Influencer Marketing Trending Up for 2019

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According to Am Golhar, founder of Abstract PR, there are an estimated 1.5 million influencers in the digital communication world, and approximately 71% of Generation Z’s digital users have a close relationship with at least one influencer. With Instagram leading the influencer journey, many marketers are lamenting the importance of increasing marketing spend on influencing customers via social media platforms.

Launched in 2010, Instagram continues to grow at a remarkable pace. Just a little moret han 7 years of age, the visual social media platform has surpassed 800 million monthly users and is not only attracting individual social conversations but is proving its worthiness to marketers looking to grow brand awareness and showcase products. With 51 percent of users indicating that they visit the site daily and 70 percent using the platform to search brands, influencer marketing is proving itself as an authentic method to connect with potential customers. Influencer marketing content is delivering an 11 times higher return on investment (ROI) than traditional forms of digital marketing.

Generation Z consumers are proving to be much more active and reactive to social media outlets like YouTube and Instagram than former generations. Businesses need to establish an effective and targeted strategy to engage with this new generation of consumers in order to grab their share of the next big consumer market. In the coming year, influencers will continue to increase their impact on marketing efforts for businesses of all sizes. Participants will continue to focus efforts on specific geographical market segments with targeted and quality content.

The trend in 2019 will require an even greater command for authenticity and transparency as the initial exuberance of the new shiny marketing tool meets with the greater reality across all marketing channels.  Consumers say they trust social networks to guide them to purchase decisions, but some of that trust is being worn away by paid influencers who fail to make important financial disclosures that exist between their content and the brands they are reviewing. 52% are expressing distaste for repetitive advertising offers that are being pitched this holiday season by influencers.  With nearly 54% of consumers indicating “reliability” concerns about some current influencer content, User Generated Content (UGC) is set to receive more attention from marketers in the year ahead. Joe Rohrlich, from Bazaarvoice says, “Today’s consumers are looking to corroborate what they see or hear in one place with the information they find elsewhere.”

Social media influencer marketing is a natural technological segue from the long tested and tried method of “word of mouth” advertising. The former one to one approach to connecting with an expanding audience is being amplified by the internet’s “one to many” social media environment. In a global survey of consumers, Nielsen found that ”83% of consumers trust the recommendations of friends and family over other forms of advertising.”  In 2019 successful brands will find a way to utilize this expansive amount of customer content.

To learn how Junction Creative Solutions (Junction) can help refine and improve your influencer marketing strategy, call 678-686-1125 today.

Sales and Marketing Functions Must Align for Business Growth

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Ask any veteran in business and you’ll hear stories about the ongoing warbetween the marketing function and the sales department. Many relationshipsbetween sales and marketing departments often resemble an efficient andeffective circular firing squad. Marketing blames sales for not executing onits plan and sales complains that marketing has failed to listen to the salesteam or customer and therefore put forth a failed plan.

It seems so simple. The functions performed by a company’smarketing department should be coordinated and aligned with the revenue goalsand objectives of the company’s sales department. After all, the ultimate goalof each department is to cultivate combined efforts into sales, right? Well,often the seemingly most obvious pronouncement escapes reality. Studies have revealed that organizations with strong sales and marketing alignmentachieve a 20% annual growth rate as opposed to a 4% decline in revenue for thosecompanies who do not. The most telling Forrester research statistic indicatesthat only 8% of companies have a strong coordinated relationship between theirmarketing department and sales professionals.

The apparent disconnect appears to be founded in theinherently different approaches of each department’s functions. Marketing campaigns tend to bemore focused on promoting brand recognition, generating a high quantity of salesleads and tend to be measured by marketing metrics that are longer term.  Sales organizations are driven by creatingquality versus quantity of personal relationships with potential customers inan effort to solve consumer problems. Sales efforts are faster paced andmeasured by shorter term metrics. This difference in approach has resulted inmany companies structuring their marketing and sales departments separate fromone another. Such structures are proving detrimental in an era where digitalcommunications are disrupting traditional relationship building efforts betweensales and consumers.

As customers increasingly connect with service providers through websites, emails, texts, social media posts,print and TV ads, the dynamics of the traditional revenue generating processare changing. When the customer initiates a buying decision it is often throughpurchasing portals, internet chat reps, and call centers as much as through salespeople.It is predicted that by 2020,B2B buyers won’t contact sellers until 80% of the purchasing decision isalready made. In this environment where consumers are influenced in advancethrough information displayed on LinkedIn, Facebook and other social mediaoutlets, is cold calling really cold? The time for a change in traditionalorganizational structures is at hand.

The process of aligning marketing and sales efforts begins with integrating the organization’s datacollection and management systems. Data should be evaluated to identify themost promising leads in order to enhance and directly influence sales revenueby focusing on the prospective customer’s needs. Sales efforts should moreclosely align with marketing campaigns, coordinating messages that promotecustomer understanding and that deliver on the brand’s promise. Where a strong,effective facilitator between the two departments is absent, combining salesand marketing functions is required to achieve the overall objective of increasing productivity, saving money and increasing revenue. Whensales and marketing functions focus on coordinating their efforts, a company will realize 36% higher customer retention and a 38% increase in sales success.

To learn more about how Junction Creative Solutions can help you bridge the gap between sales and marketing teams,call 678-686-1125.

Patience Was Once Seen as a Virtue; Today Everything Has to Happen Now!

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Remember when getting to a knocked door in a minute was a sufficient response time; when answering the phone before the third ring was once seen as a positive attribute to the caller; when a 60-second traffic light didn’t frustrate or anger even the most demanding among us; or a 10-second webpage load time was tolerated as reasonable? As with many standards of performance, the benchmark for “acceptable” has been moving ahead in tandem with the speed of technology. Once upon a time patience was seen as a virtue; today everything has to happen now!

Internet users have no patience for websites that they perceive are failing to meet the newest standard of timely performance. In a study by Akamai, about half of web users expect a site to load in 2 seconds or less. Approximately 40% of all internet users abandon a website that takes more than three seconds to load; 70% of those internet visitors who think your website speed is too slow won’t return to the website again and 44% of them will pass the bad performance information on to others who may use your site.  Remember the importance of “word of mouth?” Well now it is the “Influencers” that may sink a poorly-performing website. With website speeds increasing 22 percent every year in the competitive digital world, it is imperative that a focused and ongoing effort be made to maintain website performance.

Improving the slow speed of a website, while daunting to those of us who are easily intimidated by technology terms and back-end functions, can be fairly easy to diagnose and correct with routine application of a few performance enhancing fundamentals.

Most website requirements were defined and established when the site was initially developed and designed. The website hosting plan selected when the site was first launched, while adequate at the time, may not meet the demands of current traffic. Review and update your hosting plan to ensure it meets current usage needs.

Caching, the storing of commonly used CSS, images, HTML documents, and media files, when enabled will result in faster access to data and will lead to a more rewarding experience of faster load times for repeat visitors. However, first-time visitors will not see the benefit of caching to their load time experience.

For the majority of websites, images make up more than half of a website’s pages. Clearly the saying, “a picture is worth a thousand words” is still relevant in the digital communications era. Broken URL source links and the choice of image file types can impact the performance of a website. The most common and versatile file type is JPG. This popular file type can be saved in a wide range of qualities between low and high and performs well with vibrant images of products. When presenting graphics with heavier textual elements or transparent backgrounds, PNG file types perform best. GIF files should be considered when displaying a brief visual animation or mini video clip. Regardless of the file type, editing the image to optimize its performance is important at the outset, and reducing the overall number of images will have a positive effect on response times. This is a place where “less is more” is good advice to be taken.

According to Yahoo, HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol) requires 80 percent of a website’s load time. Combining CSS/JS Files into one larger file may help your load times in the long run. Reducing the size a large number of images and eliminating distracting images that don’t correspond to your written content will enhance overall performance. Users expect web pages to load fast, and they won’t stick around if they don’t.

A professional web developer and designer can offer more options to improve the speed and performance of an ailing website. To learn how Junction Creative Solutions’ (Junction) team can implement performance enhancements to your website, call 678-686-1125.

Playing Games to Reengage Employees and Invigorate Customers

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“Humans have been playing games for thousands of years. Some argue that games predate culture,” said Brandon Marsala, creative director of content and strategy at Mindspace. “Knucklebone dice and painted stones were used by ancient peoples to hone skills, develop critical thinking, or just pass the time. Games are a part of us. Whether it’s competition with others or competition with ourselves, games are miniature versions of our lives: We strive to achieve — to overcome challenges.”

Marketers are learning how gamesmanship can have a positive impact on engaging and motivating customers who are continuously being bombarded with massive amounts of noise in a new digital climate. The effective application of gamification within an organization is not limited to the seller’s relationship with customers; it is finding success with employer and employee relationships as well. Whether internal or external, gamification techniques are benefiting organizations in their efforts to transform disengaged employees and reinvigorating distracted consumer audiences. “Gamification has become a go-to tactic for engaging consumers and employees alike in recent years. By applying elements of typical gaming activities such as continuation streaks, point systems and rewards to a business interface, users can feel like they’re having fun while interacting with your brand.”

Businesses looking to develop a gamification strategy need to first identify those areas within the organization that can benefit from increased sales, customer loyalty, employee retention and motivation. The overall strategy must be relevant and in line with the company’s culture and mission. Keeping the rules of the game simple, easily understood and winnable is important. “The programs need to be easy to play and winnable,” says John Kampas, CEO of Empist. “A lengthy process or extensive rules can be unappealing to participants. You must also clearly outline the details of the challenge and the reward before starting the game.” Focus the development on what works best for your organization, its mission and goals. Leverage existing assets that motivate and drive increased performance and add value to user experience.

Whether it’s a customer loyalty program, progressive purchase reward, performance incentives or personal recognition, gamification is here to stay. Business leaders are aware of the importance of retaining top talent and expanding the list of loyal consumers. The old saying “This is business, not a game” doesn’t quite ring true anymore.

To learn more on how Junction Creative Solutions can help you implement an effective gamification strategy, call us at 678-686-1125.