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Is Marketing Automation Right for You?

That depends. Are you striving to grow revenue and maximize efficiencies within your organization? If you’re thinking, “of course, who isn’t?” then, yes, marketing automation could be a valuable solution for your business. Companies of all sizes — from small shops to large enterprises — and across all industries — including both B2B and B2C categories — are adopting marketing automation as a way to enhance the selling of goods and services.

But before you dive in, it’s important to understand what marketing automation is and, perhaps more importantly, what it isn’t.

Marketing automation is classified as a category of software. It’s the technology that companies use to simplify, automate and gauge their marketing efforts. In fact, it is central to some of today’s most popular marketing practices, including initiatives like: lead generation, relationship marketing, upselling and retention.

Essentially, an automated marketing platform gives users the tools they need to make these modern applications truly effective. For instance, within this type of software, you might find email marketing, landing pages with forms, campaign management, lead scoring and marketing analytics, among others.

Now, let’s discuss a few things marketing automation is not. First, it is not merely email marketing, and it certainly is not a fancy way to send spam. Marketing automation includes all media, not just online components. It uses insights to connect companies to their customers in meaningful ways. Sure, it can be used to send email, but that’s not its core goal.

This type of software isn’t just for the marketing department, either. It provides benefits to other areas of an organization as well, including sales and customer engagement. For instance, it provides the tools necessary to nurture relationships with leads that aren’t quite ready to buy. It can also help to retain and deepen customer relationships via strategies like cross-selling. You might say marketing automation helps companies increase revenue, which is important to all departments.

So marketing automation sounds like it could take your business to the next level, right? Well, only if you approach it with strategy. Like all software platforms, marketing automation will not deliver on its promises without effort. To truly capitalize on its value, your company must be willing to invest in a comprehensive implementation and support strategy. In other words, the technology isn’t magic, and it will fail, if your company does not establish a plan for using it.

GO2 Advertising knows the value of strategy and how it can positively impact any marketing effort. We believe in strategy empowering creative, so that creative generates results. And that same philosophy guides our approach to implementing software like marketing automation. Strategy should be at the core of all marketing initiatives.

Sources:

Marketo, Inc.

Adding Content Marketing to Your Strategy
Adding Content Marketing to Your Strategy

Every day, consumers are bombarded with an endless stream of marketing speak. From traditional forms of advertising on TV and radio to less conventional approaches like guerilla marketing and social media, persuasive copy litters the landscape. And every execution has a very similar goal: to move prospects through the sales funnel, transforming them from mere consumers into valued customers. This everyday phenomenon has created a culture in which consumers routinely tune out many of the marketing messages they encounter.

So how can marketers succeed in a world where traditional advertising is becoming less and less effective? The simple answer: content marketing. Because while consumers are shying away from traditional forms of advertising, they are increasingly seeking out the genuine, useful information provided by content marketing.

But what is content marketing exactly? According to the Content Marketing Institute, “content marketing is a marketing technique of creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract and acquire a clearly defined audience — with the objective of driving profitable customer action.”

In other words, it’s the soft sell. Content marketing has an innate ability to attract and retain customers by consistently providing them with relevant and valuable information. Sure, the goal is ultimately to change consumer behavior, but first, it positions the content supplier as a trusted thought leader in the space. Consumers build confidence in the selling organization because it is ultimately creating a win-win relationship. The business delivers the valuable content that might otherwise be unavailable, and consumers reward the business by making purchases and demonstrating loyalty.

This type of marketing is very different from the more traditional forms of persuasive messaging. At its core, content marketing is all about communicating with prospects without attempting to sell anything — other than maybe your expertise. You become a source, a reference for meaningful content. Essentially, you deliver relevant and consistent materials that matter to the audiences you’re hoping to attract to your products or services.

It’s non-intrusive, sure, but it’s marketing all the same. So, while you are positioning your expertise above the immediate sale, you still have to develop attractive, significant materials for clearly defined audiences. Like all other forms of marketing, content marketing shares the goal of getting the right information to the right people at the right time. In this case, however, instead of hard selling your products or services, you’re delivering information, positioning yourself as the go-to source in the space and making your prospects more intelligent because of it.

This is content marketing, and it’s changing the way organizations are reaching their prospects. It’s certainly not an approach that every business can or should take, but its merits are worth considering. Perhaps content marketing should have a place in your strategy during the coming year.

Healthcare Marketing Impact Awards
National recognition for our work.

GO2 Advertising has been awarded GOLD at the National Healthcare Marketing IMPACT Awards for its EyeMed Interactive Roadmap microsite. The gold ranking gave GO2 the distinction of Digital Campaign of the Year for Insurers at the first annual event. This marks the second major award given to GO2 for this creative work.

What is the National Healthcare IMPACT Awards? It’s a partnership between Modern Healthcare and Advertising Age to recognize the best that healthcare has to offer in advertising, marketing, promotion and communication campaigns across all media platforms.

Not only has the Interactive Roadmap garnered national accolades, the site also generates over 10,000 visits every month — making it a win-win for GO2 and EyeMed.

To see our award-winning design and execution for yourself, click here.

Following our IMPACT Award win, GO2 continues to earn recognition for exceptional work in 2015. At this year’s American Advertising Federation Cleveland ADDY Awards, we brought home a total of four trophies.

A Silver ADDY was awarded for our work on Hooked, a mobile app that allows students to find exclusive short-term offers from businesses on and around college campuses.

In addition, GO2 earned three Bronze ADDY Awards — two for our logo and sales promotion campaign for the Sherwin-Williams® AcromaPro™ brand, and one recognizing our consumer website development for the National Inventors Hall of Fame.

 

Augmented Reality
Augmented Reality is the next dimension of advertising.

Have you experienced Augmented Reality? This innovative technology takes traditional media to the next level — and it’s a GO2 specialty.

AR is an app-based advertising solution. It uses a trigger, detectable via a smart device, to transform a traditional marketing piece into an interactive experience. Creative elements within an advertisement are brought to life through video and 3D renderings. AR is the newest way to create impactful, effective and meaningful engagement among consumers.

Make no mistake. Augmented Reality is not a passing fad. It’s a practical, cutting-edge solution that is expected to grow at unprecedented rates over the next few years.

  • In 2014, around 30% of mobile subscribers will use AR at least once in a week.
  • In 2014, more than 864 million smartphones will have AR enabled in them.
  • By 2017, more than 2.5 billion mobile AR apps will be downloaded.*

GO2 believes in highly customized Augmented Reality solutions, which means we develop the experience to meet your exact specifications and creative insights.

Click here to view our demo reel.

*Jackson, Christopher, “Augmented Reality: How Has It Changed in 2013?” Augmented Reality Trends. Digital Imperia Pvt. Ltd., 21 Dec. 2013.

The Top 5 Marketing Mistakes
Avoiding the common marketing pitfalls

Successful marketing is not any one thing. It is an impeccably choreographed effort — a series of carefully planned steps. When executed properly, marketing has the power to connect you with the right people, in the right place, at the right time. Too often, though, mistakes are made in the marketing process. This can cost you significant amounts of wasted time, energy and money. To help your marketing succeed, it is important to identify the most common hiccups along the way.

So here they are, the Top 5 Marketing Mistakes — along with a few tips on how to avoid any missteps.

1. Skipping the Research Step

Here’s the simple truth: your brand cannot be all things to all people. Before going to market, you need to narrowly define your target audience. You should also map out the competitive environment and have a comprehensive understanding of how your brand fits into it. So how do you figure all of this out? Research. It may seem like a simple, unnecessary task, but it is perhaps the most important step in the entire marketing process. It eliminates the guesswork.

2. Going to Market without a Strategy

Once you have completed your research, you need to develop a plan. This starts by organizing and defining exactly what you hope to accomplish, how you plan to get there and how you are going to determine whether or not you succeeded. This strategy is essentially your roadmap moving forward. All tactics developed from this point on will stem from this direction. It is the be-all and end-all. This document needs to be clear and well thought out.

3. Sending Mixed Messages

Your brand has a unique personality. Use it to your advantage. From your research, you know who will buy your product or service and why they will be attracted to it. Within the strategy document, you have defined your brand’s various features and benefits, as well as its unique selling proposition. Now, all you have to do is stay the course. Follow your strategy and go to market with a clear and concise message about your brand. Approaching your target audience with mixed messages will not only confuse them, it will negatively impact your brand recognition and eat away at your niche in the marketplace. Keep things simple, and remember the core value your brand offers.

4. Underestimating the Customer

Your customers are your lifeline. If they are not satisfied with your product or service, you will not succeed. Your research will tell you exactly who they are and how to reach them, but it will not tell you how to keep them happy. This is where you really need to pay attention. Customers come in all shapes and sizes — some will be incredibly happy, others will be utterly disappointed. If you fail to address the concerns of unsatisfied customers, you are doing yourself a great disservice. These are the very people who will continuously push you to be better, and to do better every step of the way. If you brush them aside or underestimate their role in your success, your brand will not live up to its full potential.

5. Failing to Use a Marketing Mix

There are countless ways to reach your target audience. Failing to understand and utilize the very best avenues will limit your success. Media is much different today than it was in the past. Traditional methods might not work for your brand, even if they work for your competition. Continuously reevaluate the way you approach your target audience, and don’t be afraid to try new means of communication. There are a lot of different ways to get your message out. Use them.

Remember, successful marketing is a well-thought-out plan, executed flawlessly over time. Avoiding these common mistakes will help you make the most of your marketing efforts.

Successful Cause Marketing

How companies are helping themselves by helping others

We see it every day ─ companies and brands touting their goodwill endeavors, in an effort to attract more consumers to their products and services. This is referred to as cause marketing, or cause-related marketing ─ a type of marketing where the cooperative efforts of a for-profit business and those of a non-profit organization are mutually beneficial. Although cause marketing is certainly not a new concept, its use has become somewhat prolific in recent years. In fact, cause marketing has become a part of our social fabric. As consumers, we expect businesses large and small to give money, resources and time to the very same efforts we stand behind every day. Businesses, for the most part, understand this, and they’ve taken it upon themselves to give to those in need.

But cause marketing isn’t just about giving; it requires a company to publicize its philanthropic efforts as well. A recent example of well-executed cause marketing is Coca-Cola’s work in the Philippines. The beverage company is suspending brand advertising in the country to direct the money toward typhoon relief aid. In addition to the money diverted from advertising expenditures, Coca-Cola has also donated $2.5 million in cash and kind. How do we know all this? Coca-Cola told us, and, as expected, the company is being praised by the media and consumers alike for its generosity. After all, consumers can’t support a company and its goodwill efforts if they don’t know about them.

Another great way to execute cause marketing is to ask consumers to participate in your philanthropic efforts with you. Take, for instance, Subaru of America’s “Share the Love” event, which takes place throughout the year, but heats up during the particularly charitable holiday season. During this time, Subaru donates $250 for every new vehicle sold or leased to the customer’s choice of the following charities: ASPCA®, Make-A-Wish®, Meals On Wheels Association of America®, National Park Foundation and Teach for America. By the end of its sixth year, this cause marketing event could raise up to $35 million for charity, but to reach that goal, consumers must be willing to join in on the effort.

Still, other brands make cause marketing part of their core mission, giving every time their products or services are purchased. Some examples include: the PEDIGREE® Feeding Project, which provides shelter dogs with a consistent, nutritious diet, helping them stay happy and healthy as they wait to find a forever home; The Tide® Loads of Hope™ program, which provides relief in times of disaster by means of a mobile laundromat; Dawn Saves Wildlife, which has been an important part of rescuing and releasing more than 75,000 animals affected by oil pollution; and Pampers®’ 1 Pack = 1 Vaccine, which supports UNICEF’s Maternal and Neonatal Tetanus Elimination Program, a global campaign to protect the lives of mothers and babies in less-industrialized countries.

Clearly, great cause marketing isn’t black and white, nor is there only one right way to implement such efforts. In fact, there are a great number of ways to execute such initiatives successfully, as the examples above illustrate. Nevertheless, there are some general guidelines to consider before diving into a cause marketing campaign.

  1. Understand marketing. Before you can do great cause marketing, you first have to understand the essential elements of marketing to your specific target audience. In all of the examples listed above, the brands involved first established themselves as great marketers ─ and understood how this would affect their philanthropic choices. Coca-Cola, for example, is a worldwide brand, and its cause marketing reflects this.
  2. Support reputable causes. If you’re going to give large amounts of money, resources or time to a philanthropic cause, you must first do your homework. Not all charities are created equal, and if you choose one whose record is less than squeaky clean, your patrons will find out about it. This will inevitably cause you more harm than good. So, be thorough and check every detail. If you can’t find exactly what you’re looking for, create a cause like Tide did with its Loads of Hope program.
  3. Maintain transparency. If you want consumers to join your cause, you have to make it easy and transparent for them to do so. Pampers’ 1 Pack = 1 Vaccine is an excellent example of this. It’s simple and straightforward. Consumers know exactly what they’re contributing when they choose to purchase Pampers over the competition.
  4. Think mainstream. Would the majority of your patrons support the effort you’re supporting? If the answer is a resounding yes, then your charity choice is probably a safe one. Great cause marketing serves its target audience first and foremost. Purchasers of PEDIGREE clearly support the welfare of homeless dogs, but if your target audience is more diverse like that of Subaru, then you’ll need to support mainstream efforts or provide choices.
  5. Stay consistent. This isn’t to say you can’t change charities from time to time or give to a variety of different causes, but it’s usually best to be as predictable as possible in the eyes of consumers. If you want to be known as a company that gives generously, then you’ll need to repeatedly give in a consistent manner. This way, consumers will come to see you in a charitable light time and time again, reinforcing your goodwill image. Dawn, for instance, has been saving wildlife for more than 30 years.

Any way you execute it, cause marketing is making a real impact – not only for those who benefit from the causes being supported, but also for companies that wish to shutter the image of corporate greed too often associated with high earnings. In other words, helping others in an effort to help yourself is not necessarily a bad thing. Consumers have come to both accept and appreciate companies that go above and beyond in the name of charitable causes. If you do choose to follow the path of cause marketing, first understand all of your options and the consequences associated with them. Only then will you be seen as a company that cares more about people than profit.

Man’s Best Friend and Coworker?

The strategy behind dogs in the workplace

When the stress of juggling multiple responsibilities and tight deadlines at work becomes overwhelming, my first instinct is to cuddle up with my pups for a quiet night of relaxation. As it turns out, there’s scientific evidence to support the appeal of canine companionship at times like these.

According to a Virginia Commonwealth University study, our four-legged friends could have a very positive impact when it comes to reducing workplace stress and enhancing job satisfaction. The study found little difference in employees’ stress levels at the start of the day. However, as the day progressed, stress declined for employees who had their dog present and increased for employees who did not have their dog present. Stress also increased for those employees who did not own pets. For employees with dogs, stress was also significantly greater on days when they left their dog at home compared to days when the dog was in the workplace.

The presence of dogs at work has also been known to enhance interaction among employees. When people interact with dogs, they experience a positive hormonal reaction. This creates a feeling of relaxation, which is as much associated with the dog’s owner as it is with the dog. Essentially, dogs help co-workers build connections ─ even during the briefest exchanges of positive sentiments.

Clearly, a dog-friendly workplace can be advantageous to employees, but what about the company as a whole? Incorporating a strategy of pet-inclusion can serve as a low-cost wellness intervention for many companies. It has been attributed to boosting employee productivity and perceptions of support, as well as lowering absenteeism and promoting healthy habits like taking a walk from time to time throughout the day.

Of course, every company interested in adopting a policy related to pups in the workplace must have rules in place to ensure only friendly, clean and well-behaved pets are present. Likewise, eating areas, restrooms and private offices should be considered off limits to workplace canines. All dogs who participate in the program should also be required to get along with all types of people and other animals. Not every dog is equipped to handle life in an office, and owners must recognize when their pup’s behavior is unfit for a work environment.

Allowing dogs in the workplace is a growing phenomenon that appeals to a great number of employees. However, further research with larger sample sizes and greater versatility is needed to continuously monitor the true effects of dogs at work over time. And like all strategies in business, the strategy of incorporating dogs into the daily workplace routine should not be taken lightly. It involves a great number of considerations and precautions, but it also has the potential to reap significant benefits for all involved.

Advertising vs. Marketing

Understanding the Essential Difference

Many people confuse advertising with marketing, or even use the two words interchangeably when describing the process of bringing a good or service to market. However, despite their many similar traits, the two activities are quite different. In fact, advertising is but one small portion of the larger marketing ensemble. Don’t get me wrong — both activities are incredibly important and complex in nature, but each possesses a variety of distinct characteristics. And knowing the difference can significantly impact the success of your next business endeavor.

According to dictionary.com, the following definitions apply to advertising and marketing, respectively:

  • Advertising: the act or practice of calling public attention to one’s product, service, need, etc., especially by paid announcements in newspapers and magazines, over radio or television, on billboards, etc.
  • Marketing: the total of activities involved in the transfer of goods from the producer or seller to the consumer or buyer, including advertising, shipping, storing and selling.

Although some might argue that these two definitions make the difference between the two activities about as clear as mud, the explanations do offer some insight into the fact that advertising is one of four fundamental pieces of the marketing puzzle.

So let’s think back to our days as students in Marketing 101. If we really dust off the cobwebs, we’ll recall the 4Ps of the marketing mix:

  • Product
  • Place (distribution)
  • Price
  • Promotion

In other words, the entire goal of marketing is to get the right product in the right place, at the right price, at the right time. It really is that simple — or as most marketing professionals would put it, incredibly complex. Clearly, marketing is vast and far-reaching, with a lot of moving parts. This means a great marketing department works very closely with many other divisions within an organization, such as research & development, logistics, finance, etc., to hone its strategies and find success in the marketplace.

Right about now, you’re probably asking yourself, so where does advertising fit into all of this? Well, advertising is a core component within the promotion aspect of the marketing mix. After all, if consumers don’t know the right product is in the right place, at the right price, when they need or want it, how can they purchase it? They can’t. This is the goal of advertising: to communicate — typically in an encouraging or persuasive manner — to a target audience that a product or service they want or need is available, and that they should take some sort of action as it relates to the product or service — in most cases, to buy it. In other words, advertising simply gets the word out. Granted, “getting the word out” is an expansive and complex task, but that’s a conversation for another day.

So there you have it. Marketing is this great big pie, with many different slices, one of which is advertising. To confuse the activities or to translate their meanings as interchangeable is really to do a great disservice to both. Marketing is a high-level, macro approach to getting a product or service to market, whereas advertising takes on the nitty-gritty, micro details of telling the right people a product or service is available to them and that they need or want it, in a way that attracts attention.

Strategy: Carved in Stone and Written in the Sand?

“The best-laid schemes of mice and men go often awry.”
-Robert Burns, 1785

The importance of strategic planning cannot be overstated. Without a course of action, goals go unachieved and metrics miss their mark. In fact, strategic planning is arguably the most important part of an organization’s success. It essentially determines the effectiveness of all other efforts and serves as a guiding light during difficult times. Although easier in the short-term, it is never advisable to drift with only unpredictable external conditions as your guide.

But what exactly is strategic planning and how do organizations make it work? Well, strategic planning is like a bridge you build to take your organization from where it is to where you’d like it to be. Strictly speaking, it is an organization’s process of defining goals, strategy and objectives, and then making decisions and allocating the resources necessary to make such initiatives a reality. This process helps an organization determine where it is headed over the next year or perhaps even the next 3 to 5 years.

Seems simple enough, but to make it work, organizations must approach strategic planning as a process. It is not a static, annual event. It is a dynamic, ever-changing mentality about where you’re going and how you’re going to get there. Strategic plans should never be set in stone, but rather treated as a framework for everyday problem-solving. This context for moving forward should also be shared throughout an organization. Strategic planning isn’t just for the executive suite. It should be passed through the ranks and embraced by employees at all levels of the organization. If you succeed in incorporating these characteristics into your strategic plan, your organization should be on the right path.

Still, it is import to remember that even the very best, most thought-out strategic plans cannot predict the future. After all, strategic plans are based on assumptions about how the future will unfold and how your organization will capitalize on such events. Strategic planning certainly reduces risk, but it does not guarantee success — especially if your strategic plan is solid and unwavering. As Robert Burns pointed out as far back as 1785, too often, plans go awry.

Think about it. Things change. The economic climate, consumer preferences, technology and so much else have changed in recent years and continue to change, almost daily in some cases. If your strategic plan lacks the ability to evolve with these changing conditions, you could be in trouble. Take, for example, the most successful and well-respected businesses on the planet. They didn’t get to where they are today by always staying the course and refusing to change with the tide. Instead, they planned for the future and adjusted as necessary to changing conditions. Certainly, some did much better than others, but all evolved over time.

From car and electronics manufacturers to retailers and mortgage brokers, all successful companies have been faced with strategic plans that didn’t square with current conditions. Even beloved children’s characters need to readjust their strategic plans from time to time. For forty years, Cookie Monster was a single-minded creature obsessed with one thing — eating cookies. But as concerns about childhood obesity intensified, Cookie Monster was faced with a dilemma: adjust his strategic plan for the future or risk losing his beloved reputation. He made the right choice, changing his mantra, as well as his diet. He now enjoys diverse nutrition and lives by the motto that “cookies are a sometimes food.”

Sure, Cookie Monster is a silly example, but he exemplifies the very framework all successful strategic plans share — they are a flexible, ever-changing approach to the future of your organization. In other words, they’re written in the sand, not carved in stone.