4 Benefits of Augmented Reality for your Brand

Let’s start with the basics.

What is augmented reality: an enhanced version of reality created by the use of technology to overlay digital information on an image of something being viewed through a device (such as a smartphone camera) – Webster Dictionary

How is it different from Virtual reality?

Virtual reality usually has a headset involved, and immerses you inside an experience, rather than overlaying it, as AR does through an app.

But why should you care? 

  1. An interactive user experience – Allow your product, app, or ad to give a new use or cool buzzworthy interaction – Ex. Solar panel charger below
  2. An opportunity to show a different side of the brand  – Provide the consumer with an opportunity to see the story behind the product they are  buying with how each piece was made.
  3. Personalized experiences – Allow a customer to customize their product (see converse example below)
  4. Let a consumer try your product before purchasing it – Imagine if you’re a beauty or clothing brand and a consumer can see themselves wearing the product to see if they like it.

This all allows for a deeper connection with a brand.

Here’s the best part – AR allows brands to offer more to their consumers than ever before. It allows an opportunity for the consumers to use a medium they are already comfortable with (a camera or an app) on a greater level on how when and where they want to engage with a brand campaign, product, advertisement or the packaging.

Check out some cool examples below: 

Haggen Das, Concerto

Haagan Daaz created an AR campaign where the consumer downloaded an appand then pointed the camera at the lid. “A symphony musician would appear in 3D on the lid and play you a song for about 2 minutes until the ice cream reached the correct temperature for consumption.” The user had a unique interaction while they waited for their favorite new ice cream flavor (with a lot more patience) and more satisfaction.

Solar Phone Charger

Nivea gave solar panels in their print advertisements for consumers to charge their phones. Imagine a young millennial reading their favorite magazine at the beach but running out of juice on their phone to snapchat to their friends? Nivea to the rescue.

This is not only useful, but it’s something people will definitely brag about and tell their friends.

Converse

Converse used AR to provide a cool experience on their sampler app  – giving the consumer the keys to choose their favorite sneaker – point the phone at their feet – and bam, it’s on their foot (through the phone). They can see if it looks awesome, or awkward, or so good they have it buy it right then.

Why should your brand consider AR over VR? It’s an easier way to step into the land of virtual marketing and advertising. It doesn’t mean it’s better, it’s just a way to get your feet wet, without having to develop as much (typically).

And if your brand has the budget, and the marketing team to put the strategy behind it, give it a shot.

image source – http://www.augment.com/blog/3-consumer-giants-who-used-augmented-reality-for-retail/

This post was originally written for Socialnomics. 

Unskippable vs. Skippable Ads

Let’s start with the basics.

What are skippable ads (via Google): A 30-second ad plays to completion, or until skipped by the viewer. The skip rate is an unbiased measure of engagement, and can be used as an optimization metric. You can create re-marketing campaigns based on whether or not viewers skip the ad. Cost-per-impression (CPM) is the same, whether or not the user skips it.

What are non-skippable ads (via Google): Non-skippable in-stream ads are video ads that may appear pre-, mid-, or post-roll while viewing partner content. … It’s up to you to determine the best balance between views/watch time…

For a long time, skippable was the way to go. It gave consumers the option, and didn’t make the experience to get the content they wanted as daunting. However, as time rolls on, the websites and networks have to think about not just the consumer, but also how they’re going to balance the priorities of the brands who are advertising with them. The brands need a real opportunity to be seen to grow their awareness of a campaign/product, and/or create engagement with the content they are putting out (ex. video completion rates – VCRs).

Many media vendors these days are going towards unskippable advertising for shorter ad units (ex.15 seconds), providing more value and investment for ROI by the brands who put their media budget towards pre-roll advertising with networks and websites.

It allows 3 great opportunities for brands:

(1) the opportunity to ensure the brand message is out in its entirety and not cut off;

(2) determine if the KPIs for the video are being met (outside of video completion rates, as that can’t be the a valid KPI for unskippable video ads);

(3) determine which networks are really working for driving further engagement with the consumer, and which ones only provided views (in the past).

In addition to this, YouTube, has said they are taking away the 30 second unskippable ad in 2018. Why? According to Google (via Verge) – “We’re committed to providing a better ads experience for users online. As part of that, we’ve decided to stop supporting 30-second unskippable ads as of 2018 and focus instead on formats that work well for both users and advertisers.” This is interesting, as it appears that longer form video pre-roll (30 seconds or more) actually do quite well in the skippable format anyway. Consumers actually do watch the whole ad and are likely not to skip even if it’s more than 15 seconds. What does that mean? Consumers are on YouTube to watch a certain type of content, and if your video content is related and relevant to them, they’re more likely to tune in and finish watching before they watch the video they intended.

Note: they will still allow non-skippable shorter forms of video.

As for other networks, they are providing more opportunities for advertisers to continue to do non-skippable (in the shorter format as mentioned). In the end, it’s not about which ad unit you have, but about where you’re placing your ads and within what context for the end consumer. Next time we can discuss more about this. Stay tuned.

This post originally ran in Socialnomics. 

image source – pixabay

What’s your Brand’s Digital Refresh

As you wave goodbye to 2016, and January is hitting you right in the planner, your marketing mind is thinking, ok, what is 2017 for my brand? What can I do this year to take my brand further? How can I make a larger impact? How can the brand break through the clutter and demonstrate it’s our year.

First, you start with Data. If you find the time to invest in collecting the right data, and ensure you then in turn take the time to analyze it properly, you’ll find the data as your gold. It’s the ammunition you need to find what is working, and what you need to do more of.

For example for most brands the bread and butter is google analytics, crm, search and social analytics (in addition to any larger media program learnings).

Here are the main areas to ensure you’re looking at the right data (no matter the brand):

SEO and Paid Search:
– Time on Site
– Referral Traffic
– Content engaged with
– Bounce Rate
– Keyword and campaign performance

These are helpful to see how your overall campaigns are performing, which channels are bringing in the most traffic, what people are searching for in regards to your brand, and in turn what times/days your brand receives the most traffic.

CRM:
– open rates
– click through rates
– a/b test on subject lines

It’s best to find your category for benchmarks so you can see if your rates are below or above average and go from there.

Social:
– Engagement Rate
– Best and Worst performing posts (content types per channel)
– Day/time
– Cost per (View, Click, etc)

Each channel will be a little different, but it’s good to look at each separately for social, but also together to see which channels are best for your investment, especially when boosting posts.

With these mandatories, you can see what is working best for your brand across channels. The best part is you’ll probably seen some synergies across channels. For example a certain type of content may resonate well with your consumers no matter where they are. In turn, some types of content may work better on certain channels.

It’s good to evaluate the above every 3 months, and then every 1-2 months thereafter to ensure you’re getting a full yet also recent picture of your brand.

In turn, after you’ve looked at your data, you want to make sure you move fast with it. Once you see something is working well, churn out that content. Get more up on your blog or website for your consumers to engage with.

Another thing to consider as we go into 2017, is the things that matter to consumers. Consumers are searching on their mobile for things that matter to them at that very moment. In moments like this, it is more likely about being both mobile and local. Ensure your product/brand is accessible on a local basis. For example if you have key markets, ensure your product is available to your consumers via online or in store. If it’s only in store, ensure it’s able to be searched online so the consumer knows where to find it. If it’s online, ensure the purchase process is simple and easy. Whether it’s through a third party or your own site, be sure your consumer feels safe with the purchase, and also finds it convenient. So convenient that they can pay through an app or your website in minutes of finding it.

Lastly, don’t forget to be nimble. Be ready to change your tactics, and try new ones. The brands who fall behind are the ones who are unwilling to change and try. Ensure your success by being the ones who do.

This post was originally written for socialnomics. 

Know Your Brand Audience and Give Them What They Want

Knowing your brand audience isn’t just an option, it’s a necessity when it comes to marketing well. It allows you to provide value to the audience that matters most, and ensure you can target directly to them.
Three ways to learn a little more about them include:

  1. See what they’re reading – sounds unexpected, but it’s true. Think about the content your brand would put out and see who else is writing similarly. It could be a competitor, or it could be an influencer, or it could be an author. Consider checking out blogs related to yours and see who is leaving comments. What do they have to say. What do they have questions on? What do they feel is most important? What relates to their needs and interests?
  2. Understand their needs – That leads us here. Listen to what they’re saying. Listen to them in social media. Keep listening to what they tweet, post, and comment. Make a list of what it is that they struggle with. What obstacles they’re trying to overcome. How can your brand help? What can your brand offer to fulfill those needs? For example, can your brand offer content or a product to help? If not, canyour brand partner with someone else who can to share the value given?
  3. Learn their interests – By learning what else they like outside of what your product and service, you can potentially offer more value. You can also target them better. For example, Amex learned their audience loved music, and wanted special access to events. What did they do? They gave it to them. They offered them exclusive offers to events, and an ability to have access that wouldn’t have been possible otherwise.

Once your brand has a grasp of what they’re doing outside of your brand. What their needs and interests are…then what?

  1. Create the content – Create content that can be geared towards your audience. It can be an email campaign, blog posts, and/or social media content. For example if your brand wants to start simple, perhaps it’s through Instagram and Pinterest first. Allowing your brand to be discovered through hashtags and search. Providing short, visual content, that allows your consumer to receive small snippets of value, while building out your arsenal by learning what works and what doesn’t.
  2. Repurpose It – When you create a great piece of content, leverage it further. For example if you have a blog post that is awesome, use some of it in an email. Take  a quote and post it on Pinterest and link back. Share a valuable point through Twitter with a relevant hashtag. Syndicate it on another medium.
  3. Target it – Use the interest targeting and demographics data and target it to the audience you want. If you want awareness, broaden your target a bit, to get more fish.

In the end, your audience is always a moving target. Like any individual they grow, change, and evolve. Their interests and needs change with them. Keep listening, and learning, and in turn test and see what works.

This post was originally written for Socialnomics.
Image source: 98togo

What to Put on the “About” Pages of Your Website and Social Media Platforms

your about page fashion brand

The About pages of your social channels and website are important. They allow your community the ability to quickly understand what your brand is, what it stands for, and simply put – why they should care. The About page of your website will be more in-depth; a place where you can refer people from social to learn more, as you’ll have less space in social and need to be more succinct and captivating.

Your Website

Your website is where your brand can be as short or as long as you want in order to tell your story. The key here is to remember that while it’s your About page, it’s really meant to convey how your brand can help your potential customer. So when you are writing “about” your brand, make sure that you are not beating around the bush. Start with a strong statement that represents your brand while also making a connection with your customer.

Once you make a connection with your reader, and make them feel as if they are understood and in the right place, then proceed into your story. Your story should have a short summary and then flow into the details; they can read these if they’re interested in learning more.

Allow your reader to choose what they want to learn about with easy sections to navigate. Bold type, sub-headers, and bullet points are all great tools for this.

Finally, make sure there’s a call to action in your About page. What do you want them to do after they read it? If you have a particular campaign or product release you can direct them there. Or maybe you want them to sign up for emails or follow you on social media?  What ever it is, make sure they can navigate to that with ease.

Some tips on content:

  • Tell your story: Allow people to see who your brand is through some creative and inspiring storytelling. Show how your brand came into being, why your product/service was the one you chose, and why it’s so exceptional. Show its unique characteristics, and even get into the details of how your product was formed. Allow people to see your journey, and feel like they could be apart of it.
  • Be human / have a personality: Don’t just speak in industry jargon that the reader may not understand. Be human and personable and use everyday speak to tell your story.
  • Be visual: Use pictures and video to tell a more captivating story. For example, consider graphics to show how your product was made. Use a video to give a tour of your office or factory.
  • Allow people to connect: Give people different opportunities to connect with your brand. Use email to send direct messaging, provide links to your most prominent social channels, and provide easy ways for them to contact you directly in case they have questions or want to learn more (i.e. email address, physical address, phone number).
  • Be memorable: It isn’t easy to be memorable, but using unique ways to demonstrate your “about us” page can allow your brand to stand out a bit more. For example if you use fun marketing content types such as gifs, short video, and or interactive ways for the reader to navigate your content based on their interests.

Facebook

Since Facebook has a longer About section than any other social channel, it’s a good opportunity to leverage it. Use the short description to be pithy and to the point, and the longer description (in case your follower want to read more) to explain a little more about the brand. Consider it the cliff notes to your website About page.

  • Consistent look and feel: Make sure your social channels have a consistent look and feel to your website.
  • Share your story: Share a story that will relate to your community on Facebook and what they will care about.
  • Allow it to be personable: Considering it’s social, you want your brand to be more human and less like a robot (always, but especially here). Allow your brand to speak as if you were talking to your community through a comment or a post.
  • Link back: Link back to your website so they can dig in more, and/or purchase. Use the multiple link sections in order to link back to specific areas of your website and other social channels.

Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest

Since these social channels have very little real estate for your About content, make sure you have a short one liner that will communicate what your brand is about and why the visitor should care (and therefore follow).

  • Be captivating: Be alluring with your short description. Say something that makes them go “Yep!” The goal is to make the visitor feel completely understood and want to be part of a community.
  • Use your #: If you have a brand or campaign hashtag, place it in the bio for more awareness.
  • Call to Action: Make sure to use words that relate to the link below like “Join us”, “Sign Up”, “Shop Now”, etc.
  • Link back: Link back to your website so people can learn more (or directly to your latest campaign, blog post, or opportunity to purchase).

In the end, the main takeaways are to be personable and tell a story. The About page isn’t supposed to be a doctor’s manual. It’s meant to be another way to reach your audience and show them why they should choose your brand to follow, engage with, and in the end, purchase from.

This post was originally written for Startup Fashion. 

New Social Media Platform Called Peach for Your Fashion Brand

peach social media platform

Peach, a new social media platform by the founder of Vine, is being described as simple, GIF oriented, and a cross between Twitter, tumblr, and Slack according to the likes of Venturebeat and Mashable. 

For consumers it’s a social network where they can say very little, and do more with actions through their phone.

Current conversations between users include GIFs, drawings, emoticons, emoticon actions, and more.

What’s the appeal of Peach?

Right now it’s new and shiny, and simple. You can express how you feel easily and visually. It’s another way to interact with your friends outside of text, but similar to it, so it’s close enough to normal behavior that’s it’s  easy to adopt quickly.

Will it catch on like Snapchat did? Will it be a whole other beast? It’s hard to tell as it was just released but within a couple of months we’ll have a better idea.

The lessons so far are this…

When it comes to content, there are two trends with consumers:

  1. Quick, simple and visual – for those on the go, who want to consume what they want right away, share it if they like it, and move on. So for startups and fashion brands, this content is that of instagram, Pinterest, Periscope, and Snapchat. Allowing the consumer to get a quick story, an invite to an event, a view into a product line, or a quick peek at something coming up. And being able to like it, share it, and move on quickly is what they’re loving.
  2. Smart, insightful, and potentially more longer form – for those who want more information and want to learn more from their content. This is for when people have a little more time on their hands, such as a longer commute, an evening on their couch. For your brand this is great for blog posts, a youtube video, and launch content. This allows for a consumer to really dig into what the brand is about, a new campaign, a full look into a product line, or a recap of an event that they may have missed. And perhaps then signing up for the next one.

And now we wait to see what happens with Peach.

This post was originally written for Startup Fashion. 

4 Ways for Improving Marketing for Your Fashion Brand in the New Year

fashion brand improve marketing

It’s that time of year again. We look back, and we evaluate our marketing KPIs and ROI. Did our campaigns work? Was our strategy successful? Did we move the needle with our tests? The answers to these questions will help us with determining…

What marketing efforts will you continue with in the new year? What will you leave behind?

As you work to plan your marketing for the new year, you need to first start by asking yourself:

  • What are my business priorities this year?
  • What have I learned about my business and m costumer in the past year?
  • What is my budget for this year?

Once you have these things in mind..

Set KPIs that matter for your brand. And that are realistic.

For example if your brand is focusing on video content, consider video views has a priority. If what your brand really needs is for people to go to the site to interact with content, then consider referral traffic and time on site. In the end, every brand needs conversion, but other measurements sometimes need to come first – i.e. awareness that your brand is out there. In regards to awareness, consider social traction such as likes, comments, shares, and follows.

Set budgets that will help you fulfill your goals.

Budgets can be tough to work with if you don’t have a lot, but it doesn’t mean you can’t find workarounds and tests…even new ones. Do your best to buffer your budget so you have a little extra later in the year for a new test, as well as adding more to something that is doing very well. For example if you invested in creating new content and need more visuals for your product showcase, consider using the extra money for great high res photos and videos to promote it further.

Be nimble with your efforts.

Try things, work fast, test quickly, learn, and adapt and modify on the fly. That’s the best part of using channels like social media. It allows you to see what content is working, what media posts are helping to boost your content, and of course which channels are actually reaching your audience on the levels you need. It allows you to determine within weeks or even days what you should invest more in, versus dump and move on.

Invest in your content.

Time has flown when it comes to social media and the channels that work. We’ve adapted to the snapchats and periscopes of the world, but we also realize that without great content, the channels don’t mean as much. We need content that will resonate and connect with our audiences, before we can even think through partners and distribution.

This post was originally written for Startup Fashion. 

FIVE THINGS 2015 TAUGHT US ABOUT DIGITAL MARKETING

Digital marketing changes quickly. We’ve known that forever. But lately, it’s changing even more quickly. Our current social media channels are evolving everyday. New competitors are rising through the wood works even faster, but what does that mean? What should our brands care about? What should we takeaway from 2015?

There are five areas, which will impact brands the most. They are based upon the content we create, the ways we disseminate the content, how we amplify it, and the money we are able to put towards it.

CONTENT IS THE WAY

Without great content, not much else matters. The content our brands create must be agnostic of channel and device. It needs to be able to travel the web when being shared, promoted, and shared again. People need to be able to interact with the piece of content on whatever channel they choose and prefer.

SOCIAL IS A BEHAVIOR

Many consider social media a channel, but social has become a behavior. It’s a way of living. We, as consumers, consume content in an instant. We purchase through mobile while we are commuting. We swipe left before we have a chance to engage because we make our decisions in an instant. In turn brands need to be able to grab our attention faster, and keep it before we swipe away. We share when it’s entertaining or informative. We care about what’s shared, because it’s a perception of our personal brand. We wouldn’t share something that’s uncool or boring. As brands, we need to be in tune to these behaviors.

AMPLIFYING ACROSS WEB IS A MUST

Brand have to realize that it’s valuable and important to promote across the web today. Gone are the days of focusing on channel by channel, because as discussed content needs to live everywhere. When a consumer shares a video from YouTube, it can go from Facebook to Twitter to email to Apple TV. Brands must optimize and promote across the web and across devices.

VIDEO IS CLUTCH

With streaming video, video that disappears in seconds or hours, and Facebook profile pictures being able to be videos instead of just pictures, video is not just a choice. First it was visual, now it’s more than that. Consumers want to capture stories and experience things. It’s not about a product, it’s about the experience around it. It’s the brand story and what it stands for. And video is one way a brand can help do that.

HAVE A BUDGET

And the most important. Ensure your marketing team has a budget they can actually work with. Unfortunately, some brands give their marketing teams a little budget as an afterthought. This is no longer enough in order to grow awareness and engagement from a brand marketing standpoint. Without this, your content, your plans, won’t be able to reach their true potential. As you put together your 2016 plans, and you think where you want your brand to be, determine the amount of budget you’ll need to get there, and put an extra amount in (trust me, you’ll end up using it).

And now, let’s make it even bigger in 2016.

This post was originally written for Social Media Club. 

The Five Social Media Channels to Keep an Eye on in 2016

social media channels

As marketers of our own brands, we know that there is generally a new shiny social media channel around every corner. But that doesn’t mean that our tried and true social media channels will disappear. What it does mean is that these channels have to stay on top of their game and ensure that they offer what brands and people want today and tomorrow.

Facebook

Because it is a media maven. This channel allows brands to target in a way that most other channels cannot yet. It’s because people give so much personal data to Facebook, and therefore Facebook can share this information with brands; you get to know more about your target than you expected to know.

In addition, with the rush of live streaming apps, Facebook is entering that game too. Their current streaming app is in beta, but by early 2016, people, and hopefully brands, will have their hands on it. Why does this matter? Just look at how many people already use Facebook. And with all the targeting, it’s even more intriguing to brands.

Instagram

Owned by Facebook, and with the opening of its ad services, Instagram is becoming another hot bed for brands. In addition (like Facebook) Instagram has a habit of releasing apps that can be integrated with its main app – such as the recent Boomerang (GIF maker).

Periscope

The app that is used by many consumer brands for live event streaming. From media brands  to fashion brands to publishers, this popular app is owned by Twitter and isn’t going anywhere soon.

Snapchat

Through its discovery network, Snapchat has made itself known to brands as more than just another app used by teenagers and millennials. It’s an app that allows brands to reach an audience who is hungry for exclusive cool stuff.

YouTube

Just because there are a ton of other video apps out there now, doesn’t mean that YouTube has lost its cred. It is still the #2 search engine on the internet. That says something. From famous YouTubers to thoughtful brand content, YouTube still has a lot to offer brands, especially through its partner and influencer networks.

What new apps will come out in addition to these? I guess we’ll have to see.

This post was originally written for Startup Fashion. 

Saving Time on Your Brand Marketing Efforts

 

fashion marketing

Being a marketer for your brand, there is little time to waste. You are constantly thinking about the next thing on your to-do list. Content, posting, testing, measuring, and testing again…the process is really never ending.

But where do you find the time to learn and keep up with what’s “new” in marketing?

If you wait to find it, you’ll be waiting for a long time. You have to make the time.

This doesn’t mean spending hours reading through blog posts and getting sucked into the abyss of technology, social media, and the latest app. Although, we’re all guilty of it.

No, you can do it a lot more efficiently.

Use social media. Really.

Most social channels now have features that allow you to “save” and/or view things later. By using these features and putting time slots into your calendar to “learn and grow”, you’ll find that keeping up with what’s new, is not so difficult after all.

Here are five easy ways that your favorite social channels can help you be both productive and efficient while keeping up with the latest marketing trends and technology.

  1. Facebook “Save link”: This feature allows you save links for later. When you’re commuting to your office – whether it be your home office or a workspace, you don’t always have time to read the whole article, but know it could be useful tomorrow or next week. Bookmark it and go back when you have time fully devote.
  2. Favorite it: As with Facebook, same goes with Twitter. Favorite the tweet that you found useful. It’s not just for letting people know you found their tweet informative and interesting. It actually is useful.
  3. Pin it: Save articles on a board that are inspiring. Will it help with a new blog redesign? Will it help with your social strategy? Pin it and go back later to think through it in more detail.
  4. Create a folder in your email: So much email. Save the ones that matter in a folder so you don’t lose it later.
  5. Use and app.  Pocket is a semi-new app that allows you to collect any articles, posts or videos you find and save them to go back to later. All in one place for your viewing pleasure. Evernote also works well.

In the end it’s about what works best for you. Sometimes it’s easier to have it all in one place, and other times it’s easier to save within the app experience you’re in at that moment. Choose your social poison.

This post was originally written for Startup Fashion. 

Nostalgia Marketing: A phase?

 

Since the beginning of #throwbackthursday and the more recent #flashbackfriday – consumers and brands have been taking a look back at what the past was and means. It could be a memory that was cherished, an accomplishment achieved, an uphill battle overcome, or just something really funny.

Apps like Timehop have allowed people to look back more frequently and see where they were a year or more ago on this very day. Facebook allows you to see friendships from years ago. It’s typically fun and enjoyable (unless it’s a memory you wish you didn’t have to relive – oops!) and something people are excited to share back out to let others remember too.

And there’s more…

Old bands have been reuniting and creating new albums and having concerts together. Casts of TV shows are being resurrected for new seasons (i.e. Heroes).

Older fashion styles are coming back for another season too. Additionally so are old past times like listening to records, reading actual books, playing with toys from generations ago.

What’s old is new again.

Brands realize that too.

It’s an opportunity for brands to create new content (from old content or events). It allows the brand to show another side to the brand through history and well-received content/events. For example, if there is an iconic package or product, a brand may look back at the beginning and show the evolution over time. And brands are already doing this.

But what else can brands do to take advantage of nostalgia and how consumers are excited about it?

Brands can:

  • Create experiences to relive the “new old” in a way that’s unique from before
  • Create a series that brings it life (i.e. a comic book, video series, or offline event that reoccurs).
  • Allow fans to share their old experiences through the new lens
  • Keep it authentic by leaving some to the imagination rather than forcing the nostalgia
  • Bring back best sellers to surprise and delight – i.e. Calvin Klein and their 90s campaigns; pumpkin flavored everything; troll dolls; classic old school converse and adidas sneakers; and more.

Nostalgia…not just a thing of the past.

This post was originally written for Social Media Club. 

Why a Seamless Brand Experience is Important

brand expereince

We’ve all been there. You’re on your smartphone swiping through Facebook and you come across an ad. You decide to click through and it leads you to a page or site that isn’t what you wanted. You click out, immediately. Or perhaps you’re debating a purchase through a retail site and when you go to their app you are lead back to their site to check out. Unfortunately there are so many steps and not all are mobile. You get frustrated and click out.

Consumers want instant access to what they want whether it’s content, a purchase, or just discovery. They want it all to be easily available through mobile. They want quick steps, not a drawn out process.

They want it to be easy.

As a brand, you need to provide that experience. You want your customers to be excited and dig in for more. However, if you provide the experience on one channel such as Facebook, and then have your consumer click over to another and it’s not continuing the same experience, the drop off will be fast and brutal.

The brand experience must be seamless.

Here are a few small but important ways your brand can begin to focus on being seamless with your content:

  1. Ensure all landing pages or site experiences are mobile. Once your consumer has a hard time reading or viewing your content, they’ll “x” out, and are less likely to come back.
  2. Avoid bait and switch. Be clear on what your visitor is clicking on in Facebook or Twitter and where it’s leading. If it says “purchase this sweater,” be sure it leads directly to the sweater. When they have to search all over again, a drop off will occur.
  3. If you’re allowing an opportunity to purchase, make sure the steps are minimal and simple through mobile. When visitors are on the go, they want to be able to do everything fast. A few options can help with this including enter credit card, use paypal or similar connected payment option, and/or save for later. If the they choose “save for later”, be sure they can logon to their computer or tablet and continue from there without losing what they wanted to purchase.
  4. Ensure your brand look and feel is consistent from social channels to landing pages. For example, your logos, backgrounds, and font types should be similar. That way the consumer recognizes your brand and doesn’t feel like they are being led elsewhere.
  5. If you have an app or are considering one in the future, ensure the navigation is easy. If your brand sells products, consider allowing purchase within the app experience (i.e. Nordstrom and Banana Republic are great with this as it emulates the web experience but it’s easier to view the items you are browsing).

Whenever you’re in doubt, put yourself in the shoes of your visitor and decide if you’d enjoy the brand experience and come back for more.

Read the full original post on StartupFashion.

How to be More creative with Instagram

fashion brand instagram

Instagram is a hot platform for the fashion industry. It allows fashion designers, fashion brands, and fashion enthusiasts to create and share their favorite looks, styles, and upcoming product lines within seconds. We know this. Instagram is awesome.

But what else does Instagram allow for brands?

The key is creativity. And planning.

Use an artistic lens: Some Instagram bloggers take everyday objects and make them into an artistic photo. For example, one shot I saw used kitkat candy pieces as the black keys on a piano. It was crafty and fun. While this has nothing to do with fashion, a similar play could be done with a hanger, a sewing needle, or a sketchpad. Doing stuff like this demonstrates the creative side of a brand.

Add locations: Now that locations are becoming a part of discovery and trending posts, it is more appealing to add a location in order to join conversations. Similarly, this is an opportunity to look into what’s trending and what locations already are, in order to plan out real time (or near time) content.

Create a full look book layout: Lately, I’ve been seeing more and more brands utilizing each photo as a piece of a larger photo (or look book). It’s interesting to see one by one, but when you go to a brand’s page and look at the images together, it’s beautiful. The pieces of the larger image are an incentive to take a closer look. And it’s definitely an opportunity to stand out for a new line, special offer, or event coming up.

Lastly, look to see what your fans are creating and sharing. It could be an opportunity to emulate or demonstrate how much you appreciate their creativity and style too. For example, regram theirs, or use their photo as inspiration for your own and credit them.

It’s a great way to go beyond the typical Instagram shot and stand out among the many other Instagram bloggers and brands out there.

See original full post on Startup Fashion.

Exclusive Content: Make consumers feel special

exclusive content

Exclusive content is the new black. It’s one of those things that people get excited about and never quite goes out of style. Whether its the 90s, 00s, or now, consumers want to feel like they’re in the know. The cool club. That they’re getting special exclusive stuff that maybe their friends aren’t…yet.

Your brand can be that content creator.

You can create content that makes your current and future customers feel as though they are the most important and special people around.

So how do you do this? It doesn’t take as much time as you may think. There a few ways that you can make your content appear more exclusive without the extra time spent. Here are a few ideas:

  • Provide exclusive content on a specific channel. For example, allow your Instagram or Snapchat fans to get an inside look into your upcoming product that hasn’t been released to the masses yet.
  • Better yet, allow them to impact what the new product line will be called. Snapchat is easier for this exclusivity, as it can’t be as easily shared onto Facebook as Instagram can. On the other hand, if your brand does prefer Instagram (which is a great vehicle for visual content), sending a private DM to fans can do the trick too.
  • Give your blogger collaborators the spare set of keys: Allow 3-5 bloggers to also give away the product. This way you reach more people who may be interested in your brand, but are still providing an exclusive opportunity for fans.
  • Make opportunities time sensitive: Whether a contest or something else altogether, create a feeling of exclusivity through small windows of time that makes the entire experience extra special.

To read more on how you can lead up to this, and follow up with your consumers, check out the full post on startup fashion.

Podcasts: They’re Cool Again

fashion podcasts

Have you played around with Podcasts yet?  I know, it’s not all that appealing because there are no visuals but they’re actually cool again. It’s not all about visual content when you’re trying to attract new audiences.

Podcasts are no longer un-cool content. They’re inspiring, engaging, and great for on-the-go consumption.

Just think about SERIAL and how it gained momentum. If it sounds vaguely familiar but you’re not quite sure what it’s all about, here’s the deal: It was a weekly podcast that was so suspenseful and well done that people got completely hooked on the story and could not wait until the release of the next chapter. Yes, it was a suspense filled podcast, but just because you’re not sharing a suspenseful story, doesn’t mean you can’t share something that will keep people coming back for more.

If you’re interested, you can check out this list created by Who What Wear fashion podcasts, of the most awesome fashion podcasts for your listening pleasure.

The key with using podcasts to build community around your brand, figuring out a way to tell a “story” that makes listeners want to come back for more.

Podcasts allow brands to reach new audiences and build community by:

  • Marketing themselves to an audience who wants to learn more about a certain category
  • Telling a story through chapters
  • Allowing a brand advocate to voice their brand love
  • Giving an influencer the keys to speak on the brand’s behalf
  • Creating referral traffic back to a site experience to learn more
  • Allowing the audience to see a different side of the brand

For most brands, visual content has been key – especially with Instagram, Pinterest, tumblr, Snapchat, so on and so forth. However, it doesn’t mean that ‘on the go’ and ‘easily consumable’ content has to be visual in order to be engaging. There are multiple ways to tell your brands story, and podcasts are another tool for the toolbox.

To check out the full original post, go to Startup Fashion.

Music Playlists: Another Content Format for your Toolbox

 

Playlists content fashion business

Recently on startupfashion, I talked about podcasts as a fun “new” (ok, not so new) format for creating engaging, potential thought leadership, and series related content. But there’s more. Fashion brands (and let’s face it –  most brands these days) prefer visual content to adhere to the consumer who is so hard to reach.

Visuals have stopping power to allow a consumer to take a moment and see what your brand may have to say by capturing their attention…at least for a few seconds.

But…it isn’t the only way.

Visuals can be a part of your promotion, even if they’re not the whole content…just like a blog post has a visual (or two) to keep the reader engaged and capture their attention in their Facebook or Twitter feeds.

So what non-visual form of content are we talking about?

It’s not a new format, it’s not even something that’s trending on Mashable right now, but it’s a format that isn’t going away anytime soon. A playlist.

Changing things up also helps with capturing the interest of new subscribers.

Yes, blog posts are great. They allow you to demonstrate your knowledge, and provide fun interesting content to share. But there’s more your startup can do (without breaking the bank and still having fun!)

Playlists allow you to show a different side of your brand. They can be a mood your brand is in while sitting at the design table or maybe they are specifically created for your latest collection. Think about it, each season, you can create a playlist that helps to tell the story of the collection.

It’s a personality. It’s a mood setter. It’s kind of awesome.

Here are some more advantages to creating a brand playlist:

  • Really easy to create and listening to music is probably something you’re doing already, so not too much of a time commitment.
  • You can add to it; it doens’t need to be made once and forgotten. Your “Monday Morning Kick-Ass Work Mode” playlist can start with 10 songs and grow infinitely, keeping your followers interested.
  • Your community can suggest songs to add to it
  • You can share very easily throughout social media
  • You can have a content series that allows playlists of the week or month
  • You can incorporate it into your other content and media
  • You can tease it song by song

To read about where you should consider making playlists, and about my passion project Radiate Daily and how we made playlists, check out the full original post on Startup Fashion. 

 

Part 2: Leveraging your brand advocates

brand advocates

In my last post we spoke about how to court your brand advocates, this time we’ll dig a little deeper on how we leverage them to your brand’s and their optimal potential.

As I mentioned before, a brand advocate is “someone who loves your brand and will support it through multiple phases, including but not limited to loyalty in purchase, word of mouth, sharing on social, and encouraging friends and family to convert too.”

That’s a lot of potential, but the key is to harness them in a way that doesn’t alienate them through the “relationship.”

Two great ways to make that happen include

  • Amplifying your brand advocate’s voices
  • Allowing your brand advocates to be more than just one person, to be a part of a larger community

Amplify Their Voices

When one advocate praises your brand and says “I love you and your product,” most brands typically respond with things along the lines of “likes” and “favorites.” Some go further and respond or comment back with a “Hey X, thanks so much for the love. We think you’re great too!” This is important, and shouldn’t be ignored. The small value actions such as likes and favorites are important when done within 24–36 hours. It shows that your brand is paying attention. Commenting matters even more. The sooner your brand can comment in return, the more appreciated that brand advocate will feel about their relationship with your brand. They will feel heard and will want to continue that dialogue.

But there’s an extra step that is not often taken. Amplify the advocate’s voice through your brand’s voice.

Here’s what I mean.

  • Your brand could feature some awesome advocates on your website site. Maybe have a page dedicated to them.
  • You could start a blog series where you spotlight an advocate once a week or twice a month. Interview them- who are they, what are they all about.
  • Repost some of the stuff they post on social media.
  • Or more specifically, “regram” an advocate’s gram when they were featuring a product of yours they may have been wearing. Nordstrom and Nordstrom Rack do this well. Nordstrom Rack will see products that people are talking about on Instagram and ask to regram them on the brand’s profile. It is not only super flattering, but sometimes an ultimate sign of brand love. Doesn’t seem like a lot, but it can be. Nordstrom also comments and asks to use Instagram photos within their website experience.

Those are some ways how you can take it a step further with the social and fan integration.

Let Them be a Community

This one is difficult. A community isn’t always brand built, it’s typically consumer led and naturally occurs through mutual affinity for an interest. For example, there is a cult of fans who are obsessed with Converse and will only wear that brand. They show their love through social, and support one another. For example, if one Converse lover sees a pair of kicks that they haven’t before, they are stoked to check them out. Even if they try to literally buy them off another converse lover’s feet at that exact second. It’s happened.

Will every brand be Converse? Probably not. But it doesn’t mean your brand advocates won’t be excited to be a part of a community that shares their interests. Remember, it’s a lifestyle that your brand exemplifies; such as a fitness lifestyle for a yoga clothing line.

Read more on what your brand can do here to let them be a community, be checking out the full post on Startup Fashion.

Part 1: Courting your Brand’s Advocates

brand advocates

A brand advocate is a coveted individual when it comes to brand marketing, especially in the digital media space.

A brand advocate is someone who loves your brand and will support it through multiple phases, including but not limited to loyalty in purchase, word of mouth, sharing on social, and encouraging friends and family to convert too.

A brand advocate is someone you want by your side. It’s a relationship you want to continue to grow and evolve; it’s someone you hope to have in your brand’s life for a long time. This may sound like someone you’re dating, and in truth, it can be quite similar.

It’s a relationship. And good relationships require love and care, loyalty and passion.

That’s great and all, but how exactly do you obtain a brand advocate? How do you find this person or people who not only love your brand but also can’t wait to tell the world about how much they love it?

The Courting Process:

Give Them a Reason to Believe

You need to get good at sharing the purpose and values behind your brand. When you do this, people start to notice. It’s not until a customer or collaborator feels connected to your purpose and values, that they will become true brand advocates. Without that connection, you’re just a brand making more stuff.

Flirt with Them and Show Them All Your Good Sides

What is your business really like? How is it run? What do you make? How do you make it? Become very transparent in what your business does. Let them in.

Don’t Be Afraid to Be Wrong

Never be afraid to let your brand be itself and when something goes wrong or isn’t perfect, say so.  This sort of honesty is what meaningful relationships are built on.

Reward Them When They Deserve It

Recognize your customers’ loyalty. Re-gram them, send them discount codes, invite them to events (not via a group email!). Do what you can to make sure that your brand is associated with personalized attention.

Surprise Them When They Least Expect It

Everyone loves a little surprise now and then. Get creative and find ways to put smiles on their faces. It doesn’t have to be free product, it can simply be a something thoughtful that you do to show that you’re paying attention.

Maintain the Flirtation and Build It Into a True Two Way Relationship

Don’t get lazy- that’s a relationship killer if there ever was one. Continue to make sure that they know you appreciate them.

Let Them Come to You

Don’t get pushy and be all like, “Do you wanna be my brand advocate?” after just a few interactions.  No one likes a brand that feels needy.

Continue the Conversation Where They Appreciate It Most

As you work to build these relationships, show them how proud you are to have them as customers. Use social media (where they are) to amplify the relationship in a way that makes them feel like they’re something extra awesome.

This courting process is the basis for creating a brand that attracts real and true advocates.

But listen, there will be tough times. Let me tell you little story…

A brand I once worked on had decreased the availability of a product line thinking it wasn’t a favorite and there were other varieties that were performing better in the market. But of course, the brand advocates who had loved that specific product were outraged. They took to the streets – aka social media – and ranted about their long lost love. They wanted their product back, and they weren’t going quietly. Luckily the brand thought quick on its feet and discussed how to bring the advocates back to the good side. They sent through some extra special care packages to a few of the folks and promised to reconsider the sale of the product in the upcoming year. It wasn’t a permanent solution but it was a good temporary solve until the brand could decide the worth of definitely bringing back the product or not. The lesson here:

CLICK TO TWEET

 Remember, these are brand advocates, not well known influencers.  These are real customers who you haven’t paid (they don’t want your money, they want to be a part of what you’re creating!). They are the most valuable people to have on your side so do what you can to keep them there. 

Once you have them, don’t let them go. Instead use them and amplify their voices as part of your brand. How do we do that? Stay tuned and we’ll discuss some examples in my next article.

This post was originally written for Startup Fashion. Read more here!

Live streaming App Meerkat and Why it’s Cool

 

meerkat app

Just what you’re looking for, another platform for you to share your brand’s content. I know, it’s exhausting and thinking about adding more is is just- no.

But this one is too cool not to tell you about.

The latest buzz is around Meerkat – a somewhat new mobile app, which has hit the streets of SXSW with a storm.

What’s so cool about it? Meerkat allows you to tweet live video in actual real time. This live stream option is super cool, especially for brands who may not have the ability to partner with the big publishers to do so.

Let’s break down the advantages:

  • It’s a free app to download and use
  • You can stream live or schedule your video
  • You can see what people you follow are sharing within the app or on Twitter (or wherever else they have embedded their Twitter feed)
  • In your dashboard you can see live feeds of folks using the app
  • You can see who is watching the live stream
  • You can comment, retweet, and “like” while watching

Why it’s a tool to keep in your social content toolbox:

Read more on the full post on Startup Fashion!

 

How Social Media Can Increase Traffic to your Brand’s Site

 

website trafficSocial media can be daunting at times, especially when you’re just starting to grow your business and most of the work is on your shoulders. Sometimes, social feels like too much time and you just can’t see how it’s helping your startup grow.

One word: patience.

Great social content takes effort, a great social community takes times to grow. The ROI, such as an increase in web traffic, also takes time.

I sometimes like to equate social media to exercising and being fit. If you want a body that is strong, healthy, and long lasting, you have to put in effort for the long haul. Not just for the day or week or month.

Here are a few tips to get your brand on the right track for that healthy social living:

  • The small tactics: the best practices and simple tactics like ensuring your site URL is associated with all your social accounts is crucial. Make sure it’s in your bio, clickable, and above the fold.
  • Schedule your content: It’s OK to publish content more than once, actually it will help. For example, on Twitter since the life of a tweet is so short, it behooves a brand to publish at least twice (at minimum). Of course, it’s good to spread out your content and publish on multiple days rather than the same day.
  • Link back through posts: When posting on social, ensure that a % of your content links back to your site. Although it’s important to have a good content mix, if a major goal is to drive traffic back to your site, that should take the larger chunk of your posting.
Read more on bloggers and a paid media budget, on our full post on Startup Fashion

For more questions on how to best increase website traffic through social media, reach out in the comments.

 

Spring is still here: Clean your Marketing and Get it Ready for Summer

 

fashion marketingSpring cleaning isn’t just for your shoes and clothes each year. It’s for your fashion marketing objectives and goals too.

Spring, or second quarter, is a great time to take a look at all the new year initiatives you put into play and see what’s working and what’s not. Time to shed some weight, and not waste money on budget items that aren’t giving back enough on your investment.

But how do you decide what to ditch and what to hold on to? That’s always the tough part.

Here are a few things to consider this spring and your “ditch pile”:

  1. What’s sucking your budget: There are a lot of overhead and unexpected costs that go into a yearly marketing budget. This may include (but isn’t limited to): website hosting, graphic designers, and PR agencies. Take a look at where your money is going and whether or not these costs can be lowered. Do you pay a graphic designer to make new new several times a month?  What about seeing if they can create a template for you instead.  That way, you can make the updates for new contests or announcements yourself.
  2. What’s just not working: Sometimes we invest in tools that end up being more of a hassle than anything. For example, some tools may have seemed cool and great for CRM or social media management, and instead waste too much of our time and give us little data and information. If it’s not saving time, it’s just costing money. Ditch it. Change it. Move on.
Read about team evaluations and tactical executions for spring cleaning in our full post on Startup Fashion. 

 

The Team you want for building your Brand

building your fashion business team

2015. It’s here, folks. It’s the first week back after the holiday season; it’s a week that has a lot of potential for productivity because we’re all in this “fresh start/get serious” mindset.

In finishing up last year, we shared information on prepping your marketing for upcoming year. TheFashion Business Financial Checklist and the Fashion Business Marketing Checklist have been hits with making that happen.

So if you’ve been following along, you’ve probably done your 2015 planning and your budget analysis for how you’re going to make this year even better than last year in the eyes of the brand and the consumer. But there’s one more thing to consider…do you have the team to pull it off?

The people who make your brand; the people who surround you each day; the people who help achieve the 2015 goals…they need to be awesome. There is no good reason to settle for “she’s sort of awesome”…you want “she IS awesome,I need her!” Because when you have an incredible team, it shows. Your customers will feel it and see it through the quality of the work you put forward.

So if you’re in the growth stage of your fashion business, let’s make the team a priority in 2015. If you are a brand in today’s fast moving technologically savvy world, there are 5 types of people you want on your team to help you build your brand:

The Analyst: The person who gets nitty gritty. He or she is in the weeds and making sure the numbers follow suit. Are we really where we’re supposed to be? Is that campaign really a success? This person will help us be realistic about our goals and endeavors.

The Project Manager: The person who keeps us all in line and on schedule. We all need one of these to make sure we’re delivering on time.

The Go-Getter: The person who doesn’t just do what we ask, but brings awesome ideas to the team. She’s the one who comes to meetings with things we haven’t even thought of doing yet–but love that she has!

The Innovator: The person who won’t settle for where we are today. Because why should we? This person will help us think into 2016 and 2017 today. They’ll help get us there through future thinking so we don’t get left behind.

The Fearless: The person who wants to challenge the brand. This person isn’t afraid of being told “no, you’re wrong.” If they are wrong, that’s ok. They’ll try another idea next week or month and see if that works.

To read the final one, and more tips on how to create your team, check out the full post on Startup Fashion

Video Content – Not just an option anymore

video content fashion brand

The latest news in the battles of the social channels has been that Facebook is going over YouTube’s video domain. Facebook recently tried to “own” the Grammy’s conversation, and now is trying to “own” as many Superbowl related Ad opportunities as possible.

But what does this mean for startups and smaller brands? A lot actually.

As much as large marketing and ad budgets are nice to have, it’s not just about the money. It’s about the content. The key trend here is video. Over the past couple years we’ve noticed Vine, Instagram Video (including hyperlapse), Snapchat and more come into the social video space — joining the ranks of Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and Vimeo.

Smaller brands need and should figure out a way to invest in visual content, including video. Especially in the fashion industry where visuals are key to sell products and services.

Video can tell a story that a picture may not be able to portray fully.

  • Video can demonstrate how the founder came up with his/her idea for the startup
  • Video can show how the piece of clothing started from a piece of fabric
  • Video can allow an event to come to life in real-time
  • Video can allow consumers to see into your brand
  • Video can allow consumers to connect with one another
  • Video can allow for more user generated content (UGC)
  • Video can demonstrate that your brand is on top of its game

Although some video content can be expensive, there are ways to make video happen without breaking the bank. It’s not just about the ad budget, it’s about the story. Each brand has a story to tell.

The key is finding the story consumers want to hear. So before you go out and make a dozen videos for social, your blog, and your site. Listen first. Do some digital listening research to understand what consumers are talking about, asking for, and actually want from your brand…

  • Use free tools like Google trends to understand what people are searching for in regards to your brand and your competitors.
  • Topsy is a great tool to see if certain numbers are working and what people are saying in that conversation.
  • Look back at your Twitter stream to see what questions your audience was asking. Do they want to know more about your product and service? More about your founder?
  • Look to see where your audience engages, and what they engage with. For example on Pinterest – what do they love and repin most?
  • Do a poll or survey to see what your audience wants. Sometimes it’s as simple as asking directly.

Does your brand have questions on how to get started with the right video content? Reach out in the comments!

This post was originally written for Startup Fashion. 

How to: Market to the Instant Generation (Gen Z)

fashion brands marketing instant generation

Gone are the days of waiting for a catalog and thumbing through it casually. Today and tomorrow are the days of instant consumption. From brands like Instacart who allow purchases to be delivered within hours; to Snapchat which allows for people to share messages and then they “disappear” instantly.

It’s become a consumer world where things are not just desired instantly, but expected instantly. It’s a user behavior that impacts brand marketing from content strategy to content distribution to purchase behavior. Let’s break down what that means and how fashion brands can be on top of your game.

Content Strategy: consumers want their content in easy, consumable formats.

  • Short, visually-aesthetic content. The quality of the picture can grab a user’s attention more than any title will.
  • Think buzzfeed type lists, 10 – 30 second videos, and photo slideshows. Content that can be consumed within minutes is more likely to have less bounce rates.
  • Blogs posts with headlines that demonstrate the main points with a couple glances. When people are in a rush, give them the gist. They’ll dig in if they are interested in reading more.

Content Distribution: consumers want their content on the go, and within seconds.

  • Content should be formatted for any device – computer, tablet, mobile, and nowadays even a smart TV.
  • It should be within the channels they prefer to frequent (not only where the brand wants to be). For example, if your consumer is planning their wedding – they are searching on Pinterest. While someone who is in a discovery mode, may be perusing tumblr as they stroll.
  • Ensure load time is quick. Your website needs to be able to load before they get distracted by the next puppy walking down the street.

Purchase Behavior: consumers want to be able to purchase from anywhere, at anytime.

  • It goes without saying that your site should be developed to be device-agnostic. It’s not just mobile first – it’s however the consumer will see it, it needs to be a good experience.
  • Some brands have gone beyond the mobile website and developed apps for purchases. Take Nordstrom for example – consumers can go on their site, but their app allows for easier viewing and filtering of products due to its formatting. This is not to say every brand needs an app; the main point is your customers want an easy experience to purchase at their fingertips.
  • Determine your largest sites for referral traffic. As a consumer brand it may likely be Pinterest or Instagram. If so, use those social channels to allow for purchasing too. Leave the purchase link in the bio for Instagram. For Pinterest, ensure that the referral link goes directly to the purchase link. Quick easy ways to allow consumers to purchase without having to pay for sponsored opportunities within those social channels.

And in the end, remember to ask yourself one thing. As a consumer, is your brand’s experience what you would hope for?

This post was originally written for Startup Fashion.

The startup 2015 marketing checklist

fashion business marketing plan

Marketing your business in the new year is most likely something you’ve been thinking a lot about. So let’s take a look at what to include in 2015 that’s different than 2014.

Let’s break it down into an actionable checklist. You can refer back often to make sure you’re hitting your goals each quarter or mid-year and make adjustments as needed.

Your 2015 Fashion Business Marketing Plan Checklist

Evaluate 2014

  • Where did your website referral traffic come from?
  • Which pages were the most trafficked?
  • Which pages had the largest bounce rates?
  • Did people sign up for your newsletter? From where?
  • Do people share your blog posts?
  • Which channels lead consumers to purchase most?
  • Is your social community growing?
  • What content is your social community engaging with most? least?
  • Do you have a good social content mix?

Improve on the Basics

  • Review your marketing budget and decide how much money you can dedicate to digital marketing and where you’d like to focus based on your 2014 marketing review
  • Make more use of the keywords that people use to search for your website content, products, and landing pages
  • Make sure to use those same keywords in your social copy – especially on channels like Pinterest where those words are used to help discover pins
  • Focus more on the channels that provide referral traffic and/or purchases
  • Cross promote your content and let followers know about the existence of your other channels
  • Invest in channels where you don’t have to spend as much money to get content out to your audience (ex. Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, tumblr)

Test Something New

  • Instead of just posting photos on Instagram, try some of the video features such as Hyperlapse. Some tips here!
  • Work with influencers who are willing to trade goods for content (or a small stipend). Not all influencers need lots of money to create great social content for your brand.
  • Invest in a tool that will help you schedule and plan your social content. Hootsuite has affordable options with simple scheduling for small brands and startups. It allows more time for the important things like strategy, blogging, and experimentation.

Be excited for the new year — embrace growth and allow your brand to kick some marketing butt!

This post was originally written for Startup Fashion. 

Digital Marketing Myth: Content Must be Visual

As digital marketers, many of us realize the need for visual content. There are more visually appealing social channels then we can count – but of course you have the usual suspects such as Facebook, Instagram, Vine, Snapchat, YouTube, Pinterest and more. Should you have visual content? Yes. Should it be your only content? Not necessarily.

We’ve probably all heard of it by now, but Serial – the podcast – is a great example of this non-visual content trend. An old medium, but great engaging content. Why did it work? A few reasons:

  • Great content – It didn’t have to be visual to be great content. The key was the story. The story was engaging, suspenseful, and it got people talking.
  • Word of mouth – It got people talking to their colleagues, their family members, and their friends – in person and on social.
  • Suspense – It was told in a manner that left the listener excited for the next episode release.
  • Short – It was long enough to feel like something you’re investing in, but short enough that you could listen to an episode on a train ride, a gym workout, or while you’re cooking dinner.
  • It was real – The people and the content were real. The history and storyline were true. It made you invest in what was going on because you wanted to know more.
Great podcast, and now the people want more. The next season will come in 2015, and the masses are waiting. Why? Again – content doesn’t have to be visual to be great and shareable. As you can see from the Topsy screenshot below, the topic is still being talked about (for many of the reasons outlined above).
The reason this podcast (and many others) work is because they allow people another way to consume content on the go. It’s an easy way for busy people to learn more, delve into subject they don’t normally have time for, and/or just be entertained. As mentioned above, podcasts can be 5 min, 30 min, 1 hour (etc). The lengths allow for someone who consume the content while they’re completing other tasks – which is not always the case with watching a video, reading an eBook, etc. No need to flip a page, or scroll through a blog post when all you have to do is change the volume to level you prefer. This also reigns true for audible books – just check out Audible and the fact that you can subscribe to the service like Hulu or Netflix.
Podcasts  may be an old content format, but old doesn’t mean bad content. It just means you need to put in the effort to make it engaging and great (like all content).
Image sources: Serial Podcast, Topsy
This post was originally written for Socialnomics

What NOT to do for your 2015 digital marketing plan

There are many lists. I’ve written a couple of them myself.  But how about the things not to do in 2015? Granted, some of these are items we should have avoided as brands in 2014 too, but let’s try again…
Don’t Be Selfish
Instead of posting only about your brand, its accomplishments, and awesomeness – consider posting about others – post about your audience, partners, charities, and those who are putting out great content such as thought leadership in your industry and marketplace.

Avoid Conversations Where You Have No Right

We’ve seen it. We’ve done it. We want to hop on a trend to be a part of a conversation. But not everyone is Oreo during the Super bowl. Not everyone can be Arby’s during the Grammy’s with Pharrell. Find your time. Find the right opportunity. Be true to your brand’s voice and image.

Don’t Be Stale

It’s easy to stick to what’s safe, comfortable, and what seems to work. But instead, how about setting aside part of your marketing budget to experiment. Try a new social channel. Find a new content partnership. Invest in influencers who can help your brand draw in new audiences. Be willing to try something new.

Don’t put quantity over quality

Because of the nature of social media, it’s hard to be noticed unless you’re putting our content on a regular basis. However, some brands make the mistake of putting out tons of content, and only a couple pieces being actually share-worthy. Take the time to put together quality content that will resonate with your audience rather than churning and burning…crap.

Avoid trying too much at once

And although it’s awesome to try new things, experiment, dive into new social channels because your audience is there and it would be a great place for your brand to play — wait. If you invest in too much you’ll spread your budget thin and won’t be able to invest properly and as above – with quality content. Take a minute and decide on the 3-5 things that seem valuable for your brand and leave the rest for later.

And last but not least, don’t be lame. Have some fun with your content!

This post was originally written for: http://marketingontherocks.com

The Process for Launching a New Website

As digital marketers, we are constantly launching and shipping. We want to get our brands on the top of their game. We want to launch fast and we want to launch something that will make a splash.

Here’s the thing – we sometimes forget or lose sight of the time and effort it will actually take. Launching something – especially a new site, takes way more time than you initially may consider or plan for. So instead of kicking yourself, here are a few things to keep in mind when you are doing your next big launch (such as a website):

  1. Do extra research – A lot of times when we have an idea, someone else has it too. Make sure your idea isn’t already taken. And if it is, that’s ok. Maybe your idea has a new spin or an advantage the previous one hasn’t considered. Make sure yours stands out. When I had my new recent idea, I searched and searched for similar sites. I didn’t want to come across as just another inspiration site. It had to be unique.
  1. Ask people for their opinions – When I was designing my new site, I had to consider the look, the logo, and the name. I had a friend design my logo and luckily my partner and I had similar taste so we didn’t go through many reviews. However, we needed outside opinions too. For example, when we came up with the brand name, we wanted to ensure it resonated with our audience. We polled a large group of friends who would be un-biased…”Did they think it meant the same thing we did?” Thankfully, yes.
  1. Plan buffer time – So, our site launch was supposed to be in September. It launched in January. Four months later. Why? Because our site took longer to build than we expected, we had hosting issues, and came across little things we didn’t “plan” to crop up. We didn’t add cushion time. So instead of fretting (or fretting too much) we changed our launch date. We wanted it to be a time when the site would resonate and make more of a splash. The New Year was the new plan.
  1. QA and QA some more – This is one thing I let slip from my mind. If it looked good on my browser and my phone it must look great everywhere, right? Nope. Check every browser – even (gulp) Internet Explorer. Check multiple devices and types of devices. And do it more than once.
  1. Make a promotion plan – You did all that work, so you should promote it too! It’s one thing to go live, it’s another to go live with a bang or two. Depending on the type of brand and launch you should consider the following:
    1. Email your contacts
    2. Post it on your social channels (and personal channels if you can)
    3. Do a blogger or influencer outreach prior to launch for extra eyeballs
    4. Ask friends to share

In addition, plan to promote for more than one day or two. Promote every day during your launch week. Why let the buzz sizzle after a day, when you can keep the party going?

And…speaking of launches, I’m pretty proud to announce my new site – Radiate Daily. What is it? It’s not just another blog. Radiate Daily is an opportunity for women (and men) to harness their confidence around personal style, health, fitness, and in turn their daily lives. Personal style is something that we all have, but sometimes takes longer to be comfortable with. As the saying goes, “Fashion fades, style is eternal,” and Radiate Daily is here to help everyone be more confident with their own. Come check it out, and share your story! #radiatedialy

Image source: grumpy cat

This post was originally written for: http://marketingontherocks.com/

Launching my Passion Project: Radiate Daily

I’ve been thinking about this for almost a year, planning for months, and now it’s here.  The people who know me realize that I’m always doing something on the side. Something that motivates me, alongside my day-to-day digital marketing career. And it’s usually an extension of it.

This time, I got some help. I had an idea, but I knew I needed a partner in crime to get to where I wanted to go. I sat on my couch one night and thought about the people, the women, in my life who had similar aspirations, likes, and compatible personalities. Randomly, one name came to mind. Lindsey Varney. A friend who I met my first week of college and lived across the hall – 13 years ago. We had been in touch off and on, but it had truly been years since we had hung out. I knew she was also in digital marketing, a day younger than me, loved fashion, and had a fun outlook on life. Someone who would balance my type A planner-ness. Months later, here we are. Partners in a new adventure, called Radiate Daily.

 What is Radiate Daily you ask?

I pondered that question for a long time myself. What do I want this site to be. I didn’t want another fashion tips site. Tips only go so far. I wanted to get to the root of the pain points that people have on a daily basis.

 Confidence. Inspiration.

I want to inspire people to believe in themselves. Help focus on the things that drive who they are, each day of their life, and in turn be proud and confident. Style is something I’ve loved for a long time. It’s not fashion – fashion fades as they say. Style is something we all possess (whether we believe it or not). But confidence in one’s style comes from my places (like my story here). It can be a fitness routine, a quote we read, a compliment from a friend, a story that inspired us, or our careers kicking butt. That confidence shapes the rest of us, including our style. It helps us Radiate Daily.

So join me and Lindsey. Join us in our new adventure to help inspire others every day. Come read the stories, check out the snippets on social, and help us collect more to share. Share yours! And of course, tell me what you think. What helps you #radiatedaily ?

Five CTAs to Consider for your Brand’s Content Marketing

 

CTAs for branding and marketing content

When it comes to your website, email marketing, and social media, your content needs a call to action (cta). What is it that you want your reader to do? The CTA usually drives your audience to have an interaction with the content and engage (click, like, share) or potentially go somewhere else (such as your product page to purchase).

A great CTA can create responses from the audience and potentially convert them from a prospective customer to an actual customer (or a current one to a loyal one).

Here’s the thing though, not all CTA’s have to drive to a product or service.

Sometimes a CTA that leads to entertainment, valued content, or helpful tips is enough to make your audience excited for your product or service in the long run.

Here are 5 Alternative Calls to Action for Your  Branding and Marketing Content:

Email: Cross promotion between social and email is a great way to get awareness of your content. Perhaps include some of your Instagram favorites in your email newsletter and allow your readers to “share” their favorite with specific hashtag. Allow them to be a part of your community and potentially be highlighted in your email next time.

Website: Have them “subscribe now” to your newsletter for information on events or entertaining videos, not necessarily sales and promos.

YouTube: Instead of leading them back to the site to purchase a product from your videos, perhaps have a simple annotation to go to the next video. Let them enjoy more awesome content, because they’re obviously watching the video for a reason. They’re interested!

This post was originally written for Startup Fashion – to read the full list of CTAs including Facebook and tumblr, check out my full post here.