BKI Hot Takes: Just Say “No” to Passive Aggressive Marketing

BKI Hot Takes: Just Say “No” to Passive Aggressive Marketing

We’ve all done it (or at least thought about it): Shared an off-the-cuff line in a brainstorming session that manages to be on-message and makes everyone laugh. Sure, it might be a little cheeky or off-color, but it’s just so funny! But when it reaches your audience, will they be laughing, too? Or will the joke fall flat?

If you’ve spent any time shopping online in the past year or so, you might have come across a very specific example of this kind of marketing humor, which we’re semi-affectionately dubbing “Passive Aggressive Marketing.”

Many times, this tactic takes the form of a pop-up or nudge modal on a website, giving you the chance to do things like save money on your next sale or join an email list. You’re used to this binary choice: either you take the (presumably) great offer or you miss out on the brand’s generosity.

The passive aggressiveness comes into play should you decide to opt out of this deal, where you are forced to click on a button that, for lack of a better word, is SUPER judgmental. For instance, maybe you “Don’t Want to Protect Your Family” (security company) or “Want to Spend More Money” (clothing site) or “Hate Reading” (book retailer). Now, of course, none of these things are likely true, but the pop-up forces you to choose this ignoble path.

Now don’t get us wrong: we love a witty repartee just as much as anyone. But once you’ve seen this passive aggressive marketing tactic a few times, the joke begins to get a little stale.

And therein lies the danger: if you’re not one of the brands absolutely nailing the right tone, you’re simply following a trend that has the potential to annoy or even anger your audience.

Think of it like this: many people already find pop-ups that take over your entire screen to be burdensome; but now the pop-up is forcing them to say something that may not even be true. And if you’re using a basic pop-up that fires for everyone who visits your site, you might be badgering first-time visitors who aren’t familiar with your brand. What kind of first impression is that?

A good compromise might be to let your opt-in CTA have a little humor or edge to it, while the negative route offers a polite, neutral decline option like “No thanks.” That way, you can lighten the mood and test the waters with a little humor without putting your audience into a weird, passive aggressive corner.

As with any new tactic, it’s critical to consider your audience. If your brand routinely incorporates humor into your marketing and has a sarcastic, ironic tone, using these pop-up modals might be a huge hit for your audience. So make sure you do the important work of analyzing and considering your audience before implementing this tactic, just like you would any other.

Or don’t, or whatever…

3 Ways to Maximize Your Holiday Marketing Efforts

3 Ways to Maximize Your Holiday Marketing Efforts

Trying to capture some of that holiday spending for your business? Or maybe you’re concerned about cutting through the extra clutter? There are many factors—both good and bad—to contend with when marketing during the winter holidays. Here are three things to consider as you get started.

1. Embrace the Uptick in Radio & Streaming

Audience action for some media outlets increases during the holidays. This is good news especially for B2C marketing. One example is radio & digital audio streaming. A great many listeners who might otherwise be tuning in to a bunch of disparate stations or just listening to their own playlists all start to gather ‘round the fire of holiday music. If your market has a holiday music station (e.g. 99.5 WMAG in the Triad), November and December may be the best time to buy as you can maximize your reach in a small period of time.

By the same token, many listeners of digital audio like Pandora or Spotify are more likely to be streaming during this period, too. And the best part is, your message doesn’t have to be holiday-themed — it just has to be good and relevant.

2. Find Your “Red Umbrella”

Standing out in a crowd can be tough. As inboxes become increasingly inundated during the holidays, even niche B2B marketers may find it challenging to reach their audience. Emails seem to hit an all-time high in frequency, so how can you make sure yours is seen?

Timing is one element you can control: test and measure throughout the year to learn when your audience is most likely to open and engage. You can also try to focus in on the quieter periods when they aren’t being bombarded, giving your email a better chance of standing out.

To that end as well, you need a captivating, relevant subject line. Whether it’s the offer of a discount or the answer to a burning question you know comes up at this time of year, make it clear what you’re offering (without making it spammy). And if you segment your email list, it should be even easier to keep your subject line and offer super relevant.

3. Create Your Own Reason for the Season

Car companies have done it: car sales increase dramatically during the end of the year because car companies have created the belief over time (whether it’s true or not) that the holidays are the best time to buy. You, too, can create your own buying season within your B2B or B2C market.

If you have a great offer and market the heck out of it, you can secure your audience’s attention when you want it. So instead of trying to elbow your way through the holiday marketing crowds, find a time of year that works best for your audience — you know them best. When do they have the time, interest and budget to talk? What offer will propel them one step further toward becoming a customer or increasing their current business with you?

On the flip side, this tactic can sometimes train your customers to wait for a sale before buying anything. If that works for your sales cycle and bottom line, no fear. But consider carefully before you proceed.

So as you’re gearing up for the holidays, consider these three ways you can make the most out of a busy, noisy marketing season. With the right tactics and patience, you’ll find a campaign that works for you and your audience.

A Beginner’s Guide to Email Segmentation

A Beginner’s Guide to Email Segmentation

When harnessed correctly, an email list can be one of your most powerful marketing tools. Not only is your list an intimate, direct way to communicate specific messages to your audience, it is something you can truly “own.”

Platforms like Facebook and Instagram are powerful in their own rights, but you are only ever “renting” those users from the platform itself. And as Facebook continues to make it harder and harder to reach your followers organically, growing and maintaining your mailing list is crucial.

Perhaps one of the most important aspects of that process is email segmentation. But what exactly is it — and why is it so vital? And how can you make it happen?

What is Email Segmentation?

For starters, email segmentation refers to the process of breaking your mailing list up into organized pieces. Instead of always sending emails to one large group of people, you break up your list into categories based on similar features of those users. Here are some common ways email lists may be segmented:

  • Geographically (e.g. Boston, UK, California)
  • Demographically (e.g. age, gender)
  • Behaviorally (e.g. website visitors, previous customers)

Often times, a mailing list subscriber might fall into several segmentation buckets — and that’s OK! The more ways you can slice and dice your list into specific pieces, the better.

Email marketing software like MailChimp or Emma can provide you with easy ways to categorize and tag your subscribers, but they will all require that you manually input those tags yourself. If you don’t know someone’s location or their place in the buying cycle, you’ll need to spend the time tracking down that information. The size of your list and your familiarity with who has signed up for it will influence how long that process takes.

Why Should I Segment My list?

The simplest, most direct answer to that question is because your email performance will drastically improve. Metrics like Open Rate and Click-Through Rate will no doubt get better the more you segment your audiences and email campaigns.

In fact, a recent study by MailChimp showed just how powerful segmentation can be, comparing around 11,000 segmented emails against a similar group of non-segmented emails. Here are a few highlights of the results:

  • Increased opens by 14.31%
  • Increased unique opens by 10.64%
  • Increased clicks by 100.95%
  • Decreased bounces by 4.65%
  • Decreased unsubscribes by 9.37%.

As you can see, sending specific emails to a targeted group of people will result in better performance because that email is more relevant to your recipient. Because you’re not blasting one broad message to a diverse group of users, the audience will reward your effort with greater engagement.

In addition to the improved metrics, there is the less measurable effect segmentation has on your overall brand perception. Think about your own experience with email: How much do we hate getting some generic email for a sale on clothing we don’t even wear? What about software updates for a product we’ve never used?

By tailoring each email to a specific, segmented group of users, you can give them information that feels personalized, thoughtful and useful. This will only further endear your customers to your brand along the way.

How Can I Segment My List?

As mentioned above, one of the best ways to begin segmenting is to dive into your database head-first. It won’t be pretty, and it won’t be quick, but trust us: it’s 1000% worth it.

Grab some of your best sales or account folks — anyone who has deep knowledge of your potential and/or existing customers — and start going through your list, adding as much information as you can about them. Start with the most important data you’re hoping to segment for (demographics, geography, etc.) and then add whatever information you can. Again, the more data you have on each subscriber, the better.

Once you’ve got your list updated, it’s time to start thinking about future email campaigns: the true test of your segmentation efforts. Make a list of all your new segments, and brainstorm what kind of content they might want to receive. How can you educate and delight that small group of users? How can you speak in a way that only addresses them and their needs?

The other important piece of segmentation going forward is to make sure any data capture methods you’re using (landing pages, pop-ups, sign-up forms, etc.) allow you to capture information that will help you segment those new entries. Most any mailing list platform will allow you to do this, but remember: don’t be too pushy too soon. Generic email signups on your homepage should likely only take a small bit of information, whereas a detailed landing page that was served to a targeted audience can ask for a bit more info (especially if you’re offering a valuable benefit like an eBook or a product demo).

So there you have it: a beginner’s guide to email segmentation. It won’t be a quick project, but if you’re serious about improving your email performance, it’s the best investment you can make.

 

3 Tips to Improve Banner Ad Campaigns

3 Tips to Improve Banner Ad Campaigns

When done right, banner ads have the potential to increase traffic to your website and help you capture valuable leads or sales. In contrast to many other advertising platforms, they tend to be more affordable and measurable, too. But not all banner ads are created equally. In today’s cluttered digital market, it can be challenging to create and place ads that will cut through the noise and grab your audience’s attention. Here are 3 tips to help you develop and execute better banner ads.

1. Design Strategically

Banner ads are small, so it is important to maximize the limited design space to convey your message. Most contain three key elements: a brand logo, value proposition, and a call to action (CTA). These three pieces should work together to engage your audience and encourage them to complete the desired action (join a mailing list, buy a product, etc.).

  • Including your company’s logo will help build brand awareness, but it should not overshadow the value proposition and CTA. Although the logo is important, the consumer should be drawn in to product or service being offered.
  • The value proposition is the most important aspect of the ad’s overall design and strategy. It should be a clear, easily understood statement that explains what your audience will gain by engaging with the ad. In a nutshell, it should answer the question, “Why should I click on this ad?”
  • Lastly, create a CTA that your audience can’t resist. Just like the value proposition, strategically craft a CTA that will bring value to your audience. CTAs such as “Start a Free Trial,” “Download the E-Book” or “Register for Our Webinar” will direct your audience to the desired outcome of the ad. Avoid generic CTAs like “Click Here” or “Learn More” that don’t really tell the viewer what is in store for them once they click.

2. Be Picky with Placement

Place banner ads on websites that are relevant to your target audience. Do research to determine what your audience cares about and where they spend their time online. Another solution is to consider programmatic advertising. This process utilizes artificial intelligence to automate the decision-making behind ad buying. Ultimately, it will help maximize your budget by placing banner ads on the right website, at the right time, to the right person.

It’s important to know, too, where you don’t want your ads shown. Hopefully, your advertising partner will be able to exclude certain categories or websites where showing your ads might cause brand damage. For example, thousands of digital advertising partners have stopped placing ads on the controversial news outlet Breitbart due to requests from advertisers worried about this very issue.

3. Stick the Landing

So now that you’ve got a beautifully-designed banner ad that’s placed on just the right website to attract your ideal customer. Now what happens when they give you that precious click? If you don’t have a customized landing page behind that banner ad, you might not find the ROI you’re looking for.

landing page

This landing page from Nauto offers a clear description, CTA and chance to convert without distractions. (via Hubspot)

Creating a customized landing page for each banner ad campaign helps in a number of ways:

  • They make it so that your visitor doesn’t need to hunt through your website looking for the deal or offer you promised in the ad
  • They remove the other distractions on your website, keeping the visitor focused on what they’re there to commit to
  • They provide more detail as to your offer and help explain why they should take your desired action

If your banner ads are simply directing a click to your homepage or a generic page within your site, you’re losing a lot of opportunity from the get-go. And even though the process of creating a landing page can be time-consuming, it’s a crucial part of any targeted digital ad campaign.

Creating and placing banner ads that engage your audience can affordably build awareness for your brand. By doing your research and keeping these tips in mind, you will find the right formula for your success. Want to maximize your own banner ad campaigns?

Case Study: The New Madison Brand Audit & Website Redesign

Case Study: The New Madison Brand Audit & Website Redesign

Background

Core Realty Holdings is a full-service real estate investment and advisory company based in Newport Beach, CA. They are a national brand, with properties in 5 states, including 4 properties in the Greensboro area of North Carolina.

We were approached by CRH to assist them in both a brand audit and creative refresh of one particular property, The New Madison at Adams Farm. We began by taking a deep look into their existing brand standing, including the advantages and challenges they had, before we engaged our Creative team to help with any aesthetic updates.

The Challenge

Our first task was to understand where The New Madison sat in the crowded landscape of Greensboro’s apartment rental scene. Without getting a feel for both how current tenants viewed the property as well as how its competitors were positioning themselves, we’d be unequipped to make meaningful creative recommendations.

As such, we engaged in an extensive research project, speaking with current residents, management and staff, as well as tenants who had recently left the property. We also conducted “secret shopper” interviews at 3 other competitor properties to gain a sense of what their positioning was and how they stacked up to our client.

We sought to emphasize the green, natural beauty of The New Madison.

Through that research, we found that The Madison was indeed in need of a digital refresher, as the new amenities and upgrades to the property were not adequately conveyed on their website or social media platforms. We also learned just how important customer service plays a role in the success of a property/tenant relationship, and realized how helping the team revamp their social media presence would play a role in that process.

We also spent that time figuring out how to talk about The Madison in a way that was both engaging, enticing and true to the spirit of the property. Words like “secluded,” “peaceful” and “green” came up a lot in our conversations, so those kinds of feelings and descriptions formed the basis of our recommended messaging.

New amenities like their Dog Park would need to be shown in a fun, relatable way.

The Execution

Once we finished our brand audit and presented the results to our client, we began to work together to establish what items should be handled in what order. The first item on the agenda, clearly, would be to redevelop their digital presence — particularly in light of all the new and forthcoming amenities and upgrades we learned about during our brand audit.

This meant investing heavily in great visuals for The New Madison. We assembled a group of local talent and spent several days photographing and shooting high-quality video assets that would help tell the story of what life at the property was like. Once we completed those shoots, we began the work of figuring out what their new website would look like.

Any brand with a digital presence knows how important it is to keep their look and feel updated periodically. However, those brands also understand just how time-consuming and expensive that process can be. By taking advantage of a website and marketing platform built specifically for use in the real estate industry, The New Madison’s website could be easily managed without the burden of a full-scale developer.

However, while that management platform makes it easy to perform updates, it also makes it easy for sites to become generic or similar in look and feel. This is where our Creative team came in and found a way to work within the confines of the platform, choosing an updated, modern template that put our new photo and video assets front-and-center.

The New Madison’s homepage

Whereas the older website conveyed all the necessary information, it did not convey the story we wanted to tell. The new website would utilize the messaging developed during the brand audit to convey what life for potential tenants would be like and distinguish it from local competitors.

We also applied the same messaging and creative assets to The New Madison’s Facebook and Instagram channels, making sure that any online research of the property would ensure the same experience no matter where the property was discovered.

Showing off some of The New Madison’s amenities.

The result is a much more modern, inviting look into the property. The green and earth tones of the property are emphasized in the design, and the use of people in the photos—versus just architectural photos—help prospective tenants visualize themselves in the property.

3 Easy SEO Tactics You Can Implement Today

3 Easy SEO Tactics You Can Implement Today

There is a lot about SEO that will always remain a mystery. Even for the most advanced SEO experts, a portion of what makes search engines tick will always be an educated guess. That’s because search engines like Google will never reveal the exact minutiae of how their algorithms work. But have no fear: there is still a lot you can do to improve your site’s overall SEO game. In fact, there are three easy SEO tactics you could implement right now.

1. Always Use Alt Text

If you know one thing about SEO, it’s probably that keywords within your website help search engine “spiders” find and index your pages for others to discover. And while this is true, your site’s copy isn’t the only way to sprinkle those choice keywords throughout.

For every image on your website, there is a piece of code known as the “alt text.” This code helps a browser or email client describe what image is being shown should it fail to load. For example, the alt text for the image below might be “responsive mobile web design layout.”

responsive mobile web design layout

But the alt text is also quite useful if you’re working to attract hunters of specific keywords to your website. Say, for example, you’re a full-service marketing agency always on the lookout for its next great client. If your site features images with those keywords as alt text, it could help a potential client locate your site. It can be a lengthy process if you’ve got a particularly deep website. But if not, you could more than likely knock out all your alt text in an afternoon.

2. Don’t Forget Your Metadata

When building out new pages or posts on your website, it’s crucial that you provide search engines with the right information to display your content properly. Without that “metadata,” your site pages may end up looking incorrect or unprofessional in search results. Without getting too far into the weeds, you typically need coding ability to set those parameters, depending on your website’s CMS. If you’re using a site built on WordPress, for example, there are a number of plugins that help you set metadata quite easily.

We recommend looking into Yoast, which is one of the most highly-rated SEO plugins. It allows you to customize your post titles, meta descriptions and featured images. It also allows you to plug in the keyword(s) you’re basing your posts on and will actually “score” you on how well you’re optimizing for those terms.

QUICK TIP: Yoast’s “Premium” features help you customize how your posts look when they’re shared on Facebook and Twitter. These platforms provide a useful way of building site traffic (and, thus, credibility) for your website—so it’s important your content looks its best.

3. Secure Your Site

Have you ever wondered about the difference between a website starting with “https” versus “http”? That “s” stands for secure, which means the website has what’s referred to as an SSL Certificate. In addition to that little extra character on a web address, you can also tell whether a website is secure or not through a small lock icon in the top left of your browser bar.

ssl connection secure website

For a long time, websites tended to only purchase an SSL certificate when they offered e-commerce or other transactions involving sensitive material like passwords or payment information. But in recent years, Google has begun prioritizing websites that offer secure browsing experiences over those that do not. Consequently, if your site does not have an SSL certificate, you could be getting penalized on the search results page.

Many common web hosts (like GoDaddy, for example) offer a managed SSL Certificate service, meaning you don’t have to get into the nitty gritty of all that goes into implementing that change. If you want to manage that transition on your own, more power to you — but whatever options you’ve got through your hosting company might be worth any added costs.

Note that you might not need to prioritize this step if your other marketing efforts already have you placing favorably in organic search results. We know just how important it is to prioritize your time and tactics, so keep that in mind when thinking about undergoing this change.

So there you have it: 3 easy SEO tactics you could implement today. Once completed, these three mini projects will help strengthen your structural SEO and begin to improve your organic search results. But remember: SEO is a long game, so you won’t notice an immediate bump. But as you continue to refine your site and add more keyword-targeted content, you’ll no doubt notice a long-term overall trend towards higher results on search results pages.

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