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Designing an Effective Case Study to Help Tell Your Story

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Everybody loves a good story, and that thought is not just a popular line of prose. It’s a truth based in science. A group of Princeton University neuroscientists have found that stories activate sensory centers in our brains. “Communication is a shared activity resulting in a transfer of information across brains. The findings shown here indicate that during successful communication, speakers’ and listeners’ brains exhibit joint, temporally coupled, response patterns.” It is concluded that when a listener hears a well-told story, their brain reacts as if they are experiencing it in person. It is as if humans are pre-programmed to tell and share stories with one another. The basis for the success of many public speeches is the case the presenter incorporates within the content, and while a well-told joke can draw attention to the story, it is the well-told story that delivers on the message.

In marketing we are all about attracting customers for our business and our clients’ businesses. Case studies are investigations of real-life scenarios and experiences of individuals, groups or organizations. Real or perceived, an effective case study can help produce increased leads for B2B companies. Kristie Ritchie, VP of marketing at Upshot, says that case studies should be crafted anytime a marketer or company tries something new or innovates the brand, product or its approach. “Really, anything can be turned into a case study if you have the right information and story,” she says.

However, developing an effective case study can be a complex process that requires a strategy for focusing on an organization’s specific skills and experiences that catch the interest and attention of targeted consumers. “Case studies are meant to mirror the diversity of customers to make it easier for customers to see themselves or their use case,” says Sam Balter, senior marketing manager at HubSpot.

The process of developing an effective case study begins with the strategy. Determine the purpose around a specific targeted consumer audience and find an example where the details parallel the goals of that specific market segment. Know all there is to know about the market’s wants and needs and tailor the message around the most prominent solution. Back up the story line with facts; credibility is paramount if the receiver of the communication is to have confidence in the story’s claims.

Select a format that adequately supports the story’s premise and the facts of the case. Use charts, infographics and podcasts where appropriate. Keep in mind that that everyone comprehends messages differently. Make the supporting documentation easy to find and comprehend, utilize bold text, italics and bulleted lists to break up rambling text.  Be concise and get to the point quickly. Err on the side of brevity. Shoot for a great short story, not an unabridged novel. Stay on the message and be flexible. Be prepared to fine-tune the message and the format in order to make necessary adjustments to original assumptions. Tell the whole story including the ugly parts. Few readers will believe a perfect story that is without errors and challenges experienced along the way. Challenges overcome shows the communicator’s ability to navigate around initial failures to find success for customers.

People like to read and learn from others’ experiences, whether successful or failures. A well told and structured story about a case study can make the reader feel as though they are part of the plot and create confidence in the author’s abilities in a way that will make potential customers become ideal customers.

Junction Creative Solutions believes an effective content strategy adds value to our client’s business goals and objectives. Call 678-686-1125 today to learn how our experienced team of professionals are uniquely qualified to help you tell your story.

Carefully Managing Your Social Media Marketing Strategy Can Pay Big Dividends

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With more than half of the world’s population now using social media platforms to communicate, marketing via these platforms is no longer optional for brands looking to expand their reach. Ninety-five percent of adults between the ages of 18 and 34 years of age are most likely to follow brands via one or more social media outlets. Global penetration rates for mobile devices are exceeding 42 percent as nearly one-million new people each day use their mobile social media devices. With high return on investment (ROI), marketers are rapidly ramping up social media marketing spend. However, achieving long-term success with social media marketing requires building partnerships and relationships with prospective consumers. The process of identifying which platform performs the best for each product and service can be complex and expensive if not managed effectively.   

Roberto Blake, owner of digital agency Create Awesome Media believes brands need to understand how to translate the relationships they’ve built and the lessons they’ve learned using a platform into the larger platform ecosystem. As many of these social media networks mature, they focus more on a one-to-one “small group” connection with users. “People are realizing you don’t have to be super big; you can just have influence on a smaller group and have a wonderful business,” says Andrea Vahl. With a platform now available for nearly every demographic, social media marketing can no longer be ignored regardless of business size, but risk must be managed carefully in order to make the best use of content marketing spend.

Planning is at the forefront of any digital marketing strategy. Efficient and effective content must be timely and targeted to specific segments with messaging that builds brand recognition and drives sales. Having a calendar of content for each platform will greatly improve performance by having the right messages ready to go at the right time. Social media management tools from HubSpot, Buffer and HootSuite can be particularly useful. In general, Images still trump prose when communicating lengthy or complicated messages. Bite-sized chunks of information that are concise and to the point work better than lengthy script considering the audience’s usually short attention span and the fact that most conversations are taking place across mobile devices. Measure the effectiveness of the marketing plan and strategy on an ongoing basis and make necessary adjustments as necessary across all platforms.

Comprehensive management will take time but the rewards of a successful process can be considerable and very cost effective. If you don’t have the time or experienced staff to dedicate to the process, it can be beneficial in time and quality to form a working relationship with an outside social media specialist.

To learn more about how Junction Creative Solutions’ team of professionals and partners can help you create an impactful social media campaign to advance your brand reputation, call 678.686.1125 today.

Consumers Relearning Some Old Lessons with the Advent of Influencer Marketing

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Influencer marketing, the technological equivalent to traditional word of mouth advertising, involves promoting products and services by celebrities and individuals who have influence over consumers’ purchase decisions. This influence typically comes from the actors’ expertise, popularity, or reputation. Consumers respond because they feel an affinity to the influencer and find them credible. Influencer is quickly becoming a profession category where genuine celebrities and self-made “stars”, who are famous for just being famous, are making a career of endorsing everything from beauty products to machine tools.

 With an estimated 800 million people actively using Instagram each month, in addition to other social media platforms, marketers are lining up to spend vast sums of money to connect their brands with consumers through these influencers. The medium is estimated to be worth more than $1.5 billion worldwide. The Association of National Advertisers has determined that 75 percent of marketers currently work with influencers in part due to the fact that the marketing tactic has 11 times the return on investment (ROI) of traditional digital marketing.

Some recent experiences though are having an impact on the new advertising medium. As with many shiny new things that produce nearly instant sizzle, influencer marketing is experiencing the consequences of fraud brought on by a lack of transparency. Reminiscent of the introductive days of television advertising, when pictures first married with prose to create visions of products and service performances that rivaled a snake-oil salesman pitch, social media advertising seems to be intent on rivaling the worst of these historic activities. Honesty, truth and transparency, most often portrayed as essential to effective advertising, are once again coming under fire, or is it Fyre?  Cynicism is quickly replacing much of the enthusiasm for celebrity word of mouth. Some critics are claiming that as much as 50 percent of influencer marketing industry performances are plagued by fraud.

Perhaps no better example of what can go wrong when famously famous people endorse an event without exercising responsible due diligence, is the now infamous Fyre Festival of 2017. Host Brian McFarland promoted an over the top, luxurious festival experience to launch his music booking mobile application. Famous celebrities lined up to accept as much as $250 thousand to advertise the promise of gourmet food, glamorous tents and villas, rock stars and a bevy of famous supermodels. Ticket buyers arrived to find the amenities woefully lacking and the promised performance stars and international models non-existent. Event attendees found themselves stranded on the far-away island of Great Exuma in the Bahamas. It was anything but an entertaining experience.

The failure was blamed on the promoter’s inability to launch an engagement, but in hindsight many consider the catastrophe nothing less than intentional fraud. With influencers receiving huge sums to promote the event, critics were quick to focus some of the responsibility on those influencers that failed to perform reasonable fact checking and investigation into the event promoter’s capabilities and credibility.

The industry was forced to initiate reforms following the debacle. Technological solutions are being implemented that will identify and recognize fake followings and fake engagements with the goal to separate fiction from reality. Harsher penalties are now in place for those who do not post the requisite full view notifications paid partnerships tags. The United Kingdom’s Advertising Standards Authority has warned hundreds of social media influencers to comply with stricter rules and to ensure that all sponsored or paid-for content is clearly labeled. Many people believe that the influencers involved with Fyre should be held accountable for helping market what ultimately became a failed event.

In the end, consumers bear a certain level of responsibility for their victimhood. For generations we were brought up to expect that; if it looks too good to be true it probably is; don’t believe everything you hear and though a picture can be worth a thousand words those words and the pictures may not be true. With the advent of software that can place someone where they have never been, saying things they have never said, this axiom deserves an increased amount of due diligence and scrutiny.

Despite all the amazing technological advances of the past decades, personal behavior, like fashion tends to repeat itself over time. Bad actors and criminal behavior are more often encouraged, not bounded by all the shiny new advances in digital communication. 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. Consumers are being forced to relearn some life lessons and are responding to the demise of influencer transparency and credibility in this new form of advertising. In a recent global survey of consumers, Nielsen found that 83% of consumers trust the recommendations of friends and family over other advertising influencers.

In 2019 successful brands will find a way to authentically utilize the expansive amount of customer content to more successfully connect their brands with consumers.

A More Diverse and Socially Conscience Generation of Consumers

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Grouping an entire generation of people into a single marketing segment has its pitfalls. Not every member of any group or demographic segment can be expected to see the world from an identical perspective and follow a single behavioral pattern. However, generational differences and behaviors are influenced by disruptive events. The Great Depression and World War II had a dramatic impact on baby boomers, both in the way they saw the world and their role in the future. The technology revolution is generating much of the same impact on Millennials, and to an even greater degree, Generation Z. Such dynamic experiences tend to not only alter established patterns of process but often disrupts the way people reinterpret and redefine fundamental societal norms.

Marketers found measured success in developing strategies that connected with Millennials only after struggling to fully understand the impact of the technology era on those born and reared during the years that saw unprecedented disruption in traditional communication processes. Millennials were the test subjects for social media platforms that were born and that matured during their formative years. Both Millennials and the generation that followed became accustomed to fast paced growth of new technologies and the impacts they have on the world.

Generation Z consists of those born in 1996 or later. They make up 25.9% of the United States population and will account for one-third of the U.S. population by 2020. The most tech savvy and information consuming generation in history, Generation “Z’ers” tend to be less focused on a single thought but are demonstrating an amazing ability to multitask and a lack of patience with a single subject. Since 2018, members of Generation Z spent up to $143 billion and will represent 40% of consumers by 2020. In order to successfully market to this generation, it is important to recognize how this new set of consumers differentiates from the previous generation. While Millennials learned to coexist with the development of digital devices, Z’ers are perpetual in their use and have demonstrated a mastery of everything smart and mobile.

Marketers are experiencing a massive shift in advertising methods and content messaging in order to successfully connect with Generation Z’s shifting values. “When it doesn’t get there fast they think something’s wrong,” said Marcie Merriman, executive director of growth strategy at Ernst & Young. “They expect businesses, brands and retailers to be loyal to them. If they don’t feel appreciated, they’re going to move on. It’s not about them being loyal to the business.” Like their predecessors, this new generation values authenticity. However, Generation Z’ers desire even more transparency from companies requiring brands to alter their approach to focus to a greater degree on social media influencers. This generation of shoppers indicates they are more likely to be motivated by social media influencers than by celebrities. Four out of five Generation Z members say they allow social media to influence purchasing decisions.

Contrary to digitally honed social insights, Generation Z is more socially diverse and conscious than former generations. They are more likely to appreciate face to face relationships, be willing to do great work for an employer and are predicted to be willing to invest years in a job that propels them forward to achieving personal self-development. According to Generation Z marketing strategist Deep Patel, “the newly developing high tech and highly networked world has resulted in an entire generation thinking and acting more entrepreneurially.”

It would be easy to button-hole this newest generation of consumers into one market segment, but care must be exorcized to understand that each new generation is influenced by those that have gone before. In reality, while greatly impacted and honed from a lifetime of technology, this new generation may be much more diverse having been influenced by interactions with each preceding generation.

It’s Time to Play the March Madness Advertising Game

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Unlike 2018, the big NCAA 2019 basketball tournament event is not burdened with the pressure of battling clean-up. March Madness 2019 is predicted to set a new record of $1.36 billion in advertising spend, continuing an upward tradition since 2013. The NCAA Men’s Division I Final Four will be hosted by the city of Minneapolis, and is predicted to generate $142 million in economic impact for the area and attract 94,000 visitors to the U.S. Bank Stadium.  “In terms of impact, visitor spending is only one way to think about success,” says CEO Kate Mortenson, NCAA Final Four Minneapolis Organizing Committee. While the city looks forward to the promise of an economic windfall, a list of international brands is gearing up for an opportunity to promote their wares to the millions of college basketball fans who will be tuning in to the weeks-long event leading up to the big game.

The NCAA has announced that this year’s tournament will be streaming across 15 platforms in an effort to keep pace with a more mobile viewing audience. Mobile experiences will be very important to fans and advertisers will need to heed the viewers’ continued gravitational pull away from traditional cable and broadcast channels. The most successful brands will be those that connect all the channels into one cohesive campaign that brings basketball fans together with the brand.

Social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter will continue to build relationships between fans and brands. Official March Madness social media handles generated 26 million social engagements across these popular channels last year. Marketers will need to prepare ahead in order to capture prolonged customer attention.  “It’s about speaking to the audience, whether they’re preparing for their bracket or starting a competition with friends and family. And it’s about thinking of the length of time you’re spending with consumers,” says Courtney McKlveen, VP and Industry Lead of Retail, Travel and QSR at Yahoo. “ The word ‘loyalty’ is fun to throw around, but it still exists. In order to build loyalty, it takes time, and it means being there throughout the shopping cycle, and having the confidence to think about your ROI differently.”

Casual-dining brand Buffalo Wild Wings is launching its “That’s March Madness” TV spots and digital ads urging viewers to visit its restaurants to watch the tournament. In addition to their usual broad selection of brew and spicy wings, the 1,200-unit Buffalo Wild Wings chain is rolling out custom-designed “Jewel Stools” in Los Angeles and New York City. “Man caves and technology have divided us, conquered us and allowed a part of our herd to be divided,” says Scot Crooker, associate creative director at The Martin Agency, Buffalo Wild Wings’ advertising agency. “Sports is about finding your tribe.”

Whether you choose one or all of the available channels, there are more ways than ever for a brand to engage with an audience during March Madness. While the digital play provides social analytics that can generate immediate message effectiveness, display and sponsorship advertising often requires an incubation period following the performance to measure success or failure. It’s time to establish a strategy and tip off your best effort to connect with our nation’s college basketball fans.

Implement an Effective Narrative to Better Connect the Message to an Audience

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“Once upon a time,” who doesn’t remember this opening sentence? It is famously known as a preamble to a story whose purpose is to grab attention, teach an important message, and impart an unforgettable impression on the listener or to compel them to take action. Storytelling is part of all our lives.  From our earliest memories stories have been fundamental to understanding just about everything. A medium, when well performed, takes the often mundane specifics of a subject and transforms them into a narrative that is interesting and impressionable to the listener. Imagine for a moment attempting to explain to a four-year-old the concepts and importance of building a strong and comforting abode that will survive the dangers of a foe with a menacing nature. Behold the narrative, “The Three Little Pigs.”

Storytelling is not new. It’s a supportive foundational block in our ability to communicate effectively. It utilizes emotion and empathy to inform and motivate, to explain complex as well as simple messages. In this fast-paced, digital communicative environment, storytelling is becoming increasingly important to marketing efforts. Shortened sound-bites, mini moments and mega-blanket messaging have become all the rage among digital advertising, but the impact of the message is being lost amongst all the noise. Advertisers are returning to the art of storytelling to complete a more comprehensive and effective connection with its audience.

Eric Danetz, Global Chief Revenue Officer for AccuWeather, says, “High-quality, authentic storytelling is critical in today’s fragmented media environment.  With noise and competition for consumer attention and brands targeting for greater personalization and impact, storytelling becomes key to establishing an emotional connection with your audience. In terms people and businesses can relate to, storytelling illustrates how a brand will meet customers’ needs and in turn, builds loyalty.”

With all the attention garnered by the technical aspects of digital media and as the proliferation of multiple social channels continue, the increasingly shorter time spans in digital communication is driving consumers to distrust brands and avoid fact-based, feature-and-benefits methods of messaging. When performed properly, storytelling is combining art, creativity, psychology and data to create improved marketing campaigns. Consumers are interested in being entertained by a message, being educated and motivated by an experience and in messages that engage with them emotionally and personally.  Old school marketing tactics are finding new life with consumers who are tired of the incessant barrage of digital media noise.   

Successfully merging the art of storytelling into today’s digital marketing environment requires an understanding of the techniques of storytelling and an investment of time and resources to implement an effective narrative that connects with consumers.

For more on how Junction Creative Solutions’ creative team of professionals can help tell your story, call 678-686-1125 today.

Social Media Users: Resolve to Share the Responsibility for Protecting Data Privacy in 2019

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While many of us, either personally or professionally, can complain about our experiences in 2018, the major social media platforms, particularly Facebook, had a particularly bad year. Once the seemingly runaway, no goal too high, darling of social media fans of all ages, Facebook’s executives are slinking to the dark corners of their corporate structure to lick their wounds and try to figure out what went wrong and how next to respond to the unabridged, unrelenting criticisms from just about everyone, everywhere.  The troubles for the social media king began early in the year when it was discovered that Facebook harvested personal user data from 87 million of its members and sold the personal data to Cambridge-Analytica, who used it for targeted advertising, particularly political advertising.  The practice apparently wasn’t exactly new. In fact it had been going on for nearly a decade before the practice came to light for millions of users worldwide.

While not alone in its data sharing policy, Facebook’s favorability rating dropped twice as much as other tech giants. An exclusive poll for Axios by SurveyMonkey found that Facebook’s favorability fell 28 points, compared with 13 for Amazon, 12 for Google, 10 for Apple and seven for Twitter. Facebook’s most recent favorability rating was 48 percent, down from 61 percent in October. According to a Pew Research Center survey, more than half of Facebook users in the U.S. said they’ve changed their privacy settings in the past year and more than four in 10 users have taken a break from the social media platform.  Twenty-five percent have gone as far as to delete the Facebook app from their phone. An overwhelming 90 percent of those polled were very concerned about internet privacy.  “The bigger you are the harder you fall” mantra is manifesting itself on Facebook and Google as the least trusted companies in America. Talk about a bad year!

Facebook’s initial response did little to appease the public. “Over recent months we have made our policies clearer, our privacy settings easier to find and introduced better tools for people to access, download, and delete their information” said a Facebook spokesperson. “We’ve also run education campaigns on and off Facebook to help people around the world better understand how to manage their information on Facebook.” The well-intentioned message unfortunately had subtle tones of, “It’s really our users’ fault for not being well enough educated and informed about our data handling policies”. Which unfortunately is more likely true than not.

The public has overtly embraced new technologies, often without questioning the intentions and motives of those who develop and promote the savvy new platforms. Most of us approve the user agreements without even reading and understanding the content before clicking and surfing. Has our realization come too late? Are we too far into the convenience and comfort of technology to take back control of our private information?  Are we willing to accept that the loss of privacy is the price for a ticket to the big event?

Facebook creator Mark Zuckerberg has announced that his resolution for 2019 is to “focus on fixing” Facebook’s serious problems. “Facebook has a lot of work to do – whether it’s protecting our community from abuse and hate, defending against interference by nation states, or making sure that time spent on Facebook is time well spent.” Perhaps all of his social media followers should take heed and resolve to better understand our responsibility to protecting our own privacy in the coming year.

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.

“What is old is new again” May Be the Most Surprising Trend in Marketing in 2019

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Believe it or not, we have once again come full circle on another year. Marketing prognosticators are polishing their crystal balls of future things to come and declaring how technology will revolutionize our channels of communication with consumers in 2019.  Last year’s predicted trends are being measured against reality, and the process is becoming akin to scoring a competitive game of sport.

As with so many games in life the results of our collective efforts to predict the future of marketing tactics and activities are never completely aligned with perfection. Shifting consumer expectations and the response to accepting new communication technologies make the playing field difficult to read and an unsuited environment for calling a perfect game. All we can really do is take stock of what is working, evaluate why some predictions failed, make necessary adjustments to the strategy for 2019 and move forward. The most successful predictions of marketing in 2018 appeared to be offered by those who envisioned a broader and less specific set of outcomes.

“While some industries have embraced the paradigm shift in how they reach, engage, and mobilize new customers, I predict that we will see even more attention and focus being placed on getting the marketing mix correct,” predicted Julie Gareleck, CEO & Managing Partner, Junction Creative Solutions. The year’s performance appears to have been another example that absolutes and inevitabilities rarely pan out. So what appears likely to work best in 2019?

Video Marketing’s performance will continue to align with the previously predicted game plan. A Cisco forecast indicates that video will make up 85% of Internet traffic by 2020. While posts with digital images and content continue to capture a significant audience, video is generating 135% more organic reach for marketers. Once seen as an opportunity for only the most well-healed, larger players, video is becoming more economical for those smaller marketers who can benefit from projecting an emotional and appealing story. According to The Wall Street Journal, “the usage of online video has increased by 10 times between 2011 and 2016. Over the next two years, the trend has only intensified and is unlikely to slow down.”

Automating the marketing process to work more efficiently and smarter will continue to pay dividends of better understanding customers.  Scott Brinker, Founder of Chief MarTec, said, “As much amazing marketing software as there is today, there is still an opportunity for new ideas. Marketing should be — and can be — better.”  Automation will be seen as another set of marketing tools that enhances the acquisition of new customers.

Smart marketers will continue to develop an expanded inbound approach to connecting with their market segments. Content marketing, automation, social media and multichannel marketing can be coordinated to create a brand reputation that is authentic and valuable to customers. Consumers are more often placing trust in those they know. Quality, reputable content will prevail over stock ads in the coming year. If one were to bet on an absolute, a continuing utilization of inbound marketing tactics is a wise wager for 2019.

Once predicted to be rendered obsolete; direct mail, print advertising and brick and mortar sellers are showing some unexpected resilience in the digital age. Not unlike wax LP’s return to popularity among a niche market of music lovers in a world of digital recordings, old school marketing tactics are finding success with consumers who are tired of the incessant barrage of digital media noise and those who long to revisit a traditional physical shopping experience. Players on the field of brick and mortar will need to focus on creating entertaining events and an enticing experience for their target markets.

Who would have thought it: consumers like getting mail, even if it was once thought to be junk? Print advertising is not dead. While a small and much diminished portion of overall marketing spend, print is finding its rightful place in the digital world. In the field of marketing where a fast, bang, digital technology appears to arise every minute, the most surprising trend in marketing for 2019 may just be “what is old is new again.”

Prepare Your eCommerce Website for a Happy Holiday Selling Season

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Would a winning team come to the plate in the World Series expecting to win without their best equipment? The answer from most sports enthusiasts and players alike would be, “certainly not!” But retailers and sellers across the industry spectrum may be coming to the plate in the biggest game of the year woefully unprepared for a big win. The holiday season is marketers’ most important opportunity to win big or go home, yet many players are failing to adequately coordinate ecommerce outlets for victory.

This year, online sales have risen by 46% and with more than 60 percent of retailers showing inventory on their website, it is critical to be ready for all the increased holiday shopping ahead. For a website to be most effective it must be aesthetically relevant, be at the peak of its performance and timely in its content. The worst time to realize that your marketing hardware isn’t loaded properly is when you have competition within your sight. Now is the time to focus on improving the performance of your website’s existing functionality.

First and foremost, your website must be prepared to handle and respond to the increased amount of traffic that is experienced around the holiday season. With their busy schedules consumers are impatient with websites that are slow to function and deliver accurately on their commands. Studies have revealed that websites that fail to load in just three seconds produce increased bounce rates. It is time to test your server’s ability to respond to your customers’ expectations and take measures to improve the site’s performance.

Decorating brick and mortar stores for the busiest selling season is a holiday tradition. Retailers spend millions of dollars each year in an attempt to set a festive mood in hopes of encouraging shoppers to spend with them. A website should be no different. Decorating your site with the sounds and sights of the season will generate consumer interest and appeal. Offer something dynamic and unique with your content and modify it often to accommodate special events and promote shopping incentives. Utilize plug-ins that automate the processes of timely scheduling and initiating content modification. Focus on intently delivering on your promises. A gift received the day after Christmas is a memory rarely forgotten.

“In today’s world, if you’re not on mobile, you don’t exist.” More consumers look to mobile devices to research products and services before making a purchasing decision.  By 2021, it has been estimated that consumers will spend $152 billion directly on mobile phones, and over the next few years mobile phones will influence $1.4 trillion in offline sales. A strategy to align your online presence across all mobile devices is critical.

Secure your website! Loyal customers may forgive an occasional mistake or inconvenience caused by unforeseen and uncontrollable calamity, but mess up a financial transaction or mishandle consumer data and you may be forever unforgiven. The holiday selling season brings out the best in many people, but it also brings out bad actors in greater numbers who are willing to victimize your customers and your business to advance their personal gain. Ensure that all your software, plug-ins, connections and passwords are up to date, and invest in the latest versions of anti-malware as a first line of defense.

Prepare your eCommerce platform now for a happy holiday selling season!