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“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.

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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

Why Links Matter for Your 2019 SEO Strategy

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Looking to increase your organic website traffic in the new year? One of the most important, fundamental strategies you can implement to boost your rank in search listings is link building. It’s so important that even Google has come out and said creating backlinks is one of the most invaluable ranking signals.

In its simplest form, link building for search engine optimization (SEO) means getting websites with authority to link to your content because it’s useful, relevant and credible.

Search engines will be focusing on not only the number of links your site has but even the quality. Before diving into a full link building campaign, you need to understand what exactly makes a good link (or a bad link).

We’ve outlined four things to keep in mind while obtaining new links:

  1. Authority of the site: In general, a link from a well-known online publication like The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, or NPR will have a greater impact than a local blogger.
  2. Authority of the page: One layer deeper than site authority, is the page authority. Links from authoritative pages pass more authority, or PageRank, to your site.
  3. Relevancy of the site: Not only do you want high-quality links, but you also need to be sure the site you’re receiving a link from is relevant to your own. For example, if you’re a local restaurant, you wouldn’t want a link from a site about mechanical engineering.
  4. Link position on the page: You want your link to be embedded in the body of the website. If the link is buried in the footer or sidebar, the link could mean less in the “eyes” of search engines.

Think you’re ready to launch your own link building campaign or still have a few questions? Let’s link up! Contact Futurety today to learn more about our SEO and digital marketing strategy services.

Photo credit: Rawpixel on Unsplash

Is More Data Always Better?

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One of the most common problems we help solve at Futurety is, “My data isn’t giving me actionable insights.” In today’s data-driven business culture, we all look at our existing data to help us find new markets and differentiate from competitors; but what if the problem isn’t a lack of data, but a lack of good data?

We’ve all heard the age-old innovation story about Henry Ford choosing to build a car, instead of building a better horse. This is somewhat of a tired refrain in product development but opens up new worlds when we apply it to data problems. What if, rather than organize, systematize, analyze, and strategize our existing data (that hasn’t helped us so far anyway), we can find new opportunities faster, cheaper, and better by obtaining new data on the problem we’re trying to solve?

Here are a few examples:

  1. Not sure why users are visiting your e-commerce site, but not buying? Stop your team over-analyzing pages per session, time on site, and funnel completions, and try surveying existing customers to see where they had trouble before purchasing.
  2. Having trouble justifying an expensive display campaign that maybe is driving search traffic, but also maybe isn’t? Validate the campaign by identifying similar geographic markets and A/B testing by turning off the campaign for 30 days in all the B markets.
  3. Can’t figure out why certain products on your site aren’t selling? Install Google Tag Manager and see how far people are scrolling on the page and what buttons they’re clicking on to identify a pricing or photography issue.

Generating new, actionable data isn’t the resource-hungry process it once was. Tools like Amazon Mechanical Turk, affordable and flexible survey options, Google Tag Manager and Optimizely, and many more are making high-quality data much easier to come by, and in a matter of days rather than weeks or months.

If your past data projects have been underwhelming, maybe it’s time to rethink your data sources. Contact us for a free data strategy audit with one of our analysts, and let’s find out what ideas we can create together!

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4 Strategies to Optimize Survey Design and Research

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Survey research is a quick and effective way to gain actionable business insights. Whether you want to learn more about your target audience, test new product or service concepts, or evaluate perceptions of your brand, a well-designed survey can deliver the answers you need.

While survey design seems simple, content and format choices can significantly impact your respondent’s answers to the survey. Here are four easy tips to improve the survey experience and ensure the reliability of your data.

1. Simplify survey wording

Did you know that most Americans read English at an 8th-grade level? Using clear and simple content helps respondents better understand the questions you are asking. Making survey content accessible to as many respondents as possible helps you gain insights without excluding valuable perspectives. The readability of survey text can easily be evaluated using Microsoft Word.

2. Avoid double-barreled questions

Double-barrelled questions have two separate questions in one statement. They are a common mistake in survey writing because we use them so often in our everyday conversations. Unfortunately, a question like “How often do you diet and exercise?” doesn’t translate very well to written surveys. If a respondent exercises frequently, but never diets, their response won’t accurately capture their behavior. Luckily, this is an easy fix! Separating these questions allows respondents to answer accurately. And it makes it easier for you, as the researcher, to analyze and interpret results.

3. Clarify the meaning of terms

Terms like “frequently”, “a lot”, or “most” can be interpreted differently depending on the question content or different respondents may interpret the meaning differently. Clarifying the meaning of questions (“most of the time”, “almost none”) can avoid confusion and help simplify respondents’ answers.

Scaled responses (like the one seen below) provides a logical context for your question.

  • How often do you exercise?
  • Very Frequently
  • Frequently
  • Somewhat Frequently
  • Neither Frequently Nor Infrequently
  • Somewhat Infrequently
  • Infrequently
  • Very Infrequently

This helps respondents to take the guesswork out of their answers and helps to avoid unreliable survey data.

4. Give your respondents an out!

Some respondents may skip questions if they are unsure of the answer. Even worse, they may choose an answer at random so they don’t leave questions blank. Providing options like “Not Sure”, “I don’t know”, or “Can’t Remember” gives survey takers the opportunity to respond honestly, without skewing your data. For multiple choice questions, you can also include options like “Other: Please specify” so respondents can offer their own answers.

Photo Credit: Small Fit Business

You’ve Got [Personalized] Mail 📧

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Open up your personal email and you likely have dozens of unread emails promising the best-ever promotions, sales, articles, reports, and more. Dozens of companies are vying for your attention, especially with the upcoming holiday season.

Whether you’re a B2B or B2c company, you’re likely asking yourself, how in the world can our message stand out during such a crowded, busy season?

At Futurety, we’re all about personalization. Each customer has different preferences, purchasing habits, and behavior, so email marketing should be personalized, as much as possible, to break through the inbox. We understand that personalization strategies can vary from something small like including a first name in an email subject line or as large as building out a robust preference center to segment communication preferences.

Here are four key personalization strategies to consider for your 2019 email marketing to break through the noisy inbox.

  1. Website behavior — Did a customer visit your website,  sign up for an account, add two items to their shopping cart and then leave? No problem. A triggered email can be deployed to that customer to remind them of the items they left behind. This could also be a perfect opportunity to use a small promotion to build additional trust.
  2. Purchasing behavior — Just like website behavior, purchasing behavior can be tracked online and offline. This is the perfect opportunity to engage with customers based on their specific and known preferences. If a customer prefers to dine with you over dinner, send them an email when your new seasonal dinner menu rolls out.
  3. Topic interests — For all you B2B companies out there, you can send personalized email based on the content your website visitors are consuming. Did they download a report on the Top 5 Email Marketing Trends of 2019 last week? Send an email 3-5 days later with a similar report on how they can use data to power smarter email marketing. You deliver value based on what you know they need help with.
  4. Time of Day — The time of day an email is deployed can drastically influence open and click-through rates depending on your product, service, and industry. Have a lunch promotion? Deploy the supporting email at 10:30 AM, right around the time the mid-morning hunger kicks in.

According to Experian, brands that personalize promotional marketing emails experience 27% higher unique click rates and 11% higher open rates than those who do not personalize.

So whether you’re a Fortune 100 company with 1 million plus contacts or a startup with a small but mightly list of 1,000 contacts, email personalization has the power to connect deeper, engage further, and convert higher. Smarter marketing is all about next-level customer engagement.

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