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 >