10 Marketing Tools to Help You Succeed at Digital Marketing

Desktop computer with an Online Marketing form displayed.As a digital marketing agency, we manage multiple client accounts at a time. However, digital marketing can be time consuming. It takes a lot to monitor accounts, implement tactics and strategies, measure results, and adapt strategies with new ideas to make sure they’re working.

If that sounds like a lot, you’re right!  

How on earth do we continuously do all that for all our client accounts?

We use marketing tools. In fact, we could not exist without them. Marketing tools make it possible to manage multiple marketing campaigns at once without spending all our time in front of a computer screen (hey, we’ve got lives, too!) and without sacrificing any potential ROI.

Do you want to run a successful digital marketing strategy without devoting your entire life to the process? You have options: you can partner with us, or, you can take a DIY approach.

If you’re curious what about marketing tools you can use to bolster your own marketing campaign or you want to know a few of our favorites, read on. 

[Non-DIYers can contact us for more information]

1. Google Analytics

First things first, you need to know your website’s analytics. Google Analytics is a completely free tool that you can connect to your website with a tracking pixel or plugin. It tells you how many website visitors you get, your website’s bounce rate, the search terms people type in to get to your website, other links that lead them to your site, and so on and so forth.

This is an essential tool to track data on your website, and it’s used in tracking clicks and conversions in nearly all of your digital advertising, especially with Google AdWords.

2. Buffer

What started out as a simple social scheduler has turned into a huge social media marketing tool. Now Buffer offers social media scheduling, conversation monitoring and engagement, and analytics for your social media performance. This all-in-one tool is one of the more affordable options available and it comes with a team which includes customer support if you ever have any issues.

3. Woobox

Want to put together a quick and easy social media contest? Tools like Woobox are perfect for this. They can easily help you set up a landing page with email entry, rules, copy, and its own individual URL. You can share the landing page over all of your social media pages, send it in your email newsletter, etc. Then Woobox even takes care of picking the winner(s) for you with their random generator. All the hard work, taken care of!

4. Drift

Take even more advantage of your website’s lead generation power with a digital marketing tool like Drift. This plugin allows you to add a chatbox to your website with a bot that automates lead generation and appointment setting. Create options for website visitors to select, including one to set up an initial consultation with your sales team.

5. LeadPages

When running digital marketing campaigns and ads, it’s imperative to take your prospects directly to the information they’re looking for. If you run an ad for a single service, don’t lead them to your full services page or your contact page with no other information about that service.

Instead, use LeadPages to easily create a dedicated landing page with specific information catered to that ad campaign with specialized copy and a contact form all in the same place. LeadPages is a great tool to use because it provides visually appealing templates to get you started and an easy drag-and-drop interface to customize elements of your landing page.

6. OptinMonster

OptinMonster is a tool for increasing leads and email subscribers directly from your website. It allows you to create a pop-up on your site, a slide opt-in as visitors scroll down your page, a signup form in your sidebar or footer, and more. It offers endless methods to get website visitors to see and opt into your email list so you can begin nurturing leads.

Person typing on a mobile phone.7. Zapier

In digital marketing, you’ll be using a number of tools, and to ensure everything stays on track, it’s important that the tools can ‘talk to each other’. Unfortunately, not every tool has that ability pre-built in. That’s where the amazing and endlessly useful tool Zapier comes in to play. If you need two tools to talk to each other, you can use this tool to create “zaps” and connect the two tools in exactly the way you need.

The more you use this tool the more you’ll appreciate the automation and integrations that can help speed up your business processes. You can even create processes you didn’t realize you needed. Definitely count this in on your must-have list.

8. Canva

In every campaign you ever run, you’re always going to need visual assets to accompany it. Canva is a cheap and easy way to create graphics without having to fork over a ton of money for the Adobe Suite. They have preset dimensions for specific social media graphics so you don’t have to keep every dimension in the back of your head. Plus, Canva offers a ton of premade graphics templates to get you started, which is especially helpful for users who may not be design savvy.

There’s a free version available, but you can certainly opt for their pro version to upload brand fonts, colors, and other elements within your account.

9. Typeform

If you ever want to send out a buyer survey, or if you’re conducting a poll, or any other question-asking format for customers, Typeform is hands down one of the best survey softwares out there. Not only is their interface extremely user friendly, but their surveys are beautiful and fun to fill out. Win-win? We think so!

10. Mailchimp

If you’re just getting started with email marketing, Mailchimp is the perfect starter for your business. Although they have limited automations, new and small businesses don’t need to worry about all the bells and whistles yet. Sign up for Mailchimp’s free account (free for up to 2,000 subscribers!) just so you can get started building a list and sending out email newsletters. You can worry about a CRM and automations after a little bit of growth.

 

Do you use any of these tools already? Or does the list make you feel overwhelmed? If so, don’t worry, Connection Model can help. 

Let us set your business on the pathway to success. Whether you’re interested in learning a little bit more about digital marketing or if you need help with marketing campaigns, contact us.

 

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The ‘Ps’ of Inbound Marketing: The Evolution

Person working on a laptop and looking at their mobile phone.If you’ve been in business for a while, you’ve probably heard of the 4 Ps of marketing: product, price, place, and promotion. These elements were introduced in the 1950s by an advertising professor named Neil Borden. They were later refined by E. Jerome McCarthy and were given the name “the marketing mix.”

Product refers to the good or service that a business is selling. Price is, of course, the price or cost that a consumer is paying for said good or service. Place refers to where the consumer is buying the good or service. Although this used to be in an actual place of business, online shopping grows more and more prevalent each year. And finally, promotion includes the marketing and advertising done to promote the good or service.

As we mentioned, these Ps were introduced in the 1950s. Marketing has evolved exponentially since then, so it makes sense that the 4 Ps would evolve, too.

When we look at modern marketing, especially when it comes to digital marketing, there are 4 different Ps that we prefer to look at: permission, preferences, profile, and persona.

And although the 4 original Ps are still prevalent when it comes to commerce and traditional marketing, the scope of promoting your business has grown so huge that it simply doesn’t encompass everything anymore.

Let’s dive into the new 4 Ps of marketing and how your business can implement them to satisfy your customers and, most importantly, increase profits.

Permission

Why is this such an important P in the age of digital marketing?

It’s the basis of every inbound marketing strategy, and it’s been the cause for some serious privacy policy changes recently. (You remember the pouring of privacy policy change emails into your inboxes from every business you subscribe to, right? Circa May 2018 due to the GDPR? Even if you weren’t located in the EU, this was still some pretty serious regulation.)

This was all due to the level of user data that companies can easily get access to online about consumers. And not just their own consumers, but all consumers. Without the consumers knowing.

So the number one P in the new age of digital marketing is permission.

It is essential for you to get permission to market to your audience. In the United States, we’ve already had the CAN-SPAM Act in place that requires businesses to have explicit consent before sending any email marketing materials. The GDPR in the EU takes that even further. It’s currently only applicable to businesses within the EU, or businesses who sell to people within the EU, but it lays out guidelines that pretty much every business should follow.

Don’t send marketing materials without consent. Don’t be shady when getting consent. Make sure someone is explicitly submitting the information in an opt-in or checking a box when filling out a form.

Put a privacy policy on your website that states exactly what you intend to do with the information you are given in your forms, whether it’s a contact form or an opt-in form.

Preferences

This is a great way to cater your marketing even more specifically to your audience. There are some businesses who have such a specialized product or service that they only have one target audience, like a downtown boutique targeting upper-income level women. Your preferences won’t vary much.

But there are other businesses who sell lots of different things (like department stores, or shops carrying both men’s and women’s clothing), and because your customer base consists of individuals with unique wants and needs, the items they are interested in will vary. 

It’s good to have preferences. Does someone want to hear from you whenever you’re offering sales on appliances? Do you have a newsletter for menswear and a newsletter for womenswear? Do you have a daily newsletter and a weekly newsletter?

Offering preferences when people sign up for your marketing materials is a great way to ensure you’re only sending out information that pertains to them, and you’re not crowding their inboxes with products and services they will never care about.

Woman appearing happy while holding a laptop.Profile

Can your customers create their own profiles on your website? This can be a powerful tool, not just for your customers to have a place to keep all their fave items, but for you to get an inside peek into what your customers are loving so you can cater your marketing even more specifically.

If you allow customers to create profiles within your business website, capitalize on this by having a section where each user fills out their likes. What are their favorites of the things you sell? Favorite colors, favorite decor style, restaurants, clothing styles, etc.

Use this information in your retargeting campaigns and email newsletters by segmenting like users together.

Persona

Last, but not least, is persona. Buyer personas are a combination of facts and fiction. You create the persona that represents a fictional person in each of your buyer groups. The details you add are factual. The more detailed the persona is, the more helpful it will be. 

A well-developed buyer persona can provide structure for everything from marketing content to product development. The persona can help you understand the type of person you’re targeting and helps ensure that sales and marketing will be aligned in efforts to attract your target audience(s). 

Consider your customers’ views of their wants and needs. Use this to your advantage. What makes your person make a purchase? This is incredibly important to a person’s buyer persona, and you need to understand this about your customer.

Understanding these 4 Ps of modern marketing and how essential they are to a marketing strategy in the digital age is one of the best ways to improve your marketing strategies and increase profits. Contact us to learn more about the 4 Ps of marketing and how they can help your business.

 

What Does A Professional Inbound Marketing Agency Know That You Don’t?

Person typing on a laptop.Okay, so creating an inbound marketing strategy isn’t necessarily rocket science. It’s totally possible that your business execs could come up with a strategy just fine.

But what about when it’s time for actual implementation? Can your team correctly execute each one of the tactics? And will you actually see the same data-driven results that you’ll get from working directly with a digital marketing agency?

Not likely.

Working with a professional inbound marketing agency (like Connection Model, cough cough) can ensure that your digital marketing strategy is created and implemented to perfection, so you actually generate more leads, customer opportunities, and revenue within your business.

The bottom line is that effective digital marketing is data driven, and you need to hire a team that is going to know which data should be collected and measured. There’s a lot that a professional inbound marketing agency is going to know that you probably don’t.

Let’s name just a few of those things.

1. The types of data you should gather for your inbound marketing strategy.

Putting together a marketing strategy requires a lot of grunt work. You need to do market research, analyze your competition, create buyer personas, etc. But you need information, and you need data in order to do each of those things.

The most common types of data you’ll need to gather when putting together your marketing strategy include information about the following:

  • Your competitors
  • Their engagement rates
  • Their follow counts
  • Info about your target market
  • Social media analytics
  • Website analytics
  • Customer data from your CRM
  • Prospect data from your CRM

And that’s just getting started.

Man drinking a cup of coffee while working.

Now, what are you actually doing with this data?

Well first of all, when creating a strategy for your own online presence, it’s imperative to know and understand what is and isn’t working for your competition. The ultimate goal is to create an environment where your business name is synonymous with your product or industry, regardless of whether you’re a local business or not.

For example, a southern-style restaurant located in Charleston wants everyone in town to think of them first – the instant they start craving fried chicken.

So you want to do everything better than your competition. And you’ll never be able to do that if you don’t pay attention to what they’re doing in the first place.

Then, of course, you need info about your target market; get to know more about the people in this group, including how much they make, what their motivations are for buying your product or service, and more. You need your own analytics to see if what you’ve been doing has been working. And you need customer and prospect data to pay attention to buying cycles, buying habits, and who your actual customers are.

2. How to do more in less time.

One of the biggest perks of working with a professional agency is that we have the tools and the know-how to manage your online presence in a much more efficient manner than you could. We’ve got the monitoring and tracking tools we need to know if what we’re doing is working. We’re able to keep track of online conversations seamlessly without having to pore over every social channel all day long. We can quickly create and schedule content, ads, and campaigns because we have the experience, the team, and the tools to do so.

As a business owner, you’re just one person, and we don’t expect you to be able to handle it all. That’s why we’re here.

Plus, not to brag too much (but also, yes, to brag because we’re a proud agency), we partner with a large number of prominent businesses, tools, and software in the industry, so we know that we can offer you and your business top-notch service.

3. Where your people are spending their time.

As an inbound marketing agency, it is literally our jobs to know where each various target market is most likely to spend their time, and how to reel them in. Since finding new clients is the number one pain point amongst most small businesses, that kind of assistance is essential. 

Sure, you’ve got a basic understanding of who it is that’s buying from you. But how do you reach them?

Do you know which social media platform your target audience uses for browsing businesses, products, and services they’re interested in? Is it Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, or Pinterest? We have that information. And we can build an inbound marketing strategy based on those specific target markets, catering to the platforms that audience spends time on, the content they consume, and the messaging that’s going to resonate with them.

4. How to generate leads from more than just referrals.

Studies show that referrals are the number one source when it comes to new leads in a business. And although referrals can be extremely powerful and provide high-quality leads, you cannot rely on that alone if you want to scale your business and grow.

Working with a digital marketing agency (like Connection Model, no pressure though) with a proven track record of generating leads and customer opportunities is a very good idea. We can implement a data-driven marketing strategy that can generate leads from avenues like your website, your social platforms, your blog, and more.

5. The software your business needs to utilize.

Not only do we know which software you need, but we likely are already using it for other clients, so we have access to it. This can save your business a ton of money  – instead of investing directly into all of this software yourself you can rely on our access to the best software available.

There are so many different types of software: reporting and analytics, monitoring, community management, content management, and more. Using these can make your strategy implementation much more streamlined and easy to carry out.

Ready to hire a professional inbound marketing agency? You’re in luck, because we are one! Contact us today to learn more about how we can help grow your business.

 

 

The Secret of Creating Buyer Personas: It’s Trickier Than You Think

White puzzle pieces with the words mystery customer and buyer persona written on two of them.When marketing your business, it’s extremely important to know who your audience is. You can’t use the same messaging for every demographic, so understanding who is actually buying your product is essential to a successful marketing strategy.

The best way to find out is by creating a buyer persona. A buyer persona is a representation of who your target audience is. And you want to determine this with real-world data that you pull from your CRM and industry information.

So how do you gather this information? And how do you put it into a nice little fictional representation of who your buyer actually is?

Let’s take a look.

What information do you need for a buyer persona?

You want to start with basic demographics. What age or generation of people is buying your product/service? Are they married? What is their annual household income? Do they have kids? Are they male or female? What part of town do they live in (city, suburbs, etc.)? What is their education level? What path did their career take? How did they get where they are now?

It’s important to be as specific as possible. You want your buyer persona to accurately represent your customers.

Dive deeper into certain demographics to get even more information. Who do they report to at their company? What is their job title? What level are they at in their company? What is the company size? This information is especially pertinent for B2B companies who are targeting business owners and decision makers.

Furthermore, determine the pain points that make them buy from you for a solution. What is their motivation? Are they driven more by value or convenience, etc.?

Where do you get this information?

Although some businesses may make this information up out of thin air, it’s important to know that approach is not going to help you determine your true target audience. Instead, you need to actually pay attention to your customers, your analytics, and the data you have on hand to put together your buyer persona.

Take a look at your website’s analytics to see what keywords people are searching to get to your website. You can actually tell a lot about what your audience is looking for based on the search terms they’re typing in. For example, if you often see the words “sale” or “discount” alongside your keyword, it’s easy to glean that a big motivator for your audience is value, and what the price is. They want discounts, and this is valuable information to know. This means that one of the best ways to generate new leads and customer opportunities is by offering coupons or discount codes for first-time buyers.

You also want to check out your social media insights. For example, Facebook Insights has an entire section all about the people who like your page and their top-level demographics, so that you can see the genders, locations, and languages spoken by your fans, followers, and people your posts have reached.

One of the best ways to get the most specific and catered-to-you information is by sending out a customer survey to learn more about your audience directly from the horse’s mouth. Put together a 5-minute survey that asks about basic demographics, motivations, interests, shopping behaviors, etc. (be sure to include ranges in multiple choice, rather than asking for specifics to make your audience more comfortable answering).

Person working at a tabletop with a laptop and documents.

How can your buyer persona be used in marketing?

If you know exactly who your audience is, it makes it much easier to cater your marketing and messaging to those people. If you’re targeting moms, you’re not going to create content about staying up late playing video games all night, every night, because no mom has time for that.

So being able to personalize your content and really speak directly to your audience is the perfect way to create strong relationships with your customers and build up brand loyalty.

Not only that but having a well-developed buyer persona(s) can also help with your digital ad targeting. Because you have specific information about who your audience is, and because digital ad platforms allow you to target based on some serious specifics, you’re able to display ads right in front of the people who are buying your stuff.

If you have more than one buyer persona (different locations for your different store locations, to give an example), you can even segment those audiences out in your CRM or email marketing platform so you can create different email marketing messaging targeted for one specific store or location.

How do you create your buyer persona?

So you know what information you need, you know where to find it, and you know how to use it. Now it’s time to actually create a buyer persona.

It’s almost as easy as filling out a personality quiz. Give each persona a name to represent them, then write down everything you know about that persona. Their age, gender, job, income, etc. Everything we covered in the first bullet of this article. That’s all pertinent to your persona.

If you have more than one target audience, you’ll need to create multiple personas.

Fill in basic demographic information. Add any information you have about their interests and shopping behaviors. Fill in their motivations and values when it comes to buying things for themselves or their families.

Develop your basic marketing messaging that will work for that audience so you can flesh it out later when working on your marketing strategy.

Once you have all of your personas written down in front of your sales and marketing teams, you’re ready to get started.

At Connection Model, we want to help your business succeed. Contact us to learn more about the importance of buyer personas, how your business can leverage this powerful tool, and create content catered directly to your audience.

How Does Your Response Time Rate?

Group of hands stacking on top of each other.How long does it take you to respond to a customer or potential customer when they reach out to your business? Recent studies have shown that consumers expect to receive responses a lot more quickly than most businesses actually provide. For example, 42% of consumers expect a response on social media within an hour, and 41% of consumers expect an email response within six hours.

Sit back and think about how long it takes your business to get back to online or call inquiries current and potential customers are putting in. Are you getting back to them within 1 to 6 business hours? (Although social media has created a sort of “always on,” 24/7 customer service aspect rather than only during the typical 9 to 5.)

Your business’s response time could be standing in the way of new customers and closing sales. People are submitting your contact form while they’re in purchase mode, and they’re ready to buy or learn more about your business then. If you get back in touch with them three days later, they might not be as ready to buy, or worse, they may have already gone with your competition who got in touch with them faster.

So let’s talk about your business’s response time.

What is your response time?

First things first, you need to know what your response time actually is before you’ll know if you need to make any internal changes. After all, if your sales team is going above and beyond, getting back in touch with customer inquiries within a few hours, congratulations! But studies show that more than half of B2B companies aren’t following up with customer inquiries at all, so some work needs to be done,

So how you can find out what your response time is. 

There are tools available, like Drift, that assist in creating a chat widget directly on your website to have conversations with website visitors and take the process a step further than scheduling calls and meetings. They have an option called Get My Response Time that allows you to figure out your business’s response time.

Drift actually states that the ideal response time is within five minutes, and if you respond within an hour, your business is seven times more likely to close the sale.

Could you imagine having seven times more customers?

What causes a poor response rate?

There are a lot of factors that go into low response rates. The biggest one is the fact that not a lot of businesses have a strategy put into place for responding to customer inquiries within an hour to six hours tops. Within five minutes would be even better.

A few other factors:

Many sales teams retrieve info from their CRM once or twice a day, instead of as the inquiries come in. This needs to change. Your business needs some type of automation in place that sends emails to your sales team as these form submissions, etc., come in, so they’re not missing any opportunities throughout the day.

You’ve done too much separating of your sales team. When you have different teams or sales people for different regions, sometimes inquiries can get lost in the mix. Are these inquiries being sent to the right place? Are your teams ignoring inquiries from other departments or divisions? Creating separations like this is more business-centric than prospect-centric, and can actually cause more inquiries to be looked over and never answered.

Your sales team is too focused on lead generation. Of course, you absolutely want your sales team to be focused on generating new leads and potential customers. But you don’t want them to be so focused on lead gen that they overlook actual inbound leads, form submissions, email inquiries, and more.

How can you improve your response time?

Improving your response rate is incredibly important within your business. It’s going to help you and/or your sales and marketing team to close more sales and in turn grow your business. So why wouldn’t you want to create a strategy that is going to help improve this?

Man in a white dress shirt using his mobile phone.

1. Create a process for receiving inquiries in real time.

Your sales team should be receiving inquiries as they come in, rather than logging onto a CRM or their email account once or twice a day to check for contact form submissions. Filling out a contact form confirms that the user is at least interested. You don’t want a long delay in between the point when your customer is ready to buy and the actual contact. The sooner you get in touch with someone who is already in the purchasing mindset, the more likely you are to actually make a sale.

If you need to, designate a member of your sales team to monitor for emails, form submissions, customer service requests, phone calls, and social media inquiries about sales. They’ll then delegate each one out to members of the sales team to immediately follow up with and try to make a sale.

2. Add a live chat to your website.

One great way to chat with customers in real time is by adding a direct messaging service onto your website. This keeps you constantly available to answer any questions any potential customer or website visitor may have. Again, designate someone on your sales team who is able to monitor for any potential chat submissions and can quickly schedule a call or meeting between the lead and someone on your sales team.

Response time is something that your business needs to pay attention to. It’s not something you should brush off to the side, because it absolutely can affect your bottom line. You can and you probably will make a lot more money if you’re following up with customer inquiries within just an hour or so (or, if you’re an overachiever, within five minutes). Contact us to learn more about how we can help your business improve your response time and close more sales.

Digital Marketing with Video: It’s Show Time!

Digital marketing strategy2018 is the year of video.

But, wait. That sounds a bit familiar, doesn’t it?

Well, that’s because pretty much every recent year has been considered the “year of video.” Because video is one of the most popular types of content and every business should put an emphasis on video marketing in their digital marketing strategy.

Think about your Facebook news feed for a minute. Each time you scroll down, what is nearly four out of every five posts?

It’s a video!

People love watching videos, and Facebook loves showing videos in their algorithm. It’s really a win-win.

So how do you get started with video marketing? Here are a few techniques to really ramp up your video strategy.

1. Go live.

One of the easiest types of video to take is live video.

Once you forget all of the stomach flutters that can come with doing live video, think about it: all you need to do is open your Facebook app and hit Go Live. And then you talk.

There are several different ways to use live video in your business. You can show behind the scenes, use it as an informational session to teach your audience something, demonstrate how to use your product, and more. And you can use your smartphone or your desktop computer to easily capture the video.

A good video doesn’t always have to be a big production. Ease yourself into video marketing by putting together a “script” (you don’t want to read word-for-word on live camera–just give yourself some lines to follow) and doing a live broadcast on your Facebook Page.

2. Tell a story.

Videos that focus only on making sales aren’t going to resonate well with your audience. Instead, you should be focusing on telling a story. Tell viewers about your brand mission, talk about the backstory of your company, create an advertorial on the life of someone who doesn’t have your product and how terrible it is, then talk about how great it becomes once they buy your product.

You can still keep videos business-centric without creating a straight up advertisement. Focus on telling the story rather than making the sale.

3. Hook your audience.

When creating a video for your digital marketing, you have three seconds to really grab your viewer before they scroll past your video.

Use this knowledge to your advantage and create a hook within the first few seconds that reels your viewer in and makes them want to watch your video. There are a few different ways to do this.

First, always be sure to add an interesting and informative thumbnail to your video on both Facebook and YouTube. Although videos autoplay on most platforms now, having that thumbnail still helps when people are searching for videos or viewing your video library. You could also try giving a preview of the content viewers can expect to see in the video.

Digital marketing strategy

4. Include captions.

Most people watch videos as they scroll through their Facebook feeds. They might be at work, on the bus or train, around friends and family, and not in a place where they can play the sound and listen to your video.

Be mindful of this and always include captions for the dialogue in your videos. You can easily add these into your Facebook and YouTube video editor so that you don’t alienate anyone in your audience from being able to watch your content.

5. Throw CTAs in throughout your video.

Keep this in mind for live video and created video. When you’re live, you constantly want to be reintroducing yourself for new viewers joining the broadcast as well as throwing in calls to action for where they can learn more or take the action you’re talking about.

When creating video, you also want to include quick calls to action to contact your business, purchase a product, and more. On YouTube, you’re even able to create cards with links directly on your video so people can easily click over to your sales page.

6. Collaborate with influencers and experts in your industry.

You want your business to be a trusted name in your industry, yes? One of the best ways to do that is by collaborating with or interviewing a big influencer or big name within your industry. Working with a name or face that everybody knows helps position your business as a brand they can trust.

People trust peer recommendations infinitely more than just business advertisements, so capitalize on that. Look into microinfluencers within your community as well. These are influencers on a much smaller scale that are also much cheaper to work with. Influencers can appear within your videos or create their own content for your business or your product/service.

You can also interview well-known experts in your industry within a live video or created video. It’s incredibly easy to invite someone to join your live broadcast, so you don’t even have to gather in the same location to interview someone via video anymore.

Digital marketing strategy

7. Pin down a video marketing budget.

Live video is the cheapest and easiest form of video to create. Like we said above, all you need is something to film and a smartphone or computer to film it with.

There are also a ton of different smartphone video editing apps so that you can create short social videos directly with your smartphone without paying anything more than $0.99 for the app.

However, if you really want to invest in video marketing for your business, you need to start thinking about a budget. You’ll need to buy the proper equipment, invest in quality video editing software like Final Cut Pro, Adobe Premiere, or Adobe After Effects.

Options

The old adage was that a photo was worth a 1,000 words, and video is worth a 1,000 photos. So, if you don’t know how to get started and are looking for some options, using a “newer” cell phone is one option. Many of our clients at one point or another hire one of their relatives or a friend that have good equipment and some editing software, the “I know a guy” is a great way to get started, but it is tough to maintain if you want to take this seriously.

For consistency of frequency, quality and promotion it is really best to outsource the process to an organization that does this for a career. There are also facilities in larger cities that have “green” room studios set up that are relatively inexpensive. And, of course, many of today’s digital marketing agencies have staff available. In fact, a couple of days ago on one of those rare sunny days here in Seattle we took our crew out to a local business and shot some great drone video shots.  

Are you ready to get started with video in your digital marketing strategy? We’d love to help! We can discuss the specific strategies that would be beneficial for your business. Contact us to get started.

 

Should Your Business Adopt AI This Year?

Digitally created profile of a human face.Artificial intelligence (AI) is no longer strictly a thing of science fiction. There are types of artificial intelligence all over the tech space: chatbots, voice search, digital ad targeting, speech and facial recognition, and more. You may already be using some of these types of AI either in life or within your business. But as AI starts to grow and become more and more prevalent, does it make sense for a small business to adopt this type of technology?

We want to explore AI and the uses it can have to benefit your business. But every type of new tech has both pros and cons, so we think it’s a good idea to first talk about what those are when it comes to AI. This information may be helpful in making decisions about whether the investment is worthwhile. 

We decided to begin our list with some of the potential cons related to investing in AI. The bottom line is, AI is here and it’s not going away. AI deployments are increasingly becoming an expected aspect of business growth. And although your business may not be ready to make a huge investment in AI technology, AI cannot be ignored.

Potential Cons (keep in mind, for every negative, there are also some positives to consider):

1. AI is still new.

When something is new, it’s rarely perfect. In fact, it more often than not has a variety of different issues that arise over and over again. With AI applications, they are still being tested and refined. They’re babies right now; they’re still learning what it is they were created to do.

Of course, all new tech has to be tested and refined multiple times when it’s first born, but that can mean higher overhead for a business that is interested in adopting whatever new tech has just come out.

And when you have a small business with a limited budget, costly tech repairs are not high on the priority list. That said, it is wise to stick with the types of AI that have already proven their worth, such as chatbots.

2. AI requires a specialist.

Because AI is new, only a select few have become educated and qualified to develop the technology and really know how to test it and how to fix it. Depending on the tech you are exploring, AI specialists can be costly. So if you need to hire a specialist to help your business with its new AI, you may have higher costs.

However, innovative technology that incorporates AI and machine learning, including virtual agents and decision management systems, can help your business streamline processes and ultimately, save you money. Factor in the overall ROI when making decisions about AI.

3. AI likely isn’t always necessary for your small business objectives.

Before investing in AI, it’s important to consider the value and advantages it will offer your business. Just like the shiny new smartphone or laptop, we all want the newest tech thing to show our friends. We feel like it elevates us to have the latest and greatest. And we feel that same way in our businesses.

But it’s important not to get distracted by all the shiny new objects in your business and focus on what’s actually going to help you get the job done. The reality is, an AI application could have some really cool features for your business. But before you invest in AI, carefully consider whether it will help you create a new revenue stream, increase leads, or exponentially increase growth and scale your business. If not, now may not be the right time to make that investment.

Okay – it’s time to talk about the pros of adopting AI:

4. AI can transform your business.

Look, we said we were going to talk pros and cons, right? Cons of AI: they can be expensive. Pros? They can seriously transform and grow your business. You just have to decide if they can do enough for your business to front the costs.

Not every AI is going to break the bank. Some minor versions are included within software and products you already use. It may be an upgrade or it may come with the version you’re already using. 

But AI can help your business in a lot of ways: it can help your salespeople to close more deals, it can help you to create better digital advertising, it can improve employee engagement, and it can help you find your product market faster.

Man working at a laptop computer.

How can AI manage all of these different things?

Close more deals: There are types of AI that can record and automatically transcribe the calls your sales team makes. Your management team can then go over those calls to find where your sales team needs to improve. Better yet, they can look at the calls of your most successful salespeople and teach the strategies they use to the rest of the sales team so you’re all on the same page.

Better digital ads: Use this AI for free! Facebook advertising actually has an AI that can take a look at an audience based on a pixel placed on your website and then create a lookalike audience for targeting. So you’re basically using a sample of people who have visited your website and are obviously interested in your product or service, and creating a larger potential audience to introduce to your business.

Improve employee engagement: If you struggle with keeping your employees engaged in their day-to-day job, there are AI solutions that can help with this. For example, your business could invest in an internal chatbot that gives your employees 24/7 access to HR.

Find your product market: If you have no idea where your product fits into your market, you don’t really have a business. At least, not a successful one. So utilizing an AI to help you find your market can be extremely helpful. There are AIs and software available that can collect data on your customers, analyze it, and find patterns amongst the people who have purchased from you. Having this information can help you pinpoint your target audience.

Artificial Intelligence can be both rewarding and trying on your small business. And not every AI is created equal. There are some versions that are huge beasts and are meant for corporate giants like Amazon. But there are others that can be scaled down for small business use. It’s true that AI can be costly, but it’s also true that AI can help your business enjoy growth and increased success. Always be sure it’s something that will only have a positive ROI, and you can absolutely transform your business with AI.

Curious what other tech and software out there can help your business? Contact us to chat about software, digital marketing, and more.