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2017’s Top Influencer Marketing Trends

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Marketing Trends

“Influencers care about their content and their readers, or they wouldn’t be influential. If brands want to succeed with influencers, they have to first develop a relationship that is valuable for both sides.”

Jennifer Beaupre, vice-president of marketing at Oildex

 

Influencer marketing has been gaining traction over the last several years and has become a force to be reckoned with in the advertising arena. And that momentum will only build in 2017 as depicted by virtually every “top trends for 2017” list.

A recent study uncovered that a whopping 84 percent of marketers intend to launch an influencer campaign this year.

As larger percentages of ad budgets move away from traditional advertising modalities and into the digital arena, and with the use of ad blocking technology increasing every year, influencers are the key to getting a brand’s message to audiences in an effective way.

A recent Google study revealed that 70 percent of teenage YouTube users relate more to the channel’s creators than celebrities and 40 percent of millennial subscribers believe their favorite influencers are more in-tune with them than their own friends are. That’s powerful stuff.

This phenomenon is not quarantined to just YouTube, which means that brands need to start heavily investing in influencers to make their voices heard.

For those who are new and not-so-new to influencer marketing, here’s how the landscape is set to shift in 2017.

It’s Not Who You Are, It’s What You Create

Among marketing agencies that practice this discipline, micro influencers are already gaining lots of attention. In 2017, however, these folks will take the main stage.

Since its inception, influencer marketing has grown thanks to the efforts of large “celebrity” influencers; massive names like Unbox Therapy and Jenna Marbles.

While folks like these are the ones who helped define an era in marketing, they are becoming less effective (and much more expensive) for brands to recruit.

Why? Because: Math.

If a brand hires an influencer with 10 million followers, maybe only 500,000 of those individuals will actually be interested in that company’s offering. Many of these folks are followed simply because of who they are, and less because of the content they generate.

Micro influencers, on the other hand, have significantly smaller yet much more targeted and engaged followings. Because of their more limited size, these folks are able to have increasingly intimate relationships with their audience and, therefore, produce higher levels of engagement and much more profound results for brands.

Chris Gonzalez, CEO of the micro influencer platform Gnack, has witnessed this effect firsthand:

“We see micro-influencers get an average of two-to-five times more organic engagement per Instagram post, compared to those with more than 100,000 followers. . .” 

If you’re getting into influencer marketing in 2017, this should be your area of focus.

A Platform War over Influencers

Vine’s demise left many of its users and influential figures deeply saddened.

Melancholy aside, the fall of the video platform is having some unintended consequences within the influencer community.

As Digiday reports, Vine’s stars are left with no option but to jump ship to other social platforms, with Instagram and Snapchat leading the way.

This dispersing of Vine’s social celebrities will lead to an all-out war between the two platforms.

Snapchat was a rising star in 2016 reaching upward of 150 million active users and is currently drawing in many of Vine’s former influencers. While Instagram’s user base crushes that of Snapchat’s, many don’t get the same sense of “rawness” or intimacy on the platform when compared to Snap.

But Instagram is fighting to acquire new talent — its parent company, Facebook, has made various moves to mimic the features that Snapchat originated. This, combined with its live video elements and higher engagement rates, means that Snapchat is a big underdog in the battle.

Influencer Platforms Begin to Crumble

Alongside the rise of influencer marketing came a surge of influencer platforms that housed thousands of social superstars and linearized identification.

These platforms brought something new to the table because they allowed marketers to search a database of influencers and negotiate rates and terms directly through the tool.

Since their breakout into the mainstream, the market has become flooded with such services. The fact that most of these platforms view influencers as products to be bought and sold, and the fact that that they mostly only solve the identification hurdle means that many will fall to the wayside in 2017 as more advantageous tools are formed.

The influencer platforms that will survive this period are those that will continue to innovate. Marketers don’t just need help finding influencers, they need to pinpoint the ideal influencer for a campaign. More than that, many brands need assistance with managing campaigns and budgets, creating contracts, the means to nurture long-term relationships, and all of the other facets of influencer marketing.

My bet is that one of the first (if not the first) to begin establishing these components will be the Google-owned Famebit.

Not only does the company have virtually unlimited resources at its disposal, but Google also has a long history of innovation and constant product-improvement. It would come as no surprise if this platform would be the first to address the many other pain points advertisers face with influencer marketing, effectively killing off less robust platforms and creating an all-in-one.

Influencer marketing is a practice that is constantly in flux; 2017 is no exception. While these trends are most likely the ones to take center stage at some point this year, there will undoubtedly be many other progressions and emergences that help to shape the industry’s future for many years to come.

No time for marketing your business? We will do it for you! Contact Greatson Media today!

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9 Brands Winning the Content Marketing Game

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Today, one of the best ways to dominate content marketing is to learn from the brands that are already doing it. While certain pillars of content marketing stay the same from industry to industry, the best brands on the Web all approach it a bit differently. Watching how they structure their content strategies and use digital material to connect with customers is an excellent way to get inspiration for your brand.

Today, I’m looking at nine brands that are dominating content marketing right now, and breaking down how each of them does it.

9 Brands Dominating Content Marketing Today

From General Electric to American Express, these nine brands are at the top of the podium in the modern world of content marketing.

1. Snoop Dogg

Didn’t think Snoop Dogg would stand out as a master of content marketing? Think again. A well-known rapper and actor, Snoop Dogg (real name Calvin Broadus) has used content marketing to grow his brand into the lifestyle and merchandise sectors, to name a few.

One of the most incredible examples of this is his partnership with another major lifestyle brand and personality: Martha Stewart.

To dispel any assumptions you had that a rapper and a homemaker couldn’t come together in perfect harmony, look no further than  this adorable video:

While it might seem like a silly spoof, this short video clip is part of a much larger empire: a cooking show on VH1 called Martha & Snoop’s Potluck Dinner Party. A fantastic example of how a great content partnership can expand two brands at once, Martha and Snoop Dogg have a lot to teach us about content marketing and, presumably, friendship.

 

2. American Express

Today, good brands know that being successful involves bringing in the voices and opinions of other people, from customers to experts and featuring third-party content is a great way to do this. By encouraging experts to play an active role in content, brands can nurture close relationships with customers, build trust and expand their content footprint. American Express is a brand that’s done this especially well.

In 2007 (way before the importance of expert content was as critical as it is today, by the way), American Express launched its Open Forum platform, which provides experts with a simple place to share their knowledge and experience. Ideal for helping make the company’s content more useful to customers, Open Forum is a way for American Express to sit back and encourage experts share their knowledge and experiences.

American Express Open Forum Screenshot

3. REI

A few years ago, outdoor equipment company REI broke the Internet with its #OptOutside campaign. The basis of the campaign was this: on Black Friday of 2015, REI closed the doors of all its stores across the country and paid employees to enjoy outdoor adventures instead of working.

The campaign, which was notable because it was so shocking (Black Friday is one of the biggest shopping days of the years, and few companies in their “right mind” would choose to opt out), proved to be a great move on the part of REI. In fact, AdAge called it “A model for the future of marketing.”

Since then, REI has made its #OptOutside vision a central part of its content marketing. For proof, all you need to do is look at the company’s blog.

REI Screenshot

By creating content that aligns perfectly with its audiences’ visions, aspirations, and passion for the outdoors, REI continues to use content to inspire and motivate people to lead healthier and more active lives.

4. Farmers Insurance

One thing many brands miss in the world of modern content marketing is a personal voice. Today, customers want to build relationships with the companies they follow, not just hear sales pitches on a consistent basis.

That’s where Farmers Insurance comes in for the win. Visit the company’s website, and you’ll find Farmer’s Inner Circle, which offers practical advice, assistance, and instruction for people wondering about how best to manage their financial and insurance needs.

Farmer's Insurance

Perfectly in-line with its mission of helping people find highly personalized insurance solutions, the “inner circle” helps people feel seen, heard and valued by the company.

For more about how Farmers Insurance is dominating the content marketing scene, check out our Cool Brand Content Spotlight.

5. ThirdLove

ThirdLove is a company that makes bras. While you may be thinking “dozens of companies make bras!” this one is different. What sets ThirdLove apart is its intensely individualized approach and its focus on user experience in all its content.

Look no further than the front page of the company’s website for an example:

ThirdLove

Promises like “discover the best-fitting bra in less than five minutes” appeal directly to users who dread bra shopping for its difficulty and the promise of a 30-day, money-back guarantee inspire trust. Like Farmers Insurance, ThirdLove takes something that could be profoundly utilitarian, and makes it personalized, unique, and accessible, instead.

6. Dollar Shave Club

Dollar Shave Club broke the content marketing universe when it dropped its launch video, which earned the company 12,000 customers in its first two days of operation and has since raked in more than 24 million views on YouTube. Here it is:

Today, Dollar Shave Club continues to stand out with honest, direct, off-the-cuff content that makes it seem funny and relatable, which is a unique and compelling change in the typically boring razor industry.

Dollar Shave Club

7. Simple Bank

Simple Bank is a bank for the modern day. Navigate to its website, and you’ll find a clean, crisp design and plenty of simple content that has the user at its center.

Designed to be easy to use, fee-free and attractive for discerning Millennials, Simple gets content marketing right by inspiring trust and connection at every turn. If you could take one message from their content, it’s that this bank is less of an “institution” and more of a trusted friend giving you common-sense financial advice.

Simple Bank

8. Red Bull

Like Dollar Shave Club, Red Bull is a brand that always makes it onto these lists because it is so outstanding at what it does. By taking a commerce company and making it into a lifestyle brand that’s connected with some of the most exciting names in sports, Red Bull has managed to become the thing everyone in the content marketing field wants to be.

The company’s home page is filled with content spanning the worlds of extreme sports and music, and it’s easy to see how the company uses adventure-focused blog posts, interviews with prominent athletes and influencers, and a wide variety of content to inspire and compel people to reach further than they thought they could.

RedBull Screenshot

9. KISSmetrics

KISSmetrics is notable in the world of content marketing thanks to its high volume of quality content.  Known for its consistent, in-depth offerings, KISSmetrics is a study in how more quality content can overhaul a brand and make it more relatable to its customers.

Take a look at the KISSmetrics blog and you’ll see just how useful its content is to customers – most posts they make earn about 60 likes and dozens of comments.

KISSmetrics screenshot

The brand publishes content regularly (a bit battle for most content marketers) and has aced the process of developing a consistent voice and providing material that’s relevant to their audiences.

Want to Get Better at Content Marketing? Learn From the Experts

While the fringes of content marketing are changing all the time, the core principals stay the same: publish fresh content often, speak directly to your customers, be yourself, and build relationships. While each of the nine brands mentioned in this post are different, they all nail those core principals 100 percent. From Red Bull’s edgy, action-dense blog to Dollar Shave Club’s “Our Blades are F**king Great” Video, there are dozens of ways to ace it in the world of modern content marketing, and these brands prove that a little bit of creativity goes a long way.

No time to do your marketing? Let Greatson Media push your brand to the top! Contact us to get started today!

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The Perfect Plan for a Website Overhaul

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The Perfect Plan for a Website Overhaul

As the digital space continually transitions to new heights of intuitive design and streamlined user experiences, websites are in constant need of updating and revaluating. Occasionally, either through business decisions or outright necessity, brands must rethink and rebuild websites from the ground up. This can be a delicate balancing act that in many ways requires more forward thinking than a phase 1 launch.

Performing a complete website facelift requires careful consideration of redesign opportunities that will best serve the brand and consumers alike. There are certain elements that must be present in any website for it to be considered a success.

Before any decisions are made, it is crucial to establish why the site needs a makeover. Once you carefully articulate your goals for the redesign, it’s time to craft a foolproof launch strategy.

Here are the steps you must implement in order to pull off this feat with grace and fluidity:

Step 1: Drafting Your Strategy for Success

A well-defined strategy is crucial for mitigating the possible risks associated with a relaunch and attaining goals in a reasonable manner. During the planning phase is it imperative that you:

  • Analyze site metrics and assets: To determine this information, you should test everything on your site from the header, to CTA’s, to blog content to see which variables have the greatest impact on conversion. This will also help you determine what elements can be retained if your budget won’t allow for everything to be changed at once.
  • Define your brand: This part should already be established, although, if it has not, now is the time to do so. Consistent brand messaging and imagery is vital to the consumer experience. Visitors should understand the value your company can provide within 3 to 5 seconds of landing on your site.
  • Size up the competition: It is important to know who you are up against and what they have to offer. Take note on the aspects of competitor sites that you like, don’t like, and what you think you can do better. This will help to formulate ideas about the site to come.
  • Determine buyer personas: Who is your ideal customer, and what do they look for in a website? What are their pain-points and interests? What type of terminology will resonate with them most? These are the types of questions you should develop detailed responses to.

Step 2: Outlining a Plan of Action

Once all of this information has been established and compiled, it is time to start building the plan. Here is where your timeline and budget should be outlined. Realistic expectations should be set in accordance with the allocated budget. Every aspect of your site may not be (or even need to be) totally transformed.

During the planning process, it is important to:

  • Select a CMS platform if you will be moving away from your current one
  • Establish the fundamental architecture of the site
  • Determine hosting
  • Plan URL mapping and redirects
  • Outline a content plan
  • Draft the entire website flow
  • Have a clear plan for mobile too (responsive design is most common)

All throughout this process you should be asking yourself meaningful questions that will help shape the site such as, “What is your current site lacking?” “What about your site is unappealing?” and so forth. Be sure to honestly evaluate your site and answer these questions before moving on to design and development.

Step 3: Design For Your Audience

Wireframes are often skipped in a relaunch, but are crucial to overall success. These will provide a step-by-step visualization of how the site should flow from page to page and how those pages will appear. Remember when designing these wireframes to include CTA’s and guiding features that will lead visitors to desired actions. That is the ultimate goal; pushing users further down the conversion funnel.

Once you have the supporting documentation, you’re ready to work with a designer and developer to produce your site.

Step 4: Optimize, Finalize, and Launch

Once you have a working redesign, consider these points as you prepare your relaunch:

  • Final edits and reviews: Ensure that everything on your site is correct and working properly. Review the copy for errors, fact check content, ensure links and redirects are not broken, verify the site is mobile-friendly and responsive. If you are changing your URL structure, make sure to add no-follow links to content that is no longer relevant, and meticulously check all links.
  • Ensure SEO optimization: Make sure various keywords are present but not overly used, navigation is clear, and everything can be easily shared. Be prepared to alert Google and Bing to your new site if it will be hosted on a new domain.
  • Analytics: It is critical to have all of your analytics tools in place before the launch, otherwise, how will you know how well your site is performing? It is also advisable to try to use the same analytics platforms as you did on your previous site to maximize comparison data.

Now send your new creation out into the world!

Step 5: Promote and Analyze

Now the real work begins. Keep constant tabs on site metrics, pay close attention to functionality, and continuously test new features and updates as you revise the site. While this is now brand new, it will need to continue its evolution to stay current.

And, of course, now your marketing efforts kick into high gear again too. Consider including your new look as an asset to your messages; it may entice old customers to come back and see what’s improved.

Finally, don’t forget to test everything across all browsers and devices; each has their own requirements and you want to make sure your site looks fantastic on every screen across the globe.

Ready to redesign your website for optimal success? Contact Us Today!

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SEO: A Potent Tool for Influencing Millennials

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“. . . Millennials perceive strong SEO to be a requirement for any company they do business with. They have grown up with the Internet and Google their whole lives, the first generation to do so, and finding a piece of information online has become second nature.”

Arya Bina, founder and CEO of Kobe Digital

 

Millennials have been one of the most controversial generations in recent history; most people love them or find them terribly unsavory. Either way, as a business owner or marketer, you need them.

This group of young adults is now the largest generation to occupy the United States and, according to an October 2015 Nielsen report, is already spending upward of $200 billion per year; much of which is dispensed online. More importantly, however, is that this figure is poised to grow as the generation continues to mature.

As the buying power of these web-savvy individuals continues to grow, it will become increasingly important that your business captures their attention online. And the best way to do that is through search engine optimization.

Despite the many, many changes to Google’s ranking algorithms over the years, SEO is still one of the most effective methods of reaching a target audience. It has evolved past loading up webpages with keywords and backlinks and, in turn, provided a more sophisticated user experience. Considering that Millennials were a generation born into search engines, social media, other technological marvels, and that roughly 90 percent of all online journeys begin on Google, it is safe to say that SEO is your best bet of grabbing those millennial dollars.

Here is how you can focus your SEO blueprint to reach the Internet generation.

Search versus Social

Social media is home to a massive chunk of Millennials; there is a sizable portion of the group that does not know a world without it. For this reason, many marketers believe that when it comes to reaching younger generations, social media is a homerun.

While this notion certainly isn’t false, as running a social marketing campaign is a powerful way to generate awareness and engagement among Millennials, it isn’t wholly accurate either.

For brands that are launching a product or service to a new demographic, like Millennials, search engines are the proper tool for boosting visibility to that group. If it is Gen Y conversions that you are after, SEO is going to convert at a much higher rate than social; 61 percent of local searches lead to a sale and 70 percent of mobile callers are ready to buy.

This information, however, comes with a caveat. With the recent news that all the biggest players are no longer courting Twitter, including Google, social is currently not as effective for sales as SEO, and this likely will not change any time soon. But don’t let that stop you from using social as a foundational element to connecting with the younger generations. Just don’t ever let it replace your SEO focuses; you need both to succeed.

It is important that while you maintain a significant social presence, you are focusing on SEO and incorporating those tenants into your social strategy.

Content for the Constantly Connected

The majority of Millennials grew up using technology, so crafting SEO optimized content for this crowd presents a unique set of (achievable) challenges.

When it comes to engaging Millennials, these folks must be entertained. They prefer content that integrates wit, humor, and impeccable storytelling. Content created for Millennials also needs to reflect their cultural values and generational spirit in order to truly hit home.

More than just a resonant narrative, however, Millennials are highly influenced by content that proves its worth in the form of demonstrations and consumer input. According to a Walker Sands Communications study, the most persuasive content includes product demos (52 percent), case studies (47 percent), and online reviews (43 percent).

Product demos are vital because they incorporate a visual presentation. As you are probably aware, visual content (like videos) are currently taking over the Web. Case studies appeal to young consumers because they show how products resolve consumer problems. And online reviews are critical because they provide social proof to back up the claims of the aforementioned content.

As far as SEO is concerned, search engines highly value reviews for one single reason; consumers value reviews. According to last year’s Local Search Ranking Factors survey conducted by Moz, it was estimated that online reviews make up 10 percent of how Google and other engines determine ranking.

Fortunately, businesses can leverage tools like Yotpo to help gain honest reviews from consumers at an incredible rate.

If you want to reach the millennial audience, you have to be optimizing the right kind of content.

The Mobile Millennial

If Millennials are going to find your website through a search engine, chances are that it will be on a mobile device. This generation is notorious for their deep attachment to their Smartphones. Because of their affinity to smaller screened gadgets, there has been a massive drop-off in desktop usage, as reported by comScore. The analytics firm displayed that in December 2015, desktop internet usage was down 9.5 percent when compared to 2014. Come January 2016, desktop usage was down by 7.6 percent. Then trend continued to follow suit through March.

What may be more shocking and significant, however, is that 21 percent of 18 – 34 year old Millennials do not use desktop computers at all anymore. In stark contrast, 97 percent of these youngsters tout a mobile device. This means that in order to gain a Millennial’s attention, you will need to pour the majority of your resources into optimizing for the mobile SERPs above all else.

SEO is a foundational practice to help reach the millennial generation online. While the discipline continues to be drastically altered, it is not going anywhere anytime soon. In order to gain the eyeballs of Millennials, you need to think like a millennial and play on their turf. Then, and only then, might they give your brand the time of day it genuinely deserves.

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Tri City Community Chorus is looking for a new Music Director

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TRI CITY COMMUNITY CHORUS MUSIC DIRECTOR

The Tri City Community Chorus is a group of wonderfully talented people who put on two amazing shows annually. They raise money to give music scholarships to young people, donate time, money and more to the local community. We love this non profit organization! A unique opportunity to be a part of it has arisen. If you are or know someone qualified to become the new Music Director, we encourage you to apply! Here is the job listing: https://tricitycommunitychorus.org/job-posting/

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