• What the New Facebook Update Means for Employment, Housing & Credit Companies

    Change is the only constant in marketing. The new Facebook update regarding employment, housing and credit companies is a perfect example.

    In case you haven’t heard, Facebook settled a lawsuit with the ACLU, which argued that the social media giant’s ad platform allowed advertisers to target users in ways that violated equal opportunity laws for employment, housing and credit. The fallout from the settlement was announced in March of 2019.

    The new Facebook update removes the most obvious targeting methods of Zip Code, Gender, Age, multicultural affinity and any other option that may exclude protected classes of people. What’s come as a big surprise to marketers is Facebook has also put Lookalike Audiences and previously-created Saved Audiences off limits, while also significantly dialing back many of the Interest categories as well.

    Broadcasting vs Narrowcasting

    By removing these important targeting features, the new Facebook update broadens the audience that employment, housing and credit companies can use to advertise. The era of narrowcasting on Facebook is over for these industries.

    Where marketers once had the luxury of delivering ads to specific groups of people who would most likely convert for their products and services, the new policies ensure that a larger slice of the market will be exposed to offers for job listings, housing options and lending offers.

    In essence, Facebook is now as effective as traditional advertising when it comes to targeting demographics who are most likely to be qualified for your service. It’s “digital marketing lite”. A marketer can still enjoy all the benefits of tracking and direct acquisition of a digital marketing platform, without the precision and focus that was once invaluable.

    A Ham-Handed Approach to Equality

    Is this fair?

    For the consumers, there are certainly vast benefits. For one, employment, housing and credit opportunities are now more likely to appear in the feeds of people who may have been excluded from targeting.

    If you are a job seeker or someone who needs financial assistance, it would be unfair – and perhaps even malicious – to exclude you solely based on your race or gender. The old targeting methodology allowed advertisers to exclude you based on assumptions that may or may not be accurate or even appropriate.

    Does it make sense?

    There are good arguments for why the previous policies were better. The broadening of the Age category now makes it difficult for an advertiser – say an elderly living facility, to dedicate more of their budget to reach buyers over the age of 40, who are more likely in need to house an elderly relative.

    The lack of affinity categories also means a marketer loses the ability to target based on behaviors. If you are advertising an employment opportunity that is most likely to appeal to people with specific interests, you could now be flooded with resumes from people who don’t match the characteristics for an ideal candidate. Furthermore, you’re spending more money to reach less qualified people.

    It’s Not the End of the World, Folks

    Facebook is still incredibly powerful. Despite naysayers who suggest that Facebook’s reach is waning, the engagement and usage of  Facebook is still through the roof. Employment, housing and credit companies would be fools to cut the social media giant from their strategy.

    At the end of the day, campaigns are set up as Cost-Per-Engagement or Cost-Per-Click. Although you may be reaching more people, and likely feeding your ad to much less qualified prospects, there is no guarantee they’re going to click on your ad or engage with it in a way that materially blows your budget.

    Facebook has set up new methods to structure your campaigns.

    To start, under the Campaign Name you’ll see a new checkbox for Special Ad Category.

    Upon selecting, you’re given a warning about the new policy and how it might affect any targeting criteria you select for your campaign. Select your industry from the dropdown. Employment, Housing, or Credit.

    You’re given the opportunity to create a Custom Audience (using customer email lists) or a Special Ad Audience. For the moment, Custom Audiences are unchanged, but if you’re trying to reach new customers you’ll select Special Ad Audience.

    You’ll immediately notice the brunt of the new changes.

    Zip code selections are unavailable. You can still use a pin point on a map for Radius Targeting, but the minimum range is +15 miles.

    Age and gender targeting are fixed to 18-65+ and All, respectively.

    For Detailed Targeting, you are now limited only to Interests. Detailed Targeting used to be one of the most powerful features of the Facebook ad platform. Furthermore, the list of Interest categories has been pared way down. What remains is vague and excludes the sorts of lifestyle activities or interests that advertisers relied on to narrow their focus.

    Once you’ve selected the appropriate Interests for your audience, you’re ready to go!

    Copy Is King

    If the new Facebook update seems demoralizing to you as a marketer, you’re not alone. Responses to the changes have ranged from annoyed indifference to outright anger. It even stands to reason that many companies in these segments are exploring other ad platforms to continue targeting like they used to (hello Google!).

    Here is the rub.

    Marketers have to think long and hard about how to structure their campaigns in the new Facebook era. Our advice is to go back to the tried and true methods employed by traditional advertisers for decades: good copy and amazing creative.

    Just because you’re pushing your ads to a broader market doesn’t mean that they’ll respond to them. While your impressions may be much higher, you can reduce unqualified clicks by structuring your ad design and messaging in a way that helps people self-select.

    To go back to our hypothetical about an elderly living facility, a photo with a group of older adults (60+) enjoying lemonade on a patio is most likely not going to be clicked by anyone under the age of 40. A new home development that leads with price (Homes Starting in the $500s!) is almost guaranteed to reduce clicks from people with lower household income or bad credit.

    While this may seem new to some people, it’s the foundation of advertising. You will only stand out if you have good creative and good copy.

    Our advice is to ditch the tired old stock photos and invest in professional photography. Whatever costs you spend on good photos will ultimately be recouped with more qualified leads and less expensive clicks. Similarly, you won’t be able to get away with uninspired ad copy. Get creative. Think about your audience.

    Just because the new Facebook update rewrites the rules for employment, housing and credit companies, that doesn’t mean you won’t get amazing results with the platform. You just have to try a little harder. With a little effort, you may actually see your results improve.

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    Need a team to take your social media to the next level? Give us a call. We’re here to help.

     

  • Q&A With Jordania Nelson of Divining Point

    We sat down with Jordania Nelson, Divining Points’ Digital Marketing Specialist and master of all things related to PR, social media and content. She shared a few tips for business owners and let us know what she loves most about working in Austin.

    You’ve been in marketing for awhile now. Tell us what led you down this career path.

    Originally, I went to school to be a reporter and ultimately wanted to be a news anchor. I was working in the newsroom, and honestly I hated it. I was hired on as a reporter and was also on the assignment desk at the same time. I was getting a lot of press releases, so I had the chance to see both sides of it. I decided to focus on public relations and graduated with a Public Relations and Advertising degree.

    So this was a better fit for you?

    I feel like going into PR and digital marketing was a better direction for me, and they were very much the same in many ways.

    How has your experience prepared you for what you’re doing at Divining Point today?

    We manage public relations and write press releases for our clients, so having that background helped me with copywriting and content. Essentially, selling an idea.

    So you understand what is newsworthy, and from the perspective of a marketer you’re able to translate that into what you’re doing for clients today?

    Exactly.

    What do you see happening in digital marketing these days that excites you the most?

    The only constant in Marketing is change. Anticipating those changes at all times, diving into new trends in marketing, and researching new things every day. That’s exciting to me.

    Do you see anything happening that is important for business owners to know today?

    Organic is diminishing, and it’s mostly all paid reach today. When I first started marketing you could still get quite a bit of reach with organic. Now there’s so much clutter, it’s not as powerful as it used to be.

    How is that helpful for businesses in today’s market?

    I think it’s important for clients to know that social media is branding, and yes, you’re going to get organic traffic from it, but ultimately you need to pay to see real results. It’s just not the same these days without a budget behind it.

    What’s one of the biggest mistakes you see businesses making with regard to their marketing?

    Assuming that they’re going to get results right away. Sometimes businesses make the mistake of putting money in, not seeing immediate results, then cutting budget right away. It’s not a week’s process. It’s not even a month’s process. It takes six months to a year to see growth. My advice is to manage your expectations and be patient.

    Let’s pivot to over to something more personal… You’re a bit of a travel nut, and you’ve had the chance to roam around the US a bit. Having lived in other cities, what do you enjoy most about working in Austin?

    The first thing that comes to mind is the food! We have amazing food here, and if I could have my dream job it would be to write about food all day!

    Other than that, I think it’s the variety of people here in Austin. Whenever I go out the conversation usually starts with “Where are you from?”. If someone answers “Austin”, they’re a unicorn. I love the cultural mix here and learning about where everyone is from.

    What advice would you give to someone who wanted to move here and maybe start a career in marketing?

    Since it is such a large tech hub, I would say get as much experience as you can before coming here. It’s pretty competitive. Do your research and learn as much as possible. If employers see that you are up to date, that will go a long way to getting hired quickly.

    Okay, and for any business owner who might be reading this, what are a couple tips you would give them to step up their marketing?

    Definitely hire experts! Don’t think you can do it alone… and maybe you can, but you shouldn’t, because it’s so time consuming to do it right and stay focused on your business. That’s a really big one.

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    Need to a marketing team so you can stay focused on what matters most? Give us a call. We’re here to help.

  • How Facebook’s Ad Updates Can Heat Up Your Social Media This Summer

    Facebook has always been quick to roll out new features on a consistent basis, and May has proven to be no different. While every Facebook Ads update may not require its own spotlight, this month’s changes are steep enough to impact your ad results just in time for the summer season.

    Whether you just got used to the old Facebook Ads platform, or you’ve been using the tool for years, the most recent update is easily adaptable and potentially performance enhancing. Check out these Facebook Ads update tips to help navigate the new layout and see what else is new for a summer of success.

    Streamlined Navigation

    As a marketing agency who has used the Facebook Ads platform for years, we can agree the design and user experience wasn’t Facebook’s strong suit. The new Facebook Ads update is designed to do more in less time with a streamlined workflow and updated design– YES. No longer are you frantically searching for your campaigns and ads. Much like Google Ads, they are now easily organized by Campaign, Ad Sets, and Ads with a trackable navigation.

    The new interface also allows for improved campaign management, putting your mind at ease. The cleaner and more simplified design will allow you to focus on what’s important: Your ad performance. Pulling reports has never been easier with Facebook’s new seamless process and layout, enhancing your overall Facebook Ads experience.

    New Cost Cap Bidding Option

    Another notable feature is Facebook’s new Cost Cap Bidding. This strategy was designed to help maximize cost efficiency while driving volume in the business results you care most about. Sounds like a marketer’s dream, amirite?

    Well, it seems they listened to their users and instead of focusing on maximizing conversion volume or cost predictability, they’ve added a bid option that both controls cost and drives volume. Whether the conversions you’re aiming for are purchases or installs, the cost cap maximizes cost efficiency by allowing you to set the maximum cost per optimization.

    Ad Relevance Diagnostics

    While ad relevance scores aren’t new to Facebook Ads, in 2019 Facebook rolled out a new set of relevance diagnostics with the intention of replacing the relevance score. These new diagnostics separate the relevance score into three categories:

    • Quality ranking
    • Engagement rate ranking
    • Conversion rate ranking

    Rather than merely showing the success or failure of your ads, the new relevance diagnostics help you understand the wants and needs of your target audience. According to Facebook, these rankings will ultimately help advertisers understand whether changes to creative assets, audience targeting or the “post-click experience” might improve performance.

    Automated Ads

    For small businesses who may not have the time or budget to master marketing, this Facebook Ads update may help remove some of that burden. Automated Ads takes the guesswork out of creating effective ads by simply answering a few questions. The Facebook Ads team takes your information and creates a customized marketing plan for you.

    While we would advise you to hire digital marketing experts – like us – to build your Facebook campaigns, this is a good option for small businesses with a tight budget and simple goals.

    Want more tips on the Facebook Ads update or need to step up your social media performance? Give us a call. We’re here to help.

  • 5 Marketing Methods to Help You Succeed In 2019

    It’s a given that the world of marketing moves fast. Every year brings new marketing methods to engage your buyers. 2019 is no exception. Adapting to the new ground rules each year can be dizzying.

    If you skim the search results for marketing trends in 2019 you’ll see that AI, virtual reality and chatbots are still all the rage. For three years (or more) we’ve heard about the benefits of these new technologies. We don’t deny the power of these new systems, but for most companies these are still inexplicable buzzwords that really don’t make sense for their business.

    Rather than promote bleeding edge programs that verge on science fiction, we present 5 marketing methods to help you succeed in 2019.

    Search Is Still Critical

    As we all know, every purchase starts with a need or a desire.

    Sometimes the urge to buy comes from an organic place: the buyer experiences a real world situation that compels them to find a solution for their needs.

    Other times, the demand for a product or service is generated through the artful use of advertising, which introduces the buyer to something they never knew existed.

    In both cases, the buyer starts the process with online research. That inevitably means they rely on a search engine to find information.

    There is nothing new about search. What’s new in 2019 is where people go to do it.

    It’s not enough to simply write blogs and optimize your site for search engine success. People now use Facebook and Twitter to explore new products. They browse through dozens of images on Pinterest and Instagram. They watch videos on YouTube. They even use voice search (“Hey Siri!”) or visual search to find more information about something they’re looking at directly in front of them.

    Is your company poised to capitalize when your buyer is in the mood to explore? The answer is probably no unless you’re engaging in a sophisticated SEO campaign and regularly pushing content across a wide array of platforms. Even so, many business fail to rank where it matters most.

    Our advice is to quit discounting the most fundamental behavior of buyer psychology. SEO, SEM, social media, and content marketing matter more now than ever before. Invest heavily in a multidimensional strategy that leads buyers to you.

    Expect Fragmentation

    For the last 5 years we witnessed a massive consolidation online. Facebook essentially demolished most of the early competitors in the social media world. Google not only dominated the search engine industry, they also lead the way with online video (YouTube) and digital advertising (formerly AdWords, now Google Ads). Amazon continues to break records for online shopping and now competes for music, entertainment and just about everything else.

    But something predictable happened in 2018. People changed how they consume online media. Thanks to the bitter presidential election in 2016, and as a result of privacy violations across the internet, more and more consumers are diversifying where they spend their time online.

    2019 will bring about more fragmentation in online behavior. People are doing more research on sites that cater to their niche interests. They’re opting in to email lists from companies they trust – while flagging as spam those companies they don’t. They consume considerable amounts of video online all over the internet. They read forums (remember those?) and participate on discussion sites like Reddit. Blogs, podcasts, alternative news sites, the list goes on and on. More profoundly, they’re spending less time on Facebook and Twitter, instead opting for Instagram, LinkedIn, Snapchat, Mastodon, Minds, Gab, MeWe, Vero, Signal and more.

    This isn’t to suggest that the Big Three (Facebook, Twitter, and Google) are going anywhere soon. But as personal data becomes a bigger issue for consumers, people will move towards platforms where they can engage with more like-minded users and ensure a modicum of privacy.

    What does that mean for you? Know your audience. Research where they spend their time online and develop a strategy for engaging them all along the way.

    Personalize Your Approach

    You should never send a single email to an entire database of customers. Similarly, you can’t expect a single ad to resonate with all of your buyers. If you speak to all of your customers in the same way you should expect to lose them over time. Buyers are unique. You need to treat them like it.

    Market segmentation is nothing new. Even list segmentation is old news. But are you actually using all of the available tools to speak directly to each individual buyer? Are you appealing to them as individuals and offering them messaging based on their behavior online?

    Remarketing methods, email marketing metrics, Facebook pixel, website behavior tracking… these are but a few of the tools that allow you to analyze the interests and preferences of your buyers. With a CRM and marketing automation platform, you can generate workflows to deliver personalized messages that leads your buyer through the funnel.

    Let’s take this even further for 2019. If you are not developing engaging, original content tailored to the personal preferences of your buyers, you will be missing out on the opportunity to turn customers into brand loyalists. Certainly, buyers buy products because they need them, but brand loyalists buy products because they want them… and they won’t even consider buying from another company. That competitive edge makes your life easier and increases sales.

    Original Engaging Content Means More Than Just A Blog

    Research suggests that the average person is exposed to over 10,000 marketing messages EVERY DAY. Is yours breaking through? We bet the answer is no.

    Everyday people scroll through their social media feed in a somewhat absent minded manner until something stands out. They’re busy. They want to be informed or entertained. They want to be amazed.

    How do you stop the scroll? Make your content awesome!

    If you haven’t taken content marketing seriously up to now, in 2019 you must invest in a strategy that captivates and intrigues your customers. We advise you to think beyond the blog.

    The most engaging forms of content are professional quality photography and video. People by nature are visually oriented. They stop and stare when something captures their attention. This is why billboards are still effective to this day, thousands of years after the first sign was hung for a business. It’s why TV still ranks as the most dominant media form. It’s why YouTube garners billions of users each month.

    We’ll take this even further. If you’re producing brand-related video and photos with a mobile phone it’s highly likely that you’re doing it wrong. Today’s consumers are smarter than that, and they have incredibly high standards for what passes as quality. A poorly lit photo or a sloppily produced video tarnishes your brand. If your product looks less than stellar how does that impact your buyer? It turns them off.

    Diversify Your Ad Strategy

    Earlier on we mentioned fragmentation in media consumption. It’s not that people are no longer using Facebook, Twitter, Google, et al. They’re just not spending as much time there. Much ado has been made about the limited organic reach you get these days on these platforms.

    The cost to reach a greater audience has skyrocketed. It’s a sign of bad times when up to a half of a company’s ad budget goes solely to one company. It’s even more frustrating when these vendors put excessive restrictions on not only WHAT you can advertise but HOW your ad must look.

    The rise in niche sites, independent social platforms, and even new search engines (hello Pinterest!) means there are many more places online to advertise your products. It’s time to explore your options. We’re here to tell you there is life outside of Google and Facebook.

    There are multiple private ad networks that reach industry-specific audiences and capture buyers of niche products. There are influencers and affiliates who can drive sales with a single tweet or shout out in a podcast. And let’s not forget the tried and true standards of the analog ad industry: billboards, radio, TV, magazines, direct mail, and special event sponsorships. All of these methods give you a powerful alternative for reaching your customers.

    Your Brand Still Matters

    At the end of the day you still need a brand. It doesn’t even need to be hip or cute – like so many startups that flood the market. With a strong sense of identity and a good understanding of your buyers, you can use the methods in this blog to reach even more buyers than you did in 2018. While it’s easy to get distracted by shiny new objects like AR/VR and AI, the fundamentals of marketing remain the same.

    What’s changed is the critical requirement to build a diverse strategy. You can’t win the game if you don’t show up to play. Buyers in 2019 will no longer give you a pass for a half-hearted attempt to win their attention. Your New Year resolution should be “Excellence in Marketing”. If you pursue it with intention, you’ll crush your sales goals and succeed while others crash and burn.

    Let Divining Point tackle your marketing strategy, implementation and management. For more information, visit our services page today!

     

  • How To Dominate Your Pinterest Strategy in 2019

    Social media marketing is crucial for brand awareness, customer loyalty, and increasing your overall sales– but we already knew this, right? While Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are strong platforms to utilize, having an active Pinterest account with an effective Pinterest Strategy behind it may be the most valuable tool for different reasons.

    Pinterest currently has 250 million active users. As compelling as this statistic is, we also need to consider how Pinterest is a beneficial tool for SEO purposes, making it a unique and invaluable social platform.

    Here’s how to take advantage of Pinterest’s exclusive offerings for a kickass strategy in 2019:

    Pin Often and Consistently

    Like most social media mediums, having a regular posting schedule is imperative. According to PinCoach, you should be Pinning at least 10x a day. Your Pins should be a mix of native and curated content. Native content is content created from scratch by your brand, while curated content is the gathering of existing content such as blogs, photos, eBooks, etc. RePinning other’s Pins to your boards also shows community engagement.

    Additionally, instead of Pinning all at once, you should Pin sporadically so your content is spread out. Part of Pinterest’s algorithm is based off consistency. Once Pinterest sees you are posting high-quality content that is consistent, your impressions will increase, meaning more users will see your content!

    Allure Your Audience With Vivid Images

    Because Pinterest is such a visual platform – much like Instagram – it’s important to have captivating images. Putting a strong effort towards the quality of your images will make a world of difference.

    Be sure your images are well-lit and in focus. The images you choose are a reflection of your brand imagery, so it pays to put forth extra effort in this regard. .

    Research your industry to learn what kind of images perform the best. For example, in the retail industry instead of posting a photo of the product itself, you can produce 30 percent more clickthroughs and 170 percent higher checkout rates if you use a lifestyle photo of a person wearing or using a product.

    Don’t Forget to Write Detailed Descriptions

    While great images are a necessity, it’s not enough to rely on strong visuals. As we mentioned earlier, Pinterest is a substantial SEO tool. In 500 words, your description should pique your audience’s interest while including keywords. These keywords are picked up by Google, and if you have a strong Pinterest marketing strategy in place, this will ultimately increase your search engine results.

    Writing a solid description doesn’t necessarily mean including a brand name. In fact, 97% of Pinterest descriptions don’t. This is because Pinners are searching for specific terms or items, not brands. Think about humanizing your brand and how your audience is using Pinterest.

     

    Don’t Skip Out on Hashtags

    Hashtags are a great search tool on Pinterest. Hashtags are used to search for the most recent content so you should incorporate both timely and timeless hashtags such as #Christmas and #GiftIdeas. Also be sure to use evergreen hashtags and industry-related hashtags.

    Engage With Other Accounts

    Having a Pinterest marketing strategy is great for SEO, but it should also be treated like other social media platforms. This involves engaging with other accounts including repinning, saving, and liking, other user’s Pins. In turn, this will increase your own engagement.

    Another way to increase engagement is to create a group board where you can invite others in your Pinterest network to contribute with their own pins.

    Use Analytics to Skyrocket Performance

    Monitoring your Pin’s performances can help you learn what’s working and what isn’t. You can then tweak your Pins for optimized results. Be sure to avoid vanity metrics, numbers that are easily manipulated and don’t necessarily provide quality to your brand. Instead, audit which Pins are sending traffic to your website, which should be the ultimate goal.

    Analyzing your successful Pins will also help see how others view your brand and spark ideas for future campaigns. Gaining insight into the demographics and interests of others will assist in providing the right content to the right people.

    With a strong Pinterest Marketing Strategy in place, you can expect to strengthen your brand, drive heavy traffic, and widen product exposure in 2019!

    Need help with your Pinterest Marketing Strategy or other social media management? Contact us today to get started on all your social media needs.

     

  • Facebook Audience Targeting Changes: The Survival Guide

    If you’ve advertised on Facebook in recent years, you’ve seen major changes, through rapid increase—then abrupt declination—of targeting options. As advertisers, we’ve known all along that reaching people based on otherwise intimate details was standard practice on our side of the screen, but Facebook users felt differently.

    No matter if your monthly spend spans several thousands of dollars towards dozens of campaigns or you’re pushing out a few hundred dollars periodically throughout the month, no advertiser is exempt from the effects of the new Facebook audience targeting changes.

    So, what are these changes exactly?

    Following the Cambridge Analytica scandal earlier this year, Facebook started the process of eliminating all third-party targeting options provided by private marketing data companies. You’ve likely seen this warning message if you’ve tried to build new audiences lately:

    Here’s a quick overview of these companies and the data they provided that’s now being removed:

    1. Acxiom: demographics, financials, job role, purchase history
    2. Datalogix (Oracle): auto, purchase category history, demographics, retail purchase history, subscription services
    3. Epsilon: business type, occupation, financials, lifestyle and interests, purchase history

    When is this scheduled to happen?

    The transition began back in May, with additional phases rolling out every few months.

    As of October 1, all third-party data will be unavailable.

    There are still a few months before the final phase, but it’s best to start preparing for this shift as soon as possible. Existing audiences with third-party targeting will be deemed unusable, so now is the time to start rebuilding your audiences!

    Not sure where to start?

    Luckily, Facebook offers a selection of targeting tools outside of these third-party options to make advertising on their platform effective. You can still reach your ideal customer, it just requires creativity.

    1. Interest Targeting: Interest targeting has been a part of Facebook advertising since the beginning, and it’s not going anywhere. It may not be as specific as the third-party data you’re used to using, but it’s still a way to reach your desired customers. Choose common interests that may relate to your product or service, whether directly or indirectly.
      • Pro Tip: If you’re unsure what your customers are interested in, utilize other digital tools (think: Google Analytics) to gather some ideas.
    2. Demographic Targeting: If you know your customers consist of a specific gender, age range or location, use that information to your advantage and eliminate reaching those less likely to convert.
    3. Facebook Engagement: Those audience members who are always the first to like your posts are also likely going to recommend your business to their network, so use them to your advantage. Build an audience around the people who already engage with your business page.
      • Friends of Friends: It’s not surprising that people tend to associate with like-minded people—set your audience targeting to include friends of followers, and continue to build your brand’s network.
    4. Email Lists: If you’ve managed to collect email addresses from existing or potential customers, you can still upload them into Facebook for ad targeting. This method tends to work best for B2C clients, as the email addresses need to be associated with a Facebook profile. It’s as easy as downloading the email addresses and uploading them into your Asset Library. For many companies, this may still be the best bet for doing direct marketing using the Facebook platform.
    5. App Users: Does your business have an app for customer use? If so, you’ve got yourself an additional method of targeting. Choose options as broad as reaching anyone who has opened your app, to as specific as custom segmentation ranging from device type, action, demographic and more.
    6. Pixel Audiences (aka Remarketing): Reach anyone who has visited your website. If you don’t already have a Facebook Pixel coded into your website, there’s no better time than now to get one implemented. Target site visitors based on specific pages they’ve viewed, how much time they’ve spent on your site, and any combination of the two. Your pixel audiences are your most accurate targeting breakdown — you’re reaching the people who have already expressed an interest in your business; so you’re just keeping your brand top-of-mind.
    7. Lookalike Audiences: Once you’ve captured your website’s audience via the Facebook pixel, you can create a Lookalike audience based on commonalities between those audience members.

    Other opportunities to get the most from your Facebook ads

    Targeting is a key factor in your ads’ success, but it’s just the beginning. Here are a few other opportunities you can take to ensure your ads perform their best:

    1. A/B (and sometimes /C) Testing: The best way to know if your ad is performing optimally is to run it alongside one or two variants. Facebook offers A/B testing options when setting up your campaign, so experimenting is an easy way to find the best combination of content and creative for your ads.
    2. Automatic Bidding: As an advertiser or business owner, we don’t often find ourselves with the necessary downtime to make frequent, manual bidding adjustments on our ads. Automatic bidding eliminates the burden and makes the adjustments on our behalf to ensure the best performing ads are prioritized in ad rotation.
    3. Dynamic Ads: Facebook takes remarketing (remember that pixel?) to the next level with dynamic ads by showing your audiences the specific products they’ve recently viewed. With the use of a simple ad template and a catalog of your products saved to your Asset Library, you can keep your products top-of-mind.

    The loss of third-party targeting options makes advertising on Facebook more challenging, but we’re not without hope. By combining old and new targeting tactics, we’re able to find new and creative ways to reach our ideal customer.

    Still not sure how to survive the new wave of Facebook changes? We understand completely. Don’t hesitate to give us a call or contact us.

  • 5 Digital Marketing Methods to Help Upstream Oil & Gas Companies

    The energy industry has seen some tough times. Now that a recovery appears to be upon us, many upstream oil and gas companies are trying to redefine themselves in a new marketing era. Although it’s only been a couple of years since many companies reserved respectable portions of budget for marketing, the marketing landscape has changed – and keeps changing.

    Although conferences and trade shows still dominate oil and gas marketing budgets (somewhere around 30%-40%), many enterprising operators are redirecting sizable chunks of budget that was previously dedicated to print, brochures, collateral, and traditional media. Consumer media consumption has changed significantly over the last 10 years, which is especially true for B2B buyers. Your buyers don’t take off their business hats when they switch to their own personal consumption, and now that they’ve adapted to digital media guess where they spend all of their time doing professional research?

    Digital marketing for upstream oil & gas doesn’t have to be complicated. Think of it like raising awareness about your company, establishing your brand, and driving buyers to your door. By using your website and social media to connect with B2B buyers, you can share your story and deliver technical information to the people who want it most. Below are 5 digital marketing methods that upstream oil and gas companies can develop an online marketing strategy.

    1. Improve Your Website

    By now you know how important your website is to the sales process. Your website is the first comprehensive experience potential buyers will have with your company. Over 80% of people look up a company online before contacting the business or deciding to buy. This applies to the energy industry, too. No matter if you’re selling miles of rebar or barrels of crude, your business must be explained in a compelling way that engages the visitor from the moment they arrive at your site.

    If you’ve had the same website for a couple of years, it’s time for an update, especially to implement a mobile responsive design. People in the oil and gas industry understand that mobile is crucial to growth and they’re investing in it heavily: $8 billion was projected to be spent on mobile oil and gas apps in 2015, and according to Oil & Gas IQ, 71% of workers use mobile devices for work purposes, especially those in field operations, technical roles, and senior decision makers. As you can see, the emphasis on mobile technology is strong and will continue to grow as more industry professionals start using their smartphones and tablets in the field. If you want your site to be accessed by your ideal clients, make sure that it’s designed to adapt to their usage and provides the info they’re seeking. It should be designed to tell your company’s story and provide meaningful ungated content (aka: freely available reading material) so that your visitor doesn’t immediately bounce from the page. If you make it easy for buyers to view your site no matter the device, and find helpful information, they’ll be more likely to pick up the phone and contact you with questions.

    1. Invest In SEO

    SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. In a nutshell, it’s the act of making your website perform better to bring higher quality traffic to your site from search engines. It is pretty well established that engineers and C-level executives read tons of research and market news. Regardless if they read online periodicals or search for information using Google or Bing, your company must claim top ranking at every stop along the way.

    As an owner of an oil and gas company, you’re trying to position yourself as a leader in your field. In the spirit of leadership, you can reach your clients when they seek to answer questions online. To optimize your site’s SEO, your goal is to identify the most likely keywords and long-tail search terms your buyers use to seek out products and services like yours. Using these keywords, your marketing partners can create blog posts, white papers, or articles that bring these engineers and executives to your site. It’s not enough to just optimize on your website, your off-site SEO activities must inspire your buyers to explore your site further.

    1. Bid For PPC

    Pay-per-click (PPC) represents an effective shift in the way B2B companies handle advertising. Instead of pumping tons of money into print advertising, you can now compete for who sees your ads once they’ve searched for terms that are relevant to your industry. This represents a more efficient model to conserve your budget, potentially, since you only pay for the interest you’ve generated from your ads, i.e., the number of people who click your ad.

    For example, if someone searches for “remote monitoring for oil and gas”, you can present an ad that highlights your company’s SCADA solutions for integrating dispersed assets across the oilfield. Once clicked, you can direct the visitor directly to the landing page on your website to lead them further into the funnel. Because PPC allows you to specify which keywords will prompt your ad to show, it won’t show up when someone searches for something like, “remote baby monitor.”

    1. Capture More Leads With Gated Content

    Gated content is highly-valuable data or information for which a visitor to your website is willing to trade their contact information. Putting it simply, in order for the visitor to gain access to this materials they have to pass through a “gate,” such as a contact form, where they provide their name, email, number, and company information. This allows you to capture information about who is visiting your site and generates leads for your sales team to field. Additionally, the gated content sets you up as a thought leader in your industry. The better your gated content, the more likely your ideal client will put their trust and faith in you.

    Gated content, like whitepapers and survey results, is an ideal way to collect info on potential leads. But, before you start requiring all site visitors to fill out a form, grow their trust and appreciation. You can do this by giving away high-quality content that is NOT gated, such as industry-oriented blogs, useful market news, or even special announcements about your company. If your followers see that you offer quality free content they will be more willing to provide their personal details in order to get your gated content.

    1. Social Media

    Nothing confuses oil and gas companies quite like social media. Social media is the place where relationships happen. A research paper by International Data Corporation stated that 84% of B2B C-level and VP-level buyers use social media for purchasing. And, overall, 75% of B2B buyers consult social media when making purchasing decisions. The key to using social media for upstream oil and gas is to choose the right platform. If you’re the CEO, you might use LinkedIn to post a job opening for a rig engineer or share news about your newest drilling rigs. LinkedIn is also a great place to connect with other professionals in the industry to share your knowledge. By joining LinkedIn’s Groups, you can answer questions about the upstream market and establish yourself, and your company, as a thought leader.

    Facebook, on the other hand, is a good platform for providing insight into how your company operates, sharing news about your company culture, job openings, announcing recent hires or photos/videos of your product. Beyond updates about your company, Facebook also makes it easy to share interesting articles about the upstream industry or to re-share posts from your clients, partners, and vendors. Finally, Facebook’s advertising platform is as robust as Google’s pay-per-click Adwords. The vast amount of user data and advanced ads manager make it easy to directly target your potential buyers and decision makers using well-crafted ads and messaging.

    Putting It All Together

    The Upstream Oil & Gas industry is competitive and fast-moving. To grow your business and gain new buyers, your marketing strategy has got to put you at the forefront of the industry. A comprehensive digital marketing strategy will not only grow your brand online, it will also help you target the right people at a time when they’re looking to be informed, educated and entertained.

    We speak “Engineer” here and would welcome the opportunity to launch your digital marketing strategy. Our client roster includes numerous B2B companies, from engineer to tech, and we’ve helped each one develop a unique plan for implementing and optimizing their marketing efforts. Next time you’re making a long drive out to a drilling rig, we invite you to take a few minutes and give us a call.

  • 8 Marketing Ideas for Home Builders

    Home builders may design and construct dream homes in desirable neighborhoods, but if nobody knows about these homes, there won’t be much sales action. Traditional advertising, like direct mail, radio and newspaper ads, don’t produce the same results they once did. These days, buyers need to see more than just your offer. They want to see interior videos of homes, read online reviews from happy customers, be invited to groups on social media and more.

    We’ve compiled 8 creative marketing ideas for home builders. Being savvy with digital marketing doesn’t necessarily require a ton of technical savvy. You just need a genuine approach to build a connection with potential buyers and provide the most important information they’re seeking.

    1. Use Pinterest to build a portfolio of interior & exterior photos that link back to your website

    Pinterest is an optimal social media platform for showcasing a home builder’s work. The image-based site provides a perfect canvas for photos of kitchens, exteriors, bathrooms, landscaping, and more. The grouping of the photos is flexible; the home builder could organize photos by floor plans, by elevations, by room in the house or even by color scheme. Each Pinterest photo should link to the website so that you can drive traffic to explore more.

    1. Use social media to show pre-construction activities – specifically focusing on craftsmanship and quality.

    Instagram and Facebook are perfect for engaging buyers before home construction is even complete. A new home is a big investment, and home builders want to please future owners. Posting regular project updates of new home construction not only lets your buyer feel like they’re part of the process, it also reinforces your solid construction quality to potential new buyers. By highlighting your dedication to craftsmanship and quality, buyers will feel confident in their decision, while new prospects will appreciate getting an inside look at the process.

    1. Pulse the market with PPC ads

    Pay-per-click (PPC) ads give home builders an opportunity to be very specific, and efficient, with their digital advertising. If you have quality ads and a great understanding of which search terms drive the most traffic, you can stretch a smaller budget with PPC. It’s easy enough to turn on and turn off your campaigns in time with the fluctuations of the market or compete for specific search terms with less frequency. By pulsing the market you can nimbly edge out your competitors during the times of the year when you need sales the most.  

    1. Capture video from the communities and publish on social media

    People love videos – ESPECIALLY home buyers! Videos are a great way to provide useful information, while also building a connection with the viewer. Home builders can use marketing videos to do give tours of their communities, provide helpful DIY advice, or even share testimonials from happy customers. Videos are also a perfect method for showcasing a home’s floor plan, features, exterior and landscaping. With video, home builders can build demand and entice buyers to visit your models.

    1. Run lead ads on Facebook

    Compelling ads can drive leads to a home builder’s website. Facebook has stepped up their game by offering home builders a quick and easy way to capture new leads. It’s already well known that you can create custom audiences for your ads based on location, age, income and other demographics. With a lead ad, an interested buyer can conveniently provide contact their info with one button click on their mobile device in exchange for more information or special offers.

    1. Encourage your happy customers to write reviews on Yelp, Google, and Facebook

    When it comes to advertising for home builders, the best resource are happy customers. Future buyers want the real scoop and to feel like they can trust what a home builder promises to do. The best way to earn a buyer’s trust is not to tell them, but to let them read the positive stories of happy customers. Create business profiles on Yelp, Google and Facebook and then ask your happiest customers to provide feedback about their experience with your company and their new home. It’s well known that unhappy customers will leave negative reviews (everywhere), but happy customers need to be reminded. Ask them to post a review after they’ve moved in and are at their most satisfied moment.

    1. Host more special events & share them on social media and on your blog

    Special events provide an opportunity to connect with future buyers without the pressure of asking for a commitment. Try hosting community open houses and inviting social media followers to tour multiple homes and explore neighborhood amenities. Similarly, you can organize informational events to provide answers to common concerns on the home buyer’s journey – like how to apply for a mortgage, how to make kitchen design decisions, how to pick the right school, etc. Any event you organize should be shared on social media platforms, on your blog and possibly in email campaigns. The more enjoyable and informative the events, the more you’ll see attendance grow.

    1. Post about open houses on social media

    Social media’s fast-moving news feed is a prime spot to promote your open houses. As potential buyers scroll their daily updates, they’ll see your announcement, beautiful home photos and details. Posting open houses on social media also provides a way for you to answer questions about the property, or community, without the interested party having to pick up the phone and call. It also drives traffic back to your website where you can gather lead information or remarket to them with ads tailored to their interests.

     

    For more home builder and real estate marketing inspiration, click here.

  • Facebook vs LinkedIn for B2B

    Numbers game

    B2B business owners are people too, with personal lives and unique interests. When they log into Facebook, they don’t take off their “CEO hat” and put on their “average user” hat. They still keep an eye out for information that would improve their business. If you’re trying to reach the largest audience of CEOS possible, you can’t beat Facebook. The website Statista reported that Facebook had 239 million active users in North America in the 4th quarter of 2017. In comparison, LinkedIn had 133 million active users in the US during the same period. An extra fact in favor of Facebook is that users tend to spend more time on their platform, versus LinkedIn.

    If you’re thinking, “yeah, but quality over quantity,” we hear you. But, with Facebook’s huge volume of users, your ideal customer is out there consuming content. Just by the facts above, you’re more likely to reach CEOs on Facebook than LinkedIn. Facebook users spend, on average, 35 minutes per day using the platform, while LinkedIn users only use the platform for 17 minutes per month. That’s over double the amount of time spent consuming social media on Facebook! When you do reach people, remember they’re looking to have some fun, connect with friends and enjoy themselves. Therefore your B2B marketing on Facebook should focus on your brand story and engage with users in a friendly, community-focused, manner.

    Know your audience

    Your social media efforts should consider your user’s goal for using the platform. Are they just relaxing on a Friday night after a long week of being the CEO? Are they just out of college and trying to find a new job?

    LinkedIn is a great place for personal networking, building resumes and connections that could help them in a career, and recruiting. LinkedIn has also developed a reputation for unsolicited sales pitches, which has inspired many decision makers to drop out or limit their consumption.

    Facebook is more casual in its communication; consider it the morning coffee meeting or networking happy hour. Facebook is a serious business marketplace, but with a different tone.  

    Use the facts below to try to pinpoint your users purpose for logging into social media.

    Engagement

    LinkedIn offers something they call “groups” to drive interaction among users. Groups are professional forums, which are great for asking questions, responding to issues and comments, and posting information or articles that would benefit the groups users. LinkedIn also allows users to publish original content through Pulse. Combine your Pulse articles with your group interaction and you’ll be seen as a field expert.

    Facebook, on the other hand, allows business accounts and pages lots of flexibility in how they interact with social media users. Business accounts can comment and respond to users and build a brand-customer relationship. More importantly, Facebook allows B2B companies the ability to distribute content directly to their audience at times when they are actively seeking to be educated, informed and entertained.

    Ads

    Facebook has a highly developed Business Manager for managing ads for business accounts. Facebook collects data for marketers and professionals to use for promoted posts and ads. Linkedin is trying to build a system comparable to Facebook’s, but they have a ways to go.

    Facebook recently premiered a “location awareness” tool. This tool is helpful because users can opt into geofencing type advertising without needing an app. Now businesses can quickly and easily find new customers by showing ads to people who are in close proximity to the business’s location. Local awareness ads are built to be more cost-effective than traditional advertising channels like newspaper and radio, while offering more precise targeting.

    Facebook also offers retargeting ads by adding a pixel to the code of your website or landing page, which can then track when someone has visited either one. Then when the user logs into Facebook, ads show up based on visited pages or user interests. Retargeting with Facebook pixel basically follows the user from your website to Facebook, making sure to show them your ad. LinkedIn has something similar with its Insight Targeting Tag, but again, the LinkedIn audience is smaller than Facebook.

    In this article from marketing automation software, Outbound Engine, they detail an experiment comparing LinkedIn Paid Ads against Facebook Boosted Posts. They shared the same post on both platforms to determine which had a better ROI for marketing spending. After spending $200 for a 1-day campaign, the LinkedIn post got 44 clicks. After spending $75 on a 3-day campaign, the Facebook post got 97 clicks. Therefore, the average cost per click on LinkedIn was $4.47, while only $0.77 on Facebook. Given these results, you might jump to the conclusion that Facebook is always the winner, but the reality is that it depends.

    If you just want exposure and more eyeballs on your content, then Facebook is likely your best bet and the cheapest. If you want people to see your content AND enter lead information, the two platforms are comparable. But, if your main goal is leads, you may want to think about spending the extra cash for LinkedIn. Outbound had this to say on the topic, “experience has shown that clicks from LinkedIn are 500% more likely to convert to quality leads compared to Facebook.”

    Facebook and LinkedIn are both useful platforms for reaching your audiences, their ROI just depends on your goals. Before dropping a ton of money on paid ads, consider the value of new leads and/or re-engaging existing clients – you might decide that the cost is prohibitive, or that it’s a worthy spend. To get the most out of pay-to-play social ads, we suggest zeroing in your goals and deciding which metrics you’re going to track. Then you’ll be prepared to make the judgment call on a campaign’s success.

  • “Marketing Doesn’t Work” and 5 Other Lies

     

    Digital marketing has been a boon for success and growth within many different B2B industries. However, there are still companies unsure if it will work for them. It will! We’ve identified 5 “marketing myths” that we hear all the time from clients. Whether they’re an engineer, architect or in another professional services industry, we’ve found that – once they embrace digital marketing – their business grows by leaps and bounds.

    Read the following the myths. Do any sound familiar? If you’ve caught yourself saying one of these lies, give us a call and let’s chat. We’d be happy to share the reasons why we think they’re untrue and holding you back.