Choosing the Right Presentation Platform

Choosing the Right Presentation Platform

Regardless of topic or size, presentations can be stressful. From planning and creating content to perfecting your delivery, a lot of time and effort goes in to developing and executing a successful presentation. But how much effort do you put into deciding which presentation program is best to use? Not all platforms are created equal, so we analyzed four popular options so you can see what makes each of them unique (and which one may best fit your needs).

Microsoft PowerPoint

If you’ve given or sat through a presentation in your life, odds are you are familiar with the most popular presentation program, PowerPoint (PPT). A staple in both classrooms and offices, PPT’s straightforward, easy-to-use platform makes it a tried-and-true method of presenting. Its customizable interface provides a lot of creative freedom: you can customize your presentation down to the slide to better meet your topic or audience’s needs.

But perhaps the biggest reason that PPT is so popular is because it is compatible with both PCs and Macs, a feature that certainly comes in handy if you are presenting in a space other than your own office and are unsure of what technology will be available.

Good for: Content-heavy presentations or traditional audiences.
Avoid if: Your presentation needs to be shared with others. Larger PPT files often cannot be emailed, and if your recipient does not have the same version of PPT as you, everything from how the design appears to the ability to view images or videos can be affected.

Keynote

Keynote is likely every Apple product user’s dream. Its variety of built-in templates gives presentations a modern look in a very easy-to-use platform, and projects built here can easily be transferred between devices via iCloud (a feature that makes it easy to present on-the-go, or on another Apple product such as an iPhone or iPad). One of its strongest features is the ability to turn your presentation into anything from a YouTube video to a QuickTime slideshow with minimal hassle.

Good for: Crafting persuasive presentations. Keynote’s sleek and dynamic format makes content more digestible.
Avoid if: You’re not presenting on an Apple product. While you can export your slides into PPT or other PC-friendly software, there’s no guarantee everything will transfer over in its intended format.

Prezi

Prezi probably has the most “WOW” factors of all the presentation platforms on this list. It offers more unique design and distribution capabilities than PPT and Keynote, and its non-linear presentation is great for more creative, interactive demonstrations. Users can seamlessly integrate multimedia, PNGs and vector images constructed outside the web-based application. Prezi also makes it easy for multiple team members to access and contribute to the creation of the project. If you’re looking for a platform to create a story-driven presentation, this is a great option.

Good for: Presentations that require collaborative construction, storytelling and/or audience interaction.
Avoid if: You won’t have a reliable internet connection. Prezi is a web-based format and presentations can lose design quality and functionality with any disruption to internet connectivity.

Adobe InDesign

For the more design-driven presenters out there, Adobe InDesign is a great option for creating an engaging, visually stunning presentation. This platform allows users to easily manipulate presentation layouts because of the level of flexibility with components such as type, images, graphs and color. Users also can add interactive features such as movies, sound clips and cross references. For presenters looking to share design concepts or branding ideas, this platform likely aligns most with their goals.

Good for: Design-oriented presentations, larger or shareable projects or projects containing sensitive information (since it will be in PDF form you can password protect the documents).
Avoid if: You are unfamiliar with the platform and need to put something together fairly quickly—InDesign has a steep learning curve. Additionally, the need to present videos or sounds using Adobe PDF Interactive may cause issues if the device you are presenting on does not have that software installed.

At the end of the day, the success of your presentation won’t solely be determined by the platform you choose to use. But by taking the time to explore all your options, you can become better equipped to create something that will fit you and your audience’s needs.

Goodbye, Traditional Marketing; Hello, Tangible Marketing

Goodbye, Traditional Marketing; Hello, Tangible Marketing

For all the messages out there telling you traditional and print media aren’t dead, there are dozens more telling you they are. The shiny newness of digital can easily blind marketers to the value of the age-old tactics of traditional marketing — or as we’re now calling it, “tangible marketing.”

Let’s get something straight right away: we love digital marketing. But we love it as a piece of your entire puzzle — not the only one you shoehorn into each and every campaign. And for every good, reputable digital advertising company, there are again dozens more who are less-than-good. And their sales teams are calling us (and our clients) trying to sell a digital-only media plan. Our approach to a media plan takes a more 360° view of things: we’re hard-pressed to think of a client who should only use digital advertising.

Now that that’s cleared up, let’s talk about why we’re calling it “tangible” media. Aside from the fact that “traditional” makes these tactics sound outdated, “tangible marketing” communicates many of the advantages of these tactics.

It’s definitely born partly of the smoke-and-mirror frustration of digital; often the only proof of performance you get are mocked-up screenshots and a spreadsheet of stats. It’s usually a good thing that you aren’t being served your own ads (depending on your targeting), but there’s something comforting in being able to touch, hear, or see your messages out in the world. And there is something vitally important about that tangibility to establish a connection with your customers.

Tangible marketing is also still (more often than not) the best way to reach the most customers at the same time. It delivers that top-of-the-funnel branding and awareness that’s critical at the beginning of a new campaign. This makes it ideal not as a total replacement for digital, but as a layered tactic.

Tangible ads can help prime your customers so that when they see your digital ad, they’ll be more ready to convert. Tangible marketing can even help drive search traffic that creates an opportunity to capture and retarget these now-warm leads with digital ads.

Even more exciting than layering tangible and digital tactics are the new marriages of digital data to tangible media targeting strategies. So now you can take digital data to build an audience profile and then target those audiences at scale. A match made in media heaven!

So when the next rep cold calls you and works hard to convince you that digital ads are the only way forward, remember to consider it in the context of your goals, your sales funnel and your existing strategy. How would this tactic support your goals? Are you ready for that stage of the funnel, or do you need more awareness? Is your digital ecosystem set up to make the most of these possible clicks?

Ready to take advantage of this marriage of digital and tangible tactics?

The 5 Pillars of a Successful Digital Ecosystem

The 5 Pillars of a Successful Digital Ecosystem

The breakneck growth of digital technology over the past two decades has forever changed the marketing and advertising world. And while many traditional tactics like out-of-home advertising and print publications still have a viable place for many clients, there’s no denying that very few brands can get away without having a stable digital presence.

So let’s take a look at the 4 key pillars of what we’re calling your “digital ecosystem.” These individual elements are often treated as related yet separate tactics, occasionally overlapping but often being thought of as distinct from one another. We believe that they must be taken holistically to be truly successful, and we’ll tell you why.

1. Your Website

This is ground zero for all your digital activity. Without a robust website, there is almost no justification for investment in other digital tactics (email, social media, etc.). That’s because you need to have an owned-and-operated platform from which to do things like sell products, convey key brand messages and collect information from interested customers. You can do many of those things on social media platforms or third party e-Commerce websites, but you will always be “renting” those distribution channels from other companies.

2. Content

Outside of the baseline information that makes up your website, you’ll want to invest in an ongoing content strategy as part of any digital efforts. This is particularly important for any B2B efforts, as without a physical consumer product to sell, content will be one of the ways you “sell” your brand and position yourself as a trustworthy, instructive partner for your customer. Content can run the gamut from as simple as a weekly blog post on industry news to in-depth instructional videos and tutorials. Some pieces of content will be easier and more affordable to produce regularly, while others you’ll want to plan for as part of a bigger strategy. Content will also help improve your SEO rankings, by populating your website with content that features your target keywords.

3. Email Campaigns

One of the oldest forms of digital communication has had a love-hate relationship with marketers over the years. With the rise of spam and less sophisticated marketing campaigns, it fell out of favor, but as social media is now being scrutinized more closely than ever, marketers are falling in love with email again. For starters, email campaigns still allow for direct, personalized communication with your audience. And unlike social media — which can also allow for those kinds of relationships — you will always “own” your email list.

4. Social Media

To use the parlance of the largest social media platform on the planet, our relationship status with this marketing tactic is “Complicated.” What was once dismissed as a passing fad has grown into a cultural phenomenon. It went from widely derided to widely adopted — and we’re starting to come full circle again. But that doesn’t mean social media shouldn’t still be a part of your digital ecosystem. In fact, the platforms themselves remain as powerful as ever, you just have to reorient how you’re thinking about them.

5. PPC: Pay-Per-Click Advertising

The final puzzle piece in your digital ecosystem is PPC advertising. As the paid complement to SEO, this tactic primarily revolves around Google Ads. Here’s how you’ll work to be the first result when someone searches for keywords or phrases related to your brand. Depending on how specific or broad your services or products are, this will be a very obtainable goal or one you’ll have to work very hard at.

So How Does This All Work?

Think of these five pillars as a kind of virtuous cycle. Each tactic feeds the other, working in harmony to help you meet your goals. For example, you can have a Facebook campaign that drives new visitors to your website, where you then offer them a free eBook download, who you later target on Google Ads with a more hands-on piece of content. Or, you can use an email campaign to drive webinar signups, and then send reminder Facebook ads to everyone who converted on your website. Whatever you do, make sure you take your campaign into consideration holistically, not just tactically.

In the process of writing this blog post, we realized we had a lot more to say about building a successful “digital ecosystem.” Stay tuned for a forthcoming Quick Look white paper that features more details, tips and insights. If you want to learn more in the meantime, simply give us a shout below.

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?

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