What You Need to Know About Programmatic Advertising

Things change in the marketing world so quickly. It’s amazing how something as new and functional as remarketing is now considered dated by some new school advertisers. Meanwhile, programmatic advertising is the brightest, shiniest, newest object in the marketplace. Depending on how the program is built, it can be extremely functional for both B2B or B2C brands. HVAC businesses, in particular, can find value in these dynamic, cross-platform ad groups.

A Brief History of Online Advertising

Let’s look briefly at a history of online advertising before we discuss something as complex as programmatic ad buying. It’s important to know where we came from before we look to where we’re going.

1990s: Banners ads, pop-ups and pop-unders.

These were the early days. Banner ads were jammed into a variety of areas on popular websites. They were bright, flashy and most were just plain ugly. Pop-ups appeared over our browsers, causing us all to X out as soon as we could. Pop-unders appeared behind the browser and you only saw it when you closed out your session at the end of the night (or when someone needed to use the phone). All of these types of ads were intrusive and were a major reason for the rise of social media that made way for the personalized experiences we enjoy today.

2000s: Search all the way, baby!

As Google began to pick up speed, the best place to get in front of potential customers was in a Google search. Unlike the free, organic listings, placement in the ad areas (top, right column and bottom) could be controlled with good copywriting and big dollars. It was a “pay for play” game and the popularity (and effectiveness) of this service is truly what helped Google became the profitable giant that it is today. Search ads can still be helpful for many business types.

2010s: Two major developments occurred in this time period.

The first was social media advertising. As channels like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter found their footing, and the ad platforms became extremely user-friendly, businesses both large and small began to take advantage. It was a great way to showcase visual products and get in front of extremely niche audiences – the most impressive thing about social media, really. Additionally, remarketing, or serving ads to those who have visited your website previously through the use of cookies, also gained traction.

What is Programmatic Ad Buying

There are 3.5 billion users on the internet. That’s a lot of people at your disposal to get in front of. And unlike billboards or TV, it’s quite possible that, with the right budget, you could get in front of a good portion of those users. Programmatic ads let you be more cost-effective in reaching the customers that are important to you. According to MarketingProfs, 62% of marketers use programmatic ads, while the spend among this type of advertising is growing 20% annually.

What makes programming advertising different though is the real-time, automated bidding process that’s associated with these programs across connected web networks. At its very core, it’s more of a technological upgrade. But when marketers use the term, they typically refer to the ability to place ads much more strategically. Here’s what I mean:

  • More precise targeting: IP targeting, geo-location, contextual targeting (see more info below).
  • Omnichannel approach: We know users may need multiple touches before they buy. It’s important to engage and re-engage with users over time, and across platforms for a comprehensive learning and buying experience.
  • Cost: Potential savings since there’s less labor needed to manage.

How to Build a Programmatic Program

The three important things to focus on when building a programmatic ad program is: Right Time, Right Person, Right Message.

Although image-based display ads are still the most common, don’t feel limited by programmatic advertising. Consider audio and video too because we’ll soon see much more integration with voice-powered devices, streaming audio channels, and streaming video platforms since profiles and location deliver important intelligence to the advertising systems.

Once you’ve committed to this type of ad progress, follow the following steps to get started.

  1. Get your resources ready.

First, you need to have resources ready to devote to this effort. This includes the out-of-pocket cost for the ads themselves, typically a CPM or CPC model, as well as fees for the creative work and management of the program. These can be in-house resources, through a marketing agency, or sometimes the programmatic ad networks offer services directly.

  2. Select which programmatic ad service you’d like to go through.

Some popular names in the industry include Google Ads, Amazon AAP, Townsquare Media, One by AOL, Rocket Fuel. If you work with an ad agency, they likely already have partnerships with certain distribution channels and you won’t need to worry about the actual technology behind the operation. You’ll be responsible for working with your partner on the goals, landing pages, and the type of customers you want to target.

  3. Establish your targeting

Besides real-time bidding and less hands-on management, one of the most impactful benefits to programmatic ads is the ability to target. Here are a few of your options that you’ll want to consider when building a program with your partner:

  1. Keywords: Perform research and figure out the most relevant, most used keywords by your target audience. This will help your ads be placed on the right sites.
  2. IP: Businesses that are large enough have dedicated IPs. In other words, if you’re tracking, it won’t be read as a shared network – like Time Warner Cable or Verizon. Instead, it would actually be recorded as Pepsico or Sony. In doing so, you can deliver targeted ads based on that known IP and do account-based marketing.
  3. Location: Targeting by location is incredibly useful, especially for local or regional sellers. But programmatic advertising can take it one step further. You can select niche locations – let’s say a perimeter around a large venue where a relevant trade show takes place. Ads can then be served up during the show or users can be cookied and later served with ads once they return home.
  4. Wifi/Cross-device: Once you’ve registered a user in your ad system, you can also deliver ads to other devices on that person’s WiFi account. This might be more valuable to B2C companies, but the technology is fascinating nonetheless. Let’s say an accountant is at work downtown and he sees an ad for a local restaurant. He doesn’t have time to go to lunch, so he ignores the ad. When he gets home, his wife, who’s connected on her iPad, may now see an ad for that same restaurant. The wife, typically the decision maker when it comes to family meals, could now choose to go to that restaurant which originated from the ad from earlier in the day.
  5. Contextual: Some advertisers choose where they want their ads to be placed based on the main themes of available websites. If Supply Chain Management Review, for instance, focuses mostly on supply chain and procurement, you might choose a site like this to advertise if your product makes sense for this vertical. But with contextual targeting, the system doesn’t look at the site as a whole but rather the content of the articles within. So you might have an article on FoxNews that happens to discuss procurement trends. Your ad would appear within or alongside that article. Readers are naturally interested in the content they are reading, so the ad feels much more native and natural – rather than disruptive – and acts as complementary to the piece.
  6. Remarketing: All of those that you capture from your programmatic ad campaigns – whether via location, device, IP, or website visit – can later be served with highly-tailored remarketing ads. These work well for brands that have long sales cycles and need to have continual re-engagement or nurturing over time.

  4.Establish your budget

Like other online advertising programs, programmatic advertising is a CPM (cost per thousand impressions) or CPC (cost per click) model. So you can control how much you’re willing to spend based on your budget and/or based on anticipated results. Depending on your brand and its product/service, this could be an awareness campaign so ask your agency what type of budget you’d need to see an impact.

  5. Prepare your creative

With any online ads, you need to pair your copy with creative. Creative can come in the form of several multimedia formats. The most dominant formats include image, audio, and video. You’ll want your creative to meet certain guidelines (dimension, file format, etc) and also be creative to stand out from the crowd. Most importantly, the creative should complement your copy and messaging and should be deliberately based on your advertising strategy.

  6. Launch and monitor

It’s time to go live with your campaign. Don’t fret, you can always make real-time changes to copy and creative throughout the length of the program. Like most digital assets, it’s a living breathing thing. You’ll want to be constantly monitoring your progress and adjusting your ads to see improvements throughout the length of the spend.

  7. Measure

If you have a digital marketing program and don’t plan on measuring, then don’t even bother. Measurement is the only thing that can guarantee whether efforts were worthwhile. Here are the metrics you’ll want to track throughout the length of your program:

  • Reach, impressions or views (number of people, or total views of your assets)
  • Engagements (interactions)
  • Clicks (click-throughs to your website or landing page)
  • Conversions (people that took that action you wanted them to take)
  • Relevancy or quality score, if provided (how relevant and how high of quality the ads are)
  • Total cost (out of pocket spend for the program)
  • Cost per impression or view
  • Cost per engagements
  • Cost per click
  • Cost per conversion
  • Closed deals (tag accordingly so you know which deals came from this advertising)
  • Cost per acquisition (total spend – both out of pocket and management and creative fees against the number of closed deals)

Make sure to measure regularly (weekly, monthly, quarterly) and change your targeting elements, creative or placements, as needed, to continually improve your program.

Original article: https://www.site-seeker.com/what-you-need-to-know-about-programmatic-advertising/

What is a Persona: The Buyer Persona Development Process

One of the most common questions to arise during a strategic planning meeting with potential or new partners is, “What is a persona?” Most know it has to do with target audiences but aren’t aware of what goes into the process or even why it’s important.

Download the 44 point cheat sheet to identify your target audience

Building buyer personas is typically the first recommendation we have for companies we’ve just started working with – even before we build a strategic plan. It’s like reading the owner’s manual for a new camera before you turn it on. You want to make sure you know what you’re doing first. Understanding what your current customer is like – or who you want your customers to be (if those two types happen to be different) – should always be your starting point.

The companies we work with typically have four to five key personas. As you read on, you should keep in mind the most important customer types to your business. If you build out more than five personas, you will find it very difficult to utilize them in any meaningful way. Once you feel confident that you have a solid buyer persona document in place that describes, in detail, each of your most important customers, then you can go to work.

What Is A Persona?

A buyer persona is a profile that is built out to represent the most common traits of your most important customers. It addresses their wants, needs, demographic and psychographic information. Most importantly, it lays out the best ways to connect and engage with these people from a sales standpoint. An IT director, for example, will have a completely different makeup than an executive assistant will, yet both might be important to your company.

Buyer personas are 1-2 page documents, intentionally short and concise, to give your marketing and sales team members all the important information they need to quickly yet fully understand each customer type. Personas are also visual. You want to see who these people are. And each persona is given a name to make it easy to reference internally and in your marketing plans.

Here’s an example of only some info you might find in a persona for Apple:

Larry the Director of IT at University State

  • Details: 45, male, master’s degree, married, two children in their teens
  • Work Details: Has worked at the college for 16 years, grew in the ranks from an IT associate, reports to the VP of IT, has eight direct reports as well as three interns
  • Buying Info: Responsible for upkeep and maintenance of all current hardware and software across the college, including faculty equipment, is currently in search of new Apple computers for the three new graphic design labs that just opened in the Business and Arts center, he’s always been a Windows guy, so he needs guidance, despite his deep IT knowledge

How To Build Buyer Personas

When you begin work on any marketing project, referring to those buyer persona documents beforehand puts you in the right lane and guides your work. For new employees or short-term vendors being added to the project team, it’s even more valuable. Now you don’t have to waste time training these folks on your customers, and you can make sure that everyone is getting the same information. It’s fantastic for message control and consistency.

There’s typically a five-step process involved in building buyer personas:

1) Research

Your first step with anything in marketing should always be research. Buyer personas are no different. There are some resources you can tap into – both free and paid, owned and third party – that can give you deeper insight into your current customers. Consider these options:

Google Analytics: Rich website data that can let you in on how people behave on your site, what the most popular pages and content are and general demographic data.

Social Media Sites: The topics your fans are most interested in, l, age and gender.

Claritas Nielsen: Categorized by popular segments, understand hobbies, family life, and living habits of customer groups from this longstanding, trusted research resource.

US Census: Don’t forget to tap into free Census information. If you sell locally or regionally, search by zip code and gain insight into household income, ethnicities, and more.

2) Internal Interviews

Now, organize a group of internal stakeholders. Salespeople and customer service representatives work best since they interact directly with customers. Divide your lot into small groups, no more than 5-7 per group, just like traditional focus groups. Make sure you have a good mix of personalities so you can try and avoid dominant voices competing against one another. Prepare a list of questions to help you gain insight from these individuals. Tell them to close their eyes. Envision their prospects or current customers. What are they like? What are their interests? How do they interact with you?

Here are just a few useful questions to get you started:

  • How often do they do business with you?
  • Who do they trust inside of their organization?
  • What is their educational background?
  • Where would you likely bump into them?
  • What are their hobbies?
  • What kind of newspapers, magazines, blogs do they read?
  • What kind of devices do they use?
  • How long is the buying cycle?
  • How much interaction does it take on new or repeat business?
  • Why are they contacting you?
  • What is their problem as it relates to your solution?
  • What influences their decision to buy or take action?
  • What is their family life like?

3) External Interviews

Once you have a thorough amount of notes from your internal stakeholders, now it’s time to validate that information. Basically, you’re looking to figure out if what was said is true. No better place to go than the source. Work with your sales team and arrange in-depth interviews directly with select, current customers. Two to three customers (for each persona) should do the trick. Create a list of questions stemming from your internal interview notes and identify the validity of that data.

Consider the demographic information, psychographic information and how they approach doing business with you. This is your opportunity to get those hard-to-reach insights. Think about buying cycle, pain points, budget questions, etc. The accuracy in these types of data points is what makes a buyer persona effort successful or a total waste of time.

If you have a software-as-a-service or app product, you might also want to look into user testing, action-based data rather than just mental insight. User testing is where sampled groups of people use your software or app and provide feedback about their experience and the product’s usability. It’s highly recommended for hands-on technology products/services. That insight will pair with your buyer persona interview information.

4) Write-up

After all your information is gathered from each of your interviews, you now have the challenging job of mining through all of it, synthesizing and pulling out the most valuable bits, and writing summary reports for each persona. These shouldn’t be boring white papers. They should have a tone that’s easy for your marketing and sales folks to read and digest. Remember, it’s internal documentation so it can be conversational (and you can even reference internal processes).

Here’s a small excerpt from the opening summary of a buyer persona our company worked on:

Harry is a jack of all trades. He’s constantly being pulled in multiple directions, dealing with typical sales tasks like networking with prospects and increasing leads, but also with day-to-day operational tasks like production downtime and new hires. While he does have a small team supporting him, Harry always wants to be the first to know about problems across his company – both small and large – and feels a strong need to be involved at every level of his company. As a result, his primary objective is to find service providers who will make his life easier, but who are also open book and tolerant of his questioning nature.

5) Design

Finally, the last step. Once you finalize your summary text, you’ll now want to insert it into a design. Having the information paired with a visual component will allow you to see a face behind the name. Plus, the layout is oftentimes lengthy, so having a design that breaks up the text and formats it so it’s easy to digest and interpret is important. Consider bullets, icons, and photos to help complement the piece and enhance its readability. Some companies keep these as one-two page sheets while others do them as a large magazine spread format (11 x 17). Either way, having that visual component really polishes the product and helps it become a more useful document.

Here is an example of a persona we created for a client:

What To Do With Buyer Personas

The reality of the matter is that you shouldn’t be in business if you aren’t trying to meet a certain need for a certain group of people. Buyer personas shouldn’t create customers out of thin air. They instead should help you understand the customers who have (or should have) an interest in your product or service.

There really isn’t a marketing tactic where buyer personas *aren’t* needed. Pick any type of work in marketing and the first recommended step is going to be to determine who you’re selling to and to revisit that customer’s persona so you can fully grasp their needs.

Here are a few examples of how you might be able to put personas into play:

Media Buying: Legend has it that some people still watch network television. In all seriousness, each of your personas could vary greatly in how they consume video content. For one person, you may choose to do YouTube ads. For another, you might need to do traditional media buying and air commercials during prime time network television.

Support: You want to make customer service as easy and productive as possible. There are a lot of choices to make when it comes to customer support. Will it be live or delayed? Phone, web form, text, chat, video chat, etc.? Will you use a bot or not? Your personas will all have different preferences for how they interact directly with sales and customer service.

Content Marketing: Whether it’s a blog, a video, or a discount offer, you need to understand the person you are intending to reach and sell to and tailor your visuals and messaging to that person. A blog topic and the way it’s curated will sound a heck of a lot different for a CEO than a CTO.

In addition to the persona, also be sure to note your product, channel, vertical, buying stage and call to action. Use a short table like this:

Summary

“What is a persona?” is a question we’re asked constantly. Making sure we answer it with confidence helps our clients trust in the process. When we’re able to put personas first, the rest of the work is always more successful.

You wouldn’t start building a new house without first drawing up your construction plans and creating a blueprint. These documents help you, in a very short time, determine how the house will be laid out, and even what materials you need at various stages. Similarly, you can’t carry out marketing efforts without first establishing the ground rules.

Buyer personas are the structural cornerstone of any marketing program. Take the time and invest the resources to get them done and get them done right. They will pay off, over time, in more deliberate and effective work. You should revisit your personas every five years to make sure there haven’t been any changes to your products, services or business which may warrant new personas or adjustments to the current ones. Keep your personas current and accurate and you’ll keep your marketing operating at its optimal effectiveness.

Original article: https://www.site-seeker.com/buyer-persona-development-process/

Big Impact Without Big City Prices: Choosing the Right Digital Marketing Agency

Over the years, I’ve worked with many agencies – both big and small. I’ve had the opportunity to sit on both sides of the table, as a client and on an agency team. And each time, I have learned this simple truth: cost may not always equate to the value that’s provided.

Cost ≠ Value

In a past marketing role at Sovena USA, I was on a team that was challenged with launching a new olive oil product line in the retail space.

The olive oil business was, and still is, an old industry. For a new player, this would be a brutal, uphill battle as we were pitted against long-standing brands and market share leaders Filippo Berio and Bertolli. Not to mention our distribution in top retail locations, such as Walmart, Hannaford, and Giant, had store shelves that were already crowded. The competition was stiff all around.

We knew we needed help. We needed someone who had experience that we could leverage as we made our way through this new territory.

Sovena USA’s parent company, Sovena Group, is one of the largest olive oil companies in the world. Based in Portugal, their European brand, Oliveira da Serra, is like what Heinz ketchup is to Americans. Everyone knows it, everyone buys it, everyone uses it.

Because of the size and level of brand recognition that Sovena Group carries, as well as the close relationships it had already established with the agencies it used, we were able to get a meeting on the books with a U.S. branch of one of the largest ad agencies in the world.

Talk about pulling out all the stops. This ad agency won’t even have conversations with companies who aren’t willing and able to spend $800,000 in advertising – and that doesn’t include service fees.

After a few months of conversations and strategy planning sessions, we formed a partnership with this agency. The team was brilliant. It consisted of creative, futuristic thinkers who put heavy emphasis on visuals and messaging. It made sense for our brand.

They did great work, but boy, was it a lot of dough! I couldn’t help wonder if we could have reached the same results and successes with an agency that didn’t come with the big-name fees.

Big City Dreams

The hourly rate for marketing and advertising agencies can range. It depends on many factors including size, reputation, services provided, and more.

But there is one thing that always remains true – agencies from bigger cities charge more. That’s a fact.

Here are the ranges in fees for agencies based out of New York City:

  • Chief creative director: $775 to $849/hour
  • Executive account planning director: $528 to $541/hour
  • Account service director: $540 to $598/hour
  • Executive media director: $493 to $500/hour

Agencies in smaller markets will charge minimally 30 to 50% less than those levels.

Rather than just looking at size and location, businesses should explore an agency’s talent, processes, work ethic, and quality of work when making the choice on who to partner with. This is even more so the case if budget is a concern and you can’t afford to throw money away, simply because the firm is from Manhattan.

Here’s why you should look more closely at an agency and its rates before signing a contract:

1) Larger Agency Doesn’t Mean More Staff Members Working For You

Depending on the size of your contract, a small account team at the agency will likely be formed. This usually consists of an account manager or project manager, possibly a creative director depending on the scope of work, and then some sort of execution-based team members, such as copywriter, social media marketer, web developer, specific to the work that will be performed.

This is the thing. Just because a firm may employee 500, that doesn’t mean you have all of those staff members at your disposal. Most of them have their own client accounts. Nine times out of ten, you’ll have work performed by your small team, which puts you on the same playing field as a small- or medium-sized agency who will do the same for you.

Before signing a contract, seriously consider the members of your account team and the talent that’s represented, rather than just looking at the agency’s overall employment number.

2) The Big City Mentality Means Absolutely Nothing

Being from a small city in Upstate NY, I’ve often been wowed when I visit big metropolises. The heavy traffic, the skyscrapers, the commotion, it’s pretty cool if it’s not something you experience all the time. But, all that excitement doesn’t translate to better quality work.

Why should you pay a premium simply because of the mailing address of the office? It doesn’t add up.

Instead, look at the education, experience, and accolades of the team members who will be assigned to your account. What type of degrees do they have? What was the last company they worked for and what duties did they hold? What type of certifications have they earned? How long have they worked at the company?

As long as they have the know-how to handle your account and get the job done well, it doesn’t matter if they are from Los Angeles, CA or Little Falls, NY.

Your hourly fees from agencies in small to mid-sized markets will be much more reasonable – and you don’t have to sacrifice quality or experience because of it.

3) Don’t Overlook The Attention You’re Given

At one point in my career, I was on the other side of the table. The organization I was with used two agencies – one for public relations and another for graphic design.

The PR firm was relatively large. They had six locations (up to nine now) and employed 200+. We didn’t have a big budget so we were the low man on the totem pole. We often had a tough time booking meetings because, we assumed, the needs of their larger clients took priority.

On the other hand, as a boutique shop that employed five, our design company was ready and willing to drop whatever they were doing to come to our aid. They rearranged their schedules to fit ours and turned around deliverables very quickly. The amount of attention we were given was fantastic.

Don’t overlook the agencies who will take pride in a relationship with you, welcome the opportunity to have your business, and will work hard to keep it. But, if you’re someone who enjoys being treated like you’re second-rate, then, by all means, risk it with a large agency.

4) Focus On Your Needs, Not The Needs Of Others

Many large agencies put heavy emphasis on creative work. This might include branding, logo development, strategy and messaging, storytelling, video production, photo and art concepts, etc. The thing is, most businesses – especially in B2B – have other priorities.

Not to downplay the importance of creative (because I know how important it is), but companies with sales teams starving for leads, long buying cycles, and extreme pressure from top-level management can’t be distracted with the next cool commercial that might win an ADDY Award. They need an agency that’s focused on helping them in the here and now. Less brainstorming, more action, with total emphasis on getting work done.

This is a major difference I’ve found. Compared to large agencies, mid-sized agencies can usually drive more meaningful, hard results for clients. One survey found that the most popular services featured among agencies across all regions included: SEO, PPC, social media, content, and analytics. If you need leads, work with an agency that’s going to offer a custom solution that consists of those type of services and is focused on your goals, not the next hottest trend or commercial.

5) Make Sure They Prove Their Worth

According to MarketingProfs, 82% of marketing executives say that they expect campaigns to be measured, yet only 18% to 26% actually are.

Marketing and advertising have matured over the years into industries that are less about art and more about science. What I mean is that our work can be, and should be, measured and proven.

Regardless if efforts focus on search engine optimization, online advertising, or lead nurturing, you must understand the amount of money you’ve put in (both out of pocket and time) and measure against the revenue that’s driven.

Forget the traditional efforts where you have only estimates of eyeballs that have seen your site or ad. Those are pointless. In the digital world, everything is trackable. It’s the only way to have a clear understanding of cost vs. profit.

It is so important to work with an agency that understands your business and its goals, and can put measurement practices into play to help you measure a return on investment.

In your initial discussions, question the agency team about their knowledge base in analytics and tracking. Inquire about the software and tools they have in their repertoire, and ask to see what positive results they’ve generated for other clients like yourself.

Today, measurement is the gold standard of digital marketing. You should feel good about your partnership with an agency and not feel the need to second-guess its worth.

Closing the Deal

All agencies are not created equal. Higher cost does not mean higher quality, nor does it signify more quantity.

According to 4A’s, the leading trade association representing the advertising agency business, agencies should charge based on several criteria, including reputation, service offering, and quality.

They use a great car analogy to represent this – Jaguar charges more for its cars because of its reputation for quality. Both it and a Ford get you from point A to point B in the same way. But one is able to offer a higher price point because they’ve earned the right to do so.

Before signing on the dotted line with a big agency simply because of its size or location, look deeper inside the walls. Ask around. What’s the agency’s reputation? Who will be working on your account? What’s their talent and experience? What type of services are being performed and what type of results will be seen? Finally, is this a partner who’s in it for the long haul? One who will deeply understand your business, take risks and put in the hard work right alongside you?

The best agencies are ones who you view as a partner, not a vendor.

This post was originally published for Site-Seeker. Click here to view in its original form.

Choosing the Right Live Streaming Video Platform for Your Business

Live streaming is the bright shiny new object that all brands are chasing after. First, it was social media, then it was mobile, now it’s getting in front of audiences with real-time video content. Traditional TV viewership has declined 44% since 2012 as a result of the popularity of online video content, according to ZDNet. Instead of “rah-rah, look at us,” the best brands are leveraging live video to educate, entertain, and show something off that users find valuable.

There are essentially two areas that need to be thought-through before hitting “go live.” First, the strategy. Why are you choosing to do this? What value are you providing and what goal(s) do you hope to accomplish? What will you be saying? How often will you broadcast? Who will be the brand spokesperson? All of these of these questions (and more) should be identified and documented in a strategy/planning doc.

The second area is the technology/platform you’ll be using to manage the broadcast. There are pros and cons to each platform, and it will likely depend on your current audience (where your most/best fans are) and the type of equipment you have. Or, you could choose different platforms for different situations. Let’s consider your options.

Facebook

Pros: Most popular, desktop or mobile broadcasting, commenting and sharing enhances virility, notification to followers, archive videos, great for longer broadcasts (4 hours max)

Cons: Technical issues happen, if you manage multiple pages then cross-publishing can confuse some content creators

Recommendations: Use when you have a large (or devoted) fanbase. Create a Facebook event in advance for the live stream, tease it and promote it ahead of time, go live. After the broadcast, have the video exist in your feed/library and boost it to get more out of your efforts.

Twitter

Pros: Easy for users to view and play, can be found through hashtags and search, can be found within Periscope’s app in its location map for extra reach

Cons: Mobile-only posting, it gets lost in the shuffle like everything else on Twitter

Recommendation: Use when you have a devoted Twitter following, and you’re at an event where you want to give an “inside look.” Keep it short and sweet. Okay if the videos are rough and raw. Can publish here often. Reserve more exclusive content for Facebook or Instagram.

Instagram

Pros: Still a hot, new feature, appears within the “Stories” area and can get more views than a normal video post, unlike Stories, you can broadcast up to an hour

Cons: Limited to mobile-only, limited to access only by app users (typically just your followers seeing the content), only accessible for 24 hours

Recommendation: Because of the timeliness of live videos and Stories on Instagram, it’s best to tease when you are going live through posts and Stories ahead of time. Remember, these are your best followers paying attention. Reserve for highly anticipated content: exclusive interviews, new product reveals, major company announcements, etc

YouTube

Pros: Easy to set-up, archive video in your library, real-time comments, do not need to be a YouTube user to watch

Cons: Most businesses don’t have a ton of subscribers on YouTube, so you need a way to drive viewers

Recommendation: Use for longer video broadcasts if you aren’t active on Facebook, create a Live Event ahead of time so you can tease the broadcast link in ads, email campaigns, social media, etc. After running, leverage the archive version on your website and email campaigns. 

Livestream.com

Pros: Access to customer service, can embed video onto website, push to Facebook and YouTube simultaneously, ad-free

Cons: Costs money

Recommendation: Use if/when you are devoting a great deal of time, talent and money towards your live streaming program. If you are planning on broadcasting weekly and have thousands invested in equipment for a more professional quality look, go this route. It will allow you still to push your content to some of the above networks, but with added video production capabilities and support. 

Case Study: Live Streaming Lectures for CoreLife Eatery and Making the Change from YouTube to Facebook

The issue and set-up.

For years, CoreLife Eatery has hosted lectures inside of its restaurants. The team brings in credible authority figures from various fields (health, nutrition, fitness, medicine, etc) to speak to guests on educational topics. The events that take place inside of its Vestal, NY location have live guests and are also live streamed for online fans. Vestal was designed with live streaming in mind – it has a lecture hall, adjacent to the restaurant, and has professional video production equipment installed.

When we first started to live stream in 2016, Facebook hadn’t yet enabled the ability for brands to stream live via desktop. At the time, one could only broadcast from a mobile device. This just wasn’t feasible and would also produce a quality that wasn’t up to our standards. After research, we settled on YouTube.

Distribution became nightmarish.

The stream needed to go through YouTube but our audience resided on other social platforms – mainly Facebook (99% of it, in fact). Therefore, the links had to be shared on our Facebook location pages.

  • By the time the posts went out and started to gain traction, the hour-long live stream was over.
  • When we tried to boost the posts, by the time they were approved and received that extended reach, the live stream was over.
  • We also tried to send the live links out to our massive email distribution list. By the time emails were opened and clicked, the live stream was over.

Noticing a trend? The very nature of live video wasn’t allowing us enough time to promote.

View numbers were extremely low too – some videos were only watched live by about 20-40 people and watched later by another 70-100. The “CoreLife Lesson: Maximizing You Not” video, for example, has only 133 views to date. Attaining comments and responding to them on the YouTube chat board was also not very effective since we couldn’t pull comments into our third party social management tool (SproutSocial).

Not long after we started doing YouTube live streaming did Facebook open up its capabilities to live stream from desktop (meaning, you could now use full video equipment to broadcast). After giving ample time to YouTube, and testing various tactics, we realized it would be in our best interest to change our strategy.

We made the jump to Facebook Live.

We began with research in how Facebook Live works – particularly for brands. We then held a training session with the client who would be using the equipment on-site in Vestal to broadcast. They had a video encoding software called Wirecast that allowed the videos to be uploaded directly to Facebook. This software also allowed them to toggle between multiple camera angles and add lower thirds and other basic video production techniques.

We walked them through the process, granted them access to the Facebook brand page, established a sync with Wirecast, showed them how to create a title and description for the post, and tested.

Our sharing plan came into focus.

Since we had 25 Facebook location pages (and knowing that number continues to grow), we didn’t want to publish the video directly to all 25 locations. Though this is technically possible – it would require increased software costs (maybe even forcing them to purchase and learn a completely different video tool) and it required that we provide access to all Facebook pages to the client (which increased the risk of accidentally publishing and posting – which we always try to prevent).

Therefore, we decided to broadcast live only to the main brand page, and then we would be on standby to immediately share to all other 24+ location pages. Through that unique link, the live video would remain live on all pages where it was shared. In doing so, it allowed us to gather more views and more comments across all of our pages.

Commenting would exist as normal Facebook comments, meaning it would be aggregated inside of SproutSocial and our engagement team could more easily manage responses. Additionally, we have all of our Facebook pages connected and authorized to cross-post. This allows us to save the original video into the libraries of each of the location pages (something that is important to the client), so the videos can always be found later no matter what community a fan is from.

Here are some results.

In the first few live streams we broadcasted via Facebook, we saw more than a thousand views in real-time, and another several thousand after the live videos ended – since they continued to exist as videos in our Facebook feeds. The “CoreLife Eatery – Happiness Axis” video, for example, has gathered 6,718 views to date. That’s a 4950% increase from the example above that was broadcast via YouTube. We created an event for the live stream ahead of time, teased it on our Facebook pages, distributed an email to our fan base with the link, and managed comments from the video in real-time. If we boosted the live stream videos across our pages after the broadcast concluded, we would have seen even more impressive stats!

Overall, this adjusted strategy required some upfront work and training, but it has panned out much better from an upkeep standpoint and generated greater results. For us, it was a much more successful solution.

This post was originally published for Site-Seeker. Click here to view in its original form.

Low-Cost, High-Value Marketing Ideas

There are thousands of articles out there on the best digital marketing tactics. How do you decide which ones make the most sense for your material handling company? It’s a big undertaking.

I’ll let you in on a little secret, too. Some of them – heck, maybe most of them – would fail you. And it might not be your fault.

Not all tactics work for every company. There’s a reason why street teams helped RedBull successfully launch the brand in the U.S. and why consumer packaged goods (CPG) companies continue to run free-standing inserts (FSIs) in Sunday newspapers. It makes sense for them. If they weren’t generating positive results, they would have cut those programs years ago.

There are many factors in deciding on the best marketing tactics for your business. They include:

  • Your industry
  • Your target audience
  • Your budget
  • Your resources
  • Your timeline

Our company has been working alongside material handling businesses for more than a decade, building marketing strategies and helping to carry out a variety of tactical efforts. We’ve learned a thing or two about what works, what doesn’t, what’s expensive, and what generates a healthy return on investment (ROI).

Here’s our secret list of low-cost, high-value marketing ideas for material handlers.

Local Optimization

Local optimization is the improvement of a brand’s presence in search engines, among local searchers. This includes ensuring Google MyBusiness and Bing Local pages are accurate and thoroughly built out. One should run a citation report to make sure that local listing websites feature correct and up-to-date information for your business. This can also include a program to encourage positive business reviews for your company. Finally, your website should be optimized through keywords, content, and metadata around geo-specific search terms. This will boost your rankings above competitors in the search engines, giving you an edge on the amount of free, organic traffic coming into your site. A recent study states that 18% of local mobile searches lead to a sale within one day. These are hot leads. Act appropriately.

Expenses: Set-up and management expenses

Outcomes: Increased organic traffic, better search presence, improved brand reputation through reviews

Remarketing Ads

You have probably been on the receiving end of remarketing ads but may not know them by name. If you’ve ever shopped on a retail website, let’s say for a band t-shirt, and then noticed an ad for that same t-shirt while on a totally different website, that’s remarketing.

Through code and cookies, it recalls what web pages you’ve visited and advertisers are able to personalize ads based on that historical data. It’s genius. Consider past web visitors who have browsed your site in search of used forklifts. Employ remarketing to stay top of mind among these prospects and re-engage at a later date when they’re more ready to buy. It’s a pay-per-click model so you can control the budget. Website visitors who are retargeted with display ads are 70% more likely to convert on your website.

Expenses: Recommendation of $500 – $1000/mo for ad costs through Google AdWords, management expenses

Outcomes: Increase leads, higher brand recall

[View our free slideshow on 10 reasons why your customers aren’t seeing your web content]

LiveChat

We live in a world where we value instant communication. We’ve been sensitized by SMS texting and social media and, generally speaking, customers are increasingly impatient. That’s especially the case when a prospect is suffering downtime due to faulty equipment, and he/she needs an answer…fast.

Consider implementing LiveChat on your site. Through this software, you can encourage web users to get in touch immediately with a customer service representative, rather than submit a form and wait hours or days to hear a response.

Plus, users can multi-task while they type, something very important to busy buyers. They can briefly describe their issues and get helpful information or begin moving forward with a purchase right then and there. From a buying sense, these are your hottest leads: they have a problem, and they need help now. Why delay that process? Some companies have seen improvements in conversion rates of 45% as a result of LiveChat.

Expenses: $60/mo for the software, set-up expenses, staff member(s) to manage customer service

Outcomes: Increase leads through the chat form, improved customer service, reduce wait time in the buying process

Automated Email Marketing

Most material handling companies have been in business a long time and I bet yours has too. Over that time, you’ve collected contact information from many past buyers. Let’s put that data to use.

According to VentureBeat, of all marketing tactics, email marketing generates the highest return on investment (likely because distribution is so inexpensive). When using an automation tool, you’re able to set up workflows that carry out actions without you needing to think or manually push buttons.

Consider these automated workflows:

  • Instant email: This is for those who submit for more information on your site and should ensure that his/her message has been received. You can supplement users with relevant reading material while they wait for your phone call.
  • Cold leads: Perhaps you tried selling parts to contacts in the past, but the deals fell through. They aren’t bad leads, just cold. Set up monthly automated emails to help stay top of mind and ensure they’re aware of your latest offers.
  • Cross-selling: Much like recommendations from Amazon for similar products, if your system recalls what customers have purchased in the past and you’ve properly segmented your lists, you can automate emails to cross-sell or upsell more strategically.

It’s best to think about these tools as an extension of your sales team. A software like Hubspot will let you email directly to leads, input customer information, and track stages throughout the buying process. The tool is intelligent and understands the pages and emails that prospects visit to give you a clearer insight into their wants/needs so you can act at the right time. The software also provides reverse IP lookup so you can see any large companies visiting your site even before they submit contact information to you. We call it professional stalking.

Expenses: $800 – $1000/mo for automation software, setup, and management expenses

Outcomes: Increased leads, shortened buying cycle, improved upselling

As a material handling professional, there’s a lot you can do to improve the relationships you have with current customers and generate new leads. But it’s like the Wild Wild West out there. You’re being faced with a ton of ideas and tactics, and there are plenty that aren’t in your best interest to pursue. Take our advice and look closely at the four that we’ve already tested that have the lowest costs and highest value for material handling companies. Need help? Give us a shout today.

[Download our exclusive eBook on how to prospect better in the digital age]

This post was originally published for Site-Seeker. To view, click here.