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How to Use Emotional Targeting in Ad Campaigns

Emotions are powerful. We all know that. But what’s not so obvious is that when it comes to advertising campaigns, focusing on emotional elements can heighten the quality of your storytelling and the authenticity of your content, as well as consumer engagement and brand affinity.

Emotions are so powerful in campaigns that they can even evoke a greater intent to buy. In fact, Kissmetrics Blog mentions a research study, conducted by Pringle & Field, that finds “emotional campaigns outperform on almost every metric.” This includes revenue, profit and share gain.

So how do we successfully, and gracefully, use emotional targeting in our campaigns? What emotional aspects can we research and tap into? Read on to find out!

Psychological triggers

Emotions can lead people to take certain actions. So when developing a campaign, you’ll really need to think about why people are buying. Think about your product or service. Does it create a certain feeling — good or bad? Could it possibly make consumers think of specific life events? How do those life events correlate to their possible emotions? In general, feelings of happiness lead to more responses, shares and ultimately, sales.

This approach actually has a name: it’s called joy marketing. Eventbrite does this well in its Facebook ads. It makes sense — Eventbrite is an online event registration company for social events, so of course the ads should be inclusive to all and display happy people. However, other brands can take note of this strategy and apply it to their ads as well.

Throughout Eventbrite’s Facebook ads, you can see the company using three main tactics to elicit a certain emotion:

  • Bright and contrasting colors
  • Photos with smiling people
  • Language with positive connotation

What’s the underlying message each of these tactics is sending? Happiness. And this becomes two-fold. The viewer will likely feel the positivity that the ad exudes and begin to associate that with the specific offer and the brand itself.

Memories and associations

Similar to psychological triggers, memories and associations also play a large role in the buying process. No matter what your product is, you’ll want to extract the happiness out of it however you can. If it’s a product that’s typically associated with happy times, then you’re ahead of the game. If not, you’ll need to find a way to associate it with something positive in sentiment. When people connect your brand to happy memories or life events, you’re creating the emotion needed for more interaction and more intent to purchase.

Let’s take TurboTax for example. We all know that tax season isn’t exactly everyone’s favorite time of year. The reality is, TurboTax is starting on the negative end of the spectrum simply through association of a less-than-ideal life event. However, the company has a great opportunity to create a positive angle, which it has clearly recognized and implemented. In its advertising, TurboTax ties in meaningful life events (marriages, birth of children, etc.) to show that they can use those events to get their customers a higher tax return. It created positive emotions for the customer for multiple reasons: they’re reminded of those happy times, which can distract them from the burden of tax season, and they now understand that this company can get them more money. TurboTax found a strategic way to creatively extract the positive aspects out of its service.

Regardless of your product’s usual sentiment, you can apply creativity to showcase the positivity. We look at Hershey’s Chocolate for a great example of this. The company tweeted an Easter message with the copy, “Who makes your #Easter all the more sweet? #HelloHappy.” The picture includes Hershey’s chocolate and two small children enjoying the chocolate in all their holiday happiness. See the ad here. The sweets company mastered it with this one: associating positive memories with the product and making people truly intertwine the two — almost like you can’t imagine a happy Easter without your Hershey’s chocolate bunny.

Social aspects

It only makes sense that social elements would play into these buying emotions, as well. Feelings of inclusion and belonging go a long way when people are considering different products. More specifically, consumers want to relate to the people they see in the ads or even feel like they’re involved with a meaningful cause. If they feel like they belong with those people, or feel like they could belong if they bought the product, they’re more likely to purchase.

This can be a tricky one to master, but we see companies like Coca-Cola doing this well. For instance, look at the company’s “I’d Like to Buy the World a Coke” campaign. This shows the effectiveness of social input in advertising dating back to the 1970s! The company saw enormous brand engagement through this campaign, receiving more than 100,000 letters that shared consumers’ approval and also made requests for music for future commercials. The soft drink company was able to capture the essence of consumer engagement using positive emotions and feelings of happiness and togetherness.

The efforts from Coca-Cola still live on today, as it brought back the “Share a Coke” campaign and used the personal touch of first names on the cans. It uses the same emotional positioning of inclusiveness and friendship as its campaign in the 1970s. Check out the more recent campaign here.

FOMO

Sorry, what?

FOMO: a term that Millennials have created that stands for “fear of missing out.” Essentially, it’s a feeling that comes up when a person sees something happening that they think would be fun or cool, and they don’t want to miss out on it. Although it’s a relatively new term, it is a serious physiological element to consider. People alter their lifestyles, routines and schedules in order to not experience FOMO, so brands can certainly benefit from getting a grasp on this emotional concept.

Who can you learn from in this area? A company focused on growing website traffic called Sumo. The brand uses a sense of both exclusivity and urgency to leverage feelings of FOMO within the consumer. How? The company includes copy in its Facebook ads that make it seem as though everyone else is already using the software and that if you’re not yet using it, you’re missing out. According to the Kissmetrics Blog, Sumo uses these four considerations in its copy strategy:

  • Includes a number of users already reaping the benefits of the service (which is huge in the business of website traffic growth, as you wouldn’t want your competitors to get ahead)
  • Asks a question, hinting to something great that the viewer is missing out on
  • Makes the reader curious about the community and entices them to want to be a part of it
  • Gives a time limit on the offer, adding to the sense of urgency

You can see the company’s example here.

As you can see, there are so many considerations for emotional input during the buying process. With plenty of opportunities for tapping into these emotions, research and strategy are essential — you need to know your consumer well enough to understand how they’ll react.

Have you experienced the effects of emotional targeting? Or maybe your company has taken this approach? Tell us about your experience in the comments below.

Sources:

Kissmetrics — How Emotional Targeting Converts More Leads
Kissmetrics — 12 Genius Ways to Apply Emotional Marketing to Facebook Ads
HubSpot

Reaching Your Audience in the Right Way: A Review of Recent Ads

In advertising, not only are you trying to reach the desired target demographic for your product or service, but it’s important you reach them in the right way. Your message has to resonate with them in order for your ad to be effective, and the message can come in many forms: the channel, the design, the timing, the actual copy and more. So, there’s a lot to consider!

And that’s why it’s so important for brands and their marketing departments and ad agencies to prioritize research and strategy before they implement. Each ad campaign needs to be well thought out and viewed from diverse perspectives in order to refine the message and communicate effectively to the intended audience.

Advertisers can learn from the missteps of the soft drink giant Pepsi when it comes to considering these other viewpoints. While the intention was to deliver a message that’s relevant to current events and to make an emotional impact, it’s indisputable that the recent ad from Pepsi with Kendall Jenner, dubbed the “Live for Now Moments Anthem,” was poorly received. In a recent statement, Pepsi claimed, “This is a global ad that reflects people from different walks of life coming together in a spirit of harmony, and we think that’s an important message to convey.” While the intention may have been positive, the public reaction clearly indicates that the message missed the mark and was largely regarded as tone deaf and even offensive.

Other brands can take away from this as well. As they continue to try to relate to current events and create powerful themes, they don’t always realize how the message could be misconstrued. It’s not that they have to water it down; they just have to remain diverse in their mindset, which can create an impact that’s even stronger and longer lasting.

While Pepsi failed in an attempt to capture the spirit of a social movement, other brands are stumbling as they try to insert their own messages into larger discussions on gender and human rights. With women controlling roughly 80% of consumer spending, advertisers need to do a better job of reaching women in a way that shows they understand and respect them. The examples below prove it can be done with grace and tact — that is, when brands listen to their audience, take the right approach, treat heavy subjects with respect and make their messages strong and clear.

 

Build an authentic understanding of your audience.

The example here is from SickKids Foundation. This ad is intensely moving, delivering an accurate depiction of an emotional subject. How do we know that? The foundation, and its ad agency Cossette, took the time to research and to talk to mothers whose kids are severely ill. They also included five real moms in the ad, which allowed the moms to share as much as they’d like while also providing authenticity to the message. Watch the ad below for a powerful message that aligns with the intended audience.

https://www.fastcompany.com/40405580/new-sickkids-ad-spotlights-the-unbelievable-strength-of-mom?utm_content=buffer9b956&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer

Approach sensitive subjects carefully and respectfully.

In this example, Audi does an excellent job with a topic that could easily be mishandled. The main lesson here is that sensitive subjects should be handled with grace and respect — and it can be really powerful when done correctly. You must be cognizant of whether you’re taking a topic seriously enough or using imagery that perhaps isn’t the best use for a commercial. If there are any questions about it, just don’t do it.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G6u10YPk_34

 

Make sure your message and intentions are clear.

If your audience doesn’t understand your message, your advertising is not working and you risk offending them or even harming your brand. If there’s even a chance that it could be misinterpreted, you should either revise your approach or scrap the idea altogether. In recent efforts, REI is joining the fight for gender equality, specifically in the outdoor realm. The ad below does a great job with message clarity and intention, even with a sensitive topic.

https://www.fastcompany.com/40401325/rei-is-taking-the-fight-for-gender-equality-outside

 

What do you think about these companies’ approaches? Have you seen other ads recently that really hit the mark for their respective demographic? Let us know in the comments section.

The Why and How of Writing a Great Tagline

Slogan, motto, tagline — no matter what you call it, it’s more challenging to create than you might think. So if you’re going to take on this challenge, it’s best to give some thought to the “why” before you start working through the “how.”
 
 
 

Why might you want to develop a tagline?
  • To introduce yourself — a new business can make a great first impression with an effective tagline.
  • To clarify your purpose — your brand name may not tell your audience what you do, but your tagline can.
  • To differentiate your brand — the right words can help you stand apart from your competition.
  • To make an emotional connection — a thoughtful turn of phrase can support brand affinity.

While a tagline may not be an absolute necessity, it can be an asset to your brand if it’s executed well. Once you’ve given some thought to your “why” — and you’ve decided you’re brave enough to give tagline writing a shot — the following steps can help.

talent

1. Answer these essential questions:
  • Do you have a voice?
    If you don’t have a brand voice, it is my sworn duty to advise you to take care of this now. Your voice should serve as the foundation for your entire brand. You need to know your brand’s tone before you can apply it to a tagline — or to any messaging at all.
  • What do you do — and why do you do it?
    Even if your brand provides a long list of products and services, you should be able to succinctly state what it is you do, as well as why you do it. Do you have a mission statement? A brand story? If not, see the previous question. And if so, try boiling these statements down and you may already be halfway to your tagline.
  • What makes you special?
    In other words, what is your Unique Selling Proposition? Your USP is your differentiator — so you definitely don’t want to lose sight of it as you develop a tagline. In fact, you may find that your tagline can come directly from your USP, perhaps in the form of a few words or a key phrase.
  • Why should anyone care?
    How will your audience benefit from choosing your brand over others? Why might your audience feel a connection to your brand, your mission or your point of view? When you’re creating a tagline, you can’t forget who you’re trying to reach, and why they’d want to hear from you.

talent

2. Just start writing.

Often, the hardest part of writing anything at all is just getting started. Start by writing down some phrases that answer the questions above, keeping your “why” in mind.

  • Try different approaches.
    You might want a short sentence or phrase (like Strategy Empowering Creative) or maybe just a series of words (Seek. Learn. Create.) You might try crafting a mini mission statement or summarizing your brand’s philosophy by starting a phrase with “Because.” By experimenting with different formats and approaches, you’ll find the one that works best for your brand and your message.
  • Keep it simple.
    No matter what format your tagline may take on, you’ll want it to be simple. First of all, you won’t want it taking up a lot of room wherever you use it. And more importantly, you want it to be effective. So keep it short, then see if you can make it any shorter. And if you go with a series of words, a string of three nearly always works best.
  • Don’t hesitate to ask for help.
    Writing isn’t as easy as it looks. That’s precisely why some of us are able to make a living doing it. Great taglines aren’t created in an instant; they take strategy and skill. So if you’re not sure you can get the job done on your own (and particularly if you don’t have a brand voice in place), there’s no shame in getting someone with experience to help you out.

talent

3. Narrow it down.

Once you’ve got a fairly long list of possibilities, make it a short list. Eliminate the weakest lines. Then eliminate some more. You might want to start by categorizing your ideas (taglines that say what you do vs. ones that say what you believe, for instance), so that it’s easier to identify your strongest options.

  • Don’t overthink it.
    You can make quick work of the elimination process. Some taglines might not feel right, and even if you can’t pinpoint exactly why, it’s okay to simply strike those ideas from your list and move on.
  • Get feedback.
    Don’t think you have to develop your tagline all on your own, even if your business is a one-person show. You can of course hire a professional to handle this job, but in any case, asking others for some constructive feedback is never a bad idea.

talent

4. Walk away for a bit — then make your tagline official.

It’s helpful to let an idea simmer for a while. Leave the project alone for a day, and when you return to it, you’ll be able to eliminate some more options. You might also realize that an idea you’d thought was good is actually great.

When you select your ideal tagline, remember that it’s not permanent. Like any element of a brand, it can shift and evolve along with your business. The key is finding the right words to represent who you are right now.

Our Strategic Partnership with Comcast: Three Years and Counting

Here at GO2, relationship building is one of our core strengths. We know the more we can collaborate and build partnerships with our clients, the more successful we can be in helping them reach their goals.

We’ve recently finished up a Retrospective Portfolio, which highlights that relationship-building element in our work with Comcast. We are at a point in our relationship where a recap is appropriate; we’ve been working with the company for nearly 4 years and have been involved in many different capacities, divisions and efforts. The Retrospective Portfolio encompasses all that we’ve done together and shows each division we work with just how deeply connected we are to the company’s brand and growth initiatives.

So what does a project like this entail? Well, first we had to look back over all the numbers — we’ve been keeping track of everything since the beginning — and we found some pretty interesting statistics to share.

  • The number of people who have worked on the account over the years was equivalent to the number of people involved in a full game of Major League Baseball, of course including the coaches, umpires, etc.
  • We’ve completed enough projects for the account to total the number of cast and crewmembers for two Hollywood blockbusters.
  • The miles we’ve traveled for meetings and presentations totaled almost the circumference of Mars.
  • The number of status meetings was almost up to the total number of songs the Beatles wrote.
  • In the hours we put into all the projects collectively, we could’ve watched the entire Star Wars movie catalog more than 1,500 times.

 


Next up, we included a timeline of major projects, new teams we’ve begun working with and new contacts we’ve met and worked with.

And then it was time for the specific project highlights. In this section we were able to show our ability to do multiple kinds of tactics and different levels of work, from strategic to executional and everything in between. We walked through the highlights of planning, employee engagement and outreach projects and explained how we categorized it.

Lastly, we shared the current team’s bios and highlighted personal accomplishments and events over the course of our relationship with Comcast.

So this is all great, right? But what does it mean? How does this actually strengthen a client-agency relationship?

  1. It shows how invested we are in our client’s brand and objectives.
  2. It highlights our strategic partnership and outlines how we collaborate to make a great team.
  3. It shows our comprehensive experience and our unlimited enthusiasm to continue expanding upon that.
  4. It demonstrates the personal relationships shared by our teams.

Our philosophy at GO2 puts communication and relationship building at the top of the priority list. What would you say are the best ways to enhance client-agency relationships? Tell us by leaving a comment below.

Influencer Marketing

Consumers’ faith in brands’ traditional advertising campaigns continues to wane. Only 47% of today’s Internet users trust traditional advertising.1 They’re tired of paid ads interrupting their experience. So ultimately, they’re tuning them out. But this vast and growing number of doubters isn’t blindly making purchases.

Instead, they’re turning to trusted social influencers – consumers just like them. People who have a following – some relatively small, others large. These influencers post authentic content that influences followers and lowers the wall between the consumer and brand, while building up the brand’s image.

smartpicksKnown as Influencer Marketing, many believe it to be the advertising industry’s next big thing. So what is Influencer Marketing? In a nutshell, it’s word-of-mouth advertising that can reach a mass audience all at once. Rather than the old-school approach of talking to a consumer with traditional advertising, Influencer Marketing talks with them, entertains them and informs them.

In more technical terms, Influencer Marketing uses key leaders to promote your brand’s message to potential customers through various social media outlets. This style of native advertising places products in organic content. Dedicated Media found that purchase intent is 53 percent higher for native ads.2

Now this doesn’t mean running out and paying a Kardashian hundreds of thousands of dollars to tout your product – unless that’s right for you, your budget and product. However, it could mean giving your new stroller to a mom with a strong blog following to test it out. Or giving your video game controller to a YouTube-famous pro gamer whose review could work wonders for your product. When it comes to product information, these folks are trusted sources.

They’re specialists who generate honest recommendations and create a running dialogue with their followers – a group that wants to receive updates from the influencer. Yes, some influencers may want compensation to generate sponsored content, but not anywhere in the stratosphere of Kardashian money.

moneybagsCollective Bias found that 70% of consumers are more likely to value an endorsement from a non-A-List celebrity.1 So rather than chasing premier talent, that pro video gamer (someone who can have an audience of millions) can make a big impact on your bottom line for very little expense. In fact, 82% of people are likely to follow a micro-influencer’s recommendation.3 Micro-influencers typically have 500 to 5,000 highly engaged followers.

Influencer Marketing also has another key benefit for your brand. It can boost your content ranks on social networks. The more shares, likes, comments and backlinks your influencers’ content generates, the higher your social media rankings will climb. And who doesn’t like being more relevant on Google? Plus, since it’s digital, you can mine a wealth of data.

But don’t expect your sales to skyrocket your brand to #1 overnight. Working with an influencer needs to be a long-term commitment. Also, Influencer Marketing is still a fairly new concept, so you may encounter a few bumps on the road to social media domination in your market.

If you’re going to launch an Influencer Marketing campaign, remember to keep it authentic. If you’re paying an influencer to promote your product, they will need to disclose this. However, just because they’re paid, doesn’t mean that they can’t get behind the product and enjoy it. Here are some basic tips to follow:

  • Choose the right influencers. Are their followers the market you want to reach?
  • Influencers want to be part of exciting ventures.
  • Share your influencers’ content on your own social media networks. Be sure to let them know that you’re doing this.
  • Build influencer relationships before you ask them to help you.
  • Have guidelines in place as to how your influencer reaches out to his or her followers.
  • Remember that it still takes more than an influencer to help you move sales.

Has your brand tried Influencer Marketing, or are you considering it? We’d like to hear your thoughts on the topic.

2017 Digital Advertising Trends

Advertising in the digital space is always an adventure. It is a place where technology advances at the speed of thought and ideas are shared at the speed of light. There is always some risk when investing your budget in such a rapidly changing environment, but that risk can be somewhat mitigated by staying on top of the trends.

Below you will find highlights of what the digital ad world might look like in 2017. There are some digital marketing strategy staples, some that are just beginning to settle in for the long haul and some exciting new developments.

Keep reading to see what to double down on, what to invest in and what to watch.

Staples:

The following strategies have been around for a while and consistently remain a part of any forward-thinking advertiser’s consideration and budget. Their prevalence will only grow in 2017. In fact, if you are not already thinking about whether these tactics are right for you or your clients, you’ve got some catching up to do.

Native

Native advertising – a form of paid media where the ad follows the natural form and function of the user experience in which it is placed – is one of the oldest tricks in the book. But, as modern consumers continue to reject, condemn, and go to lengths to insulate themselves from traditional advertising, it will become increasingly important to create brand experiences that integrate with their entertainment.

That includes everything from a Buzzfeed listicle to an Onion video advertorial. Offering seamless and entertaining ad experiences will continue to be a pervasive and essential tactic.

Cross-device marketing

Stories of desktop death have been greatly exaggerated. There has been much talk about a mobile-first marketing approach, but the reality is that while smartphone use is overwhelmingly popular for activities such as social media, messaging and news, the majority of consumers also have a desktop, which they tend to use for more detailed review and purchasing.

Not only can you reach a broader audience by catering to the multiplatform majority, but mobile conversion rates are significantly lower than with desktop interactions. This suggests the importance of getting visitors to your site both for a quick mobile search and for a more in-depth desktop experience. So, from optimized web ads to responsive websites, every online touchpoint needs to be integrated and optimized, giving users a consistent experience across devices.

Trending:

The digital advertising trends below may be new to some and old hat to others. They have managed to gain a solid hold on our advertising focus by capitalizing on both technology advancements and broader entertainment trends and thus are a good indication of digital advertising’s present landscape and future direction.

Programmatic

Programmatic is the process of buying and selling media in an automated fashion, including the algorithmic purchase and sale of advertising space in real time. With the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) estimating that programmatic spend will grow to over 80% of marketing spend by 2018, there is almost no reason not to jump on board. Let’s take a look at how this increasingly essential ad strategy works:

  1. Brands and advertisers bid on an ad space.
  2. These brands/advertisers set different variables based on price and the audience segment profiles they are trying to reach.
  3. When a webpage is being loaded and has the space for an ad on it, information that’s been gathered about the visitor is sent back and forth to an ad exchange.
  4. This space gets auctioned off to the highest bidder and the ad is placed in the space – all of this is done in milliseconds.

With this method, rather than just purchasing inventory for a “spray and pray display,” you pay for only precisely targeted ads. Getting highly effective ads with the possibility of cross-demographic ad targeting for a relatively low cost seems like a no-brainer.

But I said earlier that there is “almost” no reason not to adopt for a reason: programmatic ad buying comes with a serious concern about fraud. Even so, considering the importance of effective targeting, this strategy is here to stay.

Live video streaming

Video has always been an incredibly versatile medium, allowing brands to tell stories that are impactful and entertaining. It is also a medium that has seen ever-increasing online engagement: between 2013 and 2015, there was a 360% increase in video views.

And consumers are 4 times as likely to prefer video content over text. And now, live streaming video has become a trend all its own. Thanks to the ubiquity of mobile devices and availability of fast Internet anywhere, many platforms have seen the advantage of integrating a live streaming service.

Twitter’s Periscope and Facebook Live give brands easy access to a new way to reach their customers. These services can make customers a part of a launch event, give them a behind-the-scenes tour or show off a product demo. Whereas the shooting and editing of traditional video often comes with a high price tag, live streaming consumers do not yet have the expectation of professional polish. So, it is a trend that can fit into any budget.

Emerging:

Now, I want to touch on some developments that may not fit into the average business marketing plan just yet.

Wearables

As with mobile marketing, reaching consumers through a device that is constantly on their person seems like an obviously smart move. However, though it may seem like everyone has a Fitbit these days, not everyone would be open to their interactions with it being infiltrated by advertising. It is therefore likely that the marketing advantage wearables offer will be tied to information gathering. They have the potential to offer a wealth of useful data concerning a consumer’s location, behaviors and even their health.

Darwinian Advertising

It is probably too early to call Darwinian advertising a trend, but it is certainly an interesting development that is worth watching. In this survival of the fittest digital advertising concept, parts of the creative that don’t engage a user are automatically removed from circulation, while those that receive a reaction are reworked into further iterations.

As an example, the first experiment with this type of advertising measured response with an embedded camera. In this way, all the elements of an ad, from copy to color, can be optimized for maximum consumer reaction. While currently experimental and out of reach for most advertisers, the potential to evolve the perfect ad has an undeniable appeal.

5 SEO copywriting tips

Visual design might reign supreme when creating websites and apps because it impacts usability and functionality.

Yet, words are still the best way to build trust, deliver concepts and drive action. But making those words appealing and optimized for search engines to improve rankings is a challenge every content marketer faces. According to Copyblogger, SEO is the most misunderstood topic online.*

So where do we start? With two words – Content Strategy. The right content strategy creates a great user experience.

Here are some guidelines to follow:

seo-blog-keyword-freq

Content should be user-centric:
Your target audience comes first, long before search algorithms. The best place to start is by understanding your target audience. Then, talk your readers’ language by creating interesting, compelling, useful and visually appealing content that targets specific keywords. This will increase your content’s relevance and improve its ranking in Google. Ideally, you should put your keyword in your headline. The content following the headline should address keyword intent. And keep paragraphs short. Nobody likes to be faced with a sea of type.

seo-blog-keyword-freq

Use long tail keywords:
These three- or four-word phrases are very specific to what you are selling. They’re the phrases that consumers are more likely to use when they’re closer to making a purchase. These specific phrases also rank better than generic single or double word keywords.

seo-blog-keyword-freq

Write great headlines:

Don’t expect high click-through numbers if you have a mediocre headline. Your headline should attract people’s attention, get them to click and read more. According to ConversionXL, headlines with numbers are always winners.** This might not always be possible, but it’s something to consider.

seo-blog-keyword-freq

Don’t overlook meta descriptions:
These take time to write and directly affect traffic to a web page. When people search for keywords that are relevant to your page, Google uses the meta description on your page. Good meta descriptions take time to write and should be 150 to 160 characters and include target keywords. For mobile, keep it to 113 characters.

seo-blog-keyword-freq

Focus on keyword frequency:
How many times do your keywords appear on the page? Don’t go keyword frequency crazy, though. The folks at Google pay attention to keyword stuffing and will penalize you. It’s still a factor in ranking. Plus, overdoing keywords will turn off your readers.

 

Remember, make your content easy to read. Don’t overwhelm your audience, or pack every thought into one paragraph. Well-planned content will work wonders for your writing’s effectiveness. This will create a better user experience.

We’d love to hear your thoughts. What works best for you and your content?

 

* http://www.copyblogger.com/

** http://conversionxl.com/

Four Common Misconceptions About Branding

Branding is complex — it’s the one task that must encompass promises you make to your customers, how you will deliver on those promises and how customers value your products. It involves a lot of moving parts and solid alignment between copy and design. Those who are not exposed to the intricacies of branding may, understandably, simplify the process and make assumptions about its true purpose. So let’s try to squash those common misconceptions and explain the realities of branding.

1. A logo is a brand.

This is a very common misconception, as logos are visual elements that exist at nearly every consumer touchpoint: website, packaging, social channels, etc. Logos are familiar to consumers, and they may become the first thing that pops up when thinking about a company’s brand. But a brand reaches far beyond a logo. A logo is more of a visual representation of the overall brand, an icon that communicates the overarching brand message and evokes similar emotions. It works both ways: brands are not totally complete without a logo, and a logo is never a complete brand.

2. Branding is only the responsibility of the Marketing/Advertising/Public Relations department.

If your company works by this belief, your brand will suffer. It is every employee’s responsibility to understand, support and represent the brand, and doing so will improve consistency and therefore brand equity. For example, if the Marketing department is pushing for a brand that listens to its customers and provides services based on what they want, but then the customer service isn’t up to par, the two departments are not aligned and the brand lacks consistency. This will affect the authenticity of the brand and ultimately how consumers view your brand and your company. Make sure everyone in your organization is prepared and empowered to be a brand advocate, and remember that consistency is key.

3. Branding and Marketing are the same thing.

While the two are closely aligned and certainly work together, branding and marketing are not the same thing. Branding represents what you want your consumers to understand about your company and product. It’s the overall messaging regarding promises you’ll deliver your customers. Marketing focuses on how you’ll get those messages out to your customers.

4. Branding isn’t necessary.

What do consumers tend to rely on most when making a purchasing decision — emotion or logic? It may surprise you, but the answer is emotion. Brands express an idea that consumers can relate to. So your company can (and should!) provide a stellar product or service, excellent customer service and appropriate pricing, but without a strong brand, something would still be missing. You need a brand in place to engage customers, evoke positive emotions and differentiate your company from your competitors. Never underestimate the ability of an effective brand to attract, influence and retain loyal customers.

content-brand-miscon

 

Have you witnessed these branding misconceptions? Do you know of others? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

A whole new world: the changing landscape of VR and AR advertising

You inch down a dim corridor, shakily aiming a pistol while following an ominous trail of blood. A low groan makes the hair on the back of your neck stand up and you spin to see a zombie shuffle around the corner. The gunshots ring in your ears as the creature falls at your feet. You are in a virtual reality world.
Walking down the familiar sidewalks of your community, you check the map on your phone and see your avatar strolling through a cheerful green analog of the real world — except instead of a squirrel in your neighbor’s tree, you see a monster. And with a few taps on your phone, you can even catch it. You are in an augmented reality world.
An alternative to reality

A page from an early ’90s marketing campaign for a Virtuality arcade game system.
Photo credit: Dr. Waldern/Virtuality Group

Though both are experiencing a significant surge in public interest, VR and AR are not new tech. VR as we know it started gaining buzz in the ’80s, with video game consoles achieving widespread in-home adoption and sci-fi movies like “Tron” sparking interest. Then, in 1991, the VR company Virtuality released its VR pods to the world (well, to arcades and movie theaters, anyway). Users, however, quickly abandoned these always awkward, frequently nauseating machines with their bulky hardware and clunky graphics, and VR tech has been stumbling its way toward usability ever since. Augmented reality — the enhanced image created by putting a computer generated display over a real-time view of one’s surroundings — is newer, with the first see-through AR coming to cell phones in 2004.

These technologies have both been enjoying something of a renaissance lately. Modern VR headsets are vast improvements over their early ’90s counterparts, offering a better experience in every way, from the graphics and motion detection to the sleekness of the hardware itself. And AR has, perhaps, finally had its breakthrough moment. Let’s take a look at what’s driving the adoption of reality-altering tech and what that could mean for businesses who want to take advantage of the advertising opportunities they offer.

VR

Several companies are trying to stay ahead of the VR hype and investing in the technology as an advertising medium. And it’s easy to see why it can seem so appealing. Not only does it offer a memorable experience, immersive visuals and boundless worlds, it is the definition of a captive audience. Strap a VR viewer to the user’s face and they are instantly free of any distractions from the world that you create. Want to send potential customers on a journey through a world where everyone is happily using your product vs. a bleak world where no one is? VR is the way to do it. The potential for drama and storytelling is vast and exciting.

Setting an example

Coke’s sleigh ride

While this potential is far from fully realized, one company is leading the way in the VR advertising space: Coca-Cola. Last Christmas, Coca-Cola created a virtual reality sleigh ride. Using Oculus Rift, thousands of people in Poland got to play Santa for a day — flying all over the country and into different villages, like a roller coaster in the sky. Coke has also sponsored a VR World Cup experience where participants first entered a replica of the locker room at Brazil’s Maracana Stadium. Then, after putting on VR Oculus Rift goggles, they made a grand entrance onto the playing field to play a game in front of a huge virtual crowd. View here. More recently, Coke has been shipping its 12-packs in cardboard packages that can be folded into VR goggles for your smartphone.

cokesoccer

Coke’s VR mimics the user’s motions within the game.

With these efforts, Coke may be offering a peek at what future VR advertising success might look like: sponsoring experiences rather than just promoting products. As Matt Wolf, Coca-Cola’s head of global gaming, said, “there’s branding within the experience, but the more valuable aspect is that viewers are getting access to something that wouldn’t otherwise be possible…Thanks to Coke.”1

Trapped with cheese

Boursin’s cheese roller coaster

There are a few advertisers who have had some success luring people to try their independent VR experiences, from Volvo’s virtual test drives to Boursin’s (a French soft cheese maker) VR tour through a fridge full of its chilled treats. But, aside from Coke’s cardboard goggles, these efforts all took a significant investment and could only reach a limited audience for one key reason: most people don’t yet own a VR headset, so they need to be supplied by the advertiser. The reality is that games, not ads, will be driving the adoption of VR hardware because, as marketer Nicholas Manluccia wrote in Advertising Age, “There is nothing inherently compelling about being trapped in a refrigerator with spreadable cheese.”2

The real turning point in VR advertising will come when people start purchasing personal VR headsets for their homes on a large scale. With several of these headsets nearing their widespread public release dates, that time is fast approaching. About 14 million VR devices are expected to sell worldwide this year, according to market researcher TrendForce, which projects VR app, software and device sales will soar to $70 billion by 2020.2 Because of this, VR titles were popular games to demo at this year’s E3 (Electronic Entertainment Expo). From Star Trek to Minecraft to the ever-present zombie shooters, it seemed like every developer wanted a piece of the VR pie, and they expected that pie to be full of fruit. Clearly, to many in the industry, VR is no longer the future of gaming, but a significant part of its present.

Virtual shopping and beyond

Modern VR could take you from the Amazon Jungle to Amazon.com

So, people will be buying these things, and they’ll be buying them specifically to play games. Assuming that most consumers continue to try to avoid, rather than actively seek out, advertising experiences, how else does a company who wants to advertise get in on that VR action? One way might be through virtual shopping. People actually seem pretty excited about the prospect. In a survey last year, researcher Ericsson ConsumerLab asked which feature of VR seemed the most enticing. The top response — more even than movies or video games — was the ability to “see items in real size and form when I shop online.”2 I recently could have used a “see how this overly complicated sectional will really fit in my living room” VR experience, so I understand the appeal.

Beyond virtual shopping and sponsored experiences, the future of VR advertising will likely involve taking advantage of the virtual worlds created by entertainment companies and telling your story to the people who are already there. “All that software and design work focused on making your hand look like it naturally wraps around a gun and being able to pick up objects with two hands — that nuance can be applied to a vacation simulator where you’re on a beach and want to pick up a seashell,” notes James Iliff, cofounder of L.A.-based VR tech company Survios. “One can easily imagine that scenario for Norwegian Cruise Lines’ The Sea is Calling campaign, which shows people in TV ads picking up shells to hear the voice of the sea in them.”1 The ad industry has to figure out the virtual space — a completely new form of storytelling where you don’t just have a printed picture or frame of a video to work with, but a whole world. The learning curve will be steep, but the possibilities are virtually endless.

AR

Augmented reality has largely been an example of a technology that has not lived up to its hype. Om Malik of The New Yorker describes it as, “the ‘boy who cried wolf’ of the post-Internet world — it’s long been promised but has rarely been delivered in a satisfying way… none of [the apps] have gone mainstream, even those developed by Ikea and Lego.”3 Until now.

Monster success

An AR game that could be a game changer

Faster to the top than Candy Crush, more profitable than Clash of Clans, able to steal more of your time than Facebook, it’s Pokémon GO! On July 6, Niantic Labs released an AR experience that instantly captured the hearts, minds, and GPS locations of millions of people around the world. I don’t need to explain Pokémon GO to you because by now, only a few weeks after its release date, it is absolutely everywhere (but just in case, click here for a brief primer). People are also playing it everywhere. From downtown shopping centers to parks, you can hardly be outside in public without seeing someone catching Pokémon.

This perception of ubiquity is backed by the numbers. Pokémon GO’s estimated 75 million downloads and $1.6 million in daily revenue has sent Niantic’s worth soaring, now valued at around $3.65 billion and on track to make $740 million in revenue this year.4 And, it’s not just downloads where Pokémon GO numbers are impressive, app engagement is unbelievably high. With over 20 million in the U.S. engaging daily for an average of 33 minutes per day, Pokémon GO has left even Twitter in the dust.

An AR-based game that has the power to not only grab consumers’ attention but significantly change their habits is something that should make advertisers take note. This experience is drawing users to both digital and physical spaces.5

Mainstream AR, at last

It really can be this simple
Photo credit: L’inizio Pizza Bar

AR has finally gone mainstream and, as will likely be the case with VR, its incredible rise was driven by a game. So, what does this mean for advertisers? For one thing, many of the players belong to that coveted, stubbornly advertising-resistant demographic: Millennials. This development could mean a big opportunity to capture their interest and marketers are already champing at the bit. Brandon Berger, Ogilvy Worldwide’s chief digital officer has already begun briefing his creative teams, brainstorming ideas on how brands might capitalize on Pokémon GO. “There’s no reason that advertisers would have to work directly with Pokémon GO in the near term.” He notes. “Why couldn’t brands participate at a gym location? If you’re a beverage brand or a retailer or even a real gym, why don’t you find gyms and put your brand right around that, put experiences around that?”

Some businesses were lucky enough to have their physical locations associated with in-game locations right from the start. As players began flooding in, they realized the connection to this virtual world could mean actual profit. Some have installed extra phone charging stations to accommodate these potential new customers, others are advertising their connections to the game, and some are even using the game’s own mechanics to their advantage. Sales at New York pizzeria L’inizio Pizza Bar went up 75 percent over the weekend after the owner spent $10 on “lure modules.”

To allow companies and advertisers to take advantage of the interest in an official capacity, Niantic has announced that they will soon add a “sponsored locations” program, where businesses can pay to have their physical locations associated with the game.

The virtual future

The Pokémon GO phenomenon provides us with a valuable example of what advertising could look like in a virtual future:

  1. It will be centered around gamers and gaming. With total revenues for the industry hitting $23.5 billion in the U.S. alone for 2015, this is a huge market.
  2. It will be experience-based, offering people something that otherwise wouldn’t be possible.
  3. It will largely exist in the worlds created by entertainment developers.

For now, businesses and advertisers are still wrapping their heads around what this all means — throwing stuff at the wall to see what sticks. And why not? Those who are brave enough to jump in now might just help a whole new world take shape.


Sources

  1. http://adage.com/article/digital/virtual-reality-advertising-s-big-thing/294328/
  2. http://www.chicagotribune.com/business/ct-virtual-reality-advertisements-wp-20160310-story.html
  3. http://www.newyorker.com/tech/elements/pokemon-go-will-make-you-crave-augmented-reality
  4. http://qz.com/741117/the-company-that-created-pokemon-go-is-now-worth-over-3-billion/
  5. https://techcrunch.com/2016/07/13/pokemon-go-tops-twitters-daily-users-sees-more-engagement-than-facebook/
The Importance of Internal Communication

Communication is the heart of any organization. More than presenting products and services, it’s how a business shares its voice, its brand and its story with the world. Significant time, thought and money is invested in external communication, influencing public perception and controlling public voice, but what is frequently overlooked or sidelined is internal communication, even though it is just as important.

Internal communication encompasses everything from functional items like official processes, guidelines and procedures — getting employees the information they need to do their jobs — to inspirational items like mission statements, company values, and voice guidelines — getting employees the information they need to participate as part of the team.

It is important that organizations foster an atmosphere of openness and create systems that will lead to the free and effective flow of information, ideas, various resources and even feelings to promote a sense of shared purpose. An excellent internal communication strategy can unite and inspire members at all levels of an organization. This comes with many advantages, such as employees who are:

 

pro

  • Informed – Having complete, timely information makes everyone more effective and efficient.
  • Confident – Knowledge is power, and being properly informed will empower employees to succeed.
  • Inspired – When all members of an organization understand and believe in the mission and values, they are inspired to do better and work harder.
  • Team players – Giving people at all levels and from all departments access to the same information encourages teamwork.
  • Sharing a common vision – Feeling like you and your colleagues are working toward a common goal leads to greater investment in and fulfillment from the work you do.
  • On message – Organizations should have a unified voice and message that they present to the public. This message will be much more effective and powerful if every employee is trained to use it and inspired to be an advocate.
  • Supported – Employees will be able to work with confidence and creativity if they trust that their colleagues — especially their superiors — believe in them and support their decisions.
  • Given useful feedback – Providing feedback is an important aspect of internal communications because the ability to improve and adapt — both as individuals and as a company — is vital to growth.
  • Respected and respectful – Having care and consideration for how you communicate with fellow employees is an excellent way to show respect and gain respect in turn.
  • Willing to take ownership – The more an employee understands about their company, the more they feel inspired and encouraged to take ownership of its growth and success.
  • Responsive to change – Change on an organizational level can be hard. Investing resources to make sure everyone is aware and buys into the need for change will help smooth the process.

Left to chance, internal communication becomes irregular and inconsistent. The consequences of neglecting these efforts have debilitating effects, including:

 

con

  • Gossip and speculation – Just because communication is not managed doesn’t mean it will not happen. People will fill in the blanks for themselves, often with worst-case scenarios, which leads to…
  • Stress and fear – Even small changes in routine can cause stress if employees don’t understand why they happen. Or worse, if the change comes as a complete surprise. Large changes that aren’t communicated properly can easily lead to job insecurity.
  • Territorialism – If information is rationed out in meager portions, people are much more likely to guard their share.
  • Confusion – If a message is delivered inconsistently among employees or departments, the results can be chaotic with everyone working toward different goals with different expectations.
  • Ineffectiveness – Members who don’t believe in the mission of an organization will be unlikely to see it through, just as employees who don’t understand the goal of a project will be unable to adequately complete it.
  • Inefficiency – If a team begins a project without having all the information they need, time is wasted and trust is squandered.
  • Lack of ownership – Having incomplete information cripples one’s ability to take ownership both of individual projects and of the mission of a company as a whole.
  • Off-message members – If members of an organization do not understand its voice and are not trained to use it, the message they present to the public will be confusing and ineffective.
  • Isolation – People work better as part of a team, but if communication is poor between departments and individuals, teamwork will be hindered and suspicions and resentment could develop.
  • Resistance to change – Did I mention that change can be hard? New work processes, company reorganizations, rebranding, new software implementations. All these things and more are a normal part of an evolving business, but if proper investment isn’t made in communicating these things to employees, the results can be chaotic and even catastrophic.

Here at GO2, we understand the importance of internal communication, and it’s one of our goals to help clients improve theirs. As an example, we recently created a comprehensive Intranet site for Comcast Business sales representatives. Housing an asset management and search tool, educational materials, product and customer strategies and an offer lookup tool, the Intranet, dubbed Nucleus, provides one solid place for crucial information. We performed research to determine everything for the site — environmental context, user personas, task and process flow, site organization and user interface. And we didn’t stop there. We were sure to include training tactics and engagement elements, including plans for pre-launch, launch and post-launch.

Taking it a step further, GO2 created a site called VITL for Sherwin-Williams. We created VITL for representatives who rely entirely on iPhones, iPads or laptops as they work remotely. The site houses sell sheets and data sheets, which representatives need to access on a daily basis. Before VITL, these sheets were scattered across various Sherwin-Williams sites, and now the representatives can access them in one location in less than three clicks.

As you can see, internal communication strategies, especially within a large organization, have many aspects and can become pretty complex. GO2 can help bring order to chaos, getting employees the information they need in a way that’s understandable, inspirational and supportive of your organization’s mission.