strategy

Common Omnichannel Mistakes & Their Solutions

We’ve really covered a lot of ground in the journey that’s been our Omnichannel Marketing 101 blog series, but we’d be remiss if we got you ready to make and optimize a great campaign without setting you up to fix some inevitable mistakes. Now that you know what omnichannel marketing is, the steps to getting started, and the most important best practices, we’re talking common omnichannel campaign missteps – from creation to execution – and how you can not only learn from them, but fix them and improve on your current campaign strategy and strategies to come. Even when you have all the tools and knowledge for success (which we supplied in parts 1-3 of the series), mistakes can still be made, especially when you’re trying omnichannel marketing for the first time. Thankfully, we have solutions.

Errors during creation and execution of an omnichannel campaign can be due to a lack of data, lack of experience, missteps in implementation, or simply partnering with the wrong omnichannel “expert”. That’s okay! Omnichannel marketing, no matter how much expertise you have, can (and should) take some trial and error. That’s why we’re giving you some smart advice on how to fix the most likely mistakes along the way.

Most Common Mistakes & How to Resolve Them

Mistake 1: Sub-par content strategy

Resolution: If this seems to be the problem, go back and review your content again. It’s most likely not customer-centric, user-focused, or brand-consistent enough. Review your data and make sure your campaign’s messaging is enticing, on-brand, and relevant based on where your customers are and what they want to hear. “A spray and pray approach will make your content irrelevant to certain segments of users, and that would mean potentially losing out to your competitors.” If you’re content’s irrelevant, it’s a major waste of resources, and even worse, can cause your customers to mistrust your company.

Mistake 2: Inadequate data or data misuse

Resolution:79% of executives believe that companies will fail without embracing big data solutions.” Make sure you have a centralized data management hub for your company (if possible), have adequate tools to get the best data, and ensure everyone on your team (or various teams) can understand and use the same tools to gather information. Contrasting information can really hinder the success of a campaign’s creation and completion. Furthermore, “37% of the people in the US alone change their contact details within a year, making your data obsolete” unless you consistently update it, so make sure you use up-to-date data, and review and refresh your data when necessary.

Mistake 3: Missing out on new data throughout the campaign

Resolution: Like we said, out-of-date data is of no use to your customer’s current information – and even more, their current journey. Don’t just “set it and forget it”. Consistently go into your data to see patterns and understand how and where your campaign is (or isn’t) working. “You are supposed to capture more audience data based on the experience you offer and identify areas you need to improve.”

Mistake 4: “Isolated analytics measurement” (not getting the full picture when looking at data from various devices and platforms separately)

Resolution: Instead of viewing everything as a separate metric of success, think of each touchpoint of the campaign as a part of one ecosystem. “Take a top-down approach wherein you can analyze the success of your marketing campaign as a whole and then get down to the specific channel to know which ones performed well and those that require attention.”

Mistake 5: Problematic execution

Resolution: If you’re lucky and have some omnichannel experience, you may be able to fix this problem in-house. Try focusing on customer experiences instead of touchpoints and channels, better understanding your customer base, and better segmenting your audience. If you’re still having problems with execution, it may be worth it – and best – to bring on technical hires or work with a partner company (like Strata) to optimize data and technology.

Mistake 6: Incorrect & inefficient measurement of KPIs

Resolution: While it’s very important to look at the big picture, make sure you’re measuring results at each part of the customer journey. Otherwise, you’ll miss out on some granular yet important data. “For example, calculate the number of unique visitors on your website during the awareness stage or the duration of visit in the engagement stage, to determine if the user is interested in your product.” Data like this will help you better personalize the experience for each and every customer.

Mistake 7: Forgetting about the mobile experience

Resolution:71% of shoppers who use mobile devices to research products online say their device is an important component of their in-store experience.” Make sure your customer’s mobile experience aligns with their in-store or in-person experience with your company. Get an understanding of how your customer base may use mobile devices, and how you can best reach them (on mobile) along their journey.

Mistake 8: Simply put, a bad strategy

Resolution: Step back with your team and take the time to re-evaluate your strategy. Is it customer-centric? Is it data-driven? Does it truly meet your customer where they are? If it doesn’t, it’s time to revise accordingly.

Mistake 9: Partnering with the wrong omnichannel experts

Resolution: Do your research when finding and choosing your omnichannel partner. Make sure they’re experienced in all aspects of omnichannel marketing – not just a single channel.

If you’re still feeling intimidated by omnichannel marketing, don’t fret! Strata can help you create and implement a smart, results-driven omnichannel campaign for your company. We specialize in multi-faceted omnichannel campaigns to reach your clients, prospects, and strategic partners. Our campaigns are designed to help you put the right message in front of the right people. Contact Strata to get your very own campaign up and running.

Best Practices & Use Cases

What We’ve Learned (So Far)

In Part 1 of the Omnichannel Marketing 101 Series, we went over exactly what omnichannel marketing is, not only including its actual definition, but how it differs from multichannel marketing, its importance, and examples of when, where, and how it’s used. In Part 2, we outlined the steps to getting started on an omnichannel campaign. From those two blogs, we hope you’ve seen that omnichannel marketing’s an excellent way to gain and retain customers, and that it’s maybe not as intimidating as it sounds, but does require research, planning, focus, and sometimes, a team of experts like us!

Now, we’re giving you the inside scoop and sharing just a few of our secrets (yes, our secrets!) on best practices for creating an omnichannel campaign that powers a unique customer experience and cultivates company success.

What Industries Can Benefit from Omnichannel Marketing?

One of the many reasons omnichannel marketing is so popular is because of its versatile nature. It can be used in many different ways across several industries. Here are just a few we’d like to highlight…

Telecom

Omnichannel marketing is often used by the telecom industry to conduct various tasks, such as helping customers make payments and send out new launch notifications. As a result, telecom companies can quickly boost revenue and drive engagement.

Travel

Travel agency customers go through numerous stages in their customer journeys. Omnichannel campaigns can help promote travel accommodations, send reminders about upcoming flights and delays, deliver other announcements, give out deals for restaurants, stores, and hotels, and keep an open line of communication that’s easily accessible to the customer.

Banking

There are several ways banks can use omnichannel marketing – from reminding their customers about impending bills and other costs, to providing account balances, and promoting new features or products. It streamlines their services and allows them to offer multi-device experiences that often save the customer time (and improves their patience).

Healthcare (Our Specialty)

Strata has helped many healthcare companies acquire and retain customers using smart and successful omnichannel campaigns. Marketing campaigns can be tough to create and execute in a highly regulated industry like healthcare, but omnichannel marketing has taken off, and more and more healthcare companies are utilizing it. Healthcare companies can use omnichannel campaigns to reach new movers in their area, connect them with physicians, send out appointment reminders, provide additional access to portals…the possibilities are kind of endless.

With all of that in mind, you can see why businesses that create and conduct omnichannel strategies have 91% greater year-over-year customer retention rates. So, even if you’re in a different industry than the four above, you don’t have to miss out. Read on to learn more about the best practices for creating successful omnichannel campaigns…

Creating the Perfect Omni-Strategy

When planning out an omnichannel strategy, it’s most important to research, collect data, and, well…thoroughly plan. Not only do you want to research and keep in mind the customer base you’re targeting, but you’ll want to examine how your customer base will experience each channel, and carefully prepare the different messages you’ll want and need to communicate to them. Like we said in our second blog of the series, knowing your customers inside and out is key to a successful omnichannel campaign. Learn their demographics, environments, behaviors, habits, and even their goals. Use analytics and CRM data to get to know your customers’ behaviors and actions. Make sure to personalize your omnichannel campaign by segmenting this audience based on your acquired data and the journey they’ll take.

On a related note, always be customer-centric. Make sure your team understands the value of consistent messaging and experiences, and is well trained, because “different customers will interact in different ways with your brand, and there is no one way to do it”. Have staff ready to not only provide assistance, but to welcome new customers, consistently engage them in new ways, and turn them into advocates of your brand with, like we said, consistent communication and customer experiences.

Don’t forget to get content (and context) right. Make sure your messages are relevant and timely. Engaging with your customers at the wrong time with irrelevant information can very easily turn them off from your brand. Communicate with customers at the most pivotal touchpoints, “from identifying and understanding a need to researching solutions, comparing products, and making a decision”. Engage with your customers when it’s applicable to them, not just when it’s best for you. Utilize CRM software to stay aware of your customers and “maintain consistent, personalized messaging with customers on whatever channel they reach you on”.  Meet them where they are with a message that sparks their interest and answers any questions that they may have about your business or service. And when you can’t be there 24/7, use automation to share content, send confirmations and reminders, and communicate in other ways when triggered to.

And, maybe most importantly in our opinions, always review your metrics (which can include conversion rate, customer acquisition or retention, social media engagement, click-through rate, and more) and revise as needed. An omnichannel campaign isn’t about setting it and forgetting it, but always reviewing and improving, so set milestones for you, your team, your marketing, and your brand.

The best way to perform all of these best practices is having the right tools. Like we said, CRM technology is an excellent way to store data, keep track, and communicate. If you’re a commerce-based company or service, it’s also a good idea to use a POS system so that all of your data is stored in one place. With a POS system, you can also more easily track customer behaviors and “provide them with conveniences like remembering their passwords, storing payment information, and suggesting relevant products”.

We’ve Got You Covered

If you’re thinking this is a lot to take on all on your own, we’d recommend partnering with a knowledgeable company with a staff of omnichannel experts (like us!). Strata can help with everything omnichannel – from data sourcing to execution and production.

Think you could use our help? Feel free to visit our site or give us a call.

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.