Leveraging M.ly in your Influencer Marketing Strategy

Musical.ly, with more than 133 million monthly active users, is one of the hottest mobile apps for teens and emerging Millennials. As described in the iOS App Store, musical.ly is, “the #1 music video community … musical.ly makes it easy and fun to create amazing videos and impress your friends. Simply select a sound and start lip syncing! Anyone can be an awesome singer with musical.ly!”

So, why should you as a marketer care about this app? With Twitter announcing that they’re retiring the Vine app, here at iProspect, we’re predicting that the influencers who are popular on Vine will migrate to musical.ly, potentially expanding the app’s user base at a rapid rate. For advertisers looking to target teens and Millennials, musical.ly has a lot of potential, just not in the traditional advertising sense. Instead, its potential lies specifically within the arena of influencer marketing.

Although musical.ly’s mission is to be a social network, they are technically a mobile app. Currently there is no official paid advertising available. “Advertising” or “marketing” on the platform today is based on partnerships with influencers who post or share organically.

However, the platform is still social in nature and it is likely (and we are hopeful) that it will follow Snapchat’s lead and offer paid advertising in the form of insertion orders followed by the inevitable self-serve ads API option. Therefore, while we recommend that brands think about and plan for musical.ly as a social platform where we can engage with influencers, we also advise brands to keep their eyes open for paid advertising opportunities, should they become available.

What is the value of musical.ly today?

The app is wildly popular with teens with more than 133MM users (called Musers) on the platform today and approximately 13MM new users joining each month.

The best way for brands to enter the space now would be through influencer campaigns and sponsored posts, rather than running their own pages. (This is also how Snapchat first positioned itself for brands.) Coca-Cola was one of the first brands to begin using the app this way, working with popular Muser “Baby Ariel” to seed their #shareacoke contest. Musers were asked to upload a post with #shareacoke to potentially win a FaceTime video call with singer Jason Derulo.

5 Social Media Marketing Tips for B2B Companies

Social media has evolved into an ever growing platform for B2B businesses to promote their products and reach out to potential consumers. More and more people are using some sort of social media everyday which is why it is important to develop a social media marketing strategy, whether it is a campaign shared through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or even Snapchat. This is a prime opportunity for companies to engage with their customers seeing that Facebook has 1.71 billion active users and Twitter has 313 million active users (Zephoria) (Twitter). You may ask yourself, “why are companies having a hard time using social media as a marketing platform?”. Here are five examples and tips of what B2B companies and marketing professionals should be doing to make social media marketing more of a success.

Keeping an active presence on your social media

A lot of B2B businesses believe they can post content on their social media and that is enough to garner interest in their content. However, that is not the reality we live in. Once a company posts on social media, they need to be ready to communicate with anyone that interacts with their post. 78% of marketers said they saw increased traffic with as little as 6 hours a week invested in social media marketing (Social Media Examiner). With the increased traffic produced from investing only 6 hours in your social media, more leads will be generated. See the infographic below on how IBM took advantage of a unique social media campaign. Keeping an active presence on your social media is important in building the key relationships via social media your B2B company needs to effective social media marketing

Humanize your company

By keeping an active presence on your B2B’s social media, you are able to engage more with your customers and answer any questions they might have. By being personal with customers, it gives them a sense of reassurance that the company is human and wants to engage with them. B2B companies that connect with buyers on an emotional level see twice the impact of those still trying to sell based on business or functional value. The most connected companies with their audience enjoyed 31% greater revenue growth last year (Webbiquity). Customers appreciate when companies get back to them quickly if they have a question they need answered. 60% of buyers who feel a “high brand connection” are more likely to purchase, even at a higher price, from those brands versus competitors (Webbiquity). This ensures brand loyalty to the customers that you engage and interact with on your social media accounts.

Choosing the correct social media platform

There are many platforms to choose from such as, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn. First off, you need to think about several questions before you choose a platform to work with.

For example, Facebook’s purpose is to build brand loyalty and reputations through interesting content and informational posts. Whereas Twitter’s purpose is to deliver quick updates and promote new products with an instant feedback from your audience.  Once you answer these questions with the social media platform you have in mind, then you are ready to choose which ones to use. The most popular social media platforms to use are Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and LinkedIn. In fact, more than 70% of all B2B marketers use at least one of the “Big 4” social media sites (LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube) to distribute content (Digital Marketing Philippines). Now that you have your desired platform, you now need to figure out how to use it to its full potential.

Use pictures to get more engagement

Buzzsumo found that when someone posts on Facebook, a post with images receives about 2.3x more engagements than those without (Buzzsumo). What this means is that for every one like you get on a post without an image, you could have had at least two more with an image. It is natural to be more attracted to an image rather than a lengthy text post. People are more visual learners and by giving them images instead of text, they will be able to understand the information much better. Now you cannot just post an image and wait for the people to begin flooding in. You have to post a relevant picture to what you are talking about. About 54% of B2B marketers said they’ve generated leads from social media strategies and posting with compelling visuals and graphics could help to increase that number even more for your company (Rick Whittington).

Paid Ads

If people are not finding your B2B website organically, you may have to explore the benefits of paid advertisements to attract people to your website. There are two types of advertisements companies can do on social media: sponsored posts and ads. Sponsored posts are posts done by the company to boost the reach of their content that was already published on their social media. Promoted Tweets have shown average engagement rates of 1 to 3 percent—much higher than traditional banner ads (Hoot Suite). The second option is another great way to advertise your company. The difference between ads and sponsored posts is that you create your own ad and can customize everything to your liking. On Facebook, desktop ads have 8.1x higher click-through rates and mobile ads have 9.1x higher click-through rates than normal web ads (Hoot Suite). When you create your own ad, make sure that everything looks professional and is consistent with your company’s marketing ideas.

Preparing Store Location Pages for the Holiday Rush

As fall draws to a close, visions of the holiday shopping season are dancing in the heads of retail business owners everywhere. While there are many details to attend to, from putting up the decorations to making sure there is enough staff to handle the crowds, it’s important to also pay attention to store location optimization. Well-optimized store locator pages are valuable assets that help move users along the buyer’s journey from browsing online to making in-store purchases. According to Google, 76% of people who search for something nearby on their smartphone visit a related business within a day, and 28% of those searches result in a purchase.

Holiday Hours

Last year, Google introduced their “Special Hours” feature in Google My Business (GMB). This feature gives businesses the ability to define operating hours on a day-by-day basis so that they can easily promote holiday schedules that are different from their normal business hours. Now is the time to start collecting these hours from retail partners and loading them into the related GMB profiles. This way, as store schedules change from consistent year-round hours to extended holiday shopping hours, customers will be able to easily find these changes via the Knowledge Panel (KP) listings for branded queries (particularly on mobile devices) and visit the store at their convenience:

Another reason to start collecting holiday hours now is so that you can start loading these dates into your store locator pages.  A 2016 Bright Local study found that business hours were the second most important piece of information for all ages groups between 18 and 55+, second only to lists of products and services. This finding clearly indicates that posting unique holiday hours on the store locator pages is just as important as posting to GMB profiles for local marketers who hope to get users to cross the online-to-offline conversion bridge.

An additional on-page factor for store hours is getting the correct schema coding in place for special business hours and events. Ensuring that you have the correct schema code in place for business hours helps you communicate the correct hours to the search engines more effectively and accurately and also helps reduce automated updates to Google Profiles. On the user side, the correct schema code makes it easier for your customers to find retail locations that have the item they want to purchase.

Augmented Reality: Where Physical Meets Digital

Whether your side of the fence includes Pokémons on the loose or it’s Pokémon-free, there’s still a game-changing point to consider. The phenomenon has proven something major: mass public acceptance of Augmented Reality. Marketers should invest some time and resources to get to know AR, and consider it’s potential business implications.

The quickest explanation of AR is that it’s a technology that allows marketers to superimpose digital content and interactivity over a real-world, real-time view seen through the camera lens on a mobile device. While the technology has been around for a while, lack of maturity and cost constraints have restricted use cases. By bridging the gap between the physical and digital worlds, AR enables the creation of never before realized, location-driven, personalized consumer experiences at scale.

Consider your company’s on-the-go audience. What is their mobile need? What are they looking for you to offer or answer? This is a great place to start internal conversations with your marketing and digital teams, as well as your agency. In the post-digital era, your brand name doesn’t mean as much if the associated experience is poor.

Insights can be found in considering the way your brand goes to market. Today, it’s not about advertising your brand message  – it’s about building a world that represents your brand’s core values, a world that people want to explore and share. Inviting consumers to be part of something inventive and captivating can now solidify a long-term relationship.

We want to help you get started. In our most recent point of view paper, we’ve outlined 6 points for marketers to wrestle with in consideration of AR as part of a near term marketing mix.

With the right brand vision, audience insights, data and technology infrastructure, companies can leverage AR to deliver the kind of seamless experiences that today’s savvy (and demanding) consumers expect.

4 Tips For Choosing The Perfect Branding Agency

Branding is both a big topic and an inexact science. It’s no wonder that there are so many choices when it comes to choosing a creative team to help you share your story with the world.

From part-time web and graphic designers to experienced branding gurus, there is a lot to consider when selecting a branding agency.

So, how do you sift through your options and find the group that’s right for you? Here are a few tips to help you get started…

1. Start With The Visuals

Even though your brand strategy should be bigger than a simple logo (more on this in a second), it’s undeniable that the visuals of your brand need to be sharp and distinctive.

Or to put things another way, it’s not enough to choose a branding team that has good artistic instincts, but you shouldn’t ever turn your company’s identity over to a designer who can’t give you the look you’re after.

2. Look For The Perfect Fit

When a brand develops perfectly, it’s usually because there is an intersection between three important elements: the personalities of the business and its directors, the mindset of the creative team, and an understanding of the target market.

When any of these is in conflict – for instance, when stakeholders can’t get along or there is a lack of knowledge about the desired customer base – brands tend to go off track quickly.

3. Develop And Use A Brand Strategy

Even though the basics of your brand might begin with logos and color schemes, your overall approach should include a distinctive voice, consistent messaging themes, and even elements like the types and sizes of images that are used on your website and in printed collateral materials. That’s not going to happen by accident.

Work with your creative team to develop a written brand strategy that outlines who you want to be, what you want to say, how you want customers to feel. Then, refer back to it is you move forward with your marketing.

4. Let Your Brand Grow And Evolve

No matter how well you plan out your branding efforts, you are almost certainly going to come to a point where you’ll need to change the way you express yourself. Perhaps your business will get bigger, take on new products and services, or even change ownership.

When these kinds of shifts take place, you shouldn’t start over from a branding standpoint, but rather take advantage of the opportunity to tweak your identity and present a fresher face to the market.

The best brands are reinforced again and again over time, to the point that customers come to associate them with quality, value, or even happiness. But, establishing that kind of identity takes experience and a penchant for creative thinking.

So, follow these four tips and make sure you find the perfect branding agency for your business to work with.

Contact Avex Designs today to learn more about our branding and digital creative services.

Festivals Season in Canada: Our Concierges Picks

It’s summer time and with it comes Festival season! Our concierges across the country give you their recommendations for a great time, wherever you are.

Calgary Folk Music Festival

The Calgary Folk Music Festival is the consistently one of the best Festivals held in Calgary. Celebrating its 37th year, the festival takes place outdoors on Calgary’s beautiful Prince’s Island Park, steps away from the Bow River. The music is an eclectic mix of genres and musicians from Korea, New Zealand, Australia, the UK, Ethiopia, the US and Canada. July 21st to 24th.

TD Toronto Jazz Festival

The TD Toronto Jazz Festival has become known as one of North America’s premier jazz festivals. What began in 1987 as an eight day showcase of jazz now attracts 500,000 people over 10 days. Attractions include more than 400 performances with over 2000 musicians performing at approximately 50 locations around Toronto. TD Jazz Festival has become a destination event, not just for music lovers but for some of the greatest jazz celebrities in the world, reinforcing its reputation as a leader in artistic excellence and outstanding production standards. June 24th to July 3rd.

TIFF (Toronto International Film Festival)

Founded in 1976, TIFF is now one of the most prestigious events of its kind in the world. Hollywood takes over the streets of Toronto, as celebrities and stargazers roll into town for the Toronto International Film Festival. Familiar faces flood the streets for 11 days during this publicly attended film festival held each September.

Montréal Complètement Cirque

Montréal Complètement Cirque is a Festival that brings people together across the city every July with a stunning circus program. For 11 days, Montreal moves to the rhythm of circus arts. Its venues, streets, parks, and sidewalks become stages to showcase colourful, high-flying performances from here and around the world. July 7th to 17th.

Festival d’été de Québec

300 shows, 10 venues and 11 days of music make the Festival d’été de Québec one of Canada’s biggest music festivals. Early July sees international stars and top new talent playing every style of music coming together for a special time in a special place ─ historic Old Québec! There’s music for everyone: rock, folk, hip-hop, electro, French song, jazz, world music and much more! July 7th to 17th

Le Festif

This unique festival features over 60 shows on 14 different sites and 45 different artists. Whether they are world renowned, rising stars or on the Quebec arts scene, these passionate music or circus artists will make Baie-Saint-Paul the most festive summer destination. July 21st to 24th.

Enjoy your summer!

(Photo Credit: Renaud Philippe)

Bring Coastal Christmas Cheer to Your Office

Perhaps you’re looking for fresh ideas to amp up the yuletide spirit in your office this year—something other than the usual Christmas party and karaoke session. Making the holidays special for your employees is a wonderful way to boost team morale, keep staff motivated, and build a sense of camaraderie, all while showing staff that you appreciate their hard work all year long.

At Christchurch Harbour Hotel, we love seeing guests get that warm fuzzy Christmas feeling while sipping mulled wine at our waterfront restaurant, or after they’ve returned from a romantic wintry stroll on the beach, so to keep the coastal Christmas cheer alive, here are our top suggestions for making the holidays extra special in your office.

Give the gift of relaxation

If you’ve got administrative or support staff who help you stay on top of things day in and day out, a box of chocolates or bottle of wine may not convey just how much you appreciate what they do. Instead, why not give a gift that will truly help them to unwind, relax and re-energise? Whether you’d like to give a full spa day or a soothing aromatherapy massage, your employees are sure to love a rejuvenating hour or two at our luxury spa.

Hold a Christmas competition

Rather than the usual Secret Santa affair, get creative with office festivities and hold a Christmas competition among staff. It could be a month-long contest to see who performs the best, or something playful like the best decorated cubicle, but come up with a grand prize like a winter mini-break or a New Year’s Eve getaway so that your colleagues really get into it!

A change of scenery

Instead of throwing your annual party at the office or in your local pub, invite employees to an elegant Christmas party at Christchurch Harbour Hotel. All December long, we hold Christmas party nights with a decadent festive dinner menu and all-night dancing. It’s the perfect opportunity to glam up your office’s holiday celebrations, and with our scenic coastal location, your colleagues will certainly feel the Christmas cheer.

Even the smallest gestures of appreciation can go a long way towards creating that wonderful Christmassy feeling at your workplace, whether it’s inviting colleagues out for a quaint afternoon tea, or if you’re throwing a full-on holiday bash. For more information on hosting your Christmas office party or any corporate event at Christchurch Harbour Hotel, contact us today.

Holiday 2016 looking good for Digital Marketers

The holiday shopping season is in full force, and if the headlines are any indication, things look super optimistic for digital marketers.  “Cyber Monday Sales Jump,” says a Fortune article posted on November 29th. “Black Friday Limps Toward Oblivion as Online Shopping Takes Over,” says a Bloomberg article posted the day after Turkey Day.  It’s no surprise that shoppers are getting savvier. After all, who wants to wait in long lines and fight for deals at brick-and-mortar locations? The chance to reduce the need for such inconveniences seems to be part of what’s driving the continued surge in online orders on Thanksgiving (the day before Black Friday). Some telling stats cited in the above articles include:

Now that Cyber Monday is behind us and the dust has settled, we wanted to look at some of our own data. Specifically, we wanted to review the year-over-year (YOY) changes in data for our larger retail clients over the period covering Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday. Here’s what we found.

Total Site YOY stats comparing 2016 to 2015:

While these numbers are very positive, they don’t paint as precise a picture for marketers as we’d like to see, certainly not from a Performance Marketing perspective. To increase clarity and better understand the actionable implications, we need to drill down into the details. While we obviously can’t call out specific clients, we can share that the following stats are based on analysis of more than 900 million impressions and 23 million visits over the largest shopping weekend of the year.*

A Performance Marketing Take on Cannes Lions

I was very fortunate to represent iProspect at the Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity this year and bring back insights from the event for both my clients and colleagues. I was initially skeptical about how much of the festival’s creative-focused content would directly apply to the very data-driven work we do for our clients on a day-in and day-out basis; but I figured out pretty quickly that most of the creative and brand advertisers there were asking the same question, only in the opposite direction. They wanted to know how data might be limiting creativity, and how we can best work together so that data improves creativity instead of compromising it.

To understand both viewpoints, we need to explore why anyone would view creativity and data as potentially opposing forces in the first place. We have all seen firsthand how data can help transform business outcomes by enabling us to optimize our campaigns in real time and measure the impact. Creativity, on the other hand, is a piece of the puzzle that is much more about unstructured play and spontaneity. There’s an element of magic to good creative – it’s hard to define, but easy to spot. The best creative work rests on a simple, underlying truth to which the audience can relate and which engages them in your story. While data can surely help us find that truth, too much formalized process and over-analyzed data can also spoil the magic. At the core of the debate is a simple question: how do we successfully blend the art and science of creative and data, and how much data is enough versus too much to fuel creative thinking?

iProspect hosted a panel titled “You’re Speaking My Language” on this very topic featuring industry experts from Carat, Google, Tumblr, Facebook, and Mattel and moderated by our President of Americas Misty Locke (@mistylocke_iP). While there was plenty of spirited debate, overall the panelists agreed that data is a valuable part of the creative process that can inspire your storytelling. The amount of data needed differs based on who you ask, but often a simple insight or data point from your own research can suffice as the foundation for good storytelling. On the flip side, too much data can cause “analysis paralysis” and prevent you from getting creative, so a healthy balance is in order.

Regardless of how much or how little data informs your initial creative strategy, the panelists agreed that it’s important to have a continuous data loop between data and creative once your ideas go to market so you can continuously refine and test your original concept. There was also unanimous agreement that creative can – and should – impact data strategy. Knowing how and what to measure is in part defined by the story you’re trying to tell and the medium and stage you’re using to tell it. Maintaining the data loop is challenging. Sometimes it breaks down, meaning you can’t accurately correlate creative impact to performance in your data output. This usually happens when you fall into common measurement pitfalls like relying on last-click attribution in digital or working with attribution models that lack in-store or offline data.

At iProspect, we like to say that the rate of change in advertising is always getting faster, so the rate of change is at its slowest point now compared to anytime in the future. The one constant is that good advertising comes down to knowing your consumer, knowing your business, and being a good storyteller. Data can help us learn more about the consumer, understand our impact on the business more clearly, and improve our storytelling potential. At the same time, crafting stories is a creative process, so we must respect the craft and nurture an environment of creativity by occasionally taking a step back, allowing ourselves to think big, and challenging ourselves by asking why we’re doing what we’re doing in the first place. Ultimately, Cannes Lions was a reminder to everyone that data and creativity aren’t just related to each other, they depend on each other.