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How Futurety Blends Digital Marketing and Data in Columbus

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From the start, Futurety was founded on the basis of taking the “traditional” digital marketing agency into its next-generation here in Columbus.

Most agencies operate on a model of 1 analyst for every 10 content creators. A room of writers and community managers write content, publish it, and have that 1 analyst generate a report with a few ideas at the end of the month.

We’ve turned this model on its head. Our goal is to have 10 analysts for every 1 content creator, so we can spend less time writing content that might work, and more time understanding your audience and market opportunities, finding new ways to generate revenue that other agencies would miss.

This translates into more value for you: Better digital marketing, more validated ideas, and strategy & insights that impact far more than just your marketing.

What makes Futurety different among Columbus digital marketing agencies? Here are a few ways.

Futurety is…

Unashamedly data-first in everything. Data informs every decision and strategy we undertake.

Transparent. You own all your accounts and data, and if we stop working together, you leave with everything we did as yours to keep.

More than just Google Analytics. We use advanced tools and processes, like R, Python, SQL, DataBricks, and much more, combining disparate data to guide your digital marketing strategy.

Focused on achieving success together, with your internal team and other agencies. We’ve worked with every other agency in Columbus and look forward to partnering for even better results.

Focused on building a long-term relationship with you. We have no outside investors or board of directors demanding quarterly growth or else. Retaining all our clients is our #1 goal.

How do we do this? It all comes down to people. We focus on building a digital marketing and analytics team that is both skilled and humble, to give our clients the best service possible while also providing them with a Futurety team that makes their day-to-day as pleasant as possible. Columbus is a big small town, and the more we can all enjoy working together, the more we can accomplish together to build a stronger Columbus.

We’re always looking for exciting digital marketing and data projects to help us learn new skills and industries. Got a cool one that you want to talk about? Let’s get in touch! 

 

Why Google is Blocking All Mixed Content and What it Means for Your Website

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Over the past several years, Google has moved aggressively to display only verified, secure content in search results. The search giant is about to take its next big step forward towards a secure internet.

Google wants websites to transition to hosting only secure content on secure websites.

Currently, secure websites (featuring https://) are able to serve mixed content, including both secure and insecure (featuring http://) content. Starting in December, Google’s Chrome browser will stop displaying mixed content on secure pages. 

If your site has mixed content, this new policy might create a poor user experience, negatively affect your SEO, and even compromise secure information exchanged on your website. What does this mean for your website, and how can you fix it? 

Google placas high priority on serving secure websites in search engine results pages. Having a securely encrypted site is one of the easiest ways to improve SEO. 

HTTPS stands for Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure. This means information that is transferred on this website is completely encrypted. Security and encryption are vitally important for websites that contain sensitive information, such as credit card numbers. 

HTTPS websites commonly house mixed content, which occurs when subresources on a secure site are loaded insecurely over http://. Browsers often block mixed content such as scripts and iframes, but still allow images, audio, and video to load. While this might create a good user experience, it presents security concerns. An attacker could tamper with a mixed image to present misleading information, or could even inject tracking cookies into mixed resources.

Google Chrome is the first browser to block all mixed content by default. Starting with Chrome 79 in December, Google will automatically upgrade mixed content on secure sites, so sites will continue to work if their subresources are already available over HTTPS. Once these changes are implemented, Google will provide an option for website visitors to display blocked mixed content. However, requiring the user to unblock content creates a clunky user experience and may increase bounce rates. 

Do you want to fix mixed content on your site? Google recommends migrating website services to HTTPS.  You should also check with your web hosting provider or content management system to see if they have ready-made tools to de-bug mixed content (like this WordPress plugin). 

If you have any questions, feel free to contact us. We can help you navigate how to identify and fix any mixed content on your website. 

Google Says Goodbye to Average Position

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“My company needs to be shown first in a Google result”. 

We’ve all heard that from a client before, right? We’ve all tried to explain it might not be the best metric to measure, right? Well, paid specialists, rejoice! Google is saying goodbye to average position, one of the original search metrics. 

Ad position refers to the ordering of the paid search results, but not the location of the paid search results, meaning you might achieve the number one ad position but that doesn’t necessarily mean your ad is showing up at the top of the search engine results page (SERP).

Why the change, Google? 

Although it is valuable to know how your ads show on the search results page, Google doesn’t believe average position is as useful as it once was. 

In place of average position, Google rolled out four new metrics that can provide a clearer view of your prominence on the page.

  1. Top Impression Rate: Percentage of your total impressions that are coming from the top of the SERP (above organic results)
  2. Absolute Top Impression Rate: Percentage of your total impressions that are coming from the very top of the SERP 
  3. Top Impression Share: Rate at which you’re turning opportunities to appear at the top of the SERP into actual impressions at the top of the SERP
  4. Absolute Top Impression Share: Rate at which you’re turning opportunities to appear at the very top of the SERP into actual impressions at the very top of the SERP

What’s next? 

The bottom line is pay-per-click advertising is an evolving advertising channel and will continue to be for years to come. As Google continues to modify and improve its platform, it’s important that digital marketers understand and adapt to the changes. 

If you’re looking for an expert to help you navigate Google advertising and automated bidding strategies, give us a call. We’re always down to help you make the most of your pay-per-click campaigns. 

Marketing Lessons from the Pumpkin Spice Latte

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Fall is in the air! It’s time for cozy sweaters, football games and, of course, pumpkin spice everything. Although autumn doesn’t officially begin until September 23, Starbucks brought the season earlier than ever by releasing their signature pumpkin spice latte on August 27. 

The pumpkin spice latte (or PSL for short) has become a symbol for holiday creep and mainstream millennial culture. Some have praised its irresistible flavor, and others have embraced the “basic” white girl stereotype. You either love it or you hate it, but most importantly Starbucks got you talking about it. Their strategy has worked – we’ve bought over 350 million PSLs since they debuted in 2003.

So let’s take a moment to appreciate the industry know-how and savvy marketing behind the world’s most popular pumpkin beverage with 4 marketing lessons from the PSL. 

Create Demand. Although the PSL has arrived earlier year after year, the drink’s seasonality and perceived exclusivity drive demand. Starbucks also uses social media to create excitement organically. The hashtag #PSL has been used over 1.2 million times on Instagram alone. Considering this beverage has only been around for 16 years, the hype around release day is no small feat. 

Be a Trendsetter. Pumpkin spice isn’t just for lattes. The autumnal flavor has been adapted to just about every edible product under the sun, including protein powder, kale chips, and dog treats. Forbes estimates sales of pumpkin spice products exceeded $600 million in 2018, with only $110 million generated by Starbucks. Other coffee chains account for $10 million, and on-the-shelf coffee, creamer, and ready-to-drink coffee comprise nearly $96.3 million.This just goes to show that as far as coffee is concerned, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. 

Remember Where You Came From. Believe it or not, Starbucks executives were initially skeptical about how the pumpkin spice flavor would be received. Ultimately, they hoped audiences would connect the flavor with nostalgia for food, family, and fall. That gamble paid off. That connection to life’s meaningful moments has informed the PSL’s branding and content strategy and made marketing feel more personal. 

Stay Versatile. Starbucks’ sales of cold beverages accounted for over 50% of the company’s sales in 2018. This year, they introduced the Pumpkin Cream Cold Brew to appeal to new audiences and tap into the cold brew market. But don’t worry about the PSL – for coffee fans, more pumpkin is always better. 

Want to learn how you can use these marketing strategies in your industry? Let’s get in touch! (Preferably over a pumpkin spice latte.)

Photo by Jayda Novak on Unsplash.

“Get Lit” at Targeting Millennials (in the Opinion of One)

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What are two buzz words that you can’t hear enough of? If you answered Millennial and social media, you’re right. I’m sure you’re sick of hearing about these two things, but honestly – they are the today and the future of marketing.

A Millennial (known to some as Generation Y) is someone who was born between the mid-1980’s to the late 1990’s. Some sources say the generation starts as early as 1976 and end as late as the early 2000’s.

Being such a massive generation could lead to some struggles on how to directly market to it. There is, however, a common denominator to the generation – social media.

Here are four things will help you “get lit” in the social media world. You have to be uniqueengage with your “fans,” show your personality, and give back to be successful at targeting Millennials.

Let’s break it down:

1.) Be unique

In my experiences this is the most important quality Millennials look for in an account. They want the brand to stick out from the crowd and have a personality. They want to be entertained. In some cases, the weirder the better. Two Twitter accounts that do this flawlessly are Denny’s and the City of Columbus.

2.) Engage with your “fans”

Millennials want to be noticed, they yearn for attention. But in today’s world, you have a limited window to engage until they move on. You always want to keep your brand at the top of their mind, which isn’t a small task. You should engage with your fans daily and respond to any inquiries or comments almost instantaneously. Again, the City of Columbus does this well. So does Wendy’sChipotleJimmy John’s, and many other restaurants.

3.) Show your personality

Okay, now you’re thinking: “Didn’t you already say be unique?” When you think about the root personality of a brand, what do you think of? If you answered the people, you’re correct. Millennials want to know the people behind the brand. They want to know the brand cares about its employees and people love working there. Let your people do the talking with their jokes, smiles, and social engagement. Show company outings, costume contests, awards and promotions, etc. We think we do a pretty good job of that, give us a follow on Twitter!

4.) Give back

Millennials want to know their money is going to a good cause. This generation, more than any other, cares about helping others and the world. They want to know your brand has a soul and is willing to share its profits with different charities and communities. Millennials are willing to pay a little more just knowing the money is going to a great cause. Don’t be afraid to show you’re helping others and really making your mark in the world.

Have questions, comments, or just want to tell me your favorite brands? Contact Futurety today!

How to Choose the Right Marketing Automation Tool

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We get questions all the time asking about Marketing Automation tools: Which tools fit with my current tech stack? Is there an all-in-one tool out there for us? Or, which tool fits within our budget? From capabilities to support, to the tool’s ease-of-use and cost, there are several important factors to consider when selecting the right marketing automation tool for your business goals and organization. We’ve provided guidance on several areas you should consider when investing in a marketing automation tool.

  1. Capabilities: Marketing automation tools can range from offering an all-in-one solution that could include a CRM, website tracking, landing page and journey building, attribution, and more. Often times, platforms sell their solution in tiered pricing, which will determine which functionalities are included. We’ve implemented full-service tools, like Hubspot, which includes a built-in CRM, but we’ve also connected an existing CRM (like Salesforce) to a Marketing Automation tool and have the technology work hand-in-hand. Start with evaluating your current tool/software subscription capabilities and pricing, and what holes a Marketing Automation tool will fill.
  2. Integration: It’s important for a Marketing Automation tool to play nicely with your organization’s existing tech set-up. This is a question you will want to ask upfront during the tool demo stage. It’s always nice when an app integration is already available, but when it’s not, it’s common for Marketing Automation tools to have an open API which allows for relatively easy connection from the help of a developer/IT team. From your CRM to CMS to Google Analytics, harmony can be found with your chosen Marketing Automation solution.
  3. Cost: Sometimes it’s easy to want the Ferrari, when a new, reliable Honda Civic will also get you from Point A to Point B. Since ROI is likely top of mind, cost is an integral factor to final tool selection. Enterprise-level solutions, like Salesforce Marketing Cloud or Pardot, will usually run $1,250+/month minimum, which is guided by the contact/lead volume. There are plenty of marketing automation tools, like ActiveCampaign, that are built just for small businesses, which start as low as $150/month.
  4. Support: Depending on your organization’s internal staff capabilities, the level of support available alongside a tool, may be a non-negotiable necessary add-on. Some solutions, like Hubspot (Enterprise), offer a dedicated account strategist to align the tool with your specific business goals. Most of the time, email and/or call support are available depending on the price tiers.

When selecting any new software, it’s important to gather the right stakeholders and spend time thoughtfully considering the potential business impact and what matters most in reaching your business and marketing goals. At Futurety, we specialize in marketing automation tool review, research, implementation and optimization. Have any questions? We’d love to chat! Send us a note today.

4 Simple Tools to Benchmark Against Your Competition

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In the world of digital innovation, one of the most powerful ways to generate ideas and prioritize projects is doing a little competitive research and benchmarking. Here at Futurety, we’ve put together a few ways to compare ourselves and our clients to the competition, and see where everyone stacks up. Check out our four favorite tools below.

Tool #1: GA Benchmarking

Did you know Google Analytics offers a built-in benchmarking feature? It’s somewhat hidden and easily overlooked. Navigate to “Audience” then “Benchmarking” to view benchmarking data for sites in your specific industry and sub-industry, categorized by the number of monthly sessions.

This is a great way to see how your competitors are generating traffic and leads. Data is sorted by channel, and includes quality metrics like time on site and bounce rate per channel. Unfortunately, but with good reason, Google anonymizes the actual sites behind the data, but this is still a great way to see how your direct competitors are creating a demand for their products and services.GA Benchmarking Snapshot

Tool #2: Facebook Comparison

Like Google, Facebook also offers a direct comparison tool, with the added benefit of allowing you to choose which specific competitors you want to benchmark against. To access it, go to your Facebook Business Page, click “Insights”, then scroll to the bottom under the “Pages to Watch” section.

As you would expect, there are limitations to how much data Facebook shares. You can’t go more than 30 days into the past, so if your competitor(s) just had a great or slow month, the comparison may not be accurate in the big picture. We often recommend setting up the comparison and checking back every few weeks to review data to control for short-term ups and downs.

Tool #3: LinkedIn Comparison

LinkedIn offers a similar competitor comparison tool to Facebook. Head to your LinkedIn Company Page, click “Analytics”, then “Followers”. At the bottom of the page, you’ll notice a list of pages that LinkedIn has identified that are similar to yours, based on common followers, content, geography, and other factors. From here, you can manually review each page’s content, or compare engagement rates to see who engages their followers most effectively. Even better, LinkedIn will often give you dozens of “similar” pages, potentially fueling your research efforts on other tools and channels and revealing competitors or peers you may not have previously considered.

Tool #4: SEMrush

The Futurety team are big fans of SEMrush, one of the leading SEO tools in the industry. Although the monthly service fee is $99, we feel it’s well worth the cost to gain valuable insights on your competitors that you can’t get anywhere else. Some of the ways we use SEMrush for benchmarking include:

  • Organic competitor analysis: Seeing who often outranks us for our industry keywords
  • Search advertising overview: Plug in your competitors’ domain, and see what keywords they spend on for paid search, and how much they spend each month
  • Display advertising overview: See the actual display ads your competitors are running, and how long they’ve been running them. See the photo below for what Salesforce has been running lately.
  • Traffic analysis: Similar to Google’s Benchmarking report, with added data going back several years.

Dinah Adams Receives International Award for Communications Research

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At Futurety, we are honored to share a wide array of diverse experiences with our colleagues, including professional development, achievements, and passions outside of the office. When my colleague Elise approached me to write about my Master’s Thesis at The Ohio State University for May’s blog feature, I gladly accepted and am pleased to share a synopsis of this thesis.

This Master’s Thesis was chosen as a Finalist of the Amanda L. Kundrat Thesis Award awarded jointly by the National Communication Association and International Communication Association.

Title: Media Use and Willingness to Engage in Activism Against Sexual Harassment: An Application of the Societal Risk Reduction Motivation Model

As a chronic environmental stressor, workplace sexual harassment adversely impacts public health in the U.S. and across the world. The recent #MeToo movement illustrates that social media are increasingly used as channels of risk information and platforms for activism. This study sought to examine how and why people engage in grassroots, online activism to address collective risks. An Amazon MTurk survey of 277 respondents was conducted to examine womens’ perceptions of, and activism in response to, the risk issue of workplace sexual harassment. This issue was examined through the lens of the Societal Risk Reduction Motivation Model (or SRRM; Cho & Kuang, 2015), which suggests that the mass media influence our perceptions of societal risks. In turn, our emotional involvement with those issues and our sense that we can create positive change influence how we choose to address those risks.

This study found that Facebook and Twitter use predicted womens’ perceptions that sexual harassment was a significant societal risk issue, which then predicted their intention to engage in online activism (such as sharing #MeToo stories). This intention was strengthened by respondents’ empathy for those affected by workplace sexual harassment, their morals and values surrounding the issue of sexual harassment, and the emotional responses of anger and fear. Furthermore, womens’ intention to engage in online activism predicted their intention to engage in offline activism, which contradicts common assumptions about the negative effects of online “slacktivism” (Gladwell, 2010). Overall, this study expanded the theoretical boundaries of the SRRM by incorporating social media’s influences on societal risk perceptions and demonstrated that online activism is an influential way to address societal risk issues.

References

  1. Cho, H., & Kuang, K. (2015). The societal risk reduction motivation model. In Cho, H., Reimer, T., & McComas, K.A. (Eds.), The SAGE Handbook of Risk Communication, (pp. 117-132). Los Angeles: SAGE Publications
  2. Ltd.Gladwell, M. (2010, September 27). Small change: Why the revolution will not be tweeted. The New Yorker. Retrieved from https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2010/10/04/small-change-malcolm-gladwell

Data Analytics: More than Google Analytics

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Written by: Andrew Hulse, Business Development Manager

Apples are great and probably one of the most popular types of fruit available. However, we all know that an apple is not the only type of fruit that is available to us and that we’d be missing out if we didn’t consume other kinds of fruit. I personally love apples, but I also enjoy bananas, berries, and mango.

I love analogies and this is a perfect way to describe how we see many people and organizations viewing data analytics today. We often see companies have a baseline of analytics starting with Google Analytics. While Google Analytics is a really great start, it is only the tip of the iceberg in the Data Analytics space. Think of it like this: Google Analytics, in its basic form, gives you a 2D snapshot of your customers and their interaction with your online presence. As someone in Analytics or Marketing, you shouldn’t settle for a simple 2D drawing of a circle, you should want the entire sphere and be able to hold it in your hands.

The beautiful thing about data analytics is that your organization has the other pieces to the ‘Data Analytics’ puzzle: internal data. Think of your POS data, CRM data, email marketing data, or your ERP data. As Marketers, we search for a complete picture of our ‘ideal client/customer’ and would go to the ends of the earth to find it. In reality, you already have it.

At this point, you’re probably wondering: well, this is all great, but how do I do it? My Salesforce CRM doesn’t talk to my POS and online ordering platforms, and my email campaign data is in Constant Contact. Unifying internal analytics doesn’t have to be some big secret. Through tools, for example, Google’s BigQuery, it is possible to create APIs that will connect and seamlessly integrate all these streams of data and marry them into one large, accessible data stream. Once complete, this will give your organization a complete picture of your customers and how they interact with your organization–or–how they want to be communicated with and how they don’t.

At Futurety we live and breath data analytics. We look at ourselves as a data analytics company that DOES digital marketing and marketing automation, not the other way around. Marketing doesn’t have to be a guessing game, and we’re closer than ever to creating true one-to-one marketing on a large scale to reach your customer before they need you and to make sure you’re the first brand or organization they think of when they have a need.

Image by Campaign Creators

The Two Faces of Innovation

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Written by: Travis Kendall, Account Manager

Traditionally, there are two main methods organizations use to develop new innovations: internal and external. I’m going to dive into each and give real-world examples, and I hope this may inspire you to think differently about the possibilities of innovation in your organization.

Internal Innovation
One method to develop new products, services, and strategies is through internal innovation. With internal innovation, a company acquires funds, then sends a group of highly-qualified people to a deep, dark laboratory for the development phase. The development phase focuses on research, whiteboarding, building, and testing their inventions and hypotheses until they have a working product, service, or strategy. Then it is passed on to the organization’s marketing and sales teams to form the best strategies to take the innovation to market.

External Innovation
The other method to develop new products, services, and strategies is through external innovation. With external innovation, the developing company works directly with consumers outside the organization, and they continue to develop through the proceeds of limited or unfinished versions of the final vision. External innovation allows the end user to participate in the development process from start to finish and allows for constantly evolving development, marketing, and sales cycles based on public interest in the innovation.

Big-Picture Examples
Two great big-picture examples of internal innovations are cars and phones. Scientists sit in laboratories and do their best to innovate vehicles with the safest crash-test ratings and smartphones with the most foldable screens. They’ll continue testing and innovating as long as the funding organization keeps cutting checks.

Great big-picture examples of external innovations are flight and the internet. The Wright Brothers used the proceeds from their bicycle shop to effectively develop the most advanced bicycle of the time, one that could even fly. Similarly, the internet was initially developed through the proceeds of academic and big business organizations interested in cataloging and communicating at expedited speeds. Internet innovations and infrastructure continue to be developed as long as the consumers that use it keep cutting checks.

Real-World Case Study
Both methods of innovation have worked in the past and will continue to work in the future, but one of the most exciting internal innovation vs external innovation competitions happening today is between Google and Tesla and their race to develop better-than-human self-driving vehicle technology. Both Google and Tesla are light years ahead of any other competitor in regards to total data collected, but they have gone about collecting that data in very different ways.

Google’s self-driving technology began development in the labs and parking lots hidden away on Google-owned property. The company’s self-driving technology depends on lab-developed innovations in three-dimensional space mapping, as well as limited real-world vehicles on public streets. As of 2018, Google has used this and other technology in their labs to simulate over 5 billion miles of autonomous driving.

In comparison, Tesla’s self-driving technology began development on public roads and streets across America. The company’s self-driving technology depends on monitoring real-world drivers and driving habits. Each and every customer-owned Tesla on the road is sending data back to Tesla HQ, and with each new car sold, there’s yet another source of data. As of 2018, Tesla drivers have logged over 5 billion fleet miles driven.

Will Google’s internal innovation strategy and brilliant laboratory minds carry them to the top, or will Tesla’s external innovation strategy and growing feet of consumer drivers beat them to the punch? Only time will tell.

For more reading on Google and Tesla’s very different approach to self-driving car innovation, check out this article from the Verge.

At Futurety, we use external innovation to develop full-functioning automated marketing strategies for Fortune 1,000 companies and public organizations that want to be the first. Combining marketing automation tools and advanced data analytics, we are building programs that engage consumers how they want to be engaged, all with a small, nimble team of engineers and strategists. Want to learn more about how your organization can start building the innovations of the future with us? Contact Futurety today!

Photo by Jp Valery on Unsplash