with segmented audiences every day. Plainly put, it means that a huge swath of potential customers – about 200 million in North America – might go from prime marketing targets to data dead ends.

Screenshot of app privacy in iOS 14

iOS 14 has new settings to limit how apps and websites track you. (from WIRED)

 

What This Means For Marketers

A big part of modern marketing is the ability to track “events” – that is, certain behaviours that consumers do that trigger a marker in the backend of a website or software. Events can be watching a video halfway through, clicking on a “See More” link, sharing a Facebook post with a friend, or many other actions. The key is that the action shows an interest in that content, and by engaging, you are now part of a “warm” audience that is more receptive to additional touchpoints in the future. Data packets, called cookies, are part of what makes it possible to personalize those experiences and show relevant content to the right audiences.

The iOS 14 updates complicate this setup immensely for marketers who target Apple users, because many will opt out of having this information tracked. In Google’s own words, they claim that:

 

“Advertisers may not be able to effectively count conversions for iOS users who’ve opted out, harming advertisers’ ability to understand the value that ads are driving for their business. They also won’t be able to target or exclude ads to opted-out individuals based on website or app engagement, causing those people to see ads that are potentially less relevant for them.”

 

 

What You Can Do To Prepare

While much of the recommended actions dive deep into the technical details of your site, digital capabilities, and software – which require specialized skills and knowledge – there are some actions that can ultimately help mitigate the worst effects. These range from relatively simple processes like ensuring your website domains are verified (which assists with Pixel tracking for digital campaigns on Facebook and Instagram) and changing your audience targeting parameters, to much more complex ones like learning a new software development kit (SDK). If you are not the technological type, this can be a daunting task with a very steep learning curve. You may want to bring in digital strategists and data analysts to help the process along.

If you want to ensure your digital campaigns will perform their best, and that you can still access the useful data you need to succeed, consider bringing in professionals who can guide you through all the jargon, details, and step-by-step procedures. If you need a team with a proven ability to perform data analysis and strong digital strategies, contact us today to see what we can do for you. From basic copywriting and social media analytics to website audits and highly specific, multi-platform campaigns, our collaborative and comprehensive teams will make sure that your brand stands out everywhere you go. And that’s something no iOS update can change.

How To Thrive With #SupportLocal

While there are many reasons to be glad that 2020 is behind us, there are a few benefits that emerged from it – such as more potential for working from home, an accelerated transition to and appreciation of digital capabilities, and a greater awareness of important social issues. Beyond all that, though, there was another bonus for many entrepreneurs: the increased tide of support for small businesses and local shops.

 

The Rise (and Results) of #SupportLocal

As Canada entered the first round of pandemic lockdowns in March, and many big-box stores experienced shortages, a movement started to circulate online. Rather than giving even more money to the big companies that could weather a shutdown, people decided to seek out and support the smaller, mom-and-pop, local businesses that were experiencing the worst effects. Hashtags like #SupportLocal were trending. By the beginning of April 20, the search term “support small business” was surging in popularity. In the process, many people found new hidden gems and favorites, and discovered the benefits of personalized customer service.

The result of this? Many communities, businesses, and organizations launched social media and digital campaigns to capitalize on this wave of support. They pointed to the huge profits of giants like Wal-Mart and Amazon, who saw a 37% increase in profits by Q3 of 2020 even as hundreds of small businesses closed, and tried to redirect public sentiment toward the underdogs that needed it the most. In turn, many of these small businesses had to quickly change tactics, learn new technology, and create new offerings in order to stay competitive – and to help solidify that strong community connection that makes all the difference to many shoppers.

 

Finding The Best Local Shops

So as a shopper wanting to support your community, what can you do to find the best yours has to offer? A good start is to get an app like Shop, which scans Shopify-enabled retailers to match you with those that are close to you – you don’t even have to leave your home to show your support.

If you’re unable to walk in or take advantage of services during ongoing restrictions, another excellent alternative is to buy gift cards. These make great gifts for others, or they’re simply a good way to help out your neighbours while investing in the future of your community. With all of the differing laws and regulations in place at the moment, many small businesses also have promotions or other enticing deals on these cards, or other items and services. Ask your friends, family, coworkers, and online communities to see if they have any recommendations, too.

 

How to Attract Local Shoppers

If you’re a small business owner, wondering how you can get more people to focus their attention your way and earn their spending power, there are some tactics you can use to boost your profile.

1. An online store is a must.

Whether for products or services, B2B or B2C, there should be a way for potential customers to interact with your business on the web. With everyone shopping and buying more online, this is one of the most effective ways to capitalize on the momentum of changing consumer behaviour. Most people want to support you, if you give them the means to do it, so if you don’t have an online store set up already – or at the very least some way to entice people to follow through after visiting your site and socials – that should be addressed first. Platforms like Shopify are excellent for this, focusing on local businesses with an easy learning curve as you get started.

 

2. Stay relevant and flexible.

What worked yesterday for marketing might not work today, or tomorrow. Your bare-minimum add-ons like promotions, BOGO deals, and free delivery are good, but it will pay off to think about how you can add other extra enticements in a fresh and creative way. Keep up with trends and be ready to try something new if you have to – if you can generate interest in a way that’s authentic to your brand values, you’ve got yourself a long-term winning strategy.

 

3. Reach audiences where they are.

Get on social media and get out in the community. Find out where your best potential customers will be, and reach out to them with a good digital strategy – one that will drive traffic to your site or store via SEO, digital advertising, and email marketing. This is an extremely effective method of getting new business, but it involves using robust and accurate data to your advantage. So…

 

4. Use data to your advantage!

Understanding the specific demographics of your best customers can be done in great detail with data analytics and tools online. You can know who clicks on your ads, who opens your e-blasts, who has browsed your online store, and much more. It can take some time to set up, but the insights really pay off more than almost anything else.

 

5. Be proactive in the community.

Your customers are – literally – your friends and neighbours. When it’s safe to do so, physically get out there and make some new connections. Support local teams and businesses, show what your values are, and make yourself known. That kind of foundational work can make a big impact for people who love the place they live.

 

We’re in an unprecedented business environment, and making sense of it takes more resources than usual. If you find yourself struggling to find the best way forward, reach out and let us know how we can help!

The Google Page Experience SEO Update

If you go onto Google and search the term SEO – short for “search engine optimization” – you will get more than half a billion results. This meta-exercise perfectly illustrates why SEO is so important. In order to appear within the first dozen of those 600+ million entries, and get a critical spot on the first search engine results page (SERP), you need to make sure your page is optimized to perform well in the search algorithm. And this algorithm changes all the time – including a big one in the months to come, which now prioritizes the user experience most of all. 

 

The Role Of SEO On Your Page

If you aren’t in the marketing business and have never had a big focus on your online presence, you may be new to the concept and impact of SEO. Or maybe you did a few simple recommendations a decade ago, and haven’t updated since. Either way, it’s time to get (re)acquainted with what strong optimization can do for your marketing efforts. 

Optimizing your content for search engine performance is crucial to climbing those results pages and actually getting your brand and messaging in front of the curious eyes of your next customerWhile you can shortcut the system with the right use of search engine marketing (SEM)there’s no substitute for a long, well-planned optimization strategy. It’s the only way to ensure you’ll consistently be at the forefront of potential new audiences, without constantly spending money on digital advertising. 

 

What Affects SEO 

Since the creation of the first algorithmsmany different factors have affected the way they rank a site’s online presence and reputation. Initially, it came down to simple things like use of keywords, indexed files, and meta tags, but the process soon expanded to include relevance of content, page loading times, good practices (like avoiding keyword stuffing), and other, more user-friendly considerations. The upcoming changes are just the latest in a long line of updates.  

The route to getting the best results is long, with many small factors adding up to a big impact down the road. We could go on and on, but some of the best evergreen advice for improving your placement on search engine results pages would be: 

  • Use correct title tags (H1, H2, H3, etc., as well as the right backend meta tags). 
  • Ensure your content is relevant and not misleading. 
  • Use compressed media to get better loading times and visual stability. 
  • Get the right safety certificates and authentications. 

There are many more, but these are some basics that carry through all of the other changes – like the upcoming Page Experience update. 

 

Google’s Page Experience Changes 

In an effort to make searches and results more useful for users, Google’s spring update will be optimizing for factors that create an excellent experience for people across all browsers, platforms, and devices. This will make sure that a smooth appearancesafety, a strong user interface, and easy functionality is prioritized. 

In other words: a user-friendly site is critical to future success. 

When you have similar content to a huge amount of other pages – i.e. the sites of your competitors – factors such as the ones above will be the deciding differentiator in the ultimate ranking. If your competitors have prepared their content better through loading optimizations, security protocols, a great interactive experience, and excellent mobile displays, their site will be above yours in a search result 

In Google’s own words, they intend to use “visual indicators” on results pages to highlight the results that have met all of the criteria in the above experience metrics, collectively known as Core Web Vitals. At a glance, searchers will be able to tell if you’re likely to meet their needs in an effective way, or if they can expect a less-than-stellar page experience. Basically, when all taken together, this means that if you want a solid place on the first results page, and you want your listing to invite potential clicksyour usual SEO practices (title tags, proper descriptions, etc.) and all of these factors will need to come together to create a friendly end-user experience.   

 

William Joseph Can Boost Your SEO Ranking 

If you’re ready to get a head start on this new update, we’re here to help you get the most out of your site and SEO. From checking on all your core vital signs to fixing up some of the most common backend issues, our digital team can help you rise through the ranks and see increased web traffic over time. All you have to do to get started is reach out and let us know! 

 

Marketing Trends for 2021

Given the hindsight of the year that just passed, it might seem futile to try and accurately predict the trends of 2021. But trends in industries like marketing are based on more than just the last few months – they are the culmination of years of small developments, social psychology and behaviour, and increased capability and application of the latest technology. What we are seeing now are shifts that have been happening to varying degrees for a long time, and at WJ we always have our eye on how these trends develop. We’ve scoured every corner for this information so you can have it all in one place: what will marketing look like in 2021?

To understand that, let’s start with a bit of a tangent: why it’s important to know and understand these trends in the first place. Marketing is all about staying current – knowing how you can tweak the latest ideas to set you apart from your competition and earn more attention. This is a crucial part of business, as it ensures a steady supply of ongoing customers, and it is much easier to maintain momentum than create it in the first place.

But it’s also a bit deeper and more subtle than that – a lot of marketing is about perception, too. When you use relevant and fresh techniques, you’re making a statement that you care about how you present your brand to the world. You’re saying who you are with every word, graphic, piece of media, and campaign strategy. You’re focusing your target market because they will respond to who you, specifically, are. This is invaluable in reaching the right people, and delivering your message via the right pathways.

 

More Data Means More Quality

One of the biggest changes to marketing in the last several decades is the rise and role of metadata and tracking information across websites. Powered by data behemoths like Google and Facebook, these algorithms are an immensely valuable tool for marketers trying to precisely focus their efforts.

The reason those algorithms are effective is because they are constantly being refined and optimized. They prioritize sites and campaigns that are robust and useful to the people that see them, and that trend towards a great customer experience is only getting more and more emphatic. In 2021, Google will be changing how sites can use cookies – the little data packets that track user preferences – and that is set to shake up things like digital ad campaigns and search engine optimization. Landing on top of a results page will be less about keywords than the ultimate smoothness of the user experience, and digital advertising will not work the same as it currently does.

The end result? You’ll need to collect your own first-party data about your target audiences so you have granular control of your digital campaigns and targeting. A revamped digital strategy is a must, including more cross-channel marketing that branches away from traditional online ads. And your site and social profiles have to be clean and clear, giving every visitor a seamless user experience.

 

Increased Agile Marketing

We hardly need to revisit how 2020 changed plans for everyone. For businesses, the last year has shown the true potential of being flexible and ready to pivot strategies quickly, as those that could do so were among the least impacted by ongoing pandemic response efforts.

A big factor in 2021 will be this underlying idea: be ready to try something new. In actionable terms, this means you must not be afraid to experiment. The rules might change from one day to the next (literally), so don’t get hyper-invested into any one approach. Instead, always start by considering what your audience will look for, and figure out how to reach them in the most appropriate way. Look for new markets, research new products or services to fill an identified gap, and go big with new tactics to promote your offerings. Having a plan is important, yes – but that plan should be flexible and allow for quick movement to new opportunities.

 

The Human Side of Marketing

If you are a regular reader of our content, you know that we always recommend being authentic and trustworthy in your communications and marketing strategies. Doing so in 2021 will be even more important than it was before. With the rise of such hyper-specific campaign targeting, it is now possible to target overall values instead of just demographics – and when you find people who match your own, it drives real results.

You can emphasize this connection to your potential customers by highlighting it in your content. Showcase real people, real stories, and how your authentic brand fits in with them. If your perfect customer has a specific lifestyle, outlook, or belief system, and they can easily understand how it aligns with your offering, that’s a connection at a very human and emotional level. Participation, engagement, awareness, and loyalty all follow from that.

 

Trend Highlights: Adblock & Short-Form Video

With the growth of online ad capabilities has come the growth of online ad-blocking capabilities. It’s a losing strategy to try and force people to change their behaviour here – you will be seen as intrusive, unwelcome, and even as a brand to be avoided if it is egregious enough.

Instead, if an ad strategy is falling flat, try to switch things up to get your audience somewhere else. Use sponsored content, cross-promotions, social media giveaways, influencer marketing, or impossible-to-ignore experiential marketing. As long as you’re staying authentic to your message, feel free to experiment with the execution. People are creative and expressive; brands should be, too.

Speaking of creative expression, if you’re not on the video-platform train already, you’re well behind the competition. Between Snapchat, Tik-Tok, Reels, Fleets, and Stories, short-form video clips are coming to define modern social media. If you want to reach younger generations or really create a viral sensation, this is the place to be in 2021 (and was already trending big for the last few years).

However, as with most things in the digital age, these trends move quickly. Don’t spend too much time trying to get the “perfect” clips to share or get familiar with all the functionality. Dare to reach out, seize the moment, and tell the world all about your process as you learn it for yourself. Once again, being flexible and even a bit unpolished and imperfect is vital in making a real connection.

It’s impossible to foresee what every marketing trend will be in the future, and it’s likely there will be some runaway surprises before 2021 is through. But with the advice given here, you should be prepped to make a big impact in the year to come, as long as you have an authentic message and a compelling brand. If you feel yours could use some TLC, you know where to find us!

Understanding Consumer Behaviour

As marketers, part of our job is staying informed of the latest trends in consumer behaviour and following how those trends change over time. While the term “consumer behaviour” is often considered just another buzz word, the concept actually goes much deeper than that – it’s a science that has been studied extensively in the marketing world for decades. So let’s look a little closer and see how it applies to our current situation – both on a worldwide scale, and smaller ones.

What Is Consumer Behaviour?

Consumer behaviour is relatively easy to define, but it encompasses a lot of different factors and ideas. It is the study of consumers (i.e. buyers and customers), and the processes – both conscious and unconscious – that they use to choose, consume, and dispose of products and services. These processes can be emotional, mental, behavioural, or environmental.

consumer behaviour effects

Some influencers of consumer behaviour (from Frank Belzer)

Marketers use common consumer behaviours to determine what influences their customer base, to predict purchase decisions, and to create new products and innovations that fill in perceived market gaps. Using established data to their advantage, marketers can more effectively reach, engage with, and convert their target audiences.

Some of the most important factors in determining consumer behaviour include:

Individual Influences

These include personal interests and opinions, often determined by age, gender, culture, location, and so on, as well as social factors, like family, friends, education, income, and social networks. Psychological factors also play a role in how individuals perceive and respond to marketing messages.

Types of Purchasing Behaviour

These can be broken down into four categories:

    • Complex Buying: When consumers buy expensive, infrequently-purchased products/services, they will be highly involved and will do thorough personal research on the investment (i.e. a house or a car)
    • Dissonance Reduction: This refers to a purchase with high involvement in the process, but consumers have trouble differentiating brands, and worry about “buyer’s remorse”
    • Habitual: There is little involvement in the product or brand category, such as grocery shopping for a few specific items
    • Variety Seeking: Buying something different just for the “fun” of it, like trying a new food or clothing type
Common Factors

Beyond individual influences, external and internal factors also play a part in changing consumer behaviour. These include:

  • Marketing Campaigns: Done properly and regularly, these can persuade consumers to switch brands, remind them about products/services, and drive impulse purchases – even for more expensive options.
  • Economic Conditions: Strong economic situations make for more confident consumers, driving large purchases. A negative economy, such as the one threatened by the COVID-19 pandemic, can do the opposite.
  • Personal Preference: Dislikes, moral oppositions, priorities, and values all rank among the top of the main behaviour drivers.
  • Group Influence: We’ve all heard about peer pressure, and it has a well-earned reputation for guiding behaviour. Recommendations or warnings from a trusted friend can have a big impact on what we buy.
  • Purchasing Power: Your marketing and messaging could be perfect, but if the audience simply doesn’t have the budget for your product or service, they won’t be able to purchase it. This ties in to other personal, cultural, and socioeconomic factors, to varying degrees.

 

All of these factors and considerations taken together and compared over time will give you insights into changing consumer behaviour and how it affects you and your sales process. But it’s a lot of information – how can you analyze these ideas and turn them into better messaging and marketing campaigns?

 

Analyzing Consumer Behaviour

Taking a good look at consumer behaviour through data is easier than ever before, thanks to the rise of online shopping, website cookies, and detailed records. Some of the most important behaviours to consider are consumer emotions and feelings toward your brand or product (and its alternatives), the major influences on their choices, their shopping behaviour and trends, and what other external factors might be coming in to play that you hadn’t considered.

One example of how these factors intertwine is the big shift that happened due to COVID-19. As lockdowns went into place around the world, a huge portion of consumers moved their shopping online, for everything from groceries and basic supplies to their usual comfort goods and luxuries. This caused a surge in digital advertising in some industries, and a drop in spending across others. The final result? Less competition for ad space, increased engagement with more eyes on your messaging, and a bit better bang for your marketing dollars. But the flip side is that many people went into strict money-saving mode, and weren’t spending on unnecessary items, which was a behaviour trend that affected thousands of businesses.

consumer behaviour - covid changes

How consumer mindsets have changed during COVID-19 (from Forbes)

 

Using Behaviour to Your Benefit

So you know you’ve got to get some info on your consumers’ behaviour – but how do you get that data? Whether you’re running a two-person coffee shop on a downtown corner, or a giant multinational fashion chain, here are some ways you can get a finger on the pulse of your potential buyers, and find out what motivates them.

Gathering Customer Reviews: If someone had a great experience (or a terrible one), this is one of the best ways to find out. You can get insights into specific deciding factors for your products, and identify common themes or issues in your marketing and business.

 

Using Q&A Sites and Opportunities: Like a more robust review, interactive Q&A sites and forums (e.g. Reddit) can give you a platform to ask and be asked about your products/services. You can get highly targeted feedback, which is useful for improving your sales in the future.

 

Customer Surveys: Much like the Q&A idea, surveys are more regular, and can be sent directly after purchase or at specific intervals afterward to gain information on the user experience. This can help you find trends in what motivates your buyers, or what your customers think of your offerings, and lets you ask specific questions, depending on your needs.

 

Keyword Research: Knowing what potential consumers are searching for and interested in – down to specific terms and phrases – can be a huge help in getting your brand in front of them on the screen. Investing in the right SEO content takes time, but when done right, it does pay off.

 

Google Analytics: Are your customers shopping from their phone or their desktop? Did a big Instagram account tag you in a post and drive a few thousand people to your profile and website? Just how effective was that summer sale you had? Google Analytics can tell you all of that, and a whole lot more. The information provided by Google’s backend platform is extremely powerful in trained hands, and can help you identify consumer trends in geography, demographics, page views, promotions, etc. When you know what works, you can drop what doesn’t.

 

consumer behaviour - google data

Some metrics you can measure with Google Analytics (from Hubspot)

 

Competitor Analysis: If you’ve noticed a slump, take a look at what your competitors might be doing, and how you can switch up your approach. It might be as simple as one key element or bit of language you’re using (or not using).

 

Comments and Engagement Online: Do you maintain a blog or social accounts? (If not, you should!) Pop in to the comments and see what people are saying. Don’t be afraid of honest feedback – you might get questions or concerns, but you could also find compliments or recommendations for something new.

 

The RFM Method: Standing for “recency, frequency, monetary value”, this is a measure of how recently someone ordered from you, how many times they purchased from you in a given time frame, and how much they have spent since their first order. This is an excellent way to identify high-value, lifelong customers, and express your appreciation for their support.

 

consumer behaviour - rfm method

The RFM method for visualizing high-value customers (from Moengage)

 

Social Media: Do you have an ambassador who sings your praises all over their TikTok videos, or a shadow who pounces with negative comments as soon as you post anything, anywhere? We live in an age of immense data, and being able to use that information to create segments of your audience – “People Who Bought Something During This Sale”, “People Who Liked Ad #1”, etc. – lets you market more effectively to each, create better copy & imagery, and curate better content.

 

The needs, wants, and experiences of your customers are always the benchmark of ultimate success. By ensuring that your brand’s messaging and offerings mesh well with their behaviour patterns, you can create better campaigns that emotionally connect in the right way – leading to more success for you, and more satisfaction for them.

Having a professional team with the necessary tools and experience on your side is an excellent way to forge and solidify those connections. So when you’re ready to leverage the power of consumer behaviour, let us know!

How LinkedIn Advertising is Changing

With every new shift in consumer behaviour, the rules of advertising change as well. From newspaper pages and billboards to radio spots, TV commercials, and the infamous rise of the pop-up ad, staying informed of new trends – and visible in a sea of competitors – is crucial to success.

Over the last six months, we’ve watched one of these shifts happen before our eyes. One of the digital marketing world’s most well-known platforms, LinkedIn, has seen big changes in its traffic and cost-per-click (CPC) rates. Why is this happening? And more importantly, what does it mean for your company’s LinkedIn traffic and marketing success?

Working (and Browsing LinkedIn) from Home

As many workplaces went remote in the spring of 2020, something predictable happened: radio and TV ad spends became less important, and online advertising rose in prominence. People started spending more time online at home and growing their networks on platforms liked LinkedIn – engagement went up by 50%, with 26% more sessions overall. It’s no surprise, then, that a lot of B2B marketing occurs on LinkedIn, but now B2C companies are turning their attention there, too.

LinkedIn Advertising is Changing - B2B advertising platforms

LinkedIn leads the way in B2B advertising (from Omnicore Agency)

 

At first, that seems strange. Why those changes in Linkedin traffic and ads? But it’s important to note that many users on the site have a high “lifetime value” – that is, the things they purchase will not just be an impulse, but rather the start of a long consumer relationship. Industries like higher education, luxury goods, legal or financial services, recruitment, and automotive needs can all reach high-value lifetime customers, right there on LinkedIn.

The Impacts of Changing Online Activity

One of the biggest consequences of the shift to more online time is over-exposure to advertising. Many users are scrolling past ads on social media even more than usual, hardly even registering its presence. With that said, there are many more users than ever before – looking for new careers and opportunities, or building networks – and they’re ready to engage. They’re simply more picky about what to engage with, and a strong strategy is still a keystone to success.

This trend is combined with a surge in competition in some industries for online advertising space, as they try to make up for lost foot traffic and physical storefronts with increased online spends. For most industries, CPC rates went down – as some companies reduced their advertising budgets due to tighter finances – but for many large sectors, rates increased. Real estate and retail CPCs went up by roughly 15%, and construction and manufacturing went up by 5%. Others, such as home improvement, automotive, education, jobs, and legal services, all saw various increases, too. So if your boss has sent an unexpected email saying “Why does LinkedIn have high CPC?!” in all caps, know that you’re not alone in feeling the effects.

The Future of LinkedIn Advertising

While consumer habits have changed, their needs and wants are still there, waiting to be fulfilled. However, it is no longer good enough to simply make an offer and wait for sales and revenue to roll in, because those days are gone. Post-pandemic consumers want something more – something engaging, authentic, and valuable to their personalities.

LinkedIn Advertising is Changing - Customer Experience Mindset graphic

Keep the new customer experience in mind (from Forbes)

 

Here are some tips that will definitely come in handy for the future of advertising on LinkedIn:

  1. Be “cautiously creative” with new techniques, looks, audiences, and tools. People have moved from work computers to personal devices, throwing off all the carefully-calibrated algorithms of days past. But that’s okay! Experiment with different audiences, retargeting parameters, lifestyle demographics, and even creative tools like graphics and copy. Just make sure it’s not too off-the-wall or intrusive.

 

  1. Aim to help and educate rather than make a sale. Useful resources like blogs, e-books, webinars, and so on may take a while to pay off – but when they do, you’ve made a loyal, lifelong customer, who remembers the help you offered in a hard time.

 

  1. Use your full funnel and always get a way to follow up. With more eyes on your ads, you get more potential customers – but also a lot more dead ends. A properly-constructed sales funnel will guide the best ones to the end. Don’t forget to offer incentives that will help build an email list so you can follow up down the road.

 

  1. Be active when your audience is. The best results for boosted posts have changed to reflect the lack of commutes and office idle time. Wednesdays after 3, Thursdays between 9-10 AM, and Friday before lunch (11 AM–12 PM) are your best bet, while overall engagement trends have moved to roughly 8 AM to 4 PM.

 

  1. Stay upbeat and positive. There’s a lot going on, and people are often looking for an escape. Help them find it with positive messaging, optimistic offerings, and a way to forget their troubles for a moment or two.

 

If you need help defining your strategic LinkedIn advertising plan for the future, coming up with new branding, or creating a full eye-catching campaign, you’re in the right place! Let us know what you’re thinking, and together, we’ll come up with something tailored to your needs – after all, it’s what we’re best at!

6 Key Steps to Launch a Successful Digital Campaign

Have you ever noticed an ad for your local car dealership pop up in your favourite app? Or maybe you saw an offer on Instagram for a streaming service’s free month trial? These are examples of digital marketing campaigns: online marketing initiatives, usually across various channels, that support your larger digital strategy. Campaigns are the action-plan to a clearly defined goal, and they can be very effective if done strategically.

If you have decided that a digital campaign would support your business’s marketing objectives, here are a few key steps to consider in order to ensure a successful launch.

 

1) Define Your Goal

What is it that you want your campaign to achieve? Many businesses use digital campaigns to drive traffic to their website. Others are seeking to increase their social media following or build brand awareness, and most (if not all) are looking for direct conversions that will increase their bottom line. Defining your goal for the campaign is critical to measuring its success.

 

Campaigns are the action-plan to a clearly defined goal, and they can be very effective if done strategically.

2) Identify Your Target Audience

Anyone can throw photos, text, and advertising dollars out onto the internet and call it a digital campaign. But where would those efforts land, and who would see them? Promote to people who will interact with your campaign.

Tip: Imagine your ideal customer and build out a persona profile for that buyer. For example, a public elementary school looking to increase kindergarten enrollment might begin by describing their ideal persona as young, working parents who recently moved to the area, who are not overtly religious, and who value small classroom sizes and extra-curricular options. Developing these personas will help focus your campaign.

 

3) Find Your Audience Online

Taking clues from your target buyer’s profile (namely, their demographics and interests) will help you determine where they hang out online. Perhaps they spend a lot of time on social media, or maybe in such places as online games, podcast apps, YouTube, online retailers, recipe sites – the list goes on. Put your message where your audience is.

 

4) Know What Your Audience Is Looking For

Crafting your messaging is an obvious but important step. Before diving into catchy headlines and wordy descriptions, research what your audience is already searching for. What keywords are they typing into search engines to find your product, service, or solution? Help them find you! When your website displays commonly-searched words or phrases, Google will rank your page higher in the web results, putting you top of your buyer’s mind.

 

5) Set a Budget

Online advertising is one of the most cost-effective ways to promote your business. Why? For starters, your audience is already online. Last year, 94% of Canadians had home internet access while 87% made an online purchase. And of course, you can track the performance of online campaigns through analytic reports, which will give you information to make your ads more effective in the future.

Campaigns can run on as little as a couple dollars a day, but the more that is spent, the wider the reach and better the results. Determining a campaign spend will often depend on your overall digital marketing budget, and sometimes requires a little trial and error.

 

6) Continuously Monitor and Adjust Your Ads

Again, an advantage of running online campaigns is the ability to adjust your ads based on how they are performing. For example, you might notice a particular subset of people interacting with your content more than you had expected; you can then tweak your ad to target that demographic of people, and reduce ad spend on irrelevant audiences that aren’t engaging at all. This feature takes some of the guesswork out of your campaign!

 

Bonus Steps!

 

7) Use Your Social Media Channels Organically

Don’t forget to populate your social media pages with organic content, too. Keep your business pages active by posting content every few days and responding frequently to your followers’ comments. Whatever your industry, social media can play a vital role in enhancing your other marketing efforts.

 

8) Consider Retargeting Your Digital Campaign

Sometimes people need another gentle nudge. You have probably noticed an ad for that pair of shoes you were just looking at appear on the next website! It may seem a bit unsettling, but this is called retargeting or remarketing – and it often works. If you successfully bring your audience back to your site, they might decide to purchase the second (or third!) time.

 

By breaking down your digital campaign strategy into these smaller steps, you can increase the likelihood of launching a successful digital campaign. It may take some adjusting, but once campaigns are dialed in, they will generate a predictable cost per acquisition (or CPA), helping you to measure how much was spent on each conversion.

 

 

Interested in learning more or acquiring some help to start your digital campaign?
Our team of expert Digital Analysts are here for you!

In Ryan’s Words: Harnessing the Power of Digital to Take Your Brand Global

Digital technology has changed the world of business, and it enables brands of all sizes to reach previously impossible markets in record time. Compared to even 10 years ago, the world has shrunk, and the entrepreneurial spirit has grown to fill the gap. Businesses are growing, experiencing setbacks, overcoming them, and succeeding.

The digital marketplace presents infinite opportunities to go global, connecting businesses with more people in faster, easier ways. But it also presents unique challenges, because it’s chaotic, fluid, and competitive for scarce attention. Using technologies to market your brand overseas doesn’t guarantee success – it requires time, dedication and a lot of research.

Based on my agency’s experience helping diverse clients develop their businesses abroad, I’ve summarized some key tips to leverage your online footprint to connect with audiences and take your brand global in 2020:

Know your story, and tell it well

Starbucks. Microsoft. Apple. These brands all had humble beginnings (and I can relate). Now, the story of how their companies started transcends geography – and helps boost sales.

Why? It’s because buying decisions are 20% logical and 80% emotional. Today’s world moves fast, and consumers are used to being inundated with information. People hear stats and facts, but they feel stories. Business Insider, after analyzing the top 10% of articles that get shared online, found that playing to specific types of emotion can boost a brand’s chances of ‘going viral’. When shared in the right way, stories can form deep, meaningful connections with customers. The digital marketplace allows us to tell our stories where our customers already are – online.

The challenge is saturation. Many companies are using technologies to reach similar audiences. Your story is critical to help you stand out.

The logical question is: what is your story? Chances are, if you’re looking to expand, you’ve got a solid idea of what it is. If not, consider this: your brand story is why your company exists. It’s why the business started at all, and why you get up every morning to do what you do. It’s who you want to be to each person whose life is influenced by your work. Think of your company’s values and the people who add to its narrative of growth and success to help build your story. Then, infuse that story authentically throughout everything you do online (and elsewhere).

Know your market

What works in one market may not in another. Our agency has offices in four western Canadian cities, and business talks with our clients differ greatly in each one (online initiatives included).

Your brand needs to transcend geography, but it also has to be relevant to your potential market. That means understanding the sensitivities in each, so your brand, and thus your products and/or services, are appropriate. Even spelling can make a difference.

Consider factors such as being perceived as a local company when entering a new country. If that’s a goal, you’ll want to use the local vernacular throughout all of your digital initiatives. Alternatively, if you want to emphasize that you’re an expanding Canadian company with Canadian values, that strategy will differ.

Do research into your market ahead of time, and ensure that everything you say has value.

Know your audience

Knowing your target audience, and how to genuinely connect with them, is one of the most important things to consider when entering a new market. The ‘who’ should shape everything you do and every message you share should be relevant, aligned, and informed about your audience. Find where they are online and what resonates most with them. For example, if you’re hiring oil and gas workers in the U.S., specific recruitment platforms and targeted ads may work best.

Know the rules

There are digital essentials that your business should know before launching across borders. Just in the digital realm alone, local data privacy laws like GDPR in the Eurozone, restrictions on imports/exports, and data storage practices can mean big changes in policy. In addition, marketing materials, such as your website, brochures, and social media, should be translated by native speakers to ensure a more seamless transition.

Know you’re set up for success

For success in multiple countries, you must understand each local culture and network with people who can introduce you to the right opportunities.

People buy from people they like and trust – and building that trust in different markets is key. For example, digital marketing can be extremely effective in many locations, but word-of-mouth may be better in smaller communities, meaning you’ll need on-the-ground presence to supplement your initiatives. And who knows the locals better than the locals? Hire people from areas you’re targeting to fully embrace the culture and its nuances.

To develop a strong team, properly utilize digital tools that get share communications and workloads across several time zones. Consider whether you will need different servers or separate user accounts in each region. Create a lot of internal documentation, and make it available in a collaborative software suite like Google Drive, Dropbox, or Office 365.

Also, as important as your story is, remove emotional language and potential miscommunications from all international documents, or at least have a local team review it first.

The Internet is a great equalizer that can take your brand into a global market, but there are additional complexities that require the right team behind you – IT gurus, lawyers, business consultants and digital experts – to get you where you want to go. The above tips are great starting points to help you harness the power of the digital world and grow your business beyond borders. With the right research and growth strategy, there’s no telling where technology might take you.

 

Ryan Townend,
CEO of William Joseph Communications

Quantity vs. Quality: Ways to Measure ROI in Your Marketing

Being a marketing agency, we often hear the many doubts entrepreneurs and business owners have about spending money on marketing, and we get it. We understand you’ve put a lot into your business – money, time and emotion – and now that you’re gaining momentum (or perhaps need a little boost), it’s hard to justify investing in something that most likely won’t show immediate return. We’re here to tell you that, while it may not be immediate, there are tangible ways you can see your investment in marketing working for you.

Measuring return on investment (ROI) is critical in any area of business, but in marketing it gets special emphasis. Simply put, ROI measures gain or loss generated from an investment, be that a new product, service or, more relevant to our topic, a marketing campaign. So, you’ve decided to give marketing a go, but how do you know it’s working? Are you targeting the right demographics? Are you using the right social media channels for your industry? These are all questions an in-depth analysis of your marketing will answer.

Quantity: It’s in the Numbers

Quantitative measures are all about numbers – it’s data than can be counted or tallied. How many attendees came to the event? How many units were sold? How many leads were captured? How many likes on the last post? How many times was the blog shared? Measures like these are relatively easy to take into account because they’re backed by cold, hard facts. Some of these metrics include website traffic, number of leads, cost per lead, search visibility and revenue generated.

Together, these metrics help illustrate how your marketing is helping your company grow. Some, like website traffic, display how your content resonates with your audience. You can use this information to set percent-increase goals to ensure your improvement. Individually, you can compare these metrics to show which specific methods need refining or changing to optimize your strategy. This is often the preferred analysis of many decision makers who don’t necessarily have a deep understanding of marketing and its intricacies. It’s understandable why: quantitative measures provide visible, tangible results. However, when dealing with people and working to develop connections with them through your business, it’s often the qualitative data that shows growth.

Quality: All About Substance

This is where it starts to get tricky. A lot of qualitative data ends up looking something like “it seems to be better now” or, “the product is generally favourable.” These indirect benefits can be hard to pin down. Instead of data that you could easily punch into a calculator, qualitative data is information that provides feedback, and requires in-depth analysis.

Qualitative measures describe the benefits of marketing initiatives that have an impact on the organization and should be weighed accordingly, even if they are difficult to put a direct value on. However, there are lots of ways you can up your qualitative measures game. Creating thought leadership content highlights your expertise and positions you as an industry resource, and attracts business opportunities like press mentions, speaking engagements, or even new clients and partnerships.

Publishing high quality content empowers readers with knowledge, thus breaking down barriers and building lasting trust with your audience. Clients will be more interested in an email that shares a relevant article you wrote than a mundane sales pitch. This will become a conversation that is meaningful to the both of you, creating a lasting effect and mutually-beneficial relationship.

Measuring the immeasurable takes some time and allows us to embrace our creativity. The next big thing isn’t something fully predictable, and it might come from a small insight or idea that snowballs into its full potential. Don’t be afraid to try something because you’re not entirely sure how it’s going to pan out. This goes hand in hand with the idea that results take time.

But how are you supposed to know what to even measure when it comes to qualitative data? What information is valuable to your business and its growth? This all depends on the specific goals and objectives that you’ve set for your business, but even then, how do you merge quantitative and qualitative data into something tangible? Luckily, turning data into tangible information on your ROI is what we do. If we need a hand with your marketing analytics, give us a call.

The Benefits of Niche Marketing

When you think of successful marketing campaigns, chances are you’re thinking of major brands that can appeal to nearly everyone. We’ve all seen a Coke-A-Cola ad that pulls at our heartstrings or a Dove video that forces us to rethink beauty standards. What these powerful campaigns have in common is the ability to take a product (or service) that most of us use on a regular basis and force us to see it in a new light. They make us think outside the box, and in turn we keep them top of mind.

But what if your company provides a product or service that isn’t so commonly used? You may be a B2B business that sells equipment to oil and gas companies or develops tires for road bikes. Naturally, the smaller your target audience is, the less interest the general public will have in your brand. However, this does not mean you can’t have an effective marketing campaign or strategy that would resonate with audiences – even if they’re outside of your target. You may be thinking “what’s the point of developing a marketing strategy at all if I only sell to a specific group of people?” Well, a tailored, niche marketing strategy might be just the thing you need to be able to reach your consumer (public or not), and here’s why:

Target your customer base more accurately

Long gone are the days of “spraying and praying” marketing. Fifty years ago, nearly everyone watched the same television programs, listened to the same radio stations and read the same newspapers, so the chances of advertising with one of these mediums meant you had a pretty good chance of reaching your target. But, as technology evolved, developments made it easier for people to chose what media to consume and marketing became a lot more focused and complex (thanks a lot, internet). Luckily, so have our companies.

By doing comprehensive research into who your audiences are (demographics, interests, social media habits, etc.) you’ll be able to identify how they spend their time and consume their information, thus making it simpler for you to reach them.

Now that you know how to reach your niche audience, communicating with them effectively will allow you to develop stronger relationships. By developing a strong marketing campaign that allows you to interact with your current and potential customers on a more personal level, you will in turn be creating brand loyalty. Communicating to a smaller number of people allows them to get to know you and your team closely, making them feel like they’re a part of something bigger.

Increase Word-of-Mouth Referrals

No matter what your business is, we’re going to guess your goal is to grow it. It’s no secret that word-of-mouth is one of the most effective forms of communication – in fact, 92% of people would take a recommendation from family and friends over traditional advertising. Why? Because you’re always going to trust someone you know more than a brand or business you don’t, bringing us right back to having closer connections with your niche market. So, once your audience develops that trust with your brand, they’re going to sing your praises to their contacts. This is especially true in niche marketing, where your audience is smaller and more targeted, meaning they’re likely to have connections with each other.

Get Ahead of your Competition

If you’re in a B2B industry where marketing isn’t overly prevalent, a marketing will help get you ahead of the game. By communicating with those that follow your brand and sharing your company culture, as well as industry thoughts and insights, you’re staying top of mind and positioning yourself as an organization passionate about what it does. It doesn’t matter whether your own a B2B or B2C business, people want to be associated with brands that care about their work.

Just because none of your competitors are using marketing strategies that put them top of mind and ahead of the curve doesn’t mean you need to follow suit – stand out and become a leader!

Create an Emotional Connection

Yup, we’re going to end off on a heavy note. It doesn’t matter if you’re products or services aren’t “exciting,” we guarantee your business effects your audiences on a deeper level than you think. The business development manager whose attention you’re trying to get? Chances are he or she has a family they are providing for. The work you do directly affects the lives of everyone involved – whether that be your customer or your employee. So, it’s important to communicate your organizations mission and values in an effective way to different audiences, no matter how small that group may be.

When it comes to interesting, heartfelt marketing campaigns, Enbridge – an energy transportation company – most likely wouldn’t be your first thought. However, one look at their website and you know where their values stand – providing ethical and safe energy resources for the community they serve. Sure, energy may not be exciting, but knowing that your energy provider has your family’s best interests at heart, that’s something most people can get behind.

Marketing to a smaller number of people, about a topic (you may) not think is overly “marketable” might not seem like a smart investment – but we’re here to tell you it’s just the opposite. In fact, it may be one of the smartest things you can do to get noticed in the right circles and take your business to the next level. Not sure where to start? Let us know, we’re here to help.