Category Archives: Mobile Marketing

Digital Ads Finally Get Out From Under the Plumbing

The following is a guest contributed post by Daniel Meehan, CEO at PadSquad.

Why has digital advertising always been approached so differently than any other form of the art?

Banners were among the earliest iterations of internet ads, and they basically filled space. Engagement rates were low, users ignored them. Online advertising was seen as ineffectual.

But social media, increased bandwidth and mobile browsing ushered in an opportunity to create ads that were highly targeted, interactive, and yes, innovative as well. Or at least, they were supposed to be.

In the rush to take advantage of all of the new ad real estate, the industry focused on the infrastructure — the plumbing — of it all. Targeting became a distinctly precise science. Ad exchanges became the norm, and the focus shifted toward the delivery, versus what was actually being delivered to the end consumer. Viewability rates were established and then gamed — the more ads you jammed onto the page, the more “viewable” the ads.

The influx of poor formats that led to the rise of ad blockers could’ve served as a death knell for digital advertising. But it may actually refresh the industry. It ends up everyone was so focused on the plumbing for digital ads, they forgot that the goal is creating something consumers actually like.

Look at TV advertising. Every brand utilizes a mix of 15- and 30-second spots, for the most part. Targeting tools are similar. The container ubiquitous. It’s what you do within the container — the creative part of the ad — that’s most important. That’s where the science and messaging of a brilliant ad come to life. Whether or not it elicits those (positive) consumer emotions or reactions make all the difference.

And for a mobile device, in particular, there’s additional challenges, too. The container is so personal to both the publisher and consumer. It’s difficult to strike the right balance on a device that holds the story of a person inside of it (figuratively). But that’s where innovation separates those on the right side of the upcoming ad-blocker conversation and those desperately trailing behind.

Chrome’s ad blocker went live on February 15, and with it comes a hard reset for the ad tech industry. The plumbing can and will still change here and there, but it will revert to its rightful place as the background noise in advertising — behind the creative experiences brands are able to share with consumers as a polite aside to digital media. Television advertising’s never been singularly focused on the technology to deliver the brand spot during your favorite primetime show. We’re on the cusp of digital advertising finally behaving similarly.

Recent industry conversations have already shown an entire ad landscape willing to follow suit. On a macro level, the conversations are moving toward creativity and why it’s important to provide consumers with something they actually want (like TV ads!). Platforms, plug-ins and data are all important for ad delivery. And an ad could even be super-targeted to the exact end-user it’s created for.

But the question for ad tech will (rightfully) be: When the ad renders on that page, will the consumer pay attention? Because if not, the plumbing doesn’t matter.

In a fragmented media world full of screens in every direction, brands and publishers are competing for eyeballs like never before. This is everyone’s chance to take advantage of a rare occurence: the clean slate. With time and money better spent on serving up the best ad, advertising can finally be at the forefront of ad tech, and stopped getting disrupted by the technology behind it.

About the author

Daniel Meehan is the CEO and founder of PadSquad, an award-winning mobile creative company consistently introducing industry-defining, hand-crafted rich-media formats on behalf of Fortune 100 and 500 brands across all verticals.

The post Digital Ads Finally Get Out From Under the Plumbing appeared first on Mobile Marketing Watch.

This Simple Diagram Will Help You Tell Better Brand Stories

Tell someone to write a poem, and chances are, they’ll freeze up. Tell someone to write a haiku, however, and we bet they’ll bang one out in less than 10 minutes.

The reason: constraints unleash our creativity. But how can you translate that to the complex world of content marketing? The below diagram will help you do just that.

The Story Funnel-Matrix

The funnel-matrix has two dimensions. The first maps loosely to the stages of a typical marketing funnel: awareness, consideration, and acquisition.

What stories you tell will depend on your current relationship with your audience –where you are as a couple, to use the obligatory marketing-dating analogy.

When you first meet someone, your conversations tend to be around things that you have in common — your shared interests and values. This is why so many people make small talk about the weather. It affects everyone, so it’s something we all have in common.

You probably won’t dive into your health problems the first time you meet someone. You probably won’t share intimate details about the people in your life.

But after you meet, you might start sharing some of those things, especially if the first date goes well. You might start to paint a picture of your dream life: where you want to live, your ideal career, where you want to travel. Though you shouldn’t hit them with a marriage proposal at this point, you’ll start to share more about yourself — what you care about and what you want.

By the third or fourth date, you’ll naturally be sharing more personal stories than before. This is the way a relationship progresses. (Notice how storytelling is such a big part of what we do when we’re dating. It’s good for more than just marketing and publishing!)

This brings us back to our storytelling funnel-matrix. In the beginning of a relationship, you should tell stories about shared interests and values. As things progress, you can tell stories about the people in your life (like your customers or employees). Finally, as things start getting more serious, you tell stories about your products and services themselves.

The second dimension of the funnel-matrix adds an extra bit of planning help to your content creation strategy. This comes straight from the playbook of newsrooms.

The idea is to divide the stories you tell into three more categories based on time: timely stories that are pertinent based on news or current events; seasonal stories that are relevant because of the time of year; and evergreen stories that will be valuable no matter when the audience sees or hears them.

Take our client American Express, for example. Amex’s OPEN line of credit cards wants small business owners to know that they care about them. Building that trust is a key element of their B2B branding, so they tell stories in various places, most notably on OPEN Forum, a content hub and newsletter that attracts millions of small business owners each month. They’re mostly interested in staying top of mind, not driving conversions or talking about Amex’s products.

Instead, they tell stories about how small business owners handle challenges like hiring and growth. These are examples of evergreen stories.

Sometimes Amex OPEN Forum spots something relevant that happens in the news and writes stories about how it affects small business owners, like new overtime laws and tax policies. These are timely + top-funnel stories.

And one day a year, American Express sponsors a holiday called Small Business Saturday, where it encourages consumers to shop at local businesses instead of big ones. To promote the upcoming holiday, Amex creates videos about small businesses around the country that are making a difference in their communities. These are seasonal stories.

Shinola’s stories of its factory workers and their mission to transform Detroit are about both values (saving American jobs) and its company/people. So they are evergreen + top/mid- funnel.

GE Reports, which tells stories of how GE invents really cool products (but doesn’t try to get you to buy those products), are mid-funnel and often timely—as the company reports on new innovations—but also evergreen because many of the stories are still interesting after the news is over.

The Groupon stories we talked about fit into the category of timely + bottom-funnel. They’re stories about product deals Groupon wants you to buy on one specific day.

Zady’s stories about the Indigo Skinny Jeans are evergreen + bottom-funnel. They’ll be around whenever you are ready for them.

The smartest brand storytellers are constantly on the lookout for data to tell them what their audiences are interested in during each stage of the funnel and each segment of the Bullseye. They obsess over it. And that’s because they know it’s their secret advantage.

This is an excerpt from the Amazon #1 New Release, The Storytelling Edge: How to Transform Your Business, Stop Screaming Into the Void, and Make People Love You” by Joe Lazauskas and Shane Snow, available today.

 

Email Marketing Lessons to Learn in the Year of the Dog

The Following is a Guest Contributed Post by Seamas Egan, Director of Marketing and Sales, Campaigner

On February 16, this Chinese New Year will celebrate the eleventh zodiac sign: the dog. Known as man’s best friend, dogs are America’s most popular companion animal — just as email is the most popular communications channel for business. As we approach the Lunar New Year email marketers can learn from these four tips to push their programs forward in 2018.

1) Understand Subscriber Preferences and Plan Accordingly

In Chinese astrology zodiac signs are paired with a rotating natural element, like fire and water. This year is considered the Year of the Earth Dog and people born this year are predicted to be communicative, serious and responsible at work. In order to emulate the Earth dog in campaigns email marketers should learn what content is most useful to their subscribers and take feedback into account while planning campaigns ahead of time.

As email marketers continue to add new subscribers to their lists it is important to adapt programs to meet the changing interests of these new consumers. To ensure they’re communicating content that consumers wish to receive, marketers should send a yearly survey asking them to rank what content they find most valuable, how often they wish to receive emails, and what products and services they are most interested in. This gives marketers better insight about subscribers and helps them develop planning calendars with deadlines and messaging that will resonate and ensure a regular communication frequency.

2) Learn From the Dog’s Lucky Times

There are zodiac beliefs that people born during a specific time of day will be more successful. Similarly, email marketers know that certain times of day are better than others for sending content to receptive readers, and that they can use this information to optimize their open and click through rates.

Marketers should note popular times to reach subscribers when developing their next campaign. For example, a recent Deloitte survey found that 40 percent of people check their email within five minutes of waking up. However it’s important that email marketers also trust their instincts and not send emails at inappropriate times, like 1 a.m. They should utilize tools like A/B split testing to determine the best time to reach subscribers and automate campaigns to hit their inboxes accordingly.

3) Don’t Pair Dogs With Roosters and Sheep

Chinese belief holds that certain character traits associated with the zodiac signs mesh well with others, but this is not the case for all. For example, dogs are considered adventurous by nature and rabbits are seen as curious — traits that complement each other and are believed to be an ideal connection. On the other hand, roosters are known to strut and be the center of attention, while dogs prefer to seek out intimate and loyal connections, traits that clash and can lead to trouble.

Similarly some subscribers are more responsive to specific content than others. Marketers can use segmentation and A/B split testing to match certain subscriber segments with the email content they’ll be most receptive to. A Campaigner survey found that the majority of millennials are interested in coupons, so marketers should segment their audience by demographics and pair millennial recipients with coupons when possible. Email marketers can also utilize A/B split testing to determine what content is most compatible for subscribers. By looking at how open and click-through rates differ for specific variables, marketers will be able to determine what content, subject line and even color palettes pique the interest of each subscriber group.

4) Treat Loyal Subscribers

As a symbol of good luck and best wishes in the New Year, it is customary to give friends and family a red envelope called a hongbao, which are typically filled with money. The act of receiving a red envelope is to invoke happiness and prosperity for the year to come.

Marketers should similarly reward loyal subscribers with special discounts and promotions to strengthen their relationship. Offering coupons to subscribers not only wishes subscribers luck in the New Year, it also helps marketers see an increase in ROI. Shopify found that merchants with coupons are 8 times more likely to make a sale. In order to capitalize on this year’s Chinese New Year celebration, marketers should offer discount codes that reflect the holiday with themed words such as loyal, lucky and fortune. Consider making these discount codes scannable so customers can use them in stores, and ensure they can be used online as well as offline.

As we enter the Year of the Dog, email marketers can align their stars to maximize the success of their programs. By developing a marketing planning calendar, sending at optimal times, and utilizing tools like segmentation and A/B split testing, marketers can create a strategy and content that builds brand loyalty and captures the interest of their subscribers. They should continue to experiment and develop content that can increase ROI, building good fortune for the new year ahead.

The post Email Marketing Lessons to Learn in the Year of the Dog appeared first on Mobile Marketing Watch.

Facebook Continues to Emphasize Personal Content With New Feature

By now, it’s clear: Facebook is trying to convince everyone that it’s putting the “social” back in “social media.”

As the network begins to show a loss of followers under 25, is called out as a place where users argue with each other over contentious topics, and continues to face scrutiny over bad actors allegedly weaponizing to influence elections — Facebook wants the world to know, with no uncertainty, that it is making changes to emphasize content from friends and family.

And the latest installment of that saga comes in the form of Lists: a new feature that Facebook started rolling out today that invites users to make, as the name suggests, lists. Whether it’s a to-do list, a wish list, or a list of self-improvement goals, the feature is quite open-ended and allows members of the social network to itemize whatever they see fit.

Image source: TechCrunch

The feature, first reported earlier today by TechCrunch, is the most recent of a series of moves by Facebook to deemphasize branded Page content and help users see more posts from their personal networks.

It began with an announcement in January that the user’s News Feed would only feature Page content with a high level of authentic engagement from his or her own personal networks. Then, just last week, Facebook confirmed that it was testing a feature that would allow users to downvote abusive or inappropriate content.

Image source: TechCrunch

Though Facebook is only beginning to roll out Lists, it appears that it’s only available to individual users, and not to Pages — a move that HubSpot Social Media Social Campaign Strategy Associate Henry Franco says underscores the network’s “throwback” shift to what it was originally created to do.

“My guess is it’s a play by Facebook to bolster the person-to-person experience on the platform,” Franco explains, “like the status updates of yore.”

The Lists feature, he continues, is “building out functionality for users rather than businesses,” further signaling a move away from Page content in users’ news feeds.

I’ll be keeping an eye on this feature as it continues to be tested. As always, feel free to weigh in with your take or questions on Twitter.

Upstream Unveils Evolved Mobile Marketing Promotions Offering ‘Next Gen Promos’

Mobile commerce platform Upstream has just announced the launch of Next Gen Promos, an evolution of its existing marketing promotions.

The service, we’re told, now offers integrated social media sharing, and the ability to boost interactions over web, SMS and apps, which allows 100% of an operator’s userbase to engage with fun and interactive promotions.

As highlighted in Upstream’s 2017 Digital Services Emerging Markets Report, conducted with Ovum, 72% of consumers state that digital services are an important factor in deciding whether to stay with a network operator.

The innovative gamified user experience is unique to emerging markets. By adding Next Gen Promos to their portfolio, mobile network operators can raise their ARPU significantly through increased user engagement and improved customer retention.

Regarding the news shared with MMW, Chrysa Karamanidi, Head of Product at Upstream commented; “The recent explosion in the use of smartphones across emerging markets has brought us both opportunities and challenges. There are now more users than ever before who are able to access rich content on their devices, but at the same time, the range of devices being used is also the broadest it has ever been.”

The post Upstream Unveils Evolved Mobile Marketing Promotions Offering ‘Next Gen Promos’ appeared first on Mobile Marketing Watch.

How Does Facebook Stories Stack Up to Snapchat?

If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.

This is a lesson Facebook has perfected over the last year as it continues to launch products to compete with Snapchat, the app it tried and failed to purchase back in 2013.

The battle over the disappearing social media story continued recently with the launch of Facebook Stories — a feature that replaced Facebook “Messenger Day” late last year. But is this Facebook Stories update competing with or even being used in the same way as its competitors?

Snapchat still has some advantages of its own as the veteran of disappearing picture texts. In this post, we’ll cover what Facebook Stories is all about, how to use it, and how this still young feature is changing the ephemeral messaging competition between Snapchat and Facebook.

Snapchat to Facebook: “I’m sorry that you’re so jealous of me, but I can’t help it that I’m popular.” Our team weighs in — listen below:

What Is Facebook Stories?

Facebook Stories was, at one time, a separate website Facebook hosted to share actual stories of members who were using the social network in inspiring ways. The company has since shut down this website.

Facebook Stories is now a function that lets users curate a slideshow of photos and videos that’s visible to their friends for 24 hours before it disappears. As with Messenger Day, this feature shares Stories through Messenger, Facebook’s standalone messaging app used by more than one billion people worldwide.

Users can also access their friends’ latest Stories from the top of their Facebook Newsfeed — as shown in the image of the Facebook mobile app three paragraphs down.

Messenger’s in-app camera lets users add text, drawings, stickers, emojis, filters, and lenses to photos and videos before adding them to their “Day” (hence the original “Messenger Day”) or sending them to individual friends or groups. Here’s what Stories users can tailor images to look like with the camera:

Three fun Facebook Stories photos users can add to their Day on Facebook Messenger.

Image via Bustle

Before you learn how to use Facebook Stories, here’s the lowdown on what it’s all about and how it’s similar to other ephemeral messaging apps and products out there.

How It’s Similar to Other Apps

Like Snapchat Stories and WhatsApp Status, Facebook Stories displays users’ ephemeral messages in a line of circular profile pictures you can click and view individually, or “Watch All” in a row. However, it is much more consistent with the interface of its subsidiary, Instagram, over its competitors.

Here’s a side-by-side comparison of what they look like:

Facebook Stories shown on the newsfeed.Instagram stories on the app's homepage.

Images via Bustle / Instagram

Pretty similar, right? The distinguishing factor is that unread stories display horizontally along the top, rather than vertically down the left side like in Snapchat.

The cameras for each of these apps have different lens and filter styles, but for the most part, photo editing abilities are remarkably similar as well. Facebook, Snapchat, Whatsapp Status, and Instagram all let users send disappearing messages privately to individuals and groups, in addition to sharing on their Story, Status, or Day.

Now, let’s dive into how Facebook Stories is different from these other players.

How It Differs From Other Apps

What’s the one thing that sets Facebook apart from social networks like Snapchat? The size of its user base. I’ll get into the implications of this in just a minute.

Another difference between Facebook Stories and similar products is its intended use. While Snapchat and Instagram stories are focused on sharing what you’re up to in the moment, Facebook has positioned Facebook Stories as a way to make plans with friends and communicate about getting together.

In the original blog post announcement of Messenger Day, Messenger’s Head of Product, Stan Chudnovsky, said users can post images to their Days to “show what they’re doing, how they’re feeling and to invite friends to join them for activities.”

Here’s a video of the impetus behind Facebook Messenger Day, and how they company envisions Facebook Stories changing the way people communicate to make plans:

Now that you know what Facebook Stories is and what it’s for, here’s a step-by-step guide for how to use it.

How to Use Facebook Stories

  1. Update your Messenger app for iOS or Android.
    • Navigate to the App Store on iOS devices or Google Play on Android devices and make sure you’re using the latest version of Facebook Messenger.
  2. Open your Messenger app and tap the circular camera button in the bottom-center part of the menu.
  3. Take a photo, record a video by pressing and holding the capture button, or turn the camera to face you to snap a selfie.
  4. Add art, effects, emojis, and text to your photos and videos by tapping the smiley face, sticky note, and squiggle icons. Tap “Aa” to add text and caption your image.

Facebook Stories' photo editing features.

Image via Facebook

Once you’ve created your finished product, tap the arrow in the lower right-hand corner of your screen.

From there, you can choose to send your image to one friend, a group of friends, or post it to your Day. You can also save it to your camera roll by tapping the download icon in the lower left-hand corner of your screen.

List of friends who've viewed your Facebook Stories, and how to delete a photo from your Day.

Source: Facebook

You can also add photos or videos to your Day after you’ve already sent them to individual friends or groups. Within a direct or group message, tap “Add to your day” under the image to, you guessed it, add it to your Day.

Does Facebook Stories Stack Up to Snapchat?

At this point, it’s no secret (in fact, it’s become a running joke) that Facebook is trying to replicate and dominate Snapchat’s parent company, Snap Inc.’s, success. And so far, it looks doable. The Snapchat vs. Facebook showdown is a story of user base vs. user engagement, and the outcome of this social media arms race is being watched closely.

To recap: Facebook started adding filters to the Messenger camera back in the summer of 2016. Facebook-owned Instagram launched a near-exact replica of Snapchat Stories, called Instagram Stories, in August 2016. And in December 2016, Facebook unveiled a new in-app camera in Messenger, featuring lenses, more filters, stickers, and drawing abilities.

If you look at what photos and videos look like across the different apps and features, you’ll see a lot of similarities, like the ones we outlined above. But there are a few key differences, too.

As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, Facebook Stories’ user base is much larger than that of Snapchat, with more than one billion daily active users versus Snapchat’s 187 million as of the end of 2017.

Snapchat attributes much of its slowed growth to Instagram Stories, according to its S-1 filing to go public last year, and there may be some truth to that as well.

For users, Instagram Stories arguably presents a better experience than Snapchat because video and photo ads aren’t shown between Stories as users scroll through their list of friends. This might prompt users to move over to Instagram to view Stories uninterrupted.

For marketers, Facebook and Instagram provide more detailed and more easily accessible analytics for understanding the reach and engagement of ephemeral content than Snapchat. Snapchat’s only metrics for Stories are the number of views and screenshots, and these numbers must be recorded in 24 hours before the content disappears.

… Or Will Snapchat’s Engagement Rates Win the Day?

One common theme among Snap Inc.’s competitors is that all were copies of the original, innovative Snapchat product: an app for sending messages that disappear. And as it turns out, that’s a very sticky idea.

Snapchat was a first mover in the ephemeral messaging space, and its devoted user base spends an average of 30 minutes on the app every day. Additionally, a huge portion of its user base is concentrated in the 18-34-year-old age range, and they could become bigger sources of revenue as time progresses.

I asked HubSpot Social Media Manager Marissa Emanuele what she thought about Facebook’s original Messenger Day announcement upon its launch in early 2017, and she noted that Facebook’s huge user base could be a disadvantage, too.

“The big advantage Snapchat has is that it’s highly curated with only the people you care about,” Emanuele said. “I’m friends on Facebook with somebody I met once in college and my neighbor from when I was a kid. I don’t really want to see what they’re doing every day, and I don’t think they want to see what I’m doing, either.

“I believe the only way that Facebook Messenger Day will be successful is if they have a much more curated version, where users could build lists of people they wanted to hear from,” she concluded.

Emanuele’s point? The massive size of Facebook networks — something Facebook Stories is still on the hook for — contrasts with how curated and one-to-one Snapchat is. Users might be more interested in sharing authentic content with a select few than with an enormous number.

What’s Next for Facebook?

The takeaway for marketers? Experiment with where your audience likes to consume ephemeral content. If you have a highly engaged audience that you communicate with on Facebook, especially on Facebook Messenger, then experiment with Facebook Stories. On the other hand, it could be worth engaging with audiences on Facebook, Snapchat, and Instagram if you have different active audiences on different platforms.

What’s more, companies are starting to use messaging apps to communicate with customers. Creating content on Facebook Messenger could create a more unified communication approach to customers if you’re already serving them there.

Whichever ephemeral app is your favorite, download the Facebook Messenger update and experiment. We’ll keep you posted on new developments in the competition heating up between Facebook and Snapchat. In the meantime, we have guides for marketers on how to use Facebook and Snapchat if you need help getting started.

NBC Olympics Selects Interactive Video Advertising Provider for Its Production of 2018 Olympic Winter Games

Let the games AND the interactive video advertising begin!

MMW has learned that NBC Olympics, a division of the NBC Sports Group, has selected BrightLine to provide the first Olympic interactive video advertising offering for its production of the XXIII Olympic Winter Games, which take place in PyeongChang, South Korea, from February 8 – February 25.

The announcement was made today by Jacqueline Corbelli, Founder, Chair and CEO, BrightLine.

The first creative campaign utilizing the BrightLine platform launched as a series of NBC Olympics promos leading up to the Olympics on NBC Sports, Apple TV, Amazon Fire and Android and Apple mobile operating systems. The creative featured five prominent U.S. athletes: Shaun White (snowboarder), Lindsey Vonn (alpine skier), Nathan Chen (figure skating), Gus Kenworthy (freestyle skier) and Mikaela Shiffrin (alpine skier). The promos engage viewers by offering an opportunity to access information and fun facts about the athletes using the television remote.

“There is no better place to introduce new capabilities and products to audiences and marketers than the 17 days of the Olympics,” said Linda Yaccarino, Chairman, Advertising and Client Partnerships, NBCUniversal. “With our partners at BrightLine we’re introducing interactive advertising and deeper, more meaningful engagement with advertising, continuing to enhance our viewers’ experiences with our programming on all platforms.”

Comcast’s Xfinity will also use BrightLine technology as the first advertiser to take advantage of the offering on NBCUniversal platforms for select ads during the games. These ads will also run on Apple TV, Amazon Fire and Android and Apple mobile operating systems and will showcase Xfinity capabilities.

To manage decisioning and execution of these ad units across all NBCUniversal platforms, BrightLine has partnered with FreeWheel, A Comcast Company, which provides the technology platform to manage advertising in the New TV Ecosystem.

Jacqueline Corbelli, Founder, Chair and CEO, BrightLine, said, “At BrightLine we are very excited about bringing engageable ad solutions to the live TV sports arena. We couldn’t have asked for a better partner to innovate with than NBCU and to be supporting the Winter Olympics is an honor.”

The post NBC Olympics Selects Interactive Video Advertising Provider for Its Production of 2018 Olympic Winter Games appeared first on Mobile Marketing Watch.

Mobile Ads for the On-Demand Era– At Scale?

The following is a guest contributed post by Andrew Dubatowka, VP of product marketing, AdColony

Advertising has always gotten a bad rap. For every great ad there have always been hundreds or even thousands of awful ones, the ones that “ruin it for everyone else.”

And now, in the digital space, despite the capabilities we have to serve high quality ads to the right people, at the right time, in a way that adds value to their lives instead of annoying them, we are starting to see a frightening decline in quality. Mobile web ads that appear on your screen while you are navigating to a distinct URL, actively seeking content, and completely distract you from your search. They’re like the original pop-up desktop ads of the early 2000s, reimagined for the mobile device!

Much of this has been by the need to standardize, the need to template advertising that can be delivered at scale, through an increasingly automated means. And that is certainly the future, it simply has to be.

However – the ads don’t have to be bad. They don’t have to be disruptive. They don’t have to destroy user experience. We can create ads that people control and request, and not just because they are clever, or cute. We can serve ads that entertain and inform, and that people are choosing to see, not being forced upon them.

You can make ads people like, and you can deliver them in the way they want them. And you can serve those ads to the right audience, at the right time, with massive efficiency – programmatically, which is the way that media from this point can and should be bought and sold.

Ads people like…

How do you create a “likeable” ad? According to a recent customer-first marketing survey, it’s all about bringing more joy to your ads. As one respondent noted, “Unless they are about medication or other very serious matters, companies should integrate more humor into their ads.”

Other studies on emotion-centric marketing strategy back this up. Evoking positive emotion in your viewer is essential to concentrate attention, retain viewers and drive digital sharing. Specifically, the most effective is to create a sense of surprise, which is then quickly followed by joy. To be even more effective, the Harvard team suggested taking that joy away, and then bringing it back again, ultimately creating an “emotional roller coaster,” a cycle that hooks viewers and increases their likelihood of continuing to watch a digital video ad to completion.

Take note, too, that mood matters beyond just the ad itself. When consumers are in a positive mood due to the content they are consuming, perhaps using an app that makes them happy, advertisers can use that build a positive connection with the user, and with that comes the trust that leads to a purchase action. Consumers have reported being happiest while playing mobile games (77%), for instance, which could be one reason why mobile ads – whether they be rich media banners or full-screen videos – in gaming apps perform so well.

In the way they want them

Another oft-overlooked component of delivering the best ad experiences is format. Sure, advertisers use a variety of ad formats, but how often do they think about which format the consumer wants? How often do they put the customer first?

We must refocus on the consumer, and user-initiated advertising is the way to do that. When a user is in a digital environment that contains solely ads you can opt-in to, they perceive it as a highly private arena in which they are in control. Brands must ask permission, in the right way, to enter their world. And, once they enter, the brand must add relevant value to the experience, based on what they know from behavioral triggers  – or risk breaking that trust.

When they do so, though, they are rewarded with higher performance:

  • Embedded, user-initiated ads within apps have received 8X more mental engagement, 3X more time spent with the brand and a higher brand recall than the usual interstitial video ads.
  • Value exchange, or rewarded video, ad units drive a 34% lift in awareness and a 26% increase in purchase intent, surpassing Nielsen’s benchmarks by 3.5X and 5X respectively.
  • Playables are now found by more than 7 out of 10 advertisers to be effective, and 45% find them to be the most exciting ad unit for 2017, as well.

Instead of buying impressions, the advertiser is earning the user’s attention. Another benefit is that you cannot teach bots to perform these levels of engagement, so advertisers know they are reaching an actual person.

Bought the way media should be bought

You can deliver compelling creative, and in the right format, but it won’t matter a bit if you cannot reach your audience at scale, or if your campaign cannot benefit from the great promise of automation – delivering the right ad, to the right person, at the right time, and at the right price.

Traditionally, that’s what programmatic has been about: Audience and scale. And while the industry for years has been predicting the death of the standard mobile display banner, it’s not going anywhere soon. There’s too much ease and scale wrapped up in those units.

However, it’s now clear that we have evolved to the point where full-screen and interactive display units – the expandable rich media, HD video and playable ads I refer to above – can be bought and sold programmatically. Budgets for these units have grown nearly 50% in the past year, and usage has also grown by 61% in that time.

With this shift from remnant inventory and low-denominator ad types to premium apps and highly engaging units, we can see that programmatic is now a tool for efficiency, reach and to help achieve lower-funnel brand outcomes, not just media outcomes.

From this moment forward…

Digital ads, including mobile, do not have to be a source of annoyance or discontent with consumers; they can delight, entertain and provide valuable information for their daily lives. As an industry, we must commit to delivering these experiences, and in the moments and places that the consumer chooses to receive them, rather than at our own whims.

This is where mobile is going, and the best global brands are already leaning into this movement – it’s time for everyone else to do it, too. As more marketers jump on board and move into automated, scalable delivery of these types of ads, mapping them to downstream KPIs, everyone will benefit.

The post Mobile Ads for the On-Demand Era– At Scale? appeared first on Mobile Marketing Watch.

Merkle Releases Its Q4 2017 Digital Marketing Report

Just in time for the weekend, new reading material from Merkle that should be a page turner for those in the advertising and marketing worlds.

A leading technology-enabled, data-driven performance marketing agency, Marklet has just announced the release of its Q4 2017 Digital Marketing Report.

The report analyzes trends across paid search, social media, display, and organic search, while providing highly regarded insights into the performance of major industry players like Google, Facebook, Amazon, Bing, Yahoo, and Instagram.

In support of the research findings, Merkle is hosting a complimentary webinar on Thursday, February 1 at 2:00 p.m. ET.

As the largest digital marketing investment for most brands, Google search ads helped drive strong year-over-year (Y/Y) online ad spending growth in Q4 2017. Search ad spending on Google grew 23% Y/Y, as retail and consumer goods spending rose 24% during the busy holiday shopping season. Google search ad click growth did slow sharply, although average cost-per-click (CPC) growth spiked to 14%. To the benefit of advertisers, this trend shift was met by an improvement in the quality of traffic that Google search ads delivered.

One of the highlights of the Q4 2017 Digital Marketing Report (DMR) is the investment and subsequent growth of Instagram and Amazon. With strong targeting capabilities and the potential to roll out advertising to features, Instagram spend will likely continue to grow meaningfully for the foreseeable future. Investment in Amazon’s two biggest ad formats, Sponsored Product Ads and Headline Search Ads, increased 64% and 75% from Q3 to Q4 2017, respectively.

Product ads were also instrumental in delivering a turnaround in the performance of the Bing Ads platform. Spending on Bing Product Ads grew 43% Y/Y as mobile traffic was over seven times higher in Q4 2017 than in Q4 2016. Altogether, search ad spending across the Bing and Yahoo search ad platforms grew, even as Yahoo lost its status as the default search provider for Firefox.

“As one of the most highly anticipated and frequently cited sources in the industry, The Digital Marketing Report is an invaluable tool for marketers who continue to refine their digital marketing plans for 2018,” said Dalton Dorne, SVP, Marketing for Merkle Americas. “The Q4 2017 report shows an ongoing trend of digital marketing growth. It outlines with unparalleled breadth of analysis, detail, and accuracy the key drivers of performance for Google, Facebook, Amazon, and other major platforms.”

To learn more, check out Merkle here.

The post Merkle Releases Its Q4 2017 Digital Marketing Report appeared first on Mobile Marketing Watch.

How to Use Instagram Insights

It’s no secret that we love data.

Data helps you understand your audience. It tells you how they do things, what they prefer, and who they are.

And when it comes to social media, our love for data doesn’t fade.

That’s why we love analytics and insights. They help you measure the impact of your marketing efforts across different channels to see if there’s something you need to do differently — like target a different audience, post at a certain time of day, or experiment with a new content format.

Instagram Insights are no exception. Here are the analytics on this channel that marketers need to know and understand — and how to use them.

To view insights into your overall Instagram account, start by visiting your profile. Then, at the top, click the icon of a bar chart, which will take you to your overall insights.

IMG_2136 copy.png

From there, you’ll see some general information about people are engaging with your profile, like how many followers you gained or lost in the past week.

Next, we’ll get into the more specific profile insights you can explore.

1. Impressions

This insight represents how many times your ads appeared on users’ screens.

2. Reach

This insight reflects the number of unique users that have seen any of your Instagram posts.

3. Website Clicks

This insight reflects the number of times any links you’ve included in your business profile have been clicked.

4. Profile Visits

This insight reflects the number of times your profile has been viewed.

5. Followers

This insight reflects how many followers you’ve gained or lost over the past week, as well as the average times of day when your followers are using Instagram — data that can be highly beneficial when planning posts.

To view insights into a specific Instagram post, start by visiting your profile. Tap on the post you’d like to look into, then click “View Insights” below the image.

You may have also promoted a certain post — if that’s the case, an arrow icon that looks like this will appear:

For these posts, you can either view insights on the original version of the post, or specific ones from its promotion. For the latter, tap “Promotion.”

Next, we’ll get into the more specific post insights you can explore.

1. Likes

This one speaks for itself, and reflects the number of users who liked your post.

2. Comments

As with likes, this insight reflects the number of comments left on your post.

3. Saves

The number of unique users or accounts who saved your post, or clicked the bookmark-like icon that appeared below it in their feeds.

4. Actions

These insights indicate the number of actions that users took on your profile as a result of seeing your post — things like visiting your profile, then taking an action like clicking on your website link or following you.

Source: Instagram

5. Discovery

As the name might suggest, these insights indicate where your post was seen — or discovered — the most, including how many accounts weren’t already following you when they first saw the post.

This section includes metrics on Impressions, which reflect the number of times your post was discovered from a particular place within Instagram, like the user’s home feed, a search, your profile, a location tag, or a hashtag.

Screen Shot 2018-01-18 at 2.06.26 PM

Source: Instagram

Discovery insights also include data on a post’s reach — which reflects the number of unique accounts that saw your post

Finally, Instagram users with a business profile are able to view insights into their ephemeral Stories. Instagram does not, however, offer such analytics for live videos.

To view your Story insights, start by visiting your profile. Then, at the top, tap the icon of the bar chart, which will take you to your overall profile insights.

IMG_2136 copy.png

Scroll down to the Stories section, and you’ll be able to see insights for older stories, as well as any that have not yet expired.

Next, we’ll get into the more specific Story insights you can explore.

1. Impressions

This insight represents how many times your Story was seen.

When viewing these insights, keep in mind that you’re able to add multiple images or videos to your Story. When you do this, every piece of visual content in your Story is counted as a single photo or video in your post.

Let’s say you add six photos to your Story. Whether someone only views one or views all six, Instagram only counts your entire Story having received one impression.

The same goes for Story content that has been viewed by a single user more than once. Instagram still only counts that interaction as the entire Story having received one impression.

2. Reach

This insight reflects the number of unique users that have seen your Story.

3. Taps Forward

This insight reflects the number of times a user taps your Story photo or video to skip to the next piece of media.

4. Taps Back

This insight reflects the number of time a user taps your Story photo or video to go back to the previous piece of media.

5. Replies

This insight reflects the number of times users send messages through the “Send Message” text box on your Story.

IMG_2138 copy

6. Swipe away

This insight reflects the number of times users swipe to skip to the next account’s Story — not to be mistaken for “tap forward,” which reflects users skipping ahead to your next piece of Story media.

7. Exits

This insight reflects the number of times a user leaves the Stories section entirely to return to the home feed.

how to use instagram for business

 
how to use instagram for business

5 Social Media Trends to Expect in 2018

It’s the start of another year, which means you’re probably back in the office after vacation, hard at work on your New Year’s resolutions.

And if you’re a marketer, you may also be fine-tuning your strategic plan for success in 2018.

But before you finalize your social media strategy for the year, it’s important to look at what’s ahead to ensure that you’re allocating your time and efforts appropriately.

In this blog post, we’ll dive into what we think social media managers should expect in 2018, and how to plan for these changes.

1. Live video content will only continue to grow.

Earlier this month, Facebook announced changes to its News Feed algorithm that will once again shift the type of content users to be from their friends and family — instead of the Pages they follow.

In other words, posts that spark the greatest amount of discussion among users — especially when shared by those in their own personal networks — are expected to rank better.

And the one type of content that Facebook highlighted as seeing the most engagement? Live video.

According to Facebook, live videos receive 6X the engagement as non-live ones, which bodes well for their sharability and potential for such engagement as comments and Likes.

On top of that — perhaps to help boost this engagement — Facebook’s VP of Product, Fidji Simo, announced last week that the channel would be introducing a Watch Party feature, in which a group of Facebook users can all watch the same video at the same time. However, it’s worth noting that Watch Parties can take place even if the video isn’t streaming live.

“With everyone watching, commenting and reacting to the same moments together,” Simo’s statement reads, “it creates a shared viewing experience for video that helps build the kind of community and engagement we’ve seen with Live.”

So, does this indicate a decline in live video? Not quite. The only real shift that we expect to see is a potential rise in engagement with live videos after they’ve already ended — that is, a group of users who missed the broadcast who all missed it can watch it together later on.

Usership data aligns with these moves by Facebook. According to Social Media Examiner, 61% of marketers plan to increase their uses of live video, and 69% are eager to learn more about it. And in 2017, the number of marketers incorporating live video into their strategies increased by 14%.

So where should you be planning to focus your live streaming efforts in 2018? Well, if Facebook is an important part of your overall social media strategy and you’re looking for ways to adapt to the latest algorithm changes, live video is a great place to start (if you haven’t already).

Otherwise, you’ll want to consider where your audience already spends time on social media — and try to connect with them on those networks.

As for what to broadcast, there are a lot of brands out there that are nailing this strategy across several use cases. For example, many brands are using Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to live stream events. This approach aims to keep your followers engaged with your brand by bringing an event they otherwise might not be able to attend directly to their screens.

At INBOUND 2017, for example, HubSpot shared Facebook Live interviews with speakers so our followers who couldn’t join us in Boston still had the opportunity to learn from the experts:

Brands can also use live video for customer service by hosting Q&A sessions and product demonstrations. These videos drive engagement because hosts can ask for comments, questions, and feedback from the audience.

2. Messaging apps will become a critical communication method.

If you’re only thinking about messaging apps such as Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, and WeChat as alternatives to traditional text messaging, think again — messaging apps are used by 4 billion users worldwide, and there’s a tremendous opportunity for brands to leverage this presence.

More specifically, many brands are using messaging apps to communicate one-on-one with customers, which is completely changing the way customer service gets done. These apps provide a faster and easier way for customers to get the assistance they need, rather than being placed on hold or waiting for a returned email. Deploying messaging for customer service is more scalable and cost-effective for businesses, and by providing a better experience for the customer, brands can solve their problems quickly and retain them more easily.

When HubSpot CMO Kipp Bodnar wrote about how buyers want to talk to your business in 2018, messaging was one of the three major channels he cited. It’s less about “starting the conversation,” he wrote, “but more about automating it in a way that’s managed on the back end, to determine which human might be needed to respond to a particular question.”

For example, Hyatt uses Facebook Messenger for 24-hour customer service, where guests can make reservations, ask questions, and get recommendations for their trips:

hyatt.jpg

Source: Digiday

So far, this theory is well-supported by the stats: nearly a quarter of all apps that are downloaded are abandoned after just one use — but that number is 11% lower for those with in-app messaging features.

AppUserRetention1

Source: Localytics

In 2018 and beyond, marketers should anticipate less social networking — especially when considering Facebook’s recent changes — and more messaging for instant, real-time connection with audiences.

3. Virtual reality will find its way into more and more marketing experiences.

Virtual reality is still somewhat new to the marketing scene, and in 2018, we predict the market will get even more popular.

According to the Consumer Technology Association’s 2018 Tech Trends to Watch, virtual reality is expected to see an 18% increase in revenue, and a 25% increase in units sold. 

What’s unique about virtual reality is that it encourages engagement by offering an immersive, memorable experience unlike any other medium — and brands are quickly recognizing that value.

For example, TOMS uses virtual reality to shed light on the mission and impact customers are having. Its mission, “One for One,” refers to its pledge to match with each pair of shoes purchased a new pair for a child in need around the world. While visiting children who received new shoes during a trip to Peru, TOMS shot the following 360-degree virtual reality video to create a firsthand account of the impact this initiative is making:

What’s so great about this video is how transportative it is. Most customers might not be planning a trip to Peru, but all of them can see the direct impact of their purchase. The experience is improved when they use a VR headset or viewer, but the video is still viewable on mobile or desktop devices, so the brand can effectively share its story.

If you’re already allocating resources to developing more live video this year, continue experimenting with different formats — including virtual reality — to see which audiences respond best to.

4. More channels will make it difficult to monetize (and therefore, weaponize) content.

When Facebook announced the aforementioned changes to its News Feed, we predicted that it was largely the scrutiny it’s received since it was discovered that the network was weaponized to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election. And with Pages expected to receive less engagement, that also means it will become more difficult for brands to monetize any Facebook content — especially since it could require a greater spend on Ads to help that content reach the right audience.

But Facebook wasn’t alone in this scrutiny. Just last week, it joined Twitter and Google in appearing before U.S. Congress to explain how these networks will combat the extremist content that is said to have influenced the election and more.

Google, who partook in that testimony, owns YouTube — which the day prior to this appearance announced significant changes to its Partner Program (YPP) that would make it more difficult for Creators to monetize videos

Instead of only requiring 10,000 lifetime views, Creators must have accrued 4,000 hours of watch time over the past year, in addition to 1,000 channel subscribers in order to participate in YPP. YouTube has also faced a high amount of scrutiny over the past year, most recently after one of its highest-earning creators, Logan Paul, posted graphic and offensive content to his channel.

In other words, as social channels are under more and more pressure to make their networks safer to use — that seems to be translating to it becoming more difficult for brands to gain visibility on them.

We don’t anticipate this scrutiny diminishing anytime soon, which means that this trend is something marketers should keep in mind for 2018. But in the face of these higher barriers, the best way to be discovered on social media continues to be by creating high-quality, personalized content that’s relevant to the audience you’re trying to reach.

That philosophy has always been core to the inbound methodology that we first introduced to marketers to help them become discovered by way of creating valuable content that their audiences might be searching for. And it still remains relevent, but has become applicable to a greater number of channels.

5. Voice search and AI will change the way users discover brands and content.

Voice-controlled personal assistants are being built into everything, from smart speakers, to TVs, to mobile devices.

And as the development of autonomous vehicle technology continues to progress, it’s almost certain that voice activation will be built into self-driving cars, too — after all, many vehicles already come with voice-powered capabilities that allow drivers to make phone calls, for example, without removing their hands from the wheel.

All the while, these voice-powered devices that respond and fulfill our verbal commands are learning more about us. They’re learning to differentiate our preferences and tones in households with multiple people, and they’re beginning to proactively know what information we might request.

Consider that 72% of voice-activated speaker owners already say that these devices have become part of their daily routines. As the type of content available for discovery on these devices continues to grow, along with the ways we look for it, it might not be long before they change the way we browse and consume content on social media.

After all, you can already ask Alexa to read your Twitter feed, for example — and that’s just one social media capability on one connected device.

As this type of technology continues to evolve and is adapted by more users, marketers can prepare in a number of ways. To start, begin thinking about what type of social media content can be optimized for consumption via a smart speaker, for instance. Creating a solution to a need that the user might not know it has is core to marketing — what type of information or content might your target audience seek on social media that’s easier when delivered in this manner?

If you need a little help getting started, check out this data from Google on the type of information users would like to receive from their voice-activated devices.

Source: Google

Social media is constantly changing, and one prediction we didn’t include above is to prepare for anything. And if you’re not sure where to get started with your social media plan, don’t worry — we’ve got you covered.

Free Template Social Media Content Calendar

 

 
Free Template Social Media Calendar

 

Engel & Völkers, Augmently, Inc. Believe Augmented Reality is Prime Location for Real Estate Marketing

Engel & Völkers North America, an international premium real estate company, is taking its commitment to staying on the forefront of technology one step further at its office in Sherman Oaks/Encino by offering agents and clients an exclusive experience using augmented reality.

To leverage the power of AR, Engel & Völkers Sherman Oaks/Encino turned to Los Angeles, California-based Augmently, Inc, The Augmented Realism Agency at the vanguard of augmented reality for marketing and branding for companies and clients across a broad range of industries.

Having conceptualized and created a new augmented reality lead generation tool for the real estate market, Augmently, Inc. was primed and well positioned to empower Engel & Völkers Sherman Oaks/Encino to quickly capitalize on this cutting edge AR solution to meet their forward thinking objectives.

The end result is the new Engel & Völkers Augmented Realty app for Android and iOS. The app showcases luxury real estate properties in a unique and effective way with AR-enabled real estate flyers that come to life through the use of Augmented Reality.

Anyone with the app can press the “Scan Your Flyer” button and wave their phone over an E&V AR-enabled flyer to experience all that the property has to offer through high-resolution video, pictures, messages, and streamline communication to agents representing the property.

Engle & Volkers – Augmently – Augmented Realty App from Ziggy Kormandel on Vimeo.

“More often than not, when a prospective buyer leaves an open house, they also leave behind flyers or dump them in the trash without more than a single glance,” admits Augmently Inc. Founder and CEO Ziggy Kormandel. “We had this idea for a powerful lead generation tool that people will not only want to keep but also share because of how fundamentally unique and compelling it is.”

No stranger to harnessing the ubiquity of mobile devices, the team Augmently Inc. crafted a tool for real estate agents that turns the page on traditional flyers.

By using the in-app camera on the front page of the flyer, users will see the address of the property appear to be floating above the flyer, while a high-resolution video of the estate will play. When pointing the camera at the back page of the flyer, photos of the property expand to the full size of the paper, with an option to scroll through the properties various high-resolution pictures.

Additionally, a personal video about the real estate agent will enlarge from the bottom left-hand corner of the flyer to give you more information on E&V, the agent, and how to get in contact with them immediately through any and all available means.

“With so many disrupters in our industry, we’ve gone beyond the typical marketing tools that traditional brokerages offer their agents and customers which are antiquated by today’s standards,” says Ashish Trivedi, License Partner and President of Engel & Völkers Sherman Oaks. “Our clients expect the very best, and an upper echelon of service.  In maintaining those expectations in our marketing and technology, we see augmented reality as the next platform and game changer for E&V Real Estate Advisors and their clients.  Without a doubt, this will expand the reach beyond the conventional medians in finding the next prospective buyers and sellers.”

The Engel & Völkers Augmented Realty app is available now in the Google Play Store and the Apple App Store.

The post Engel & Völkers, Augmently, Inc. Believe Augmented Reality is Prime Location for Real Estate Marketing appeared first on Mobile Marketing Watch.

Tech Advertising Is Actually to Change More in 2018

The following is a guest contributed post by Ivan Guzenko, the CEO of SmartyAds.

Marketing, for the most part, deals with the change. Successful marketing involves following the trends and timely adjustments to the strategy. The optimal overall marketing strategy is to observe the change of trends, sometimes pulling out the right one, but at the same time staying true to the corporate style.

So here are five major trends that will rule the digital marketing industry in 2018.

Trend 1: Blockсhain

Today the term ‘blockchain’ is mostly associated with the bitcoin. But in fact, this is the technology which made the cryptocurrency possible, and not vice versa. All of its benefits can be used in marketing. This year, blockchain is pouring into digital-marketing, and the following year has all the chances to increase this tempo.

As of now, there is no way for an advertiser or publisher to determine the amount of additional fees. And since blockchain is the technology that provides a transparent, instantaneous and indisputable record of transactions, it actually can ensure that there are no hidden fees and cuts. There are initiatives from IAB working towards cutting down on fake ad-requests for domains, who actually make it possible to provide a mechanism to enable content owners to declare who is authorized to sell their inventory. Even though they still have a long way to go, it looks like a huge leap in the right direction towards solving the industry’s transparency challenge.

There also are other solutions out there. For instance, SmartyAds has already launched White Label Ad Stack, which is a “Lego constructor” at its core for building Blockchain based Digital Marketing products, such as SSPs, DSPs, OTT and many more.

Blockchain is a big step towards the future of ad industry, as it can change the relationship between the client, advertiser and advertising platforms, while at the same time providing transparency of transactions, and its integration will help face the growing marketing needs. When one understands blockchain, its advantages become obvious. Blockchain will help to prevent the sale of counterfeit inventory, conduct safe transactions without a third party, and place any data in the blockchain so that it can not be deleted or edited without the user’s consent

Trend 2: Video

The growth of online video is staggering. According to The Wall Street Journal, the consumption of online video has increased tenfold between 2011 and 2016, and this rapid growth will not slow down. Moreover, online video is ahead of cable TV among teenagers and young viewers. For companies who target for the younger generation, video marketing strategy is a must to succeed.

Although, there is a problem. Digital media industry suffers from the amount of the clean up of the digital ad supply chain needed, with all the publishers, brands, agencies and ad tech vendors involved. Currently, a buyer can’t know for sure if they are buying display inventory that has been repackaged as video. It actually sums up to the transparency issue.

Such already existing solutions as Ads.Cert give publishers more control and a possibility to assure their customers that they are buying from the authorized sellers, and get what they pay for. Ads.cert is one more step toward full transparency in digital ad transactions, and it will also likely be a big 2018 talking point.

Another reason video continues to rise in popularity is that it enables brands to connect with consumers on an emotional level. This new video age we are about to step in is marked by the growing effectiveness of interactive ads — also called engagement or immersive ads. A number of companies are rethinking the standard banner, using 360-degree video. You don’t even need a headset to create or engage with 360 videos, which are easily played on smartphones and are frequently used for advertising. Thanks to the immersive nature of the technology, 360 video content catches more views, shares, and subscribers than standard video content.

Augmented reality and virtual reality are another video-related trends to be incorporated into advertising experiences.

Trend 3: Virtual or Augmented reality

Although as to date there is no widespread application of VR (Virtual Reality) and AR (Augmented Reality) in Internet marketing, this is certainly a trend that will take an increasing share in the content of leading brands. In this case, the technology itself is only a carrier, and the content depends on the company itself.

Today we can observe the VR market transforming and becoming more massive due to the appearance of new available VR-devices from Google and Samsung, as well as the active spread of low-cost solutions like Google Cardboard which are also used in marketing.

It’s evident that companies are beginning to test the waters and trial different interactive video formats and experience, yet the projection for AR revenue by 2020 is set to outweigh VR by $120 billion. For instance, Apple announcing their iPhone 8 and iPhone X provides users with new augmented reality experiences. Therefore more social channels will plan on introducing new ways of integrating AR into their platforms. The use of mobile AR provides a niche and and engaging way for marketers to reach their target audience.

Even if companies are not yet ready to adapt their materials to virtual or augmented reality, they will have to improve the quality of the content if they want to keep up with those who use VR/AR tech. Interactive graphics, video and applications will not only help brands develop a more engaging marketing strategy, but will also become a springboard for future experiments with VR and AR.

The experts predict that by 2020, total revenues in the VR and AR market will reach $150 billion.

Trend 4: Artificial Intelligence

Content creators believe that AI will be able to transform their work in 2018. Predictive analytics, voice processing, and algorithm generation will allow making more thoughtful and effective materials for attracting people. Machine learning has already made an impact in healthcare and fraud detection, with PayPal using predictive technology to fight against money laundering. In 2018, it’s going to take the marketing world by storm, assisting automated data visualization as well as content management and analysis.

In the next five years, half of the texts will be created by machines, while humans’ duties will consist of being in charge and making necessary corrections. Large publishers, for example, Associated Press, already use the content created by the machines to increase the speed of information released.

In the creative fields, the AI ​​breakthrough can also be conducted in the nearest future. Even now we see how Google’s artificial intelligence composes musical works. Accordingly, in the near future, the entire creative component of marketing services can switch from people to machines who don’t need to take time for an inspiration. This no more seems so fantastic as it did even five years ago.

97% of business leaders feel that the future of marketing will consist of human marketers working in collaboration with machine learning-based automation entities. Though there won’t be any robot invasion yet. Instead, machines will simplify our work with the target audience.

Trend 5: Influencer Marketing

According to the statistics 90% users trust the opinion of a field authority, while advertising slogans are credited by only 33% of the audience. The reason that influencers are trusted by their audiences is that these audiences have relationships and trust built up with these individuals.

Internet users whose audience is from 1000 to 100 thousand subscribers are 4 times more likely to receive comments than “celebs” with millions of followers. These micro-sized influencer category usually occupy a certain niche that lets one choose an applicant who’s most suitable for the brand’s goals.

Summary

We have already seen the digital advertising landscape evolving in 2017, and 2018 seems to be taking it even further. With digital at the very core of our society and economy, it continues to deeply impact the marketing industry. Focus on video content, artificial intelligence, influencer marketing and new technologies like blockchain and VR/AR will be the key.

This year saw the already existing approaches unfold: influencer marketing remains a useful strategy, and video goes to the next level. As 360 video and virtual reality merge, 2018 will also see an increase of shoppable video content. Such content will allow brands to turn social video views into direct response sales, dramatically increasing conversion.

Technologies like artificial intelligence and blockchain are going from “good to know” to “need to know.”, and new content formats like AR and VR, together with blockchain solutions like Ads.Cert, are likely to go mainstream.

Artificial Intelligence is credible to take over: the use of AI may reshape retargeting strategies. As this technology gets smoother, it is possible that even more brands will embrace AI solutions to better results.

Even though, unknown pitfalls and surprises can await the digital marketing world in the year to come, as technology and the expectations of consumers change. The whole system may change drastically. But this hyper-converged marketing landscape gives rise to new opportunities. 2018 promises to be an impressive year for digital marketing.

The post Tech Advertising Is Actually to Change More in 2018 appeared first on Mobile Marketing Watch.

Here Are the Top Marketing Design Trends for 2018 [Infographic]

Shutterstock — a familiar name to many creative professionals — released its 2018 Creative Trends Report today, shedding light on the design trends marketers need to know about this year.

The report is the result of synthesizing and analyzing the billions of searches for visual content on Shutterstock’s collection — which boasts over 170 million images. Based on those searches, Shutterstock determined which design concepts are most likely to influence creative marketing and design this year, from pop culture to emerging trends.

This is the seventh year Shutterstock has released a Creative Trends Report, and this year, there’s a common, underlying science-fiction-esque theme — at least when it comes to the top three trends, named to be “fantasy,” “new minimalism,” and “space.”

Intrigued? Check out the full report, which — how fitting — has been visually represented by the infographic below.


1. Fantasy

Unicorns — the mythical creatures, not the high-valued startups — are cool again. Along with its friends like mermaids and centaurs, fantasy-themed images are predicted to see a rise in popularity. 

2. New Minimalism

It’s not just any minimalism — it’s the clean, circu-linear kind that uses white space to draw greater attention to an image’s boldest features.

3. Space

Elon Musk, is that you? We’re not sure if SpaceX is behind it, but images pertaining to the solar system and beyond are expected to be a major trend this year.

4. Natural Luxury

Less screen, more green. Images with natural elements are on the rise — with a touch of “geological”-themed luxury, like marble.

5. Punchy Pastels

Spring has arrived early, with pastel hues and shades dominating 2018 design trends.

6. A Global March

The legacy of last January’s Women’s March lives on — searches for terms like “activism” and key occasions like “International Women’s Day” are on the rise.

7. Cactus

Honestly, your guess is as good as ours on this one. As Shutterstock describes it, this trend reflects “nature’s ultimate survivor” with “beauty and danger.”

8. Digital Crafts

It’s the latest generation of origami. Is a robot capable of crafting? Inquiring, visual minds want to know.

9. Ancient Geometrics

You might be familiar with the Mandala, which is an ancient, geometric symbol frequently associated with Hinduism and Buddhism. There’s been an uptick in searches for that type of image — a trend we expect to continue as many seek these zen-like images.

10. Cryptocurrency

We’re not at all surprised to see this one on the list. Cryptocurrency has been a major point for those in both tech and finance in recent months, with such headlines as bitcoin debuting on Wall Street and Kodak unveiling its very own cryptocurrency (which resulted in its stock price skyrocketing in an impressively short period of time).

11. Holographic Foil

Tech has been gradually permeating the mainstream and pop-cultural conversation, and that’s arguably never been truer than it has been in 2018. Holographics have long served as thematic, visual representation of tech — which is what we predict helped it earn a place on the list.

 
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15 Web Design Trends to Watch in 2018

The landscape of web design is constantly evolving.

Something that looked modern and fresh yesterday can appear dated seemingly overnight, and trends once dismissed as irrevocably passé can unexpectedly cycle back in vogue.

To help you prepare for wherever the web design tide takes us in 2018, we’ve put together a list of 15 trends to keep a close eye on. Check them out below, and get inspired to tackle your web design projects this year with style.

15 Web Design Trends to Watch in 2018

1. Bold Typography

More and more companies are turning to big, bold typography to anchor their homepages. This style works best when the rest of the page is kept minimal and clean, like this example from Brooklyn-based agency Huge

huge-hello.png

2. Cinemagraphs

Cinemagraphs — high-quality videos or GIFs that run on a smooth, continuous loop — have become a popular way to add movement and visual interest to otherwise static pages. Full-screen loops, like this example from Danish agency CP+B Copenhagen, create immediate interest on an otherwise simple page. 

3. Brutalism

To stand out in a sea of tidy, organized websites, some designers are opting for more eclectic, convention-defying structures. While it can seem jarring at first, many popular brands are now incorporating these aggressively alternative design elements into their sites, such as Bloomberg

Brutalism emerged as a reaction to the increasing standardization of web design, and is often characterized by stark, asymmetrical, nonconformist visuals, and a distinct lack of hierarchy and order. In other words, it’s hard to describe, but you know it when you see it — like the below example from apparel designer Biannual.

brutalism.png

4. Saturated Gradients

Kaleidoscopic gradients were everywhere in 2017, and they aren’t going anywhere in 2018. Zurich-based agency Y7K illustrates a perfect example of how to make this two-tone effect look fresh and modern, with their full-screen, gradient-washed homepage.

5. Vivid Layers of Color

Staggered, stacked layers of color add depth and texture to a simple site layout, as seen in this stylish example from the São Paulo-based team behind Melissa Meio-Fio.

6. Text-Only

Some websites are cutting out images and prominent navigation sections altogether, relying on a few choice lines of straightforward text to inform visitors about their company.

Danish agency B14 uses their homepage real estate to simply describe their mission statement and provide links to samples of their work. It’s a modern, uncluttered approach to presenting information.

7. Illustration

More companies are turning to illustrators and graphic artists to create bespoke illustrations for their websites. After years dominated by flat design and straightforward minimalism, adding illustrated touches to your site is a great way to inject a little personality, as seen in this charming example from NewActon (designed by Australian digital agency ED).

8. Ultra-minimalism

Taking classic minimalism to the extreme, some designers are defying conventions of what a website needs to look like, displaying just the absolute bare necessities. The site from designer Mathieu Boulet is centered around a few choice links to his social profiles and information.

9. Duotone

These parred-down, two-tone color schemes look cool and contemporary, like this example from Australian Design Radio.

10. Mixing Horizontal and Vertical Text

Freeing text from its usual horizontal alignment and placing it vertically on a page adds some refreshing dimension. Take this example from director Matt Porterfield, which mixes horizontal and vertical text alignments on an otherwise very simple page.

11. Geometric Shapes and Patterns

Whimsical patterns and shapes are popping up more frequently on websites, adding some flair in a landscape otherwise ruled by flat and material design. Canadian design studio MSDS uses daring, patterned letters on their homepage.

12. Serif Fonts

Due to screen resolution limitations and an overall lack of online font support, designers avoided serif fonts for years to keep websites legible and clean. With recent improvements, serif fonts are having a big moment in 2018 — and they’ve never looked more modern. As seen on The Sill, a serif headline adds a dose of sophistication and style. 

serif-font-design-1.png

13. Overlapping Text and Images

Text that slightly overlaps accompanying images has become a popular effect for blogs and portfolios. Freelance art director and front-end developer Thibault Pailloux makes his overlapping text stand out with a colorful underline beneath each title.

14. Organic Shapes

Gone are the days of strict grid layouts and sharp edges — 2018 will be all about curved lines and soft, organic shapes. In the example below from Neobi, the borderline-cartoonish background adds a generous hit of personality and vivid color to the uncomplicated design. 

organic-shapes-1.png

15. Hand-Drawn Fonts

Custom, hand-drawn fonts have started cropping up more and more in recent months — and for good reason. These unique typefaces add character and charm, and help designers create a distinct look and feel without a complete overhaul. On KIKK Festival’s website, a hand-drawn font provides a whimsical anchor for the homepage. 

hand-drawn-font-1.png

What web design trends do you think will really take off in 2018?

download 50 examples of brilliant homepage design

What’s Ahead for Native Advertising in 2018?

Where is native advertising headed in this new year?

This week, the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) issued a variety of 2018 member predictions from Bidtellect, GumGum, Influential, rewardStyle, Sharethrough, StartApp, Storyful, Triplelift, Turner Ignite, and Unruly.

In addition to a fantastic blog post summary, the IAB also dropped this eye-opening infographic, which is shared below for your review.

Check it out and buckle up for a busy year in the native ad space.

The post What’s Ahead for Native Advertising in 2018? appeared first on Mobile Marketing Watch.

Go2mobi Touts Total Control API for Building Custom Programmatic Advertising Features

Go2mobi, a top self-serve mobile demand side platform (DSP), turns the levers of control over to mobile advertisers, providing them with the tools and technology to target, report on, and optimize every aspect of their mobile advertising campaigns.

That’s the official word shared with MMW ahead of the weekend.

According to a provided statement, Go2mobi’s Application Programming Interface (API) allows agencies, trade desks, and performance marketers to leverage the power of its mobile programmatic DSP to build anything from time-saving workflows, customized bidder logic, to full-blown custom DSP platforms.

Go2mobi’s Total Control API gives those looking to build custom advertising solutions a head start with industry-leading real time bidding (RTB) infrastructure that processes over 1,000,000 queries per second.

Go2mobi’s light account setup and dedicated specialists dramatically accelerate time to value. Developers and media buyers can go to market quickly with custom campaigns leveraging the functionality, speed, ease-of-use and high call limit of Go2mobi’s Total Control API™.

MMW is told that with Go2mobi’s API, advertisers can achieve a variety of efficiencies, including automating micro-campaign creation, automating campaign optimization, integrating the Total Control API with their spreadsheet software, integrating Go2mobi features directly into their own tracking platforms and creating data visualization and unified reporting.

For advertisers using the API, Go2mobi’s experienced account managers provide technical support every step of the way, ensuring their customers achieve maximum results. Thorough, user-friendly API documentation is also publicly available on Go2mobi’s developer site.

“With our Total Control API, Go2mobi brings a toolset for mobile advertising that is significantly more flexible and powerful to meet the growing needs of our clients’ specific use cases,” said Tom Desaulniers, president and co-founder of Go2mobi.

The post Go2mobi Touts Total Control API for Building Custom Programmatic Advertising Features appeared first on Mobile Marketing Watch.

How HubSpot's Pricing Page Redesign Increased MQL Conversions by 165% & Free Sign-Ups by 89%

A few months ago during INBOUND 2017, we launched a complete redesign of HubSpot’s website pricing page. Not because it hadn’t been redesigned in a few years (it hadn’t), but because we saw a big conversion opportunity from a page that had a lot of untapped potential.

And boy, did it pay off. Not only did we increase the number of MQLs the page generated by 165%, but we also increased sign-ups for our free products by 89%.

It’s no small feat to increase free product sign-ups while also increasing the number of people who raise their hand and say they want to talk to our sales team about our premium products. But I’m not really here to brag about numbers (though I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t even a little bit proud). I’m here to talk about process.

A redesign of a website’s pricing page is typically a huge undertaking that involves a lot of company stakeholders. For us, those stakeholders were web strategy (my team), product marketing, sales operations, legal, pricing and packaging, and localization. And when you have that many opinions involved, it’s easy to cave in and make compromises that A) dilute the overall quality of the work you’re doing, and B) detract from the original goals of your redesign.

So keep reading if you want to learn more about our research behind the redesign, our goals, how we made sure we stuck to those goals during a months-long redesign process with multiple stakeholders, and why we changed what we did. 

Before and After 

You can check out how the old page looked via the Wayback Machine here, and you can find the new page here. Or just take a look at the quick snapshot below … 

Before

old-pricing-page-1.png

After

hubspot-pricing-page-1.png

The Goals of the Redesign

The pricing page has always stood out to my team as being rife with opportunity. Up until this redesign, it had been built primarily as a sales enablement tool. While that’s not necessarily a bad thing, it’s also important to note that the pricing page is the second most visited page on our website — second only to our homepage. As a result, the pricing page generates a lot of really broad traffic from visitors who, compared to the sales reps the page was originally optimized for, have much less knowledge of our products.

This meant we had been neglecting to optimize the page for its primary user: the website visitor. As a result, the pricing page was converting visitors at a poor rate, and given the hefty amount of traffic it generates every month, we hypothesized that we were leaving a whole lot of conversations on the table. So our goals were twofold.

  1. Optimize for conversions. Our pricing page should either drive visitors to sign up for a free product or contact our sales team.
  2. Create a positive user experience. Pricing should be presented in a way that is both transparent and easy for users to understand.

The Research Behind the Design

The new pricing page was launched near the end of September, but we started conducting research to lay the groundwork for the redesign way back in May, and let me tell you: It was extensive. In fact, pretty much every decision we made about every aspect of the redesign — the copy, the layout, the user experience, the design, the conversion events — all of it had roots in some aspect of our research.

Defining Guardrails and Omissions

We compiled our goals and the findings of our research into a slide deck that defined specific guardrails and omissions for the redesign based on the insights we uncovered through our research and discovery phase.

We shared this deck with all the page’s key stakeholders and asked them to sign off on the plan before we got started. This gave us a document to refer back to throughout the redesign process to ensure we were staying true to our goals and sticking to our guardrails.

Here’s a look at the different types of research we conducted and how its insights led to specific changes on the pricing page. 

1. Qualitative Data

First, we analyzed the performance of the existing pricing page from a traffic and conversion perspective.

From this, we learned that people on the pricing page preferred to pick up the phone and give us a call, which led to our decision to feature the sales phone number more prominently in the new design.

We also learned that pricing page users were actively clicking between the pricing for our different products (the Marketing Hub, the Sales Hub, and HubSpot CRM), so we made the navigation between products even more prominent so users could move freely from one product’s pricing to another’s.

quantitative-data.png

 

2. Pre-Testing of Calls-to-Action (CTAs)

In the months leading up to the redesign, we also did some A/B testing to inform our pricing page’s conversion strategy. Historically, the CTAs for the paid products on our pricing page had always linked to our contact sales landing page. But those CTAs had a really poor conversion rate, so we tested them against a demo CTA that led to our demo landing page instead.

While the demo CTAs generated a higher volume of conversions, the data showed that the contact sales CTAs would ultimately result in more customers (due to the higher close rate of contact sales conversions). This informed our decision to keep that contact sales conversion on the new page.

To inform our CTA copy decisions, we ran an additional CTA copy test (“Contact Sales” vs. “Talk to Sales”) and saw a 46% increase in clickthrough rate with the use of the “Talk to Sales” copy, which we therefore implemented in the redesign.

talk-to-sales-1.png

 

3. Chat Transcripts

We also reviewed transcripts of the chat conversations that were happening on the pricing page to determine the common questions users were asking while they were on the page.

From this, we learned that people were often skeptical that the CRM was truly free, which led to our decision to incorporate copy on the CRM pricing page to directly address that concern.

We also learned that people were confused by the contact tier pricing for the Marketing Hub, so we incorporated a slider that shows users how purchasing additional contacts directly impacts their pricing, and also added a tooltip to explain to users what “contacts” are.

Lastly, we learned that because we had only been displaying pricing for our Marketing Basic, Professional, and Enterprise plans on our main pricing page (with pricing for our free and Starter plans living on an entirely separate, fairly hidden page), the $200 Marketing Basic price tag gave a lot of visitors sticker shock. This supported our decision to incorporate pricing for our free and Starter plans (and sign-up CTAs for our free marketing tools) into the core pricing page to prevent users from disqualifying themselves based on cost alone, and from getting scared away before getting started with our software.

chat-transcript-changes.png

 

4. Interviews With HubSpot Sales Managers & Reps

Knowing that the pricing page is still an important tool for our sales team, we interviewed sales managers and reps alike to gather their feedback on the old pricing page — what they liked and didn’t like, what was working for and against them, and what other opportunities they saw for the upcoming redesign.

From this, we learned that we weren’t putting enough emphasis on the customer support we have — and that customers see it as just as valuable as any other software feature. This led to our decision to include customer support in the page’s feature grid, and to dedicate an entire section of the page to highlighting our various customer support options for paying customers.

We also learned that pricing page users need help determining which particular plan is right for them, and that we should make pricing transparent enough for users to understand what they get with each plan, but also intricate enough that users need diagnostic and prescriptive help from a sales rep. So we updated the copy for the descriptions that go along with each plan to help users more easily self-identify which one is right for them. We also used the copy positioned next to the the sales phone number to communicate to users that the best way to determine the right plan is to talk to a salesperson directly.

sales-feedback.png

 

5. Qualitative User Testing

Furthermore, we conducted user testing on the old pricing page to understand what was already working, and where it fell short.

In addition to further validating insights from some of our other forms of research (e.g. the sticker shock of the Marketing Hub, the confusing contact tier pricing, the oversight of not featuring our customer support services more prominently, users’ difficulty in determining which plan is right for them, and the need for the easy navigation between pricing for different products), we also learned about the elements of the old pricing page that were particularly important to users: transparent pricing, a pricing calculator component, and the ability to easily compare plans.

In addition, we learned that users were having a difficult time comparing the value between different plans, and we discovered that the page’s cognitive load was high. In other words, there was too much information on the page for users to process at once, and they were suffering from information overload.

This led to our decisions to use expandable modules on certain parts of the page to reduce cognitive load, and to redesign the feature comparison table into something that A) was simplified and more easily digestible, and B) made it easier for users to compare the value between plans — the feature grid we have today.

user-testing-changes-1.png

 

6. Competitive Analysis

Pulling primarily from the Montclare SAAS 250 list of the most successful SAAS companies, we also spent time gathering examples of other companies’ pricing pages, analyzed the pros and cons of each approach, and drew inspiration from the pieces we liked.

This helped us validate that the new SKU/plan navigation we were planning to implement (to enable users to easily toggle between pricing plans and compare the available features) was a smart direction.

sku-nav.png

 

7. Building for a Scalable Future

My team keeps testing road maps for many of the core, heavy-hitting pages on our website. Here, we document all the tests we’d like to run and the insights from research we’ve done to come up with those testing ideas — all organized into a timeline of what we should test first.

So as part of the redesign, we sat down with HubSpot Chief Strategy Officer Brad Coffey so we could design a pricing page that would easily scale with, adapt to, and align with our potential business strategy.

Evaluating the Results of the Redesign

After the redesigned page went live, we repeated a lot of the research above to check in on how the new page was performing.

We’ve already mentioned that the redesign led to 165% more hand-raisers and 89% more free users in the month after the redesign (9/27/17 – 10/24/17) compared to the month prior (8/29/17 – 9/25/17), but we also conducted user testing and solicited feedback from our sales team on the new design. Here’s a summary of the feedback we gathered and the ways we’re acting on it.

Feedback From User Testing

From user testing, we learned that the new pricing page design is strong — users intuitively use much of the design, and it’s easy for them to understand what they’d be getting from each pricing plan.

Users also commented that the conversion events on the page seemed well-balanced and not intrusive. They said the CTAs throughout the page to talk to Sales, call us, and chat with us weren’t overly aggressive; they were actually helpful!

We also identified some room for improvement, and learned that there were some small design and copy tweaks we could implement to improve the user experience even further still, which we’ve been following up on.

Feedback From the Sales Team

In addition to users, we also solicited feedback from our sales team, who identified a few updates we could make to the design to make our pricing even more transparent and user-friendly to prospects.

As a result, for example, we made the pricing page URL dynamic so it  changes based on a user’s selections in the pricing calculator. This made it much easier for sales reps to share specific pricing configurations with prospects, who could in turn share those configurations with other decision-makers in their company.

configuration-url.png

Design Based on Insights

Our redesign wasn’t successful by chance, and none of the changes we made were made on a whim. All of the decisions we made (the copy, the layout, the user experience, the design, the conversion events) were strategic and deliberate, rooted in insights we learned from some aspect of our research. 

The lesson is this: When you test and design based on insights you’ve learned from real research, that’s how you generate real results.

So if you’re considering a redesign, make sure there is a real, data-backed reason for doing it, and do your due diligence to identify which parts of your design are failing (and why) so you know exactly what to fix and how to fix it. Redesigns are a time-consuming, and often expensive, undertaking, so you’ll want to do your best to make sure the results were worth the effort. 

landing-page-design-ebook

 

Free Guide Optimize Landing Pages

What Is Lagom, and How Can It Create a More Balanced Approach to Work and Life?

When the Global Innovation Index 2017 was released, Switzerland and Sweden led the pack — as they have in previous years.

What makes this part of the world such a beacon of creative thought?

As someone who was fortunate enough to live and work in Sweden, I’ve come to believe the answer might be hiding in a single word: “lagom.”

Like many other non-English concepts, lagom defies quick or simple translation. It’s more of a cultural belief than mere letters strung together to signify objects or actions.

But what is it, and how can we use it at work and in life?

Finding lagom takes some practice, especially for those who were not brought up in Nordic countries where lagom is as natural as fjords and icy winters. And yet, it might be the key for businesspeople who are mired in a losing, imbalanced approach of creating products and then searching in vain for users — not to mention, those who simply want to find better work-life balance.

The Barrier of Black-and-White Thinking

A barrier to embracing a lagom mindset is the prevalence of binary thinking. Left or right. Yes or no. Certainly, there are times in life when such starkness makes sense; no one would argue, for example, that at a train crossing, you would sit partway on the tracks instead of either stopping or going.

But in the business world, effective solutions and answers are rarely black-and-white. Unfortunately, many struggle to see shades of gray when it comes to product development or product-market fit. 

That sheds some light on why throwing convention out the window sometimes leads to success.

“Why can’t I connect travelers with local hosts for a whole new travel experience?”

“Why can’t I combine riders with independent drivers via an app for better taxi experiences?”

“Why can’t I create a taco shell made with Doritos?”

Lagom at Work

Despite some trends toward blended products — lagom in a product context — it isn’t easy to see how to incorporate this concept of varied perspectives into your business. I struggled to see it myself, in fact, until I attended an international hackathon in Ireland.

Our team was comprised of eight engineers and two marketers, including myself. The challenge: Come up with a new kind of conference identification badge that people would love.

After brainstorming, we dismissed the notion of a traditional paper name tag encased in plastic, instead opting for an electronic one with image and video capabilities. 

Those who have read Arthur C. Clarke’s 3001: The Final Odyssey might be vaguely reminded of the nanochip inserted into everyone at birth to allow for more seamless introductions. Our suggestion, I’m proud to say, was less invasive — but just as compelling.

We hoped that the badge would spur serendipitous moments for conference-goers via an embedded tracking mechanism. Our goal was to make it the centerpiece of a novel, productive conference experience. On that, everyone agreed — but soon, the classic engineer-marketer battle ensued. 

Sometimes, engineers tend to be product-centric and marketers, well, market-centric. In our scenario, the former focused on the ability to solve our problem using the product, while the latter concentrated on the user experience and costs.

It wasn’t until we reached a blended, balanced approach — lagom — that we managed to create the final product that both sides had hoped for.

A great product only sells if it satisfies a market that’s willing to pay for the solution. Any product lacking balance is destined for a bumpy and potentially fatal debut. 

Product-Market Fit Through Balance

Nathan Furr and Paul Ahlstrom, co-authors of Nail It then Scale It, hit the proverbial nail on the head when they rhetorically asked:

With this question, Furr and Ahlstrom referred to a phenomenon that I’ve seen in over two decades of working with entrepreneurs and corporations: Achieving early product-market fit exponentially increases a startup’s chances for success. Getting there, however, requires finding lagom. 

Let’s face it: You’ll get feedback on any solution … eventually. But entrepreneurs are often blinded by a passion for a specific solution. Instead of listening to unadulterated feedback, they might peddle products in search of an audience. Watch one episode of “Shark Tank,” and you’ll immediately see why that’s a disastrous approach.

A key milestone for me, which was essentially my “aha!” moment, was the realization that striving for product-market balance required exceptional listening ability. The only way to see a situation, or a product, from more than one viewpoint is to listen and accept others’ ideas — then, challenge and question everything they’ve said with curiosity and sincerity.

Balance.

The only way to do that — the only way to balance your company vision with the needs of your market — is through repeated, meaningful customer conversations. 

Always Focus on the Customer

Customers naturally focus on their needs. As an entrepreneur, I realized that instead of guessing at those needs, I could learn what they are through conversations with my audience. Only by actively seeking market insights could I craft my business strategy, make better product decisions, and promote customer loyalty.

This epiphany has become the basis of everything I do and teach. By shifting from the “what” to the “why,” I’ve become aware of just how much of our decision-making depends on the internalization of others’ ideas.

Most of us would like to believe that we make decisions consciously and individually. But back in the early 2000s, Harvard professors determined that 95% of purchase decisions are made subconsciously, posing quite the challenge to marketers.

That’s why better business decision-making requires us to unearth our customers’ innermost thoughts and feelings. Yes, it takes practice just like any skill. Those of us who didn’t grow up in Nordic countries may find the pursuit of lagom — by way of talking to customers, and perhaps even strangers — challenging at first.

But doing so springs us from the trap of self-centeredness and facilitates raw, human-to-human connection. That’s where lagom — and true balance — really begins.

Productivity Guide

 
free productivity tips

Happy New Year from Mobile Marketing Watch!

As the final minutes of 2017 now rapidly tick away, we at Mobile Marketing Watch (MMW) want to wish YOU and ALL of our readers a happy, healthy, and prosperous new year.

2017 was an extraordinary period for our industry. The news that was made and the advancements at which we marveled will dramatically shape the even more remarkable year expected in 2018.

This year, MMW and our growing family of sister-sites powered by mobileStorm gained new ground. Once again, as was the case in 2016, in the last twelve months, MMW has enjoyed tremendous growth while publishing more daily, weekly, and monthly original content than any other dedicated mobile marketing/advertising-related news source online.

In addition to MMW, 2017 was also a growth-year for mHealthWatch, a daily provider of breaking news, analysis, and thought leadership pertinent to mHealth, telemedicine, and the role of all things digital in modern medicine, healthcare, marketing and communications.

If the incredible progress we witnessed across the mobile landscape in 2017 was any indication, next year is poised to be even more groundbreaking than we could have ever previously imagined.

Thank you for following MMW in 2017. We hope you will stay with us for an amazing year to come.

Until we resume publishing on January 3, 2018… be safe, enjoy the holiday, and Happy New Year!

The post Happy New Year from Mobile Marketing Watch! appeared first on Mobile Marketing Watch.