sync digital solutions

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.

Top 5 Digital Marketing Myths of 2018 (So Far)

In an industry as new as digital marketing there are bound to be some fallacies portrayed as truth. Some are routed in some sort of truth, others are laughable at best. Tap into the truth right here, right now with Sync Digital Solutions!

01. My Following Count Should Stay Low

I know a lot of business owners that believe they have should have many more followers than they are following. I hate to break it to you but unless you have a huge brand or are a celebrity, that's just not going to happen. You should be aggressive in your network growth strategies to get your name out there. Eventually, you might be able to eclipse your following with thousands more followers but everyone has to start somewhere.

PRO TIP: Keep your following equal to or less than your followers and don't sweat these types of details. There's no business advantage to keeping your following low.

02. No Website Needed

I've heard that all you need is a Facebook page, and websites are a thing of the past. Nay! Think of your website as your storefront or virtual brick and mortar business; or to put it another way, your website provides the details a customer probably needs to make a purchasing decision.

PRO TIP: Your website should be where all information flows (social, SEO, ads, etc). Build landing pages, get comprehensive, and take your digital marketing seriously.

03. Digital Marketing Doesn't Work for B2B

Well, Sync Digital Solutions got our start on LinkedIn. Of our first 10 B2B clients, 8 came from social media. Point made?

PRO TIP: Digital Marketing is like any other form of advertising, if you can find a natural fit for your brand in a way that stands out, rock on!

04. Mobile Users Don't Convert

2004 called and they want their stereotype back! At one point, mobile users didn't convert because they weren't as comfortable on mobile as they are today. Now, on most days more people are surfing and buying on mobile than desktop so please, if you're going to attempt to win the internet ... give mobile some serious thought.

PRO TIP: If you want to reach mobile users during their purchase decision, make sure that you optimize all platforms for mobile—especially your website.

05. Landing Pages are a Waste

I had a business owner argue that landing pages are just a way for agencies to charge more. In reality, landing pages are a way of customizing your message and tracking the successes of various campaigns. You need landing pages, or you'll waste a lot of money on campaigns you won't be able to interpret.

PRO TIP: Do not run ads without landing pages!

As always, if you need help with your digital marketing, reach out. We'd love to talk to you about getting ROI out of online.

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