online marketing

REAL Teamwork Makes the Social Dream Work


I come from the nightlife industry, which is essentially "Try Anything 101". Those in nightlife spend endless amounts of time and money testing new features and opportunities in social media extensively. Now in most cases, the testing is flawed because they don't have a business background and can't fully understand the delicate balance between advertising and assault but one thing is certain; if you see nightlife people doing something on social media you've never seen before, it's coming to an industry near you.

This is no more evident than in the gratuitous use of staff members in social media marketing. Back in 2008 (yes, 11 years ago) I opened up a nightclub and pretty much banked its entire success on the staff. We made videos, bios, had them post about the club, and featured them in as many pictures as possible. The crazy thing is ... it worked! We were packed.

However, nightlife has—much like they do with everything—taken things too far. Staff are now forced to post on behalf of the club. Yes, forced! I suspect this is because nightlife entrepreneurs generally don't like spending money and because they want to blame failure on their staff "not doing it right". A dirty little secret of the industry is that everyone is planning for failure because it's an industry without a standard.

Staff Buy-In

There is a valuable lesson here though. Staff buy-in is a huge piece of marketing online. It's one thing for you to say you're awesome as a brand, but for the people who work for you to say it is a huge bonus! However, you can't force them to post 2 or 3 times a week, or whatever other ludicrous ideas you have. Consumers are savvier than ever. What you need to do is give your staff reasons to post about your brand, make it easy for them, and reward their dedication.

Here are some key points to get you started:

  1. Get your staff together and ask them for ideas and a media shoot.

  2. Use those ideas in a constructive way.

  3. Advertise those ideas and use the media from the shoot, showing off your staff.

  4. Setup a group on each medium you advertise on with all of your staff. When you have something important to say, make that post easily accessible and ready for sharing.

  5. Each month, at your staff meeting, reward those who made whatever impact you'd like to measure.

  6. Repeat.

To give you an idea of the impact this can have, here's a bit of a case study.

Case Study: Facebook Ads

We represent a real estate brokerage with several dozens of agents. There is a month post that goes out on Facebook with a $1000 spend. The average reach of that post is usually about 218,000. The average interaction is roughly 600. This is with no staff buy-in. When 4 staff members are engaged on $1000 we got 322,049 reach and over 1000 interactions. With 12 staff members engaged on $1000 we got 518,001 reach and over 1500 interactions. See where I'm going with this?

Now, the goal is 200,000 reach and the max spend is $1000. If we had reliable buy-in we could cut that budget by $100 each month and still get the same reach. If all of the staff bought in that $1000 would become $0.

Tell me again why staff buy-in isn't near the top of your priority list?

If you need help with your ads or any digital marketing, let's talk.

The Perfect Promotion: According to 1,200 Facebook Users

Sync Digital Solutions - 2018 Survey

Every year around this time we complete a poll of roughly 1,200 users on a social media platform. For 2016 - 17, we set out to learn what makes a user click on an ad. For 2015 - 16, we learned that while video may get more views, if you want to make a point that can be digested and remembered, then you want to produce a winning graphic. For 2017 - 18, we set out to determine what the perfect promotion looks like.

Here's who we polled:

  • 1,200 Facebook users.
  • 50% Male, 50% Female.
  • 20% 18 - 28, 20% 29 - 40, 18% 41 - 50, 7% 51+, 45% Unknown
  • 1,000 users were consumers.
  • 200 users were marketers, promoters, agency leads, and business owners.

The questions that we asked of consumers:

  1. What drives you to make a purchase for an event online? Service? Product?
  2. What is the optimal amount of time you need to know about the event, service, or product in order to make a purchase?
  3. What mediums influence your purchases most?
  4. How much does peer visibility matter in your purchasing decision?
  5. What kind of content will drive you to make a purchasing decision?

The questions that we asked of marketers, promoters, agency leads, and business owners:

  1. How much do you spend on average each month for a single event, product, or service campaign?
  2. What do you consider good total online ROI?
  3. Rank these online platforms by effectiveness for your single campaigns; Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, and LinkedIn.
  4. How much time do you usually give a promotion online?
  5. When marketing an event, service, or product, what content do you typically use?

Consumer Answers

What drives you to make a purchase for an event online? Service? Product?

The top 3 answers to this question covered 97% of responses; attached to celebrity or meaning, peers getting involved, and a creative approach. When asked about celebrity or meaning the respondents said that celebrity culture is alive and well, so having a celebrity as a part of the experience is key to getting their attention. Short of celebrity, meaning is important. Meaning is defined in this case as the event, service, or product providing a unique entertainment or educational experience that triggers curiosity or fills a need. Regarding creativity; text posts won't do, using the same graphics over and over won't do, and not having a unique hook is detrimental to success.

What is the optimal amount of time you need to know about the event, service, or product in order to make a purchase?

Interestingly, the responses for our 3 classes of purchases were very different. For an event, respondents said they would like to hear about an event a few months out and then get reminders that probe them to finally buy. For many the decision to go out is quite involved; time off work, organizing people to attend with, perhaps finding an outfit, planning more around the event to maximize time out, and deciding on logistics. This applies to large events such as an arena concert or big play. For smaller events, the optimal time for promotion is 7-weeks. Consumers felt that this was enough time to hear about, be reminded about, and plan for a small event. However, consumers did state that with smaller events such as club shows or small productions, those in charge of marketing must be aggressive because they don't care as much about attendance, and will likely make a purchasing decision at the last minute.

A stat that shocked us was the lead time for a product or service purchase. Of those that responded, well over 80% said their purchasing decisions in this case are generally within an hour of seeing the product or service online or identifying the need for the purchase. This speaks to the power of the internet. Many said they are online looking for something to do, so when they see a product or service that interests them, they will do the research on the spot and make a decision. Large purchases though, are a different story. Anything over $150 requires thought and consultation. This is why remarketing is so important, because each respondent said that without a reminder to investigate the potential purchase they will likely forget and move on to something else.

What mediums influence your purchases most?

By order of importance:

  • Facebook
  • Word of mouth
  • Google
  • Instagram
  • Pinterest

How much does peer visibility matter in your purchasing decision?

Through this poll we have identified peer visibility as the #1 factor to drive a purchasing decision when it comes to events, products, and services. You only need look at the previous answers to see why. In the vast majority of decisions, a purchase can fall flat if a peer is disengaged. Think about it; if your go to friend isn't interested in the event you want to attend, you'll likely plan something else. If trusted sources tell you a product fell short of expectations, you're likely to find an alternative. If a service isn't as advertised, and the word of mouth gets out, you're likely sunk.

71% of respondents said they are more likely to interact with an advertisement if a friend has interacted or if a friend brings it to their attention. This is why likes, comments, and shares are so important in this modern world of marketing. It also helps identify why TV, print, and radio are no longer effective sole means of advertising. There is very little peer interaction.

What kind of content will drive you to make a purchasing decision?

These answers may surprise you:

  1. An Appealing Graphic: Appealing is defined as having a beautiful design with easy to read text, that is straight to the point. This tells us that marketers should be making text pop from the background, following design trends that work with branding instead of sticking to staunch branding, and say it in as few words as possible while being very direct.
  2. Photos of Peer or Celebrity Interaction: Putting those that people identify with in your ads will drive sales.
  3. Video: There is a caveat here; the video has to be under 1m 30s. Through the poll and analyzing data we have found a nearly 80% view rate drop off on videos over 1m 30s unless the content is news. Some other notes: the video must be funny, emotional, or dramatic, it must contain b-roll, and you'll get more views if a man is speaking about serious subjects or a if a woman is presenting something emotionally or comically driven.
  4. Quality Google Listing: A Google listing with qualifiers, catchy text, and call to action (CTA).
  5. Good Reviews: Reviews matter, although we did a poll in 2015 that shows data which suggest reviews matter less in 2018. Many are aware that trolls exist online and have a problem with everything, so they don't trust a lot of negative reviews. On the flip side, they're aware companies do bolster positive reviews as well. The key to trusted reviews is when the reviewer presents detail, seeing names of staff, and genuine language.

Marketer's Answers

How much do you spend on average each month for a single event, product, or service campaign?

For an event, the spend was far less than what would be required to capture the attention of the audience based on current ad numbers. Marketers said they spend on average about $300 on events, while aggressive budgets are closer to $2000. Remember, consumers said that marketers must be aggressive to capture their attention.

Interestingly enough, 62% of respondents said they don't get the reaction online they are looking for with their events. That's not to say that spending more money will solve the problem but there is a clear divide in the numbers.

For products and services, on average, marketers spend about $30/day online. These are great small to mid sized local market budgets, but if you're relying on advertising to get the word out to large local markets or outside of targeted borders then the spend would need to increase.

What do you consider good total online ROI?

Respondents had to think about this question for quite some time. Online ROI breaks down to interaction, response, and action. Marketers are looking for about 10 likes (interaction), 5 comments or shares (response), and 1 message or sale (action) per $20 spend. The majority of respondents were also aware that marketing is about awareness. That said, they look at 35% of their spend as being put towards awareness. So for every $100 spent the expectation (with the right messaging) is 50 likes, 25 comments and shares, 3 sales or messages.

Rank these online platforms by effectiveness for your single campaigns; Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, and LinkedIn.

  1. Facebook
  2. Instagram
  3. LinkedIn
  4. Twitter
  5. Pinterest

It is important to note that the platforms marketers consider most important in order of relevance do not match those stated by consumers.

How much time do you usually give a promotion online?

In general, for events marketers give roughly 3 months for large events and 3 weeks for smaller events. For products and services, they will market these on an ongoing basis. This also does not line up with the consumer data.

When marketing an event, service, or product, what content do you typically use?

Marketers say they try to use video but creating consistent content can be taxing, and their video campaigns are usually not strong. Graphics are the go to, but many say they don't adapt their designs to the platform and weren't even aware this was needed. In general, it would appear that content is not the focus of most online marketing strategies, but is central to success.

Need help with online marketing? Contact SYNC, and let's talk about how we can get you on track.

Written by Jay Hall, Chief Strategist

Is a Viral Video Even Possible for my Small Biz?

Is a Viral Video Even Possible for my Small Biz?

Yes. That's the short answer.

This week's post is going to be a short one, in list format, because I'm hoping that by keeping it simple, some of you out there in the land of wires and iPhones will heed my advice. I see so many companies wasting their time making videos that go nowhere. 

First, let's talk about realities:

  • Your YouTube video is unlikely to go viral. It requires hard work for a brand to go viral on YT, and if you're doing it yourself, you probably don't have the time to make it happen.
  • You'll have a better chance for success on Facebook. In fact, the social network is the best place to post if you want a video to go viral. Post the video natively to your Facebook Page.
  • Personal videos (videos made by an individual) have a better chance of going viral.

Now, here's the tricks:

1. Broad Interest

You'll need to create a video that is more broad than your offering. For example, if you are a restaurant that has great community involvement, consider producing a video about the community. If people start sharing it, they'll be sharing your brand as well. I did this for a Facebook page to promote events in Winnipeg. Here's that video.
Spend: $0

2. Be Unique

Your concept should be unique if you're trying to sell something. In the case of Fun Mountain, we created a Halloween event that capitalized on the zombie fad. This was unique because the park had never done an event in the off-season, and the video went viral because of the unique advertising angle. In fact, it was the most viral video in Facebook history promoting a product or service in Manitoba. That is, until it was beaten by another video we did for Fun Mountain. However, that was linked to a contest, so we still call this one the winner, and so does Facebook.
Spend: $225

3. Never Release Video Just Cuz

Don't release video of you and your employees stocking the shelves. That's what Snapchat is for. Viral video needs a hook, and it needs to capitalize on something happening in the world or your market at that moment. This is a video we created for a first year music festival.
Spend: $100

4. Figure out Your Audience & Pay to Play

You should target your video towards those who would love to watch what you post. They'll take care of the broad reach from there. Pay a few hundred dollars to get things going, then continually fine tune your audience as you start to see trends in your insights and analytics. Remember, broad subject whenever possible, targeted audience whenever possible. Here's a great take on what could have been just another boring auto ad.
Spend: $500

5. Involve as Many People as Possible

For small businesses with small budgets, the key is to get as many of your staff, customers, and brand loyalists involved whenever you can. This gives you an opportunity for free advertising, and free viral reach.

Virility Can Be Yours!

This is a starting point, and will get your pointed in the right direction. If you want to learn all of the tricks and methods of Online Marketing, take our training course. It starts with a free 45-minute consultation to call to see if you are a good fit for our program.

Written by:
Jay Hall - Chief Strategist

How To Be Successful Online

How To Be Successful Online

I get asked one question in nearly every meeting, or interaction with people in business, “How can I be successful online?” My answer has always, and will always be the same. Before I give you that answer, I’m going to tell you why I believe in this simple principal.

1. Good Offering

What are you offering the world? Is it valuable? Does it work as it should? Is it useful? Can it make an everyday task easier? Your first step to success online is to offer the world a product or service that matters, and functions without much issue. If you offer something to people that truly helps them in some way, you have accomplished the first step of success.

2. Show Off!

Have you ever seen online marketing campaigns for a product or service, but then when you get to their place on the web, you find nothing but indirect memes, and viral videos? I’m going to save you some time. Aside from very rare cases, you are wasting your time and your potential customer’s time trying to garner fans of your page’s content, instead of fans of your offering. You need to show off what you do, what you are, and what you produce! There are 1,000,000+ ways to do this, and you need to focus on those. If you own a restaurant, show off food, drink, and ambience. If you own a car dealership, show off your inventory and service record. If you own an electronics store, make people fall in love with your stock. That’s why people online are seeking you out. 

3. Take Time to Craft Your Online Relationships

So, you have a slick site, you’re on social media, and you’re ready to show off your amazing product or service; that’s fantastic! But then you get busy. Accounting needs to be taken care of, staff need direction, hiring and firing, inventory needs to be ordered, customers need your attention … the list is long of daily duties that take priority over marketing. You just don’t have time to deal with notifications, messages, and growing your network. So, your online marketing sits in moth balls, only getting occasional attention. At this point you might as well not have bothered being online at all (as if that’s even an option). 
You need to nurture your online marketing. After all, people are looking to you for your expertise. Would you leave someone waiting at your counter for an answer longer than you should? Of course not.

Accept this simple fact: Online marketing is a full time job. Get realistic about what you have to do. Each and every business NEEDS someone paying attention and continually crafting your online presence. Of course, I would prefer it be my digital advertising agency, Sync, but, no matter what get someone dedicated to this job. It’s the ONLY WAY you’ll see ROI. Whether you employ someone or you work with an agency, if you have a business, you need someone in this role.

4. Don’t Get Hung Up on the Wrong Details

Just like in the real world of marketing, we can get hung up on the shiny things in life. What’s more critical to your success? Having the best offerings available for customers, or making sure the display has lights, nobs, and blows minds? In the beginning, it’s all about the product or service. Later, when you grow, maybe then you can worry about the flash, but for now, put your product first and be ready to answer questions.

My peers will kill me for saying this, but don’t go get a fancy, custom website. Don’t go out and pay thousands for graphics. Don’t sign up for every app that can “do something better FOR you”. It’s not worth it in the first few years. Until you don’t have to think about the marketing dollars you’re spending, don’t spend more. Whatever you dedicate to spend in month one is what you should be comfortable spending for the next few years (or until you grow quite a bit).

5. Branding

Many feel branding is just a gimmick. They’re wrong. How do I know? We’ve worked with hundreds of companies, and the ones that are successful online care about their branding. I’m shocked by the number of business owners I meet with that don’t have a logo for their company. Colours matter, fonts matter, making sure your advertising across the board is unified matters. Now, we’re not a branding company, so we can’t help a lot here (just the basics) but it is fundamental to your success.

6. Pair With Your Niche

Do you go to trade shows? Would you like to? Are you a part of network meetings? Do you know your competition? Have you ever read a trade mag? The principal of knowing your industry and who functions within it is just as important online. Take to the forums, and interact with stories that matter. Your customers are paying attention to this information.

A great example is a restaurant we were working with. When evaluating their online presence we came across a post on a popular industry site. There was but a lone picture of a dish, beautifully prepared, and everyone wanted to know where they could get it. 83 commenters, and no one knew because after all, it was just a random picture on some Winnipeg forum. 83 comments = 83 potential customers. Talk about your wasted opportunities. The post was made in 2013, and it was now 2015. By the time we took over the account and posted on the forum there were only a few members still active. 83 potential customers not nurtured = 4 potential customers.

7. Make it Easy to Buy

It’s very clear to me that many business owners are still fighting the digital revolution. Yes, this blog is being written in 2016, and still so many business owners are fighting the future. If that’s you, please stop. It’s time to get on board because it’s happening with or without you. Whatever you sell in your store, you need to sell online too. In business you need to remove barriers for customers, and not having your products online is a barrier. Why don’t you like money?

8. There’s No Timeline

The second most common question I get is, “When can I expect to see some results?” This may sound like marketing jargon, but I actually don’t know. Of course, I can make an educated guess, but a guess is exactly what it is. There are far too many variables. How active are your competition? How old is your industry’s digital foot print? How much have you done so far? What kind of traffic does you industry get? The list is long. What any digital marketing professional can promise is that you’ll see ROI in ways traditional marketing can’t duplicate. For more on digital ROI visit this article.

My answer? 

Earlier I said that I’d give you my one line answer whenever I’m asked what makes for a successful business online. Here it is: “You’ll only be successful online if you apply the same principals that made you successful in the first place.”

Nurture your online business, and treat it, not as an extension of your brand, but rather as you would treat the rest of your business. I know that can be a hard pill to swallow. However, what we’re talking about is your livelihood here. 

Looking to expand your brand online? Learn more about how SYNC can help get you on track online. Let's talk ...

Written by:
Jay Hall - Chief Strategist

Understanding Digital Marketing

I have several meetings each week that reach the inevitable question, "So what kind of sales do you guarantee as a digital marketing agency?" It's a frustrating question for many in my industry. While it's not out of line for a client to expect ROI, I do find that traditional marketing guys have created an unrealistic expectation for the digital cowboys.

Marketing is a process of planning and implementing an overall vision that attempts to connect buyers with sellers. We do this through advertising, strategic planning, market research, and frequency. Typically marketing has essentially been the planning of a promotion, and then strategic placement of advertising in the big four mediums—newspapers, magazines, TV, and radio.

When marketing professionals put together a plan, they looked at the numbers given to them in terms of reach by the advertising agencies (ie: a circulation of 100,000, or 25,000 listeners). Then came digital, and the world changed. Now the big four are scrambling to figure out how they too can adapt to digital. But why? What does digital have to offer that traditional marketing doesn't?

The answer comes in the form of ROI. While digital marketing agencies can't guarantee a certain number of sales as a result of each ad—much the same as traditional marketers—digital does allow you to understand how ad dollars are spent in a more efficient and detailed manner. Digital offers you the ability to not only understand reach, but what that reach is doing with your ads.

Spending Dollars Effectively

When someone picks up a newspaper, what do they do? Read. Are they reading the ads? Possibly. However, more often than not they are catching the headlines and your ads are forced into their path.

With digital, you can make sure that every dollar is spent only when that a person shows interest. It's called CPC (Cost-Per-Click). On Facebook, you don't have to pay unless someone actually likes your page, or clicks on your content. That like or click is interest. Now, not only have you presented advertising that has garnered some interest, you have in many cases retained that person into your network. They will now see future messages.

What's This ROI I Speak Of?

So if digital marketing folk can't guarantee sales, what kind of ROI exists? Well it all starts with content. When digital content is pushed out, it's measured. First, reach is tracked person-by-person. Instead of getting newspaper numbers such as a circulation of 100,000, you get the exact number of people that actually laid eyes on your ad. Then you get those "interest" numbers. Stats are given regarding how many people clicked, liked, shared, etc. In some cases, the amount of time they spent digesting your content is also statistically presented. Then there's the big pay off in the form of reaching out.

If one hears a radio ad, sees an ad on TV or in print, they can't interact instantly with the content. Messages, comments, sharing and other means of communication give you instant access to an interested, and potential customer.

Sure, it's not a guaranteed sale. However, digital does get you closer to the customer than ever before. Once the marketing gets them there, it's up to the client to close a deal.

Looking to expand your brand online? Learn more about how SYNC can help get you on track online. Let's talk ...

Written by:
Jay Hall - Chief Strategist