“Humanizing” Your Marketing Efforts for 2015

This new year will continue the pattern we are seeing of businesses wanting to reach consumers on a more personal scale. More than ever, marketers are striving to understand their target audiences and focus on them on a more individualized level. The biggest challenge is perfecting our strategies to reach them and maintain these relationships. Millenials continue to be the biggest priority for gaining and holding the attention of, but also, they are some of the most selective consumers. Companies are striving to find the best strategies for holding on to their dynamic presence in 2015.

Making Social Media Marketing Festive for the Holidays

‘Twas the week before Christmas and all through the malls,

older shoppers still were buying socks, iPads, and popcorn balls.

But, more often these days, people buy things alone,

Amazon is much easier–right from their phone.

Optimizing Your Online Banner

Remember from years ago those banner ad days of “Click Here To Win A FREE iPod!” Also remember how you (well, I) never ever ever won. Well, we’ve come to an age now where high click-through rates just aren’t enough. So, if you’re an advertiser constantly fighting the infamous battle of how to achieve the desired response to your ads, don’t worry– you are not alone. There’s a bundle of techniques that go into optimizing your online banner ads and making your display campaign successful.

Purpose of the Ad

The absolute first step that should be taken, yes even before designing, should be to establish the main goal of the ad. That is, do you want your banner to generate awareness of your brand and company OR do you want the ad to generate traffic? Whichever route you choose for your ad to go, be sure your click-through rate is actually translating into conversions. According to ReTargeter, while a banner with compelling calls to action produced an expectedly higher click-through rate, it was outperformed by nearly a 300 percent increase in conversions by the banner that maintained the same message as the landing page it directed clickers to.

Split-Testing

Split-testing is an awesome feature that allows you to test the waters, before making a final decision on a banner ad, about which approach will perform better. More easily put, let’s say you can’t decide on which of two words may work best for your ad, split-testing allows you to use both and see which will increase conversions. You can use split-testing to test just about any aspect of your brand/company–E-mails, landing pages, advertising, etc. Be sure while split-testing you are only testing out ONE variable at a time, so you can easily record results– don’t be afraid to do this more than once or make drastic changes!

Ad Copy

As you (hopefully) already know, banner ads don’t require a lot of copy. They typically have a couple of words, maybe a sentence, then two or three bulleted points under a headline. What you choose as your ad copy is key to consider the big picture goal of your banner and accomplish it. Your banner ad call-to-action copy really depends on your company/brand. You may be a company that experiences better results with “Buy Now” copy or you may be one that sees better results using something like “Learn More,” either way, make sure it’s to the point and catches your audience’s attention. Some words may work better than others, such as “Easy” versus “Simple,” and you can easily test which generates more conversions by split-testing–however, be sure you keep EVERYTHING ELSE the exact same and just change that word to see which produces better results.

Banner Design

The color, images and backgrounds of banner ads solely rely on personal preference. There is no telling whether your entire audience is going to like a photograph over a plain background or anything else. Personally, I would say try not to make your banner design too busy, you don’t want it to confuse people. You could easily test what works best by using split-testing and keeping all elements the same, just with a different background or color set!

Still in the Dark about “Dark Social?”

Remember in the 1990’s when caller ID first became a thing? Everyone was like “oh wow, I totally know exactly who is calling and where my calls come from.” Prank callers didn’t stand a chance. But then, crank callers wised up and began realizing that they could call from private numbers and still reach you without you knowing where the call came from. “Dark social” is the Google Analytics equivalent to a private number coming up on caller ID.

We can use analytic software to trace the sources of our social shares until the cows come home, but we still won’t be able to see the lost pocket of information out there known as “dark social.” The term dark social has been around for about two years when it was first coined by Alexis Madrigal. It is used to describe the unmeasurable media data that comes from shares via email or instant messages. What makes dark social so dark? It’s the social click-throughs that are invisible to analytics tracking software.

Think about this: you would assume that most referrals come from Facebook but, only actually about 20% do. It’s really the unknowable dark social that makes up the nearly 70% of total referrals to websites.  In most cases, when you want to know how many visitors came to your site, it’s super easy. Like if you go to the Track5Media website from Facebook, we can see where that visitor came from and be like “oh hey, cool, someone came to our website from Facebook.” And then pretty much that case is closed.  But, this dark social stuff is way more perplexing.

The problem with dark social is that the majority of shares are occurring from private sources that we just aren’t measuring. We focus all our energy on the shares that come out of the old-standby of Facebook and other social media platforms. However, the Atlantic was able to partner with an analytics firm to pinpoint how much dark social they were seeing. How? Well, they split their page views into 2 categories; homepage views and topic pages (such as http://www.theatlantic.com/politics.) It is a clear assumption that if a visitor is led to a sub-page and not from a visible social share, it must have been dark social. Why? Because, it is safe to assume that the majority of site visitors will not type in longer URLs to reach certain pages.

Fast forward two years and Radium One releases a report that sheds some light on the dark social phenomenon. According to the report, popular chocolate company Ghirardelli harnessed that power of dark social by implementing intelligent social sharing buttons that improved its dark social performance by 600%. Ghirardelli’s brand manager said, “We were surprised to find that 84% of the sharing activity was Dark Social. What that means is 84% of total sharing activity had been hidden from us.” Dark social probably ended up selling mad dark chocolate.

In other words, being able to advertise directly to “dark social” audiences, especially on mobile devices, is the best new way to unlock new target audiences. Equipping your website and social links with the right stuff to be able to locate the people who are receiving these dark social shares can get you to the people you should be sharing media campaigns with.