New Data Handling Regulations from Across the Pond May Affect U.S. Businesses

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On May 25, 2018, a significant new set of regulations go into effect across Europe and around the world that will greatly impact virtually any business that has an internet presence. The time for compliance is approaching very quickly but 60 percent of all businesses affected are not ready to be in compliance.  This number is concerning given that violations of new regulations carry huge fines that could cripple businesses of all sizes.

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) was initiated to give consumers in Europe greater control over their personal data. GDPR impacts any business that has customers located within Europe and affects all businesses regardless of physical location, company size, or scope of business. While the emphasis first appears to be on European organizations, the regulations apply to businesses anywhere in the world that process the personal data of European Union (EU) residents. In today’s vast global internet world without borders, those not affected make up a very short list.

Article 3 of the GDPR says that if your organization collects personal data or behavioral information from someone in an EU country, your company is subject to the requirements of the GDPR. Businesses will need to be much clearer about the information they hold on people and give them more control over how it disseminated and managed. Compliance is likely to be easier for heavily-regulated business-to-business sectors such as banking and insurance, but retailers and companies that deal directly with consumers need to be particularly aware of the new regulatory environment.

Many business entities outside Europe who failed to thoroughly understand the implications of the looming regulations are suddenly waking up to their new reality. Robert Bond, a partner at London law firm Bristows, says, “Already this morning, there have been three overnight calls from the U.S., saying we don’t have anything in place but we’ve realized this applies to us, do you have a quick fix solution?  I think there’s an awful lot of businesses out there, particularly outside the EU, that have suddenly realized the extra territorial nature (of GDPR) and that’s come as quite a shock. They are assuming it’s a tick the box exercise, which of course it isn’t.”

U.S. based hospitality, travel, software services and e-commerce companies will certainly have to consider their online marketing practices and determine the risk of non-compliance as well as any other U.S. companies that have identified a market in an EU country. GDPR requires organizations to identify a security strategy and adopt adequate administrative and technical measures to protect EU citizens’ personal data.

Given the existing costs associated with irresponsible handling of consumer’s personal data, few organizations can afford complacency about cybersecurity. While the heavy fines for non-compliance to GDPR compounds the penalties for cybersecurity ignorance, the new regulations offer an additional incentive and opportunity for companies to implement policies that may help them avoid a future data breach and the significant calamity to normal business operations that results.

Reaching the Powerful Women’s Demographic Lives or Dies in Campaign Execution

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The knowledge that women wield the most influence over the household spending decisions is nothing new. For decades women have been credited with controlling the purse strings at a greater degree than their male counterparts. But as traditional societal male/female roles continue to evolve, the only difference for marketers is the realization that the numbers are getting bigger. Across the globe, women are controlling nearly $20 trillion in annual consumer spending. That number is likely to grow to $28 trillion in the next five years. Women represent a growth market bigger than China and India combined; verification that female consumers now drive the world’s economy. Over the next decade women will control two-thirds of all consumer wealth in the United States and be the beneficiaries of the largest transference of wealth in our country’s history.

Today more than 79 percent of women self-identify as the primary household shopper, making 70 percent of all the travel decisions and 90 percent of all the healthcare purchases. Nearly 60 percent frequent social networking sites and are the most likely consumers to use digital purchasing tools. The overwhelming majority (92 percent) pass along information about deals they have experienced online. Talk about influencer marketing!

Commanding as this economic segment is, most companies continue to struggle to effectively tap into the potential opportunity, and despite the remarkable strides women have made in market power and social position they continue to feel undervalued in the marketplace. “Success in reaching this powerful demographic often lives or dies in the marketing execution, and getting it wrong can be serious business. Mistakes and gaffes can go public, or viral, all too easily, alienating the very people a campaign was designed to attract.” David Levithan, says “Pink is female – but why? Are girls any more pink than boys? Are boys any more blue than girls? It’s something that has been sold to us, mostly so other things can be sold to us.” If there was ever a time where simply using pink to attract the attention of women was a viable strategy, that time has passed.

Gender is often a blind spot, both within company campaigns and within the make-up of company marketing teams. The old adage, it takes one to know one is sage advice. Gender diversify your marketing team if you want to make a meaningful connection with your target audience. If not, your approach to attracting female consumers may come off as patronizing and passive.

Remember, no one-gender market sector does a complete marketing segment make. Women now occupy, in significant numbers, every social and economic level of society. Today women are embracing the differences in their identities and exploring more progressive interests. Marketers need to identify products and services that answer the multitude of female consumer needs and interest if they are to successfully develop a winning marketing strategy. The messaging needs to align in content and tone with the diversity of the market segment.

For information on how Junction Creative Solutions (Junction) can help you formulate a winning women’s market strategy, contact our experts at 678.686.1125.

Successful Email Campaigns are Not One Size Fits All

Say email marketing or monthly newsletter and some descriptive phases, many not admiring, come to mind. Digital marketing has revolutionized communications both personal and commercial, delivering marketers the ability to directly reach into the lives of millions of potential customers and clients with mind-blowing speed and automated targeted placement. Suddenly broadcasting a message right into a recipient’s home or place of business through email windows is remarkably simple. But many are complaining that the overt email assault that permeates millions of in-boxes each day are leading this new marketing tool down the path once traveled by direct mail (junk) and robotic telemarketing. With so many emailers opting to click “delete” or relegating unsolicited messages to the spam file, what is all the upside appeal of email marketing?

In 2017, the total number of business and consumer emails sent and received per day reached 269 billion and is expected to continue to grow at an average annual rate of 4.4% over the next four years, reaching 319.6 billion by the end of 2021. With that kind of audience, email marketing spend in the United States is predicted to reach $3.07 billion by 2019. Businesses looking for cost effective, measurable ways to connect with consumers have discovered the positive return on investment (ROI) of email marketing campaigns, of 122 percent, irresistible. This impressive ROI is utopian until one realizes that only 24.7 percent of all emails across industries are opened by the recipient. Nearly two-thirds of emails are banished to unread status right after being sent. Still, the promise of making a connection with so many with so little effort is too good to pass up. So how can an email campaign successfully open a profitable dialog with consumers without the costly and inefficient “mud against the wall” approach?

As more emails invade customers’ inboxes, the quality and format of the message is critical in order to be heard above all the competing noise. Focus the effort on the campaign objective and tailor the message, both in content and structure, to gain the immediate interest of your consumer. What’s in it for consumers if they choose to open an email and start a conversation? Compose your prose in a manner that creates value to the prospect. With 68% of email recipients reporting that they identify most email as spam, getting the subject line wrong can be deadly.  Opening statements should elicit interest and evoke curiosity. Provocative “the aliens have landed” remarks will only scare qualified receivers off. “Every aspect of testing should be focusing on the “click to open rate” of the main call to action in your email,” says professional email marketing strategist Dain Hanson, Co-Founder of CYT Marketing.

Ever receive a message from a department, department title or mega-company? The “from” line of any email should be from a warm and real person, someone who is personable and welcomed. Your salutation should share your personal side, not your corporate image.  A Campaign Monitor study recently revealed that 62% of customers open emails due to a personalized subject line.

The most successful emails are clearly written, attract attention to the message purpose, are never dull or offensive, and are personal and designed to solicit an immediate action. Interesting graphics are very effective and all content must be viewable on desktop and mobile devices. Depending on the targeted audience, mobile email will account for 20 to 75% of email opens.

Email marketing should be about having a conversation with your ideal customer. Failing to edit your master email list to target specific customers with a tailored message will only serve to annoy disinterested customers and waste valuable marketing time and assets. Treating every prospect the same will only result in filling their “Trash Bins”.  The smart campaign will have different lists which focus on the varied messages of interests to a variety of customers. Connecting with an interested target market will improve your email “open rates” and produce future, mutually beneficial conversations.

For information on how Junction Creative Solutions (Junction) can enhance your email campaign efforts, call 678.686.1125.

The Importance of Tracking Social Media ROI

The concern of marketers about the effectiveness and real value of all the money and energy spent on advertising has been going on for centuries. The earliest of purveyors of commerce wrung their hands over what portion of advertising spend was being unheard. Little in the way of easy and accurate measurement existed and the most predominate metrics were based on speculation that advertising effectiveness was clearly tied to business outcomes. With new advances in technology and the myriad of burgeoning marketing channels, the warm fuzzy feeling that advertising is working and producing a return on our investment remains elusive.

Studies indicate that 46 percent of business to business (B2B) marketers are unsure that any social media channels are producing positive impacts on the bottom line. An answer to the question is critical given that 2017 was the first year that digital marketing outpaced TV ad spend. Today’s technology allows for easy identity of marketing efforts right down to the individual consumer. We can customize our message and aim it at a specific individual or small market segment and measure accurately the message’s operational impact utilizing the same intelligent, extremely cost effective digital techniques.

So why do 60% of marketers see ‘measuring ROI’ and linking social media activities to business outcomes as one of the top three social media marketing challenges in the coming year? The reason may be simple rather than complex. Like everything else, it boils down to strategy. What are your key performance indicators (KPIs)? Is it revenue, promoting brand awareness, website visitation, number of followers, customer service metrics or direct sales to efforts? The most difficult aspect of calculating social media ROI may be that there is no common denominator to measuring dollar value.

Social media goals must be aligned to business objectives if the campaign is to be meaningful and the goals must be quantified. Establish analytical tools to track performance. Virtually everything is quantifiable but for those that are not, Oliver Blanchard, author of “Managing and Measuring Social Media Efforts in Your Organization,” explains that non-financial outcomes can “tell the story by capturing changes in human behavior.”

Successfully calculating and tracking ROI provides for more time and resources to be focused on what’s working and will help identify those that are not. Jay Baer says bluntly, “Here’s the deal. If you want to measure social media ROI, stop wasting your time doing software demos and attending webinars. Just figure out what you want to track, where you can track it, think about both current customers and new customers, and go do it.”

With 70% of the U.S. population having a profile on at least one social networking site and the average Internet user maintaining 7.6 different social media accounts, the opportunity to connect with consumers through digital media channels is huge. Social media spend is likely to continue to grow at an accelerated pace with marketing spend on social media predicted to double over the next five years. Calculating social media ROI effectively will provide valuable insight into the success of your campaigns.

Research also indicates that 22 percent of organizations utilize outside expertise to develop and assess social media efforts. To learn how Junction Creative Solutions (Junction) can partner with you to engage a successful social media marketing campaign, call 678.686.1125.

Capturing the Attention of Consumers through Influencer Marketing

In the days before digital technology and the myriad of social media outlets, one of marketers’ most effective pathways to brand recognition and acceptance was through word of mouth advertising. Consumers have always sought the opinions and advice of those within a social community before deciding to spend money on a product or service that was new, untested or unproven. Seeking recommendations from family and friends has always been at the top of the list when it comes to influencing a purchasing decision. Consumers are looking for assurance that a purchase will be a good and rewarding experience and consistently turn to those individual influencers or trusted media outlets for a “seal of approval.” With the growing impact of social media on our lives, today anyone can be an influencer.

Influencer marketing has become a very popular and effective way for advertisers to connect with a target audience. Studies reveal that consumers are becoming annoyed and complacent with traditional online advertising, with 26 percent of desktop and 15 percent of mobile users employing ad blocker software to avoid advertisements altogether. The age-old question, “Is anyone listening to the message?” is being answered. No.

With 92 percent of consumers trusting recommendations from individuals before making purchase decisions, influencer marketing is becoming a proven and economical method to connect a brand to target markets. “According to a case study by Nielsen Catalina Solutions and TapInfluence, influencer content generates return on investment (ROI) that is 11 times greater than traditional digital campaigns.” According to recent research, nearly 70 percent of marketers believe that influencer marketing efforts are positively impacting their ability to reach each target audience.

This success is dependent on an influencer being able to reach large segments of social media users with original content that builds consumer trust. Authenticity is a key factor in building this trust and confidence. Original and creative content keeps followers, who are looking for trusted product information and reviews, actively engaged. With 88 percent of consumers trusting online peer reviews over traditional advertising, influencer marketing is a necessary and important channel for businesses seeking to connect with targeted consumers.

“Content is king in today’s digital ecosystem,” says Julie Gareleck, Founder and CEO of Junction Creative Solutions. “An effective and creative content strategy adds significant value to your marketing campaigns. Our content and marketing strategists have the expertise necessary to develop successful marketing campaigns that build influence and establish trust with consumers.” For more about how you can positively impact your ability to deliver an effective message to your target audience, contact the marketing experts at Junction Creative Solutions at 678.686.1125.

Technology is Not Just-For-Profit Anymore

With charitable giving expected to grow by 3.8 percent, 2018 should be a promising year for the nonprofit sector. Marketing and fundraising are critical for organizations hoping to take advantage of this potential growth by leveraging technology to reach goals. Just as important are solutions and technology that connect all constituents (donors, volunteers, and advocates) and keep them engaged in a shared mission. A logical conduit is an organization’s website.

A dynamic website extends far beyond helping people find a nonprofit group online. It serves as an interactive tool used to:

  • Educate the public on issues surrounding the cause or charity;
  • Drive brand awareness and affinity;
  • Attract volunteers and community support;
  • Engage corporations with partner programs;
  • Advertise fundraising events;
  • Recruit program participants or users of the provided services;
  • And increase donations and improve donor relations.

To increase engagement with all groups who access a common website, navigation and content must be well planned and executed. Information should be easy to find. Messages should be tailored for different audiences. For example, potential volunteers will require different information than a local business owner interested in sponsoring an event. Separate entry portals can be created for program participants and Board members, adding an additional level of privacy and security.

Social media integration expands the website’s reach exponentially with the number of social network users expected to grow to 2.44 billion worldwide in 2018, according to Statista. Communicating the mission of a charity to potential donors in a way that elicits a desired response can be difficult for even a seasoned fundraising professional. Technology helps deliver complex messages more clearly by consolidating them into shareable quotes and links placed within the website. Other digital solutions such as videos and live podcasts can also be effective in reaching new supporters.

Making a donation to a cause should be easy and convenient. Charitable givers represent each generational age group and should be accommodated equally. More than a fifth of Millennials have never written a check and more than half of Gen Xs and Baby Boomers prefer to give solely through an organization’s website. Credit card processing systems streamline this process making it possible for people to give more and give remotely.

As technology rapidly evolves, nonprofit organizations face the challenge of keeping pace in order to meet Board expectations and fulfill missions. “We are eager to work with nonprofit groups,” comments Julie Gareleck, CEO and Managing Partner for Junction Creative Solutions. “We created a distinct line of service to satisfy the needs of the nonprofit sector, driving down costs and streamlining processes, so they can continue to influence social change.”

If your organization is looking for innovative solutions to improve engagement, increase giving opportunities, and engage members, contact us to learn more about our packaged solution at info@junction-creative.com.