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digital marketing

Wtf is 'Digital Advertising' Anyway?

By David Berry: Once upon a time, when advertising budgets were dominated by TV, radio and print, the media landscape was easy to understand. Clients could feel and hear their ads, and the media was easy to understand too. A TV ad goes on TV. A radio ad goes on radio. A print spot goes in a newspaper or magazine.

But then along came digital, and the confusion began. Clients -- and even agencies -- were, and still are, slow to embrace it. Largely for the same reasons anyone is resistant to change; it goes against what they know. The medium itself challenges the entire process that so many in the creative world took for granted.

  • Client Sends Brief
  • Creative Team Brainstorms
  • Creative Team Comes up with Great TV Commercial
  • Creative Team Wraps Billboard, Radio and Print Campaigns Around TV Commercial
  • Yay! 

Digital isn't that easy. And a lot of it isn't even visual or auditory in nature, so it's much harder to wrap your head around -- and therefore, harder for agencies to sell, and even harder for clients to sell to their own bosses. So, what is digital advertising exactly? In short, it's literally anything that is online. 

Digital advertising refers to marketing media that is digitally displayed. Digital advertising technology exists on the Internet, on smart phone and hand-held media devices, and even on automobiles and billboards.
— SmallBusiness.Chron

Within that definition, there are a number of categories which the ads fall into (and more than what I'm showing here).

  • Display Advertising. (Let's call them banner ads.)
  • Affiliate Marketing. (3rd party partnerships where content sites get a cut of sales from other people's products. Looks a lot like display advertising.)
  • Social Network Advertising. (Sponsored content and retargeted content.)
  • Search Engine Marketing (SEM). (If it's in the top 3 on your Google search, it was paid for.)
  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO). (If it's on the first page after the ads, SEO got it there.)
  • Mobile Advertising. (Ads that are targeted to your phone, because you fit the target audience or because you're near a place that wants you to shop.)

But there's something that a lot of digital ads have in common, and that's what makes it so hard to digest -- so much of what makes it good is never seen. For advertisers who spend millions of dollars on their ads, it's a terrifying prospect to say "hey, that TV commercial you can watch every day on your favorite stations? Let's drop that in favor of a bunch of Google Ads that you'll never see, with targeting too convoluted and detailed for you to understand."

How do you cut through the clutter and know you're not being had? Well, we'll talk about that next week. But for now, hey, you know what digital is. That's a good start.

- DB

Here's How Much You Should Spend on Advertising

By David Berry: A question that every - every - marketer hears from prospects or clients is "how much should I be spending on ads?" And there isn't a marketer alive who can give you the "right" answer on the spot (though some could come close).

When I get asked this question, my favorite response is "one million dollars." I say it with confidence too. Invariably, the person who asks me chuckles, and then I explain the same thing every other marketer will explain to them.

"It depends..." 

Of course, even though "it depends" is the start to the right answer, people don't want the right answer. They want a tangible number that they can touch and feel. That they can react to and say "oh, I can afford that" or "oh, that's too much."

Today, though, I'm going to try to give you a "pretty good" answer to the question, based on a few assumptions:

  • You're a small-to-mid-sized business and you sell a product to consumers
  • You haven't done a ton of advertising yet
  • You have a lot of shifting priorities and don't know where to start

If that's the case, I can make a few more assumptions:

  • Advertising has to pay off quickly, or there won't be more money to play with
  • You'll watch over every dime once you start spending money on ads
  • You may be inclined to freak out, change direction or shut it off at the first sign of volatility

The good news? A lot of small-to-mid-sized businesses are just like this. Now, let's dive in.

Put Aside $5,000. I say $5,000 for a few reasons. It's an amount of money with which you can test and learn what works and doesn't work for your business. Plus, it's enough where you could justifiably stretch it out for several months. Too many first-time advertisers say they can afford a certain amount, yet when it comes down to actually spending it month after month, they balk. They freeze. And they pull back without learning or selling much. By putting your investment aside ahead of time, you remove the chance that you'll panic and pull back if you pay as you go.

But $5,000 Isn't Likely to Transform Your Business. Treat your initial $5,000 investment the same way you would treat the purchase of a sofa. You might recoup some of your costs on it, but the goal is to use it for a purpose. And that purpose, in this case, is to learn which approaches, messages, visuals, targeting, etc. are the ones that work for you.

You'll Get There, But You'll Need to be Patient: I have a client who spends $2,000 a month on ads and generates close to $7,000 in revenue. Another spends around $10,000 a month and generates around $25,000 in revenue. But that didn't happen overnight. In fact, in both cases it took us about three months to come up with an approach that generated consistent revenue. If either client had panicked in the first 90 days and abandoned ship, they wouldn't be seeing the success they're seeing now.

So there's your magic number! $5,000. Now, where do we start? Well, that's a conversation for another day. Or, you could email david@dbpluspartners.com to discuss it :)

-DB

 

3 Ways to Squeeze More from Facebook Web Retargeting

By David Berry: In February, we gave you a blog on the basics of Facebook Web Retargeting; what it is, how it works, and how powerful it can be when supporting bottom line business goals.

Today, let's dig a little deeper. One thing to note is that web retargeting isn't a magic fix-all. Some brands might see it that way, though. They'll set-up a basic web retargeting pixel and say "wow, we're seeing higher click-throughs and traffic. This thing works!" But below are three ways to get even more out of the pixel.

(Note: There are other types of retargeting that we'll touch on in other blog posts, such as engagement retargeting)

1. Retarget Off of Individual Pages on Your Site: If you're an ecommerce retailer with a wide variety of products/target users (think Party City), then retargeting off of all your site traffic may not be the best use of your time. Instead, retarget off of specific pages. The Disney movie, Frozen, has been huge in recent years, and the target user for the products there are likely the mothers of young daughters. So, Party City would get the most bang for its buck by retargeting off of the Frozen page and serving other Frozen content to those users, knowing they've already expressed an interest in Frozen-related products. The odds of conversion/sale increase dramatically when you're retargeting users with content that is specifically relevant to what they already clicked on.

2. Use Retargeting Audiences to Market Similar Product Lines: Let's go back to the Party City/Frozen example. If I have a user who has already clicked on an Elsa costume, for example, then she may be an ideal target for ad content that I'm about to promote for Beauty and the Beast products (not gonna lie, I really can't wait to see it). This is likely to lead to higher click-throughs than simple interest targeting. 

3. Use Retargeting Audiences to Create Lookalike Audiences: Facebook has extensive data on its users, everything from age, gender, school and family status down to past purchasing behavior and web activity. Which means that when they say they can find users who look and behave like you do on the web, you know they mean it. So a great way to get extra mileage out of your retargeting audiences is to build lookalike audiences off of them. If I'm selling a ton of Frozen products, and I know that there are other users who look just like the ones who are buying my stuff, well, I'm going after them too.

Got any tips of your own? Share them here.

-DB

The Death of the Ad Agency

By David Berry: Something big is happening in the ad agency world. That thing? Agencies are going away. They are dying.

A 2016 Wall Street Journal article summarized it well: "Many big marketers are [sic] moving away from “agency of record” deals—retainer-based relationships in which a single agency was responsible for most of a client’s projects that in some cases lasted decades."

The agency of record model has been around since, well, forever. It's the model Don Draper used.

Hey, it's me, Don Draper. I used the agency of record model. And I might be out of a job if I was still working in 2017. But damn, I'm handsome.

Hey, it's me, Don Draper. I used the agency of record model. And I might be out of a job if I was still working in 2017. But damn, I'm handsome.

As advertising has shifted away from traditional media - radio, TV, print - and into a more scattered digital space, things have changed. Brands need more content, more often. They need strategic thinkers and they need consultants with expertise in video campaigns, display media, SEO/SEM and so on. Each varying need requires a unique skill set, and many of those skills don't exist in great depth at the agency level.

So, outside consultants - particularly in the digital space - have come in to bridge the gap. The role of the consultant has grown, because of their narrow expertise and agility, while the strength of the agency has declined because their expertise is less defined. They've become less agile too.

So what does that mean? Brands are putting agencies to the test. They know that the ball is in their court. They're challenging agency partners to work on leaner budgets, and sometimes to receive compensation only on a performance upside. Accenture, Deloitte, EY and KPMG (the 'big four' of the consulting world) are scooping up the specialty work that the big agencies haven't mastered and - in the instance of Accenture - are actually buying up ad agencies to bolster the creative side of their own businesses.

The net-net is this - you, as a business owner or lead marketer, do NOT need a big ad agency to solve your problems, though they'll likely try to sell you the benefits of having it all 'under one roof.' The reality is that they're likely skilled in a couple of areas, and doing patchwork to make up for the rest of it.

What you actually need is a goal. You need a handful of experts working to get you there. And in most cases, that's it. 

And if you're an agency, the key to your success going forward will be in specialization. Agencies like DDB have already made great strides in doing this, or have at least worked to make their teams more agile and mobile to better serve client needs. Agencies that can pull that off will be just fine. But those who are still using the model of 10 years ago? They won't be here in 10 years. In fact, they'll be gone sooner than that.

- DB

Why Good Marketers Are Good Lovers

By David Berry: Valentine's Day is less than a month away, so I've got romance on my mind. My girlfriend will be happy to read that. But all the thoughts of chocolate and delicious meals (let's be honest, that's every day) reminded me of my favorite analogy.

And that is to compare good marketing to being a good lover. Before I explain, let's all share in the romance of a good Keith Sweat music video.

Okay, now that we've got that out of our system, let's get to it. Far too many brands miss the love lesson altogether. They think, "well, I have this great thing/service to sell, and if I just tell people about it, they'll want to buy it."

Invariably, it doesn't work. It turns into a few weeks of consistent social media efforts and very little ROI, then complete abandonment. Or a handful of emails or blog posts, minimal response, then the complaint that "ugh, this stuff just doesn't work."

Anytime I engage a business owner in this conversation, I ask them, "Well, if you gave up so quickly in your love life, would you have ever gotten married?"

The response is always the same - a smile and a chuckle. But that's exactly where we should be looking for our lessons as marketers. Any successful relationship involves a consistent, measured approach. You have to vary your pursuit; dinner one night, dancing another, or an event centered around a shared interest. And here's the kicker - you have to show consistent interest in the one you're pursuing! If you want to keep them, you always need to be attentive to their changing needs and wants. If you decide that they're not worthy of your pursuit - and only once you're sure that's the case - then you can move on.

You can't ask a girl on one date, abandon her for a few months, then show up out of nowhere and ask her to marry you. Or keep taking her on the same date over and over again and expect her not to wonder if there's something better out there. This may sound like total lunacy, yet that's exactly what brands do all the time!

They post a few pieces of content one day (a first date), then immediately start asking for clients to buy their products (marriage proposal) without much regard for how the content was received - if at all. Then they wonder why consumers are slow to buy from them.

Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but your brand/product/service isn't special enough to circumvent the rules of marketing. There are no overnight successes. Those who are consistent, attentive and dedicated to their customers will win them - and keep them.

Any good lover knows that.

-DB

 

Recycling: Good for the Environment - And Your Content

Recycle. Like I just did with this free stock photo from Pixabay.com.

Recycle. Like I just did with this free stock photo from Pixabay.com.

By David Berry: What is a business to do when they're listening to every marketing expert around tell them that 'content is king,' but they don't have the resources worthy of a kingship? Recycle.

No, I'm not talking about your cans and bottles (but that's a good idea, too). I'm talking about recycling old content.

Think that feels 'cheap'? It's not. And it's actually more common than you think. According to Digiday: 

The Atlantic, which uses archival material on both the print and digital sides of its business, now generates more than a quarter of its traffic every month from older content. At publications like Business Insider, the figure is even higher, and for lifestyle-focused publications like Refinery29 it’s higher still: 35 percent, and growing, the company said.
— Digiday.com

The rationale makes sense too. For three reasons.

  1. It uses fewer resources. You already created the content; you're just driving people back to it. Less is more.
  2. Message frequency = message penetration. This is how old TV advertising budgets were built; they knew they needed to deliver the message multiple times for it to really get noticed. When that happens, you get top of mind brand awareness, and that pays dividends when it comes to generating repeat traffic - particularly for ecom brands.
  3. It's easier to plan. As Neha Gandhi, Refinery29’s svp of content strategy and innovation, said, “Betting exclusively on the news cycle is far too volatile a game to play, if you’re looking to drive sustained growth and loyalty.” Find evergreen themes, and build on those.

Here are a few tips to get you started on an evergreen content strategy:

  1. Develop content categories. Let's say you run a grocery store chain. Regardless of time of year, target users of a grocery store will always have an interest in food/ingredients, the in-store experience, recipes and finished products/dishes, how the foods bring value to an every day lifestyle, and so on. When creating evergreen content, make sure you have these pillars established. It'll ensure that your content is always relevant, and always on brand.
  2. Use it everywhere. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and any other pertinent social media channels. Plug it in your email content, your corporate blog, and at retail store level, as appropriate.
  3. Then, use it again. If you're worried about users thinking you're selling it off as 'new' content two or three months after you first used it, be up front about it. Say 'In case you missed it!' (ICYMI), or 'From the archives.' This keeps you transparent, and allows you to gain extra traffic and engagement on content that otherwise would sit in solitude.

Have any tips of your own? Leave them in the comments. And don't forget to subscribe to our emails for more tips that we'll send directly to your inbox.

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5 Things Your Marketing Team Should Do Before 2017

By David Berry: Lost among the memes and mockery of the 2016 Presidential Election is the reminder that Q4 is finally upon us! For most businesses, this is a time of professional reflection; a look at where the business has been and - just as importantly - what that means for where the business is going. What is your marketing team doing to get ready for 2017? Well, here's a good place for them to start.

  1. Look at What You've Done. Bonus points will be awarded if you set up benchmarks for performance at the start of 2016. If you did, then measuring success becomes a true exercise in measurement, and far less of a guessing game. Unfortunately, here's how a lot of small to mid-sized businesses go about their marketing: Let's do what we did last year, if sales didn't go down, let's do that again. Instead, use available data to identify what worked and didn't (Facebook analytics, email open rates, sales data, etc.) and make the best judgments you can.
  2. Evaluate What the Competition Are Doing: Every business has competition, including yours. And while it would be difficult to really see what's driving their wins/losses, you can still get some insight by paying attention and doing some research. Subscribe to their emails. Follow them on social media. Google them. Find them and see what they're doing and try to get a sense of what's working and what isn't working. Blogs, podcasts, emails, social media, etc. are all things you can see for free to gain insight.
  3. Evaluate What the World is Doing: Did you know that digital advertising spends will surpass TV this year? TV is indeed a major player, but the new money in advertising isn't going to TV; it's going to mobile (text, social), digital (display, retargeting) and social (Facebook, Pinterest, etc.). And it's definitely not going to print.
  4. You Need a Plan to Stick To: What are the themes that you'll focus on each month in social media, email, retargeting, SEM, events, etc.? Get specific. Build out a communications calendar that lays out the themes for your communication and considers multiple touchpoints, along with increasing/decreasing frequency depending on the business's needs and priorities. Then stick with it. Marketing isn't a light switch; you can't just turn it on and expect it to work. It takes time and consistency, and that only comes with good planning. For extra help, take a look at this great article from Forbes.
  5. Measure Your Wins/Losses and Adjust Accordingly: If you can find a way to map your monthly sales over your monthly advertising expenses and identify correlations, you may be able to identify which marketing efforts are working and when. Furthermore, if you're invested in digital marketing (social media, email marketing, display campaigns, etc.), then it's actually very easy to measure success, right down to leads and revenue. If you don't measure, you have no ground to stand on when justifying your plan, or criticizing anyone else's.

And when in doubt, hire some pros. Yes, of course business' like mine benefit from it if you do, but the reality is that you have a business to run. You shouldn't be running all of the marketing decision making at the same time. I talk a bit more about that on this video below with Arturo Arca from Pragmatique Legal. Any questions? Email me at david@dbpluspartners.com.