jay hall

Tell Captivating Stories on Instagram

Instagram Stories (and to a lesser extent, Facebook Stories) have become a major tool in a brand's digital marketing tool kit. However, there are some really ugly Stories out there so I've put together a list of the top 4 apps we use at Sync Digital Solutions for Story-telling.

Mojo

Mojo

Want to create video Stories? Then Mojo, a video editing app, is for you. 

Videos stand out on Instagram Stories because they're quick, engaging, and fun. But let's be realistic - branded videos can be a lot of work. Luckily, you don't have to stress too much because apps like Mojo make this a walk in the park.

Through Mojo, you'll have access to more than 100 video templates, all of which are 100% editable. There are also hundreds of different text variations to choose from, all of which are fully animated and customizable.

Mojo is also constantly innovating, coming out with new templates and text styles every month.

Canva

Canva

Canva is a visual editing app that has it all. Whether you’re a beginner or a Photoshop master, you'll be able to find design gems that'll make your life easier.

While many Stories apps focus on photo editing, Canva is unique because it offers a range of different features. Unlike other apps, Canva offers the ability to create custom graphs in just minutes. The process is quick and painless - you can choose from their wide range of templates, select a diagram you want, input your data, and there you go. You now have a premium piece of content, without even having to pester your design team.

Of course, that's just one of many features Canva offers. The app also provides its users with beautifully designed templates, photos, and icons – all of which can be edited straight from the app.

InShot

Inshot

Inshot gives you the ability to perform a variety of different creative tasks from editing videos to adding funky stickers that will make your Stories stand out above the rest.

With this app, you can confidently edit videos straight from your phone, with advanced features that enable you to adjust the speed, merge clips, cut out sections, and even split up the video.

Inshot also lets you sharpen your audio game, with the ability to add your own music, select tunes from a library, and easily insert voice overs. It's a great way to transform your Instagram Stories into interactive content your audience will want to respond to.

Storeo

Storeo

Tired of trying to navigate the shaky waters of Instagram Stories videos? Then Storeo is the perfect app for you.

Forget clunky videos that restart every 15 seconds - Storeo enables you to upload one seamless video to your Instagram Story automatically cutting it into 15-second increments so you can say and do everything you want to without getting cut off or losing the attention of your audience.

There you have it! Forget huge lists of apps to achieve the perfect look for your Stories, these are the only 4 apps you'll need! If you still need help with anything to do with Instagram, let's talk.

How to Learn about Digital Marketing in 30-Minutes Per Week

We're all busy. That's just a reality of 21st-century professional life. By the time we're done work ... we're done. At Sync, we understand your time is precious so we've put together information in bite-sized portions. Here's the list:

  • We offer 60-second answers to questions we get in our email on Instagram. Follow us for quick tidbits of info.

  • Elaborating in roughly 10-minutes or less on the 60-Second Email Question, Sync has a podcast you can listen to our Apple, Google Play, and Spotify.

  • For detailed info that you can read, our blog is always a great source of longer-form content.

There are a couple of podcasts we all listen to at the office daily. They're both short and to the point. Combine these with the resources we provide and we guarantee you'll have a better understanding of digital marketing:

So there you have it ... digital marketing knowledge in about 30-minutes a week. Have fun learning, and if you need help with any of your digital marketing, just reach out.

The Difference Between Marketing & Sales

I have encountered a weird trend in the advertising marketing lately. I'm thinking it has something to do with client steered conversations and marketing guys with no backbone. We've all been there; a deal is about to close and the client asks for one more thing ... deals closed! You think for a moment, "Can I do that?"

In that moment of the thought you find clarity, but there's food that needs to be put on your table so you bend and say, "Of course." I think it's that very bend that has created the climate we're in.

Just so we're clear, the difference between marketing and sales is quite distinct. Marketing is the creative process that garners a brand interest in the public eye. Sales is the psychological process of leading the public to the close.

In short, marketing gets them in the door and sales teams close the sale. These are 2 very distinct and equally important jobs. Without the people there are no sales. Without the sales there's no marketing money. Expecting a company to have both is like expecting a farmer to also run a successful grocery store; that's just not how things work.

So, next time you're looking for help hire 2 teams. The first will specialize in marketing and make it possible for you to reach critical mass. Then, hire a salesforce that can close. 2 teams, 2 roles, 2 different expectations.

When Something Goes Wrong - A Lesson in Advertising

There are millions of variables when sending out a newsletter or offering a promotion only. First, you have user aptitude. Second, which browser a person uses can greatly impact results (Internet Explorer, I'm looking at you). Third, have they updated their apps or computer? I could likely list off factors all day long, but I'm not here to give you a list. Let's talk about what happens when a problem occurs.

Are you equipped to deal with an issue?

Just last night there was an issue that came up for a client. An unforeseen bug appeared in a live environment that didn't exist in testing. We were able to diagnose the issue within 12 hours and offer a fix. This is because our experienced technical team were able to take disjointed notes from those complaining and create a patch. What do I mean by disjointed?

Here are some samples:

"It's not working. This is stupid."

"I can't get [product]. I click like crazy and it just doesn't do anything."

My favourite though, "My grandson is a computer genius and even he can't figure this out."

Of the 10,806 people to receive the promotion, 15 people had issues and it was due to a small bug with tabbed browsing on out of date platforms such as IE, Chrome, and Safari.

With that said, we've encountered many of these types of issues over the years, and I'd like to offer you a few steps to dealing with the issue:

1. Once the problem presents, if the issue is on a page you control, put up a notice.

2. Be honest and let your customers know you are working on a fix to an unforeseen issue. People respond positively to honesty for the most part.

3. Breathe. You're getting hit from all sides but losing your head will not help anyone, especially you.

4. Consult with your tech team, and look for a fix or at least a work around.

5. Offer the solution on the original form of communication. So, if the issue was on Facebook, offer the solution on Facebook. If the issue came from a newsletter, send a followup.

It is critical to your success that you don't let the issue get you down. In this world of computing there are often going to be issues you never saw coming. No one expects perfection; but they do expect you to be honest and help.

I hope this helps, but if you don't have a tech team to assist you in moments of crisis, please let's talk.

Blog Your Way to Success: 5 Ways Blogging Helps You

Being in business is hard work, and I don't mean to add yet another item to your to do list but alas you should be blogging. Now, some of you might say that you've seen so many "experts" say blogging is a waste of time. Well, here's a real world example for you: We have 58 clients, and of those 11 came from conversations started by a blog. Full disclosure, we sell blogging services but it's only because we believe in the task itself based on our experience.

With a constant stream of new online and technological advancements, an online presence becomes increasingly important. Sure, you're on Facebook, you have thought about an app, there's your branding package, and of course you dust off that trusty LinkedIn account once in awhile. But, blogging can compliment all of your efforts and actually enhance them.

According to recent inbound marketing report, nearly 80% of companies that use blogging as a part of their marketing strategy reported acquiring customers through their blogging efforts. Additionally, 82% of businesses admit that blogging is critical to their business.
— http://www.hubspot.com/marketing-statistics

So let's talk benefits:

1. Exceptional Boost To Search Engine Optimization

All of the major search engines are looking for fresh, relevant content. Blogging is one of the most straightforward and inexpensive methods for offering this content. When a business creates blog posts consistently, they are constantly providing Google, Bing, and the others with fresh content to index. This is also an opportunity for businesses to insert those relevant keywords that consumers will use to search for the types of products or services that the business offers.

2. Develop And Strengthen Relationships With New & Existing Customers

Customer engagement is an immensely important element of online marketing and branding. Blogging provides the opportunity for you to connect with your existing and potential customers. Blogging is a good way to build trust with your target audience through high quality content that they find relevant. With an active comment section, you will also be able to follow the visitors' responses to your posts, and you will be able to respond directly to their comments, which is huge in building trust and relationships.

3. Establish Your Business As An Industry Leader

It doesn't matter how small your business is, blogging is a good way for your business to build trust and establish clout in your industry by providing content that will be viewed as valuable, expert information. In time, posting blogs that are helpful and informative on a regular basis can make you the "go to" resource in your particular niche within the industry, subsequently increasing leads and conversion rates.

4. Connect People To Your Brand

Brand awareness is an immensely important element of marketing and blog posting will allow you to show your followers a personal side of your business that existing and perspective customers will not readily recognize with outbound marketing mechanisms and techniques. Blogging will give others a lucid sense of the corporate standards, business character, vision and the personality of your company.

5. Create Opportunities For Sharing

One of the most powerful benefits of blogging is the opportunity it creates for others to share the link to your blog, creating the potential for viral traffic and exponential market growth. With so many different sharing platforms available, visitors can share the direct link to the blog, tweet it, or email it to a friend. This is the epitome of free marketing.

If you are interested in increasing your online exposure, while establishing yourself as an expert in your industry, then you will definitely want to take advantage of blogging as a marketing strategy. Just blog, and if you need help, let's talk.

RIP Net Neutrality: June 11th, 2018

net neutrality

Doesn't it feel like the net neutrality debate has been going on forever? For those of us who live online, the new FCC rules are just a weak, corporate takeover of the last free space available to us, the people. On June 11th, we will officially lose the battle.

Although the rule was approved in December, entered into the Federal Register in February, and under ordinary circumstances would have taken effect in April, “Restoring Internet Freedom” had one extra step that needed to be taken.

The Office of Management and Budget needed to take a look at the rule because it changed how the industry reported information to the government, and under the Paperwork Reduction Act that authority had to approve the final version.

That approval was granted on May 2nd—the FCC explained in a news release—and June 11th was picked as the effective date “to give providers time to comply with the transparency requirement.”

The Congressional Review Act paperwork filed yesterday means the Senate will soon be voting on whether the rules can stay in place, but the likelihood of that bill passing the Senate and House and getting signed by the President is pretty much nil. Still, the votes will put proponents and opponents of net neutrality in the open and potentially make it an election issue.

Lawsuits alleging various flaws in the process or rule itself may eventually cause it to be rolled back, but that will take years, and lacking evidence of direct harm judges are unlikely to take the rules out of effect while considering the case.

Don’t expect much to happen immediately should the new rule take place; the industry is too savvy to blast out some new, abusive rules under the far more permissive framework established by this FCC. But as before, consumers will often be the first to spot shady behaviors and subtle changes to the wording of marketing or user agreements and spread the news when you see something.

In case you don't know, the end of Obama's net neutrality rules means that ISPs can slow or block any website they want (with notice). They can also up-charge on content. That doesn't seem so bad, right? Well, what if you like smaller niche services that infringe on large services that pay up? You might lose access to the web you love.

No matter what we do, the internet changes forever on June 11th, and there's a good chance you'll be pretty angry about it. Just don't smash your computer. It's the government's fault, not Apple.

Contains an excerpt from this article.

2018 Focus Spotlight: Email Lists

Email Marketing - SyncDS

Let's face it; most of what you own online you don't actually own. At any point social media services can change without notice. Just look at Mark Zuckerberg's latest announcements:

  • Suppressing pages on the newsfeed.
  • Contests are now seen as negatives.
  • Ads are getting more expensive.

So what is a business owner or marketing professional to do in the face of the ever decompressing social landscape? It's time to rethink email lists. Why, you might ask? Well, email lists are all your own. Your CRM might fluctuate in cost but ultimately email is the most reliable form of communication online.

With that, I present to you the 4 reasons you should start growing your email list (as if you need more convincing).

1 - No Social Ownership

You might think that you own your Facebook fans, Twitter or Instagram followers, or your LinkedIn connections, but it's actually those networks that own the digital presence of those people. Think about it this way:

Let's say you have 10,000 Facebook fans, and you attempt a promotion that you don't see as a violation of Facebook's TOS, but they do. Facebook comes in and bans your page. What happens to all of those fans you spent thousands of dollars collecting? They're gone, and all of that work is for not. Or, let's say in a more extreme case, Facebook dies ... say goodbye to all of your fans. Even a glitch could cost you thousands of dollars.

With email you acquire those names, you are in control of how often you contact them, you can keep useable backups, and the list can be used in multiple ways at your own discretion. Starting to see why email is so important?

2 - The Costs Rarely Increase

Facebook Ads have increased by 11,000% since inception in 2004. The cost to reach people via email has increased roughly 45% since that same time period according to the rates at MailChimp. Think about what might have happened had you focused on both this entire time.

The more emails you collect, the more you pay, but that payment structure doesn't fluctuate wildly with increased competition. Take a look at MailChimp's rates here.

3 - Speak Directly to Those Who Care

When someone "opts in" to your email list they are shaking your hand, introducing themselves, and welcoming a conversation. You have their attention until they "opt out", but unlike social media marketing the only barrier to reaching your email list is the person checking their email and clicking on your message.

Since the average internet user checks their email 1 to 3 times per day, that means your reach is a powerhouse method of marketing through your list, and best of all, it won't be hindered by increased costs by the platform you are running your campaigns on.

4 - People Crave Personal Attention

A Facebook ad is general, whereas email is more personal. You can use merge tags to greet your list by name, and the message is something that psychologically feels more intimate than an ad. The trick is to balance sales with usefulness. Don't always sell! At times it is better to provide entertainment or education, showing that you care about your audience.

Whoomp! There it is. If you're not convinced that email is just as important in 2018 as it was in 2008, well then, let me feed this fact to you. If a power apocalypse were to hit us today one of the first communication platforms the government would work on revitalizing is email. So, start building those lists, nurturing, and backing them up onto external hard drives. You won't regret it.

As a side note, this article shouldn't take away from the power of social media. The fact that this article goes out to many different social media networks proves its power. However, social cannot be the only eggs you carry around in your marketing basket.

Need help with email lists and marketing? Contact SYNC, and let's talk about how we can get your email campaigning on track.

Written by Jay Hall, Chief Strategist