Archive for the ‘Marketing’ 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.

 

Four Tools to Help Flip the B2B Lead Generation Model

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In years past, the goal of the digital marketer was to drive web traffic. Prevailing wisdom taught us that an increase in traffic would lead to an increase in the number of contact form submissions. It was a passive strategy at its core: Build a campaign and wait for the leads to come rolling in. As Tom Petty aptly reminds us, however, the waiting is the hardest part.

But imagine if your web traffic visitors were real people walking into a retail store. Would you ignore them until they walked up to the counter? Of course not. You would approach them and offer your assistance. Today’s blog will look at four tools that give you the ability to approach your site visitors in the same way.

 

IP Tracking:

As the name implies, IP tracking tools examine the IP addresses of inbound web traffic to determine the owner of the visiting network. In other words, they tell you what companies are visiting your site. Sounds cool, right? We thought so too, and after we piloted IP tracking with one of our IT clients, we immediately saw its potential for lead generation across all B2B categories.

In addition to telling us which companies are visiting a site, IP tracking ties in with Google Analytics to identify the individual pages that a company viewed and how they got to those pages (ie. organic vs. specific paid campaigns). Armed with this information, our clients’ sales teams can now send personalized outreach emails to company decision makers about relevant products or services.

Ready to get started? We recommend an IP tracking solution called Leadfeeder.  While there are a number of platforms on the market, we like Leadfeeder for its easy setup, useful integrations and straightforward reporting.

 

Marketing Automation

Marketing automation sounds complicated, but it’s actually quite simple. Essentially, it is a process of simplifying tasks like social posts, emails, etc. For B2B clients, marketing automation can leverage a customer’s CRM to streamline email outreach through the CRM or integrations with third-party tools like MailChimp.

Combined with IP tracking and a little bit of research, marketing automation can open up some amazing possibilities. For example, you might create a series of emails that go out to decision makers at companies visiting your website. These emails can be tailored to the product or service that a particular company was investigating. Within these emails you might include a link to register for an upcoming webinar, download a case study or white paper, or connect with the sales team to schedule a one-on-one demo or consultation.

Marketing automation can also help you understand why visitors aren’t filling out a contact form. If a lead downloaded a free tool but hasn’t taken further action, you can send a series of tips and reminders about the benefits of the tool. This can help remind a lead to take the next action or get in touch if they have questions about how to use the tool.

At the end of the day, the goal of marketing automation is to move leads and contacts down the sales funnel toward a buying decision without taxing sales reps to do more outreach on luke-warm leads.

 

Live Chat

Live chat has evolved to become an increasingly useful tool in the B2B marketer’s playbook. In addition to giving site visitors the opportunity to ask questions without ever leaving their browser, today’s live chat solutions can be combined with inbound call/text campaigns that give potential customers the ability to communicate with you how and when they are most comfortable. Going a step further, many tools allow you to proactively start a conversation with site visitors, allowing you to initiate calls or emails, schedule demos and capture leads even faster.

Worried about after-hours staffing? Many live chat services allow you to turn your chat into a lead gen tool when your in-house team has logged out. There are outsourced service providers who offer an answering service to take messages, or the chat can be used to capture initial questions and prompt the site visitor to leave a message for future reply. Your inbound team will then be able to come in each morning and respond to leads that self-generated overnight.

 

Remarketing

In today’s over-saturated, multi-screen media environment, it’s difficult to break through to your target audience. But what if we focus on the ones that are already visiting your website? Remarketing allows you to tag site visitors, or visitors to a particular landing page, and then follow them around the web with digital display advertising.

If someone visits your website, looks at a few pages and then leaves without filling out a contact form, remarketing can help stick ads in front of them while they’re browsing other sites. Like the couch that follows you around the web after you looked at the IKEA site, you can remind these potential leads about your services, increasing the likelihood of return site traffic and contact form submission.

Focusing a portion of your advertising budget on potential customers that have previously visited your site results in higher conversion rates to lead capture, some studies showing a doubling effect.

 

There Is No Magic Bullet

It’s about building smart, layered, marketing campaigns to increase the delivery of relevant content to your target audience when they are in a buying mindset. Try a few of these ideas out and we promise, your sales team will thank you.

 

Want to learn more? Contact us today for a consultation on our outsourced marketing solutions for B2B businesses.

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 >