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!

Social Media Analytics: Finding Insights and Information

Over the last few months, we’ve been going over the basics of social media strategies, how to pick the best social media content and themes, and a guide for automatically scheduling posts. So if you’re here – congratulations, you’re well on your way to a strong social media presence! Now that you’ve got content going out regularly, it’s important to track its performance and find out what’s working and what is not. Welcome to the wonderful world of social media analytics. 

Analytics are the data metrics that allow you to get insights into how well your content is performing on social media platforms. This social data monitoring ranges from very specific actions to broad patterns in thousands of user interactions. Knowing how to read these numbers holds the key to refining and improving your posts over time. 

social media analytics - reporting
Keep track of your social media presence with analytics (from Sprout Social) 

 

Reading Social Media Reports 

With so many different metrics to track, you may find it overwhelming to figure out exactly which ones you should be looking at, or even what they mean in the first place. Not every number will apply to every social media strategy, so streamlining your data is important. Here are the basics for social media monitoring: 

Impressions and Reach: Impressions are the total number of potential views of your media, while Reach is the number of potential viewers. These can differ, as the same content displaying multiple times to the same person only increases Impressions. And remember, an impression or a reach doesn’t mean the person actually read your content! 

Engagement Rate: This tracks how actively involved your users/viewers are with your content. It can usually be further broken down into Clicks, Reactions, Comments, and Shares, and these are weighted differently (e.g. someone sharing your post is a better sign than just liking it, which is in turn better than just clicking on it). 

 

social media analytics - engagement rateThe engagement rate formula (from Hopper HQ) 

 

Demographics: Find out how your audience breaks down by age, gender, preferences, interests, education, industry, or many other factors. Knowing this, and how different demographics engage with your content, is helpful in improving your content as well as your ad strategy. 

Conversions: This monitors whether your audience is performing a desired outcome from your content – making a purchase, visiting your website, requesting a quoteetc. Ultimately this is one of the more important metrics to track, as it’s the more likely to lead to an actual customer than just a simple like or comment. 

There are far more advanced metrics to track (ever heard of bounce rates, cost-per-mille, or acquisitions?) but these are the big ones that can help guide you forward. But now, with so much information at your disposal, you’re probably wondering – where do I even begin? 

 

Social Media Analytics Tracking Platforms 

Tracking things like reach, engagement, brand mentions, and other metrics can be extremely time-consuming without the right tools. Even for the basics, rather than going through each of your social accounts individually, we recommend using a good reporting platform. Luckily, many of the same scheduling tools we talked about in our previous blog – like HootsuiteSEMRush, and Sprout Social – also have decent analytics functions for major social media apps, as well as the ability to monitor your competitors. And, to monitor social traffic heading to your website, you can’t go wrong with Google Analytics, which is tailored specifically for that purpose. 

social media analytics - reporting
A Google Analytics dashboard (from Neil Patel) 

If you’re also using a paid social media strategy, such as boosted posts or advertising, there are more robustools, like Google Data StudioZoho, or even the built-in Facebook Business Manager (which has its own mobile app, Facebook Ads Manager, for on-the-go access). These will let you break down your audience with ease, far beyond the usual demographics, with factors like video views or prior interactions on your website. Setting these up and linking all your various web presences together as one cohesive unit takes much longer, but if you’re committed to taking full advantage of every tool in the digital box, feel free to dive in. 

All in all, analytics are about knowing what information you need and deciding on a reliable way to get that social media data. Monitoring your social accounts may seem daunting at first, but once you get the hang of it, the payoff is worth the effort. And if you really don’t have the time or the patience to learn, that’s okay, too – because that’s what we’re here for! William Joseph’s social media management packages include monthly analytics reports for all your platforms. So whether you’re just starting out and need help getting set up, or you’re simply too busy and need to free up some time, let us know and we’ll figure out a winning social media strategy together! 

Making an Effective Ad Strategy: Information vs. Irritation

Over the last few months, the huge influx of emails sent out by companies regarding their pandemic policies has become a running joke. Inboxes are crammed full of seemingly unnecessary messages – and most of the time, those emails are immediately deleted, unopened.

This trend highlights the divide between information marketing vs. irritation marketing. Irritation is when your ad – whether an email, banner ad, or any other form – has placement, frequency, or content that ends up annoying your target audience. Information, on the other hand, is being creative and savvy enough with your ads to clearly show how you (or your products) can solve your audience’s problem.

Marketing in the Age of Information

So how can you be sure that you’re seen as an informative, helpful presence, and not an annoying one? Here are some things to consider when planning an ad strategy:

 

  • What are your goals? The requirements of marketing to sell products, generate web traffic, or promote an Instagram contest are all different. Know what you hope to achieve before you start, and track data before and after so you can follow how well you’re doing. As a general rule, value offers (like discounts) will drive good results.

 

  • Focus your message: Templated, copy-and-paste emails are a death sentence for your open rate. Build your brand’s personality, keep it authentic, and focus on reaching the people and groups that it will resonate with. As Diego Santos, the Marketing Manager of Hubspot EMEA, says, “Small and authentic will win over big and generic every time.”

 

  • Find the right frequency: Most email users unsubscribe from lists because they are simply sent too many, and we’ve all seen the same Facebook ad repeated in our timeline, over and over again. If your “Unread” rate is high on an email campaign, and your digital ads aren’t converting, try reducing your frequency.

 

  • Retargeting: If your audience needs a few touchpoints to purchase or convert, it’s a common marketing mistake to let them pass you by – especially right now, with everyone having increased screen time. A great email campaign strategy retargets people who may not be all the way through your sales funnel, and offers unique incentives for them to keep going.

Building Effective Email Marketing Strategies

Email marketing is the most reliable method of reaching your audience – after all, if someone trusted you with their contact information, they must have some interest in what you offer. Here are some key steps for creating the perfect email digital marketing campaign, and avoiding irritation territory.

  • Engage new users within 24 hours, and have a way to get feedback
  • Hyperlink images and include at least one relevant CTA
  • Use social sharing buttons
  • Monitor performance, and use the data to clean up inactive contacts
  • Proofread everything a few times
  • Triggers are extremely effective for retargeting – these send automatic emails when certain events (purchases, site visits, abandoned carts, etc.) are performed. Regularly review automatic emails to avoid mistakes

Giving Information, Not Irritation

A lot of variation exists within marketing, but there are some definite trends that you can count on to help make your strategies the best they can be. For example, with the huge rise in online advertising – and the often-intrusive nature of many of them – many people consider mobile ads to be extremely irritating. This goes up even more if it has a “clickbait” title, or it looks unprofessional or spammy. Put the effort in to show your brand as the leader it is, and it’ll go a long way.

 

Being genuine and personal in your marketing is so crucial because there is no one-size-fits-all perfect solution. By connecting with the people who react positively to what you offer, you build a base of lifelong advocates for your brand. If you haven’t already, the best time to do that is now – and if you need advice, William Joseph is here to help!

The Marriage Between Marketing and Typography

Content is king. Be honest, you’ve heard the phrase before. You don’t have to be a marketing or communications professional (or a business owner receiving advice from a marketing or communications professional) to have heard it. The deeper we dive into the digital age, the more intuitive consumers are becoming about what they are, in fact, consuming. Traditional advertising techniques of simple exposure are no longer adequate as audiences continue to educate themselves on the brands they interact with. So, content – genuine information disseminated to audiences in a relatable way – is king. But what about the way in which it’s delivered?

As we continue to evolve and become smarter and more in tune with the world around us, no longer is content alone enough. Brands need to be smarter in every way possible – people aren’t going to place trust in your brand if you have excellent information on a website that is poorly designed and took little thought or effort to build. A brand must encompass its message literally and visually. While investing in graphic design is no groundbreaking advice (duh!), few people know exactly how important every single element of your brand is, including one of the most crucial: your font choice.

Yes, you read right. Think you can slap Arial or Times New Roman onto your webpage and you’re good to go? Think again. Typography has the ability to evoke emotion within the reader and provide them with a glimpse into the personality of your brand. Here are a few ways you can utilize your font choice to your advantage:

Highlight the Points that Matter Most

A major component of typography is hierarchy. When it comes to any sort of marketing material, whether it be a brochure or website, the order of information is integral to holding a reader’s attention. In general, more important information should be more prominent and eye-catching to ensure the message is received. Using a larger and bolder font that grabs the reader’s attention is a seamless way to achieve this. When it comes to sending a message, bigger really is better.

Create Brand Consistency and Recognition

Think of Disney for a second – we bet you can clearly picture its signature logo, and with good reason. A timeless classic brand deserves a timeless, classic (and whimsical) font. Selecting the typeface that represents what your business stands for and what you want to communicate to the world is going to become a representation of your brand. If you maintain a consistency in the visual way you communicate with your readers, your brand will become recognizable in a multitude of ways. Whether your business is more creative or industrial in nature, the font you choose to carry your message should reflect that.

It’s important to not only define what your business does, but what values you want it to represent. Being clear on what your ‘why’ is will allow you to gain deeper understanding into what you want to achieve. Once you have these pieces, you’ll know what your brand represents and how you want that to come across visually. It’s important to leave no detail untouched, and font choice is a critical detail.

Communicate with Your Audience in More Ways Than One

As briefly mentioned earlier, font has the incredible power to evoke emotion. In fact, there is a large area of study on the psychology of typography. Humans are inherently visual beings, and our ability to understand emotions from typeface isn’t unlike our ability to do the same by viewing different facial expressions. Just by looking at someone’s face, we know whether they are happy, sad, angry or afraid, and whether we know it or not, we can do the same simply by looking at text. Cursive font is elegant, serif is classic, sans serif is modern, and so on. If a brand were to use Comic Sans (although, please don’t), you’d know immediately that they are providing information that is light-hearted and funny. Ever read a text message in ALL CAPS and felt as though the person was ‘yelling’? It’s because their message was large and demanded attention.

It’s important to consider the tone of the message you want to communicate with your audience and select a font that appropriately reflects it.

Ensure Language and Font Align

Going in-hand with our previous point, typography alone has the power to communicate with your audience, but you better make sure the content reflects what you’re trying to say. Your language should influence your font selection and vice versa. You know what you want to say, now select how the message will be perceived. If content is king, then font is queen – they are strong on their own, but stronger together.

We could go on and on about the endless ways font and typography influence your marketing. A seemingly minor detail such as this has the power to captivate and leave a lasting impression on audiences. Chances are that your font selection – unless truly awful and illegible – won’t ruin your business, but it won’t do you any favours either. A truly excellent font, however, can make a world of difference. A simple way to test the theory is to do an A/B test (perhaps for an email newsletter) with different fonts and monitor which receives more interaction from readers. Which font do you choose? Well, that is the tough part. Luckily, we have an entire creative department at William Joseph full of designers who are experts in the field of graphic design and typography. If you have any questions about how to use typography to your advantage, feel free  to give us a shout.

Is Social Media Right For Your B2B Business?

If your business relies on consumers, social media is a dream. For little to no cost (more so little than no, but that’s another topic altogether) you can reach and connect with your target audiences and communicate your brand story effectively. Not only can you advertise new services and products, but also respond to comments and inquiries from devoted followers and potential customers. As social media becomes more and more integrated into our daily lives, we are becoming increasingly reliant on it to help determine which brands we deem credible, creating plenty of opportunity to use it to advance your business.

But what is the point of all of this if your business is in the business of doing business with other businesses (yup, we went there)? Sure, your target audience is most likely using social media – nearly all of us are – but this isn’t how connections are made with potential partnering companies, right? Not necessarily. Don’t let the perception of being in a potentially ‘boring’ industry fool you, social media is a powerful tool for most brands, regardless of service or scope.

So now that we’ve determined clothing brands don‘t have a monopoly on social media, how do you begin to know how to use it for your brand? Here are a few tips for you to help up your social game for your B2B business:

Get to know your audience

If your company makes specialized cabinets for home developers, you may not think your target audience is on social media, but you may be surprised. People who aren’t using some form of social media in 2018 are few and far between, and while it may not be a direct source of business development for you, there is still value in maintaining activity on the social channels your audience uses. Staying in your audiences’ feeds will keep your business top of mind, making your brand the first they think of when needed.

It’s also important to consider where your audience is most active – there would be no point in making Instagram your top priority when people in your industry use Twitter the most. Do some research into what platforms your target audience uses and what kind of content they share and respond to most.

Become a thought leader

When it comes to business, social media is not only about sales, especial for B2B industries. It can be an immensely powerful tool in establishing your company as a leader. Be proactive, rather than reactive, and become a resource of information for your industry. Share articles, information, blog posts, news and more. Provide opinions on current industry trends and demonstrate how you apply them to your business. By sharing your knowledge online you are setting your business apart from the rest, showing your passion and knowledge for your craft. People want to hire the best of the best, so show that you are exactly that.

Create relatable content

Part of the reason countless brands have found social media to be a valuable addition to their marketing strategy is because it makes them more relatable to their audiences. Social media has become popular because it allows us to connect on a deeper level to those around us. You can use social media to your advantage simply by sharing information on your team and your corporate social responsibility initiatives, and providing a more personalized look into your daily operations. It’s easier to do business with brands you feel like you know and trust, so make it easy for those you want to reach.

Having some difficulties finding your audience, or have questions about how much is too much information to share? Navigating social media as a business can be difficult. Luckily, we’re pretty good at identifying brand needs and developing strategic social media plans – if you have any questions, give us a shout!

The New Age of Influencer Marketing

In the age of social media, platforms such as Youtube and Instagram have become the ultimate resource for product research. When we can’t get the information we need from our friends, we turn to social media to learn about and discuss products and brands in great detail – after all, the people talking about them are just like us. Naturally, those that develop honest, trusted content that appeals to the masses will become more popular and their opinions will be revered and valued – enter the birth of the influencer.

Who is an influencer? An influencer is someone who people turn to for enjoyable content that is, for the most part, informative – therefore ‘influencing’ social media trends and, in turn, the culture around them. It makes perfect sense then that followers would be interested in the products these influencers are talking about. So while authentic word-of-mouth can never be replaced, it only makes sense that influencer recommendations would become a strong marketing strategy as our lives becoming increasingly intertwined with social media.

Influencer Marketing – the act of partnering with an influencer to promote a product or business – has become more and more popular as social media platforms continue to grow. As influencers become an increasingly trusted source for their audiences, marketing agencies are working with them to promote targeted brands and products. And while most influencers are now (transparently) being paid for their services, most make it an ethical point to be honest in their reviews, thus maintaining their integrity amongst followers.

Because of the visibility and authenticity it offers, Influencer Marketing is an extremely effective tool for many brands, both large and small. If you’re thinking about working with influencers to promote your brand, here are some ways you can ensure your efforts are effective:

Identify Your Target Audience

While an influencer may love your product so much they feel the need to shout it from the social media mountaintops, your brand won’t benefit if the right people don’t get the message. A crucial step in developing marketing tactics is identifying your objectives and ensuring they are tailored for the correct audiences. If you’re selling a product meant for people ages 40-60, engaging with an Instagram influencer most likely will not help you achieve your goals. Understanding what your audience is interested in, how they use social media and where they get their information from will help you identify the kind of influencer you want to partner with.

Have a niche product that you want to market to a very specific target audience? A micro-influencer may have just the right amount of clout to reach them effectively.

Understand Your Social Media Landscape

Now that you know who your target audience is, you need to learn which influencer(s) will be best for your marketing campaign and why. Are you targeting a specific city, or is your campaign national? Is it important for audiences to simply be exposed to the content, or do you want them engaging through comments? Answering key questions such as these will help you choose the right influencer that will help push your marketing efforts further.

Be Clear About Your Ask

Brands are often put off by Influencer Marketing because of its perceived inconsistency. Not only is its effectiveness difficult to measure, but the content created by the influencer is often not what the brand envisioned. However, if this has happened to your business, you should ask yourself if you were absolutely clear with the influencer about what you expected out of the partnership. Did you send them a product to test without any explicit request for review on their platforms? Did you think they were going to make an Instagram post but instead they only shared the product on their Instagram story?

As influencers are working with more and more brands on a daily basis, it is crucial that you communicate exactly what it is you want from them in terms of coverage. That way there is no ambiguity and both parties will be clear on what is expected.

 Ensure Transparency and Authenticity

While you may be explicit in the amount of posts you’d like them to share with their audiences, it is important both to the influencer and their audiences that the content remain authentic – and it should be important to you too. As previously mentioned, the reason Influencer Marketing is so effective is because audiences have developed a level of trust with the influencer and are confident that the information they share is honest. If you believe in your product so will the influencer and, in turn, their followers.

That being said, audiences want to know when an influencer is being paid to promote something or has a partnership with a brand. Transparency is highly valued in Influencer Marketing, so if an influencer wishes to express that the post is paid or they are working closely with your brand, let them.

As we become increasingly more connected with the world around us through social media, influencers will continue to be a source of reliable information for consumers. However, identifying whether or not Influencer Marketing is right for your brand is not always easy. At William Joseph Communications, our years of experience will help you identify the right marketing strategies for your business  – feel free to reach out if you have any questions.

Top Trends for Social Media in 2018

 

Come gather ’round people
Wherever you roam
And admit that the waters
Around you have grown
And accept it that soon
You’ll be drenched to the bone
If your time to you
Is worth savin’
Then you better start swimmin’
Or you’ll sink like a stone
For the times they are a-changin’.

When Bob Dylan wrote that iconic song (The Times They Are A-Changin’) back in 1963, he couldn’t have imagined that it would apply so perfectly, 55 years later, to a social landscape of a different kind. Social media has revolutionized our culture, and it continues to evolve at a pace so rapid that many of us have a hard time keeping up with it.

As marketers, it’s our job to keep up with social media trends. If we don’t, just like Dylan says, we’re doomed to sink like stones – losing the attention of important audiences and inevitably, losing out on revenue too.

There are about 2.5 billion social media users out there today. In the ocean that is modern social media, what trends will keep your marketing afloat? We’ve narrowed the list down to a Top 3:

  1. Live Video Content

According to Facebook, live streaming video receives 6X the engagement as non-live video. That’s a statistic that can’t be ignored, and the nuances of it are changing. Facebook recently announced a test run for what they call Watch Party – a feature that allows admins to choose any public Facebook video and show it to a group along with a dedicated comment real. The idea is to create a shared and active viewing experience, one that is more intimate and creates an immediate sense of community among selected viewers. Facebook’s VP of Product, Fidji Simo, says, With everyone watching, commenting and reacting to the same moments together, it creates a shared viewing experience for video that helps build the kind of community and engagement we’ve seen with Live.”

Other social platforms offer live video features too. All kinds of businesses and brands are using Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to live stream content, engaging users by including them at events they otherwise would not be able to see.

  1. Messaging Apps as a Means of Customer Communication

Most people think of apps like Messenger, WhatsApp and WeChat as nothing more than an alternative to SMS or iMessage, but the marketing implications for these popular modes of quick communication are massive. An astounding 4 billion people use some form of alternate text messaging, and smart companies are utilizing this direct line of communication with individual customers in way that is transforming the face of customer service. The Hyatt chain of hotels, for example, is using Messenger as a means for guests to make reservations, ask questions, and get information for their trips. Texting apps are a faster and easier method for customers to get information or assistance they need from your businesses, and they’re a benefit to you in terms of cost efficiency and scalability. It’s a win-win idea, and it’s gaining steam.

  1. Virtual Experiences

If you want customers to engage with your brand, you need to reach them on a human level – and virtual experiences do just that. The rise in popularity of videos and features like Instagram Stories make it possible to connect with customers one-on-one in a deeply personal and memorable way. Virtual experiences put your followers (i.e. customers) within the story you’re telling, and the impact can be profound.  Take this terrific Virtual Giving Trip video created by TOMS Shoes for example:

https://youtu.be/jz5vQs9iXCs

The effect is better when you have a virtual reality headset or viewer, but you get the idea. Customers get to see (and feel) the impact of their TOMS purchase in a meaningful way. The feel-good factor of this virtual experiences cements users to the TOMS brand in a way that only human emotion can.

According to the Consumer Technology Association’s 2018 Tech Trends to Watch, virtual experiences are expected to generate up to 18% more revenue and 25% more units sold this year for companies that utilize them, so if you’re already dedicating some of your marketing budget to video, you should consider devoting a portion of it to virtual experience.

Yes indeed, the times for social media marketing are definitely a-changin’, and these three examples barely scratch the surface of it. Want to know the other social media trends your business should be aware of in 2018? Hit us up for a meeting. We’d be happy to share.

Our Favourite Christmas Campaigns of 2017

Ohh, the holiday season. Who doesn’t love the abundance of holiday baking, extravagant gifts, eggnog, and quality time spent with family and friends? The best part about the holiday season for team WJ? All the ambitious Christmas advertising.

This is the time of year where retailers “make their money back” – literally. In 2013, North American’s spent US $3 trillion over the holidays, which reflects 19.2 percent of the sales from the entire year.

Many businesses recognize their potential to bring in the big bucks over this short two-month period. You may have noticed that advertising efforts have been revved up, and large-scale marketing campaigns and holiday ads are everywhere you look. With a piece of a three trillion-dollar pie at stake, retailers know that spending a little extra on an innovative or touching campaign is worth it, even if it means getting the smallest piece of that pie.

This year, businesses are using a variety of methods to reach their audience. Whether using emotion, humour, or visually-stimulating creative, here are just a few of our favourite holiday campaigns of 2017.

Compelling Visuals: Asda – “The Imaginarium”; This advert follows a young girl and her grandfather as they enter a world of wonder – the Christmas Imaginarium. The one-minute ad is chock-full of bright colours, special effects, and grandiose ideas of Christmas come to life. This keeps viewers engaged and in a state of wonder as they anticipate what creative images will be in the next frame.

Humour: Spotify – “2018 Goals”; Humour is one of the most effective way of reaching Millennials, who are one of the largest generations in history, and who spend $600 billion a year. Spotify, an online music streaming platform, recognized that to get Millennials to pay attention to an ad, they would need to really entertain them. The campaign was entitled “2018 Goals” and featured witty one-liners such as “2018 Goals: Be as loving as the person who put 48 Ed Sheeran songs on their “I Love Gingers” playlist” and “2018 Goals: Take a page from the 3,445 people who streamed the “Boozy Brunch” playlists on a Wednesday this year.” Well done Spotify, well done.

Controversy: Greggs – “Nativity Scene Sausage Roll”; Without question, a primary goal of any marketing is to get people talking, and by any means possible. Controversy is a tried-and-true tactic to accomplish this, and Greggs, the largest bakery chain in the United Kingdom, made it their mission to get tongues wagging. Greggs released their holiday campaign in November 2017, and it featured a nativity scene, with just one small difference – baby Jesus was replaced by a sausage roll. The ad went viral, with critics denouncing the ad as disrespectful, blasphemous and offensive. Blasphemous or not, it made the world aware of Greggs, so they haven’t entirely lost.

Emotion: The Children’s Hospice – “#FirstChristmas”; This minute-and-a-half video meant to portray the “true meaning of Christmas” certainly pulls at the heartstrings. It depicts a couple who are experiencing their first Christmas since losing their son, and whether you have experienced this type of personal loss or not, it is difficult to watch this advert without being touched.

No matter what hooks you, there is a lesson in marketing that can be found in each of these examples. The trick? Weaving in your brand’s story, in a way that is also appealing, and speaks to, the masses. Need help refining your story, or your brand? info@williamjoseph.com

Changing Behaviour Through Social Marketing

We’ve all seen the advertisements: Don’t litter, do recycle, don’t eat fast food, do eat your vegetables. As consumers, we are constantly inundated with marketing messages telling us what we should and shouldn’t do, all with our own benefit in mind. However, are a few ads really enough to shift our thinking and ultimately change our behaviour? And, if they aren’t, then what is?

Cue the mastery of Social Marketing.

Social marketing, as per the Community Tool Box, a global online resource for those looking to build healthier communities and bring about social change, is “an approach used to develop activities aimed at changing or maintaining people’s behaviour for the benefit of individuals and society as a whole.” Social marketing is a strategy employed by marketers that, when done correctly, can change behaviour – not just how people think about an issue or topic. It is frequently used by non-profit organizations, government organizations, the health-related field as well as marketers to connect with audiences, shift mentality and, overarchingly, to change behaviour. These organizations employ a consumer-centric approach to their strategies to truly understand their audience’s behaviours as a means of identifying how to change them.

At the very core of this marketing strategy is the idea that, as Sustainablebrands.com eludes, the new behaviour should have a seemingly higher value than the current behaviour. There are many different tactics advertisers use to encourage this change. Here are just a few examples:
Emotion: Fear, shame and guilt can prove to be effective triggers in changing behaviour. Think about ‘Stop Smoking’ campaigns, for example, which use scare tactics as a means of getting powerful messages about the negative impacts that smoking can have on life, health and family to consumers. From disturbing images on cigarette cartons to emotion-evoking commercials, these tactics are also employed by other organizations, including Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), recycling initiatives, health-related non-profits, and so on. A study conducted by Brennan and Binney (2010) found that use of fear and other such emotions to target a group of people can invoke emotions of self-protection and voluntary compliance, whereby people are likely to act if it is in their own best interest. A sample of one commercial can be found here.

Alternatively, positive emotions such as pride, self-confidence and self-worth are common themes in the beauty industry for inspiring change and provoking brand or product adoption. Think of the Dove ‘Real Beauty’ campaign, which encourages women of all ages, ethnicities and body types to look at themselves differently. The campaign went viral by relating to the emotions felt by almost every woman at some point in her life. Through consistent messaging, expressive visuals and messaging, as well as strategic consumer targeting, Dove won the hearts of many: Check it out here.

Education: Using education and knowledge as a means of shifting attitudes and changing behaviours is no new concept. As the Guardian (sustainable business) identifies, achieving sustainable behaviour change lies “in understanding your consumer and then using this understanding to offer them an exchange they will value.” We often see this employed with health-related and eco-based organizations and initiatives, such as fitness facilities, specialized health programs, green marketing initiatives, and so on. Using education as a means of changing behaviour can be a challenging feat as social change is not always based on using convincing facts, important information or logic. In fact, more often than not, social marketing digs a bit deeper, connecting with the very emotions of target audiences (which is probably why, in some cases, playing on emotion works better than education).

As Chris Pemberton of Gartner for Marketers discerns, “Increased social activity does not automatically lead to positive business results.” So, what makes for good social marketing?


A well-defined audience

Defining your audience is a key part of social marketing – how can you change behaviour if you don’t know who you want to engage?  Effective social marketing cannot be painted with a broad brush. To be successful, you need to see things from your audiences’ perspective. You need to understand them, how they think, and why they do whatever it is they do. Essentially, they must be clearly defined to best determine how to connect with them based on their motivations, values, social norms, buying habits, and so on.

An emotional approach to building connections

The Centre of Excellence for Public Sector Marketing (CEPSM) indicates that people are not always driven by logical, rational, or coherent internal motivations when it comes to social marketing. Rather, effective social marketing often plays on emotions over an extended period of time, drawing the attention of audience and relating to them by connecting with them and demonstrating a desired behaviour or thought process. Entrepreneur.com describes that authenticity is equally important in social marketing, and that quality over quantity is valued, especially when trying to change behaviour over the long-term.

An effective, consistent strategy

As we mentioned earlier, successful social marketing strategies must have a long-term goal. A consumer-centric approach to strategy, with good communication, a detailed audience analysis and a long-term lens will make for an effective social marketing strategy. As CEPSM advocates, breaking down big behavioural changes into smaller pieces will make efforts more impactful, and increase the long-term sustainability of the changes. While this long-term approach will require more resources than a short-term plan, the results of consistent, on-going messaging prove to be drastically more successful.

Social Media Best Practices

Social media: the “be all, end all” of 2017 marketing strategies, and for good reason. Businesses operating in both B2B and B2C contexts use social media to start conversations with consumers, increase brand recognition, generate leads and, of course, generate loyalty. In short, social media marketing is good for business. The issue is that it is in a constant state of change, rapidly evolving and expanding at a pace that most businesses are finding challenging to keep up with. Amidst the confusion, some businesses (both big and small) are opting out.

Are you one of those businesses? If so, we’re here to help convince you otherwise. A report released by WeAreSocial.com found that there are currently 2.56 billion global mobile social media users (34% global penetration), with 1 million new active mobile social users added every day. This is a MASSIVE market that your business can and should capitalize on, despite the challenges that the fluidity of the social world presents.

How can you take advantage of social media, you ask? First, let’s dive into the WHY.
WHY SOCIAL MEDIA

Are you looking to grow quickly? Reach a wider target audience? Or, perhaps, just connect with your consumers? Not only does a strong social media presence encourage two-way dialogue between you and your target audience, but social media allows you to develop targeted grassroots campaigns, engage with your audience, and build brand equity. Just to name a few other reasons, social media allows your business to:

  • Build on your current marketing efforts and drive traffic to your website
  • Tell your brand story
  • Increase awareness of your products and services
  • Share current, relevant and targeted content
  • Build credibility, both in the digital and physical sphere
  • Improve your SEO
  • Generate more leads
  • Establish your brand as an industry expert
  • Managing your online reputation
  • Direct conversations to your target audience, no matter how niche they are
  • Evaluate how good you’re doing by monitoring your competitors, and using that knowledge to stay one step ahead of them
  • Be approachable, engage, and respond to praise and criticism

If your business is looking to grow, expand into new markets, attract new customers, or just be successful in general, you need to be present (and active) on social media. Based on experience, here are our top 5 social media best practices for businesses of all sizes.

Tip 1: Choose the right platforms. Don’t senselessly try and be present on every social platform. It’s not realistic. Choose what’s right for your business – analyze your target audience, and base what platforms you use off their activity on those platforms. In other words, understand the strengths of each platform. Are you a photographer attracting millennials? Instagram is the way to go. Are you a recruiter hiring for a variety of positions? LinkedIn is your best bet. Based on your marketing and social media strategy, create and share content that is relevant to that platform, and to the audience using it.

Tip 2: Get visual. Let’s look at the stats: Posts which have appealing images increase a person’s willingness to click that post by 80%, and 51% of marketing professionals agree that video content produces the best ROI (Meetsoci.com). HubSpot similarly found that visual content is more than 40X more likely to get shared on social media than other types of content. This includes videos, photos, infographics, memes, snaps… the list is endless. The more visual your content, the better.

Tip 3: Keep the “social” in social media. Social media is the perfect setting to have two-way conversations with your audience. It’s an opportunity to listen, see what’s being said about your brand (both directly and indirectly) and respond. Interact, be present, and be an accurate representation of your brand. This is also a good opportunity to look at your competition and see how they are managing their online brand, who they are targeting and what content they are publishing. Free analytic sites such as Fanpage Karma and LikeAlyzer for Facebook, which allows you to copy the URL of any Facebook account, gives basic metrics and a general analysis of how a page is performing. Use them to learn from your competition, what they are doing right and wrong, and plan to be a step ahead.

Tip 4: Don’t stray from your brand, but don’t be afraid so break some rules either. Staying true to Tip 3, you need to identify your brand’s voice and tone across all of your accounts. While you will receive positive feedback, it’s equally important to pay attention to the negative feedback, and address it. Don’t lie to make your business or services sound better than what they are. Be authentic, be human, and build trust by being honest with your audience. Consider Wendy’s, for example, and their combination of honesty and humour across social accounts to communicate and relate to their audience. When being challenged on their products or services, or when consumers argue that Wendy’s competition is better, they counter the negative feedback with a positive answer:

Tip 5: Have a social media strategy. The importance of this step cannot be overstated. According to smartinsights.com, social media strategy “defines how your organization will use social media to achieve its communications aims and the supporting platform and tools it will use to achieve this.” A well thought-out social media strategy will help define your target audience, identify key messaging, determine which platforms should be used (as per Tip 1) and determine which content should be used for those platforms. The strategy will also house a schedule for your posts, allowing for you to pre-plan your content and schedule posts using Hootsuite or a similar platform. With social media, consistency is key, and a well-defined strategy will help you ensure you are being consistent.

 

Content Marketing – What Is It?

Here at William Joseph, it’s our philosophy that marketing is meaningless without great content.

Traditional marketing has become less compelling, and forward-thinking businesses are recognizing that content can be an effective vehicle to carry their brand, message and business. As the energy sector rapidly evolves, and consumer demands evolve alongside it, quality over quantity matters now more than ever in terms of powerful marketing. So, how do you stay ahead of the marketing curve while operating in a dynamic and challenging industry?

Introducing content marketing.

What is Content Marketing?

Joe Pulizzi, the founder of the Content Marketing Institute, defines content marketing as:

“…a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.”

While there are many varying definitions of what content marketing is, a more basic way to look at it is that content marketing is essentially using all forms of content – text, video, audio and images – to stimulate curiosity, develop trust and inspire action. In other words, it’s developing and publishing valuable content that specifically attracts your audience into getting to know more about your business, your brand and your products/services.

Particularly in the highly-scrutinized oil and gas industry, building and maintaining a consistent and reputable brand can be a challenge; however, content marketing has many benefits and can help combat this present-day challenge. Here are some of the benefits of content marketing:

  • Effective content marketing has a high ROI and compliments your current efforts to accomplish business goals
  • It’s good for your bottom line, and helps build your brand and reputation by creating trust between your brand and consumers
  • It attracts prospective customers in an engaging and relevant way, and educates them on the value of your products and services
  • It can increase sales or new business and leave consumers wanting to know more about your brand and business

The difference between content marketing and traditional marketing is that traditional marketing efforts typically “tell” consumers how amazing your brand is. Content marketing, however, “shows” them. Research indicates that effective and consistent use of content marketing is good for your bottom line, and many corporate giants have specifically used it to stimulate growth and establish positive connections. A tangible example of how content marketing “shows” value is WestJet, who don’t just share social media posts about their products, services and flights, but often share emotionally-charged and compelling stories, videos and photos of their employees and consumers. These stories consistently embody Canadian values and emphasize WestJet’s commitment to doing business differently by putting people first.

B2B Content Marketing

The image above, taken from the 7th Annual B2B Content Marketing Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends—North America report for 2017, shows that 89% of B2B marketers use content marketing to some degree.

The report, conducted by the Content Marketing Institute, found that 63% of businesses in North America are extremely committed to using effective content marketing, and details that 19% of all businesses surveyed are very successful in their content marketing approach, while 53% (the majority) are moderately successful. Keeping these statistics in mind, the question is, what do they contribute this success to? The top three factors include:

  • Spending more time developing effective and quality content (85%)
  • Spending time on developing or adjusting current content marketing strategies (72%)
  • Making content marketing a greater priority (53%)

So, why aren’t some businesses successful when it comes to B2B content marketing? The report identifies the main factors contributing to B2B marketers’ stagnancy in success in content marketing are:

  • Not enough time devoted to content marketing (52%)
  • Content creation challenges (49%)
  • Strategy issues, including a lack of strategy or lack of strategy adjustments (49%)

While these factors present challenges in developing successful content marketing strategies, consistency, commitment and the development of a goals-driven strategy can help overcome them. This is not to say that content marketing will drastically increase your profit margins within the first few weeks; but, if delivered consistently over time, making content marketing a priority means that there is a greater chance of your marketing efforts being far more successful.

One thing is certain – if 89% of B2B marketers are using content marketing, your competition is definitely using content marketing too (you snooze, you lose, as they say). Don’t fall behind and lose potential business. Make the most of your brand, and invest in developing an effective and consistent content marketing strategy today.

Curious about how you can develop an effective content marketing strategy? Give WJ a call, and we’d be happy to help you get started.

Three Tips to Design a Content-Heavy Website

Does your website need to provide audiences with lots of information?

As websites have evolved, we have seen the need to fill more space and hold more content than ever before. Many businesses have struggled with pulling off the tricky balancing act of designing a good website that is content-heavy. Do it wrong and you risk information overload, and your audience is quickly frustrated and navigates away from your website. Get it right, however, and you gain a new audience member who not only understands your message, but also might just spread the word on your website. Based on our experience designing and developing websites for over 15 years, we have summarized three key factors you should consider addressing when designing your website.

Three tools to tackle the challenge of creating content-rich websites

  1. Whitespace

Misunderstood and underappreciated, whitespace allows content room to breathe. It improves legibility and invites the audience in. Whitespace makes the audience feel more comfortable, and make it easier for them to absorb, and therefore remember, your message. The two ads below show the difference whitespace can make to the message:

The two ads use the same content and photography, but the ad on the right utilizes whitespace to create a different look and feel. Notice how whitespace gives text room to breathe, and is more inviting than the ad on the left.

  1. Visual Hierarchy

An important way to make webpages easy to grasp in a hurry is to ensure that the appearance of elements on the page accurately portray the relationships between the elements on the page. This means visually implying the relative importance of different content in a clear manner. Important elements should be larger, bolder, in a distinct colour, set off by more white space, or some combination of the above. The example below shows clear visual hierarchy, where elements that are larger, bolder, and set off by more white space are implied as more important.

The important elements are made clear because they are larger, bolder, and set off by more whitespace. It is clear to the audience which elements are more important, so the audience is able to scan for the content they are looking for.

  1. Grids, Boxes and Borders

Segment the information into visual categories to show how they are related. The audience is more comfortable scanning organized buckets of information rather than a jumbled mess of data. By organizing content into a rigid, consistent structure, there is less effort required to process it, and the audience can navigate without frustration. The example below shows how grids and boxes can be used to segment a content-rich website.

The grid structure combined with boxes and colour identifiers (i.e., Orange for “News”, Purple for “People”, etc.) effectively segments information into buckets. This enables the audience to find content that interests them in an intuitive manner.

Wrapping It Up

As the examples above show, it is possible to create a website that is both content-rich and engaging for an audience. The challenge is designing strategically, deliberately planning the layout, typography, and graphical elements to ensure that the website is both welcoming and engaging.

At William Joseph, our team of strategists and designers rely on research and design strategy to accommodate all your content in a compelling website. We carefully craft visual designs that present dense content in a clear and effective manner, and encourages your audience to visit and read what you have to offer.

The Age of Influencer Marketing

Some could argue that word-of-mouth is the original social media platform. We care a lot about the opinions of those nearest and dearest to us, which is why personal recommendations carry such weight in our decision-making process. Social media has taken the concept of word-of-mouth to a whole new level, characterized by the frequency, immediacy and influence we come to expect from our favourite social platforms. For business owners, engaging online is a must to build awareness, expand your audience and ultimately drive sales and one of the most powerful ways of creating digital connections is through Influencer marketing.

There’s been a lot of buzz around Influencers lately, but how exactly do we define these elusive entities, and how do you target the right Influencers for your brand? There’s a huge misunderstanding online when it comes to the term “Influencer” since many who bear this label are really just popular. Influence is the ability to actually persuade someone into taking action.  Simply put, Influencers are normal people who have an above-average impact on a group of consumers active in a specific niche demographic. An Influencer doesn’t necessarily just have a large following on social media, they have the right following: namely, your target audience.

First determining your target audience and then identifying the people that they connect with is key before trying to track down an Influencer to engage. Tools like Snapfluence and Klout can help you determine who is most actively engaged with your target audience. Another trick for finding Influencers is looking to those who are already in your network and following your activity. While perhaps not on the same scale as some Influencers determined via a tool like Snapfluence, the people already engaging with your brand can be powerful promoters within their own personal networks.

Influencers have built trust within their online community and are seen as thought-leaders. One of the best ways to engage an Influencer is to provide him or her with a compelling story surrounding your product and service, and define the action you’d like their audience to take once your product or service is shared.  It’s important that your story be authentic, since people who follow Influencers resonate with their personal brand and the messages they share.  An Influencer’s ability to craft and curate compelling content is what sets them apart and helps fuel their digital community-building. As such, Influencers are a great resource for helping develop content, but remember: Influencers are highly passionate about their niche interests and the information they share with their followers. Make sure you communicate your expectations clearly and recognize the importance of genuine connection and relationship building.

Influencer marketing can help you reach a larger audience within your interest area and as an added bonus, encourages the creation of user-generated content (one of the most powerful forms of promotion online.) When developing an Influencer marketing campaign, prioritize posts that inspire community engagement. Leveraging the power of the Influencer’s network in helping promote the creation of user-generated content builds awareness while creating new connections. Branded hashtag campaigns, photo sharing and liking the content created by those in your network are powerful ways to share your brand and build your digital audience.

Influencer marketing can empower your brand and help grow your following organically. The trust that Influencers have built within their digital networks can be leveraged to promote your products or services in a way that’s authentic, and resonates with your target audience. Once you’ve identified the right Influencers who speak to your target audience, giving these key figures the opportunity to tell the story of your brand to their followers will drive engagement and encourage others to connect with your brand, which is the ultimate goal.

5 Creative Valentine’s Day Campaigns

Valentine’s Day, once relegated to the saccharine realm of romance, now provides the perfect platform for brands to channel their creativity and connect with customers. Businesses are thinking outside the chocolate box with clever marketing campaigns that leave a lasting impression. Important to note, effective Valentine’s Day campaigns don’t have to necessarily reflect your business’ service offerings. What’s important is that they build brand awareness and create an emotional connection with the customer. Here’s a look at some of our favourite Valentine’s Day campaigns.

WestJet
An undisputed champ of viral video campaigns, WestJet’s #WestJetLove commercial details the love stories of two unassuming couples. The airline flies the pairs out to the Barbados and sets the stage for an epic, surprise proposal. The ad doesn’t make mention of WestJet’s business, but rather appeals to its customers’ emotional sensibilities and succeeds in hitting the heart strings. This all-around feel-good video spot is aligned with WestJet’s previous video campaigns and effectively celebrates its commitment to customer connection.

Ford
This Valentine’s campaign for Ford takes speed dating to a whole new level. Unsuspecting speed daters go for the ride of their lives in a Ford Mustang, and it’s all captured by hidden camera. The campaign is effective in grabbing our attention and keeping it while showcasing the product’s features and functionality. It’s the awkward and amusing dynamics inherent to a blind date that help build an emotional connection, however, that drive the success of this campaign.

https://youtu.be/3Nyr1Ao7iZA

Doritos
This Canadian-centric Valentine’s Day campaign allows fans to send a free, festive bouquet of twelve Ketchup-flavoured Doritos roses to that special someone. The campaign website www.doritosketchuproses.ca features a crafty DIY tutorial, a kitschy video and above all, comedic value. Nothing says I Love You like the perennial Canadian classic, ketchup chips.

Netflix
As the preeminent source of the cultural phenomenon that is binge-watching, the Valentine’s Day spot titled Binge for Love resonates with anyone who has lost a day (or three) to a Netflix marathon. This light-hearted video speaks to the things we do for love – in our modern era, that looks a lot like catching up on the subject of our affection’s favourite show. Cultural relevance: check. Cheeky sing-a-long: check. Budding romance: check. The Valentine’s Day trifecta.

https://youtu.be/pWCOwJD0r9w

Deadpool
With a release date scheduled for Valentine’s Day 2016, the Deadpool movie posters were re-worked and given the romantic-comedy treatment to showcase the film in a different, albeit amusingly misleading light. Under the guise of the rom-com oeuvre, the re-imagined posters perfectly complement the film’s witty, sarcastic tone and foreshadow Deadpool’s irreverence to Superhero norms. For those unfamiliar with the Deadpool brand, these Valentine’s Day posters would also be suitable on April 1st.  This tongue-in-cheek campaign succeeds by appealing to fans of the franchise who are in on the joke, while sparking curiosity in the minds of unassuming others.

Original Movie Poster:

Valentine’s Day Movie Poster: