Archive for the ‘B2C Focus’ Category

In a Digital World, Does Direct Mail Still Work?

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Gaining customers starts with awareness. Even though the Metropolitan Methodist Hospital is one of the more well-known hospital systems in San Antonio, their Emergency Room facility at the Quarry Market Shopping Center was relatively new, and residents didn’t always remember where they were located. So, the hospital reached out to Robot Creative for help with an awareness campaign.

The challenge was to get word out to the families living around the Quarry Market about the full-service ER right in their neighborhood. To do this, we presented a plan that included digital marketing blended with traditional forms of advertising like community outreach and direct mail.

According to a research by the Data and Marketing Association conducted in 2018, direct to consumer advertising has a response rate ranging between 5% for prospect lists (possible customers) and 9% for house lists (current customers). Physically handling a post card can create a different response than seeing an ad on a screen. According to stats quoted by the USPS, a majority of consumers feel mail is more personal than the internet and prefer it as the format for unsolicited information on unfamiliar companies.

Knowing that the tactile effect of a physical mailer was likely to have a good response rate, we developed several campaigns featuring hyper-local content that would appeal to our target audience.

  1. Post Cards – We designed and sent post card series to family households in the targeted region around the ER. These included information on the location of the facility as well as a brief description about services and unique qualities of that facility. There were two series, one with designs that featured local students/parents and one with prominent residents from the area. This gave readers familiar faces with which to identify and engage. We also included static and variable maps, showing each household’s unique directions from their location to the ER. This personalized and local experience made these mailers more relevant for residents in the area. Imagery from each campaign was utilized in both social and print advertising during the same time frame, increasing frequency and reach on the selected audience.
  1. Magazines – We also created a special magazine, In the Loop, to specifically reach new residents who recently moved into the same neighborhoods. These magazines gave a more in-depth overview of the Metropolitan Methodist Hospital and Quarry ER, still including information like location, but also education on preventative care and when to visit the ER versus an urgent care center or a full-service hospital.MMEC In The Loop Magazine

Compared to their peers within the system, the patient count at the Quarry ER increased 18% in the first year of this effort, while the system average declined. This proved that awareness campaigns utilizing a multi-touch point approach can and do work for B2C marketing.

Need more customers coming into your location? Contact us today to develop a winning strategy.

Six Things You Need to Know Right Now About Google Ads

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Advertising on Google is Changing. Here’s What You Need To Know.

Earlier this summer, Google announced that it was going to consolidate and rebrand its various advertising products. Gone would be Google AdWords and Google DoubleClick. In their place, one unified platform: Google Ads. Given the scope of the advertising behemoth’s current product lineup, the move probably makes sense. After all, Google advertising has changed dramatically since AdWords was first introduced way back in 2000 (yeah, 18 years ago).

The company needed a brand that accurately reflected its robust offering, which now includes search, display, map, video, in-app, and more. But that wasn’t the only big news to come out of Mountain View. In addition to the modified moniker, the tech giant has some pretty big things up its sleeve. Let’s jump in.

 

  1. Responsive Search Ads

Google’s push toward machine learning has made its way to search in the form of responsive search ads. With responsive ads, you’ll provide 15 headlines and four descriptions. From there, Google will test different permutations of headline and description to identify the optimal combinations.

The concept has some marketers scratching their heads. To be sure, it flips the traditional headline/body content model in the way that it pairs content without respect to context, but it’s really only a technical change. You’ll still need to write engaging content, now you just need to make sure that each line can stand on its own.

The exciting thing about responsive search is how it will learn to serve the best message to searchers based on the keywords they search for, the device they use, their past browsing behavior, and other signals. While responsive search hasn’t been rolled out universally, the format is poised to make a big splash during the second half of 2018 and beyond.

 

  1. Three Headlines. Two Descriptions.

Responsive ads weren’t the only change to Google’s flagship advertising platform. In late August, search introduced a third 30-character headline and a second 90-character description. It all adds up to this: You now have more space to tell your story.

There’s just one catch: The third headline and the second description won’t appear on 100 percent of search impressions. What does that mean for marketers? Not a whole lot, but you will want to make sure that this bonus space doesn’t contain critical content.

By the same token, however, you definitely don’t want to ignore this change. Marketers who don’t take advantage of the new headline space will have their URL displayed in place of a third headline. This looks weird, of course, because the URL is already listed below the headline in Search ads. Take heed. Write new headlines.

 

  1. Smart Campaigns

Not every business has a marketing department. Not every business has a website. But almost every business can benefit from Google Ads in some way. Enter Google Smart Campaigns.

Smart Campaigns will be the default campaign type for new advertisers in Google Ads. Built on the same technology as Google’s other entry-level advertising solution, AdWords Express, Smart Campaigns are almost entirely automated. From messaging to delivery, Smart Campaigns attempt to provide a turnkey advertising management experience based on the product or service being advertised and the goal the advertiser sets (i.e. calls, visits, form submissions).

Like Mailchimp and others before it, Smart Campaigns also ventures into the world of turnkey landing pages. Designed to simplify the development process, these landing pages use machine learning to pull information about your offering directly from the ad, and match that information to your on-page creative. Because Google will host both the ad and the landing page, conversion tracking is built-in to the experience.

Sounds like a slam dunk, right? Well, it’s not quite that simple. All that convenience comes at a price. Sure, Smart Campaigns will get you up and running quickly. They’ll even take care of a lot of the technical work. But who’s manning the ship? How do you know if you’re getting the right clicks? How do you know if you’re paying too much? Google’s assumptions will probably get you results. They will definitely spend your money.

Interested in quickly testing landing page variations? Check out Google Optimize, a slightly more involved, but significantly more comprehensive solution. With just a bit of code, Google Optimize allows you to A/B test headlines, contact forms, and more. And what will all this testing get you? Higher conversion rates.

 

  1. Mobile Speed Score (It’s Not Just For SEO!)

First, let’s state the obvious: Page speed can have a dramatic impact on your conversion rate. After all, isn’t that why Google gave us PageSpeed Insights?

Sure, but wouldn’t it be nice to view that data without leaving the Google Ads platform? Now you can! Google recently announced the introduction of Mobile Landing Page Speed Score column on the Landing Pages page within Google Ads. This tool scores landing pages for speed on a ten-point scale.

What’s more? The tool takes ad performance into account when ascribing a score, and it does so based on a number of factors, including the relationship between page speed and the potential conversion rate.

So why does this matter? Previously, understanding a site’s speed required a tedious back-and-forth process: Read a report in analytics, look for benchmarks, make adjustments to the page, and see if your performance improves. Rinse and repeat. With Google’s Mobile Landing Page Speed Score, you can view your performance directly through Google Ads.

 

  1. Video and Video Advertising on the Rise 

Last year, TechCrunch reported that more than a billion hours of video are watched on YouTube every day. EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.

Add to that the fact that 64 percent of users are more likely to buy a product online after watching a video and you’ve got a pretty convincing case to jump on the video bandwagon.

So it comes as no surprise that Google is expanding its TrueView YouTube advertising platform. What’s TrueView? You know those video ads that run before the videos you want to see? Those are TrueView in-stream ads. What about those video ads that show up in YouTube search results? Those are TrueView discovery ads.

Okay, so what’s changing? Last spring Google announced a new TrueView bidding strategy called TrueView for reach, which basically combines in-stream ads with a CPM bidding strategy (cost per thousand impressions). So why does that matter? CPM can be a more cost-efficient way to hit prospects with your video content. Also of note, Google is introducing a TrueView for action, which allows marketers to place headline and call-to-action overlays on their video content.

Also of note to video marketers, Google recently introduced a smart-bidding strategy called Maximize Lift. Powered by machine learning, Maximize Lift automatically adjusts bids to maximize the impact video ads have on brand perception throughout the consumer journey. The information on this is still a bit vague, but it sounds a bit like an automated bidding strategy designed to increase frequency among those viewers most likely to take action.

What does all this mean for marketers? Well, if you haven’t already considered how video can play into your marketing strategy, it’s probably time to do so.

 

  1. Lead Ads On YouTube

Ads drive website visits and website visits drive leads, right? Well, that’s one way to do it, but now there’s another way: Lead ads. Think about it this way: Simplify the lead generation process by relocating the contact form from a landing page to the site of the advertising impression. Then, tie in with the platform serving that impression—Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.—to simplify the fulfillment process via pre-populated forms.

While this may fly in the face of the traditional “get them to the website” thinking, anyone who’s run lead ads on Facebook or LinkedIn already knows that they can significantly increase lead capture rates. So it’s been a little baffling that Google didn’t have a comparable offering. Late to the party or not, Google is currently testing lead ads on YouTube, and a wider release is expected later this fall.

 

Done dabbling? If you’ve tried Google Ads but want to take your digital marketing to the next level, contact our team of digital marketing experts to get started today!

 

Akimbo — Zeroing in on Cost of Acquisition

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Akimbo Card is a prepaid debit card service developed for family budgeting. When Akimbo came to us, they were looking for strategy and creative that would not only improve app downloads and card activations but also maximize ad spend to the right audiences in order to lower cost of acquisition of new registrants. To solve this problem, we developed app, search, display and social ads targeting three unique audiences and tested for click-through rate, cost per click and cost per acquisition. With weekly campaign management, messaging revisions and audience adjustments, we were able to increase enrollments by more than 150% while lowering cost of acquisition by nearly 50%.

 “The Robot Creative team has been fantastic to work with. They iterate quickly to maximize your marketing budget, and have lowered our customer acquisition cost by nearly 50%,” said Houston Frost, Akimbo Senior VP of Corporate Development and Prepaid Products.

 

Where should I host my small business WordPress website?

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We work with a lot of small and medium-sized businesses on their websites. The most common platform we develop in is WordPress, and we are regularly asked “Do you do hosting?” and “Where should I host the website?” Here are a few of the more common questions and answers around website hosting.

Do I need something special to host a WordPress website?
A basic WordPress website doesn’t require any fancy configurations on the hosting side. In fact, almost every hosting environment is already able to host a WordPress site. The one thing that might be “off” by default and need to be turned “on” is the SQL Server, but most hosts already have this option baked in to even the most simplistic of plans.

Who should you use for WordPress hosting? Can I stay with my current host?
There are WordPress-specific hosts. The top three WordPress-specific hosts that we have worked with are WP Engine, Pressable and Lightningbase. All three of these companies specialize in hosting for WordPress. Large hosting companies such as Godaddy, Hostgator and Rackspace have added WordPress offerings, but they do not have the same focus as companies who specialize in WordPress. It is also possible to host on internal servers and dedicated servers. We prefer the companies that specialize in WordPress hosting because you get the benefit of their expertise.

What makes WordPress-specific hosts different?
Speed – These hosting companies have servers which are optimized for WordPress. WordPress is a great platform, but there can be some performance issues with slow loading speeds, which can be critical when considering Google’s increasing emphasis on speed in ranking for SEO. WordPress-specific hosts have the servers configured to combat slow load times.

Security – Because WordPress is the most widely used content management system, it is an easy target for attacks. Yes, your small business website could be the target of a hacking attempt. It happens all too often. These attacks are automated by robots which scan the internet looking for known vulnerabilities. You don’t have to make anyone mad for them to come after you. It’s completely impersonal and opportunistic. While they can’t always keep all the bad guys out, companies that specialize in WordPress hosting can help automatically apply WordPress updates and patches to ensure that you’re site is as safe as possible.

Tools – When you offer one product or service, it allows you to specialize. Many of the WordPress hosts offer a variety of useful tools. One example is a complimentary staging environment (which allows you to rapidly duplicate the website and work on a copy instead of the live site for large changes or updates). You can always set up a staging server and manually move a copy over, but the automation tools can be incredible time-savers.

Expertise – Many hosting companies attempt to differentiate on customer service, but that can be a challenge when every website is built with different technology. We have found that WordPress-specific hosts have the ability to help trouble shoot technical difficulties, even in the development of the site.

What if we have sophisticated hosting needs?
We have been impressed by the capabilities of the hosts we have worked with. Many have been able to accommodate unusual hosting needs and requests. Not all of the services will be listed on their marketing websites, so take advantage of their eager sales teams to ask questions and get help with their solutions and alternative suggestions.

We are here to help.
If you would like to discuss a new WordPress website or the redesign of an existing site, contact us today.

What It Really Means to Think “Mobile First”

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How many times have you looked at your phone today? Between quick glances, email, text messages, videos and checking in on social media, by the end of the day, you and every one of your customers spend nearly three and a half hours looking at your phones. [Inc]

We all know this shift to mobile is happening, and you’ve probably heard marketers use the phrase “mobile first” for a while now. But what does it ACTUALLY mean? Simply put, it means planning for mobile devices before desktops. But what is simple to say might require dramatic shifts in established marketing and design processes.

Here are some of the main changes your organization must make to remain relevant in the new “mobile first” world.

Speed is Everything

The first requirement in a mobile world is speed. Over the past several years, Google has been prioritizing mobile speed more and more when calculating search engine rankings. Analyzing mobile web traffic Google has found that 53% of mobile visitors will abandon a site if it takes longer than 3 seconds to load, yet the average mobile page load time for sites is an agonizing 22 seconds.

WordPress has come to dominate the Internet over the past few years, supporting more than 25% of the world’s websites. [Forbes] While WordPress is a great platform to build a website on, it can be slow out of the box. Luckily, there are plenty of things you can do to help increase your site’s page speed. An easy way to get started, regardless of your platform,  is to test your site with Google’s Page Speed Test. It will tell you exactly where to focus to improve your site speed.

If you are starting a new website, you might even look beyond WordPress. There are a myriad of new mobile frameworks designed to improve mobile speed and user experience like FICTOAN, Beauter, Vanilla framework, Bulma and more.

Not Your Grandma’s Brand

If you manage to pass the speed test, your audience will find you, but what is their first impression of your brand online?

Social media and digital advertising are constantly changing. Over the past few years Facebook has made several changes to how profile photos appear on posts. Just this year, they changed the cropping that shows on your brand’s page from the square crop to a smaller circular crop. For some brands this meant their logos were awkwardly chopped off.

Moving forward, businesses are going to continue to face new challenges as their logo appears on new and changing platforms. While it’s very customary to have horizontal and stacked versions of your logo, the mobile first version of logo design will require brands to keep sizes in mind that maintain their readability on small mobile devices, and in a variety of different shapes, such as circles, squares and rectangles.

Just as websites are built for responsive designs where elements rearrange and disappear depending on the size, it’s also time to embrace responsive logos. On a responsive logo with an icon, text and tag line, each of the elements would be present at large sizes, and then the proportions might change with the text and tag line even dropping off as the logo gets used in smaller and smaller spaces. Brands that have a compact logo mark that they can use with or without the type treatment currently have a leg up in the social landscape.

If you really want to take it to the next level, you can even make it dance. Many digital platforms are starting to support animated logos. These present new options to explore and accentuate your brand’s identity in ways that catch mobile viewer’s attention as they scroll and swipe their way through content.

The single color logo cut out of vinyl is a thing of the past. It’s time to rethink how your brand is making use of its real estate in the mobile and digital world.

Developing the Right Content

Speaking of tight real estate, emerging platforms continue to decrease character limits and add all types of new restrictions for brands operating on them. To stay relevant among these changing landscapes will require new approaches to creating your content and messaging.

Start by flipping the dynamic from designing for large format pieces first, to designing for smaller mobile areas. Historically, a company profile would be developed in a longer format (750 words or so) and then whittled down to (250 and 150 character versions). It’s a very different approach to intentionally try to limit content and then build it back up for different mediums.

When in doubt, keep things simple. Focus on the core of your message and then build on it as you expand into additional content areas. If you can communicate your core messaging it in less than 6 seconds, or within 40 characters you’ll know you’re on the right track.

Finally, to maximize your website’s search engine compatibility, you will also have to begin writing differently. The first step in writing for web is to do your keyword research and find out what your audience is searching for. Then you can make sure those keywords and phrases are imbedded into the language of your copy. You also need to make sure that text is “live” and not baked into images, and ensure that it’s written in a conversational tone to answer the types of questions your audience would ask a friend or colleague, such as: “Where’s the best place to get…?” or “How do I…?” Highlight the most meaningful information in your content (like products, prices and hours) for search engines and virtual assistants by using rich data markups, which are back end code to call out critical pieces of information to search engines.

Looking Forward

From a wider perspective, not much has actually changed about what information your audiences want and need, but the way that information is being delivered continues to change at ever an increasing pace.

Focusing on mobile first requires bite size content that most companies are not accustomed to, but it is easy to embrace by focusing on the core of your message and objectives.

Have questions about how to put mobile first in your marketing? Let us help>

Jumping In or Just Dipping Your Toe Into Digital?

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Are you ready to jump in or still wondering how to get started with digital advertising? Are you trying to evaluate whether it should be a more important focus in your marketing plan? With the incredible amount of data for targeting and reporting ROI, digital advertising is easily scalable to increase sales and generate new leads.

With so many mediums to run ads on, it is important to understand each medium and the benefits of going digital. Defined as any kind of marketing that is digitally displayed, common types include:

  • Social Ads
  • Desktop and Mobile Display Ads
  • Search Ads (Google, Yahoo/Bing)
  • Email Marketing
  • Interest-based Gmail Ads
  • Streaming Radio Ads
  • Video Advertising
  • In-Game & In-App Advertising
  • Influencer Marketing
  • SMS and OTT Messaging

No matter what platform, network or medium you choose, the benefits of digital advertising over traditional media are readily apparent.

1.    Audience Micro-Targeting

Go beyond geographic and demographic targeting. From interest-based targeting to placements on sites your audience likes to retargeting, audience segmenting options for digital advertising are truly powerful and unlike other forms of traditional advertising. If you want to reach graduates of UTSA who have pet frogs and drive Mini Coopers, we can probably do that.

2.    Sleuth-Like Tracking

If you can’t measure results of a campaign, how can you determine success? Using pixels, custom URLS and tracking codes, digital advertising can provide crystal-clear clarity into campaign ROI. No need to collect returned postcards or rely on the front desk to ask, “How did you hear about us?”

3.    Real-Time Updates

Unlike most forms of traditional advertising (i.e. direct mail, print, billboards), digital advertising allows for easier optimization over time and at a much lower cost. As you track performance, you can optimize campaigns by adjusting bids, testing new headline copy and updating ad placements. There is no need to wait for the next issue and no cost to “reprint vinyl.”

Setting Your Campaign Up For Success

Many of our clients own mid-sized businesses and don’t have unlimited advertising budgets. When every dollar counts, digital advertising proves to be more flexible, provides a better ROI and demonstrates more reliable tracking mechanisms than traditional mediums. Are you ready to try digital advertising? Let’s talk >

Is Influencer Marketing Right for You?

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How to Find Customers in a Digital World

Social media connects the world and has become such a large part of our everyday lives. It only makes sense that it is the first  place people go for recommendations, advice and endorsements. Enter the social media influencer, also known as Bloggers, Vloggers, YouTubers and Instagrammers. With the right strategy, tapping into these influencers can help drive your brand message to a large group of potential buyers. Do you know how to put influencer marketing to work to meet your goals?

Here are some of the top benefits of working with Influencers.

1.    Connect with an Engaged Audience

The best influencers know their audience and what makes them tick. If you are trying to reach a niche audience, working with an influencer can get your company or product in front of tough-to-find or tough-to-engage audiences with already established credibility. Influencers exist for all kinds of topics and industries, from mommy bloggers to financial experts to IT gurus, and more.

2.    Build Trust with Your Audience

There is an authenticity to influencer marketing unlike other tactics. It’s not the brand speaking to the audience, it is someone that your audience is looking to for information and that they have put their trust in. Aligning with these influencers adds an authenticity to your brand that is harder to come by with purely brand-generated content and advertising.

3.    Enhance a Content Marketing Strategy

For B2B companies, the sales cycle can sometimes last anywhere from 6 to 18 months, with multiple touch points and opportunities to win over a potential buyer. A good content marketing strategy hits each of those touch points with tailored messaging mapped to specific points in the customer journey. Incorporating an Influencer strategy into this process can help add credibility with trusted subject matter experts speaking to the benefits of your product.

4.    Cut Through the Noise of Digital

According to Business Insider, Ad Blocker usage grew by over 30% in 2016. Between this increase, the lack of transparency into ad performance from the major platforms and the increasing competition for real estate in the news feed, finding alternate ways to reach your target audience is now more important than ever.

5.    Capture Higher-Quality Leads

If you’re reaching 11 million people and generating 100 leads but only 2 end up as closed sales, are you finding the right people? Better-targeted audiences, trusted recommendations and higher engagement rates all can help lead to higher quality leads from an Influencer Marketing program compared to other digital and traditional marketing tactics.

As with any new initiative, outlining a plan with clear goals and measurable objectives is the first step to building a successful Influencer Marketing Program. Think this is the right solution for you? Have questions about getting started? Let us help >

How is Your Brand Adapting to the Latest Facebook “Fake News” Changes?

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Did you notice a change this month in how your posts look on Facebook? If you typically adjust the copy and images on web links when you post to Facebook, and are noticing those options are no longer there, then you’ve been caught in the crossfire of Facebook’s war on fake news.

How it Used to Work
When you posted a link to your website on Facebook, you had an option to change the photos and text for the post if you didn’t like what popped up. Unfortunately people abused this feature leading to all sorts of misleading images and “click-bait” style headlines being attached to news articles and other content,. That is what we now know as Fake News.

How it Works Now
Now Facebook auto-generates the headline and copy from the web page or article, without the option to manually change them. However, that doesn’t mean your content strategy is dead. There are steps you can take to get current and work within Facebook’s new system.

What You Can Do
Facebook pulls the information for the posts you create much the same way that Google does when your site shows up in search results. And just like you can optimize your site for search engines, you can optimize the appearance of your links on social media.

There is code that can be added to the back end of your web site to tell Facebook (and other social platforms) which copy and image to use. This code can be preset for the entire website (for example, to pull the top image, or to pull the logo). Or it can be customized on each page, by specifying which image you would like used from a particular page or post (it could be the top image, one from a gallery or one further down the page).

The same kinds of options exist for the copy. You may want to pull in the page title or the headline or the subhead or the first paragraph. Or maybe you want to be able to specify it from page to page.

You have the control to do this, but it isn’t something that you will do through Facebook, it’s something that you will do by updating the code on your website.

Facebook is Just the Start
Facebook led the charge against fake news and they know its affecting legitimate businesses.

“By removing the ability to customize link metadata (i.e. headline, description, image) from all link sharing entry points on Facebook, we are eliminating a channel that has been abused to post false news. We also understand that many publishers have workflows that rely on overwriting link preview metadata to customize how their content appears to audiences on Facebook. We’re committed to a solution that supports them.”
-Facebook Developer Blog

But it’s only a matter of time until other social media platforms like LinkedIn or even Pinterest start putting in these types of restrictions to fight against the spread of fake news. So now’s the time to adjust your strategy . Don’t get caught with bad images and copy on your social links.

Not Sure if This Will Affect Your Business?

  • Do you promote content from your site such as blog posts, news articles or key pages?
  • Do you use paid social advertising to direct traffic to your website?
  • Do you have events that you share or promote via social media?
  • Do you have a social media strategy, or plan to build one in the future?
  • Do you use PR services that promote your company in the news?
  • Do you or any key members of your business write guest Op-Eds, blogs or other pieces of content for other sites?
  • Do other people or businesses regularly link to your website on social media?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, then your business is going to be affected by these changes.

Need Help?
Whether you’re building a new website, or just managing your current one, you should always have a knowledgeable web partner. Firms which aren’t used to providing technical website updates might not know how to make the back end changes that you’ll need to stay up to date with this changing landscape, or how to give the level of control you need from page to page.

If you need any help with your website or social media marketing, please contact us for more information.

What Makes an Ideal Client?

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We recently did a check in and reset with one of our oldest clients. We wanted to make sure that we were being the best creative partner that we could be, and our amazing client responded by saying that they wanted to be the best customer as well. We valued the discussion that came out so much that we decided it was worth a blog post.

Passion

One of our core values is passion. We hire people who love what they do and who want to work on projects they are passionate about. We love to work with clients who are equally passionate about what they do. We want to see passion for the business, passion for the processes and passion about the results!

Clear Goals

We love it when our clients have clear goals for themselves, their business and for us. In the absence of goals, we are just making things look pretty. Marketing should be driven by clear goals and metrics, and we believe it is our responsibility to coach our clients through this process. Don’t we all want to be able to say these dollars have been well spent?

Deadlines

We have learned that deadlines keep everyone on task. When there is a deadline, we all stay on time, on budget and focused on the goals. When too much time passes, a project inevitably evolves, leading to change orders and rework (which can be costly and annoying for everyone involved). A client that can not only set deadlines, but meet them for their own deliverables as well, is an ideal customer.

Decent Budgets

We are not a freelance shop, and we don’t work with unpaid interns, so our pricing is directly related to our labor. I’m not going to say that we can’t get excited about some quick and dirty projects, but we are all passionate about what we do, so we sure do love to have the budget to be able to shine.

Timely Payment

We are NOT passionate about having to follow up for payment. In fact, we are pretty sure that a fairy dies every time we need to make a collection call. We work our butts off to hit deadlines and be incredibly responsive. The least a client can do to repay the energy and effort is to pay in a timely manner.

Ability to Make Decisions

This requires either direct access to the decision maker or empowerment of the internal team to move projects forward. Nothing is more painful than seeing an annual plan finally get approved six months into the fiscal year!

Direct Communication

We love direct communication, and it really helps when the client’s internal teams operate with a similar culture. Our whole team is trained to welcome feedback with open arms, so it kills us when people tip toe around. We are not sensitive. Go ahead and blurt it out. Ask the questions. Even if you need to tell us you think something is crap. We promise to do the same.

Collaboration

This is another one of our core values. Openness, honesty and transparency are all critical to us. We want to work with clients who respect our opinions, view us as partners and are willing to engage in healthy dialog.

Respect for Our Business

We are running as business here as well. It seems strange that such a point should need to be acknowledged, but it does. We are all out to deliver a product or service we believe in, but we want to pay our employees well and make a good living. Just as our clients work towards a profit margin, we should be entitled to the same.

Open to Creative Exploration

Creativity is more of a process than a destination. It really helps when clients feel comfortable taking creative leaps and allow us to explore different conceptual directions. This creative trust expands naturally as our client relationships evolve, but it helps to start out with a certain amount of it in the beginning.

Realistic Expectations

Every once in a while, someone comes along who expects us to have a bat phone with a designer, copywriter and developer waiting for their incoming calls. We are fortunate to have enough work that we don’t have people sitting idle. We do production schedules a week in advance, but always allot time for urgent client needs. A client who can respect the concept of a first-in, first-out production schedule for non-emergencies is most appreciated.

Say Thank You

Never underestimate the power of a simple thank you. We do great work for a variety of different personalities, and we know when they are happy. But it’s amazing how great a genuine thank you feels. (The very best thank you might come with cookies.)

Interested in learning more about what makes us tick? Visit the about section of our website to learn more about who we are and how we work.

What Instagram’s Update Means for Businesses

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Instagram has become one of the most widely used social media platforms since its launch in 2010. It boasts 400 million monthly active users and 59% of adults check Instagram daily, making it one of the most valuable platforms to reach highly engaged audiences. Those statistics are what make their latest change so very painful to businesses.

This month, Instagram announced that it is changing its algorithm, citing that you “don’t see the posts you might care about the most.” If it sounds awfully similar to Facebook’s algorithm change in January 2015, that’s because Facebook, which bought Instagram in April 2012, is the driving force behind this transition. The net result will be a dramatic shift in the role businesses play on social media. Most notably, there will be a larger focus on monetized posts from businesses using these social platforms.

A Brief History

In 2015, Facebook changed the way that posts would appear in social media news feeds in order to “improve the user experience.” This move is now referred to as Reach Apocalypse, due to the devastating effects that it had for businesses. When Facebook said they wanted to improve the user experience, they really meant that Facebook was going to make businesses disappear from users’ timelines. It didn’t matter how many fans your organization had. Your reach was gone and was never coming back. That is, unless you were willing to pay for it.

Social Media Advertising

In order to get reach from Facebook and Instagram now, businesses have to buy advertising. That isn’t very surprising. At the end of the day, Facebook and Instagram have been providing businesses with a very valuable FREE service, and now they would like to turn a profit.

Social media advertising isn’t a tough sell. Businesses have had a taste of how well it works, and advertising on social media platforms is relatively inexpensive compared to other mediums. Add that to the ability to target audiences based on their interests, behaviors and connections, and social media advertising becomes one of the most effective advertising tools in a marketer’s arsenal.

Social media advertising also includes all of the same “like,” “share” and “comment” buttons as a regular social post, so you can still engage with your fans and they can still engage with you. In other words, organic reach isn’t entirely dead. It just requires a paid promotion, or to use Facebook’s term, “boost” to get the post seen in the first place.

Pay Up or Get Out

As the world of social media rapidly evolves, and the mediums turn into multi-billion dollar enterprises, it seems that paid advertising becomes an integral part of their revenue model. Quality social media content is still as important as ever for engagement, but paying to play is now a mandatory part of the game.

Do you need help with your company’s social media presence?

Learn more about our social media and marketing services and schedule a consultation today.

Measure Ad Performance with the Right Metrics

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Metrics_eblastHow do you know if your advertising is working?

Determining the effectiveness of your advertising can be tricky. Advertising reports typically focus on reach and impressions, but do these numbers actually mean anything for your business? Does your advertising address your business goals?

Determine your business goals first

Having a large number of impressions can be great if your goal is to generate awareness. Let’s say, however, that you want to grow your sales. Measuring impressions is like counting how many people walk by your store, whether or not they come in and purchase anything.

In order to measure the effectiveness of your advertising, you have to first define your business goals. Your business goals can span from gaining new customers to upselling existing customers to educating about a cause. Once you have clear goals, then you can find the best tracking method.

Start tracking

No matter your ad spend or method of advertising, you can implement some form of tracking to measure results.

Digital advertising offers infinite methods of tracking, from simple Google Analytics tools to more complex, customizable options. These analytics allow you to see what happens beyond the click – including how long visitors stay on your site, how many pages they view and whether they submit a contact form. You can track these results back to the individual ad or ad platform.

If you are using more traditional advertising methods, consider using tactics such as redeemable coupons or unique tracking phone numbers.

At the very least, keep a post-it note handy and tally up every time someone mentions your ad. Most CRM (customer resource management) software allows you to track sales or customers back to your advertising. This might mean that you have to train your staff to ask every customer how they heard about your company, but this will help you find out which forms of advertising are working.

Compare your results to your expenses

The last piece of this puzzle is the tracking of your expenses. Don’t throw everything into one general advertising budget. Itemize your advertising spend for every activity using a CRM software or by working with your accounting office. You can’t fully evaluate your ad performance if you don’t take your spend into account.

Review your results!

All of this work amounts to nothing if you don’t review the results on a regular basis. Evaluating these numbers monthly, quarterly or annually will help you make more educated decisions on where to invest your advertising dollars. Plan to make changes and optimize your approach with the ads and platforms that are performing best.

Ready to leave impressions behind and start focusing on the metrics that show results?

At Robot Creative, we understand the importance of advertising for results. Our team will help you identify the metrics that make sense for your business. Contact us today to schedule an initial consultation today.

Can Anyone Hear You on Facebook Anymore?

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Facebook_eblastFacebook pages for businesses just became websites.

That’s right. Facebook used to be a great way to be seen. Getting large numbers of page likes once meant that anything you posted would be seen. Facebook was great for business.

However, Facebook changed its visibility algorithm.  Now, whether your page has 10 likes or 10,000 likes, very few people will ever see any of your posts or updates. Users will not see updates from businesses unless they turn notifications on for them (which is hard for a casual user to find and must be done for each individual page that a user chooses to follow).

If you don’t want your Facebook page to become obsolete, here are a few ways to gain some of your reach back.

Buy your reach.

While posts are out, ads are in. Advertising on Facebook allows you to buy back that reach you lost when Facebook changed its policies. Facebook ads allow you to:

  • Promote your page’s social posts.
  • Target people based on their behaviors, likes and demographics.
  • Advertise to people who are similar to your current followers.
  • Advertise affordably. Throw $50 at it – you’ll be surprised how far that goes.

Find your cheerleaders.

These are your super-fans, the ones who love your business so much that they can’t help but talk about it. They’ve already noticed that your page has disappeared from their newsfeeds and have chosen to receive notifications from your page. Find ways to get them to share your content and to encourage their friends to do the same.

Make them come back.

Give your followers a reason to check your page regularly, whether they turn on their notifications or not.  Post contests, coupons, offers and event details to your Facebook page. Come up with something compelling, useful and beneficial to keep them coming back for more.

Become your business’ ambassador.

Facebook’s algorithm prevents businesses from appearing in newsfeeds, but people’s updates have not disappeared. You and your employees can share your business page, news, press releases and updates from your personal pages. You could even post in groups for more specialized targeting.

Turn it into a customer service hub.

Encourage activity on your Facebook page by turning it into a customer service support center.  Ask for people to check in and leave reviews so you can engage with them. Your reach will grow by getting people to your page to submit reviews.

Use your physical space and other media to drive traffic to your Facebook page.

Direct customers to your Facebook page using in-store advertising and signage, links from your company website or other online advertising. All roads to your Facebook page are good roads to your Facebook page.

Get endorsements.

Your new viewers can come from other pages’ viewers. News outlets, partners, vendors, non-profits and organizations can share their reach with you – all you have to do is have them share your posts or mention you in a post (with a link to your page). If they have super-fans, their fans could easily become yours.

Facebook pages for businesses might not be what they once were, but that doesn’t mean that they are obsolete or useless. They can be quite helpful as a part of your overall marketing strategy. As Facebook evolves and changes, so must our strategies.

Need help with your advertising and marketing strategies?

Learn more about our advertising and marketing services and contact us for a consultation today.

New Customers Make Us Smile: A Direct Mail Project Highlight

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Hale_eblastHow do you attract new customers into a dentist’s office without feeling like you’re pulling teeth? In order to help Dr. Brian Hale’s dental practice gain new clients, Robot Creative designed a successful direct mail campaign that helped generate new business.

The first round of postcards is exceeding monthly goals. After just one month and with only a portion of the postcards sent, Dr. Hale has already gained 20 new customers, who will each get cleanings twice a year. Direct traffic to Dr. Hale’s website has also seen a 119% increase over the same time frame from last year, and the number of incoming calls has increased greatly.

  • The message, “Around the Corner” – In this campaign, people who live within a 1.5 mile radius receive postcards with a simple message: with the nearby office of Dr. Brian Hale, great dental care is “just right around the corner.” A prominent map helps recipients find the office and see just how close it is.
  • Custom photography of Dr. Hale and his actual employees (versus the stock photography used by most dentists) illustrates how friendly and neighborly this practice is. The custom photographs are also great assets that can be used on Dr. Hale’s website and other promotional materials in the future.
  • A clear call to action encourages recipients to call and schedule consultation.

Regarding the success of the campaign so far, Dr. Hale said, “The campaign has gone as well as expected or better; I think using the actual pictures of us instead of stock has been very powerful.”

Looking for ways to increase your visibility to your target audience?

From direct mail to digital advertising, Robot can help you find the right mix to meet your goals. Learn more about our advertising and visibility services  and contact us to schedule a consultation.

Why We Love WordPress

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welovewordpress_graphicChoosing a content management system (CMS) to help manage, maintain and update a website is one of the most important decisions to make when building a new website. Content management systems exist to make managing a website easier than ever before. However, the wrong CMS can cause difficulties when editing content or updating plugins, be challenging and costly for non-developers to learn, become expensive over time and have limited functionality and community support.

Navigating through these many content management systems can be time consuming and confusing, so we’ve done the research for you. For us, the clear winner is WordPress, and here’s why we love it.

It’s Widely Used

WordPress is currently the most popular website platform in the world, comprising 49.6% of existing websites and 60% of all CMS’ as of January 2015. As the most popular content management system, support and resources are widely available and easy to find. You won’t get locked into a proprietary system or stuck with a website that only a small handful of developers know how to update as you move forward.

It’s User Friendly

Originally designed as a blogging software that even the most novice user could get set up and running easily on their own, WordPress makes managing a website easy for any non-developer with little or no training. WordPress websites provide clients with the ability to do everything from making simple content updates to building advanced page layouts, all in an easily digestible framework. Where some content management systems require either backend development experience or significant training, we find most users can be up and running on WordPress with under an hour of training.

It’s Flexible

Out of the box, WordPress allows us to develop powerful custom designs (WordPress call these “themes”) and advanced page layouts. It’s surprising to find that many content management systems are still limited in their layout possibilities. If there’s a need for additional functionality (galleries, forms, lead capture, custom menus, menus and more), an existing solution can typically be found. When a custom solution is called for, it can easily be worked into the WordPress framework.

It’s Cost Effective

WordPress is free! That’s right, there are no initial costs and no ongoing licensing costs for the platform itself. While we do find that using a specialized WordPress host can help with performance and maintenance of the site, a WordPress website can be hosted on most standard hosting platforms. The widespread usage of WordPress has led to lots of competition from vendors and supporting resources, making it very cost effective to maintain.

It’s Mobile and Google Friendly

While many proprietary systems are still struggling with updating their technology to work with the latest responsive frameworks, WordPress is already mobile-ready and search engine friendly. With Google recently updating their search algorithm to rank mobile-ready sites higher than other sites, having a mobile-ready website is of the utmost importance for any company.

Choose Robot for your WordPress website

At Robot Creative, we understand that an established web presence is vital to the future of any business. Our team has extensive experience planning, designing and building WordPress (and non-WordPress!) websites that work with our clients’ goals and marketing initiatives.

We offer a wide range of responsive design options that will help your business stay ahead of changing technologies and ensure the longevity and scalability of your website into the future. If you’re interested in developing a new website with WordPress, or updating your current site to use WordPress, please contact us by sending a project request.

When your brand speaks, what does it say?

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Your brand is like your business’ personality. You may have created it yourself, you may have hired a branding company to develop it, or perhaps it has evolved unintentionally. However it was developed, this is your brand.

If you aren’t managing your brand, it may begin to communicate information you didn’t anticipate or don’t want. These “brand fibs” can take on many forms – some are subtle and some are more obvious. The following are common brand missteps to look for and avoid.

Aren’t you a bit underdressed?
The foundation of a company revolves around its mission statement and business goals – it’s at the core of why you’re in business in the first place. All your branding decisions should be in alignment with these goals. By veering away from who you’ve said you are and what you are about, you’ve just broken your promise to your customer. Let’s say, for example, you are a high-end custom home builder. You’ve done a good job of creating an office and work environment that echoes luxury. Your products and services are superior to your competitors, and your target audience has a high level of education and income. If your branding communicates a less-than-average quality and speaks at a level lower than that of your audience, disconnection occurs. This affects the perceived value of your offering and how much your potential customers are willing to pay for it.

What’s with the shifty behavior?
This is probably the most common mistake made by small businesses. Using and applying your brand to all your marketing materials, business cards, stationery items, website, etc. should be done with consistency. The regular visual and verbal reinforcement of your brand leads to higher recognition and memorability for your company. By changing up brand elements on various mediums, you can dilute your overall brand and lose out on potential customers knowing who you are and what you’re about. For example, if your branding colors are Pantone shades of blue and gray, don’t let John in accounting change his business card to deep purple and yellow because those are the colors of his college alma mater. Even more subtle variances in things, like inconsistent use of font selections, can chip away at the strength a consistent brand can communicate to your audience. This shifty brand behavior also affects the perception of trust from your customers – they’re not sure what to expect if your brand is all over the place.

1997 called and wants its color palette back.
An issue can arise if what you are communicating with your brand is not as applicable as it used to be. Industries are constantly evolving and moving forward and your brand needs to move with it. Let’s say you started your dot com company in the 1990s and haven’t made any updates to your overall branding since. Does your brochure or website have phrases like “Surfing the world wide web” and “The information super highway”? Are there dial-up modems in photos, and a high concentration of beveled buttons with drop-shadows? You get the idea. If you aren’t moving with your industry, your industry (and competition) are leaving you behind.

So is all of this really that big of a deal?

Will I go out of business if I use a different shade of orange on my website than on my brochures or if I use Comic Sans on my letterhead? Maybe not, but in an increasingly competitive market, you will probably lose ground (and business) with your competition that has a similar, clearly branded offering. In addition, some brand missteps will affect customer perception more than others, but continued and cumulative veering from your brand can cause lasting and sometimes permanent damage to your overall company image.

Brand Audits and How They Work

At Robot, one way we evaluate a company’s brand alignment is to perform a brand audit. It’s an exercise we use to inform whether your brand needs some minor tweaking or a complete overhaul.

Our full brand audit package starts with target audience profiling and user perception surveys. The results confirm who you’re selling to and what your current brand is communicating. Along with this information, we review all your marketing materials (both visual and messaging) to determine where there may be alignment issues with your brand. Finally, we provide recommendations on what materials are working for your brand – and which ones are not working and in need of a refresh. More times than not, companies have a solid brand base to work from and just need some guidance or rework on a few pieces of collateral.

Maintaining a consistent brand is hard work. Sometimes it’s very obvious to a company/owner that their brand is not working together or is not quite aligned with the business and mission goals. They’re just not sure how to get back on course or fix it. In other instances, you may not even realize what your brand is communicating with your marketing efforts. Remember, your brand is always talking. Every touchpoint factors into the perception of your company.

If you suspect your brand has alignment conflicts, contact Robot for a brand audit to make sure your brand is saying what you want it to and need it to say!

Learn more about how Robot can help with branding >>

Does your website work on a phone? Your Google rankings may have just fallen.

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RobotNews_May2015_Graphics_On April 21, 2015, Google announced that it would boost the ranking of mobile-friendly pages on search results. With this update, Google recognizes that a growing number of mobile users need web content that adapts to mobile devices. As a result, Google has begun to exclude non-mobile-friendly web pages from mobile search engine results.

What options do you have?

 1. Do nothing: Make no adjustments to your current website
Taking no immediate action is an option, but it may be a risky long-term decision. Many companies have already upgraded to mobile-friendly websites, and others that continue to make adjustments will climb the ranks of Google’s mobile search results. If you do nothing to upgrade your website, keep a close eye on your site’s rankings and analytics to ensure you aren’t losing your edge in the marketplace.

2. Add some mobility: Create a separate mobile website for your mobile audience
Mobile websites offer an alternate version of your site that is tailored to the needs of your mobile audience. These websites are usually limited to a few important, minimally designed pages. Mobile websites typically exist independently of the full website, only loading when a user views the site from a mobile device. This option makes it possible to have a useful and reliable mobile-friendly presence, although it does have a downside: the maintenance of two separate websites can be daunting, especially when it comes to frequent content updates and additions.

3. Adapt to mobile and beyond: Update your existing website to a responsive design
As mobile usage continues to grow and exceed traditional PC usage, there are many benefits to owning a responsive website. Having a responsive site allows you to meet your audiences’ technological needs, while permitting users to experience your website content and features in an ideal format. With the creation of new mobile gadgets (smart watches, multi-use tablets, touch screen car computer displays), Google is expected to release further updates to their search-results algorithm. A responsive website will be able to easily adapt to these new devices as they gain popularity.

Does your website meet the requirements?
Click this link to check if your company website passes the Google Mobile-Friendly Test.

At Robot Creative, we understand that an established web presence is vital to the future of any business. Our team has extensive experience planning, designing and building mobile-friendly websites that work with our client’s goals and marketing initiatives. From custom designs to mobile sites, we offer a wide range of responsive design options that will help your business stay ahead of changing technologies and ensure the longevity and scalability of your website into the future.

 

Robot Interactive’s 10 Must-Reads – May 2015

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  1. Your internet is getting an update. Faster page loads. Smaller footprint. More Secure.
  2. Google Glass now has a competitor. If you don’t get a pair, we’ll still think you’re smart.
  3. Bringing laughter to your day.
  4. If you’re not prototyping, you’re doing it wrong.
  5. 10K video is just around the corner here.
  6. Interesting read for future developers.
  7. Here are some web design trends to look out for in 2015.
  8. Where is the fold in terms of responsive design? Well, its complicated.
  9. Here is a strategy for streamlining Web Font Loading.
  10. Curious what grid Microsoft uses for their site? Look no further.

Responsive Emails – Adapting to Your Mobile Audience

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Responsive_emailby CJ Wolfe

Once upon a time, email was predominately a desktop experience. With mobile devices becoming the standard choice for retrieving online information, it would be wise to assume that traditional email will also evolve.

So where does email fit into the ever-growing portable online presence? Consider these eye-opening statistics:

  • 48% of total email opens occurred on a mobile phone or tablet in Q2 2014 (Experian’s Quarterly Email Benchmarking Report)
  • 30% of consumers now read their email exclusively on mobile devices (Yesmail “Email Compass: The Mobile Effect”, 2013)
  • Mobile email opens have grown by 180% in three years (Campaign Monitor, Email Interaction Across Mobile and Desktop (Q1 2014)
  • Checking email has become a key part of mobile device users’ daily routine. In fact, 91% of consumers check their email at least once per day on their smartphones, making it the most used functionality (ExactTarget Mobile Behavior Report, 2014).
  • Check out more stats and a great infographic>>

As email tools and applications continue adapting to our existing online universe, the types of content they can interpret and decipher is always expanding. One method that has caught traction in the past few years when it comes to company email marketing is the implementation of responsive emails.

What’s a Responsive Email?

Like responsive websites, responsive emails adapt to the devices that they are viewed on – with the goal of providing users with a less cluttered and more ideal online experience.

Attributes of a responsive email include:

  • Layouts that can change from multi-column to single-column on the fly
  • Font sizes that change depending on the size of the screen
  • Elements that can be hidden or shown depending on the platform on which the email is viewed (image-based buttons, for example)
  • Bigger buttons that are farther apart, making larger “tap targets”

 

With recent statistics, it’s safe to conclude that incorporating the usage of responsive emails is no longer optional. Many email marketers state that they are using responsive design in company materials to meet their clients growing mobile needs.

Is it time you started using responsive emails to communicate with your growing mobile audience?

Responsive Logos – a Study in Scalability and Branding

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by Andrew Watson

A recent project by London based designer Joe Harrison, shows an experiment with the logos of some major brands and how they might adapt to a responsive environment. Responsive web design has gained a lot of traction in the past few years to address the widespread use of mobile devices and tablets that require information to be viewed in a different way than a traditional computer monitor – at smaller sizes, different aspect ratios and flexible orientations.

Most designers create stacked and horizontal versions of a company’s logo to accommodate different uses. This project is fascinating because it shows how a logo can scale in response to a device while proving that a solid brand is recognizable even in it’s simplest form.

Visit the site http://responsivelogos.co.uk and drag your browser window left to right to see how these logos scale. I love it when you get to the smallest version and it’s just the logo mark and color. The brand still comes through – super cool!

How would your logo respond?

It’s Not Social Media – It’s Social Advertising

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Social_results

Social Advertising is Rapidly Expanding and Evolving
All of the social mediums are rapidly expanding their advertising offerings. The start-up goal of most mediums to expand a user base and deliver a solid experience has now evolved into a market that is trying to monetize itself. Advertising is the vehicle that social media sites are using to pay back their investors. That’s great news for marketers and businesses.

You don’t need to have a social presence to advertise!
That’s right, you don’t need to have an engaging twitter account or manage a Facebook page to be using social media as an advertising platform. Ads that show in your target customers’ news feeds can link back to your website or to other locations. There’s no need to maintain a dynamic social presence for an ad to be effective. If that’s holding you back – think again.

The Major Mediums at a Glance
Facebook has the longest-standing, and most robust social advertising platform. It has great targeting options and fantastic analytics. Their platform is so intense that they have even created an “advanced advertising” offering, which includes look-alike audience profiling and re-marketing, among other things.

LinkedIn and Twitter have offered the ability to pay to promote posts / tweets for some time. Twitter is taking it to new levels. They recently launched a robust set of additions to their offerings which include: more sophisticated audience management (including look-alike targeting), graphic buttons which encourage click throughs (buy now or learn more), and twitter cards, which can include rich media to give tweets more impact.

Instagram and Pinterest have been running pilot programs with large advertisers, and both tease marketers with holding pages.

Excellent Targeting
Each medium has its own strengths in terms of targeting. Facebook has robust demographics and geo-targeting, but the ability to target based on interests and other liked pages offers deeper psychographic targeting than most list service companies have even been able to provide.

LinkedIn’s combination of geo-targeting + industry + job title allows precise targeting of professionals that is invaluable to B2Bs. We are finding an ability to reach specific groups that we have never been able to target effectively through print or other mediums. The closest opportunities in the past have been trade shows or other trade publications, and the costs of social ads are minuscule in comparison.

Minimal Costs for Serious Reach
Which brings us to the price, which cannot be beat. We have reached 20,000 with $20 on some accounts. We have seen the dramatic reach that can be achieved, so a common recommendation of ours is to “throw $100 at it” and see what happens. These results are not unusual for social advertising…for now.

Not Likely to Last
Which brings us to the sad reality that these prices are not likely to last. The marketplace is immature. It can be compared to the early days of AdWords. As businesses and advertisers gradually tested and moved budgets over to the AdWords platform, there was a period of a few years where the ROI on AdWords was just incredible for many advertisers. The market has since matured, the major players have all established their footing and those deals are hard to come by. As marketers make a mad dash to get their customers set up with social advertising, there will be a fleeting period during which some businesses could really get incredible results at rock bottom prices.

Interested in learning more about what social media can do for you?
Contact Robot Creative for more information.

Understanding Geomarketing: Geofences vs. Beacons

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geolocationYou’ve probably heard of using IP addresses to target your audience by physical location…and maybe you pushed out your message to someone who actively checked in to your space on Foursquare or Facebook. Mostly due to ever-changing mobile technology, “Geomarketing”, or targeting your audiences based on geographic location, is one of the most quickly evolving trends in marketing.

The idea of geomarketing isn’t new. For years, marketers have been able to purchase mailing lists and/or set up pay-per-click online campaigns based on zip codes or a radius around a specific geographic location. What’s different about recent innovations is the ability to message directly to consumers on their personal mobile devices based on their proximity to a physical location.

This type of mobile-based geomarketing technology takes several forms and can be used for countless applications, from pushing coupons or product information to helping a customer find his/her way around a retail location.

Two of the main forms of geomarketing that you will probably experience soon, if you haven’t already, are geofencing and beacons. Both of these technologies use a wireless signal to pinpoint a person’s proximity to a particular location, such as a retail store, but there are important distinctions between the technologies and how they can be used.

Geofencing
Geofencing is the practice of establishing an electronic perimeter around a specific geographic point using GPS technology, which requires satellites and cell phone towers to communicate with mobile devices. When a potential customer enters or leaves this perimeter, the geofence triggers an action, such as a timely text message or promotion alert sent directly to the customer’s mobile device.

For a geofence to work, customers must download an app, install it and opt in to receive notifications. There are common apps that can be set up to use geofences, or businesses can set up and promote proprietary apps. Because of their reliance on GPS, geofences work best outdoors and are less accurate than beacons for pinpointing a person’s exact location.

Beacons
Beacons are an evolved form of geofencing. The main difference between geofencing and beacons is that beacons use bluetooth technology rather than GPS to determine a person’s proximity to a specific location. This has several implications:

  • There are many different types of beacons available from popular brands, including Motorola, Google and Apple, and they all work a little differently. They usually require hardware (beacons) that must to be installed at the location, but in some cases, like Apple’s iBeacon, they can be built into existing devices. The beacon communicates through an app that customers must install on their devices and allow to receive notifications.
  • Beacons allow a very accurate estimation of where a customer is located – within inches. A retailer could use this technology to provide messages directly to a customer shopping in a particular aisle or standing in front of a particular display – think coupons, product reviews or click-to-buy. The retailer could also help lead a customer to a particular item within a store.
  • Because beacons are small, battery powered devices themselves, they are portable and can be used as a mobile geofence. They could be placed on a moving object, such as a bus or a cab.
  • Beacons allow a business to track a person’s activity as he or she moves in or around a space. Creepy as that sounds, it’s not so different from web analytics (marketers have been tracking customers’ movement through websites for years). Businesses can learn a lot from this type of data, including where, when and how to display messages and what messages resonate best with customers.

Interested in learning more about what geomarketing can do for your business?
Contact Robot Creative for more information.

Social Media Project Highlight: Mama Margie’s Mexican Cafe

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To help popular fast-casual Mexican food restaurant, Mama Margie’s, grow and engage their social following, Robot Creative developed and implemented a social strategy that encourages sharing, two-way conversations and fan-created content.

  • Mama’s Favorites Campaign — With this ongoing campaign, photos posted by fans on Instagram are selected and shared on the Mama Margie’s official Facebook page. By cross-promoting the official Instagram account and Facebook page, the campaign has dramatically increased engagement in both channels while also providing a wealth of fan-generated content.
  • Facebook-specific flash deals reward shares and comments with extreme offers available only for a very limited-time. On April Fools’ Day, a Facebook post claiming that the restaurant was considering dropping a popular menu item (bean and cheese tacos) exploded with 371 comments and 60 shares. A follow up post explained the joke and offered bean and cheese tacos at $0.50 each, nearly half off the regular price, for that day only. The follow up post also received 57 comments and 166 shares.
  • Regular monitoring and response engages followers in conversations. Tweets from official Mama Margie’s Twitter account strive for a “sassy mama” voice, increasing the “share-ability” of the communication with a little humor.
  • In-store promotion drives social media campaigns further, with table tents that encourage users to share photos and experiences on social media.
  • Paid Facebook advertising also plays a role in the overall approach, helping to grow followers and promote posts to people not already connected to Mama Margie’s.

As a result of these tactics over the first six months of implementation, Mama Margie’s Twitter following grew 99% and Instagram following grew 332%. In addition, Facebook content reached over 1.5 million people, Mama Margie’s was mentioned directly in over 250 tweets and Instagram hashtag engagement increased by 41%.

Changes to Facebook Ratings and Reviews Are Critical to All Businesses, Especially Restaurants

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Recent changes to Facebook timelines affected all business pages. On the desktop version, the right-hand sidebar and buttons across the top of the page have been removed. Facebook also added new features that have the power to make a profound impact on businesses.

Ratings Are Now Prominent
One change that could make or break some businesses, especially restaurants, is the new location of the business rating. A large star-rating system is now located immediately under the business logo on the desktop version, and permanently ordered first in the list of the lefthand sidebar items. In fact, it’s probably the first thing most people notice. A hover over the star-ratings on the desktop version shows an instant breakdown of how many reviews have contributed to each number of stars, and the number of likes and visits lie immediately below.

Reviews Can Not Be Ignored
A permanent reviews section now lives in the left-hand column on the desktop version as well. While that module can be moved down the page by moving other sections up (such as photos or apps), it can not be removed. One click on ratings links to a full page of reviews.

Yelp, TripAdvisor and Foursquare Get Bumped
The reviews page has an area where restaurants can tie in links to Yelp, TripAdvisor and Foursquare. Most restaurants had those review sites pulled in to the previous layouts prominently through the app tabs across the top of the page. One click on the tab would open a full page of reviews. By including those links smaller off to the right on the Facebook reviews page, they are essentially pushed aside, with Facebook’s reviews taking center stage. With the prominence of these reviews on the Facebook page, it is unlikely that many users will ever venture off to the other sites.

Mobile – Ratings Could Make or Break
On the mobile app, the map, phone hours and menu have moved to the most prominent position just below the header, but the ratings come next, followed by the likes, check-ins and reviews. You can’t change this order, and those ratings and reviews become unavoidable.

 

All if this is good news for some businesses, but potentially damaging for others, especially restaurants. Maintenance of Facebook reviews for many restaurants has been ad hoc, especially compared with the effort dedicated to Yelp and TripAdvisor. With the new prominence of these reviews, it will need to become a core part of the social media program.

A Brand-Driven Approach – Sierra Motors

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Sierra Motors first contacted Robot to develop a logo and identity package. But after the logo, stationery and messaging were complete, we didn’t stop; in fact, you might say we punched the accelerator.

Environmental Branding
It was important to Sierra Motors that customers immediately pick up on the brand message when they walk onto the lot or into the sales office. To communicate this message, we developed custom vehicle magnets with main messaging points, testimonial posters highlighting customer feedback, license plates with custom frames and rearview mirror hangers. We also provided signage recommendations for each lot.

Refreshed Website
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To tie the brand into Sierra Motors’ online presence, we designed and produced content for sierra-motors.com. Functions of the website include a simple lead capture form, a refer-a-friend feature and access to an online payment portal for customers.

Collateral Materials
To round out Sierra Motors’ identity, Robot Creative developed additional printed pieces, including a tri-fold with vehicle maintenance guidelines and a handout card with information on Sierra Motors’ referral program.

Read more about the original brand development

A Menu Refresh is Just What Mama Ordered

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In conjunction with a full interior redesign, Mama Margie’s reached out to Robot Creative to design their new digital menu boards. The new menu design creates a cohesive brand for this restaurant chain by integrating custom food photography, an expanded color palette and new branding elements with the refreshed interior design.

The customers’ ordering experience and Mama Margie’s sales goals were distinct areas of focus for this redesign. Starting with menu design psychology and consumer behavior research, Robot Creative made recommendations on the structural layout of menu including categorization, item placement and panel arrangements to maximize profitability.

For a restaurant that is open 24/7, it was important to make the most of the digital format. Flexible, rotating spaces were incorporated to run limited time offers, to highlight featured items and to target certain menu items during specific times of day. The new menu prominently features brand-essential menu items through strategic placement and photography.

Music Festival Promotion Design: Die Nacht Der Clubs

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Robot recently designed the promotional materials for Die Nacht Der Clubs (Night of the Clubs), a music festival in Hamburg, Germany, for which participants buy bus tickets that take them to up to 25 local music clubs. We designed the logo, posters, flyers, stickers, admission tickets, web banners and landing page.

This festival is unique in that there isn’t just one genre of music or club included in the lineup. Clubs and music styles at the 25 venues include punk, techno, house, metal and even jazz. It’s a full sampling of the great variety of bands that these clubs showcase, and Die Nacht Der Clubs is a single event that brings them all together. The client was looking for an overall clean look that didn’t lean towards any one of the music styles.

So if you happen to be in Hamburg on May 9th, buy a ticket, hop on a bus and enjoy some great music and a variety of local clubs. Tell them Robot sent you!

Don’t Be A 5-Second Site: How To Write For The Web

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Upcoming Marketing Mastery Series Presentation for the American Marketing Association (AMA) San Antonio Chapter
Presented by Brittany Tradup
Marketing Director, Robot Creative

How much time do you really spend reading a single web page? Odds are, you haven’t read one in years. If you are like most users, you probably scan a web page in 30 seconds or less with a purpose, looking for specific content. If you don’t find it quickly, you move on. Reading on a screen or monitor is very different from reading a printed piece, so web writing needs to be approached differently.

  • Write real website content that will engage users and get them to take action
  • Review best practices for search-engine friendly content to get users to your site
  • Understand what customers want from your site and make it easy for them to find what they need

DATE: Thursday, February 6th, 2014
TIME: 8:00 a.m. – 9:00 a.m.
LOCATION:
TriPoint – Meeting Room 1
3233 N St Mary’s St
San Antonio, TX 78212
Register Now

COST*
AMA Members – $15 (with member-only promo code)
AMA Nonmembers/Guests – $20
AMA Student Members – $15 (with member-only promo code)

Walk-ins accepted on a first-come/first serve basis. Additional $5 at the door. VISA, MasterCard and American Express accepted.

* Attendees registering as members are subject to verification. All memberships must be current and in good standing, or will be subject to the non-member fee. Late Cancellation and No-Show Policy in effect.

RSVP by Monday, February 3rd, 5 p.m.

Project Highlight: Texas Cavaliers River Parade Website

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Every year in downtown San Antonio, the iconic San Antonio Riverwalk transforms into the stage for one of the most anticipated, family-friendly events of Fiesta, the Texas Cavaliers River Parade. Produced by the Texas Cavaliers, a local non-profit consisting of over 500 business, civic and community leaders, the parade benefits San Antonio children’s organizations through the Texas Cavaliers Charitable Foundation.

The Texas Cavaliers commissioned Robot Creative to design a new website that would highlight the River Parade, support the organization’s mission to improve the lives of San Antonio children and tell the story of the Texas Cavaliers.

Improved Site Structure and Organization

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The structure and navigation of this site were particularly challenging due to the three-pronged nature of the organization: the River Parade, the Charitable Foundation and the Texas Cavaliers as an organization.

After defining the goals for the site, ROBOT analyzed the various user groups and researched other parade and member-based websites to recommend a primary focus on the River Parade with secondary attention given to the Texas Cavaliers and the Charitable Foundation. ROBOT developed a site structure that allows users to find the information they want quickly, whether the user is:

  • a parade patron looking to purchase tickets,
  • a company interested in sponsorship opportunities,
  • an individual looking to donate,
  • a member of the Texas Cavaliers looking for member-only event information or
  • a children’s charity applying for a grant.

Functional Requirements
The Texas Cavaliers requested a variety of functional requirements for the site, including:

  • a content management system that would allow the administrative team to make content changes easily,
  • a donation form that integrates with existing donation software and accepts credit card payments,
  • a portal to allow members to access a contact database and a member-only event calendar and
  • e-commerce functionality for ticket and product sales.

Recognizing the need of any non-profit to focus expenses on the charitable cause rather than on expensive website development, ROBOT provided recommendations to help closely manage expenses on the initial development and maintenance of the site. These recommendations included developing the site using a simple WordPress platform for easy content management, identifying cost-saving third-party applications that integrate with the site and recommending a course of action that addresses each requirement over a series of development phases.

Messaging Development
With the expansion of the site to include a rich history of the Texas Cavaliers and its various programs, ROBOT conducted a series of interviews and information-gathering sessions to develop content that paints a vivid picture of the organization. In addition to this, ROBOT focused attention on developing powerful calls to action that encourage visitors to donate, purchase tickets and generally move through the site.

Design
Because the Texas Cavaliers River Parade did not have an existing, cohesive brand at the beginning of this project, ROBOT referenced the logo, event photos and past programs for inspiration to create the new, overall design concept. The design of the site captures the spirit of the Texas Cavaliers River Parade with a focus on large, vibrant event photos as the backdrop for each main section of the site. The iconic images selected capture traditions that are repeated year after year at the parade and other events. ROBOT also developed a series of icons that are repeated throughout the site to lead site visitors to main action pages, including ticket sales and the donation page.

Visit the website at www.texascavaliers.org.

Update 11/3/13: Robot wins International Marketing Effectiveness Award for Texas Cavaliers website project! Learn more

Case Study: Discover UFC® Website Design

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Mixed martial arts (MMA) is recognized as the fastest growing sport in the world, and the Ultimate Fighting Championship® (UFC®) is the world’s leading MMA promoter. As much as MMA and the UFC® are growing in popularity, the sport was generally not well understood by fans and potential fans, and the industry lacked a reliable, central source of information.

As the leading promoters of MMA, UFC®’s goal is to become the authority on everything MMA. UFC commissioned ROBOT to develop a website, known as Discover UFC®, that would be an extension of the main UFC® website explaining the background of MMA, the UFC®, the fighters, the rules and more.

While there are a handful of smaller MMA promoters and a variety of websites and blogs discussing MMA news, Discover UFC® is the first attempt to broadly educate the masses on all aspects of MMA. It is the first centralized source of background information on the sport, complete with a searchable glossary, descriptions of skills and fighting styles and introductions to key individuals.

Project Description
Discover UFC® is a sub-section of www.ufc.com that is meant to be an educational resource for new UFC® fans or people that are new to the MMA sport. The site is divided into five main sections – the Fighter, the Sport, the UFC, the Fan and a glossary of terms. The content of these sections introduces the most fundamental information a person new to the sport needs to quickly become familiar with MMA and the UFC®.

  • The Fighter section of the site uses videos, examples and history to explain the skills and techniques fighters must perfect and describes the multiple martial arts styles for which the fighters train. It also describes the discipline, endurance, intense training and nutrition required to be a UFC® fighter, with example biographies of real fighters.
  • The Sport section covers the different ways a fighter can win, how the weight classes are divided, information about the fighting cage known as The Octagon™, rules and regulations of the sport and a collection of links to the UFC®’s favorite fights. The Weight Classes page contains a full history of title holders for each weight class, presented through an interactive, expandable table.
  • The UFC® section provides a history of the organization and introduces key figures, including the executives, commentators and announcers.
  • The Fan section encourages further fan engagement by providing links to resources such as pre-event shows, Fan Expos and video games.
  • Finally, the glossary defines the moves, phrases and key events to help fans new to the sport get quickly versed in the terminology. In addition to the major sections of the site, a search feature allows visitors to quickly find content anywhere on Discover UFC®.

Visit the website at www.ufc.com/discover.

Results
Success of Discover UFC® as a resource for site visitors can be shown in the statistics since it went live. A total of 42,829 people have visited the Discover UFC® section of the UFC® website since the section went live in May of 2011. Compared to www.ufc.com visitors who did not visit Discover UFC, visitors who did visit Discover UFC stayed on www.ufc.com over 4-and-a-half minutes longer (7:57 compared to 3:17) and visited 3.48 more pages (6.42 pages compared to 2.94) on average. The bounce rate for visitors who viewed Discover UFC was also 59% lower than the bounce rate for visitors who did not (21.02% compared to 51.04%).

Top 5 Google AdWords Mistakes

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Anyone can be up and running with Google AdWords in just a few minutes. Let’s face it though – what makes it super cool, also makes it dangerous! After reviewing dozens of accounts, we’ve identified 5 common mistakes that businesses make when setting up their AdWords campaigns. These mistakes can cost hundreds or thousands of dollars a month and/or result in lost click opportunities.

Not Taking Advantage of Targeting Options
Google very cleverly provides a system of account organization that makes it possible for businesses to create targeted campaigns and allocate budgets. More than half of the accounts we’ve reviewed, however, have only one campaign with one ad group and one ad variation that shows up for all keywords and links to the company’s homepage. Businesses are using a blanket approach instead of considering how an ad will specifically address what a user is searching for. Users are more likely to click on an ad if it contains their search phrase, so you should create ad groups that group similar search phrases and link to specific pages on your site related to those search phrases – not to your homepage.

Arbitrary Budgeting
With no more strategy than, “This is what I think we can afford,” a business will arbitrarily set a daily budget, not taking into account what the campaign requires to be successful. With this approach, campaigns may shut off after just a couple of clicks a day and will quickly be deemed unsuccessful. A more strategic approach involves understanding the search popularity of keywords along with the expected cost per click for a geographic area and setting click goals based on your conversion rate. You should also look at AdWords as a part of your overall media budget and make adjustments based on the ROI of each initiative. You may find that AdWords gets a much better return than other media and deserves a much higher percentage of your budget.

Falling for the Default
Google wants you to get clicks – that’s how they make money. Most of the default settings in AdWords are designed to be broad reaching, such as Display Network and broad match keyword matching. If you aren’t careful, your budget can max out quickly on irrelevant clicks that just result in a high cost per conversion. Because most small businesses work with a limited budget, the concern should be quality over quantity of clicks. We usually recommend a conservative approach in the beginning with very targeted settings that you can open up as you evaluate the success of the campaign.

Lack of Tracking
While many businesses that try Google AdWords have Google Analytics installed on their websites, they often don’t have the two accounts linked. This is a simple step – as long as both are set up under the same Google account. The importance of this step shouldn’t be overlooked because it allows distinction between paid and unpaid Google search traffic. Analytics show detailed traffic information (including average time on site, bounce rates and average page views) on a campaign level, an ad variation level and a keyword level, so the performance of AdWords ads should never be in question! More importantly than site analytics, you should also have a method for tracking your sales and customer contact from AdWords ads – even if it’s just tick-marks on a notepad when you ask, “How did you hear about us?”. Set a baseline before you start, and review results on a regular basis, so you can measure the return on your AdWords investment.

Set It and Forget It
This is probably the single most critical mistake a business can make with any advertising initiative, but especially one that is so easy to review and adjust. The keywords you select, the ads you write, the settings you apply, the cost-per-click bids you set, the competition and countless other factors are all subject to regular evaluation and changes. Because every one of these factors is easily trackable, you should review your account on a regular basis, at least monthly in the beginning. Look at it as a fine-tuning process that has the potential to get big results.

Google AdWords is a powerful small business marketing tool that can be deceptively simple to set up right “out of the box”. If you really want to harness its power, approach your campaigns strategically and take the time to get to know the system. It will pay off with highly effective advertising that gets results.

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