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Ad Blockers Affect Everyone

 

NO ADSThe sudden rise of Ad Blocking software and Apple’s integration of this software on its iOS9 program have created a lot of buzz in the digital marketing world. Users are fed up with advertisements taking up their screens and intruding on their content. It’s incredibly frustrating to visit sites with awful user experiences.It’s no different than enjoying meal after meal at your local restaurant and then having an awful experience and writing about it on Facebook or Yelp. The few negatives always stand out more than the “expected” outcomes.

What exactly is an ad blocker?

An ad blocker is hardware or software that blocks certain ads on a page. Ad blockers can come in the forms of extensions on web browsers, or mobile-specific ad-blocking browsers. No matter how an ad blocker is deployed the purpose is the same: To remove ads from the viewer’s screen. Ad blockers aren’t exactly new. This technology has been around for years, but Apple’s interest in the space, a move geared towards garnering partnerships with content publishers, has certainly driven the recent interest in the topic. The Interactive Advertising Bureau refers to ad blocking as “highway robbery.” So there’s another definition.

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What does ad blocking do to the free content eco-system?

It won’t be a surprise to anyone reading this that I, a digital marketer, am not a fan of ad blocking. I like getting a paycheck, but more importantly I love how digital has changed the way we consume information and socialize with friends and businesses. The data has allowed us more targeted and relevant advertising to consumers.

 

Great content isn’t free. Stories, reports, websites, and most importantly, TIME, is not free. Throughout much of advertising’s existence the understanding between content consumer and publisher was that if I provide you content there will be advertising around it to support the business of creating such content. If we remove ads from the ecosystem, there will be no revenue coming in to support said content. Publications, TV, Radio, Newspaper and digital-only content would have to become subscription-based. Many of these mediums already are for some. But imagine a place where I can no longer go on CNN.com for political updates. I again would have to pay $100+ for a satellite or cable provider to show me CNN, or more accurately in the near future, pay $1 per month or $0.25 per pageview. Many favorite blogs would need subscriptions, or find a major distribution partner, to stay afloat.I don’t know many people interested in this scenario. Without the free web, many entrepreneurs and start-up bloggers wouldn’t have the opportunities if people had to pay for that same beginning content.

 

Where do we go from here?

Great question. Thanks! (Stop inner monologue). Two things need to happen in my opinion. First, an organization needs to govern the advertising online and make it virtually illegal to deploy intrusive or obnoxious advertising without indication from a user. The IAB could be that organization, but their self-described failures have been well-documented. in allowing the industry to chase display ad dollars and not see the denigration of user experience. To their credit the IAB is looking into ways to keep digital advertising from becoming a nuisance and return us to the days where the relationship was understood: Want free content? Deal with a few ads. Pretty simple.

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Secondly, ad blockers and mobile use have driven the need for content-based advertising through Native Ads or Sponsored Content. This has given the user less intrusive, more environment-appropriate messaging. But the near future of digital marketing is in content and creating information that is fun, insightful, helpful or entertaining to the consumer. Content marketing allows for more sharing via social networks and often creates a consumer appreciative of something of value and not just an ad. My fear is in a matter of time Native Ad spots will become ineffective and be glossed over as much as banner ads are today. Alas, this industry is resilient and continues to adapt and change to reach consumers wherever they go.

 

One final thought on ad blockers

Those of us in this industry are the most responsible. Some publishers and websites do a great job of creating experiences for customers/viewers that not only inform but also entertain. We provide a place for business relationships to occur, sometimes subtly and other times through user-triggered advertising. Regardless how a business chooses to run a site and advertising, we are responsible for creating environments in which our consumers feel like they can get the information they want easily, effectively and with a reasonable amount of advertising. Full takeovers, in-your-face tactics do not work and should not be deployed unless an interaction has triggered such a move. Otherwise, we’re continuing a revolt against our industry of digital advertising and digital content consumption.
Publishers and advertisers need to hold each other accountable. Consumers won’t care enough. They’ll move on to someone like Apple who will provide them what they want. Be respectful of a user’s time. People aren’t our commodity. They are our connection to the digital ecosystem.

5 Ways to Improve Your Email Marketing

There’s no shortage of email in the world. Despite email being one of the oldest forms of online marketing we still find incredible value when reaching an inbox. But while email’s importance and targeting has improved, the clutter has increased. Here are 5 simple ways to stand out in your email marketing campaign.Image result for email marketing

1. Be responsive

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The Pew Research Center found that the use of phones to read email doubled between 2009 and 2013, and the November 2014 Ericsson Mobility Report estimates that smartphone subscriptions and traffic per phone will have respective annual growth rates of 15% and 25% until 2020. The importance of mobile-ready creative is key. MailChimp says its”responsive email templates get higher click rates on all devices.” Use responsive design to allow an outstanding User Experience no matter the screen size. The worst result for any business is to send an email marketing blast to a user who is ready to engage only to have formatting issues on the screen. You may never get this customer back to your site or engage with your products or services.

2. Get to the Point

Use a short, concise subject line. The subject line is what drives the interaction with the email. You need to tell the user why they should open the email in as few words as possible. Also, use attention-grabbing headlines and explain the benefits quickly. A picture says a 1,000 words and a video says 10,000. Instead of explaining all the benefits of your business have a video embedded that says something like, “Click to get the experience” or another applicable call to action. Because so many people view emails on their phones and more video is consumed on mobile devices every day, you can utilize a responsive design with photos and video to convey your overall message effectively.

3. Mine your Data

Lead Gen Tactics

According to Marketo, “the company website, trade shows, conferences, and email marketing are the most results-driven lead generation tactics used presently.”

If you’re using an internal email marketing database already you probably acquire the list from 1st party data, or your current customers. A great way to build your internal database is to utilize 3rd party email marketing programs, such as the one through RiverTown Multimedia. Your current CRM database will tell you a lot about people most likely to be your customers. Target a 3rd party email program to”Like” customers, or those similar to your target audience and most likely customers. You can also look at Social Media data to understand who is most likely to engage you on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, etc. Your data is useful. Put 1st party and 3rd party data to enhance your current program.

4. Provide Value

Give me a reason to subscribe to your email list. This can include exclusive offers, unique information or events, or discounts prior to non-subscribers. Other ways to provide value would be with market information, educational tidbits or things that improve your customers’ lives. Appliance dealer customers may want to know about kitchen design. Let your auto customers know about upcoming manufacturer incentives. Another great value proposition is showcasing your image. Have fun with email. People like to feel good and see other people smiling. Although it may not be the feature of an email send make sure you convey how incredible your business is.

5. Tie it all Together

Email should be a component of your entire marketing plan. It should not be seen as a one-off project with unique messaging. If you have a YouTube channel embed a video in your creative. Want to boost Facebook likes? Provide an incentive within your email for customers to like your page. Email marketing is a great opportunity to reach an engaged audience with a goal of increased engagement, content distribution, social enhancement, and lead generation. If your subject line is good and the user opens the email you have their attention, probably moreso than any other digital space. The chart below outlines why email is so valuable…people spend time reading it. You have the users’ attention. Take advantage of it.

Movable Ink “US Consumer Device Preference Report: Q2 2014″ (2014)

Email marketing can be as complicated or simple as you want it to be. RiverTown Multimedia offers two different email marketing solutions to best fit your needs and budget. But these 5 tips should get you started or help adjust your current plan to make it more effective. Email is a wonderful solution and should probably be incorporated in most campaigns.

Millennials Content Description

Tips to a Sensible Small Biz Digital Strategy

Small business owners can get caught up in the wild web we weave. We (alliteration will end soon, I promise) being digital marketing folks. SMB owners have limited staffs, resources, time and money. So here are a few things to think about when putting together a digital strategy.

First of all, why is a digital strategy important? I would ask, why is any strategy important? They keep us on the right track. Strategies help guide our decision-making. If we didn’t have a strategy we’d make a lot of individual decisions without understanding how it will affect our business long term. Oh, you’re doing that right now? Keep reading please.

Have a strategy

Your strategy should have these 7 steps:

#1: Identify Business Goals – growth, expansion, etc.

#2: Set Marketing Objectives – what products, at what price, where to promote, where to sell (e-commerce?)

#3: Identify Ideal Customers – current or prospective, what do they look like?

#4: Research Competition – what do the BEST in my industry do and how?

#5: Choose Channels & Tactics – what channels connect with my brand and my customers?

#6: Content Strategy – What’s the tone of my website, Social, email, etc. content and does it match my brand?

#7: Measure your success – how will I know I succeeded or failed?

The single most important factor of a digital strategy is knowing who you are. Understand what it is your business does well and what it doesn’t. Know your core customers and how you can best satisfy their needs for your product or service. If you offer a loosey-goosey, fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants in-store experience than portray that on your website. If you have a serious tone and treat customers in a similar way, don’t make jokes on Social Media. It’s all about knowing your business and owning its personality.

We use the image below in our “Fitting Social into Your Overall Media Plan” presentations and I love it. Many people I run into assume that because they’re using “free” Social Media that is all they need. But enhancing your Social Media with paid ad spots or enhanced posts may be necessary if your content isn’t going viral. Just remember what unpaid Social is and what it isn’t.

What Social Media Is & Isnt

But also keep in mind the Social channels you choose. If you want constant feedback and interactions with customers or followers, Twitter is great. Are visuals important and easily delivered for your company? Try Instagram. Do you want the biggest potential reach with photos and video? Use Facebook. Do you need to instruct customers on how to use a product or provide value by offering free help videos? YouTube is great at this. (I have used a YouTube video many times when performing home “repairs.”)

Ranking high in search is on everyone’s “Must Do” marketing list. Google recently altered their search algorithm to increase the importance of mobile-friendly sites, especially when searched on a mobile device. But it’s hard to keep up with Google’s changing algorithms. So best practices include:

  • Create engaging content on your site every other week or at least once per month
  • Utilize Video whenever possible (Google owns YouTube for a reason)
  • Avoid listing keywords to try and “outsmart” Google
  • List your Social Media buttons on your site
  • Make sure your website is mobile-friendly. Use HTML5’s responsive design if possible
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January 28, 2014 by: ZOG Digital http://blog.zogdigital.com/2014/01/28/marketing-millennials/

Content Marketing is one of the hottest buzzwords in marketing. And there’s a reason. Creating content can drive business. But it has to be the right content and it can’t be faked. Telling stories about your business, not about products, can resonate with today’s audience, specifically millennials. Millennials want to find more than just a product. They want an experience. They want to buy from those they trust or those with whom they connect. A low price is great, but if you’re helping the environment and your price is in the ballpark…count me in! The folks at Clarity Coverdale Fury write a lot about the “Conscious Consumer.” People care less about who writes content, and more about the quality of it. Brands are using this medium to connect with people about more than just products. Use your content to tell your story, provide valuable information or a 30-second break from reality. However you choose to utilize content make sure it fits your STRATEGY.

Finally, how does advertising fit into this digital strategy? Social Media does a great job of reaching current customers and if paid placements, new customers. In today’s world, if you’re collecting data from your customers through site visits, purchases, Social Media followers, or another way, you now have your hands on an extremely valuable marketing tool. You can target advertising to this specific audience. Take what you know about your Facebook followers and target your advertising to those people. Not only will data tell you WHO to target, but find the common content among the most interactive Facebook posts and use something similar in your ad copy. The content of that post resonated with your audience. There’s no reason the same content shouldn’t do similar things to the same audience who doesn’t follow you on Facebook.

RiverTown Multimedia can help you use your Social Media and other marketing data to find the perfect audience through targeted online advertising campaigns. Learn more about our Retargeting and Audience Segment offerings by speaking with a sales representative. Click here to contact us.

And that’s how all of this ties together in Digital Strategy. Take what you know about yourself and your customers and use it to meet your objectives. Stay true to your brand, deliver great content in a multitude of ways, track your success and find RESULTS. It’s not rocket science, but it can be easy to lose focus. When all else fails stick with what works. And if that doesn’t work, call the experts at RiverTown Multimedia. We’re glad to help you figure it out.

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Content is King: Effective Content Marketing

Content Marketing is becoming the buzzword of our business in 2015. And the reason is obvious: without quality content your brand won’t engage consumers. Facebook’s “content” or lack thereof, are the reason I deleted my account. Of course, Mark Zuckerberg still has my data, but that’s a blog for another day. The key in all content marketing is to be at least one of the following: informative, educational or entertaining.


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There are literally countless forms of content and ways to distribute said content. For simplicity’s sake, we’re going to discuss the most common ways businesses create content and a few best practices for delivering those messages. The most important part of content marketing is understanding the medium. Be cognizant of the user experience and how users use the particular medium. People go to Facebook for a different reason than they go to your website, YouTube, stream radio on Pandora, or browse their favorite Star Trek blog. Make sure wherever your content goes it’s hitting the right user at the right time with the right message.

A website is the cornerstone of online marketing. Most businesses’ digital strategy starts with driving traffic to a website. Once there how do you get people to come back? What about your website drives users to come back or buy from you? Many times a consumer’s first touchpoint with your business or your brand is through your website and thus their user experience on your site is vital. So how important is it to have engaging, relevant and recent content on your website? Let’s just say Google’s algorithms are constantly changing to find the most up-to-date and relevant information. If your last website change occurred in 2007 people most likely aren’t seeing you on the first SERP (Search Engine Results Page). Another growing factor in search results is video. So make sure your website is hosting video, preferably YouTube videos since Google owns YouTube.

Another extremely popular and growing segment of content distribution is Social Media. Remember, SM should be used responsibly and with a strategy. (Check out our previous post on fitting Social into your overall plan). Your message needs to be consistent with your overall marketing plan and should be delivered through SM in the same fashion. If your business doesn’t like to discount, don’t send out discounts through SM. Again, if you haven’t posted on Facebook in 2 months, you may be losing out on the SERP. A post on Twitter will look and act differently than on Pinterest. Facebok is very conversational. Pinterest is great if you can provide new ideas to enhance people’s lives in a tangible way. Instagram is a great tool to showcase work with photos. Twitter is a good use for quick messages, bits of info, or time-sensitive messages. Who can forget this from the 2013 Super Bowl?

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Outstanding use of content on Twitter.

 

Think about the medium when using content in advertising and the difference. When you put content on your website, YouTube, Social Media, etc it’s being delivered to people who are seeking it out. These users have found or searched you directly. The content within ads has to be delivered in a way people understand your brand or objective in a matter of seconds. In this way, advertising copy has to be extremely effective, hence the rise of advertising agencies. And again, digital ads need different content than a TV, radio or print ad. Use the space accordingly.

Native Audience Example

An example of Native Advertising on the Forum Communications network via a mobile phone.

 

Native Advertising has grown tremendously in the past year. According to almost all projections, it’s only going to continue to grow. Native Advertising is a generic term for sponsored content that fits into whatever medium on which the user views the content. For instance, Promoted Tweets are Native Advertising. Advertorials are a form of Native. Most online publishers, including NY Times, Washington Post, Vanity and of course RiverTown Multimedia and Forum Communications Company, have adopted Native Advertising as a new form of revenue. And according to this study, Native ads are working.

Email is another rather simple, almost archaic, form of content marketing. You control the message. You can control who you’re sending the email to via a 1st party list or a 3rd party list. Sending to your 1st party email list will have one message while 3rd party is going to look and act differently. Keep in mind the amount of information you put into an email. How long do you typically look at an email? What subject line would you open? As I said at the outset of this post, keep the content informational, educational or entertaining.

No matter your marketing strategy understand how people use and view content. Articles like this show how people don’t necessarily care WHO wrote the content as long as it’s engaging and informative, given they know who wrote it. Deception is never a good idea when creating content. So be transparent with your Native Advertising and provide true value for the reader. Every touchpoint with your content is an opportunity to lose, gain or persuade a customer. Often the content’s tone, message and effectiveness will dictate which way they go.

Finally, have a plan. Schedule your content so it’s timely and reaches the desired audience at the right time. Know ahead of time when you will be sending what Tweet. Have a calendar reminding you to update your website with new content. Upload another YouTube video every quarter. Every medium that touches your audience should have a calendar. We all know sometimes life gets in the way and certain things take a backseat. That’s fine. But when you have a plan you’re more likely to stick to it and be consistent in your content than just winging it.

Thanks for reading this month’s blog. If you haven’t already, please follow RiverTown Multimedia on Twitter @rivertownmedia and on Facebook by clicking here.