Is your Digital Marketing Strategy Still Working in 2019?

Is your Digital Marketing Strategy Still Working in 2019?

Digital marketing is constantly evolving, and, in 2019, it is projected that over half of advertising budgets will be spent in digital (and this will only continue to grow). This means that digital should be at the heart of your sales or marketing strategy. While most businesses have embraced digital marketing, the question remains – am I having the biggest impact possible? Is my strategy and execution focused on the right areas?

The reality of digital marketing is that the “shiny new objects” rarely get consistent results until they’ve hit mass adoption. A solid strategy focuses on what actually works in digital marketing and finding creative and focused ways to take advantage of these. This is why I wrote the book Digital Marketing that Actually Works  to help businesses make smart choices in digital marketing based on what works now.So what actually works in 2019? Where should you focus your sales or marketing dollars to maximize return on investment?digital strategy

Social Media: Social media is still a big part of most digital marketing strategies. Facebook and Instagram continue to dominate (Facebook mostly as paid, Instagram still offers both opportunities) and LinkedIn is emerging as a more powerful player worth your time and attention.

Digital Advertising: Digital ads represent over 50% of most ad budgets and are able to address full-funnel marketing or sales concerns. Funnel or Inbound marketing approaches are taking advantage of digital targeting while measurement is making digital advertising even more effective.

SEO: Search Engine Optimization is a tried and true strategy that gets business results. Don’t forget the importance of search, as for many businesses it represents over 50% their website traffic – and that traffic is very valuable. With the growth of mobile and voice, a solid search strategy should aim for a top three search result to break through.

Website: Your website is still incredibly important and likely the center of your strategy. Focus on making sure that your website is fast (Google recommends under three seconds) and optimized for mobile.

Conversational Marketing: Influencer marketing is growing in importance – for both B2B and B2C. Word-of-mouth and digital PR continue to provide opportunities for business growth. These areas tend to be under-invested in by businesses and present unique opportunities.

E-Mail: With mobile and chatbots, email doesn’t get a lot of attention but it is still one of the top tools to drive conversions and purchases. Don’t just focus on sending emails, but look at your ROI thoughtfully and be sure to link every email to a single and clear marketing objective.

CRM: CRM data is becoming more and more connected to other digital marketing channels, which is what powers the opportunities for personalization and customization. There are effective CRM solutions for businesses of all sizes, but effectively connecting internal sales, marketing, and customer service teams is still a big challenge.

Mobile: We know that mobile overtakes desktop in almost every digital marketing channel, so mobile optimization should be second nature. Emerging opportunities exist within mobile such as AR and VR.

As you build your digital marketing strategy digital marketing strategy for 2020 your focus should be on choosing a few digital marketing channels that really matter and focusing on mastering them. Do a few things well vs. many things poorly.

To facilitate this, we created the Investment/Impact graph to help businesses plot potential investments and make smarter choices. There is almost no end to what you could do in digital marketing, the question is what you should do. The investment impact chart allows you to plot your ideas or marketing investments based on the investment (total cost) and the impact that they are expected to have (sales).

digital strategyA healthy marketing plan will have investments in low hanging fruit, the ROI center and big bets. As digital maturity increases so will the choices in investment/impact. There will be less low hanging fruit freeing up more investment for big bets.

Using the investment/impact chart to prioritize digital spending will help you prioritize digital investments. The challenge is to have the knowledge and experience to graph opportunities appropriately.

In 2019 and beyond digital will only continue to grow in importance. The challenge is to fully take advantage of it and focus on the most impactful areas for your business.

To learn more about Digital Marketing That Works Right Now, check out our webinar being held on September 26, 2019.

4 industry sectors that use blockchain

4 industry sectors that use blockchain

” Blockchain is making waves and is the new change on the horizon. This novel technology is not only affecting the financial world but also many other sectors. The four industry sectors that currently blockchain are supply chain, corporate responsibility, fashion designing and digital advertising. “


1) Supply chain sector

The problem that large food companies face is trust issue because their customers are skeptical of many things such as where their food comes from and the factory conditions. It is the job of the marketer to build trust to be able to sell the product successfully. Above all, transparency about the product is the quickest and the surest way to gain that trust. For example, Walmart used a strategy to bring a certain level of transparency in their logistics and supply chain. They enabled their customers to track digitally from where the products came. By doing so, the goal was to boost the trust of Walmart consumers in their products. This strategy of storing products through blockchain makes room for transparency and prevents tampering. Some services such as Metamask and Keybase already offer the user control of their transaction history and identity.

2) Corporate responsibility sector

Sustainable practice is something that customers used to take on the organisation’s word. Rather, when it comes to initiatives as corporate social responsibility, there used to be no accountability. Blockchain can generate digitized agreements, wherein the company is then held accountable by making these promises public.

3) Fashion designing sector

Innovative ideas are coming through in the fashion industry using blockchain. Shanghai-based Vechain is authenticating fashion products and providing a background of the items using blockchain technology. At Shanghai Fashion Week, Babyghost provided a link between the fashion and digital worlds. The customers can verify if a particular fashion item is genuine or not by scanning the tag using blockchain, and even see where it came from as well as who had previously modeled it. Verification of the authenticity of the products can be traceable from the point of origin. This feel to each product allows the customer to create a unique connection with the item. Thus, blockchain can tap into authentic advertising without being seen as marketing. The possibilities are endless for those marketers innovative enough to jump on the bandwagon.

4) Digital advertising sector

The advertising industry is not only dynamic but also susceptible to change. Intrinsically, it fluidly adapts to the shifting focus of consumers and new technologies. The blockchain comes into this arena by creating more value for ad campaigns. For advertisers, the future could be different on many fronts and applications. They include permanent contracts with consumers, verification of ad delivery and handling consumer data transparently. This surge shows how much commotion is happening right now in the digital marketing industry. And it all results in an increase in the profit margin and a decrease in extra costs.

4 untold benefits of Bitcoin payments

4 untold benefits of Bitcoin payments

There are 4 distinct benefits for accepting Bitcoin payments. For marketing agencies struggling to increase cash flow and reduce risks, Bitcoin is the solution. There is no risk in accepting Bitcoins but an advantage regarding improving the cash flow. Since the emergence of Bitcoin in 2009, it has grown to become the most extensively used cryptocurrency in the world. Vendors including Amazon, Overstock.com, Dish Network, Target, Dell Computers, PayPal, eBay, Expedia, the Sacramento Kings, Home Depot, Kmart and Sears now accept it. Bitcoin payment solution also has some financial benefits and less tangible advantages.

  • Great financial benefits

Marketing agencies that get paid via Bitcoin can either accept actual Bitcoins or merely turn them into cash using a third-party payment processor, much like credit cards do. From a risk standpoint, the former approach is much safer because there is virtually no exchange risk when using a third-party processor. There are no processing fees unless the transactions exceed a high amount. There are no chargebacks either because Bitcoins are push transactions, meaning the buyer initiates them.

  • Less tangible benefits

Marketing agencies should consider accepting Bitcoins because there are non-financial benefits. Agencies get paid faster because payments are processed immediately without any delay. Also, the agencies do not need to safeguard or hold sensitive customer payment information such as bank account or credit card numbers because of the push nature of the business. Therefore, the marketing agencies are not at risk of confidential information being leaked, stolen or hacked if it experiences a data breach. And converting them into cash eliminates the risk of fraudsters taking the Bitcoins through a cyber-attack.

  • Easy payment form

Chief amongst the reasons to accept Bitcoin, as one of the accepted forms of payment, is customer satisfaction. Marketing agencies can allow their clients to pay for the services in the way that is most convenient and easiest for them thereby offering them more options.

  • Capture lucrative customers

While people have not widely adopted Bitcoin the way they have done with credit cards it is prevalent amongst high-tech and dot-com firms, which can be very profitable customers for the agencies. There is a growing but small cadre of advertising and marketing agencies that are accepting Bitcoin such as Quintain Marketing, 5ivecanons in Jacksonville, Florida, and DiMassimo Goldstein in New York. Because there are so few of marketing agencies that are taking Bitcoin, those that do are enjoying a significant amount of press coverage.

To learn more about emerging technologies visit our online learning center.

Photo by André François McKenzie on Unsplash

5 Overlooked Observations that’ll Improve Your Product

5 Overlooked Observations that’ll Improve Your Product

Don’t overlook these 5 observations that’ll improve your product. Cars were being rented – 230,000 users! Many companies would celebrate the success. Orix, a Japanese car-sharing service, however, discovered some oddities in the mileage reports. They found that a high-percentage of vehicles were being returned as having traveled zero distance.

Costing less than $4 to borrow a car for 30 minutes, Orix discovered customers weren’t actually using the cars for driving. Renters were using them as a quiet place to watch TV, eat lunch, get dressed up for Halloween, or even practice their rap verses.

The way we think people use our products compared to how they are actually used in the real world can be shocking. It’s important for everyone in your company from sales to marketing to engineering to get out from behind their desk and get in the trenches to understand how customers use your product. It’s these valuable insights that develop, evolve and improve your product offering.

Things you might discover in the trenches:

In 2005, Apple launched the MacMini. While it started as an easy way to port PC data for new Mac users, people started connecting a MacMini to their televisions to watch movies or listen to music in the living room, or to have the real estate of a larger monitor.

Apple observed these trends, and in 2006, they added an HDMI port to the MacMini to make it easier to connect televisions. These early adopters created their own rudimentary device that would later become known as Apple TV.

While there are lots of Analytics and digital tools you can use to monitor customer behavior, it’s important to pop out from the cubicle or data stream. Talk to customers and get a hands-on feel for how your product truly performs in the real world. As this article points out, “changing the checkout button in an e-commerce website to appear white on a white background will not be caught by any automated test. But it still will drive revenue to zero.”

5 Ways to Discover How Your Product is Really Used

Aggregate customer service calls.

Don’t answer the phone, briskly answer questions and forget about them. Even with limited resources, you should keep an Excel spreadsheet of common customer problems or FAQs. 96% of customers don’t complain, so simply going by memory, that 2-4% could be an easily forgettable radar blip. Implement a way to observe trends, because there could be a flood of disappointed customers that simply decided to no longer do business with you.

Get outside.

Where are the people that are using your product? Have an idea for a stroller accessory? Keep an eye on how people rig up strollers when walking the park. If your product benefits runners, go spectate your city’s marathon or 10K. Seeing how people subconsciously interact with your product can yield powerful intel.

Polls or Surveys.

Unless you have a very specific question in mind, improperly administered polls can yield skewed results. In the example of the Japanese rental cars, asking “on a scale of 1-10,  did you enjoy using this service?” might not provide actionable information. If I had a nice nap in the car, I’d give the experience a “10” and move on without giving any hint that I never actually drove it. Without knowing more about what you are looking for, surveys can mislead actions.

Pay attention to social media.

With so many photos and videos curated to perfection, the experience portrayed on social media might not be a truly realistic representation. With so many examples of people not even doing what they were pictured doing, it’s easy to get an unrealistic portrayal. Another mistake made when mining customer-use data from social media, is that companies are prone to paying closer attention to accounts with big followings or videos with the most views. While these can be helpful, find videos with 50, 5…even 1 view, to get a full picture.

Keep using your product!

I’ve met with many top executives that haven’t ever used any of the company’s key offerings. Constantly try it for yourself, under different conditions, over-time, etc. If feasible, make sure your entire team does the same.

As a small business, it’s not necessary to hire a pricey firm or commission an expensive focus group, but getting as close to you can to physically observing your product in-use can be the key to long-term success. The best way to lose sight of success is to think you know everything – so position yourself as a lifelong learner of your product experience.

To keep learning, visit SMEI’s online learning center.

Photo credit: MarekPhotoDesign.com for Adobe Stock

Larissa Lewis is the founder of Jargon Gist, working with engineers and other tech-laden businesses to shorten and sharpen their marketing messaging to better attract and connect with customers. Her ability to marry technical content with customer-attracting strategy combats the oft-held belief that marketing is “the stuff of fluff,” and propels a refreshed interest in jargon-laden products and services by explaining them in powerful ways that people understand and love.

Personal Branding: How to Craft and Harness your Personal Brand to Attract the Right Opportunities

Personal Branding: How to Craft and Harness your Personal Brand to Attract the Right Opportunities

A personal brand is a powerful tool to attract business opportunities to you and position yourself or your organization as a leader in the industry. All too often, business professionals start thinking about their personal brand when they need something – new clients, a new job or a favor. Smart business professionals are proactively building and growing their personal brand to attract the opportunities that they want in their career.

Over 13 years ago I started thinking about my personal brand. Not because I was forward thinking, but because I had a Myspace Page (yes, that long ago) and started getting friend requests from industry professional contacts. While I didn’t mind sharing my personal side, I also felt it was important to have a professional presence. This was before LinkedIn, so I created a blog and started to share what I was doing with social media marketing. I quickly became a recognized thought leader and generated clients, job offers (that I didn’t even think I was qualified for), and other opportunities.

Since then, I’ve become even more proactive about my personal brand and have a deliberate presence online and in-person. My efforts in personal branding have resulted in two book deals (a Dummies book and a textbook), media appearances on CNN, NYT, and the Wall Street Journal, job offers, speaking gigs, and clients. I’ve continuously been amazed by the opportunities that my personal brand attracted. I wanted to help others have the same success, and for the last five years I’ve been working on Launch Yourself! Define, Design, and Deliver a Powerful Personal Brand, my 6th book!

Many people think that online personal branding is about a good LinkedIn profile, or a big network. But in reality a strong personal brand is about crafting and delivering a consistent and memorable impression. There are three vital steps to do this: Define, Design and Deliver.

Step 1: Defining Your Personal Brand

Before you even start building a presence, think about your goals and objectives for your personal brand. What do you want from it? Who do you need to reach? Then think about yourself – what are your strengths and opportunities in the industry that you can feature. How do you benefit the people that you work with? At the end of this you should have a clear idea of your personal brand statement that summarizes your goal, your professional description, your personality, your professional solution, and the benefit that you provide.

Step 2: Designing Your Personal Brand

Designing your brand is where you start to think strategically about the elements of yourself that you want to highlight. The biggest brands in the world like Apple, Starbucks, and Tide use specific elements to design their brands so that people choose them. These same principles can be used to design a personal brand. Your personal brand should be Memorable, Authentic, Distinctive, and Credible. You’ll want to bring your brand to life as consistently as possible, so doing some work upfront to design your brand is vital to your execution.

Step 3: Deliver Your Personal Brand

Finally, deliver a powerful personal brand by bringing your brand to life online and in-person. In-person focus on being consistent and refining your brand over time based on feedback. Online, LinkedIn is a powerful channel to start with by increasing your activity there. In addition, a personal website sets the stage for your online presence, and using less formal channels like Facebook or Instagram strategically can further increase your presence.

To learn more about Personal Branding check out our Personal Branding Webinar taking place on August 22, 2019.

Photo by Jia Ye on Unsplash

5 blockchain trends disrupting the advertisers

5 blockchain trends disrupting the advertisers

There are 5 ways in which blockchain is disrupting the advertising industry. Marketers who recognize this will have a lucrative opportunity in front of them and an edge over others. Hence for salespeople and marketers, it is worth spending some time to understand the trends happening in this arena. Following are the 5 blockchain trends disrupting the advertisement sector.

1) Digitises touch points

Blockchain digitalize any asset by coding every customer transaction data and laws into it. That way there is verifiable proof of each transaction identity, and that transaction can be a product. Therefore, customer attention at every touch point would become a prized commodity, without any intermediaries.

2) Makes digital micropayments

In the future, advertisers will have to pay people a small fraction of a cent to get their attention. Such micropayments can only work with a digitally native currency. Tracking these types of payments is precisely one of the strengths of blockchains.

3) Creates meaningful value

Identifying and differentiating every product means the ability to add significant benefit. These blockchain identifiers tell a sales story in an innovative way about how they make the item and where it came from, appealing the customers on an emotional level. Another company is Goodwill that takes one person’s unwanted clothes and sells them to another using blockchain platform.

4) Builds great trust

Blockchain technology makes it extremely difficult to manipulate the data and rip the system off. It makes groups of data anonymous, thereby turning all brand data into something like a census. Essentially, this gives detailed information about the network, but not which person is in love with which brand. This added layer of privacy would allay customers’ fears and assure them that advertisers are not manipulating them or taking undue advantage of them.

5) Decentralises advertising concepts

Traditional advertising is based on the idea that the ad reaches a consumer, after which if the message is good enough the customer acts. And marketers take it for granted that this comes without any cost. But this paradigm is already changing in the blockchain world through decentralization. By decentralizing networks, blockchain offers a better way of verifying the advertising system.

Blockchain transforms not only sectors such as security, health, and finance but also many basic tenets of marketing. However, not much thought has gone into how the role of advertising is going to get upended due to the blockchain. Nevertheless, advertising industry will be one among the first to be disrupted by blockchain technology.