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Quit Clickbaiting, Start Chatbotting: 5 Lessons Marketers Learned in 2017

Quit Clickbaiting, Start Chatbotting: 5 Lessons Marketers Learned in 2017

By | Branding, Content Marketing, Digital advertising, Social Marketing, Strategy | No Comments

Now that the holiday hustle is nearly over, our marketing team has some time to reflect on the past year – what worked, what didn’t and what we want to try in the future – because even us pros have a lot to learn.

  1. Millennials are no longer brands’ first priority. Another key demographic has come of age: Generation Z, otherwise known as those born during or after 1995. With close to $44 billion in purchasing power (according to Forbes), their attitude toward social media (they like more privacy) and advertising (they’re resistant) will shape the future of both.
  1. Influencer marketing is bigger than ever. People always follow the popular kids – and these days, they follow those kids on Instagram. Engaging pillars of social media for brand recognition/profit is a strategy that’s steadily gaining traction; a 2017 study determined this marketing tactic got the second-highest ROI of all.
  1. Clickbait isn’t fooling anyone. Hooking customers by declaring that an article or product will “Literally Change Your Entire Life Forever” is suspicious and, let’s face it, dishonest. (Unless you’ve invented a workable method of teleportation, in which case please contact us immediately because that would literally change our entire lives forever.) Rather than leading with hyperbole, test out longer, Inc.-recommended headlines.
  1. Chatbots are the new liaisons. More than ever, computerized customer service reps are connecting companies with customers. While the technology isn’t perfect, chatbots are getting smarter every day; and according to Grand View Research, the global market is predicted to reach $1.23 billion by 2025.
  1. Video content is exploding. Content is always crucial, and that content is increasingly being delivered through video. Forbes estimates half a billion people are watching a video on Facebook every day. Pro tip from Buffer: Square videos not only command 78 percent more space on a mobile news feed, they also get more engagement.

Bonus lesson: We take epic group photos.

Quit Clickbaiting, Start Chatbotting: 5 Lessons Marketers Learned in 2017

What was your most valuable 2017 takeaway? Let us know in the comments below!

5 Ways to Nail Local SEO

5 Ways to Nail Local SEO

By | SEO, Strategy | No Comments

Let’s say you own a local business, and a potential customer is searching for one just like it. What’s her first step? If she’s like 4 out of 5 consumers (according to Bruce Clay, Inc.), she’ll be plugging those keywords into Google. The first page of results is where she’ll find her match – whether it’s your business or another. And you definitely want it to be yours.

Why?

According to a Google study:
Half of local smartphone searches lead to a store visit in less than a day (not to mention 34 percent of computer/tablet searches), and 18 percent of those visits lead to a purchase.

That’s payoff you can’t write off.

But in order for your customer to find you, your SEO’s gotta be on point. Here’s a handy list of ten things that’ll raise your rank:

  1. Branding. Make a name for yourself through happy customers and quality services. Google pays attention to positive reviews, and how your business is perceived by its community can make a difference.
  2. Content. As always, you’re only as good as your content creation. Having a variety of informative, regularly updated content gives your site more opportunities to rank higher, as it can appear on vertical search engines like Google Images or YouTube.
  3. Link building. Did you know that anchor (i.e. clickable) text actually sends signals to search engines? The keywords you use in anchor text can affect your ranking as well, so choose wisely.
  4. Social mentions. Are people praising your brand online? Even if they don’t include links, such mentions can boost awareness of and drive traffic to your site. (Social media is 2017’s word of mouth, after all.)
  5. Google My Business (GMB). This is crucial for any place of business – and it’s free! Optimize your GMB listing here with a concise description, high resolution image, phone number, and correct business hours.

Following these tips should get you well on your way to super SEO. Want five more? Or ten more? We just so happen to have an expert in house – contact us today!

Make that Pokémon-ey: Monetizing the World’s Pokémon Go Obsession

Make that Pokémon-ey: Monetizing the World’s Pokémon Go Obsession

By | Culture, Economy, Fun, Sales, Strategy | No Comments

“Have you played Pokémon Go?”

Unless you’ve spent the two weeks hiding under a rock (which is a totally legitimate pastime, of course), someone has asked you this question by now. Released on July 6th, the tremendously popular app has already been downloaded at least 15 million times [Heavy] and is worth approximately $29 billion [MoneyNation]. There’s no doubt that Pokémon has been a financial success for its developer, Niantic, and rumor has it that McDonald’s is already preparing to pounce on this marketing opportunity [Gizmodo]. But what about the rest of us? Is there a way for small business owners to get in on the game that so quickly made its way to the top?

Turns out, there are several – and most of them are free!

  • Pick a side. If you haven’t already played Pokémon Go, the basic premise is this: 1) Create your trainer (i.e. avatar), 2) Choose one of three teams: Team Instinct (yellow), Team Valor (red) or Team Mystic (blue), and 3) Scurry about collecting and training Pokémon in various locations. Once you’ve picked your team, you can get in on the fun by providing corresponding deals to other “team members.”
  • Buy a lure. Purchasable in-game, lure modules last 30 minutes each and attract a bevy of “wild” Pokémon to a specified location. As many business owners have already discovered, they’re also a great method of enticing patrons. Inc estimated that it only costs $1.19/hour to keep the lures (and the humans that follow them) coming all day – and you can bet you’ll make that money back in no time!
  • Connect with millennials. Take advantage of this rare opportunity to appeal to marketing-wary millennials by actually playing the game, sharing your finds on social media, and offering discounts on products to people who’ve caught certain valuable Pokémon. Your younger audiences will appreciate the fun vibe!
  • Work that Pokéstop. If you’re fortunate enough to have a storefront near a landmark, monument or other prominent building in your town, advertise it. People flock to these spots in order to restock in-game items, and if you happen to be nearby…well, you just found yourself a whole bunch of potential customers.

We don’t know exactly when this idea might be implemented, but Niantic CEO John Hanke has already expressed interest in further monetizing the app with sponsored locations. “Pay us to be locations within the virtual game board – the premise being that it is an inducement that drives foot traffic” [Financial Times]. In the meantime, let the above suggestions keep you busy.

Happy hunting!

Make that Pokémon-ey: Monetizing the World’s Pokémon Go Obsession

 

#Lemonade: A Lesson in Guerrilla Marketing

#Lemonade: A Lesson in Marketing

By | Email Marketing, Strategy, Twitter | No Comments

We could all learn a few things (about marketing/branding/life) from Beyoncé.

For instance: how to grab the attention of an entire nation, become the top trending topic on Twitter, and essentially claim ownership of yet another emoji.

Maybe your product doesn’t have the flowing mane of a majestic unicorn or the body of a warrior princess – you can still adopt the main idea behind Queen Bey’s proven tactics to awe your audience.

What is that, you ask?

It’s simple: Take risks.

Beyoncé’s latest couple projects have set more than just the Beyhive abuzz due to a radical marketing approach – i.e., forgoing the usual press tour/single releases/interviews for a surprise! album release. You don’t have to revolutionize the music industry to take this same approach with your own business – all you have to do is think outside the box. If you have an awesome unorthodox idea, go for it. People are drawn to the innovative, the exciting, the never-been-done-before. If the answer to WWBD is “Do it,” then go ahead – do it!

And if you’re still struggling to make Lemonade, just contact us – we’re quite well-versed in the counterintuitive, ourselves.

#Lemonade: A Lesson in Marketing

The Kardashians: Capitalizing the ‘K’ in Marketing

The Kardashians: Capitalizing the ‘K’ in Marketing

By | Content Marketing, Social Marketing, Strategy | No Comments

The past decade has been permeated with a pop culture phenomenon unlike any other: the Kardashians. Since 2007, the Kardashian/Jenner family has captivated audiences around the world by doing…well, the verdict is still out on exactly what they all do, but suffice to say it’s been enough to consistently entertain, appall, and otherwise engage millions of people for going on 11 years. So what’s the big secret? Is Kris Jenner a marketing genius? (Probably.) Are we all simply mesmerized by the mind-bending amount of beauty and booty in the K/J gene pool? (Definitely.) Regardless of the questionable tactics and unquestionable body parts that have kept them on top all this time, there are a few things we marketers can learn from the Kardashians – even if we can’t keep up with them.

  1. Never surrender. Say what you will about this family, but they don’t back down from a challenge. Someone leaks your sex tape? Turn it into a reality show. Get both married and divorced within the span of one year? Brush it off and proceed to marry someone infinitely more successful. Have psoriasis? Endorse a cover-up spray. While many would willingly fade into obscurity following such misfortune, the Kardashians make their problems work for them. Obviously, starting a reality show isn’t an option for most of us (what do you mean, Paris Hilton wasn’t a childhood friend and Ryan Seacrest didn’t come to dinner last Thanksgiving?) – but regardless, there is a lesson there.
  2. Socialize. All five of the Kardashian/Jenner sisters have massive social media followings and post regularly. Recently, they all created their own apps and websites (subscription-based, of course) so that, for the bargain price of $2.99/month, fans can feel even more involved in the lives of these mythical creatures they’ve never met. Not only have the Kardashians maintained a valuable online presence, they’ve monetized it.
  3. Incentivize. The Kardashians reach out to their fans in a way that both shows appreciation and provides motivation. For instance, Kim is known for rewarding each landmark number of Instagram followers with a cleavage selfie. Of course, in a professional setting, we recommend expressing thanks with something like a fruit basket. No one forgets a nice pair of melons.
  4. Know your audience. The Kardashians know their fan base, and expand their empire accordingly. What do hordes of teenaged girls want? A new lipstick line with Kylie’s face on it! What do female 20-something professionals need? Styling products created specifically for their hair type! What do straight males between the ages of 26-35 want because they secretly think the sisters are super hot but won’t admit it to their girlfriends? A Kardashian conveniently bikini-clad on the cover of Maxim!
  5. Be consistent. Even when you don’t want them, there they are. It’s hard to escape the Kardashians, simply because…they’re everywhere. On social media, on magazine covers, on TV, on billboards. No matter how you strive to ignore them, their omnipresence is undeniable. You have to talk about them, if only to talk about the fact that you don’t want to talk about them.

So there you have it, folks – five valuable things we’ve learned from America’s most famous family. Now go kill it like a Kardashian! (But don’t say we told you to.)

Image by Faye Harris is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0.

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Struggle Of The Seasoned Marketer

By | Business Etiquette, Culture, Strategy, The Future | No Comments

Today’s fast-paced, technologically advanced world can make even the savviest 25-year-old feel inadequate. So what if you’re about twice that age and feeling about half as savvy? Fear not! There’s no need to let your birthday get the best of you. A couple tips for succeeding as a seasoned marketer in a youth-driven market:

  • Ask for help! Whether it’s requesting your teenaged daughter help you with your Instagram profile (she’ll roll her eyes, but will likely oblige) or observing how the new intern does it, you can learn a lot from the younger people around you who have come of age in this crazy-connected world.
  • Get involved. That new app everyone has been talking about? Try it out! Most are free or cheap and very user-friendly. The more time you spend with technology, the less intimidating it will become.
  • Don’t be discouraged. Remember that everyone is exploring a new technological frontier every day, and half the time they’re just as lost as you are.

If the struggle is all too much, we do like to think of ourselves as experts on the digital world: shoot us an email and let us give you a hand.

Image by Blake Patterson is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

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Just because an idea is different, that doesn’t make it good

By | Email Marketing, News, Strategy | No Comments

My experience of people first thing in the morning is this:  They do not want to be messed with.

They want their coffee, they want to get to where they’re going as quickly as possible, and frequently, they want their Egg McMuffin.

Unfortunately, McDonald’s lame “Pay With Lovin’ ” campaign (more like a social experiment), seems determined to hinder, embarrass and infuriate customers precisely at a time when McDonald’s needs all the help it can get, and at a time of day when people have no patience to be toyed with.

Today’s Wall Street Journal contains this personal story of someone asked to dance with other strangers at a McDonald’s in exchange for a free Egg McMuffin. Me? I’d rather pay the two bucks, especially if it’s at any time before 10 a.m.

Is asking people to perform personal missions in exchange for free fast food a different idea? It sure is. So is asking people to show up for funerals in clown costumes. But in neither case is it a good idea. Part of brainstorming creative marketing ideas involves free thinking–but the crucial next part involves winnowing out the bad ideas before it’s too late. Which is something that should have happened with this one.

What should they be marketing? That Egg McMuffin in the morning. How easily and affordably it’s gotten, and how wonderful it tastes. Sometimes it really is that simple.

 

 

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Something has changed today — but do you know what it is?

By | Change, News, Strategy, The Future | No Comments

Over the holidays, we tend to play board games at our house. Popular choices for my wife, our 23-year-year old son, 16-year-old daughter and 12-year-old son include Cosmic Encounter, Risk, Guillotine and Oxford Dilemma. This year we found ourselves playing a game called TriBond.

TriBond, which is theoretically for ages 12 and up (and therefore theoretically suitable for the entire family), is a game in which players hear three individual clues and must analyze and determine what all three words have in common.  Example:  Delaware, today, and George Washington. (Answer: They are all firsts.)

Here’s one none of my children, ranging in age from tween to adult, could get:   Fossil, Citizen and Timex. My wife and I were sputtering in confusion. How could anyone miss that? They’re all watches! Then I looked around and noticed that no one was wearing a watch:  not me or my older son or my daughter (smartphones all) or my wife or our youngest. They didn’t know what a Fossil or a Citizen or a Timex was because they’d never worn a watch.

Here’s another one that my kids couldn’t get:   Little, Sloppy, and GI. I know:  They’re all Joes! This time I broke it down and asked all three kids who Little Joe was. No idea. (Bonanza having gone off the air in 1973, I barely knew.) Then I asked them what were Sloppy Joes, the curse of many of my grade-school lunches. Again, no idea, so I had to explain again. GI Joe, a staple of my childhood, they’d heard of, but never played with and couldn’t fully explain.

Then I looked at the box and noticed that TriBond, while renewed recently and purchased in a new edition, was “copyright 1993.” Which explained why all the cultural references seemed to be aimed at people in their 40s or 50s. Note to the TriBond guys:  If you want teens and 20-somethings to play your game, it’s time to update the cards.

This made me wonder what else has changed at some companies that the people running those companies haven’t noticed.

Here’s something that we at Counterintuity find more often than you’d imagine:  a client telling us that a mobile version of their website isn’t necessary. Then my business partner or someone else at Counterintuity will look at the client’s stats and let them know just how much of their traffic is from mobile. For a small manufacturer recently it turned out to be 17% — almost one-fifth of their traffic was from mobile. For a construction firm, it was 52%. They had told us that these “construction guys” are never on a mobile device, but when we told them that 52% of their traffic was from a smartphone or a tablet, they looked at each other and said, “Oh, right, they’re all looking at our website while they’re on the job.” And who is “they”? Their prospects.

It’s easy to not know what you don’t know. I taught graduate writing at the University of Southern California for 10 years, and one night during the seventh year bemoaned the fact that I was always paying for parking. One of my students said, “Why don’t you park on…” and named a side street near campus. I explained that it was metered parking with a limit of two hours, and this was a three-hour workshop, so I’d get a ticket. “There aren’t any meters there,” I was told. So after class I went and looked — and indeed, there were no meters there. Why did I think that street was metered? Because when I was a grad student myself at USC in the late 1980s — 20 years earlier! — that street was metered. But it had changed, and I had never thought to look.

Why is it easy to fall into this trap of thinking that things are set, that once you know something you know it for life? Maybe it’s because, for most of history, that was true. But no longer.

We live in the greatest period of change in human history. I am part of the last generation on Earth to grow up in a pre-Internet world, so we’re the fulcrum class:  We fully appreciate the Internet, and know what it was like not having it. Everybody younger just expects it. Given how much change has occurred on our watch — just to start:  the rise and fall of nations, the transformation of economies, instant access to more than one billion people across the globe, easy and seamless transfer of funds electronically, instantaneous and constant delivery of news — it would be naive to think that other things haven’t changed right within our own households and businesses and careers and communities.

What does this radical change mean? Among other things, it means that all of us are better served by questioning our own facts every day before making decisions that accidentally reflect times long gone.