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Telling Your Brand Story Through Images

Posted by Liz Papagni in Brand Strategy | 0 comments

brand story imagesA picture is worth a thousand words. That’s how that old saying goes. When it comes to telling your brand story, this old-school catchphrase is right on the money. According to the latest studies, we remember 10% of information we heard three days later, but we remember 65% of information we saw. There is no way to deny that images are an important piece in your marketing strategy. You simply can’t tell your brand story without them. So, how can you go about doing that?

Cement Your Style

When creating your brand standards, you should determine the style of images you plan to use. These could be for your web design, blog headers, social media posts, email marketing, and even print pieces. Determining one specific style and sticking to it will help you craft a cohesive brand that’s immediately recognizable by your target audience. Some brands may choose to use illustrations rather than photography. Others have a specific photography style in mind (and might even need a photo shoot with a professional to attain the images they need). When you’ve decided on your style, place that in your brand standards outline so that you never stray. Any creatives you work with in the future will be able to refer back and match your brand at any time. Here’s an example of how you might outline your brand style:

brand standards exampleAcquire Your Images

Photography and illustrations can become quite costly, especially if you’re working with a graphic designer or video producer for proprietary images and video. Even stock sites can get expensive if you plan to use imagery a lot in your marketing. Subscriptions for monthly payments can cut down on these costs when you work with sites like iStockPhoto or Adobe stock images. There are also several free options available, like Pexels or Burst. These free options may be limited, but you’ll find dozens of different styles to suit your needs. If you enter into free options with your brand standards firmly in mind, you’re sure to find photography that fits your brand story.

Crafting Your Message

Here’s where things start getting good, right? You’re ready to tell the world what your brand is all about, and you’ll use these images you’ve worked so hard to curate as visual aids. What will you say? How will you say it? Perhaps most importantly, where will you say it? With your buyer personas firmly in mind, select the images that match your message. You can create videos, slide shows, infographics, or just use still photos along with your copy or voiceovers to great effect. Keep in mind that studies show readers spend more time on images than they do on page text, so images with the relevant information included in text could garner more views. (That’s why our blog headers always include the title, and not just a relevant image.) Those images should most certainly be used in your social media marketing efforts, too. Did you know that tweets with images receive up to 150 times more retweets than those without? And Facebook posts with images see 2.3 times more engagement than those without. Have you been using imagery to tell your brand story? If not, it’s time to get started. As always, our team at Marketing Initiative Worx is here to help you with your branding and marketing efforts, so give us a call.

3 Social Marketing Trends You’ll See in the New Year

Posted by Liz Papagni in Marketing Strategy, Social Media Marketing | 0 comments

social marketing trendsWe’ve talked about general marketing trends to expect and how blogging will continue to be as important as ever in the coming year. What about social media, though? Are some of the most popular techniques starting to lose steam? What new trends will take the place of the strategies that don’t get big results anymore? Predicting the future is tough, but we can take a look at what’s already becoming popular and give a pretty good guess if we think that tactic will continue to be popular in 2018. So, what do we expect the social marketing trends to be in the New Year? Let’s take a look.

Overlapping Social Platforms

Marketers will still need to publish content to multiple platforms, depending on their target audience. There’s still not one single social platform that reaches all potential buyers. Instagram may be climbing up there with 800 million active users, but that could never compare to Facebook’s 2 billion monthly users. Beyond that, there is still a small but loyal group of holdouts hanging on to Snapchat, regardless of how popular Instagram has become. How can you still reach everyone? By crafting messages for the various platforms your buyers are most likely to use. Just don’t make the mistake of overdoing your platform choices. There’s no need to use every single option available to you, especially if you won’t find many of your target buyer persona there.

Social Listening

It’s easy to set it and forget it when it comes to scheduling your social media posts. That doesn’t help you stay on top of what your buyers are looking for, though. Believe it or not, your customers are talking about you on social media. If you don’t hear the chatter, it’s because you’re not listening. Take some time to seek out the posts about your business. In some cases, you’ll be tagged, and that makes the posts easier to find. Sometimes, however, you’ll be mentioned without a tag. You might have to get a little more creative with your searches in order to find these posts. Use keywords that include your industry, your products, and your company name to dig up all of them. There are also some tools that could help you get better at hearing the chatter about your brand. Beyond learning what your current buyers say about you, you can also seek out potential future customers with social listening. Someone out there is looking for what you sell. If you’re paying attention to the questions, you can jump in with the answers before they find someone else to buy from.

Learn About Chat Bots

Chat bots sound so futuristic that it’s hard to wrap our heads around the possibilities available to us. It’s possible right now to let a chat bot handle many of the day-to-day questions you receive from your customers. With a little customization, the bot can answer FAQs, walk customers through billing issues, provide suggestions for products, and more. There are actually some chat bots available to even the least tech savvy of us, but you might have to spend some time finding the right option for you. The easiest chat bots can be installed for Facebook messenger. These can be so simple as to let your visitors know that a message has been received and that you’ll respond as soon as possible. This helps to keep your message/answer rate high without running you ragged to answer messages at all hours of the day. Facebook offers its own chat bot through its developer site. You can customize these to an extent so that your visitors get immediate engagement whenever they reach out. If you’d like to find something a little more substantial, BotFuel is another option that walks you through creating a customized bot. ManyChat is another popular option that can be installed by just about anyone. Still other chat bots can be installed on your websites to conduct customer service activities in your stead. Some learn as they go, while others can be fully programmed before you launch. Just be sure you fully understand the chat bot before you set it loose on your business. Sometimes the simplest answer is the best, at least for now. Some other trends will also start to make their way to the forefront, but these are the ones we expect to see the most of in the coming year. Of course, you’ll want to keep focusing on video marketing and influencer marketing, as these will likely continue to grow in popularity, especially on social platforms. Other trends from past year may continue to exit the building, such as Twitter, which hasn’t grown much lately. If you need some help taking advantage of the trends 2018 will bring to social marketing, just give us a call. We’ll help you determine which of the available platforms are best for your business, learn how to listen on those social platforms, and even explore chat bots with you. Whatever you need, we’re here for you.

3 Science-Backed Business Blog Tips to Carry You Into 2018

Posted by Liz Papagni in Content Marketing | 0 comments

business blog tips You have a business blog, don’t you? With so many benefits available to your business, why wouldn’t you? Your company’s blog provides a host of opportunities for you, including:

  • More chances to optimize for search
  • More informed customers
  • Wider reach through social channels
  • Increased traffic to your website
  • Opportunities for convincing and converting
However, we also know that content on the internet is at a fever pitch. We’ve talked about making sure you’re found among all the other noise out there, but watching your numbers shrink can still be discouraging. You may even wonder if a blog for your business is even worth the trouble as you enter the new year. Well, before you wonder yourself out of maintaining your blog, rest assured that you do still need it. The latest numbers show that 84% of business bloggers still see results from their blog. That means, even though there’s a lot of content out there, leads are still finding information about the business, driving traffic to the websites, and converting to buyers. That’s still a lot of people, right? You can’t argue with 84% of bloggers who say that a business blog is still important. So, why are your numbers going down instead of up? What makes this group of people more successful than the 16% that aren’t seeing the results they need? These business blog tips might give you the answers you seek.

More Time = More Results

There was a time when the average time spent in researching and writing a blog was a little over two hours. Now, those who spend more than three hours on each blog see better results. When you think about why this may be the case, it’s pretty obvious: With so much content available, the blogs that will resonate the most with readers are the ones packed with helpful information. You can’t keep sharing the same old thing and hope that people will keep coming back for more. Take some time to determine what your customers need to read in your blogs. What pain points do they feel, and how can you solve those? What questions do they have about your business, your products, your services, and your brand vision? How can you continue to help them? You may need more time to dig deeper, and that’s okay. More time equals more results.

Longer Is Actually Better

A few years ago, the average blog post was about 500 words. Now, customers are looking for content that can really help them. That means they’re more likely to spend time on meatier posts, even if those posts are longer. For that reason, the average blog post—the ones that really get results—are over 1,000 words. Of course, that’s why people are spending more time writing them, too. Longer blogs take a bigger time investment, too. There’s an added benefit to longer blogs: SEO. Google really likes those meatier posts, and will give preference to sites that provide quality information over sites that still post fluffy stuff. More words also give Google more to chew on when it comes to search terms, too.

Boost the Frequency

One thing experts have always agreed on is that more frequent blogging brings bigger, more qualified traffic to your website. That’s not going to change in 2018. We’ve known for a while that companies that post 16 times per month see 3.5 times more traffic than companies that post four times or less per month. According to the latest statistics, 67% of bloggers that post more than once per day see even better results! How much traffic could you drive to your website if you posted 25 to 30 times per month? What if you could increase that to 40 or 50 times per month? Sure, the additional time or money investment would need to be made, but what would your return on that investment be? Of course, not every business owner has the time or energy to create and execute a content strategy. That’s where we come in! If you’d like to increase your blogging efforts in 2018 and need some help, give us a call.          

3 New Marketing Strategy Trends to Watch for in 2018

Posted by Liz Papagni in Marketing Strategy | 0 comments

marketing strategy trends We’re roaring toward 2018, and as the days change, so do several of the marketing trends we’ve used in 2017. Many of the strategies you’ve used in the past aren’t going anywhere. Content, for instance, will always be important to help you educate and delight your buyers. Other activities, however, are already changing at a blistering pace. Are you ready for the New Year?

Influencer Marketing

Gone are the days of working with celebrity influencers to boost your brand. Not only have buyers gotten savvy enough to realize that these celebrities probably don’t use any of the products they’re shilling, but also the celebrities have shown they’re less than enthusiastic about the idea of advertising. Take these two recent Instagram posts from Scott Disick and Naomi Campbell: influencer marketing fail   influencer marketing fail Could they be any clearer about how unenthused they are? Instead of helping the brand’s image with their heartfelt support, they gave that brand a black eye with their horrifying copy/paste skills. This doesn't mean influencer marketing won't be a popular marketing strategy next year. In 2018, expect to see influencers that actually use the products they’re sharing with the world. That means they probably won’t be celebrities but instead micro-influencers. These are personalities that have built up a small following on social media due to their dedication to their craft. For instance, a local chef may share some of the kitchen utensil brands that he or she loves. An up-and-coming stylist could make a deal with her favorite designers to share the latest looks. The more specific the audience, the higher the engagement will be. In fact, advocates—with less than 5,000 followers—generate 26% of engagement, while those celebrities above generate only 2%.   influencer marketing statistics

A Better Mobile Experience

Smartphones are now the most popular devices for browsing the web. While 43.4% still prefer their laptops and desktops, now 51.4% prefer their phones. And you can bet that some of that majority still get frustrated when they encounter websites that haven’t be optimized for mobile devices. device popularity We’ve been talking about that for years, though. Changes to mobile optimization have either already been made, are in the works, or the company that has refused thus far will simply start to fade into obscurity. What’s new in 2018, or at least starting to really gain some traction, is voice search optimization. In 2016, more than 20% of searches were done by voice command. This year, so far, 41% of searches have been through voice command. How can you prepare for that? By ensuring that your search terms are as natural as possible. Consider how you’d ask for the information that’s on your website. Would you say “Shoes. Red. Nashville.” Or would you ask, “Where can I find red shoes in Nashville?” These are long-tail keywords and actually perform better with Google even when typed rather than spoken. Either way, it’s a win-win.

All Hail Generation Z

Look, Millennials had their moment, but it’s over. By 2020, Generation Z will account for 40% of consumers. Marketers have realized that reaching Generation Z will bring them more bang for their buck. That’s why it’s going to be so important to stay up to date on what this generation needs from their marketing content. They want transparent. They want quick and concise. They want honest. They want authentic. They want impactful. Most of all, they want something that really touches them, something that speaks to their emotions and not just to their sensibilities. Is your marketing strategy ready for 2018? Let’s get ready for our best year ever. If you need help getting some of these strategies in place so you can reach your target audience, give us a call.