strategy

The Omni-Steps to Getting Started

Omnichannel marketing can be intimidating at first. The very word itself starts with “omni” (meaning “all”), so we get it, it’s a lot! That’s why we’re peeling back the layers for you. We hope this blog, and our other blogs in this series, helps you understand how beneficial omnichannel marketing can be for your company. In the first blog of the series, we explained exactly what omnichannel campaign marketing is. Now, we’re on to the next step – how to get an omnichannel campaign up and running.

 

Omni-Research

When building your omnichannel strategy, what’s most important is building your target audience. Without that, you’re simply creating a strategy that meets possible customers on the journey you think they’re on. You’ll likely miss who and where they really are. Since your customers are moving from device to device, it can be challenging to follow them, but it’s imperative to set up parameters to catch this data and meet them where they are and see where they’re going. Track their behaviors and record where they’re connecting with your brand and company. Research, research, and research more on your consumers – because as much as you’d like to optimize communication on every channel, your demographic may only be active on a few of them. Decide on which channels you should invest in by reviewing your website analytics. What’s getting you high traffic, time on your site, conversions, and other metrics?

Omni-Steps

Use Tracking Technology

Like we said, you’ll need a lot of data for your omnichannel strategy – but getting that data takes a lot of research and tracking. Review all website analytics to better understand where your customers are coming from, and why. Use this information to provide a positive experience for the customer along their journey. After all, 80% of consumers are more likely to do business with a company if it offers a personalized experience. Using machine learning will also save you time and energy in tracking and finding these customers. Lastly, use collaborative filtering, to make suggestions to new audience members.

Segment Your Audience

To target the right people (the ones you found in your research) at the right time (where they were in your research), you’ll need to utilize audience segmentation. Group your customers by demographic, psychographic, geographic, behaviors, and other applicable segments. These specific audiences will most likely be marketed to in distinctive ways, on different channels, and with differing touchpoints.

Be Your Own Customer

Before rolling out your omnichannel campaign, always test your omnichannel experience as if you’re the customer. Try to get into the customer’s mindset (using the data you’ve acquired and your knowledge of their behaviors) and keep in mind how personal the experience should be. Pretend to actually purchase something from your service to see if there are any problem points or errors along the way, and make adjustments to your campaign where they’re needed. We know that 79% of consumers say that they will purchase more products or services from a company after a positive customer experience, so make sure the experience is definitely a positive one before providing it to real customers.

Record Data

Be sure to record quantitative and qualitative data not only before, but throughout your campaign. Keeping up with the campaign will help you understand where customers are connecting, purchasing, or dropping out and moving on. You’ll see where and when you need to adjust your campaign. Additionally, send out surveys to current or potential customers to see how and when you can improve their experience.

Be Responsive

Make sure you’re not only responding to your customers – but also their behaviors. If your tracking is showing a change in your customer base’s actions, react to that change and alter your campaign.

What should also be responsive? Your design. If your targeted audience is moving back and forth between devices, you should too. Research shows that consumers use more than four devices each day. Provide an optimal experience not only on desktop, but on tablet, TV, mobile, and anywhere else you may be connecting with your audience. Make sure those in your company connecting with customers are trained to work across all of these possible channels, and can continually help you improve your customers’ user experiences. Use cross-screen advertising to “efficiently advertise to viewers as they consume content across different devices”. Create a touch-point on each screen your audience uses, or make sure the touch-point works on all possible screens.

Get Going

Getting your omnichannel campaign started may require some company and mindset shifts, but it’s a strategy that can truly enhance your user experience and provide high ROI. 87% of consumers want brands to have more consistent experiences across all platforms, and omnichannel does just that. By investing in omnichannel marketing tactics, you’ll position your brand as a customer-centric business, which will help you pull in more consumers, increase conversions, and ultimately grow your revenue. Could you use some more help starting your omnichannel campaign? Let us know.

Ready, Set, Go!

The speed of modern technology can’t be stopped, no matter what’s thrown at it (worldwide pandemics included). Just when you think you’ve got it all figured out, BAM, a new statistic or technology is released that changes everything. But, keeping up with these changes and staying ahead of the game is what ultimately brings success.

2020 brought us a variety of different trends that were highly utilized throughout the year (whether we liked it or not). However, what really took the cake in 2020 was the influx of virtual and augmented reality trends. They became massively popular and their popularity is growing even more as we enter 2021. In fact, this virtual world has and is continuing to open many doors (windows) to digital marketing opportunities. For instance, we’re able to host events and conferences from our personal living spaces. It’s basically changing the way we interact and broadening the mediums we communicate on.

So, with that being said, let’s see what’s predicted for the long-awaited 2021.

Covid-19 Did What Now? Created Trends?

Yes, yes it did. A global pandemic actually did cause some marketing trends to arise. To start, video calls sky-rocketed, becoming one of the largest and most “convenient” ways of communication in this new norm. But that’s not the craziest part. What is? That these digital pivots have become permanent. Businesses have started to turn roles into indefinite remote positions, making virtual the new, permanent norm. Who would have thought?

Sure, it can be challenging to adapt to these shifts, but if there’s one good thing that came out of this trend, it’s that it’s made companies stronger. It’s made people step outside their comfort zones and change how they work – facilitating growth and unity.

On top of this, we’re expecting to see an increase in online content creation in 2021. Covid-19 showed us that if we’re not online, we might as well not exist. Online marketing is inevitably growing and businesses are investing and budgeting for it. With more people stuck at home, that means technology is one of their only connections to the world. Google claims that more than 90% of their users utilized devices for help and inspiration while in the middle of the task. So, here’s our suggestion – get your content online!

Personalization is Still King

Personalization is always a top priority – but even more so going into the new year. With the emergence of numerous online product design tools and platforms, customization is projected to be at an all-time high in 2021. More and more people are working remotely and that type of environment closes off the outside world and limits opportunities for connection. As a result, now, more than ever, finding ways to connect in a personalized manner is crucial. It’s an easy way to replace the face-to-face interaction we so dearly miss and let’s be honest, personal connections with potential buyers and current clients makes all the difference. But how do you get started? It’s relatively easy.

Start by figuring out what type of communication you want to use based on their preferences, interests and behavior. Since we can’t exactly use body language and other indicators to communicate, we must depend on tone and language. Then, tap into their behaviors and interactions through ads, social platforms, and other analytical tools. Finally, test and track what’s working and what’s not. At the end of the day, it can’t be a one size fits all approach, especially when you’re dealing with new marketing technology.

Micro-Moments are Macro-Important

Noun: An intent-rich moment when a person turns to a device to act on a need to know, go, do, or buy.  

Micro-moments might be a new concept for you – and that’s OK. To get started, meet your customers where they are in their buying journey, whether that’s in the awareness stage, the consideration stage, or making their final purchasing decision. It’s important to respond quickly and catch them right away, wherever they may be in the process. After all, people lean heavily on instant gratification now that everything is a click away. There’s limited time during these micro-moments, and we don’t want you to miss out.  “When we act on our needs in the moment, our expectations are high and our patience is low. This makes the quality, relevance and usefulness of marketing more important than ever.”

Omnichannel Marketing is on the Rise

2020 brought customers even more options to communicate with companies – whether that be by website, app, social media, email, text, etc. But true communication success is turning customer acquisition into customer retention – and that’s done by setting up proper and correct communication channels through omnichannel marketing. First and foremost, it’s about your customers, so focus on them when capitalizing on omnichannel marketing. This could be through above-and-beyond customer service, efficient navigation, specials for loyal customers, or simply creating well-rounded user experience that’s consistent in both visuals and messaging. Behavior, on the other hand, is the key to understanding any customer – and that’s the fundamental to creating your channel – knowing how customers will react. Since many people switched to an online presence in 2020 (43% to be exact), an omnichannel approach has basically become mandatory. And, as a result, we’re expected to see a bigger emphasis on multi-channel attributions, community efforts, and video within marketing.

So, What Trends Should You Focus On?

First things first, make sure you understand your company’s pain points, current marketing strategies, and overall goals to ensure you’re fully grasping what changes need to be made and how to implement them. Make, sure you know your target audience, and keep up with the way they shop and research your products and services. Along with this, it’s important to stay relevant – research, research, research – predict what’s to come, and work on fully understanding these upcoming changes in not only the market but in consumer behaviors. Keep track, listen, observe, and absorb.

2021: Be Prepared

As we said before, changes in 2020 happened at rapid speed, and it wasn’t always easy to prepare and keep up. We hope that we’ve provided you with some insight for 2021 that you may not have had going into 2020, because, as they say, hindsight is in fact…20/20. Ready to say goodbye to 2020 and hello to 2021 marketing? Contact us, and we’ll help you brainstorm and execute your next campaign.

Email Marketing Tips & Tricks

Happy 2021! We’re 2 weeks into it, and it just feels really great not to have to say the year “2020” anymore. Not only are we putting the negativity and bad vibes of 2020 behind us, we’re putting bad email marketing practices behind us, as well. We have a few tips and tricks up our sleeve that we figured we’d share with you. Let’s toast together to better email marketing in 2021!

Your New Year’s Resolution

In a time of highly digital experiences due to current day trends as well as the pandemic, email marketing is as important as ever before. In some cases, it’s a marketer’s only way of communicating with his or her potential and current customers. But…email marketing is only as effective as the tactics used to send it, and having (and keeping) a successful email presence is about as tough as sticking with your new year’s resolution. You have to work for it, by creating and maintaining quality content, imagery, and strategy to really get your target customers to stop, read, get to know your company or product, and ultimately purchase.

Raise a Glass to the Stats

We’re not kidding when we say email, and email marketing, is being used more than ever before. We also know you’re aware of that, since you’re probably getting at least 6 emails a day (at the absolute minimum), and about 3 of them are not from coworkers, friends, or family, but from stores and online businesses. 4.3 billion email accounts send 196 billion emails every day, and, 91% of U.S. consumers use email every day. Not only are a ton of emails being sent – but many of them are marketing focused. And, marketers trust that they’re working. 85% of US retailers see email marketing as a highly effective tactic to acquire new customers, and 89% of marketers say email marketing is their primary channel for new leads. And they’re right in their positive opinions of email marketing, as 44% of those who received email marketing in 2020 purchased at least one product because of promotional messaging, and 71% of purchasing decisions were influenced by email.

In 2021 and 2022, email is expected to ramp up even more, with daily sent and received emails rising to 347 billion. Also in 2021, digital advertising channels (including email) will account for 46% of ad spend. Needless to say, we’re about to invest more time, money, and energy in email marketing campaigns, not less. And, in an era where forming customer relationships is made difficult with a lack of personal interaction, email is an excellent tool to create lasting impressions, without all the noise of other online web experiences or social media platforms. So, as a result, we should get well equipped and get our tactics in line for the email marketing world of 2021.

Don’t “Drop the Ball” (Unless it’s Midnight) with These Tips & Tricks

Messaging

Busy, stressed-out, hustling and bustling readers have become more interested in short, to the point, clear and concise emails. As the reader scans their phone while standing in the subway, walking into work, taking a break from a project, walking their dog, or waiting for their food delivery, they never have enough time to digest a ton of content. Short and sweet phrasing and messaging helps the reader process the email with ease. Consider using a unique and thought-provoking subject line that will catch them as they scroll through their inbox, but, be sure to form a bit of a relationship with your customer before using anything too out-there. Remember to create clear call-to-actions and arrange your messaging in a way that logically makes sense, so that readers can immediately tell what you want them to know and more importantly, what you want them to do.

Also, be a human, and remember that the person receiving your emails is one, too. Do more than just sell to them, but provide them with tips, experiences, and valuable information, while again, keeping the message short and showing that you value their limited time. Make sure you always acknowledge and answer responses as well, even if a response is not necessarily required. Let the human on the other end know you’ve received their message and that you appreciate their reply.

Tone

It’s always important to keep a branded, unique tone throughout your e-blasts or recurring marketing emails. Make sure your potential customers can easily recognize you, your brand, and your mission. Make them feel like they’re getting to know your company, and that they can trust you and what you have to offer them. Remember to consider how your target customer talks, thinks, and acts. What message and language would they most likely respond to?

Templates

Creating email templates isn’t only time-saving, but allows for a more consistent brand look and feel. Having certain brand elements within all of your outgoing emails will help your customers recognize you from the get-go. Templates can also help you include certain call-to-action elements, such as images, buttons, and links, and can help you incorporate social platforms, website, and additional company information.

Management

When managing your emails, it’s best to use groups and distribution lists instead of lumping everyone in the same category or viewing each person as a completely separate recipient. Using an email distribution service can help you get information out to targeted groups of people, and also allows you to easily eliminate uninterested prospects as they unsubscribe. Grouping and sorting your recipients also limits or completely removes the tendency to send mass emails and not consider the end user’s wants and needs. And don’t worry, you can segment your customers in many ways – by behaviors, demographics, purchase data, engagement, and more – the possibilities are pretty much endless. Most importantly, managing and sorting your emails will make for better reporting and tracking, ultimately improving future emails and practices.

Personalization

Using names, dates, companies, and other recipient data can help catch the attention of current and potential customers. But, be careful not to use too much data – you’ll risk coming off as creepy and the user will be more likely to hit “unsubscribe”.

Testing

“Don’t guess. Test.” 2020 didn’t work, so we’re trying again in 2021, and that’s okay. If you’re not getting traction with certain email subjects, messaging, imagery, or call-to-actions, try something different, and test again. Use A-B email testing to your advantage and find what works the best to catch the attention of your desired audience throughout your campaign.

So, are you ready to say goodbye to 2020 and make the most of your email marketing in 2021? Contact us and we help you brainstorm and execute your next smart email campaign.

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 Make the Most Out of Your Direct Mail

Are you a kindle girl, or a paperback jack and hardcover lover? It may be nice to “always have your books with you” with a digital user interface, but you really can’t beat the touch (and even the smell) of a real book. Ain’t nothing like the real thing. Who knows the journey it’s been on – whose hands it’s been held by? It’s exciting, authentic and holds a story, literally and figuratively. These, among many reasons, are why people ultimately prefer physical books. “67 percent of Americans have read a paperback in the past year, and 39 percent of people only opt for print. Contrastingly, 29 percent of readers use both formats, and only 7 percent exclusively consume books digitally,” (Oprah Magazine).

Does this idea transfer over to the physicality of direct mail? You bet. Unless we’re somehow completely avoiding technology (which these days is impossible), we’re constantly bombarded with digital ads and emails. To be specific, Americans receive an average of 605 emails a week, compared to only 16.8 pieces of mail. Basically, for every 36 emails coming in, only 1 piece of physical mail is received. Physical postcards, packages, pamphlets, or whatever else people can get their hands on all work to cut through the digital noise.

Pages…Chapters…No, Books of Stats

Not only does direct mail stand out among digital mail and ads, but its’ impact lasts much longer. “The average lifespan of an email is 17 seconds, compared to direct mail’s average lifespan of 17 days,” (Compu-Mail). What’s more? Direct mail has some serious ROI…

Direct Mail for Dummies

Here are some best practices if you’re new to direct mail or looking to improve:

Economize Words

As humans, we don’t like to read more than is absolutely necessary (unless we’re looking to get lost in a good book). The best direct mail uses clear and concise points. And, when in doubt, ask one simple question: Is this sentence absolutely crucial to the point/pitch? If it’s not, cut it. The best mailers are short and sweet.

Prioritize Graphics

The best parts of your favorite childhood book were the enjoyable illustrations and unique pictures. The same goes for eye-catching direct mail. Clean, attractive graphics can convey complex information while cutting down on copy. And, don’t forget to keep your brand standards in mind when picking graphics. It will help to remove the guesswork for your recipients.

Consider the End Product

While you’ll want to focus heavily on images and copy, remember to carefully consider format, envelope, finish, feel, etc. – and don’t be afraid to think outside the box (or in this case, the envelope). Remember, humans are tactile beings, and first impressions are lasting ones. Give them that nostalgic feeling they have when physically turning the page, or opening up an envelope or package.

Recommendations & Specifications

Trying to economize mail expenditures and use the most cost-effective option? If so, it’s best to follow the Post Office’s guidelines for postcard mailers:

Must be…

  • Rectangular
  • At least 3.5” high x 5” long x 0.007” thick
  • No more than 4.25” high x 6” long x 0.016” thick

Want to stand out and attract attention?

Consider opting for:

  • Larger postcards (6’’ x 9” or 6” x 11”)
  • Bi-folds, Tri-folds, Iron-cross formats, or Extra-large (9’’ x 12”) mailers
  • Dimensional mail that use boxes or bubble envelopes

Final Edits

A lot of writing, editing, rewriting, and finalizing goes into a good book. The same goes for direct mail. It’s only as good as the considerations you make before sending it. Here are some questions and considerations to keep in mind when creating your next piece of direct mail.

Questions

  • Who is my target audience?
  • What would resonate most personally with my audience?
  • What could I do with direct mail that hasn’t been done already?
  • Am I taking full advantage of personalization?
  • Can I convey my message faster/more clearly?
  • What tangible offering would best capture the attention of my audience?
  • How will they respond or access more information?
  • What response mechanisms will best serve my organization?

Considerations

  • Creativity counts – think about what will stand out in a crowded mailbox.
  • You’re only as good as your data – reliable list compilers make a difference.
  • Response is a direct reflection of the offer – make sure it’s enticing and engaging.
  • Provide as many options for response as possible – PURLs, QR Codes and BRCs are all great options.
  • Tie in a corresponding digital ad component when possible – multiple connections maximize results.

The Paperback & The Kindle

Remember when we mentioned that people saw some serious ROI from combining digital and direct mail? That’s because it’s the best of both worlds – the old nostalgic world, and the new fast-paced world – combined. Marketers have noticed some remarkable returns from the combo, like 40% conversion rates, 68% increased website visits, 63% increased response rates, 60% increased ROI, and more.

So, are you ready to get the most ROI out of your direct mail and cut through the digital noise? Contact us to start brainstorming your next campaign today.

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.

Navigating Communication During Covid-19

Sometimes it feels like it was just a few days ago that we were all saying, “Have you heard about the coronavirus? Do you think it will affect us?” Now, months later, it’s completely changed our lives. Think of it this way, if we were in a movie, back in March the foreboding narrator would have said, “Life as they knew it would never be the same.” Needless to say, the movie has dragged on a bit too long, and I think we all wish that we could turn it off and give it a 1-star rating at best – which is extremely generous.

With that said, saying that the workplace has really changed this year is an understatement. Along with all of the normal changes that a new year brings (marketing tactics, sales tools, technology, trends, and more), this year we’ve been faced with the most impactful (and almost unbelievable) change: a pandemic. This year, it hasn’t been about “keeping up with the times” like it was in 2015, when the Open Concept office floor plans were suddenly all the rage. Instead, change is less about being “trendy”, and more about being safe, and adaptable. Even the more traditional offices can’t afford to lag behind this year. If you haven’t changed your setup and practices, your company simply cannot function.

Evolve or Perish

Like our CEO Jeff Sammak says (even pre-2020), “Evolve or perish”. And this year, if you didn’t evolve, your company either suffered greatly, or completely dissolved. Thankfully, Strata’s been among the lucky few to continue our practice of making smart happen and changing with the very quick times.

The most talked about way (and really the only way) of handling the Covid-19 virus has been to stay home. Unlike other legendary years that have made the history books, we haven’t fought with swords, guns, or even words. No, we’ve fought with boredom (and maybe our siblings and spouses). We’ve fought with being couped up, and when it came to the workplace, not being able to be face-to-face, in-office, and conducting work as usual.

On the other hand, companies like Zoom and Microsoft have hit the jackpot, with virtual platforms that figuratively “save the day” for companies needing to change their methods of communication.

So, other than utilizing Zoom and Teams, how did Strata save our metaphorical ship and keep our business afloat? We followed a few best practices and, of course, learned some things along the way. Here’s where we’ve landed:

How to Best Navigate Communication During Covid-19


Be Flexible

During a time like this, it’s important to keep an open mind when it comes to new practices and processes. No answer is wrong until its proven not to work. “Leaders may be tempted to withdraw into small, tight decision-making task forces to make key decisions as quickly as possible. Instead, they can use this moment to define and demonstrate a common sense of purpose with employees, who will be looking for leadership and ways to engage themselves,” (McKinsey). Change always takes a lot of ideas from different perspectives, and a lot of trial and error – and change in 2020 is no exception to the rule.

Utilize Helpful Communication Tools

Again, coming to a decision on the right tools, and ones that seamlessly work together, can take a ton of trial and error. At Strata, we were using Zoom, Slack, Microsoft Outlook, and a few other platforms that felt to be working at first, but lacked compatibility. Eventually, we found what worked together, and worked for us – Microsoft Teams, Microsoft Outlook, Wrike, and various other platforms that worked better in unison. Teams messaging and calling has been an excellent communication tool, as all of our communication can be found in one place, and employees can control if and when they’re available to talk. Having the option to be away, available, busy, do not disturb, and more creates a more office-like communication experience without feeling too detached from coworkers. Wrike, a project management system, has helped us to stay on-task, work effectively together, and not let anything fall behind. And of course, calls and email as usual are always staples too.

Ensure Security

This year we’ve seen a huge spike in online hackers, with an increased risk of viruses and malware. It’s extremely important to not only warn employees of these risks, but thoroughly explain how, when, and where these problems can occur. An open line of communication is paramount to ensuring the safety of a company’s proprietary information. Establish trust with each other, and ensure employees that, if they call you asking if you “sent this email”, it’s not a bother.

Be Aware & Show You Care

Although there’s no longer an “open door policy” like before, make sure you have an “open (computer) window” policy. “Leaders are important sources of resilience for their people—and also important factors in post-traumatic growth following crisis,” (McKinsey). Check in on not only the work and progress of employees, but their mental well-being as well. Ask them how they’re doing, how they’re feeling, and assure them that no questions are “dumb” questions. None of us have ever been through this before, so an open, understanding line of communication is ultimately the best method for the safety and well-being of staff. Additionally, a company’s culture is only as good as its values. In tough times, continuously reinforcing your mission, values, vision, and appreciation is extremely paramount to not only keeping employees comfortable, but motivated and driven. “At this time of heightened anxiety…succinctly communicating facts, feelings, and actions is more important than ever before. Managers must carefully listen to employees and openly communicate what is known (facts), how they feel about it (feelings), and what they are doing about it (actions),” (Risk and Resilience Hub).

Come Together

Lastly, don’t forget to have a little fun and socialize! A great way to do this is with a Zoom or Microsoft Teams happy hour! It may not be quite the same as face-to-face interaction at the office, but it’s a close second and creates a sense of community (which we’ll take at the moment!). Don’t forget to implement activities and create bonding experiences, even if they’re virtual, to continue team-building and keep up employee morale. Because, like we’ve said in the past, happy employees equal happy customers.

Have questions about how we made it through all of the changes of 2020? We’re happy to chat. And, if you’d like to (virtually) get to know us a bit more, check out the Strata team.

An Introduction to High-Intent Consumer Marketing

You’ve researched up-and-coming marketing trends, and within budget, your marketing seems to be hitting all the right points. You’re sending emails and direct mail, conducting your daily social media activities, attending tradeshows, writing quality content, advertising in the several places, and even noticing some ROI (phew, you’re really doing a lot!). It can feel like the marketing industry gets more and more convoluted every day, with increasingly more avenues and strategies to reach the specific audience(s) you hope to target. With all of these different tactics and shiny new programs, how do you know you’re actually getting to your key audience, one that wants what you have to offer, at the right time? Are you “giving the right people what they want”?

High-intent marketing does just this, in a focused, particular way. One where you’re not just shooting at a broad target, but aiming at the bullseye. You’re probably thinking, “that’s nice, but what exactly is intent marketing?” Don’t worry, we’ll explain.

High-Intent Marketing Explained

High-intent marketing targets a specified end user’s intent – not only what they need (or want), but when they’re ready for it. The most recognizable type of high-intent marketing is search marketing. Users and prospects are targeted based on what they’re searching for right now, and are hit with ads, messages, and other forms of marketing communication to meet their current needs. Again, high-intent marketing differs from simply targeting an audience in that it puts emphasis on the timing of needs. For example, maybe I (the customer) am searching for a bridesmaid dress to wear to a wedding. I’m looking for it now, but I wasn’t last month, and I probably won’t be next month (unless of course I’m “always the bridesmaid, never the bride”).

Prospects have an overload of media and advertising to sort through, so the timing and reactionary nature of your marketing is how you stop them in their tracks. If you’re not combining their demographic with their current desires, you’re losing them. Using high-intent data to strengthen your marketing strategy results in more pointed themes, more precise detail in consumer personas and journeys, and highly effective marketing content, call to actions, and keywords.

What Are Some High-Intent Markets?

If you’re still unsure of what markets would be labeled high-intent, here are a few to think through:

  • Recent college graduates

Ready (or not) to take on the world, college graduates are highly focused on improving their resumes, networking with friends and professionals, and ultimately, finding a job.

  • Expectant & new moms

Nervous and constantly searching for the newest and best newborn knowledge, expectant and new moms can’t stop googling pediatricians and childcare facilities.

  • Newlyweds

Young, middle-aged, or older, many newlyweds are looking for another way to intertwine their lives – buying a home.

  • New movers

This audience base is nothing but uneasy in a new territory. According to recent studies, 40 million people move every year and they’re all looking for a new salon, doctor, favorite restaurant, grocery store, drycleaner, and more. If this is where your marketing needs to focus, take a look at SmartMove, Strata’s robust, multi-channel, multi-touch, new mover marketing program that helps you find the perfect time and place to reach your target audience.

“This Seems Exhausting”

It doesn’t need to be as tough as it sounds to use high-intent marketing. Don’t think of it as an out-of-reach, expensive project. Instead look at it as a continuous system, and an ongoing learning process to get the best return on your investment. Yes, you may spend more time and a bit of money strategizing and acquiring data in the beginning, but you’ll spend less time and money targeting the wrong people, or just as bad, the right people at the wrong times.

What to Do Now?

Start with analyzing keywords associated with your website, and compare these keywords to those that come up offsite. Additionally, get high-intent data from CRM analytics, customer service communication and online company reviews, and social media analytics. The goal is to compile data that establishes your desired buyer’s journey, and more specifically, when they approach, get to, and leave each stage.

Once you feel you have a sufficient amount of data, don’t stop there. It’s important to separate the data into different buyer stages, which can have labels like the “consideration” stage, the “informational” stage, and the “buying” stage. Keywords of these stages often look like the following:

Consideration Stage – “best”, “how to”, “where can I”

Informational Stage – “cost of”, “reviews of” “what people say about”

Buying Stage – “buy”, “shipping”, “coupons for”, “[your company name]”

Marketing to customers when they get to these stages is the bread and butter of high-intent marketing. Add in great content, imagery, and offerings, and you’ve got a proactive customer base. Do you have a high-intent market that you’re looking to target with an Omnichannel campaign similar to SmartMove? Strata can facilitate conversions for your company with high-intent direct mail, digital ads, and emails. Contact us today to learn more.