The Top 6 Marketing Trends For 2018

For regional brands and businesses with limited resources in a congested and competitive landscape such as Hudson County, marketing today can be an overwhelming and often confusing subject which is made even more so by the massive changes we see in the growing and mobile forward audience moving into the region and tech innovations which offer increasingly specific targeting capabilities. The question we hear often in regard to strategy pertains to channel selection and measurement beyond clicks and traffic. The truth is, there’s not one solution that works for all organizations and their respective goals. Careful observation and analysis of performance along with data will go a long way toward determining ROI to create sustainable and effective marketing plans.

2018 is going to be another exciting year for new and innovative ways to reach consumers and increase brand awareness. We’ve done all the research and chosen the top 6 of what we believe to be the most effective and relevant trends for the coming year in Hudson County to engage your audiences and grow your business.

1. Video Marketing

It’s no secret we’re big fans of video and have been since 2010. Over the past 7 years, we’ve seen a steady rise in its popularity and from our perspective it remains the most influential form of digital content for businesses today and if done right, can have a very positive impact on your bottom line. As our attention spans decrease, marketers are heavily relying more and more on creating video content to boost search engine rankings, increase engagement and website traffic rates.

According to a recent report, Mobile video ad spend will grow 49% to roughly $18 billion in 2018, while non-mobile video ad spend is expected to fall 1.5% to $15 billion. For the first time, we can expect to see a decline of video consumption on laptops — while video views on phones and tablets are expected to grow by 25%. The average viewer is expected to watch 36 minutes of online video per day on a mobile device, as opposed to half as much — roughly 19 minutes — on a computer.

2. Targeted Ads

We love options. Who doesn’t? It makes sense to approach digital marketing with the same mindset. Audiences already have minimal attention spans and get served so many, often irrelevant, one size fits all, ads on a daily basis, so why not offer different versions to different audiences to appeal to different tastes? For example, try switching up the creative, messaging or goals in mind. This approach will help you better understand which ads are performing best. Careful tracking and analysis provide valuable insight into your audience’s tastes and preferences to be integrated into a sustainable digital plan.

3. Influencers

Influencer marketing is one of the newer entrants onto the list and one of the fastest growing. Typically, influencers have been celebrities who are compensated to promote products and services to their social media followers. When it comes to social influencing, to be considered a celebrity, one has to have over 1 million followers. People with 500k–1 million followers and 100k–500k followers fall into the macro influencer and middle influencer categories, respectively. Micro influencers are generally average folks who have between 1k–100k followers and innovative regional brands are connecting with these individuals because they’re more relatable and relevant to the community. Studies today suggest that 82% of consumers are highly likely to explore a recommendation made by a micro-influencer.

4. Generation Z

Entrepreneurial, tech-savvy, driven by cause and mobile-minded, Generation Z also known as the iGeneration, Post-Millennials, or the Homeland Generation are people who were born in the late 1990s to mid-2000s. Building relationships with this new market can have a profound long-term impact on your business as they prepare to enter the workforce and become more active consumers. Appeal to their global outlook, desire to change the world and sense of edge and you have the potential to connect with an influential audience.

5. LinkedIn

LinkedIn, often overlooked in the sexy world of the newer platforms like Instagram and Snapchat, continues to offer a high quality and evolving channel for B2B marketers. This strategy pertains to a large and growing sector of Hudson County and deserves a dedicated approach.

Over 90% of B2B marketers say LinkedIn is the most effective platform for lead generation. If you’re in the market for new customers, LinkedIn should be the first place to look in 2018. Connecting with a potential client on LinkedIn increases the chances of them buying from you by 50%.

6. Interactivity

Over the past year, we’ve had a lot of fun exploring interactive e-marketing and planning for 2018. Email marketing offers a low or no cost, trackable, scalable channel that’s yours to grow, so why not explore how to engage your audiences with new and different content? It’s time to take a serious look at email, if you’ve been sending the same emails repeatedly, you can’t expect to get different results. Interactive emails will improve engagement with your subscribers and provide a wide spectrum of analytics which you can build on. Why not try enhancing your plan with strong design and minimal copy, compelling calls to action, real-time surveys, videos or animation?

Moving into 2018 it’s clear that new approaches are required to stay competitive as the pace of life increases due to the abundance of technological innovations and maturing of digital marketing. These are just some of the ideas and trends driving engagement today, but the only way to know if they’re right for you is to just do it and pay close attention to what happens next!

Good luck!

3 Trends to Watch in Nonprofit Marketing

There are more than 2,500 nonprofit organizations in Hudson County doing amazing work every day to enrich our communities and elevate the quality of life for all. Each has a unique history, mission and audience of donors and participants and each has unique challenges as trends in marketing continue to shift, technology becomes more advanced and donor behavior changes. With that in mind, it has become increasingly important for organizations to be proactive and focused on developing strategic plans that integrate these factors to maximize engagement in new ways to amplify your message and tell your unique story to donor bases and communities.

Tell Your Story

The growth of content marketing (video, blogs, and social media to name a few) continues to accelerate across all sectors. Nonprofits have a distinct advantage here due to their emphasis on mission and positive outcomes. This sense of purpose provides the necessary foundation for great storytelling – a critical component to an effective content marketing program. Over the past year, according to a recent nonprofit study, organizations have increased their focus on content marketing from 61% to 76%, only 26%, however, believe that their efforts are realizing an impact largely due to challenges such as staffing, budgets, planning and measurement.

Tip: To maximize efforts and minimize stress, develop a strategic plan and action calendar for creating, distributing, and measuring content and performance. Dedicate a team when possible to driving the initiative (consider board members or donors who might have valuable insight into outreach efforts and valuable messaging).

  • Develop a workflow plan that guides and schedules your content production, delivery and the various platforms you will use
  • Analyze and create donor personas and the content that resonates best with them
  • Focus on the how, what and whys of your approach to storytelling
  • Measure content engagement on different platforms (clicks, comments, sharing, traffic)

Think Video. Think Mobile.

As the undisputed champ of content marketing, video provides the most compelling and engaging experience for nonprofits to communicate their mission, tell their story and demonstrate the value of the organization’s work. Most importantly, it helps create an emotional connection with your supporters that can motivate them to take action.

According to one marketing study, 90% of users said that viewing a video about the organization impacted their decision process. At HarrisonRand, we’ve discovered that video implementation also aligns with successful fundraising efforts across multiple platforms.

After studying a number of high-performing fundraising pages, we discovered that the one consistent component of each was compelling video. Visual storytelling can be an effective way to connect supporters to your mission.

Tip: Compelling video content should be considered for events, websites and email as well as social marketing campaigns.  Also consider embedding a call to action within the video, to make sure viewers know what they can do. Remember, Hudson County is on the go! Make sure your communications are consistent, clear and responsively designed for mobility (keep your messaging brief and CTAs colorful, bold, and clean). Streamline the conversion process to keep your supporters engaged and improve your mobile strategy.

Make It Personal

The rise in content creation and online communication with audiences presents unique opportunities for nonprofits, but also often frustrating challenges for organizations to track, analyze and truly engage audiences in ways which best suits their preference. Nonprofits of all scales, from global to local initiatives are competing for audience’s attention so your mission’s ability to truly connect requires personalization.

Like all relationships, nonprofits can strengthen their connection with donors by effectively communicating in a way that’s meaningful and personalized for them. This requires a deep understanding of your supporters and how they like to be engaged.

Fortunately, as technology has improved, it has become cheaper and easier than ever to leverage the right resources that can help you learn more about your donors and deliver customized content to them, no matter their current engagement stage.

Tip: There are a number software solutions to better understand your donors. For example, with the right fundraising software, you can add intake questions to your checkout page to gather more information, such as interests and reasons for giving. You can then craft separate follow-up messages that are meaningful to your supporters and show that you care.

There are also many email automation software options available that you can use to analyze donors’ interactions on a broader scale and launch subsequent targeted email campaigns. And by feeding this application into a backend CRM (constituent relationship management) system, you can also effectively manage and track donor data in a single database. This will help you understand supporters’ giving habits, track trends, and identify opportunities for larger gifts.

In light of these emerging nonprofit marketing trends, it is time to think more strategically about your organization’s strategic planning in concert with communication methods. No doubt it will require time, effort, and patience, but the improved results will be well worth the investment. By taking the necessary steps to understand your supporters and how they prefer to be engaged, you can dramatically improve engagement and more effectively carry out your mission.

Anything in particular you’d like us to write about? We want to hear from you! Email your suggestions to Jason@harrisonrand.com

Tell your story. Build your brand. The 5 types of video you should be thinking about right now.

The first thing I did this morning was scroll through my Instagram feed – it’s like a shot of espresso and gives my brain a visual jolt to get it going. In my feed was a sponsored Kickstarter video for a product called “Gravity,” a weighted blanket that claims to provide a more restful sleep by activating pressure points throughout the body, it was nicely executed, well timed and engaging. When I clicked through to the landing page, the campaign had raised over $4.4 million. Welcome to the new marketing power of video.

Online video content has skyrocketed, making up 80% of all Internet traffic in 2017. Video increases conversion and engagement rates more than any other content and is the #1 way to capture the attention of your market. Good video will keep your audiences happy and visitors to your site will stay longer all while giving your SEO (Search Engine Optimization) a big boost due to Google’s higher ranking of sites with deeper engagement. So whether you’re a small or large business, start-up or not-for-profit thinking about video, you’ll want to consider all the places your content will be, who your audience is and what you want them to learn and do after watching it.

1. The Testimonial Video:

Innovative businesses like Amazon and Yelp! have transformed testimonials into powerful marketing tools that build communities around products and experiences. Testimonial videos have that same ability to convert by delivering compelling and authentic messaging about your brand in a more dynamic way. Preparation is the key to a quality outcome so think about who you’ll be featuring in your video and why. Also important to consider are feelings and thoughts you want your audience to take away from watching. Draft a series of questions, some serious and maybe some fun, that really explore the who, what, where and why of your business’ unique selling proposition.

2. The Storytelling Video:

This approach is similar to a testimonial, but is more focused on the sharing of a personal and transformative story, providing deeper insight into a brand experience and eliciting an emotional response from the audience. This type of approach is particularly effective in the healthcare and educational sectors which face tough competition and rely on patient or student outcomes to differentiate their organizations and provide proof of excellence. As in the testimonial video approach, making this strategy work best for your brand requires preparation and the selection of the right subjects to help tell your story.

3. The “About Us” Video:

I think it’s fair to say that reading bios and LinkedIn profiles is not one of the more exciting online activities. The reality is, much of this writing starts to sound the same after a while. So think about producing a unique video which allows your audience to “meet” your team in a different way. Short introductions, interesting, fun facts, a day at your business, all help your message to break through the noise and differentiate your brand personality by engaging with your audience in a warm, fun, new and different way.

4. The Virtual Reality Video

VR (Virtual Reality) is fast becoming THE marketing industry buzzword for sectors like Real Estate where tenants and buyers are often only presented with computer generated renderings of lobbies, apartments and amenities while the property is being constructed. A VR video tour is next level marketing for companies who wish to immerse their audiences in a total brand experience anywhere they choose.

5. The Facebook Live Video

One of the newest and hottest trends to hit the social video world is Facebook Live (and IG stories) and allows users to engage with brands and businesses in real time. The many benefits and applications of the “Live” sessions feature are still being explored online, but consider a live Q&A, tour, event or demo. Be sure to add a description of your content and invite engagement from your audience often. Experimenting with new and different approaches will keep your audiences coming back for more and help spread the word.

Simply put, we’re living in a dynamic age of change and video is leading the way as the king of content and dramatically reshaping the marketing landscape for businesses of every type and scale. Get into it and you’ll be richly rewarded.

Please let me know how it goes and what you’d like to see in our next post: Jason@HarrisonRand.com

Thinking for Mobile – 5 Trends for 2017

For many of us, we start our days reaching for the mobile phone to turn off the alarm feature, read a notification about Trump’s latest tweet or check the weather or email. Mobile has now become a “hub,” enabling overall connectivity for consumers and opening doors to the internet-of-things, mobile payments, virtual reality and beyond.

By this year’s end, 75 percent of online content consumption will be mobile according to AdAge.  Still, many businesses, both large and small, are struggling with how to engage audiences to provide a richer, more unique mobile experience.

Here are 5 tips to keep in mind when moving into mobile and how thinking for mobile, can help focus your efforts.

 

#1 Mobile Mentality

When designing your banner ads, websites, Instagram posts and emails, think bold, clean and easy to read with a clear call to action. Hectic schedules and an on-the-go lifestyle combined with small touch screens present unique challenges when designing for the mobile experience. Keep clutter to a minimum.

 

#2 Mobile-Only Social

Since 80% of time spent on social media is mobile, marketers may want to make this their focus for 2017. Instagram and Snapchat are quickly growing and becoming important channels to consider to engage your mobile audience. Instagram, in particular, is providing many regional businesses with powerful features such as live streaming, in-app purchase and targeted advertising to enhance the mobile first experience.

TIP: Video advertising through Instagram has proven to be a valuable and cost-effective strategy to engage Hudson County target audiences.

 

#3 Video Wins

In the ongoing competition for attention, users and consumer behavior are transforming the ways in which brands are engaging audiences. As a result, social video is one of the key trends for mobility that is important to consider. YouTube reports that mobile video consumption rises 100% every year. Including video on a landing page can increase conversion rates by 80%.

TIP: Be sure to include sharing features when using video content and make sure to ask users to help spread your message.

 

#4 Geofencing on the Rise

All mobile devices feature location information through various network systems, by setting up geofencing businesses can engage mobile audiences within a defined geographic area. For regional events and trade shows geofencing has become an increasingly important strategy to target unique audiences.

TIP: Geofencing was used extensively and effectively in the Jersey City “Make It Yours” campaign to engage audiences at various mobile hubs throughout Brooklyn, NYC and Jersey City.


#5 Listen and Learn

Don’t forget to A/B test with your mobile messaging. When deploying in-app content through Facebook and Instagram, its recommended to run multiple campaigns with different creative and messaging to ensure that your efforts are as effective as possible and yielding the greatest ROI. Tracking performance and analytics can provide important clues to your audience’s behavior and where to take your marketing efforts moving forward to meet their needs. Listen to your audience and you’ll be richly rewarded.

The world of mobile is a complex, ever-changing landscape which is constantly evolving by aggregating important consumer data and insights. The result is a powerful marketing machine which is seamlessly adapting to user behavior by adding features and benefits to engage audiences in a deeper mobile brand experience. So whether you’re a Fortune 500 company or a small business, embracing mobility can help supercharge your marketing efforts through the coming years.

Please let me know how it goes and what you’d like to see in our next post: Jason@HarrisonRand.com

3 Easy Steps to Get Your Content Marketing Moving

Our last post explored ways to boost social engagement. Now, it’s time to put those tips to work and begin some basic planning of an integrated content marketing strategy. Research shows that “content marketing costs 62 percent less than traditional marketing and generates about three times as many leads.” Content marketing is defined as a program that centers on creating, publishing and distributing content to target audiences — usually online —  with the goal of attracting new customers.  According to a recent Demand Gen Report survey, 47 percent of B2B buyers consume three to five content pieces before engaging with a business. Yet, more than 70 percent of marketers lack a consistent content strategy. It’s clear that having a defined content strategy is critical to long term business health in a competitive landscape.

As the pace of marketing and business accelerates, having an effective, integrated, sustainable content marketing strategy has never been more important. The challenge is with so much information available online, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed.

 

#1 Getting started

Explore the value of the services or mission of the business or organization and then look at the target audience against an annual calendar. Now, look at the competition and see what they’re doing or not doing. Identify areas which may be weaknesses for them and think about how to do it better. This important step can help guide the process of building out a grid to organize efforts to effectively integrate and track opportunities along with content initiatives throughout the year. Compile lists of topics which are unique, interesting and relevant and break them into two categories. Compile another list of all the target markets to be engaged through these efforts.

TIP: Consistency in a topic through a cycle will streamline the process and lead to greater audience engagement and less confusion.

  • List one: Timely topics such as news, market cycles and events. For example, the healthcare industry’s need to address changes in insurance coverage and developments in the field or a not-for-profit’s participation in #GivingTuesday.
  • List two: Ideas for content which are focused on broader topics which are core to the brand. For example, real estate developers using video to address a project’s design philosophy or approach to urban planning.

Once the lists are complete, begin distributing the content throughout the grid to determine when the best time is during the year to develop and deploy everything.

TIP: Break the calendar into quarters to help simplify the process and make it less stressful.

 

#2 Choosing channels

Selecting where content should live is largely determined by a combination of factors such as audience behavior and engagement levels in context to the types of services provided. Below is an overview of some of the most effective:

  • Blogs: Many businesses don’t consider blogs, but they have been proven significant influencers of SEO, as well as, great ways to engage audiences around specific keyword sensitive topics in a timely fashion. For example: Recent changes in tax structures in the state are a great subject for an accounting or law firm to publish.
  • Social Media: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn all have different and often overlapping audiences along with their own unique strengths and weaknesses to consider.

TIP: Research and develop the content which resonates best with audiences. Good content can be used effectively and efficiently across all platforms.

For example: One video of a real estate developer’s interview discussing a new project can be used across all channels with the modification of copy.

  • Email: B2C email marketing is a cornerstone of online shopping. Every day brands deploy millions of emails to promote sales and new products. B2B strategies pivot on this idea by providing valuable insight and advice as “the product.” Round out the integrated content marketing plan by deploying an email strategy to coincide and support blog content. The correct coordination can lead to big results in lead generation.

 

#3 Setting up measurement systems

Managing the scheduling and tracking content performance is the critical final stage of building a plan. Research optimal times to deploy emails and post on Facebook or Instagram. All platforms today provide metrics such as open rate, CTR (click through rate) and engagement. The measurement of these initiatives provides insight and understanding into how content is being consumed to determine an ROI. Also, important in this process, is the opportunity it provides to identify positive patterns to be replicated and negative ones to be eliminated. For example: A video post that performed extremely well along with a high engagement rate will see significant sharing as well. If an audience likes it, make more.

 

Conclusion:

I hope that this overview has been helpful and provided a foundational understanding of the building blocks for an effective content marketing program. Being a successful content marketer isn’t complex, but it does take a large degree of effort and a commitment to consistency and learning.

Most importantly, practice is key. Tracking content performance through trial and error will yield a roadmap to success.

Please let me know how it goes and what you’d like to see in our next post: Jason@HarrisonRand.com

5 Proven Winners to Supercharge Your Facebook Engagement

For regional and national businesses, Social Media provides an unparalleled opportunity to target audiences, drive traffic to events, showcase newsworthy content, promote sales, generate leads and educate your community about the services and value you provide.

Capitalizing on all this opportunity, however, in the ever changing Social world has proven challenging for many businesses due to the various changes in audience behavior, ongoing platform modifications and an ever expanding community of users who are being exposed to literally millions of updates per day by various brands and messages. With so much competition online for attention, we thought it would be helpful to explore some easy to implement strategies to make sure that you are engaging your audiences as effectively as possible.

 

#1 Ask Questions 

Facebook is all about starting conversations. Imagine yourself in a room with a group of people you want to get to know better. For example, let’s look at Hudson County as a topic and see how to start the conversation. Here are some examples.

  • Specific: What’s your favorite part about living in Hudson County?
  • Timely: Today is the founding of Jersey City, how are you celebrating?
  • True or False: Bayonne is named after a region in France
  • Events: Who is attending Legends Ball 9?
  • Preference: What is your favorite place to eat in Hudson County?
  • Photo: Ask for a caption!

TIP: Don’t be disappointed if you only get a couple of answers in the beginning. Keep asking the right questions and you’ll be on your way to boosting your engagement. Don’t forget to add photos if appropriate, they can really make a difference.

 

#2 Try boost and/or pin features

Gone are the days of “organic reach” when you posted an update or an event and your members saw your content. Facebook’s every changing content distribution algorithm has proven one of the most challenging hurtles for businesses. However, Facebook does offer a number of very effective tools such as pinning and boosting to help you promote your content to your existing page members as well as target new audiences.

  • Pinning is free and will move your post to the top of your Page’s Timeline and an icon will appear on the post. Your pinned post will stay at the top of your Page’s Timeline for 7 days. After that, it’ll return to the date it was published on your Page’s Timeline.
  • Boosting will require some budget allocation depending on the size of your desired target market. These strategies have proven to be extremely effective to target regional audiences and the reach can be enormous based on your budget.  To learn more about the process: https://www.facebook.com/business/learn/

TIP: Be sure to track your efforts to see how many likes, shares and clicks you get. If you’re going to begin boosting it’s always a good idea to start off conservatively and then add to your budget based on performance. Maybe try boosting two posts with different content to the same audience and see which performs better.

 

#3 Timing is Everything

Timing matters when it comes to posting. Collectively, there are 31.25 million messages shared every minute—half a million messages each second!  Knowing when to engage with your audience is critical. Taking into account work schedules and commuting times, studies have shown that posting at either 12 PM or after 7 PM is best, with Thursday considered to be the best day of the week for traffic.

TIP: As mobility continues to rise and Facebook refines its app, posting and engagement times will likely reflect a more diverse pattern of user behavior.

 

#4 Use (good) photography

It’s no secret that photos engage audiences, but did you know that posts with images see 2.3x more engagement than those without? Even more compelling is the gallery feature which allows users to create a portfolio of images. Uploading several photos in one post creates a gallery of thumbnails which entice users to click to enlarge. 

TIP: Try testing a few different variations with albums for different events and/or products. Tracking your efforts here too can also prove helpful as you continue to engage your audiences

 

#5 Video

From the end of 2014, to the end of 2015, video on Facebook grew by a staggering 7 billion views per day. And this is only the beginning. By the end of 2015, videos uploaded directly to Facebook had received 2x the views and 7x the engagement as compared to embedded videos on YouTube. Overall, the stats regarding engagement are compelling and although video may take some time, effort and some allocation of funds, it is proven to be worth it. For marketers, not only does video provide a deeper engagement opportunity with your brand and business, but it also generates up to 135% more organic reach that just photography!

TIP: Why not try “Facebook Live” for your next speaking engagement or event? People spend 3x more time watching Live video than non on Facebook.

 

I hope that you’ve found these useful and that soon you’ll be on your way to growing your Facebook audience. As you do, you’ll learn meaningful insights into your community and the value they place in your brand and business. Remember, don’t be afraid to ask them to share your message to help you grow!