Marketing Trends

Surviving and Thriving During 2020: 4 Takeaways and How We Moved Forward

“I thought 2020 would be the year I got everything I wanted; little did I know 2020 (would be) the year that made me appreciate everything I have.” (Melody Godfred)

This quote serves as an overlying theme this year, both in life and in work. Although the pandemic has shaken everyone to the core, and has brought out many feelings of fear and uncertainty, we have truly been forced to step back and realize what’s actually important. While 2020 most certainly made our team reevaluate our expectations and objectives, it also allowed us to appreciate the great team we have, grow and learn together, and thrive in new ways we otherwise would not have explored.

This year, we’ve watched businesses scramble, lost friends and loved ones, and as a global community, have relentlessly tried to help those forced to say goodbye to the ones they held dearest. Most importantly, through it all, 2020 has taught us to appreciate everything we do have (as Melody said best). To prioritize what is meaningful in our lives, find beauty in the small things, and never take a day for granted.

Throughout the turmoil of this past year, we’re proud to say we’ve remained #StrataStrong. While we’ll be looking back on what we’ve accomplished and learned during this pandemic, we’ll also be looking ahead to next year and how we can continue to improve even more.

Takeaway 1: Customer Experience and Retention is Always a Priority

One of our main priorities, even before 2020, has always been continually improving customer experience. The pandemic has changed the needs, wants, and availabilities of customers, forcing us and other companies to explore unique communication avenues. It’s important to understand clients first, in order to tailor communication to their specific needs. This doesn’t just come naturally. It requires time and effort to ensure a personalized, streamlined experience. Simply stated, we are hellbent on providing customers as unique and personalized of an experience as possible.

We worked hard to not let our clients miss any communication opportunities during this new “virtual norm.” Any resource we could use to communicate, we did – virtual meetings, video messages, direct send-outs, and really anything that made this new agenda work for both the clients and us. Of course, this came with some trial and error, but our customers really noticed our efforts and felt in-the-know at every step.

Takeaway 2: Digital Marketing is More Important than Ever Before

After the unpredictability of 2020, we can only hope for the best in 2021. Hopefully, there’s one thing we can predict for the upcoming year – the direction of digital marketing. We’ve become a digital “all the time” culture – and it’s not something that’s going away or slowing down – especially with how we’ve adapted to communication with no direct contact. This contact-less communication has contributed to a growth in digital and direct marketing ads and companies are spending more money on these resources than ever before.

When it comes to digital marketing, we’ve really defined and refined our strategy, mostly because of the effects of Covid-19. With an increase in digital marketing, we knew this was the time to really hone in on our digital strategy. We gave people a deeper look into who we are and the culture of Strata through these digital outlets.

However, with digital content comes digital overload. We all know what we’re talking about here. Maybe it’s the hundreds of emails you see when you get back from a vacation, or it’s the bombarding of notifications from various apps. Either way, digital overload means the need for direct marketing. A physical postcard, envelope, or package rather than an email or PDF file can cut through the digital noise and create a unique experience.

Takeaway 3: Brand Experience Deserves a Renewed Focus

With customer experience comes brand experience, and customers want a brand that they can trust and understand. Rob Krischker, a member of our Strategic Sales team says it best: “(My motto is) to provide peace of mind to my clients that their job is in good hands.” Your brand can make or break recognition and trust from your customers.

This year, we had plans to refresh our brand no matter what, but 2020 made us take a much deeper look into what really mattered. It opened our eyes to truly understanding what our story was, where we wanted to go, who we wanted to help, and how we wanted to be seen.

We not only crafted a more appealing look for our brand, but polished our services to increase customization for our clients. We created a brand that would resonate with both long-standing, new, and future customers, while thinking through what would be recognizable, eye-catching, and readable.

Takeaway 4: Happy Employees = Happy Customers

2020 made us take a deep look at our company culture. The people, the lifestyle, the appearance, and everything in between. Which raised the question; how can we best portray and build the culture of Strata? What do we stand for and what do we want most for our employees?

Working from home definitely created some distance between us, and our first priority was to mentally and physically stay connected and stay positive as a company. The remote experience can be hard on some, and easier on others. This can make the employees having difficulties wonder what they’re not doing correctly to thrive. Working from home isn’t convenient and energizing for everyone, and can impact not only work ethic but the entire culture of a company. It’s important to keep your finger on the pulse when it comes to new practices and processes during times like this, which is exactly what we’ve done.

We come from a small, but big-hearted company. Our people are what makes this company thrive, so being flexible, understanding, and continuing to bond with each other makes all the difference during difficult times. At-home work may not be quite the same as face-to-face interaction at the office, but with the right communication tools and frequent check-ins, it’s a close second. Not to mention we can do it all while in our pj’s! (as least on the bottom half).

Right away, we implemented happy hours, virtual check-ins, several communication tools, and physical mailers for holidays and special occasions. We pride ourselves on high morale, an attribute that fuels us to work harder.

Entering the New Year: 2021

Although 2020 has been a year filled with sorrow for so many, it’s taught us all so much. We’re beyond excited to continue making smart happen with you in 2021.

With these four takeaways in mind, we recommend continuing to personalize your customers’ experience, build relationships, partake in new technology, and enter the new year full speed ahead, ready for challenges and embracing hardships. I mean, 2021 can’t be anything but a step up from 2020, right?

Want a helping hand? Contact us and see how we can help you in the New Year and beyond. A pandemic might have shaken the world, but it cannot, and will not, shake the Stratasphere (pun intended)!

How to Tackle Display Ads, Correctly

Simply leading a handful of players to the football field and saying “give it your best!” isn’t enough to win the game. Quality players in the right places – and a strategic game plan to back them – both go a long way.

The same idea can be applied to your display ads. You might have a few ads displayed in various places online, but if these ads are poorly placed, lack information, and are missing cohesive call to actions, visuals, and strategy, they won’t have the impact you’re hoping for. In other words, they’ll likely go unnoticed, and you won’t win over prospective customers. Whether they’re on a computer, tablet or mobile device, when set up and designed correctly, display ads can get your brand front and center quickly, with minimal effort and spend.

Game Play Stats

Generally, if display ads aren’t in your playbook, you may want to do a bit of re-strategizing. Over $500 billion is spent globally on advertising each year, and, not surprisingly, a large portion of that spend is used on the tried-and- true display ad – because it works. Currently, 84% of marketers are investing in display ads because they’re almost always within budget and can accurately target your specified audience (if you’re utilizing “good data”). According to SEMRush, Google’s Display Ad Network reaches 90% of global internet users and mobile advertising spend (which consists primarily of display ads) is now higher than TV advertising spend. Additionally, if you’re looking for lead conversions, retargeting ads are your best bet, with 53% more views than general display ads and 70% more likelihood of conversion.

The Rulebook

So, now that your eyes are on the end-zone, here are the key players to you should consider when creating your high-scoring display ads:

The Path to Touchdown – Include Eye-catching CTAs

The single most important thing on your ad is a relevant CTA that ties in directly with the creative. It can do wonders for your CTRs and provide a better sense of the info users can expect to see once they click on the ad. Most importantly, don’t overthink it. A simple button can get the job done.

Remember the Offensive Line – Design with a Mobile First Perspective

Did you know 70% of all ads are shown on mobile devices? That’s why we recommend designing your mobile ads first, then you can scale up into other sizes for desktops & laptops. Keep in mind that no matter what size you’re working with, brand logos and colors should be prevalent, each asset should have its own space, and you should avoid overlapping whenever possible.

Don’t Overcomplicate the Play – Keep Content Short & Sweet

While there are no strict limits, a general rule of thumb is that less is more when it comes to copy. Wordier ads can be harder to digest, especially if they’re viewed on smaller screens. And when in doubt, mirror your favorite billboard (or sideline) ad – short headlines that can be absorbed in just 1-2 seconds.

Recs & Specs

Although you may be tempted to utilize a trick play, it’s usually best to stick to the playbook. Here are the most common display ad sizes, with “leaderboard” size being the most popular (and we’re not surprised!).

And of course, along with leaderboard ad size, there are a few more MVPs. As a general rule, you should include the following sizes within any campaign:

Other Things to Consider Before Kickoff

While we’re not telling you to call an audible at the last second, there are still a few things to consider before kickoff. To eliminate the chance of a fumble, keep these practices in mind when finalizing your ads:

  • Acceptable file types include JPG, GIF or HTML5
  • Your max file size should be 150KB
  • Ads should be static or animated, non-expanding, non-rich media
  • JPG or GIF back-ups are required but shouldn’t be larger than 120KB
  • JPG or GIF back-ups must be submitted as files vs. embedded tags
  • 1 pt. borders are required and must be a color that’s different from the creative
  • Stay away from transparent backgrounds and anything that blends into screen content
  • GIF ads with partially black or white backgrounds need a border that’s different from the background
  • Strobing, flashing, or other distracting backgrounds are discouraged
  • Animation length should be 30 seconds or shorter
  • Animated GIF ads must have a frame rate of 5 frames per second or slower

Additional Draft Picks

Just like a good trade adds to an already prosperous team, display ads are even more effective when combined with omnichannel tactics like direct mail and/or email. In a study conducted by USPS, research showed that when combining direct mail and digital ads, 68% of industry professionals saw increased website visits, 63% noticed increased response rates, and 60% observed increased ROI.

The Hail Mary

In case you still need some visual representation, here are a few examples that follow the rulebook to a tee.

Ready to see your digital ad strategies cause a real spike in sales? Contact us to see how we can help with everything display ads, from creation to implementation.

Oh, and P.S…Go Eagles.

How to Put Big Data to Work Without it Feeling “Creepy”

Big data has gotten a pretty bad rep at this point – and it’s not for nothing. Over the past few years, the fear of data “creeping” further and further into our lives, and machines “listening in” on us, has some feeling a little nervous, to say the least. But, from a somewhat bias perspective of a marketing company, we don’t think it’s all bad and don’t think you should either. When used correctly, big data can help companies target the right customers, at the right time with the stuff they want, and more importantly, the stuff they need.

Then and Now

In the past, a lot of marketing departments probably were a little overzealous about the concept of data, and went a bit too far with personalization, taking an “anything goes” mentality. This approach can and has felt like it crosses the line, often making customers feel transparent, and even “spied” on. No one wants to feel like someone is watching their every move, I mean…that’s what scary movies are made of. In the past, customers didn’t know who, when, or where data was being collected about them, and in turn, felt mistrust for anyone or anything trying to get their information.

More recently, tech companies have realized that customers feel over-encroached upon, and are making steady improvements to be less sneaky and creepy, and more transparent. They’re more overt about the data they’re collecting, and allowing for customers to be more aware and have an increased say (which seems a whole lot more ethical, if you ask us).

The Fine Line Between Cool and Creepy

With this said, similar to an unwanted encounter at a bar, there’s still a fine line between cool and creepy when it comes to big data, but, if used correctly, it can have major benefits for both marketer and customer. After all, sometimes a (non-creepy) pickup line can lead to a happy marriage. It’s all about saying the right thing at the right time, which is what big data makes happen.

Good Data

The more “good” data that you put into your digital advertising campaigns, the more likely they are to reach the right person at the right time. Thankfully, the days of marketers defining rough, segmented target audiences in hopes that randomly placed ads would lead to a purchase are now GONE. Instead, today we’re using social media feeds, purchasing habits, browsing trends, content consumption, and other tactics to reach the right audience, at a welcomed tune. With good data, we have the ability to know exactly who we’re talking to and how we should be targeting them. It ensures we’re following leads and people, not just metrics and trends, and, at the end of the day, it helps cut down on waste and improve ROI.

Cool Stats

If we haven’t convinced you that good data cuts down on waste, we have some stats to back it up. Currently, the growth in global ad spend is projected to reach $793 billion by 2022. Yet, marketers today estimate that they waste approximately 26% of their budgets on unproductive digital strategies. And, to make things worse, studies show that 76% of marketers fail to use behavioral data for online ad targeting. When looked at all together, most of these downfalls point to one central problem: failure to pull accurate insights from marketing data and to apply them toward strategic decision-making. That’s where the power of good data comes in. It not only provides insight, but helps drive your strategy.

Not All Data Vendors Are Created Equal

That’s right, we said it, and we’re not taking it back. Data vendors are invaluable, but they’re not all created equal. If you think your vendor is leaving the “cool” territory and approaching the “creepy” zone, there are a few important questions to ask them, like, “Is your data properly permissioned?” or “Are your audiences sourced from ‘known’ data signals?” Find more useful questions in this article, and you’ll be better prepared to decide if you’ll accept their pickup-line, or give them the old, “it’s not you…it’s me (but it’s really you)”.

Wishing You Good (Data) Luck

Now that you know how cool (not creepy) and important data is when it comes to digital advertising, let’s put it to good use! If you decide to work with Strata, we’ll help you make actionable insights, plan and strategize, and take your next digital advertising initiative to the next level. Want us to turn your good data into targeted messages geared towards the right people at the right time? Contact us today.

Today, Tomorrow and the Future

Welcome back to part 2 of our series, 9 Ways COVID-19 Has Changed Sales and Marketing.

In our last installment, we touched on a shift to digital, an increased emphasis put on relationships, a move to remote selling and a switch to purely virtual events and conferences.

In part 2 of this series we’ll start to discover how COVID-19 is changing our lives today, and what impact that may have on tomorrow.

5. We’re Doing More with Less

Doing more with less isn’t uncommon, but lately we’ve all been stretched a bit more than usual, particularly the members of marketing and sales teams. With widespread layoffs and reduced staff becoming the norm (though that’s beginning to bounce back), we’ve been expected to pull double duty and cover responsibilities that may not have otherwise been delegated to us.

This means that we’re expected to cover multiple bases — like the development of new advertising, the shift to more digital-centric models, as well as maintaining current customer relationships — that would have previously been handled by a whole team. Enter marketing automation, wash and repeat processes, and the increased use of marketing technology.

6. Video Continues to Rise

Anyone who’s been watching what Zoom (ZM) has been doing knows that video continues to be crucial in helping businesses cope with the new realities of the pandemic — namely social distancing.

While we’ve touched on the idea of video in our previous installment, it’s hard to understate the importance of video capabilities in our new normal, particularly when it comes to sales.

This is a time to double down on your personalized marketing efforts, incorporating a video stand in for what might be a meeting or email. Sending a piece of direct mail, like a dimensional mailer with a video component, is a great way to use video to move forward as we deal with the effect of COVID-19 on our ability to meet face to face.

7. We’re Switching Focus to Omnichannel Marketing and Loyalty

In one of our recent pieces, we pointed out the strengths of an omnichannel, multitouch marketing strategy. This type of marketing is making more on an impact now than ever before, and will continue to thrive as new customers enter the market every day in search for new services.

However, this search for new and better services is a double-edged sword — while it brings with it the opportunity to attract new customers, it also puts us in a position to lose loyal customers as they open themselves to the idea of new services elsewhere.

But there’s a way to capitalize on both scenarios – focus on the opportunity to gain new customers with engaging omnichannel campaigns, while not losing sight of your loyal customers needs in the now.

8. We’re Looking for Alternative Ways to Gather Information and Make Connections

We’ve started to get better at finding new ways to make connections in the wake of COVID – mostly out of necessity. Being that so many people are looking for alternative solutions and forms of communication, we’re also beginning to streamline them in an effort to find what works and what doesn’t.

We’ve noticed this in the increased usage of things like chatbots as well as online scheduling and other self-service platforms, like stock tracing and order tracking. And, at the same time we’ve also seen it in the way we interact on social platforms — LinkedIn recently reported a 55% increase in engagement between connections.

9. E-commerce is Accelerating

We knew the average consumer was trending towards a preference, or at least acceptance, of largely digital interactions making up a significant chunk of their day to day purchases. That’s nothing new.

But COVID-19 threw gas all over that fire — with the temporary closing of most brick and mortars, we experienced a massive shift towards e-commerce by necessity.

And for an example, we need to look no further than what retail giant Amazon has been doing. Despite, the pandemic, Amazon has been thriving and is set to become the biggest US industrial distributor by 2021.

As you know, COVID-19 has done a lot of damage, plain and simple. But in light of that damage, the pandemic has instigated a shift towards net-positive trends in business and how we operate.

One thing is for absolute certain — now more than ever, we’re all looking towards the future.

Looking to see how Strata can help you evolve during and after COVID-19? Contact us to see how we can help you make smart happen every day.

Navigating a New Normal…LOL

Do we really need to begin an article with another paragraph about how COVID has changed how we do business?

Jokes aside, we actually do, because what’s happening now, will only tell what the future holds for many industries.

An often less explored element of our new “normal” has been COVID’s impact on marketing. To that end, we’ve created a two-part mini-series, 9 Ways Covid-19 Has Changed Sales and Marketing. This article will dive into the first four.

Let’s go.

1. Shifting to Digital Everything

Let’s start with the obvious — things are getting way digital. Where a personal touch was once valued, we’re now avoiding touching anything and will likely continue to avoid personal contact for the foreseeable future.

As a result, when it comes to both sales and marketing, companies are making the obvious move to invest heavily in digital resources for consumers, as well as digital interface between consumers and sales. As marketing gurus, we always knew tech was important, but COIVD has given us the opportunity to narrow down the digital tech deemed essential. Zoom, for example, was a platform many of us used sparingly on the 30-minute trial basis and probably took for granted – but not anymore. Instead, COVID has opened our eyes to the huge role tech plays in this industry and what’s really working and what was an undelivered tech promise. Much like the practicality of remote work, it’s unclear how much of this will remain after COVID is under control, but digital everything is part of our DNA now whether we like it or not.

2. Reinforcing the Importance of Relationships

Just because many businesses are focusing on an accelerated shift towards digital resources, it doesn’t mean that we want our customers interfacing with some robot workforce.

In fact, it’s quite the opposite.

When it comes to what we value during times like these, businesses lean into their relationships to get them through, and we know that customers do the same. Trusting the solutions/products they utilize is what they rely on most during touch-and-go times. This is where personalization, interactive content, and omnichannel campaigns can come in to save the day. It’s all about putting a heavy emphasis on relationships – even from afar.

3. Moving Towards Remote Selling

There’s no more perfect intersection of points one and two than a shift towards remote selling. Remote selling relies on digital to get the job done, while making sure we don’t lose sight of the personal connectedness that allows us to make the sale.

This will lead many of us to overhaul our idea of sales, focusing on an almost entirely digital platform, at least for the time being. This means a focus on hard and soft digital skills, as well as defining new standardized systems and protocols that can be scaled up for the long term. With pressures high, it’s important we all put our thinking caps on, put the client first, and not push our agendas on them. After all, you’re selling motive is to help clients to succeed.

4. Switching to Virtual Events and Conferences

Noting back to Zoom, at this point it’s almost impossible to say you haven’t participated in some sort of online meeting or conference. That has definitely become part of the new normal and may continue in the future as a more cost-effective alternative.

We’ve already seen well attended webinars, but this mass beta test we’re collectively participating in is unprecedented and will result in the accelerated adaptation of these types of events — and their scale — going forward.

Stay tuned for the second installment of this series dropping next week, where we get into five more ways in which COVID is changing the sales and marketing world as we know it. In the meantime, contact us to learn more or checkout StrataBytes for more great marketing content.

How COVID-19 Has Brought New Life to a Long-lost Tactic

We spend a lot of time thinking about the landscape of marketing, what the future holds and how we can be early adapters today. Perhaps one of the most interesting — and strangely divisive — ways our physical and digital worlds intersect is through the humble QR code.

The Creation of the QR code

A little history: QR (quick response) codes were invented by Japanese firm Densa Wave in the mid-nineties as a more functional alternative to barcodes. From there, the decision was made to make the technology public, recognizing their potential.

So, what happened?

The Flop

Initially, they were a victim of their time. Despite the obvious utility, the technology just wasn’t there when it came to the rudimentary smartphones of the 2010s (think about it – it wasn’t that long ago that we were terrified of accidently hitting the internet button on our phones). Slow mobile internet speeds and a lack of integrated software made their use difficult. So, like many other truly advanced technologies, QR codes went unappreciated (except in certain factory settings) and faded into obscurity despite all their potential.

A Pandemic and a Renewed Interest

Until recently, it seemed as if that’s where the story of the QR would end — a substitute for the barcode we use occasionally at Whole Foods. But as anyone who’s left their house in the last six months can confirm, something strange is happening to QR codes.

They’re suddenly everywhere.

From touchless payment to restaurant menus, the QR code (now with sufficient integrated technology in every smartphone to support it) has made a major resurgence in a time where we’re afraid to touch anything.

The Future of QR Codes

To paraphrase, a recent article from pymnts.com (you can read it here) aptly describes QR codes as “a solution in search of a problem” — and it’s probably safe to say that a pandemic certainly qualifies as a “problem”. But, just like the creator of the QR code all the way back in 1994, we’re finally seeing the full potential, particularly in the world of digital wallets and touchless payment.

One of the main ways QR codes will continue to be an integral part of our day-to-day going forward is through the “pay by app” model of business where many individual merchants and most major chains have their own apps allowing QR code-based payments.

If that’s not a glow-up for the QR code, we don’t know what is.

QR Codes in Marketing

The rebirth of the QR code comes with the promise of exciting new ways to continue using the technology. By now, most marketers recognize the renewed potential of QR codes, even in a post-COVID future.

For us at Strata, the use of QR codes is the continuation of a trend we’ve recognized for some time, only having been accelerated — not created — by the pandemic. We’ve been generating and incorporating QR codes into our marketing campaigns as we’ve kept a finger on the pulse of marketing technology. They’re a great way to merge print and digital, and we’ve used them in our direct and dimensional mailers, as well as other collateral like brochures and business cards. So, while it’s been a long-time coming, it’s finally safe to say that the possibilities for QR codes are truly endless.

Are you interested in working with a guiding hand that can help you incorporate QR codes into your marketing materials? Contact us to get started.

Omnichannel Campaigns + Interactive Content

While reading has its benefits, I’m sure we can all admit that it’s easy to get bored and distracted when you’re just passively skimming something. And sure, “content is king”, but everyone is publishing content these days, so how exactly can you stand out in a sea of blogs titled “The Best Blah Blah Blah” and keep readers engaged? Interactive content!

If you’re unfamiliar with the concept, interactive content is exactly what it sounds like – it’s any form of content that can be interacted with by a website visitor or user. Think quizzes, calculators, and infographics – they’re all types of interactive content. And, creating these unique experiences can give you the opportunity to convey your value to your audience and encourage more engagement.

A Rundown on Interactive Content

Since we all seem to have the attention span of a squirrel these days, interactive content is the superhero here to save the day. What makes the concept even better, is that you can take any approach you want with it. The options are truly endless, but to put a picture to the face, here’s a rundown:

  • Quizzes offer a unique opportunity to both educate and engage your audience while giving you valuable data in return. Whether you do a career quiz, personality quiz, or a brain health assessment quiz, your audience will be much more intrigued and you’ll be able to grab info without even asking for it.
  • No matter if your audience is looking to buy, save, or reach a goal, calculators offer a helping hand and ensure trust when it comes to a final decision that needs to be made.
  • Infographics give you the ability to provide key data and stats in a digestible, meaningful way. At the end of the day, who wants to read a whitepaper when you can look at a pretty picture.

Finding the Time & Place

While there are numerous benefits that come with interactive content, it’s important to not overkill your platforms with it. There’s a time and place for it and finding that happy medium will benefit you more in the long run. Here are a few tips and tricks to consider when incorporating interactive content into your strategy.

  1. Figure out what your interactive content goal is. Do you want higher engagement rates, looking to capture more relevant data, or increase brand loyalty?
  2. Narrow down which style of interactive content will give the best results and help you reach your goals.
  3. Decide where your content will be distributed. Will you get the most engagement from emails, landing pages, digital ads, etc.?
  4. Execute your interactive content strategy and modify it as you see fit.

Duo of The Year

Aside from all the points made earlier, there’s still one key component of interactive content that will maximize ROI and user experience in the long run – omnichannel marketing. To put it simply, an omnichannel marketing campaign has one goal in mind — constant contact and engagement with your targets and reaching customers in ways they want to be engaged. Now tie the concept of interactive content and omnichannel marketing together, and you have the perfect combo! Imagine all the opportunities that can come along with these two very customizable concepts.

Looking into The Future

With things like VR, AR, and many other futuristic concepts progressing rapidly, one can only imagine where we’ll be in the next 5 to 10 years when we interact with our audience from afar. Already, 70% of marketers are creating more interactive content today compared to a year ago and 90% of consumers agreed they wanted to see more interactive content in their communications. It’s exciting to see how much it’s already evolved and we can’t wait to see where it will go.

Are you finding yourself as intrigued as we are and looking to incorporate interactive content in your next omnichannel campaign? Contact us today and learn more about our capabilities.

Executing Your ABM Strategy

Innovation: It’s crucial in the world of business. At Strata, we follow this motto very closely and history has shown that innovation in one area can churn to great success in other areas.

But that means as marketers, we need to always be on top of our game when it comes to new trends in the land of marketing. What’s working? What’s not? What can actually cut through all of the noise?

Enter virtual reality – or as the cool kids call it, VR.

What is VR?

There are endless options of MarCom tools available to us, but one tool we’ve really seen evolve in the last few years is virtual reality. Even the name sounds like something you want to Google, doesn’t it? While this technology isn’t exactly going to transport you to a literal virtual reality, the visual concept can surely do the trick if it’s incorporated into a marketing campaign. Here’s how it works.

Virtual reality is basically a “near-reality” or a type of reality emulation. To put that simply, using a special headset or gloves fitted with sensors, a person can use sight and sound to transport themselves into a computer-generated, life-like environment.

Opportunity Awaits

So, here we are. It’s 2020, we’re in a global pandemic, and businesses have been forced to operate from home. Things like in-person meetings, tradeshows, and direct outreach are all up in the air. As a result, we’re all taking a dive into the innovation pond and scrambling for marketing alternatives that can supplement human interaction and reach people at the right time.

Can VR be that alternative we’re looking for while we’re all away from each other? If you ask us, the answer is yes, but it needs to be done correctly and be part of a larger omnichannel campaign.

How It Can be Used

With VR, you’re “there” without actually having to be “there”. It gives you the ability to visually send a message to your audience without having to be with them. So, while the true human interaction is still absent, this is a great alternative that will get you “in front” of your audience before the competition. Do you see my point?

But how do you actually provide this VR experience to your audience? Here’s our solution. Approach the idea as part of a larger omnichannel campaign that can start with digital ads and email. Then you can include a low-cost cardboard VR viewer inside of a high-impact dimensional mailer. It’ll have the ability to cut through all of the digital noise we’ve been experiencing lately, provide a hyper-personalized experience, and give that much desired human interaction that we’re all craving. Image how you would feel if you received that type of package – wow!  

But here’s the thing. These types of campaigns aren’t always the cheapest. If this is the road you want to go down, make sure that you truly think about your audience, qualify them, and target only your top prospects and clients. This way, your ROI can justify the high price of a VR dimensional mail campaign.

Looking to the Future

When it comes to marketing, the name of the game is innovation and evolution. Unprecedented times call for new, outside of the box tactics. What might seem like a wild idea now (VR) may be the norm in the future – and in our opinion it’s always better to be a trailblazer than a crowd follower. That’s when you really make an impact with audiences.

If VR – or any other outside of the box tactic – is on your mind, and you’re looking for a way to incorporate it into your next omnichannel campaign, contact us to learn more.

Choosing the Right MarTech for Your Needs

Jetpacks, hoverboards, androids — for many of us, the future is defined by technology.

Fantasy aside, the future of marketing is also defined by technological advancements, and with today’s MarTech, the future of marketing looks pretty interesting.

Today’s MarTech has almost limitless capabilities. From managing content assets and social media to in-office solutions streamlining team workflow, MarTech has a place in every business.

A Burgeoning Industry

MarTech is simply any form of software used by marketers to perform tasks like organizing marketing campaigns, reaching out to customers, and posting to social media sites.

As an industry, MarTech has been experiencing a major boom over the last decade. In 2011, there were less than 200 businesses defining themselves as being focused on MarTech. Today, there are thousands, all constantly evolving to meet marketers’ demands with smart solutions.

These solutions expand into all facets of marketing, for example:

    • CRM and MRM software
    • Chatbots and AI to interface with customers
    • Automation of social media posts

Much like apps for your phone (and some MarTech solutions are apps for your phone), if there’s a possible need, there is more than likely a MarTech solution to meet it.

How to Choose

Regardless of your industry, there are two major forms of MarTech: point and suite. Point solutions focus on one specific marketing task, like managing contacts. Suite solutions focus on large goals involving multiple marketing tasks, like managing contacts, organizing them into segments, and reaching out with pre-determined correspondence.

It’s important not to go all out with MarTech suites just for the sake of having options. Although plenty of MarTech offerings, like the social media manager Hootsuite, for example, are relatively inexpensive, other options (particularly custom MarTech solutions) can come with high price tags. In short, be sure to purchase by necessity and purpose.

Don’t fall into the trap of purchasing MarTech solutions simply because they’re considered “industry standard” or used by your competitors. There’s nothing wrong with looking to others to inform your decision, but MarTech is not the place to play “keeping up with the Joneses”.

When to Explore New Options

MarTech should be a tool you use to streamline, operationalize and be efficient. By doing so, it creates more options and opportunities to market at-scale, and not force you into playing to limitations. When evaluating or reevaluating your available MarTech solutions, consider the following:

  • Are your MarTech solutions scalable?
  • Can you adapt your MarTech solutions to changing goals?
  • Are your MarTech solutions comparable to new technologies?

If you answered no to any of these, it’s likely your MarTech solutions have become obsolete.

The Era of (Mar)Tech

The future is defined by technology, and MarTech is the future of marketing. If you’re not already embracing MarTech and adapting these varied and customizable solutions to your business, you’re living in the past.

Remember, explore your options and be critical of them. Make sure that your MarTech can adapt to you and evolve as you do. After all, the ability to pivot is essential to the future of marketing. Your MarTech should reflect that.

Looking to upgrade your MarTech? Contact us to see how we can help.