Do you measure up?

GPSs are designed to get you from point “A” to point “B.” They are incredibly useful little gadgets, that layout exactly what you need to do to reach your goal. They help you map out the road ahead to ensure that you reach your target. However, they require one vital piece of information in order to be of any use to you. Without a specific destination, a GPS is useless. Unless you know specifically where you want it to take you, it’s nothing more than just a cool toy that makes you feel “hip” and “technically advanced.” The same can be said about digital marketing.

If you don’t have a specific goal for what you want your digital marketing to achieve, then it will be just as effective as a GPS without an address. Too often brands produce and publish content just because they can, or they think it will make them look “cool.” However, last time I checked looking “cool” doesn’t have a direct return on investment. Fairly soon you’ll have the executive suite asking you, just like they have asked every other content marketer out there, what it is exactly that you do for their brand. If your answer is, “I make our brand look cool,” your job security just went out the window. Now if you tell them that you have brought in an additional 8,000 views per month to the company website, while also engaging individually with 500+ customers on social media, your value to the company just increased.

The difference between being “cool” and bringing actual value to your brand is the implementation of digital measurement methods. It sounds simple enough, and to a certain extent it is. When you employ  digital measurement, you great goals that you want to accomplish with your content. You’re no longer posting just to post, but to accomplish something. In an article written by  Avinash Kaushi, he lays out a simple 5 step process of what to consider when creating a content strategy that uses digital measurement.

Step 1: Identify Business Objectives

Step 2: Identify Goals for each Objective

Step 3: Identify Key Performance Indicators (KPI)

Step 4: Identify Targets

Step 5: Identify Segments for analysis

This process is designed to make you plan from the broadest and most basic objectives of your digital efforts, and then funnel up to the most specific and targeted outcomes. By doing this you put the needs of the brand first and ensure that all of your digital efforts are brand centric.

FB Analytics

So now you have a plan of action, and  goals of what you want to accomplish. How do you know if you’ve reached those goals? There are many digital tools that measure Key Performance Indicators, or KPIs. These are statistics like how many page views per month you get, how many new visitors do you attract and what level of engagement do your social posts generate. Tools like Google Analytics ,and social media native analytic tools like Facebook’s, track and record these exact statistics. These statistics help you see the results of your content, and adjust your strategy to better reach your audience.

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Remember the Alamo… app

Introduction:

Alamo Drafthouse began with a search for the ultimate movie lover’s movie viewing experience, and that search is what drives it still today. The founders wanted to create the ultimate movie going experience and share it with those who appreciate film as much as they do. In a way, they are the best people to run such a business, because they are their own clientele, and know exactly what their customers want better than anyone.

Content Analysis:

The Alamo Drafthouse Ticketing App only has a few calls to action.

  • Pre-order tickets
  • Order tickets online
  • Create/use a Victory account

When it comes to content opportunities on the app, the most impactful is the description of films currently showing. Alamo takes full advantage of this content field, using every sentence of film descriptions to convey their brand personality. The descriptions reflect the passion for film that Alamo has, and wants to instill in its audience. The app also has a feature that allows users to locate nearby locations, and to see show times based on those locations.Image 1Image 2

As far as encouraging loyalty, the app allows for users to utilize, or create their Alamo Drafthouse Victory account. This account helps track purchases, eases the electronic checkout process, and implements a rewards system based on customer interactions with the brand. By allowing for these accounts in the app Alamo ensures that customers have a seamless experience across all of the brand’s digital interfaces, and provides an incentive for repeat business.

When looking at their website and social media feeds there is no mention of the app. The only push to promote the app is found on their mobile site. The calls to action on the other platforms focus on the following.Image 4Image

  • Purchase tickets online
  • See new releases
  • See special screenings
  • Attend special events and presentations

Alamo’s mobile website utilizes responsive design to great effect. The interface on mobile contains all the content of the native site, while presenting it in a way that lends itself well to mobile layouts. The website and mobile site offer information on promotional events and stories providing content which stimulates audience engagement while also offering the service of online ticket purchases. While the app offers the service of electronic ticket purchases and store location finders, it looks and feels completely different from the brand’s other digital interfaces, and offers nothing new to the user. This does little to add value to the engagement between the brand and its audience aside from simply offering a convenient location to purchase tickets from.

The physical location’s efforts to promote the app were on par with its digital media. There were no signs promoting the app. When asked, employees seemed to assume that there was an app, and what its purpose was, but they did not go out of their way to push for its use. While this is troubling if you invested greatly in the app, with this brand it may be more beneficial since there is a well-established mobile site that already renders the services that the app offers.

Recommendations/Conclusion:

If it is the brand’s goal to connect its audience with the app, then there are several things to do. First and foremost there needs to be visible promotion of the app both in store, and online.

In Store

  • Signs at the ticket counter encouraging customers to download the app highlighting the benefits of Victory membership, and informing them that it would allow them to skip the lines during future visits.
  • Promotional clips could be played during the previews of films showcasing the apps uses, and perhaps connecting them with a new function on the app that provides a “theater mode” setting, meant to be used when viewing films at Alamo Drafthouse, that offers rewards to customers while also encouraging them to adhere to the theaters zero tolerance policy for mobile devices during showings.
  • Employees need to be encouraged to promote the app, and to help connect customers to the services that it provides. Not harassing patrons with constant requests to download the app, but informing them of the benefit that using the app will have on their experience at Alamo Drafthouse.

Online

  • On the native site there should be a promotion for the app by the ticket purchasing tab, as well as in the process to purchase tickets, informing users of their purchasing options for when they are on the go.
  • Promotional posts via social media that individually showcase the app’s functions, and the benefits that the app could bring users. These posts would be part of a campaign to not only encourage use of the app, but to bring in more patrons to the theater. The campaign would be called “To the Alamo”, and utilize the hashtag #ToTheAlamo. Posts would be made once a week on Friday afternoons to encourage the audience to go to the Alamo for their weekend fun, while offering a service to make the process easier.
  • Collecting user testimonies about their experience on the app. Offer incentives for users to share their stories, the winners get the incentives and their content gets featured on the brands social platforms.

The Alamo Drafthouse Cinema is doing next to nothing to capitalize on the investment made in their app, implementing any of these initiatives would go far to help create audience engagement on their mobile platform.

Your watch just tells time???

Spy Kids 2: The Island of Lost Dreams cam out in 2002, and a little over a decade later consumer technology is starting to reflect movie spy gadgets. With devices like Nike+, the Apple Watch, Android Wear, Google Glass and many more, walking into your local tech shop is starting to resemble a trip to Q’s lab in the James Bond films. Wearables seem to be the technological frontier of the 20-teens, much like the cell-phone was in the 2000’s.

Before we continue, you need to know what wearbles are. There are many definitions, but the consensus is that they are a technological devise worn on the users body with several functions that enhance the users experience. Your watch doesn’t count, unless it tracks your location via GPS, or monitors your vital signs, or makes txts and phone calls, or allows you to access the internet, or any combination of the above and more. In this age of wearbles your average wristwatch has the same technological value as a rock.

So why is there such a craze for this wearable tech? There are two reasons that I can see. The first being the innovative applications that these devices run, and the specialized services that they offer to their users. There are watches that can monitor your vitals, metabolism, calories burned, and breathing during a work out. For athletes these services is extremely valuable, and helps them to do what they do better. There are also wearables created for infants that allow you to monitor sound, as well as vitals, sleep cycle information, and more.

The second reason is that our society craves convenience and novelty. This is more a cometary on society, but if we don’t take into account this very legitimate driving force behind the integration of wearable technology  into popular culture, then how will we know how to best use it for business purposes? Things like the apple watch are banking on the popularity of their brand, and the fact that their loyal customers will buy most anything with their logo on it. When I talk to people about the apple watch the only function that people talk about wanting is the ease of access to their phone’s functions. Other than that, they are just talking about who they know that is getting one.

Based on these observations, wearables offer access to very specific demographics. The first being highly targeted demographics for the users of  wearables that fit a specific purpose (i.e. workout monitoring devices, and baby monitors). The other being the early adopters and trend followers, capitalizing on the desire of the novelty and a desire to fit in with the “trendy”. FullSizeRender(1)

As a consumer, I do not like wearable devices. I feel like the direction they are currently taking, away from specific purposes and towards general all purpose devices, is nothing but a ploy to get more money from consumers. Call me old fashioned, but I like my watch to be just a watch.

You can go with this, or you can go with that.

We live in a very interesting time. The speed and access to information is almost unfathomable, and yet somehow is constantly being improved upon. When I was growing up, going to a website required your phone to be cut off and could take several minutes. Now you can look up a website while talking on the phone, and you can do it all on the same device! While my generation has taken little notice of the amazing feat, content marketers have been pushed to the limits keeping up with the breakneck speed of the advances.

The current question facing content marketers is what to do about their mobile presence. There are currently two courses of action; a brand can create a mobile friendly version of their website (Responsive Design), or they can create a mobile app. Both of these options offer benefits and drawbacks.

Responsive design is by far the cheapest option. The concept is simply to take a site that already exists and create an edited version that allows for ease of access and use on mobile devices. In my opinion (as a college student) this step towards integrating your brand into the mobile platform is mandatory. If your site is clunkFullSizeRendery, tiny, and hard to navigate on mobile platforms chances are no one will want to visit it on those devises, and rightful so.

Speaking for the current generation 9/10 times when looking something up I am doing it on my phone. If I happen to come across your site and it is unusable on mobile than you just lost a potential customer. If this happens all the time than you’re in major trouble. You have to be able to communicate to your audience where they are, not where you want to be.

Mobile apps are the most interactive medium for mobile devises. The major benefit of an app is the freedom to create whatever form of interaction you feel your audience needs. Offer a rewards program, membership benefits, games, community platforms, easy payment options, the possibilities currently seem endless. The ease of access that users have to their apps increase the likely hood that they will interact with your brand on a daily basis.

However, don’t jump the gun and begin developing an app because some 21 year old told you they were good. Apps are only effective when they offer something to the user. The purpose of an app is to raise the level of interactivity beyond that of a website, if you can’t do that than why bother wasting the time and effort?

In my “expert” opinion, all brands need to incorporate responsive design into their websites, it’s a requirement of the times we live in. However, whether or not your brand needs an app is dependent solely on it’s purpose, and it’s audience. In the end you are the best judge what your brand and audience are capable of, plan accordingly. But do it quick before the next “innovation” hits.

Gamifying the Content World

So you create content, whatever that may be. Cool. But how do you convince your audience to engage in that content? Is there a sure fire way that your audience is actually engaging with your brand aside form just logging into your website, or following you on social media? A lot of content these days are blog posts, and script. How do you break past that common place content and ensure that your audience is actively participating in your content? You turn it into a game!

Gamification, despite the absurdity of the word, is a growing tactic within content developers and marketers. Give your audience something to do, or a way to engage/compete with other members. People love to play games, it’s like it’s hard wired into our brains. The are countless examples of gamification in content. Pac-Man

The most recent that I am aware of is Google Maps’ Pac-Man feature. Just search for an area that you would like to play the game in and turn your chosen location into the classic arcade game. It drew quite a lot of attention from people due to the games launch proximity to April Fools Day, and the nostalgia associated with playing Pac-Man on the street you grew up on, or your college campus. By using this game Google was not only to engage their audience in a new and creative way, they were also able to draw in users who do not normally frequent the maps application.

By offering a game, you are in some ways challenging your audience. Whether it is self satisfaction at completing a level, or getting a free item with their next purchase, people love to be offered the chance for a reward. Companies like McDonald’s realized this years ago with their Monopoly game, and that set the precedent for an entire industry. Now companies like Starbucks have taken the frequent-user-punch-card, and created a new and more interactive system that enables customers to feel a sense of accomplishment when they reach a new level. All the while driving sales, and increasing brand engagement.

While gamification of content isn’t always practical or useful, it is definitely an innovative way to engage your audience. The real skill is determining what to gamify, and what to let lie.

The new kid on the block

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Try the all new…

Advertisements are everywhere. Television, radio, newspapers, magazines, billboards, Facebook, Twitter, You Tube, you can’t escape ads in today’s society. Marketing through traditional advertising has become a shouting match where brands and products try to out-flash, out-weird, and (most importantly) outsell their competitors. But in the midst of this corporate yelling match customers have become desensitized to traditional ads. What used to be the dominate form of creating customers connections, and spurring brand interest has now become nothing more than white noise that irritates its target audience. Businesses are making money by helping consumers avoid these ads that irritate them so much with things like DVR, Ad Blocker, and premium (ad-less) accounts. When the people you are trying to reach with your message are going out of there way to avoid it, it’s time to reevaluate your course of action.

The salvation of marketing and advertising comes in the form of content marketing. Consumers don’t want to be advertised to. They’re fed up with the constant stream of irritating white noise. Consumers want to be entertained, and informed. So why not change how we tell our brand’s story? The goal now is to not let the audience know that they are being marketed to, to become a more integral part of their lives by providing content that they find valuable and relevant. One of the most successful and viral examples of content marketing success is BuzzFeed. They create fun and relevant content that indirectly features different brands and products.

A great example is this video.

The video is a parody of the main character from the Netflix series House of Cards. While House of Cards is never directly mentioned in the video, aside from a credit in the title of the video, this is undoubtedly meant to create buzz for the show. The video was posted on March 5th, and on March 8th it had over 300,000 You Tube views. The best part is that the people who viewed this content chose to view it, some probably searched to find it. It is also safe to assume that quite a few people shared this video on social media. Suddenly, we have transitioned from customers running from our marketing techniques, to them actively searching for the creative content that we are putting out.

Another great example of content marketing comes from Corning Incorporated, with their “The Glass Age” campaign. This campaign highlights the impact, and ingenuity that the glass industry has had on modern society. While it was created by Corning (a glass industry superpower), it  spends more time highlighting the ingenuous and revolutionary developments being made in the world of glass and how it impacts everyone.

It’s time for our brands to tell a story instead of our products. It’s time to engage with customers, and have a greater impact than just selling something. It’s time for a more creative way of marketing.

The Media Bowl

One day out of the year, the public that constantly complains about advertising, and marketing messages all gather around their TVs to get way too excited about advertising, and marketing messages. Modern media professionals have taken what once was, and is intended to be, the largest sporting spectacle of the year into the largest money making advertising bonanza of the year. Now as marketing turns towards social media, so too does the Super Bowl marketing hype.

During this years Super Bowl I followed five brands on twitter to see what strategies and tactics different companies chose to adopt during the mass marketing frenzy.

The first brand that I’ll talk about is one that in my opinion ran the most interesting campaign of the day. Coca-Cola, an advertising giant will not be remembered tomorrow for some funny outlandish add. That is because they decided to launch a PR campaign during the biggest ad day of the year. A bold move, but also one that I thoroughly appreciated. The #MakeItHappy campaign launched just before kick off, and called for the internet to be made a happy place and freed from its negativity. Coke asked users to respond to negative messages with #MakeItHappy, and Coke would turn the negative message into something that could help spread positivity.

The next two brands are both pizza tycoons, but approached social marketing for the game in two different ways. Pizza Hut took what I would call a hybrid approach, using things happening in the game to encourage users to buy their pizza. While Domino’s sponsored a fake live tweeting session, tweeting outlandish events that were supposedly taking place at the game. However, the real difference between the two pizza moguls was their customer feed back. The Domino’s news feed was full of vulgarities due to what appeared to be delivery delays, while Pizza Hut’s news feed was dominated by re-tweets of their  previous promotions.

The fourth brand that I followed is one of the Super Bowl favorites. In the past few years, Budweiser has become very popular due to their touching Super Bowl ads. This year another heart warming, tear-jerking story about a golden retriever and his posse of clydesdale friends set the media world reaching for a tissue-box, and the re-tweet button. Aside from re-posting their ad onto their social media site, Budweiser did little in the way of social media strategy.

The last, and possibly most socially vocal brand that I followed was Pepsi. Pepsi, being the sponsor of the halftime show, posted many tweets building up to Katy Perry’s performance. With pictures of “halftime prep”, and clever one-liners. However, after the half time performance began, the posts made by Pepsi took and “interesting” turn. With gifs of cats dressed up in weird costumes, animatedly performing halftime themed bits, Pepsi seemed to be making some kind of statement. What that statement was, I have no clue.

What I do know is that social media is a game changer, and there is more to come.

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