Those merry elves at Sofarbeyond have managed to persuade Father Christmas (a.k.a. Santa) to take some time out of his busy schedule and let you in on some top secret info.
So – forget the Christmas shopping. The turkey can wait. Kick back with a glass of mulled wine and a mince pie to discover the biggest trends in digital marketing for 2016 – our treat.
You looking at me? Targeted video advertising will dominate the market place, allowing brands to target their users unique preferences. This means the next time you search for ‘what do cats wear for Christmas’, you may be be followed around by cat ads. Cat lovers will rejoice, cat haters may have second thoughts!
Will apps replace mobile sites? In 2016, app indexing is likely to mean an upsurge in the number of mobile apps. While mobile-optimised websites aren’t on their way out, apps offer businesses the chance to engage with consumers in more convenient, direct ways. Which means you can do your Christmas shopping discreetly whilst at work – result.
Mobile kicks desktop to the curb. In 2016, more of us will use our phones to engage online than using our desktops. Brands with their finger on the pulse know this is where to target their customers. This means more – and better – opportunities to make new connections online. So don’t worry about bringing your phone out during Christmas lunch if family tension arises.
Digital assistants do the searching for us. Now you don’t even have to pick up your phone to find something. Those clever minions, Siri and Cortana, are always on hand to help you out. Too lazy to type Christmas gifts into Google? Let your digital assistants take care of it for you.
Virtual reality ads take us to new places. Virtual reality advertising will transport us into a different world in 2016, showcasing relevant ads based on our online interactions. Fantasising about escaping to a beach while your in-laws have their traditional Christmas argument? Grab an Oculus Rift and you’re (nearly) there.
Wearable Tech expands. In 2016, more of us will have wearable tech devices as they become more prevalent in the marketplace. The Apple Watch paved the way, but many more manufacturers are getting in on the game. Make sure you put the request in early on your Christmas list – Father Christmas may just hear your prayer!
While Santa puts his feet up in the New Year, here at Sofarbeyond we’re raring to go and conquer 2016!
Do or do not. There is no try.” – Yoda
Are you so busy broadcasting that you’re not engaging with what’s out there? In the digital world, rich content is king. This type of content will cut through the noise and engage directly with your audience.
The key to success on LinkedIn is to be clear about why you’re communicating and what you want your audience to do with what you have said.
Here are five tips to make you a LinkedIn Jedi Master.
Position yourself. How do you want to be viewed by your peers and prospective organisations? Make sure you’re seen by organisations by optimising your content and that you’re positioned as thought-leaders by what you create.
Answer the ‘w’s’ – why, what, who, when and what next. Be clear about why and what you’re communicating, who you’re speaking to, when is the best time to get in touch and what you want the audience to do next. If you’re not clear, your audience won’t be either.
Join the herd. It’s good to stand out from the crowd, but it’s important to also take the opportunity to join groups on LinkedIn. This will help you to understand more about your target audience. Listen intently.
Be genuine. Avoid marketing jargon and respond genuinely, agnostically and relevantly to group conversations. Don’t just tell your audience that you’re the best!
Define what success is. Know what you’re measuring and what success looks like so when you achieve it, you know that you’ve reached your goal.
Make sure you’re not sending a rusty Millenium Falcon into battle unprepared. Take time to be clear on your message, follow the tips above and you’re sure to feel the force! Fly by and let us know how you’re doing on LinkedIn or visit; www.sofarbeyond.com for future tips.
“Almost overnight, the Internet’s gone from a technical wonder to a business must.” – Bill Schrader, businessman
Why is it so critical for companies to embrace digital marketing? When your audience is out exploring the online world – where they can always be connected, consume content and compare services – you need to be able to reach them and to understand what they’re interested in.
The sheer volume of new digital trends can be overwhelming – from the horizon-expanding technology of Google glass to hot digital currency Bitcoin, which allows you to buy a burger in east London using just a phone and QR code – but here at Sofarbeyond we like to keep things simple.
So, here are our top five reasons why we think digital marketing is important and how you can embrace it.
Reach your audience. Whether you’re in B2B marketing or B2C, the first place a visitor goes to find out about you or to find a company like yours, is online. In fact, 92% of B2B buyers will visit a technology website before buying (IDG tech buyer report 2013).
Understand your audience. The power of digital marketing means that you can gain more knowledge about your audience and learn what they’re looking for, in real time. Once you decipher a visitor’s digital body language, you can use these insights to build a relationship with them based on what they’re interested in. This means marketing can finally become a service – not just a sell.
Grow your audience. Digital marketing is a fantastic way of growing your audience quickly and effectively. Why? Because we all love great content, so if yours is engaging, interesting and relevant, your audience will spread the word for you, allowing your business to reach more prospects than before.
Know what’s working. As marketers, we spend time investing in many different marketing activities, but do we always know what’s working for us? Digital marketing will always give you a valuable insight into which marketing activity is driving people to you. Once you have this knowledge, you can begin to work out your ROI and your cost per lead acquisition (e.g. what spend did you put in to get a new potential prospect back?).
Be reactive. We’re often told that it’s better to be proactive rather than reactive in marketing. With digital marketing, which includes search, social, online PR and content, we say that it’s best to be reactive. By this we mean once you know what your audience is interested in, you can feed those interests back into your marketing plan and respond to them effectively.
Tell us what you think – we’d like to know on LinkedIn.
Here’s a digital Mission: Impossible – you have only eight seconds to get your audience’s attention. The reason, if you choose to accept it, is because our attention spans are shorter than a goldfish’s (it can concentrate for nine seconds).
Research shows that only 28% of words are read on the average 593 word web page. Are our sub-goldfish attention levels driving this desire for brevity or is technology affecting our attention spans? If you’ve got an idea – your own or your goldfish’s – let us know on Twitter@sofarbeyond.co or LinkedIn.
So what are the best digital marketing tools to grab attention in eight seconds or less?
Twitter opens up an instantaneous conversation. It takes two seconds to interact with a huge audience in 140 characters. Make the headline compelling, add a great image and you’ll get their attention.
Vine lets you get your message across in six seconds. Less than a quarter of brands use video to reach consumers, yet 76% of Internet users are expected to view videos online by 2015. Use a short video to tell a story and be memorable.
LinkedIn posts connect you with the right audience in three seconds. Taking a few seconds to share content helps to speak directly and quickly to your target market, ideal if you’re looking to reach a B2B audience.
Images are processed 60,000 times faster in the brain than text. Use imagery to your advantage by deploying your message in interest-grabbing infographics, animations and gifs.
Rich content grabs your audience’s attention. A great idea, briefly stated, is the ultimate goal for digital marketing today. If you’re still reading, your mission is to share this content to avoid it self-destructing in three…two…one…
Here at Sofarbeyond, we asked PR communications specialists – Sam Howard, founder The Comms Crowd to tell us more about the value of PR and why companies need to think differently about how they do it.
PR is a core component of the marketing mix, done well, it provides third party objectivity, delivers credibility and is a perfect complement to more direct marketing vehicles. In the world of B2B tech, the purchase decision making process is drawn out and with multiple stakeholders, who each have their own agenda and their own influencers.
Sustained media coverage of a company and its solutions can help establish brand trust and preference. Another positive, in terms of budget demands, PR leaves a much smaller hole in your spreadsheet, than advertising or event participation.
Hurrah! I hear you chorus, where do I sign?
But it’s called ‘earned media’ for a reason and you have to be prepared to earn it. Effective PR that delivers to your bottom line is less spin, more graft. If your software company is thinking about ‘doing PR’ here’s some factors to consider:
1) A good book relies on more than just a cover: PR is the best vehicle for telling your company’s story, explaining your strategy and demonstrating delivery of your values and vision. If your company has news, views, beliefs and genuine success stories, PR can help articulate them for you – but we can’t just make it up! If you have nothing to say, that’s absolutely fine, but don’t waste your budget on white noise either.
2) Not all children are above average intelligence: If I had a pound for every ‘world’s leading provider’ I had encountered, I’d be running a donkey sanctuary right now. The pub is the place for inflated claims of greatness, not PR. Be prepared to forgo the hyperbole!
3) PR can ensure molehills stay molehills: This is the era where we witness reputations rise and crumble in hours not years. But companies that have invested in telling their story intelligently are in a far better position to ride out the lows than those that only invest in riding high. PR channels give you the opportunity to rapidly respond and restore trust. However, if what you’ve got going down is more Kilimanjaro than molehill, you might want to prioritise attending to the cause rather than hoping for the PR cure.
4) Techies need to talk business: Often in B2B tech, the software is made by a guy with a PhD and will be used by a guy with a PhD. So why do you need some PR (probably without a PhD) in the middle of that food chain? Well the thing is, what’s important to the guy that made it and even to the guy that uses it, may not be that important to the guy that pays for it. A good PR will help you articulate the issues in the marketplace, what problems these are causing, and why your technology solves them. It’s about the business benefits, not just the technology features.
5) Keeping it topical: I hate to sound mean but the old adage is true: Only you, are that interested in you. So often I sit in kick off meetings and hear the client say, ‘what we want to say is…’ and I get a bit of a sinking feeling. While it’s valid to announce new products and client signings, you need to be prepared to invest in the wider debate – whether it’s providing comment on the impact of impending legislation, producing a blog on next generation security issues, or penning an article on how the latest fat finger blunder could have been prevented. Thought leadership, requires your time and intellectual input.
In summary, PR done well and in collaboration, can deliver a credible platform to tell your company’s story, share your successes and demonstrate understanding of your market – you’ve just got to be prepared to work at it.
How’s your social media strategy? Unless you have the luck of the Irish, getting it right can be as hit or miss as finding that winning lottery ticket or backing the winner at the races.
This St Patrick’s Day we’d like to help you get lucky with your social media by giving you five quick and simple tips to engage with your audience. Tell us what you think on LinkedIn – we’d like to know if our tips help you get lucky.
1.Be social – Ok, we know that St Patrick’s Day is a great excuse for those of us who aren’t Irish to enjoy a Guinness or two, but it’s also a good excuse to be social with your audience. What could you send your customers or prospects on this day that would help bring a little luck to their business or support their common challenges?
2.Be timely – with national days such as St Patrick’s Day and public holidays such as Easter, it’s important to be timely with your content. The best way to support this is to have a plan or a content calendar that marks out key events happening either industry wide or across the UK. Make sure your content is already ready to go – it will make your customers feel that you are always on trend no matter what is happening. Take a look at these companies that embraced the London tube strikes.
3.Be interesting – we’re bombarded by content on a regular basis, whether it’s a text message, email, phone call, Skype or WhatsApp. So, the best way to cut through the noise is to be interesting and creative. Story-telling and visuals are a really powerful way of not just cutting through the noise but remaining memorable thereafter.
4.Be visual – we say this a lot but it’s proven that we process images 90 times faster than words. Also, we don’t really read online anymore (just 40% of us read pages with more than 111 words) So, to get your message across, keep it short and keep it visual – it’ll be easy for us to see it in a crowd.
5.Get lucky – It’s about understanding what is resonating with your audience and for that you need to be using social media tools. One of our favourites is Sprout Social media, where you can sign up to a 30 day free trial, to find out what interests your audience and feed that content back to them – this way marketing will finally become a services rather than a sell!
We hope that helps you stay lucky this St Patrick’s Day. Tell us what other content you’d like from us next month and we’ll get writing!
“If you are not a trend setter, at least be able to exploit the ones you see.” ― Jeffrey Fry
You don’t have to rock a mullet to stay one step ahead of the crowd in 2014. But if questionable hairstyles aren’t the answer, what is? How can you ‘exploit’ the trends that will be the most profitable for your business? In line with Jeffrey Fry’s advice, you’re free to take full advantage of our selection of the five key digital marketing trends for 2014 – mullet optional, of course.
1.Growth hacking – once upon a time, the term ‘hacking’ was only associated with sneaky ways of getting information that maybe you shouldn’t have access to. Now growth hacking has a more salubrious profile and is a low cost way of analysing how your customers behave online in order to better adjust your products and services to meet their needs. Twitter, Facebook and Mind Candy are all examples of companies who have successfully used this marketing technique to grow rapidly.
2.Local search – with the rise of 4G, more of us will be accessing content online via our smart phones. 2014 is the year we need to consider how to be found online by local searches made on a smart phone and it can help to consider displaying TAP (telephone, address and postcode) on your website(s). Take a look at this article from our friends at e-consultancy which will give you some useful tips about local search.
3.Number crunching – finally not as painful as doing those ab crunches at the gym! This year will see the opportunity for you to create your own digital dashboards so that you view search, social, content and PR results all in one place. This functionality is long overdue and will give you the bigger picture of how visitors are engaging with your business – from the first click to the last.
4.Keep it personal – we don’t often get a chance to do this in marketing. 2014 is the year where keeping it personal will help you to engage with your audience. To take full advantage of personalised communication to better engage with your audience, use social media as research to understand what your audience is interested in and deliver content of interest back to them in a personal way.
5.Marketing as a service – in 2014, marketing will be seen as a service rather than an opportunity to promote a product or solution. This is because we have more tools at our fingertips to deliver content that is rich, engaging, relevant, timely and personalised. In turn, our content can better serve our customers and prospects based what they are interested in.
What do you foresee as the biggest trends in 2014? Share your thoughts on our LinkedIn page.
“No, no! The adventures first…explanations take such a dreadful time.”- Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
Effective storytelling is an art form. A wonderful story draws you in, makes you stop what you’re doing and listen eagerly to find out what unfolds next.
You could be drawn to the quirky, future-facing tales of a brand like Apple – who this week topped the list of Interbrand’s 100 Best Global Brands 2013 – Dove’s Real Beauty Sketches, or prefer Coca-Cola’s cosy, family-centric narrative. However, telling a seemingly simple, but seriously engaging, story is harder than it looks.
In an age where time is precious and attention spans are short, today’s stories need to grab our attention in the form of a 30 second advertisement, a 140 character tweet or in just three seconds as we drive past a billboard or click on a website. It’s crucial that a company becomes an expert storyteller and fully engages with how its audience sees, hears and responds.
Companies telling their story successfully are using technology such as Twitter, Vine, Snapchat and Instagram to instantly connect with their users. Some brands can create such genuinely compelling stories that people can’t wait to share, comment or retweet them. These are the stories that drive the success of a company, inspire a community of loyal followers and sometimes simply make us gratefully pause and smile in a hectic world.
An example of innovative storytelling is evident in the recent, beautifully shot Airbnb advert. The company used Vine (a six second video tool) to create the ‘Hollywood & Vines’ story. They asked their users to submit their own scripted Vines via Twitter, and artfully edited them to create a story told from the point of view of a paper airplane.
The Airbnb advert works because it doesn’t scream about the company’s product. Instead, the video slowly takes you on a journey.
Five reasons why you need to be able to tell a great story:
1. Brilliant stories drive social media engagement. People always want to share relevant, interesting and funny information.
2. Good stories drive brand loyalty. At the heart of any business is the reason why the business started in the first place. If you can articulate this ‘why’ to your audience, you’ll encourage them to relate to your brand.
3. Innovative narratives will differentiate you from your competitors. If you have a compelling story to tell, customers will remember you in a crowded marketplace.
4. A well-told, consistent story will build a community of loyal customers and referrals. Think about the brands you follow – why do you find them engaging?
5. A good story will enable you to build a diverse product portfolio. If you are known for your values rather than just your products, your customers will trust that you can deliver the same service across multiple industries – look at Virgin and Apple for two excellent examples of this.
Are you ready for an adventure? Your audience is waiting…
So, what’s your story? Share it with us.
Sofarbeyond asked Jennifer Reid – a long time London-based former Vancouverite who specialises in content marketing and social media strategy, what is in her social media toolbox.
#1 in my social tookit: Buffer
Buffer, coined “the smarter way to share on social media” is an online tool that allows you to populate a stream with content that Buffer shares across your social networks at specified times throughout the day (or night).
Why I like it: Because Buffer toolbar enables me to easily share content from different social media platforms and to have it be released according to schedules that I dictate. This way I am seen to be sharing a steady stream of content that gets picked up in more than one time zone. I *especially* love the fact that I can share to Twitter, my LinkedIn newsfeed, LinkedIn Company pages, Google+ pages and Facebook. Buffer saves me a lot of time.
#2 in my social tookit: Bitly
I started using Bitly in 2010 for the sole purpose of shortening long links when tweeting to stay within Twitter’s 140 character limit.
Why I like it: The shortened links, called “Bitmarks” are listed on my Bitly homepage. Like Buffer, Bitly will tell me how many people clicked on the link I shared. But I can also see which sites I’m getting a high click through rate from, and which countries my clicks are originating from. I can also group common Bitmarks and then share them as bundles or email the bundles to people. For example, I could bundle up all the Bitmarks from previously shared blog posts and then send one tweet that points to the whole bundle on my Bitly homepage. Or I could simply email someone the bundle.
#3 in my social toolkit: Storify
Why I like it: I attend a lot of industry events where people are using various social media to comment. Storify enables me to pull together these threads to tell a story and it’s quicker than writing a blog post. Usually my stories consist of tweets from various people. But often the more formal LinkedIn event posts are a great way to begin stories, and if someone takes a video and shares it then you’ve *really* struck gold.
#4 in my social toolkit: StumbleUpon
StumbleUpon is a discovery engine that finds and recommends web content to its users.
Why I like it: Tools like Buffer, Bitly and Storify are distribution and tracking time savers and help stick to my main focus, which is generating content. In the world of social media, you have to stay on top of what’s new and to do that, I find StumbleUpon invaluable. I get weekly customised reading recommendations from the Web.
#5 in my social toolkit: Pocket
Pocket is a way of gathering content from the Web so that I can read it later.
Why I like it: I’d never get my day job done if I just read all my StumbleUpon recommendations, never mind if I followed the vast volume of interesting links I see on social media platforms! Pocket allows me to bookmark everything so that when I am on the train home, I can access all my saved articles from in a beautifully laid out web page.
A “second industrial revolution”?
In an article in the New Scientist, Hod Lipson wrote that the rise of 3D printing meant we were “smack bang in the middle of a second industrial revolution” and this technology “is about to transform every single aspect of our lives.”
Imagine a future where surgeons can custom design prosthetic limbs or you could print out a new laptop, roll it up and stick it in your bag. Where designers can imagine and then create planes, buildings, cars or even the perfect pair of shoes, at the touch of a button. The developments in 3D printing technology mean even the most outlandish science fiction fantasies could soon become an everyday reality.
How will additive manufacturing impact brands?
3D printing, or additive manufacturing as it is also known, has been around since the 1980s. Today, the excitement in the digital marketing arena lies in imagining the impact this technology could have on brands in the future.
The worldwide delivery company UPS recently confirmed it is to offer customers the chance to use a 3D printer on site in their stores, making the service more accessible and affordable to start-ups and curious consumers. Clothing brands such as Nike and Levis already offer the choice of design options to personalise trainers and jeans, so 3D printing takes it to the next level in terms of speed and accessibility. As an example, Nokia recently published the 3D designs for its Lumia 820 model so that owners of these phones can create their own cases and then use a 3D printer to create them. Brands and consumers can increase their interaction and spark smart new ideas into being more quickly.
So, what should a digital marketer consider when thinking about how to harness the potential of 3D printing as part of their marketing strategy?
1. Customisation and engagement
The potential of 3D printing means every single object can be unique in a way that traditionally manufactured products cannot. This allows consumers to customize and personalize their ideas, and a good digital marketing strategy should showcase the benefits of this option to potential customers.
2. Cost and speed
While one of the challenges for companies and innovators is developing the effectiveness of 3D printing in order to mass market consumer products, in the future the technology could see a much faster lead time between designers’ ideas becoming reality and becoming available for sale. This will cut out the months of development time and reduce costs, meaning brands can more effectively integrate online with offline marketing and bridge the gap with consumers in order to communicate on a more personal and immediate level.
3. Direct Mail
Forget free pens or shampoo samples, imagine if you could send a direct mail piece produced with 3D printing, which would give your customers the opportunity to see before what they could potentially design before they bought it? It could revolutionise and revitalise direct mail as we know it.
This is just the beginning of the 3D printing revolution and the playing field is wide open to discover how brands, technology and creativity can join together. Are you ready?