Category Archives for Marketing

3 CBD Experts Share Their Best Marketing Strategies

3 CBD Experts Share Their Best Marketing Strategies

While business is booming and opportunities are everywhere in the CBD Industry, marketing for these types of businesses is no easy task. Regulations vary from state to state (and country to country)--and the regulatory landscape is constantly changing. While some cannabis businesses get left in the dust, others continue to grow exponentially. We spoke with some of the industry leaders to find out what's working.

​Mason Ghrannie
Vice President
CBD R US

We are a CBD company based out of Southern California, and we offer a wide selection of CBD Products, such as CBD Gummies, CBD Vape Oil, CBD Honey, and more. 

Our products are carefully formulated, and we've been able to improve the lives of thousands of people. SEO and Instagram influencer marketing are the most effective marketing methods for our business.

The keyword analytics for CBD in Google search are highly competitive, however ranking for these keywords can drive hundreds of thousands of clicks to our website. As a result, we are focusing on SEO as our main marketing method.

For SEO, we focus on 2 things: writing quality content that engages our store visitors, and earning backlinks from high traffic and niche relevant websites. 

Since our industry is highly regulated and we are unable to utilize Facebook ads and Google ads, we've completely given up on these forms of marketing. 

It has become a tough challenge finding outlets to market our business. SEO for our niche has become extremely competitive since it is the main source of marketing for most CBD companies.

We've had to become extremely creative with how we earn authority backlinks and utilize influencers in order to rank in Google and grow our social media pages

Marc Lewis
Executive Editor
Remedy Review

Remedy Review is a website focused on the health potential of hemp derivatives. We looked at the exploding CBD market and found limited medically-focused content. That's why we invested in medically-reviewed and evidence-based articles. We wanted to help people lead a conversation with their doctors.

Remedy Review relies on search data to help guide our content calendars. Of course we cover pressing issues, industry news, and products, but our goal is to provide good answers to common questions. Google allows us to identify where confusion exists, so we can help.

Social media is always tricky. It's the easiest way for us to have a direct conversation with people, but it's also hard to cut through the noise.

This space is growing faster than oversight. Our biggest challenge is presenting good, helpful information without overstepping existing science or creating false hope for people in need.

David Shiffman
Founder/Director of Marketing
Tillmans Tranquils

Our flagship product is our CBD mints and they are unlike any other mints/edibles on the market. We mint is more like an m&m or mentos with a hard candy shell and a super fresh peppermint center. Our unique process helps mask any bitter taste unlike other edible products in the market.

Instagram has been our #1 driver for our brand from day 1. Before we were even ready to open our doors to the public, we shared our branding and package design and we immediately started getting inquiries from retailers who wanted our product.

We've been laser focused on Instagram engagement and it's where we continue to spend our time.

One of our challenges right now is making sure our packaging fits all of the individual state requirements. Right now some states have more strict requirements when it comes to packaging. If we can design our packaging with those strict requirements in mind then we will hopefully not have any issues in the other states. It's an ever changing landscape of legalities and regulations right now, so keeping up to date with state and federal guidelines becomes a challenge. We have put together a team of really passionate individuals who help us stay on the path.

7 Experts Share Their Best Google Advertising Strategies

7 Experts Share Their Best Google Advertising Strategies

Google ads are hands down one of the most effective forms of advertising available to any business today. That said, it takes careful planning and consideration before you jump in and start a campaign--because for every success with Google Ads (formerly Google Adwords) there are thousands of failures. 

If you don't structure your campaign properly, and use data to make decisions, Google Ads can become a money pit (and not the fun kind you might have seen Scrooge McDuck dive into). We asked some of the leading experts in multiple industries, who are successful with Google Ads, what it takes to win at the game.

Kulwant Nagi
Blogger and Affiliate Marketer
BloggingCage

We are in online marketing business and we are selling our services by targeting the right keywords in Google. Our team research the right products for our business and we setup Search ads to get right customer landing on our website.

Here is our strategy...


1. Targeting the right customers by running Google Search ads and attracting more people to visit our business website.
2. We have installed Facebook and Google retarget pixels on our sites to retarget those people again.
3. We setup special discount coupons ads re-targeting to only those who visited our site.
4. We have installed one conversion pixel on the thank you page which help us to exclude those people from the retarget ads.

In the next phase, we are planning to run video Ads on YouTube to bring back those customers.

We love Facebook marketing more than anything. Facebook let us target people by their interest, jobs, culture and many other laser targeted categories. Our biggest strength is our retarget pixel. Ironically, our prime goal is to bring people on our site by showing ads and then selling our services by retargeting only.

Jay Perkins
Co-Founder
Kettlebell Kings

My name is Jay Perkins, I helped co found Kettlebell Kings and run marketing and operations.

We have been fortunate to grow quite a bit every year we have been in business and marketing, specifically content marketing has been a giant part of that. There are two main ways we use data to make decisions. First is easy, it is Google analytics. We look for search terms relevant to our business and create loads of content around it and share it in every channel.

We drive paid traffic to it on social media and generate sign ups. Secondly, we advertise weekly kettlebell workouts people can subscribe to. These emails contain workouts and kettlebell related content, but we also ask for feedback. So we track the interactions we create with customers by them receiving our weekly emails and over time patterns emerge about what a number of people are looking for or need in addition to that. So, we start developing content around those pieces for organic ranking and sharing as well.

Because we know this is something other people must be interested in, we will drive paid traffic to it on social media to generate social media. Using this method we can get leads for about 50 cents to a dollar per lead and have built our email list to approximately 70,000 over the last two years.

Our internal data shows we get a bout a 10X ROI on that spend as well. People who come in from the content pieces convert to customers at a high rate because we provide them with value about how to use the equipment as well.

Allison Chaney
Boot Camp Digital

We sell online and live digital marketing and social media training and consulting for individuals and businesses.

Our strategy is to drive traffic to our website to learn more about our training and consulting services. Once on the website, we have pop up windows as a call to action to submit their contact information and receive free resources that support the specific training or service they are interested in.

To ensure that our campaign drives quality traffic, we aim to keep the average time on site over 1.5 minutes. Using match types and negative keywords to filter out low performing words, we're able to keep the quality high. Targeting the right geographic area is critical as well. We also use Dynamic Keyword Insertion ads which tend to have a higher click through rate.

We also run Facebook Ad Campaigns to drive awareness and leads. Facebook performs far better than Google Ads in terms of cost per result.

Adam Gingery
Digital Strategy and Paid Search Manager

Majux (on behalf of Queenan Law)

We handle personal injury & workers’ comp cases specifically for oil workers in Texas.

Here’s the step-by-step guide to our approach:

Search ad clicks cost nearly $140/click in our niche, and Google shut all but shut down “custom intent audiences” for law firms. We had to get creative:

We built a custom affinity audience in Google Ads by loading in every oil field job title we could think of (“roughnecks,” etc.). We also included every oil field and oil refining company in Texas. We added this audience, set to “targeting,” to our ad group.

We added a list of display keywords to our ad group -- these keywords included law-specific words like “injury attorney,” “workers’ comp,” and similar themes. We targeted only content including these terms.

We excluded all mobile apps from the campaign -- they’re always a waste of clicks for lawyers.

The success was amazing. Our display CTR ranges from 0.50% - 1.0%, and we’re getting more calls than ever.

To keep improving: We’ll test different ZIP codes, times of day, and we’ll exclude placements that result in a higher bounce rate than others.

Other marketing channels: We also invest heavily in a content-first SEO strategy. We do a lot of keyword research into what people are searching, then we write the content (and it works). Google Ads & SEO are on the same level of importance, although before we started getting traffic from content, Google Ads was more important.

Adam Mitchell
Co-owner & Founder
We Buy Houses Fast in Dallas

We are a real estate investing company in Dallas. We buy houses from homeowners who need to sell quickly and either fix and resell them or hold them as rentals.

We keep our Google Ads campaign very targeted to 7-8 major keywords that we know will provide us leads. We prefer to use our entire Google Ads budget on these very targeted keywords as opposed to a shotgun approach on a large number of keywords.

We will continue to test our ad copy to increase our conversions. For us this is the most importment adjustment going forward.

Our marketing funnel includes cold calling prospects, SEO to improve google rankings, Google Ads and ringless voicemail. We have learned that there is not a magic bullet in our business but the combination of several marketing avenues is the correct formula for success.

Where does Google Ads rank among them? Google Ads ranks #2 in our marketing funnel.

Shawn Breyer
Breyer Home Buyers

We buy properties that are in distressed conditions so that we can flip them or hold them as a rental property. We use our website to generate leads for homeowners that are trying to get out of a distressed situation or property.

We have tested several AdWords strategies. What works best for a company depends on their goal. We prefer to go for the lowest lead costs. That has lead us to run our campaigns towards a more efficient match type. Our keyword matches are 80% exact match keywords and 20% broad match keywords.

Over this year, we will continue to gather data on our results.. We believe in Pareto's Principle and are trying to find out what 20% of our AdWords campaigns are producing 80% of our revenue. As the year progresses, we will keep shaving off keywords that aren't producing like we would like them to. At the same time, we will continue to try new keywords and phrases within niches that our business serves.

The other marketing strategies that we focus on are SEO and cold calling. SEO was the initial marketing strategy that we built our business on.. After we began ranking high in Google and generating consistent leads in the SERPs, we started to stack our marketing strategies. Our second marketing strategy was Google AdWords. We began cold calling at the beginning of this year.

Currently, Google AdWords is the highest revenue generating marketing that we have. On the other hand, SEO has the highest ROI. We spend $2,359 to get enough leads to buy a house through PPC. With SEO, we are spending $231 per deal. We don't have enough data with cold calling yet to see how it compares.

Chris Turner
Digital Strategy Director 
Golden Spiral Marketing

We are a B2B technology marketing firm: Golden Spiral.

All of your marketing efforts should have a cohesive strategy. This includes analytics, lead nurturing, branding, and SEM Be sure to keep your SEM efforts focused on KPIs and results. Some key concepts to consider:

  • Pillar page (anchor content for efforts)
  • Buyer journey tactics (e.g. awareness > consideration > decision)
  • Reporting insights on key consumer activities across all marketing efforts connected to sales activity
  • CRM integration of all marketing efforts, including landing pages, forms, calls to action, email, and more through HubSpot, Pardot, Marketo, etc.
  • A\B testing for ads, landing pages, and keyword targeting (e.g. broad match modified versus broad match.

    Tactics for your strategy should include remarketing lists for search ads (RSLA) as well as implementing negative keywords, ad extensions, customized landing pages, UTM tracking, and conversion optimizations. Successful Google Ads focus on quality scores to maximize budget while reducing CPC. Product listing ads (PLAs) should be a key tactic, where applicable, along with properly structured campaigns and ad groups.

Experts Share Red Flags To Watch Out For When Selecting An SEO Agency

Selecting the right SEO agency for your business can be a tough decision. With so many agencies to choose from, it can be difficult to spot the real experts from the ones who could end up having your website traveling in wrong direction.

So many agencies claim to be search engine marketing specialists, so how do you know if you’re picking the right one?

We spoke with six SEO experts to find out what you should be looking for in a good agency, and what should immediately raise a red flag

Will Craig
Managing Director
Digital Impact

PAUL: What should raise red flags when hiring an SEO agency?

WILL: Before you hire a SEO agency be very aware of how transparent they are with their strategies. A lack of transparency is a glaring red flag. If they try to complicate terms and throw out jargon to depict SEO and the work they do as some mystifying procedure that only experts understand - they are throwing you off the scent.

Legitimate and reliable SEO agencies will share with you a detailed strategy for how they plan to reach your goals. Whether that be boosting traffic, gaining backlinks or converting customers they should have a comprehensive plan in place that they can talk through with you including best practices and proven tracked results.

Disreputable and borderline shady agencies might use improper practices such as “Black HAT SEO techniques” including content spinning, keyword stuffing, spam emails and buying backlinks. Not only will this severely damage your business reputation but can get you penalized by Google and have your entire website shut down.

So avoid any agencies that are reluctant to share their strategies, and even more so with agencies that have no results or non-existent reporting. Look instead for candid, reputable agencies that have a wealth of knowledge to share and the reports and case studies to back this up.

Kent Lewis
President
Anvil

PAUL: What should people look for when hiring an SEO Agency?

KENT: Education. On the most basic front, an SEM vendor should add value by educating you, the client, by sharing its knowledge of SEO strategies, tactics, technologies and trends.

Feedback. Do they provide input on future iterations of client products and services, based on experience and feedback collected from customers online?

Strategy. If you're the type of company that is always looking for that edge and is open to input from vendor partners, you should look for unsolicited advice from your SEO vendor, beyond organic search strategy.

PAUL: What should raise red flags when hiring an SEO agency?

KENT: Price. If the vendor in question provides a budget that feels low, especially compared to competitive bids, it probably is. Be wary of aggressive pricing that manifests in different ways: a junior team with little experience or oversight that will under-perform, offshoring to another country that isn’t vested in your business and provides questionable quality output, poor executive management or sales team decisions that lead to an unprofitable and therefore unsustainable engagement.

Rebecca Caldwell
SEO Strategist
Mash Media

PAUL: What should people look for when hiring an SEO agency? 


REBECCA: As with any new relationship, you should hire an agency that aligns with your own company's ethics, vision and ensure they are a good fit with you and your staff. Engaging an agency is like hiring a new employee and of course you would want to make sure that you can talk to them as equals, and you are both on the same page as far as your marketing strategies.

Technical knowledge and case studies attesting to their success for other clients is also important, once you know that you are comfortable with them as a marketing partner, you must then vet their expertise.

PAUL: What should raise red flags when hiring an SEO agency?

REBECCA: The number one red flag is a guarantee of rankings in X amount of time. I know many SEO agencies that offer guarantees, but not as far as "this keyword" to X position in 2 months. I would run for the hills. SEO is an ongoing project and the time it takes to get results is largely out of the hands of the SEO professional. 

Questions I would ask are:

1. What is the search volume of the keyword you are promising to rank me for? - Many times, yes it can be easy to rank for something no one cares about, and so what if you are number one for a keyword no one searches for? 

2. Do you outsource any of your work? Do they leave strategy decisions to someone in a non english speaking country? I have seen many times where the point of the SEO strategy was missed and the client's website has ended up being keyword stuffed and bad forum based links were built to it, reducing it's reputation.

Garrett Smith
Founder
Pitch + Pivot

PAUL: What should people look for when hiring an SEO agency? 

GARRETT: When looking to hire an SEO agency you want to see proven results and a well developed plan for you. An SEO agency should be able to prove that they have worked with other companies before and increased their search rankings. Ask them to show you their prior results. Along with previous results you will want to see a plan of action tailored for your business. Do they understand what keywords/phrases to target, do they know the competitive landscape, and do they have actions ready to go to complete this plan.

PAUL: What should raise red flags when hiring an SEO agency?

GARRETT: As for red flags that you should be on the look for when hiring an SEO agency, I would suggest staying away from companies with enormous promises. When an SEO agency says they are going to get you to the number search result for all your keywords/phrases within a short time period, I would be skeptical. For an agency to promise that within a highly competitive space is poor business. SEO is competitive and can't be fulfilled in that exact way. Avoid agencies that are selling you the dream and focus on the ones that are selling you a plan and a business relationship to naturally grow your search rankings. 

Trenton Miller
President
Millermore

PAUL: What should raise red flags when hiring an SEO agency?

Trenton: SSL/HTTPS. Check the SEO Agency’s website. Does it redirect to https by default? Does it include a secure connection? SSL/HTTPS is basically mandatory in 2018, and if they don’t implement this on their own website, I’d suggest ignoring them completely. That is a dead giveaway that they are out-of-touch with current SEO trends.

Black-Hat/White-Hat. Take a bit of time to educate yourself on SEO and the difference between Black-Hat SEO and White-Hat SEO. Spending an hour reading through Moz’s Beginner’s Guide to SEO will be time well spent in the long run. You don’t want to find yourself months later realizing you wasted plenty of time and money only to find yourself in a worse position than when you started because you unknowingly hired a black-hat SEO agency. For example, if they are trying to sell you backlinks, run for the hills! Instead, hire an agency that is selling you high-quality content in the form of blog posts 1,000-2,000 words each. They should also be talking about optimizing titles and descriptions, removing duplicate content, redirecting old URLs, and earning backlinks through quality content. Spending that an hour’s worth of time educating yourself will make you an informed consumer in the SEO world, and in the long run, you’l be glad you read up on the latest trends. After all, in the world of SEO, tactics that works 10, 5 or even 3 years ago may actually penalize you in 2018.

Blogging. Check the SEO Agency’s blog. Do they keep it up to date? Are they trying to establish themselves as an expert in the industry? If not, there are probably better alternatives out there. If they haven’t posted in over a year, keep shopping around. They likely don’t take their business as seriously as they should. Every good SEO knows keeping your website and your blog updated and active is a key ingredient in a well optimized website. Also check their social networks to see how well those are updated. Social media plays an important factor in SEO value, as Google looks at engagement such as Likes and Shares on social media networks.

Bill Leake
CEO
Apogee Results

PAUL: What should raise red flags when hiring an SEO Agency?

Bill: In my mind, instant “check your wallet, start backing up, and find a different agency” red flags include quite a few items, including not being able to supply references, preferably from FORMER clients (you learn a lot more about an agency during the break up process than during the dating ones, not asking you about access to Google Analytics or Google AdWords in the sales process (not asking this shows they don’t really understand how all these things can link together to create an optimal campaign), not having a clear link-building strategy laid out in their proposal (off-page is still the largest part of the Google algorithm, yet most SEO agencies still compulsively avoid this hard work), not having “easy exit” terms for you in their contract, not being able or willing to tell you specifically HOW they plan to help you (anyone deferring to “that’s our secret sauce” is a walk-way — you are the client) AND, finally, offering a rankings guarantee (counterintuitive, but classic sign of a low-end, low-skill provider)

How to Increase Sales at Your Studio or Gym 650% (Complete Guide)

How to Increase Sales at Your Studio or Gym 650%
(Complete Guide)

If you're running a studio that offers group classes in yoga, Pilates, fitness, martial arts, MMA, dance, or anything similar, one of the number one concerns on your mind is how to fill your classes with new students.

The method I'm going to teach you today is one of the most powerful methods we use to help our studio clients at Spooky Digital fill classes with new students and grow their business. The best thing about this method is that it works right away, by taking advantage of existing traffic to your website.

Rather than spending more money driving people to your website we'll set up some simple processes for converting more of your existing website visitors into paying customers. If you're already paying for traffic from sources like Facebook ads, SEO, or PR, this method will help you compound the effect of those efforts and make sure none of your money is going to waste.

NOTE: This method only works if your website already has traffic coming in. If you've got potential students on your website, this method is guaranteed to increase the number of new students it brings in.

WORKS IMMEDIATELY BY CONVERTING
MORE OF YOUR EXISTING TRAFFIC INTO PAYING CUSTOMERS

GUARANTEED TO BRING
IN MORE NEW STUDENTS TO YOUR STUDIO.

WORKS BEST FOR STUDIOS OR GYMS
WITH WEBSITES THAT ALREADY HAVE AT LEAST SOME WEB TRAFFIC.

"The process was so easy, I don't even remember doing the process...took less than 45 minutes"

Andrew J.
Program Coordinator at Dharma Yoga Center
in New York, New York

Trial sales increased by 300%

GREAT MARKETING IS DONE BY THE NUMBERS

To learn the method I'm about to teach you, you're going to need to first understand the importance of using data in your marketing efforts. People act in predictable ways, and by tracking their behavior online, you can test and improve your marketing strategy over time.

I've been working in marketing for health and wellness for over a decade. 

In that time, I've worked with just about every type of gym, studio or spa there is. My marketing agency's approach is very "data-centric," meaning that all of our marketing decisions are fueled by the numbers.

Shooting in the dark and guessing is fine if you plan to run your business as a hobby, but if you're serious about growing and creating a successful business, you need to know what exactly works and what doesn't.

To find out if you're headed in the right direction, consider the following questions...

  • check
    Do you track the traffic on your site and know how many visitors you're getting each month
  • check
    Do you know how much of your traffic is coming from Google search, Yelp or other sources?
  • check
    Do you know what percentage of your web traffic converts into actual paying customers?

If you don't have this basic information, you'll want to get some kind of tracking system set up before continuing. We use Google Analytics or Kissmetrics to track and analyze data on our client websites. 

If you already have tracking set up, GREAT! You're ahead of the game. You understand the value of tracking and analyzing visitor behavior on your website. You realize that making small changes to your site can have a profound impact on the percentage of visitors that turn into customers. 

HOWEVER, even if you're already doing everything else right, you might still be making the #1 mistake most studio owners make when it comes to their website.

The #1 Mistake most studio owners make

The #1 mistake most studio owners make is this: they don't have a sales funnel that captures the contact information of visitors to their website and converts those visitors into trial buyers (and ultimately, into repeat visitors and loyal customers).

A sales funnel is a process through which every lead that comes into contact with your business should go through before becoming a student. It's called a "funnel" because as you guide student leads through the process of becoming paid students, a certain percentage will drop off.

At each step of the funnel, the group that goes on to the next level is smaller. That's perfectly normal. Your offer is only going to resonate with a specific type of person. Your goal is to filter through those that aren't interested and lead those that are by the hand through the final steps.

By having a consistent experience for every new customer, you'll be able to systematically improve that experience at each stage to increase the percentage of student leads who move on to the next stage.

Your relationship with people changes as they go further down the funnel, becoming more acquainted with your business. From least acquainted and familiar, to most, you can find the stages a person goes through when getting to know your business below...

VISITORS: Let's say you get 1000 visitors to your website per month. This is the very top of your funnel: the awareness stage. These people know your business exists. These are called "visitors". 

NEW STUDENT LEADS: Of those 1000 visitors, 200 people (20%) will request for your paid trial offer using a form on your website. These people have expressed interest in your offer and are called "new student leads".

They're only leads at this point, because they haven't purchased anything from you. But you have their contact information and can start building the relationship.

TRIAL BUYERS: Of those 200 people, 50 people (25%) actually purchase your paid trial offer and visit your location to take classes. These people are now trial buyers at your location.

STUDENTS: of the 50 who buy your trial offer, 25 people (50%) become full-fledged students, and attend class at your location regularly.

BRAND ADVOCATES: of the 25 who become regular students, 1 person (4%) of will go on to become SUPER CUSTOMERS or "brand advocates" who rep your studio everywhere they go. They love you so much, they tell their friends and family to come to class; they wear you brand around town; they tell everyone they can about what you do.

If the experience you provide new student leads is exactly the same each time and you're collecting data on the actions these users take at each step of the process, you can test out different strategies to increase the percentage of users who move from one stage of the funnel to the next.

"What it really comes down to is cultivating a relationship with your customer"

Morgan S.
Owner of Prospect Heights Yoga
in Brooklyn, New York

Membership increased by 200%

You can test form layout, placement and copy to increase the percentage of visitors who opt-in to receive your paid trial offer via email. 

You can test email subject lines, sender names, and copy to increase the percentage of users who purchase your trial offer.

You can test follow-up emails and special offers to increase the percentage of trial purchasers who become full-fledged regular students.

Increasing your conversion rate at one step will increase the number of people who convert at the next step by the same amount.

If you double the number of people who request your trial offer each month, you'll also double the number of people who purchase the trial and visit your location; you'll double the number of people who become full fledged students and go on to become your best brand advocates.

By increasing the conversion rate from one step to the next at each and every step, the effect is multiplied. Hopefully you can see how having the ability to track these things, and increasing the conversion rate at every step is incredibly important to growing your business!

A SALES FUNNEL IS A COOKIE CUTTER PROCESS THROUGH WHICH EVERY NEW LEAD SHOULD GO THROUGH ON THEIR WAY TO BECOMING FULL FLEDGED STUDENT

INCREASING THE CONVERSION RATE AT
EACH STEP OF THE FUNNEL WILL DRASTICALLY INCREASE THE NUMBER OF NEW STUDENTS YOU GET AT THE END.

A CONSISTENT EXPERIENCE OR PROCESS IS KEY TO BEING ABLE TO OPTIMIZE YOUR FUNNEL AND INCREASE THE CONVERSION RATE AT EACH STEP.

The perfect sales funnel for studios and gyms

In working with hundreds of personal training and fitness studios over the years, we've developed a proven system for collecting new student leads on a website, and converting those leads into loyal customers who come back time and time again.

In this section, I'll teach you about this funnel, and how we can optimize it every step of the way to get most out of our marketing efforts. Here are the stages in the ideal sales funnel for your studio...

STAGE ONE: 
WEBSITE VISITOR

CONVERSION GOAL: Get the website visitor to provide their email address and become a new student lead.

STAGE TWO: 
NEW STUDENT LEAD

CONVERSION GOAL: Get the new student lead to purchase the trial offer and become a student / customer.

STAGE THREE: 
STUDENT / CUSTOMER

CONVERSION GOAL: Get the student / customer to use the trial and come back on a regular basis when the trial is complete.

STAGE FOUR:
BRAND ADVOCATE

CONVERSION GOAL: Get the student invested in your studio,  build a sense of community and mission.

Stage One:
CONVERT WEBSITE VISITORS TO NEW STUDENT LEADS

A good e-commerce conversion rate--the percentage of website visitors who are ready to buy right away--is typically somewhere between 3-5%. That means on a good day, you're losing out on 95% of your web traffic!

That means if you get 1000 visitors to your website, 950 of them are likely to leave and never come back. They may forget the name of your business entirely, or come across a competitor with a more attractive offer.

There's a number of reasons most of your visitors aren't ready to purchase right away.

The visitor to your site might...

Just be in the research phase of their purchase decision, checking out your studio or gym, in addition to a few others.

Be interested in purchasing at a later date, but not have the funds needed to purchase your trial offer or membership on hand.

Need to check with friends, family or a significant other before making the purchase.

Be browsing from work, or somewhere else that isn't convenient for them to enter their credit card details.

Get distracted in the middle of browsing and have to do something else.

Have their internet connection disrupted by their cat chewing on an internet cable.

The point is, there's simply no way to know why people aren't converting! There's just too many reasons. But we can plan for all of them by collecting their contact information as quickly as possible during that first interaction with your business.

When you collect the visitor's contact information, they go from being a complete stranger to a new student lead. A step up in your relationship with them! Congrats, it looks like it's getting serious.

With this information, we'll be able to send perfectly timed follow-up emails using email automation. The automated emails will follow up with the new student lead, continue to nurture the relationship and highlight the unique benefits of your studio until the purchase decision is reached.

There's a few highly effective ways you can collect visitor contact information. In each case, it's helpful to look at collecting emails as an exchange of value. People value their privacy. If they gave their email address out to everyone on the web who asked for it, they'd be buried in spam and promotional emails before they could say "unsubscribe!" 

In order to get a visitor's email address, the perceived value of your offer must be greater than the value they assign to their email privacy. Here's a few of the most effective value offers studios and gyms can provide in exchange for someone's email address...

Yoga, Diet or Fitness Challenge

New student lead receives daily emails with challenge instructions. Each email comes with a link to purchase your trial offer. Challenge can be completed at home, or at your location. 

Each day usually includes video instruction and asks new student leads to check in with others taking the challenge on social media.

Benefits of this method are...

  • High opt-in rate, everyone loves a challenge! Make sure it's clear that the challenge can be completed at home, or in your studio.
  • High engagement if you include homework assignments requiring people to check-in on their progress with a group or post on social media.
  • Gives the student lead more familiarity with your instructors / staff through the daily video instructions. Giving them this challenge for free gives them positive associations with your business.

Drawbacks of this method are...

  • Difficulty is high, requires lots of content planning and production.

PAid trial offer

** RECOMMENDED TO START WITH! **

New student lead receives trial offer via email. They continue to receive follow up emails until purchase decision is reached.

Why a paid trial as opposed to free? Because we've found with years of testing at every type of studio imaginable that the quality of new student leads increases by offering a paid trial rather than a free trial.

Free trials bring in the wrong type of consumer, who aren't serious about buying. Paid trial buyers are more invested and therefore more likely to actually attend their trial class and become a returning student.

There's also a subtle mental shift when a person goes from being unitiated with your business into being a "customer" of your business, even if their first purchase is small. When they make that first purchase, they become more familiar with your studio than they are with any other, which gives you an edge up on the competition.

Benefits of this method are...

  • Very easy to set up. No video production or content creation necessary.
  • Works fast, can be installed quickly. Is a great first step while you work on a more complex content-based offer.

Drawbacks of this method are...

  • Doesn't warm up new student leads as well as other methods. They may need to be familiarized with your business before making the purchase decision.

free video course series

New student lead receives daily emails with video instructions. Each email comes with a link to purchase your trial offer. 

Course can be completed at home.

Benefits of this method are...

  • High opt-in rate. Anyone can take the course from the comfort of their own home.
  • Gives the student lead more familiarity with your instructors / staff through the daily video instructions. Giving them this challenge for free gives them positive associations with your business.

Drawbacks of this method are...

  • Difficulty is high, requires lots of content planning and production.

BEST PRACTICES FOR STAGE ONE OF YOUR SALES FUNNEL

SPLIT TEST EVERYTHING 

Split testing is when you set up software to automatically split your website traffic into two groups, each seeing a different variation of your offer.

You can compare the conversion rate of each, and find out which offer works best.

If you're on WordPress, using a plugin like Thrive Leads will allow you to create split tests easily. You can also use software like Optimizely to create more advanced split tests on any website.

Things you can test include: the offer itself (fitness challenge vs paid trial), the copy on your offer (changing the words around), colors, layout, and more.

ADD YOUR OFFER ON THE HOMEPAGE OR A DEDICATED LANDING PAGE

When our clients include their offer on the homepage of their website rather than a sub-page, they see a 600% increase in sign-ups!

You can split test which version works best with software like Optimizely, but we have found time and time again that the homepage works best. This is because the homepage of your website is typically where you receive the majority of your traffic.

Every step you add in between the first visit and the desired action is another point that visitors will drop off.

ALL PATHS SHOULD LEAD TO THE FUNNEL

The purpose of your website is to drive leads and generate more customers. Every page on your website should be designed intentionally with this purpose in mind.

When you give people too many options, they get confused, they get lost, and they DO NOT take the action you want them to take.

Cut down on unnecessary clutter on your homepage. You'll need to include links to vital elements like your schedule and pricing page, but otherwise, the majority of your site's real estate should be dedicated towards driving new customers into your sales funnel.

I can't stress this point enough! If your website is cluttered with information overload, you will lose out on new business.

Every potential entry point a potential new student can come in through on your website (like the blog, or other pages) should have the offer opt-in form.

CLEARLY COMMUNICATE YOUR UNIQUE SELLING PROPOSITION

Your unique selling proposition (USP) is the qualities of your studio or gym that make it better than the competition. 

What can you provide that no one else can? Why do students choose your over anyone else? This should be easily recognizable and communicated "above the fold" (without scrolling down at all).

If you're not sure what your USP is, it is vital that you get clear on this immediately! Without a clear USP, you have no competitive edge in the marketplace.

INCLUDE SOCIAL PROOF

You can increase the perceived value of your offer by showing that other people like it.

Reviews, testimonials and mentions in news outlets all show that your offer has value and is worth checking out.

INCLUDE SCARCITY

The human brain is hardwired to experience FOMO, or fear of missing out.

When people believe something to be in short supply, the value they assign to it is much higher.

Scarcity can apply to time, when you say something along the lines of "this intro offer ENDS SOON". 

Scarcity can also apply to quantity, when you say something along the lines of "limited number of intro offer per month available, grab yours today."

lANDING PAGE CASE STUDY: y7 STUDIO

Spooky Digital created the landing page below for a recent campaign with Y7 Studio. Y7 is opening new yoga studios in major cities nationwide, and wanted to build out a sales funnel for a Facebook ad campaign to drive new customers into the new locations.

Using a high-conversion landing page like this allowed them to make the most of their ad spend on Facebook. See if you can spot the best practices mentioned above in the landing page below!

Stage TWO:
Convert New Student Leads to TRIAL BUYERS

Now that your visitor has shared their email address with you, they've moved on to the next stage of your sales funnel, and they become a new student lead. It's a little like dating. You met, you made a good impression, you exchanged contact information, and now you just need to continue to build the relationship and show them that you're the one.

Follow-up is EVERYTHING when it comes to sales.

Of course, when you're courting hundreds of potential new student leads, building highly personal relationships with all of them can seem like an impossible task. You've got a business to run, you've got classes to teach, existing customers to please, staff to manage, and so much more!

You can't afford to drop the ball on even one potential lead. When you're spending money marketing your business and bringing new leads into your funnel, each and every one of them matters. So how do we make sure that no email goes unanswered, and that trust and love is built with every lead--WITHOUT using up all of your time and energy in the process?

Email marketing and automation is the answer!

When many people hear "email marketing" they instantly think the dirtiest four letter word of them all: SPAM. The thought of blasting their customer's email inbox with unwanted email makes them sick. They don't want to be annoying. That makes perfect sense.

Truth is, when done correctly, email marketing is as useful and personal as any other form of communication. When done right, the person receiving your automated email won't even know you didn't send it personally. 

Email is also the most cost effective form of marketing available. It could cost $5 to get someone to click on your ad from Facebook or Google. It costs a small fraction of a cent to send an email and the return you get on your investment can be massive.

EMAIL MARKETING TIPS TO GET MORE SALES

EMAIL TIP #1: MAKE YOUR EMAILS HIGHLY PERSONAL

All of your automated emails should be written as if they were written by someone from your business personally, and written for an audience of one. Here's some tips for sending highly personal emails your new student leads will love...

EMAIL TIP #1: Use a human name as the sender, rather than your business name.

In recent tests we ran for a client, we found that emails sent "from" the owner or manager's name, rather than the business name received 200% as many email opens.

More email opens leads to more offer claims and more customers down the line!

EMAIL TIP #2: Address your student by name.

You can use mail merge tags to dynamically insert the customers name. Make sure you do it naturally, in a way you would use it in a hand-written personal email.

The example below from Y7 Studio's sales funnel is quick and to the point. Their brand guidelines required specific copy to be used in the email, so not all of the "best practices" were used.

However, the email performed well because it appeared hand-written and personal from the manager of the studio.

EMAIL TIP #2: CLEARLY COMMUNICATE YOUR VALUE

Your emails should clearly and concisely communicate the value of your offer. Here's a few ways you can do that...

Emphasize your unique selling proposition.

Your unique selling proposition (USP) is what you can offer your customers that no one else can.

What makes you stand out in the crowd? Why do students choose your studio over any other?

Having a clear idea of the value you can provide, and communicating that clearly to student leads makes the sales process easy.

Offer an unexpected bonus.

The perceived value of your offer has to be equal to or (preferably) greater than the monetary value you're asking for in exchange.

Adding a bonus (like a free promotional item or equipment rental) is a great way to add extra value on top of your offer.

Make sure to include a the item's retail value, and show how much they're saving to drive the point home.

Create a sense of urgency and scarcity.

Encourage student leads to take action by creating a sense of urgency and scarcity.

Examples of this include: 

"This offer is only available for a limited time! Claim yours today." (Time Scarcity)

"Only 100 of these trial offers are given away each month. They're going quickly, so grab yours today." (Number Scarcity)

EMAIL TIP #3: INCLUDE A STRONG CALL TO ACTION

Every email you send should have one goal for what you want your reader to do. This goal is called a call to action (CTA).

Your goal could be to get the user to click on a link to finish purchasing your trial offer, or it could be to get the reader to click a link to share a check-in about their fitness / diet challenge on social media. 

Having just one call to action in each email reduces the amount of thought required to make a choice, which will result in more people completing the desired action.

Your CTA link or button text should imply a benefit to the user. Rather than having a button that says "Click Here", you'd want to use something like "Claim Your Trial!".

"Claim Your Trial" implies a benefit claiming a trial that is in low supply or limited, while "Click Here" is neutral and implies no benefit.

EMAIL TIP #4: NEVER FORGET TO FOLLOW UP WITH NEW LEADS

Following up with new student leads is vital to the operation of any studio business.

When questions from new student leads go unanswered; when links to purchase your trial offer aren't sent in a timely manner; and when you don't stay engaged with new student leads via email every day until they make a decision... YOU LOSE OUT ON NEW BUSINESS.

With automated email marketing, you can spend more time doing what you're passionate about and less time worrying if your new student leads are getting the information they need, and are being followed up with at the right time.

Email automation technology like ActiveCampaign will help you set up emails that are based on a user's behavior on your website or email, so the right message gets delivered at the right time.

Someone who opens your first email and doesn't purchase your offer is going to need a different follow-up email than someone who doesn't open your first email at all.

For the former, you'll want to find out why they didn't purchase or offer more value to convince them. 

For the latter, you'd want to try sending the email at a different time or using a different subject line. Maybe they missed it or weren't intrigued enough to open. 

The email automation campaign below starts when a contact subscribes to the email list called "Trial Offer" and takes the student lead down a different path of reminder emails based on their interaction with the first email.

Stage THREE:
Convert TRIAL BUYERS inTO STUDENTS

You're making the most of your website traffic and turning visitors into new student leads. You're using perfectly timed automated emails to build personal relationships with each lead and turning them into trial buyers.

Now, all you have to do is close the deal and solidify your relationship with trial buyers, turning them into students who come back on a regular basis. There's a few easy ways you can do that...

Make sure their trial experience is perfect.

Your trial experience should reflect the absolute best that your studio or gym has to offer. 

Find ways to make it easy, flawless and exciting. This is where you can get creative.

You might instruct your staff to be particularly attentive to the new student's needs. You could also give them a surprise gift or promotional item.

Anything to make the new student feel at home and cared for.


Follow up via email when the trial is over.

Send an automated personal follow-up email at the end of the student's trial offer asking them about their experience.

Encourage them to come back to purchase a monthly membership or class package by offering a discount on their first month or package purchase.

Set up automated emails to continue following up. Did the student open your first email? If not, send again at a different time. 

Did they open, but not respond? Follow up and let them know you're there to answer any questions they may have.

Again, automated email saves the day and makes this process incredibly easy.

Build a sense of community.

People are more likely to keep coming back to your studio if their friends are there. 

For this reason, it's vital to get people connected with eachother as quickly as possible!

You can do this by...

Creating a private Facebook group where members can chat and hang out.

Inviting members out to events that you go to as a group. For yoga studios, it could be volunteering in the community. For dance studios it could be performances. For fitness studios, it could be a beach day. For martial arts studios, it could be fights and competitions.

Again, let your creativity loose! How can you bring people together in a fun, group setting?


Stage FOUR:
Convert STUDENTS INTO BRAND ADVOCATES

Identifying group leaders, high spenders and brand advocates is the next vital step in the studio sales funnel most owners miss. These people are your most valuable resource, and they are already chomping at the bit, ready to carry your message to everyone they know.

All it takes is a small nudge in the right direction and they'll be off to the races.

Here's a few ways you can empower and mobilize your word of mouth marketing army of brand advocates to bring new leads into the top of your funnel--at no additional cost to you.

Create high quality branded clothing.

Your best customers will LOVE to represent your brand everywhere they go. Quality is key.

Give them something they'll actually wear, and it will be one of your best sales pieces.

People will see your brand on their clothing, ask about it, and they will be more than happy to share your info.

Show appreciation for those that spend the most at your business.

Find out who your top 10 customers are in terms of the amount of money spent, or number of years with your business and make sure they know you appreciate them.

Organize a special outing, give them a unique gift. These people are the heart and soul of your business.

Make sure they know you appreciate them and they'll be even more motivated to help!

Study and understand your top customers.

Find out who your best customers are so you can reach more people like them.

What personality traits do they have? What are their values? What other interests do they have? What's their age, ethnicity or gender? What type of information or media do they consume? 

Ask them, and they will be happy to share so you can find more people like them to bring to the studio.

CONGRATS! THAT's all there is to it.

"The results are immediate because you already have the traffic on your website."

Ken N.
Owner of Class One MMA 
in Brooklyn, New York

Trial Sales increased by 650%

With this sales funnel in place, you will be systematically growing your business and getting new students in classes faster than ever. You'll be less stressed and have more time to do what you actually love to do. That's an absolute promise!

We love working with studios of all kinds and would love to hear from you. 

If you want to chat and learn more about this method, please feel free to reach out. We'll even do a 15-minute strategy planning session for free--we can go over any questions you have about this process and help you find a way to apply it to your business.

Our schedule fills up quickly, so book yours today! Contact: [email protected] for more information.

Here’s How Successful Studios / Gyms Bring in New Students (Guide)

Here's How Successful Studios & Gyms
Bring in New Students (Guide)

Turning website visitors into new students is hard.

The fact is that a "good" online conversion rate is between 3-5%.

What does that mean, exactly? It means that even on the best day, 95% of your website traffic is NOT ready to buy.

If you don't capture their information to talk to them again, most of those visitors to your website will never come back again.

Don't get us wrong; it's essential to be online, to have a website where that 5% can find you and buy. But your website should be used as a lead generation tool as well as a place to purchase.

Let's review the function of your website. Most people believe that they have to have a whizz-bang website with killer imagery and loads of information.

"95% OF YOUR WEBSITE TRAFFIC IS NOT READY TO BUY RIGHT AWAY"

If you're an online shop or an online magazine this may be true, but if you're a yoga studio, health center, fitness studio, Pilates studio, dance studio or gym with a brick-and-mortar location, the goal of your website isn't to keep people on your website--it must be to capture their information and bring them into your location. This does not happen overnight. 

So what is the solution, you ask? 

THE SOLUTION: TRIAL OFFER Email Marketing

Email may be the marketing tool most underrated by studio owners. With all of these newer and sexier marketing trends to keep up with, you can be forgiven for forgetting about the power of a humble email. For the 40 odd years, email has been in wide use; it has continued to be a cheap, yet effective marketing channel. An email campaign produces a great return on investment at an average of $38 for every $1 spent.

Greater Audience Engagement

Did you know that In 2017, the number of worldwide email users topped 3.7 billion?

That's roughly half the world's population! Compare this to social media, the most hyped marketing tool of today, and the comparative reach and ROI is not all that exciting. As of Q3 2017, there were 2.07 Billion monthly active users on Facebook and 330 Million users on Twitter.

For an email list to exist, your target audience has had to at some point 'opt in' to your list. This means they have a familiarity with your brand; they have given you permission to market to them!

Looking at the statistics, the average click-through rate on email is 3% vs 0.5% on Twitter. That means email is 60 times more likely to be seen by your students. Email is 40% more effective at student acquisition, and in the right hands, it has far greater measurement capabilities (such as tracking open rates, click-throughs, bounces, forwards, social share and much more).

Tracking all of this helps you to improve your strategy every time you communicate with your email list.

EMAILS TO NEW STUDENT LEADS ARE...

60X more
likely to be seen

40% more effective
at acquiring new studentS

INFINITELY EASIER
TO TRACK ENGAGEMENT

With such small online conversion rates, capturing email addresses is far more effective than trying to convert people on the first online interaction. The initial opt-in collects web traffic that would have never visited again and it gives you an opportunity to make them take an action right away; giving you their information.

here's how it works...


Step 1 - Build Your List

Building your list is actually quite simple. Give an offer to the people who visit your website in return for their personal information (like their email and phone number).

This 'opt in' form can be created on a page on your website and will encourage people to leave their information in exchange for your offer; such as a 1 week paid trial at your studio.

EXAMPLE EMAIL OPT-IN FOR A PAID TRIAL OFFER

PRO TIP: Opt-in forms that are placed on the homepage as the main feature of the page receive up to 600% more new student leads than those placed on a sub-page. Some studio owners we speak to have reservations about setting things up this way. "What about our existing customers, or people who just want to browse information on the site?" We understand where they're coming from, but the fact is, your existing customers know where to find the schedule and if your site isn't a lead generation tool first, then what's the point of having it in the first place? It's still possible to convey everything you need to convey about your brand (and in fact, you should!) while having the opt-in form placed on the homepage.


Step 2 - Email Your List

As you gather email addresses, you can set up automated emails to go out to these people. We like to use ActiveCampaign for email automation series, but you can use your email automation software of choice.

Options worth checking out include: Activecampaign, Hubspot, Ontraport, GeResponse, Drip, Convertkit, Aweber, or similar.

The first email will welcome them to your mailing list and give them their free pass. If they come in, you can automate emails to thank them for their business and encourage them to continue attending your studio.

If they do not come in, you can email them to remind them of the offer. These emails are designed to keep following up with them until they become a student or express that they are no longer interested.

EXAMPLE EMAIL AUTOMATION / FOLLOW-UP EMAILS IN ACTIVECAMPAIGN


Step 3 - Track Results

Email campaigns are golden as they allow you to see how many people open your emails, how many click through to your offer and how many pull out last minute.

Analyzing and optimizing your campaigns is key to improving your conversion results over time. This step may seem overwhelming but the team at Spooky Digital are experts on email optimization, should you need the help.

EXAMPLE EMAIL AUTOMATION REPORTS


Step 4 - Repeat

The key to building a strong email list is continually adding new emails and consistently building the relationship (and conversion). Your chances of conversion increase with every email sent. These emails build a relationship with your student and unconsciously builds your brand credibility as you become more familiar to them. Thus they become more likely to buy from you.

With the most significant ROI in the marketing mix, regardless of industry, it is worth reviewing your email strategy today!

Contact the team at Spooky Digital to get ahead with this simple yet super effective strategy.

4 Digital Marketing Experts Share Their Predictions For 2018

Unless you’re psychic, or the owner of Zoltars crystal ball, you probably don’t now know what’s in store for digital marketing in 2018.

Will it be new technologies like VR or AI that dominate? Will content marketing still be the biggest talking point? Or will analytics and data continue to be the back bone of digital marketing?

I spoke with 5 digital marketing experts to get their predictions for 2018.

​Serge Vartanov
​Chief Marketing Officer
AutoGravity

For several years, improvements in targeting and attribution have made digital marketing more precise and more efficient, driving reasonable expectation that advertisers are able to reach a more relevant audience at greater cost efficiency. Unfortunately, these savings are offset by the increasing shift in advertising dollars from traditional to digital channels, making digital real estate that much more expensive. Nonetheless, several trends in digital marketing have gained significant footholds, foremost among which is overall and deep-funnel attribution, fraud prevention and media buy optimization. As both advertisers and publishers become increasingly sophisticated, it would be reasonable to expect greater transparency, as well as further gains in creative optimization to drive both relevance and cost efficiency.

Finding optimal combinations of product, messaging, user, channel and circumstance or context has unlocked new frontiers of cost efficiency as well as user satisfaction in advertising. I would predict that the best is yet to come. Advertising can be made more impactful with the inclusion of social proof – evidence that other consumers, ideally users that the targeted consumer knows, are also using the mobile product and vouch for its quality. In addition to social networks, social proof can also be achieved with commerce platforms. Imagine being in the market for a car and seeing what cars your friends, or users like you, are shopping for on platforms like AutoGravity.

In the coming year, greater optimization should be achieved from better user targeting, less obtrusive advertising (less likely to frustrate users), retargeting creative that is better tuned to individual user engagement behavior, as well as improvements in the native blend of creative and the publishers where the creative is purchased. As is true in marketing more broadly, users are substantially more likely to engage with creative that is non-intrusive and relevant for them. 

Tyler Sickmeyer
CEO
Fidelitas Development

Niche content will become even more prevalent in 2018. With more options for content consumption at our fingertips than ever before, successful marketing leaders will continue to leverage niche content and narrow-targeted audiences at a higher rate in 2018. Pressure for tangible returns on marketing spend continues to mount, and one of the easiest ways to ensure a strong ROI is to concentrate marketing efforts on a brand’s core customers. Niche content allows a brand to position itself as a team of trusted experts within a given field, leading to improved brand positioning with the organization’s most important customers.

The days of a “set it and forget it” content strategy around generic 300-500 word blog posts are no longer effective, meaning that marketing leaders looking for digital marketing success are best served to focus on unique,comprehensive content that serves a specific audience with a specific need. For example, instead of writing a generic post around the three mistakes a cook makes in the kitchen, a brand would be better served writing a 1,000 word article around vegan prep meals, then taking the content to the next level by including photos and, if possible, a demonstration video. Niche content like this that provides a comprehensive solution to a core customer’s problem will lead to increased site traffic, improved search rankings, and increased on-site conversions (read: ROI) for marketing leaders in 2018.

Marketing leaders who aren’t sure where to start with niche content should rely upon keyword research from free tools like Google’s Keyword Planner and paid tools like Buzzsumo,which are great for identifying niche content opportunities that will generate traffic.

Chris Gregory
Founder
DAGMAR Marketing

The biggest trend for 2018 will be long-form content. Companies with successful digital marketing campaigns will, in increasing numbers, be regularly writing pieces of well-optimized, quality long-form content. Benefits of longer content are numerous, including that top ranking pieces of content in Google search result pages tend to be at least 2,000 words. Site visitors engage more deeply with long-form posts, and these boosted engagement metrics (longer time on site, reduced bounce rate) will also help with rankings. Strategically include internal links for even better engagement. Long-form posts get significantly more inbound links, further boosting rankings and visibility.

Long-form content should typically be 1,500-3,000 words long, covering a topic in depth. You can brainstorm topics by asking members of the team who regularly communicate with prospects and customers what information would be most helpful; reviewing Google Analytics to see which posts have performed best to date; using Google Trends to find useful insights; and auditing the website to see what gaps in information exist. Using this intelligence, you can create a relevant topic that is neither too broad nor too narrow. Too broad: Everything You’ve Ever Wanted to Know About Telecommunications. Too narrow: Definition of Payload in Packet Switching.

Elements of long-form content can include (but are not limited to) FAQs, customer testimonials, highlights of case studies, compelling (hopefully, original) images, how-to videos, quotes from industry leaders, interviews and checklists. Elements such as FAQs, checklists and other bulleted content can sometimes cause your text to appear in Google’s Answer Boxes, which greatly boosts site visibility.

Although companies will need to invest more time into longer pieces of content, they’re efficient uses of time because snippets can be used for social media postings over long periods of time. The content can form the basis of email marketing campaigns, among other uses.

Vijay Koduri
Founder
Hashcut

There are a few trends that will overtake digital marketing in 2018, especially short form video, increasing use of influencer marketing, and product forums.

In 2018, audiences will be consuming much of their information through short form video: 5 second soundbites on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Email and More. What organizations are doing more and more to stand out is posting fun, informed content on YouTube -- and then distributing soundbites of that video through social mediaA second trend is the increasing use of influencers. Consumers can see through the thin veil of branded content, and view it with a lot of skepticism. Increasingly, industry experts can talk about a product or trend with much more authority than companies. So B2B brands will be leveraging industry experts a lot more, and B2C brands will be leveraging influencers a lot more.

In fact, at HashCut, we’ve seen a lot of success by combining these trends. For instance, we ran a contest with a YouTube creator called SNG Comedy. They asked their 650,000 fans to clip out their favorite joke using HashCut, post on Facebook, and ask their friends to like the clip. Over 900 made and posted hashcuts. For SNG Comedy, they saw their normal YouTube view counts & watch times increase by 100%, and social engagement increased by 1,500%.

Finally, a third trend will be that product and user forums will increase substantially. Sites like Reddit are taking off. This is great for brands, because they can not only release their content in these forums, but use the forums to discuss directly with their audience.

In summary, your audience is getting their information through social feeds, video, and forums. So focus on these and you’ll get the word out in 2018.


12 Social Media Experts Share Their 2018 Predictions

Today social media is a part of our culture. It is how we connect and keep in touch. It has brought the world closer together, started revolutions and changed the way that brands engage with their audience. Today brands connect on a more personal level, armed with a greater understanding of their audience demographics, they can adapt their brand persona to win the hearts and dollars of their target market.

With 81% of American adults on at least 1 social media platform, the reach of social for businesses is not to be underestimated.

What's in Store for Social in 2018?

Calling on experts for insight, influencer marketing was a top topic brought into the discussion. Influencer marketing, of course, is not new in the social strategy mix but its importance is only set to increase for the year ahead.

With the growth of new technologies, you can also expect to see VR & AR integrating into social campaigns, creating unique experiences for consumers.

The popularity of video shows no signs of slowing down but the main key is high-quality content. With the quality of content increasing by the day, sub-par efforts will not cut it if you want to be noticed.

Beyond the trends, what's most important to take from social is the data. These platforms come with a mountain of data gold to help you learn about your audience, thus adapting to best appeal to their needs and desires. Do not forget to analyze, learn and adapt in order to stay ahead.


Our Experts Insight on The Future of Social


Name: Joe Sinkwitz

Credentials: CEO of Intellifluence, a platform designed to maximize commerce over social media for brands and agencies. 

Joe has been in digital marketing for over 20 years and continues to see a year-to-year jump in opportunity for brands. 



Where should social media efforts be spent in 2018?

The answer, unfortunately, is it depends. It depends on who your buyer persona is and where those that influence that buyer persona exist online because you aren't just selling directly to one individual, you're convincing individuals to sell for you, where the approach occur as organically as possible. Couple that need with the reality that certain networks are more favorable for certain types of media: if you're in the fashion, cosmetics, or any other highly visual industry then you'll want to make sure you utilize a visual first network (think Instagram, YouTube, or Pinterest). However, what if your end buyer personas aren't actually on those networks? You'll need to bridge the gap with influencers that can help to transcend your message to those areas where your buyer personas actually are spending their time online. It may sound complicated, but it really isn't. By hyper-focusing on your buyer persona and graphing out the positives and negatives of different networks, you can easily figure out where your resources are best spent.

What’s in store for social media in 2018?

One of the biggest changes that much of the social and influencer industries are waiting for is disclosure; the FTC has already indicated that they'll be paying a keener eye due towards influencers due to the rapid increase in transactional volume that has been occuring. While today it is possible for a business to run an entire campaign without disclosure, facing little consequence, those days are fast coming to an end. Fear not though; according to the data we've collected from brand campaigns run through our network, we find no discernable drop off in conversions when proper disclosure is made on an influencer advertisement. Thus, while there is going to be a mad rush to ensure disclosure rules are met, it won't hurt your bottom line. 

Name: Brieanna Scolaro, LMSW

Credentials: Director of Community Relations at Behavioral Associates - a for-profit mental health company in NYC. 

As one of the companies major strategists, Brieanna coordinates all of Behavioral Associates online and social media marketing campaigns. 



Where should social media efforts be spent in 2018?

Businesses should truly understand their target audience and get into the psychology of their daily lives. After you understand your target population, you will become more effective in understanding how to reach them (what platform) and the messages to be sending.

What’s in store for social media in 2018?

In 2018, we will continue to see a shift towards Instagram and Snapchat marketing for 30 and under, with the older generations continuing to further dive into Facebook. However, companies should push from content into more video style marketing - as Youtube has been one of the fastest growing marketing channels. In addition, with the new development of Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality, there is a new door open for marketers in these realms. 

Marketers and other program coordinators should aim to further incorporate principles of psychology and human behavior into their strategies. We need to continue to develop new ways of reaching people, quickly deploying rapid testing, monitoring impact, and not being afraid to adjust our plan based on what we are seeing work or not work. A good social media campaign is one that speaks directly to the needs of your audience and explicitly uses benefit-first language.

Name: Logan Rae

Credentials: Entrepreneur, marketing & business development coordinator. Partner and Marketing Director, Bacon Box


Where should social media efforts be spent in 2018?

2018 marketing focuses should be focused on algorithms, make sure your digital efforts are providing the proper content to the right audience. It’s often we see companies with mismatching agendas show up on social media searches. It’s great that your company is being seen however running a campaign efficiently is not based on impressions. If you want conversions focus on providing relevant content, not just getting your ad seen.

Another trend to look out for in 2018 are professionally produced video advertisements and testimonies. Creating short, direct content utilizing influencers is a good way to reach new clients, convert sales and retain your audience.

What’s in store for social media in 2018?

Depending on the final changes net neutrality regulations will bring we will potentially see less small businesses utilizing internet services to deliver content. Right now there is a battle between political and legal agencies. In the coming weeks we will see how this will shape the reach of social media marketing. 

Name: Dr. Liz Gross 

Credentials: Thought-leader, data-driven marketer, and researcher with nearly a decade of social media marketing experience. She founded Campus Sonar, a specialized social listening agency for higher education. Liz is a frequent presenter at conferences like SXSW and is a published author on the topic. 


Where should social media efforts be spent in 2018?

Businesses should realize that social media is much more than a marketing and engagement tool; it's a source of business intelligence. By doubling down on social listening (finding and analyzing public online conversations on platforms like reddit, Twitter, blogs, and discussion forums), business owners can conduct cost-effective market research, competitive analysis, and media relations. Consumers are having unprompted online conversations every day that should inform product development and marketing strategy. The value of listening for this purpose is undisputed.

Marketers should stop focusing on likes, followers, reach, and engagement rate. In 2018, if businesses want to move the needle they must tie social media strategy to business objectives. Whether the objective is driving website views, generating leads, or driving individuals to purchase, social media can impact business outcomes measured in dollars, not likes.

What’s in store for social media in 2018?

All the major platforms are moving to the story format. At the same time, the content is looking more raw - with stickers, free-form drawings, and on-the-fly filters. Brands will be forced to tell their larger story through unpolished micro-moments, and string those moments together through serialized content (such as podcasts, daily Instagram stories, short webisodes, etc..) or they will lose the attention of consumers. 

Name: Jake Pacheco

Credentials: Founder, RedCapp

RedCapp is a content management platform. RedCapp creates monthly content packages for users business social media accounts. 




Where should social media efforts be spent in 2018?

Going into 2018, social media will once again be driven with the main 5 - Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest. Snapchat is also going to a focus especially with their app redesign coming, but aside from geo-filters, many businesses, especially small business may not find much value in the app.

Content is king and in 2018, brands and businesses should focus their social media efforts on creating the highest quality content for their customers and audience. Marketing, especially on social media is all about storytelling. Content such as info-graphics, quotes, blog snippets, promotions, product explainers, all work towards telling your brands story and tying your website, product/service, and social channels altogether.

What’s in store for social media in 2018?

For 2018, we will once again usher in more video content just as we have seen the past couple of years. Social media is also becoming more and more competitive with more business and posts every day, so original and creative content will become more and more valuable, while brands that do not create high-quality content will be left behind. You can also expect to see the continued growth of influencer marketing, both micro and macro. More businesses will adopt influencer marketing to reach new audiences and engage better with their existing audience. 

Name: Mike Stricklin

Credentials: CEO and founder of Pluginz LLC. Partner of SUATMM LLC, shutupandtakemymoney.com. Lead Marketing in The Bee Token (Cryptocurrency startup) 





Where should social media efforts be spent in 2018?

It really depends on the product or service you are selling. For products, we are noticing a huge push by Facebook to feature videos onto newsfeeds. That's basically all you see now. Pictures and links aren't being shown to potential buyers anymore. They want to keep people on Facebook for as long as possible, and videos are the way for them to do that. Another great tip is to cross promote with big influencers who can get your product (or service) out to more people than you would on your own, or who can hit a totally different demographic than what you have. There are thousands of reviewers and bloggers out there who are desperate for something new to talk about. Sometimes just sending them a product or telling them you would share their video/blog post / etc is good enough! Remember that THEY also need YOU to keep growing their followers as well. For the Bee Token, we do a lot of social media contests to get our community active and sharing our coin, and we also reach out to a lot of podcasters who would like to interview our CEO. We make sure to follow similar companies or projects in the cryptospace, and tag companies or venues, or people we collaborate with. This gives them a nod on our end, and could possibly get them to re-share our posts to their followers. I'm a huge believer in doing as much organic advertising as possible without having to spend too much money. If you have a great product or service, the world will do all the advertising for you.

What’s in store for social media in 2018?

I think companies (who sell products) will be moving all of their focus into Amazon as a sales driving machine. There are very few websites that can even come close to competing with the number of active customers that Amazon has. I think most companies would do well to focus as much of their advertising budget into Amazon ads. There is an untapped goldmine that people don't realize is at their fingertips. Create as many keywords as you possibly can and us a software program (I use MyPPCPal) and let it run your advertising for you. You aren't looking to make a profit on the sales you get from sponsored ads. The purpose is to grow your products listing on Amazon through these ads, gain reviews, and get the ads shown on facebook and all other social media outlets. From there, your listing will grow exponentially organically and you will notice a huge push in organic sales that don't cost you a dime.

Name: Alicia Wiedemann

Credentials: Chief Client Officer at unified.agency 


Where should social media efforts be spent in 2018?

Social video should be a main priority for 2018 for marketers and business owners as video accounts for 70% of online activity this year, and Facebook predicts to be almost all video by 2020. Facebook and YouTube are leading the charge for video (with the launch of Live and Watch), and Instagram stories and Snapchat are growing.

What’s in store for social media in 2018?

Paid social spending will increase—70% of media companies said they would increase video spending in 2018. eMarketer reports that social network and spending surpasses $21 billion, accounting for 25.5% of digital ad spending. It is predicted that by 2019, social spending will increase to 31 billion, 29.4% of digital ad spending. No longer just an awareness play, social video has been shown to influence purchase decisions, and even drive last-click sales. But with this growth comes challenges. Marketers will need to strategize around video length, placements and which social platforms to invest their ad dollars.

There will also be an increase in paid support and influencer marketing, especially as more people understand the limits to organic reach. Advertisers will adopt and invest in influencer programs, as there will be an increased shift away from celebrity endorsements.

In addition, from a channel perspective, you'll see: increased adaptation of Pinterest, who will continue leading the charge around visual search functionality and the evolution of the marketing capabilities and tactics that can be leveraged in Snapchat, Instagram and LinkedIn. 

Name: Lee Esposito

Credentials: Principal of Columbus, Ohio-based digital PR firm Lee Esposito Associates


Where should social media efforts be spent in 2018?

One area in which business owners and marketers should focus their social media efforts is Instagram. Instagram continues to make it easier for brands to gain, reach, and engage with followers while at the same time customizing feeds. For example, Instagram Stories allows marketers the luxury of quickly posting videos or images that might not necessarily work within a highly curated feed, but still tell their brand's story in an engaging way. Instagram will continue to roll out features to help business owners and marketers build brands, such as allowing users to follow a hashtag and archiving low-performing posts.

All the signs point toward Facebook Marketplace becoming a one-stop shop, from house hunting to online yard sales. Marketplace offers a stronger sense of security than scandal-ridden Craigslist because it links back to a user profile, putting a face on the seller and on the buyer, even showing mutual friends. And since October, Facebook Messenger users have been able to send and request payments via PayPal, removing the need for a cash exchange when meeting face to face.

What’s in store for social media in 2018?

One change we can expect to see is having more emphasis placed on social media conversion strategies, whether it's followers signing up for a newsletter or some other desirable website action. Measuring reach, impressions and engagement will begin to take a back seat to tracking a targeted conversion rate for a brand's social media efforts.

Name: Cynthia Johnson

Credentials: CEO & Co-Founder of Bell + Ivy, social media influencer with 1M+ Followers 

Cynthia has received numerous accolades including:

Top 20 Digital Marketing people to follow by Inc. Magazine. 

Top 50 marketers on SnapChat by Mashable. 

Top 12 Female Entrepreneurs that Inspire by Darling Magazine.

Top 20 people in SEO by Guardian. 



Where should social media efforts be spent in 2018?

Business owners and marketers should focus their social media efforts on creating a cohesive community with their followers and to improve the interoperability of information between all their channels. Social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram have such a massive following and the potential to be an impressive channel to sell and promote a product, message and/or brand. Relatable, relevant and timely content throughout these platforms will create a genuine community of followers that enhances their brand identity which then creates more brand loyalty.

What’s in store for social media in 2018?

Changes we can expect to see in social media marketing in 2018 is an increase in user-generated content. This directly relates back to the concept of building a community within your social media channels and becomes a powerful tool to increase user engagement to represent a well-rounded and trusted brand. Another change we can see is an increase in influencer marketing vs. traditional advertisements. Humans trust humans and word of mouth marketing is one of the most affected ways of marketing, especially when it is from a trusted source. YouTube is an example of a powerhouse that effectively utilizes influencer marketing. According to Think with Google, six out of 10 YouTube subscribers would follow a Youtuber/influencer's advice regarding what to buy or a specific brand over a celebrity. 

Name: Divya Menon

Credentials: Founder/Consultant, Bad Brain


Where should social media efforts be spent in 2018?

In 2018 we will see many platforms thinking more about the advertiser's needs. From Facebook to Reddit, platforms are ramping up to meet expectations and fill-in gaps. The most important focus this year should not be on a single platform or a brand or content strategy, but in strategizing your strategy. What that means is work on the analytics and research process to find which metrics you need and what formulas you require to distill those facts into a strategy. Platforms are shedding more light on their audiences so advertisers can tighten everything from attributions to segmentation. If you have not paused to catch-up on the litany of new metrics and offerings being proffered from social goliaths, take this year to do so -- speak with your reps, spend time testing new types of inventory, and understand the breadth and depth to which you can now dive into your audience and communication.

What’s in store for social media in 2018?

Facebook will continue to set the bar for data richness, but we will see them testing the efficacy of new video inventory against maintaining the integrity of their video platforms. While Facebook works on creating new avenues for advertisers, we will see other platforms add more backend features, like Twitter trying to provide more data -- a key requirement for most of us to part with our advertising dollar.

One hope I have is that platforms will work harder to provide a more pleasant experience with advertisements on mobile -- less accidental clicks, less forced-views. I think many of us in advertising are crying out for the quality click; gone are the days where we just want blind traffic. These steps that many platforms are taking, while building out data for us, don't necessarily address the issue of creating invested users (cough, Twitter, cough).

Name: Erin Ledbetter

Credentials: Sr. Vice President, Carusele // Research Triangle, NC 

Formerly Vice President of Community Management at Ignite Social Media, Erin oversaw content strategy and content development for brands like P&G, Chrysler, and ConAgra Foods. Today, she leads strategy and production at Carusele, a new kind of marketing company that develops and distributes influencer content with the precision of a media buy. Under her leadership, Carusele has produced award-winning work for clients like Walgreens, Revlon, Nestle, and Hallmark.



Where should social media efforts be spent in 2018?

It’s time to shift our thinking on content from disruption to interception. Brands who focus on disruption ultimately produce content that entertains. It’s great for engagement but crummy for driving business KPIs. Instead, brands should focus on intercepting consumers with content that tells them why they should care. This requires a deep understanding of how your audience engages on social media but brands that spend the research time upfront so they can develop and distribute timely, customer-centric content will see an impact on more than just vanity metrics.

What’s in store for social media in 2018?

Consumers are getting savvy to the fact that many social influencers are only endorsing products because they’re paid to do so. That said, the industry isn’t going anywhere. Even with a slight decline in consumer trust, influencers are still trusted by millennials more than any other type of brand marketing content. For brands to succeed in this space next year, they’re going to have to start treating influencers like real partners through long-term ambassador programming. At Carusele, we’ve seen engagement rates on influencer content increase as much as 400% after one of our clients switched from ad-hoc influencer campaigns to an ongoing ambassador approach. 

Name: Lacey Creaser

Credentials: Digital Strategist at Jackson Spalding.

Lacey has over 12 years of digital/social experience working with big brands like Kimberly Clark and Starbucks. Jackson Spalding was founded in 1995 with a vision to be the most trusted and respected marketing communications agency. The agency today has over 150 full-time employees in Atlanta, Athens, Ga. and Dallas offices.



Where should social media efforts be spent in 2018?

Go narrow and deep on social. Brands should focus on a concentrated social media strategy supporting overall business objectives. It's hard for any brand to offer unique content across multiple platforms. Choose content themes and platforms that offer the most engagement opportunities for your specific audience segments. I​​​​t's important to only engage on platforms where you can fully invest and measure value. A brand can often dilute its own efforts on the most impactful platforms when trying to keep up with every new trend, platform and tactic introduced. A written strategy to follow, optimize and report against is a great way to amplify the right efforts.

What’s in store for social media in 2018?

You got to pay to play and go even bigger with video. As algorithms are continually updated, it is increasingly difficult for brands to stand out from the crowd. To reach your audience and keep their attention, you must pay to play and then offer content that will keep them engaged and coming back. Video is the most preferred way to receive information. If a brand is not creating quality video content, their message will most likely not resonate with their audience.

Master your Social in 2018

Whatever your business, you not only need to be on social, you need to be nailing it with a killer strategy.

To learn more about how social media can help your business, give us a call on 917-633-6518, drop us a line in the comments below or check out our website. Here you can browse for news on social media marketing, including how brands are using influencer marketing to grow their business.



12 SEO Experts Share Their 2018 Predictions

SEO, when done well, can be a formidable power in your marketing strategy. Implementing an SEO strategy is low cost, increases traffic and increases your ROI. Not to mention it builds your brand credibility through higher visibility and higher ranking.

If you have a business online, there is no way you cannot be aware of the benefits of SEO. What you will have also realized is that SEO is not as simple as it may seem. With ever-changing algorithms to pander to, being an expert in SEO is a full-time job requiring endless research and professional development to stay ahead of the curb and keep your business in the spotlight.

Predictions for the Future of SEO

So what does the future have in store? We interviewed 12 SEO experts to get their insights on what is coming in 2018, as well as their top tips to master your SEO efforts.

The news that everyone is talking about is Google's change to their search index; they are going mobile-first.  This news broke about a year ago, but it is just now that they have announced the commencement of this migration with a handful of sites now converted to the mobile-first index.

Optimizing for mobile must be a top priority for 2018. Beyond mobile, optimization for voice search is another hot topic that businesses and marketers must get on top of if they wish to be found by Siri or Alexa.

Here is what our experts have to say:


Mastering SEO in 2018


Name: Derek Hales

Credentials: Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Modern Castle. SEO professional, serial entrepreneur, and content marketer.

Immediately post-college Derek began working for iCrossing, one of the most respected SEO agencies in the country. There he lead SEO strategy for two Fortune-10 companies and a number of other Fortune-100 companies. He has launched 3 major self-funded content platforms in his career. The first, a video game guide site that peaked at 50,000 unique visitors/day (90% organic). His second, Sleepopolis.com, a platform on all things sleep, that grew from 0 to 1,000,000 page views per month over a 3 year period (85% organic). Derek's most recent project is ModernCastle.com, which he expects to follow similar trends to his previous sites. 

 


Predictions for SEO in 2018

Over the years the importance of mobile has gradually grown. However, I believe in 2018 we are going to see the importance of mobile optimization reaching new heights. Google has been talking about their mobile first index for quite a while now. At this point, it seems an almost guarantee that it will launch in 2018. It won't be good enough to simply have a responsive design. The larger experience and user engagement will become more critical than ever, but especially with how the experience and engagement are felt on mobile devices. To that end, I think we'll see page speed optimization become more important. Page weight, server response times, server hardware/architecture, DNS routing, HTTP requests, CSS, JavaScript, browsing caching, and more, it all needs to be optimized. Every millisecond counts in a world where mobile is first, and mobile engagement is just as important as the content experience.

Top tips to master SEO in 2018

Make sure you cover all of the essentials. First, build a strong foundational platform that allows for complete and robust site-wide and page level optimizations. Second, build exceptional content that consumers want to engage with and share. Build something you yourself would share. Third, promote your content. Share it with others who would be interested. Once you've got the basics taken care of then focus on how those elements are incorporated into the world of mobile. 

Name: Thom Craver

Credentials: Senior SEO Analyst for CBS Interactive, managing all the CBS News properties, including 60 Minutes, Face the Nation and 48 Hours.

A seasoned Web developer since 1993, Thom is a technical SEO and digital analytics veteran with nearly two decades of SEO practitioning. From system administration to coding to marketing to measurement, few have the full 360-degree view of modern day digital marketing.

In 1997, Thom started his first Web consultancy, New York Web Works, and never looked back. His career has included time at several renowned digital marketing agencies and hundreds of consultancy clients both large and small in nearly every vertical. 



Predictions for SEO in 2018

Schema will continue to evolve and grow in importance in 2018. As personal assistants and voice search gain popularity, watch for new markup that will allow site owners to control what the assistant will read back to searchers. Google's recent move to include Google Assistant on devices running older versions of Android is a reversal from their previously announced plans for the product. This indicates an inclination to grow voice search for the future.

Trust will become increasingly important for publishers. The newly proposed publishing principles schema mimic The Trust Project  core trust indicators. To this end, citation-style linking out of your site to relevant content will also become a differentiator. The quality of those outbound links will likely weigh more as a ranking signal, as will compliance with The Trust Project as it gains momentum. Additionally, watch for new Google UI indicators to highlight trusted content. 

Top tips to master SEO in 2018

For 2018, focus on getting basic SEO elements right. Have quality content, straightforward site architecture, speed and mobile-friendliness mixed with quality, relevant schema. Be careful not to overdo it. Google Search Console warns sites with needlessly abundant schema code. While schema continues to be important for Google's AI machine to learn, it's important to use it wisely and appropriately.

Google continues to grow their AMP teams. Using AMP can provide a great mobile experience, and traffic gains from AMP carousels can be huge. But ensure your site's AMP and canonical content match. In February, Google will start penalizing you if it doesn't. 

Name: Wes Marsh

Credentials: Director of Digital Marketing, Solodev

Wes has 10+ years of experience marketing for businesses.



Predictions for SEO in 2018

In 2018, expect RankBrain to continue leveraging user interactions like clicks, dwell time, bounce rates, and deeper clicks into the website as part of their machine learning to use context over content for rank determinations.

SEOs will also have to optimize for voice search as Google rolls out their mobile-first index. Not only does your content need to be optimized for voice search, but your overall mobile UX will be critical to your rankings. This will include responsive designs, the size of your tap-targets as related to UX, site speed, and more.

Top tips to master SEO in 2018

The biggest tip I have for marketers and business owners is to think of your site in the way Google does: Is this site the best possible website for users? If it's not, then make the changes needed to enhance your site to deserve a top rank. That means your content covers the topic searched (length), uses other relevant terms to the primary keyword (LSI Keywords), is useful to others (b/c they don't bounce off and they stay on the page), and it offers a great mobile experience. Google's mobile-first index will bring a major shift for SEOs to where mobile sites are now considered the primary version of the site - even with a responsive design. This makes sense since we know over 60 percent of all Google searches are coming from mobile devices and that number is only projected to grow. 

Name: Cari Bacon

Credentials: Director of Project Management - SEO at SEO Inc


Predictions for SEO in 2018

Having a site that is not considered secure will make it obsolete. Some search engines have already placed warnings next to search results for unsecured sites (http), but in 2018, you may not even be in the search results.

Voice search will take over. We have already seen mobile searches overcome desktop in some verticals, and with the digital assistants, I fully expect to have voice search to have an even more of an impact.

Top tips to master SEO in 2018

Get your site secure! And make sure all of the URLs are redirected correctly.

Use how to, and what is the type of questions on your site, with useful and concise answers. This will help with voice search results. 

Name: Joe Sloan

Credentials: Marketing & Communications Coordinator for Advice Me​​​​​dia, managing SEO efforts for advicemedia.com. 





Predictions for SEO in 2018

Three large trends that I believe will be very influential over 2018 are site security, responsive design, and quick answer rankings.

Site Security - with Google's recent announcement that they will be displaying sites that are unsecured moving forward, one has to believe that site security and https will continue to play a larger role in search engine rankings.

Responsive Design - besides the influx of new devices that can connect to the internet, from phones, tablets, desktops, to watches your site will need to work on any device. But more importantly, with Google continuing to provide the quickest answer, they have now started to show a small window into websites on Google Maps on tablets instead of opening your site directly. These trends will continue and show that your site will need to work in any window size, not just with specific devices in mind. Also, AMP pages are going to continue to become more important for clients with significant blog traffic to continue to rank well.

Quick answer rankings - this has been very hard to track, but we have seen certain success with clients that show up for rich snippets answers but we are uncertain how this affects traffic positively or negatively. But the biggest piece that will need to be tracked closely is how quick answer rich snippet content correlates with voice search traffic. Also, Google recently announced they are increasing the average meta description so having SEO best practices in place to make sure Google can pull the relevant information will be crucial.

Top tips to master SEO in 2018

Content is king. If your customers are asking you the question they are asking Google. Ensure you have educational content for customers no matter their buyer's stage. 

Name: Damon Burton

Credentials: President of SEO National, a consulting company and UtahSites, a web design company. 




Predictions for SEO in 2018

In 2018, mobile will be increasingly important which means your website must be responsive to display content correctly and quickly.

Top tips to master SEO in 2018

The best things business owners can do to master SEO in 2018 is to start by optimizing their website for select keywords to improve search rankings, attract more readers and convert them to customers using these steps: 

  1. Verify your rankings- Search your designated keywords on Google or use a tracking tool like Advanced WebRankings to determine where your webpages rank and find areas where you can improve. 
  2. Use alternative keywords- Try the Google Keyword Planner
  3. a thesaurus or your competition to find alternative keywords you can add to your website.
  4. Diversify- Ensure your keyword targets are referenced throughout the entirety of your website and not just on the landing page. Repurpose content using articles, videos infographics and more to show your site is diverse and a well-rounded resource for your keyword targets.
  5. WordPress plugs- If you are using WordPress, I highly recommend using plugins to speed up your website's load time and help search engines more easily find your content. Some of the most effective include Yoast SEO and W3 Total Cache

Name: David Mulqueen

Credentials: Project Manager at Odd Dog Media

David executed an SEO campaign this year that won the 2017 Landy award for Best Local SEO Initiative. 



Predictions for SEO in 2018

I don't see SEO changing in 2018. The fundamentals of backlinks, content, site architecture, on & off site items etc. are going to play just as important of a role as they have the last few years. I do predict a decrease in CTR's to websites from local business listings. Google has made Google My Business listings extremely user-friendly so people can contact business owners for appointments or questions without even visiting a website.

Top tips to master SEO in 2018

My top tips for business owners is to get comfortable with your GMB page and learn how to take advantage of it's components. There have been some great features released in 2017 i.e. posts, appointments, text messaging, FAQ's and it's going to really important to use that technology to help persuade new customers into your place of business. 

Name: Jonathan Alonso

Credentials: Digital Marketing Manager for uBreakiFix


Predictions for SEO in 2018

Before 2018 rings into a new year, Google is already making a big shift into mobile first indexing, which will impact a large portion of sites that are not mobile responsive-ready. Focusing on optimizing your site for mobile including technical specifications like speed, meta tags, content and user experience will help in making sure there is no drop in traffic and at the least remain consistent on mobile.

Other than mobile with the new push of AI in search and the evolution of Rankbrain, Google is looking for sites that meet the needs of its customers and users. 

Criteria include: Is it answering the user's question? Is the site fast enough on mobile platforms? What options does the user have? How close in proximity is this business to the user? More than ever before, Marketers need to focus on their site, content, and technical SEO in 2018 more than ever before rather than focusing on trying to rank for specific keywords.

Top tips to master SEO in 2018

Focus on your user experience within your website. How can I get my traffic to convert on mobile? What content do I need to answer my customers questions within relevant pages? Being focused on your customers first and business second will help you increase the opportunists for more SERPS.

Dig deep into understanding your FAQ's, What are customers asking? How can you best answer their questions? If it is price based, Create a comparison table between you and your competitors. If it is a how-To create the content on how-to for your product, or best practice in the forms of lists, numbers, data so it can be informational for your customer and gain/win that trust from your earned traffic.

This will help in winning higher funnel customers in the research phase that will convert later when making a purchase decision.

Name: Sommer Sharon

Credentials: Entrepreneur and Owner of Sleigh Consulting, a digital marketing company specializing in SEO. 

Sommer has 14+ years experience working in online marketing.



Predictions for SEO in 2018

Google will roll out its mobile-first search index, combining the mobile and desktop indexes into one with the index crawling the mobile version of a page first. This also means Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) is going to become even more important in 2018. Google will encourage more structured data mark up in 2018, as part of improving the user experience. And search engines will also favor meta descriptions written for voice results as between 40-55% of people (according to Google) use voice search daily.

Top tips to master SEO in 2018

  1. Mark up your content in structured data using schema.org.

  2. Keep creating great content (content and authority will stay king).

  3. Optimize your content for voice results. The general recommendation is to read your copy out loud to make sure it sounds conversational.

  4. Have a mobile site that uses AMP, and make sure your structured data, alt tags, meta descriptions, etc. are setup the same as on your desktop site. 

Name: Justin Knott

Credentials: President, Intrepy Healthcare Marketing


Predictions for SEO in 2018

I believe two of the major predictions and changes in 2018 for SEO are the increase in mobile first indexing for SEO and the continued, accelerated growth of voice search. With Google already beginning to institute mobile first indexing for websites, businesses are going to need to start looking at their website's overall SEO strategy, UX/UI mobile design, site speed and integrating AMPs pages in early 2018. Secondly, utilization of voice search will continue to grow in 2018 causing businesses to need to adopt a more fluid, natural long-tail search query strategy for SEO. When people search utilizing voice they tend to search in complete statements, example: How do I change a car tire? vs change car tire.

Top tips to master SEO in 2018

A tip for businesses in 2018 to master SEO in a particular industry or vertical is to focus on a well thought out, researched-based content marketing strategy. Once you have established processes and procedures for producing high quality, long-form content and the proper distribution channels take advantage of software like Google Analytics to evaluate and adjust your strategy for maximum effectiveness. 

Name: Lacey Creaser

Credentials: Digital Strategist at Jackson Spalding.

Lacey has more than 12 years of digital/SEO experience working with major brands like Kimberly Clark and Starbucks. Jackson Spalding was founded in 1995 with a vision to be the most trusted and respected marketing communications agency. The agency today has more than 150 full-time employees throughout the United States. 



Predictions for SEO in 2018

Mobile and voice search will lead the way. More than half of mobile searches are conducted on a mobile device. If your website and content are not optimized for mobile indexing and user intent, you could be skipped over for the ones that are. This is your chance to push beyond competitors by making your website and content mobile-friendly and responsive, fast loading, and driven by the user's needs.

Top tips to master SEO in 2018

Old SEO tricks are out and user-driven experiences are in. Shortcuts just won't work anymore. Google wants the best for its users and you should, too. Understand user intent, then create content they will care about and a user experience that matches their desired journey. Spend time identifying user need states and the gaps in industry conversations online. Then, to be successful, spend your time creating quality and crawlable content, coupled with a solid website experience with a mobile and voice search component. People want responsive design, fast page load times, easy to digest content and localized convenient search results. Given them what they want, not what you want. 

Name: Winston Burton

Credentials: VP of SEO, Acronym

Winston Burton joined Acronym in 2014 with over ten years of experience in search marketing. Prior to joining Acronym, Winston was the VP of SEO at Havas Media, one of the world's top ten global ad agencies. He started the SEO practice for Havas and built the practice to include clients such as Choice Hotels, Fidelity, Exxon, Volvo, and Marc Jacobs. Winston spearheaded SEO strategy, including content marketing, mobile, link building, and all technical areas of SEO. Winston's career also included the SEO Manager role at Rosetta and time at Zeta Interactive. 



Predictions for SEO in 2018

SEO is going to continue to shift towards mobile and increasingly queries will be from answer box and voice search, while structured data will also be important - and is a good way to send information to search engines in a way they understand. Speed and user experience will also be critical.

Top tips to master SEO in 2018

To maintain and/or increase your visibility for 2018, brands must do the following:

  1. Create high-quality content that is not only relevant, but useful in the moment of need and meets end user intent at all stages of the increasingly fragmented user journey.

  2. Consider using AMP or other technology to make sure you have a fast-loading website that provides a great experience across all devices and platforms.

  3. You should use structured data to provide search engines with the information they need to better understand what's on your site to maximize clicks, visits, and conversions.

  4. Have a sound content strategy with content that answers questions and ranks in position 0 (the answer box) to dominate answer box and voice search queries. 

Experts in SEO

At Spooky Digital, we live and breathe Search Engine Optimization. Not an algorithm changes without our knowledge, allowing us to be nimble and continually delivering the best results for our clients.

If you want to speak more about an SEO plan for the new year, give us a call on 917-633-6518 or visit our website for more information about SEO.



6 Experts Share Their Predictions For New Technology in 2018

With the New Year around the corner, we wanted to take a look at new tech and how it is going to impact businesses and marketers in 2018.

It seems the speed at which technology is moving is increasing pace year on year, with 2017 holding quite a few highlights and 2018 promising to follow suit.

2017 saw continued advancements in new tech like Artificial Intelligence. Facial recognition technology is improving, new chatbots have been created for brands across the globe, and in more shocking news, an artificially intelligent robot called Sophia has been in the headlines after being awarded citizenship in Saudi Arabia.

Here is What the Experts Have to Say

With the scope of technology so broad, it is near impossible to be across it all. So what better way to gather insights than to reach out to experts across the country for their thoughts on what new technology business owners and marketers need to adopt or keep an eye on in 2018, as well as the major changes we can expect from new tech in 2018.

Our 6 experts cover everything from Virtual Reality to Machine Learning & Artificial Intelligence, all the way through to Blockchain Technology and Crypto Currencies, advising you on how these technologies will impact business and what you need to get on top of to stay ahead.



New Technology to Watch in 2018


Name: Kevin Conner

Credentials: Founder and CEO of BroadbandSearch.

BroadbandSearch provide unique technology that helps customers choose a cable/ISP provider. We've become experts in technology trends as a result. 



New technology to adopt or keep an eye on in 2018?

For 2018 virtual reality is the most pressing tech we'll want to adopt. The PS4 (which already has some of the world's cheapest VR access) will drop in price, and as a result, we'll see even cheaper access to VR. This is exactly what happened with the PS3 and Blu-ray.

Google Daydream will also be promising as it expands its audience. Mobile-friendly content will become VR friendly content for every website out there.

Predictions for 2018?

HBO already released a Westworld VR experience. It is very possible for them to release another with the new season, or even hook Game of Thrones viewers with something new.

In these early stages of new VR technology hype, a minimal effort can bring maximum gains. Do not neglect the possibilities of VR. Early adopters are sure to prosper. 

Name: Kathryn M. Kosmides

Credentials: Director of Marketing at SummitSync in New York City. 



New technology to adopt or keep an eye on in 2018?

This coming year is about adopting new technologies that help to quantify marketing spend and leaving the flashy technology to the wayside until the basics are solved. We've even pivoted our entire company to focus on the need of marketer's to measure and maximize their return on events.

Quantifying marketing spend continues to be a problem for companies of every size and it, along with technology to solve advertising fraud, will be at the top of many marketer's minds going into the new year.

Predictions for 2018?

The sexy technology like machine learning and artificial intelligence will challenge the roles of average employees while bolstering high-performing team members - especially in roles like sales and marketing. We're now able to send personalized messages at scale with ease, so I hope the entire industry steps up and focuses on providing real value instead of inundating people with ads and brand-first messaging.

Name: Caroline Buck

Credentials: Director of Product Marketing at Wizeline

Wizeline is a software development and product company in San Francisco which was recently featured in TechCrunch. Prior to Wizeline, Caroline worked in Product Marketing at Yahoo. 



New technology to adopt or keep an eye on in 2018?

I think we will see continued investment in and adoption of chatbots and other conversational UIs. Businesses should adopt a chatbot that works for their specific business objectives, with the common goals being round-the-clock customer support with faster resolution time for maximum efficiency.

Chatbots can engage where a business’ users are - web, Facebook, mobile, Alexa, etc. - through text or voice. Customers expect a digital support experience wherever they go, and businesses will need to integrate chatbots into their solutions to keep them engaged and happy.

Predictions for 2018?

I think we will see improvements in how “human” it feels to converse with a chatbot or other conversational UIs. It’s still early to tell what role chatbots will play in people’s lives, as most bots today are fairly constrained in what they can do well.

In the year or so ahead, we expect there will be improvement in language processing and conversation flows that will make bots feel more natural while remaining efficient. Forrester predicts that in 2018, businesses will realize that AI requires work to not just launch, but to maintain and improve for true integration into their strategy for customer satisfaction. 

Businesses and marketers will be able to optimize their time and resources, thereby enabling their customers to do the same while using their services. It’s worth saying that bots will not be able to replace humans by any means, but there is a massive opportunity for bots to make our lives better by enabling us to do more with our time. 


Name: Matt Gorsuch

Credentials: Targeted data provider and marketing strategist for building materials suppliers.

 



New technology to adopt or keep an eye on in 2018?

Artificial Intelligence.

Predictions for 2018?

Capability to identify actual people - by name, email, address, social media, phone number - who are actively in market for whatever it is you're selling, and target your marketing spend to just those people, slashing marketing cost.

2018 will be the year of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning. In the marketing world, look for People Based Marketing to move from early adoption towards wider mainstream use. What is “People Based” marketing? The short answer is that this is Data Driven Targeting at scale: A computer takes all the data from search engines and social media sites, and using machine learning software, combines it to identify patterns and predict consumer buying behavior. By now we’re all used to companies using their own in-house data to present related offers, or advertisers using our browser behavior to re-target us with related ads. What’s different now is that exchange agreements allow for data sharing and pattern identification to be conducted across the entire internet. What’s most interesting to us as marketers is that the problem of “identity” has been solved. As consumers we are no longer anonymous. We have the technology to identify by name, email, social media profile, and mailing address, precisely those people actively looking to buy what we’re selling. We are no longer limited to demographics and keywords to improve our targeting. We can focus our resources on only our highest quality prospects, without spending money broadly advertising to anyone not actively in the market for our product. The savings can be significant: Using this data we have seen up to a 90% decrease in CPA (Cost Per Acquisition) in many markets.

Name: Kristine Neil

Credentials: Owner & Creative Director, Markon Brands






New technology to adopt or keep an eye on in 2018?

Businesses should keep their eyes on voice search and the devices that make it possible. Voice search truly changes how consumers get information and ultimately how they find out if your business has the product or service they need.

Predictions for 2018?

The ability for voice searches, across products, to recall accurate, timely information is only improving and as it does, its use will continue to increase. This begins to erase the idea of competing to reach page one of Google and instead pits brands in a race to have the best ready-made answer to possible search queries. It’s all about embedding timely, comprehensive information about their business online so that Siri or Alexa can use that information to fulfill their mission of answering their user’s question.

Name: David Peterson

Credentials: Head of Marketing at The Bee Token. Founder & CEO of ShutUpAndTakeMyMoney.com 





New technology to adopt or keep an eye on in 2018?

Mobile social media platforms like Snapchat and Instagram will continue to be huge in 2018. We've seen huge engagement through our Instagram channel, and will continue to spend more advertising dollars on mobile in 2018. In addition, we've seen a huge push towards videos on Facebook, a video will get us anywhere from 10-20x the engagement and views as a picture of the same product would have. So I would recommend moving towards video if you haven't done so already.

Predictions for 2018?

As far as major changes I see blockchain technology and cryptocurrency as having a major impact on businesses and marketing this coming year. I believe these new technologies will gain more mainstream adoption in 2018 and we will see many businesses start either accepting cryptocurrency in one form or another, or implementing blockchain technology into their own existing business models.

Getting Ahead of Tech in 2018

While it's tempting to jump onto all the latest tech, it is most important to realize that the basics are always your bread and butter. If you haven't got the foundations of your marketing and business plan solid, then no new technology is going to change the fate of your business. 

Adopting new technology takes time and financial investment. Look carefully for platforms that will compliment your businesses marketing activities, adopt when it is practical and ensure that you work with partners who can advise you on where best to invest your time and budget. 

Our team can work with you to analyze your business and advise on what is going to work best for you, not just what is on trend. Contact us today on 917-633-6518 to see how we can help.

10 Tech Startup Founders and CEO’s Share Their Marketing Strategies

Technology is the future. Automation, artificial intelligence, personal space travel, and more loom on the achievable Horizon. The tech boom of the 90's and early 2000's has led to a crowded marketplace of apps, products and services that can seem impossible to navigate. Finding a quality tech start-up is like trying to find a needle in a haystack. 

We wanted to know what leaders in the tech space are doing to grow their business, so we did all of the finding and searching for you, and got in touch with experts from some of the hottest new technology start-ups out there.

In this article, you'll learn about these start-ups and what their unique selling proposition is--as well as the marketing secrets behind their rapid success. Want to get your start-up funded? Look at what those before you did, and copy them.

Here's the keys to their success, and projections about the future of technology marketing in 2018 and beyond...

The Future of Tech Start-up Marketing as Told by Tech Founders & CEO's



Name: Laura Arndt
CEO of a new start-up called Matriarc 



Matriarc is a health and wellness company for postpartum women, with an app
being released in q1 of 2018.

Matriarc is filling the much needed gap in body and mind rehabilitation post delivery by providing professionally filmed exercises for core and pelvic floor rehabilitation, audio meditations and information on postpartum nutrition and mental health.

After the baby is born, there is a shift in focus and a moms health gets put on the back burner. Existing programs being market to moms are almost entirely physical, looking at weight loss and getting your body back, where as Matriarc is focused on holistically healing, restoring and rejuvenating after birth!

In 2017 Matriarc built an MVP app and ran beta testing with over 50 moms and health professionals. The results of the beta test have given us valuable feedback towards improving our app, and we are on target for a soft launch in early 2018. To date, my biggest challenge has been getting the word out about Matriarc without having a launched app to show people. HARO has been extremely helpful, and I have been quoted and published in some big online publications like Runners World, Elite Daily, and POPSUGAR! Once I realized that being quoted in an article brought more views, I started writing some of my own and pitching to organizations with a similar demographic.

One of those articles can be seen below.

https://www.popsugar.com/fitness/Tips-Working-Out-After-Giving-Birth-44224808

Since we are pre-launch, Facebook advertising was not successful and did not create a significant number of website views or followers, but I'm hopeful once our App is on the market it will be more useful as a marketing tool. One tactic I used to help build some of our initial following of 1800 is to get members of the community involved in writing post themselves. I've asked health professionals and moms to share health related stories, and by accessing their own friend and patient networks I have been able to reach more people and bring them to the Matriarc page.

My 2018 goal is to move forward with our soft launch and get more birth professionals and moms using and talking about Matriarc. With a significant number of users and downloads we can improve our user experience and grow the company. I truly believe my app and company will help millions of women inexpensively have a better postpartum experience.

Name: Greig Latham
Founder, Vehicle Reman

Vehicle Reman remanufactures fleet vehicles to reduce costs and reduce environmental impact - we're a technology company in the automotive sector. We save customers about 50% or more off the MSRP of replacement vehicles and provide a 3-year, 100,000-mile power train warranty. 

Our biggest challenge has been launching a new concept in an industry that has not changed its channel model in over 100 years. Marketing has dramatically shifted to search-based internet queries. No one knows about our alternative product; so, no one searches for our solution. Said another way, educating the market is our biggest challenge. Our biggest successes have been working with a paratransit agency and the Texas Department of Transportation to explore light- and medium-duty bus remanufacturing. We have also succeeded in winning national, regional and local business.

We have tried the full range of marketing initiatives. So far, influencer marketing has been the only path to success. Search-based, internet advertising has not produced one sale in almost two years. Educating the market and getting the word out about novel offerings is the only rational approach for a service such as ours. We help with customer money budgets and corporate sustainability responsibility (CSR). Our future is bright if we can find enough fleet partners that want to save money and the environment. Remanufacturing is the purest form of recycling and must be a part of our transportation future.

Name: Catherine Flax
CEO, Pefin



Pefin is the world’s first Artificial Intelligence (AI) financial advisor. The platform provides intelligent, unbiased and personalized financial planning and advice. Pefin’s mission is to look after the financial best interests of users in a way that embraces the unique individuality of their lives.

The platform offers:

1. Long-term Financial Planning services, including a complete Financial Plan

2. Financial Advice, including savings and debt management strategies

3. Investment Advice and Portfolio Management Services

4. Real-time monitoring, updates, and curated financial literacy
content for each user

We are solving the problem of financial literacy. It’s not about selling people products, it’s about affordable advice empowering people to achieve their goals.

Pefin launched in early December. We have gotten tremendous response- from people signing up, to businesses wanting to partner, and also from potential investors. We have a partnership with a prominent European pension fund to build Pefin as a white label product for their clients. This is a huge win for us.

The biggest challenge is to help people understand the need for financial advice when they have never experienced it before. Many people need to know how best to save, or pay down debt, or optimize existing assets- like their 401k. There is more that can be done to put people in a great financial position that has little or nothing to do with markets- but historically that advice was very difficult to get. Now Pefin makes it easy.

We have had a very soft launch, with some press and social media presence. So far, we have had the most success from a few articles in respected publications.

We are building our social media following by providing useful content. We focus on blogging and other content that is geared toward answering questions that people have – How do I save for a home? Can I afford to
send my kids to college? How do I know whether I am ready to retire? In providing value-added content we are giving people information that they find useful- and that created traction from a marketing perspective.

Name:  Jason Westland
CEO and founder, ProjectManager.com



When I started ProjectManager.com in 2008 I was seeking to provide a project management tool that incorporated all of the aspects of the best pm tools available at the time, without the unnecessary clutter.​

Intuitive, interactive, and ease of use are the most important aspects I was seeking to
address. Since then, we have acquired customers as large as NASA, Ralph
Lauren, and Pepperdine University and expanded from our first office in New
Zealand to a second office in Austin, Texas.

A major reason for our growth and success so far has been the use of content marketing early on as a tool to grow the business. We provide more content like free project management templates, guides, and informative blog posts than our competitors and that has generated a lot of good will among project management professionals.

Looking forward to 2018 we will continue to utilize our leading project management content to grow the business as well as make advancements in our
brand design and product.

Name: Toby Hervey
CEO of Bravely




Bravely is a resource for confidential conflict coaching and communication guidance for employees navigating issues in the workplace, helping them prepare for conversations with managers, colleagues and HR teams. Already backed by $1.5 million in seed funding, Bravely connects employees with experienced conflict coaches and HR professionals for conversations about the challenges employees face that can be intimidating to tackle proactively.

We founded this company because we've lived first-hand – as a gay man and a woman (who has personally overcome sexual harassment in the workplace) – what it can be like to feel intimidated or uncomfortable advocating for yourself in an environment or workplace culture where you don't see yourself represented or that doesn't work to include diverse voices. We wanted to give these voices what they need to be louder, the confidence to go forward and the support they need to feel heard. For company leaders and HR departments offering Bravely, we see employees reporting they are more likely to go forward and tackle issues whereas they might have let them fester or spoken to friends and family before, or just started looking for another role.. For example, after 42% of Bravely sessions employees self-report that they were going to start looking for another job before their session.

Bravely is different from traditional internal HR or coaching because we fall outside the walls of the company and everything shared is strictly confidential and off-the-record. Some employees will always struggle to speak up or assert themselves, no matter how great the company or People team might be, and offering Bravely sends a clear signal that they want to support them and offer a safe space for discussing whatever they are facing at work.

We’re targeting forward-thinking companies with a concentration of office-based professionals facing ongoing organizational change such as rapid-growth. We really want companies that care about signaling to their employees that they care. We have been actively reaching out to media – national, industry, podcasts and more – to share our story.

We expect that in the coming years, Bravely will become a staple for every company and HR department that cares about the needs of their employees and their employer brand. We know that not enough safe channels exist for employees, nor is there enough investment in inclusion efforts as diversity becomes a greater factor of success, and we’re well-positioned to help deliver on both fronts. We’re not currently naming clients, but we expect to have 30 clients live by the end of the year. We’re focused on delivering a stellar experience to our first wave of clients, collecting data and refining our experience rather than scaling at all costs at this point. 

Name: Teris Pantazes
CEO AND FOUNDER, EFynch.com





We are EFynch.com and we are working to become the “referees” of home improvement.

Currently, home improvement platforms only participate in 25% of the $360B, U.S. Home Improvement Industry. 30% of all homeowners say the toughest part of any project is “finding a pro” even though we see countless advertisements on TV promising “the best way to find a handyman”.

We created step-by-step and logical process to complete these tasks with a focus on helping new homeowners or homebuyers.

To date, our biggest challenge has been separating ourselves from the competition. We found that in today’s information age, it is incredibly easy to promote a slogan and because too many companies take liberty with this power, consumers are cautious on who they trust. We can’t compete in the 15 second, catchy sentence world that gain a customer. We have to build a loyal base that wants real answers.

Our best marketing have come from any venue that gives us a moment to share details. Blogs, explainer videos can be published/ shared on social media and when a friend shares a handyman tip we wrote, it establishes our brand and the information helps build our trustability.
The key is writing good information that people can see value within.

For 2018 we continue to build on this. In 14 months we gained a reach of approx. 4,000 and cultivating our “nest” of guidance is priority #1!

Name: Kean Graham
CEO of MonetizeMore



[MonetizeMore provides] the vitamin of higher ad revenues for publishers and solving nasty problems for them like malvertising, report unification and big data management.

...We are having our highest growth year (2017). Our biggest challenge is building technology faster. Our greatest successes has been the immense ad revenue increases we’ve achieved for our publisher partners via the tech we’ve built. 

We get 90%+ of our leads from inbound marketing. This is the result of consistently creating unique content for over 7 years and slowly developing new inbound marketing channels. Our inbound marketing strategy
has been one of the most successful initiatives our company has undergone.

Paid advertising has not been as successful so far, however, we’ve only invested in re-targeting. We will be expanding to search which we are optimistic about. With re-targeting, we are targeting many publishers that never want to convert but perhaps only wants to read useful content on our blog. 

[In 2018] we are launching PubGuru, which is the Hootsuite of the ad tech industry. It will be the centre piece platform for publishers that want to run their ad operations in-house but have access to powerful ad tech.

Name: Danni Lin
CEO, GREAT WINE



GREAT WINE...[is] a company which produces wine to start a new conversation about wine – what is your wine character or “vinotype?”

Many clients don’t really know what they like, so making a choice among numerous bottles often means following what a wine critic says. GREAT WINE instead inspires clients to discover their unique preferences and perspectives by providing them with wines that cater to the taste of different “vinotypes.” It is GREAT WINE’s goal to give respect to the uniqueness of individuals and uniqueness of each wine.

GREAT WINE, Inc. is a startup which has a team of 50 globally. Under CEO Danni Lin's leadership, GREAT WINE, Inc. opened first tasting room in Bellevue, Wash., in June 2017. GREAT WINE, Inc. is recognized as Best Wine Tasting Experience by Qminder. The company’s CEO, Danni Lin, is honored in 425 Business Magazine 30 under 30. The problem we are solving is helping our clients and customers to understand the scientific concept of “vinotype,” as well as why it is a “turning point” and “must-used” concept in the wine industry.

Our company's marketing strategies have been very successful.

In order to solve this problem, we use myVinotype app (https://www.myvinotype.com/en/) – a smart wine recommendation platform for wine-related businesses and connoisseurs to learn more about clients’ wine personalities. Launched in 2011, myVinotype first started as a website widget and a consumer survey. By 2016, the platform has launched an iOS app, and has become available in eight languages worldwide. All these features are supported by data analytics in order to be more client-oriented. This means when clients come to our tasting room, we do a vinotype test together. After clients know their vinotypes, we match them with the wine we produced to fit their palate. The biggest challenge is raising the awareness for the app. However, we are seeing that the app appears to have high credibility among the clients. So, it is our biggest success in applying technology to our business.

We build our marketing strategy upon the company’s core values, perception, provenance and personalization. We perceive omni-channel marketing is an effective method to promote our company. This method provides a seamless, consistent, and convenient communicating channel between the company and customers. Omni-channel marketing creates 1:1 experience between the company and customers. Our wine specialists and even our CEO are just few clicks away from clients. As a result, GREAT WINE, Inc. successfully builds brand awareness and connects personally with customers. Omnichannel marketing has been our strategy from the beginning which help us successfully attract and retain target audience.

Lastly, the company will open its first international tasting room in China in late 2017. Our goal for the future is making “vinoptye” a concept that is not locally recognized, but also globally recognized.

Name: Zach Schlosser
Founder, The School for the Future



The School for the Future is a social innovation education startup.

We've raised seed funding to get through the launch of our initial courses, which integrate social entrepreneurship, activism, and self-development, draw from the sciences of collective action, and emphasize thinking scientifically about project design and evaluation. This includes using tactics that fit the goals, rather than the ones with which students are most familiar. Our biggest challenge so far has been saying all this without being overly complex. Our biggest success is our instructors; they're incredible. 

For example, scholar-activist Roger Hallam is teaching tactics he and colleagues used to win the first rent strike in London in 30 years and get King's College to commit to fossil fuel divestment - in only 8 weeks! Right now our marketing is a mix of early-stage hustle and long-term positioning. Word of mouth has been the easiest way to demonstrate credibility.

Facebook ads with quiz or syllabus-download funnels have been less successful, probably because we need more press and partnerships to earn folks' trust. Over the next year or so we think the documentary we're producing on the future of higher education will give us more attention. It's already been a great vehicle for connecting with thought leaders. In 2018 we'll continue to improve our marketing and develop an integrated social innovation curriculum, though we're most excited to work with students, helping them build sustainable, effective, and impactful social ventures.

Name: Sampo Parkkinen
CEO, Revieve



Revieve transforms the online beauty shopping experience by helping beauty brands and retailers bring the in-store beauty consultant online using shopper selfies and computer-vision. In the physical world, 62% of beauty-product purchases are influenced by the in-store beauty consultant. Through having a Digital Beauty Advisor powered by Revieve, beauty brands and retailers can enjoy the benefits of personalized beauty product advice and product recommendations in all of their digital channels and increase both online beauty shopper conversion as well as average transaction size.

In the last 12 months, Revieve has engaged 40+ retailers and beauty brands across four continents. Through our customer-interactions, we've seen the Digital Beauty Advisor -solution provide brands and retailers with up to a 32% increase in online beauty-shopper conversion as well as a 25% increase in average transaction size. As a young company, we've been fortunate to have the ability to engage leading global beauty brands as well as innovative speciality retailers who wish to provide their shoppers with an interactive, intuitive and transformative online shopping experience for beauty products. Simultaneously, we've had to overcome the hesitation of large retailers and brands in working with a relatively unknown startup and have had to convince them of our financial as well as operational stability and longevity.

Revieve's marketing strategy revolves around providing prospective retail and brand partners with information about the usefulness of a Digital Beauty Advisor through direct e-mail, webinars, blog-posts as well as social media postings. In addition, we believe in the power of creating a thought-leadership position within the beauty technology industry by focusing on providing our prospective brand and retail partners with information regarding the state of the beauty technology industry as well as various market reports that help their decision-making and increase their understanding of different technological advances and services available for their digital channels. We've seen tremendous power in engaging with our prospective audience in those channels which they regularly use in their daily work, including LinkedIn, news media about the industry as well as through events and conferences.

The year 2018 will be a transformative year for Revieve. This year we've matured as a company, built the necessary operational and customer support infrastructure to help support the customers using our solutions as well as expanded our offering from a purely e-commerce focused Digital Beauty Advisor to a suite of solutions encompassing use cases and applications for our brand and retail partners other digital channels including Facebook Messenger, WeChat, Amazon Alexa as well as an in-store offering. Our focus for 2018 is to continue to further improve the Digital Beauty Advisor -customer experience and provide even larger conversion and average transaction size improvements for our customers as well as expand to new markets, including Asia. We believe the Digital Beauty Advisor -solution we're providing to become a transformative technology in the world of beauty retail and are excited to be in the forefront of innovation with some of the worlds most innovative retailers and brands.

7 Content Marketing Experts Share Their Favorite Tools

In the last few years, content marketing has become increasingly important, as marketers move away from things like static text and banner ads and shift towards engaging and educating their customers through methods like interactive video and blog posts.

But, technology is constantly changing, so for marketers, content creators and business owners, keeping up to date with the plethora of tools available can be a daunting task.

On top of that, most people don’t have the time to trial all the available tools to find out which ones best suit their needs.

Fortunately, Spooky Digital has done the work for you. I spoke with 9 content marketing experts who shared their favorite tools for creating engaging content.

Let’s dive right in...

Stephen Jeske
Content Strategist @
CanIRank?

My favorite tool, if I had to pick one, would be CoSchedule for a number of reasons. 

I like to keep a publishing schedule for our company blog so I always know what’s coming down the pipeline. I never want to be in a situation where I’m worried about what I’m going to publish this week. CoSchedule handles this very well with its calendar-based scheduling. 

To ensure there are no surprises, I use task templates that I set up in CoSchedule to make certain all necessary tasks are completed prior to the article’s publication date. Getting a post ready to publish is a group effort, so these tasks are assigned to various members of the team. Keeping a post with its associated tasks and communication together makes following up easy. I can quickly determine which stage a post is at in pre-production. 

Publishing a post is only part of the story. Once an article is live, it’s time to start promoting. I use CoSchedule’s template feature to quickly create a social media plan ensuring the post gets published to all our social feeds at the optimal times. This leaves me with more time to spend time on high-value activities like relationship building. 

Much of the content we produce is evergreen, so I throw it into CoSchedule’s requeue for some intelligent and continuous promotion. Requeue works well at filling in the gaps in our social media calendar. Within the app, I specify the publication frequency in each channel, so our followers aren’t overloaded with social content. Plus I can set a repetition limit so that the app doesn’t mindlessly repromote the same post over and over. 

Jessica Stansberry
Video Marketing Strategist @
Vidfluential

Content marketing relies heavily on consistency and processes but it can be extremely hard to keep up with a schedule and a process for each piece of content without a tool to make that happen.

Obviously any calendar can allow you to make a plan for content creation and execution, but Trello makes it even easier, more streamlined, and repeatable. With Trello, you can plan content out in a calendar or list view, add to-do lists by default so the process of executing the content creation is never forgotten, and check steps off in real time to keep up with where you are in the process. As a true type B personality, I appreciate that the system focuses on visual appeal and the ability to change at any point throughout the process.

As an example of how I use this system and process in my business, I publish YouTube videos three times per week and each of those videos has an accompanying written blog post, Pinterest-ready images, social-ready images, and a social sharing schedule. With Trello, I am able keep all potential content ideas listed, change them into ideas that are in process with a simple drag-and-drop, add a templated to-do list to each piece of content, and pass off to my team at different stages, all on automation.

 By using this tool, I can view my content schedule at a glance, know exactly what needs to be completed by what dates and see where the content has progressed through the process of getting it created, published and shared.

Izaak Crook
Digital Marketing Executive @
AppInstitute

In content marketing, a lot of people overlook the sheer importance of the outreach aspect. It's all well and good creating a fantastic piece of content - but nobody will see it if you don't promote it! 

Luckily for us content marketers - there are are a few fantastic tools that you can use to make outreach and promotion a breeze. For me - one of the absolute best is Ahrefs. 

Ahrefs first and foremost is an SEO tool. However, they offer so much more than just checking backlinks. The content explorer functionality allows you to find top content similar to yours, or around the same topics. Using that information, you'll be able to find exactly the right people to reach out to - those who linked to the similar content.

All of this can be done within AHrefs. I'll find a few similar articles, then use site explorer to find out who linked to them. Next - I'll extract all of those backlinks - and use my preferred email finding tool - Hunter - to find email addresses for every site.

Once you have a full list of people who linked to similar content, and an email address for each one - you can use a tool like YAMM (Yet Another Mail Merge) to send personalised emails to each of them, sharing the awesome content you've been working so hard on.

I've found this method to be a fantastic way of building not just links - but relationships with publications. Ahrefs for me is an invaluable tool!

Tim Jernigan
 Head of Product Marketing @

Badger Maps

Content marketing has a lot of moving parts. There are tools for everything from SEO to content promotion, but not many of them are designed to improve the fundamental aspects of creating content. Outlining, drafting and organizing the different pieces of your content have to be done in different applications. Airstory fills that gap and ties everything together.

Awesome content starts as a fantastic outline, and Airstory simplifies the entire process. It’s a fantastic tool for collecting and combining the different elements of your content. You can save your research to "cards" and add it to your outline with smooth drag and drop functionality. Airstory acts as a hub for your images and writing templates, so you're never starting from a blank page again (every writer knows how scary that can be). You can integrate with Evernote to keep all of your notes on the same page, and use Zapier to tie-in any other app you can think of. Airstory is an essential part of our content marketing efforts.

Nicole Silver
Digital Strategist @
TrustedPros 

A huge part of content marketing for me is producing exciting content. However, this content won’t take my company anywhere unless it’s distributed properly. So, I would say that pitching my content to relevant sources is crucial to it’s success, which makes my favourite content marketing tool Hunter. 

Hunter helps me find contact information at the click of a button. I am always scouring the internet in search of publications and people who will find my content interesting and useful. You would be surprised how difficult some organizations and companies make getting in touch with their staff out to be!

Sometimes a specific individual’s information isn’t posted on the company website that I am trying to reach. But, when I click on Hunter’s Chrome app, it provides me with a list of sources that I can try to get in touch with (including their contact information). 

Hunter is almost always right. Even if it isn’t correct it will provide an email formula for the website that is usually correct. This makes pitching so much easier and less time consuming for me. I can generate more accurate media lists and send my content to the right people who will actually publish it! Hunter has really helped me in my content marketing efforts!

Teresa Walsh
 Marketing Executive

Cazana

My favourite content marketing tool is Buzzstream

The days of writing content and sitting back and waiting for it to be read and ranked are long gone. Creating content is much more than just writing and publishing you have to spend time promoting it and putting it in front of the right people. Buzzstream is a fantastic tool for this and I would be lost without it his comprehensive software and its handy Chrome extension.

It is important to mix your marketing efforts and one way to get your content read is y getting other bloggers etc to link t it and in order to that, you need to undertake the time-consuming task of outreach. This is where Buzzstream comes in.

It allows you to compile different prospect lists, assign yourself days to outreach them, reminders to follow up, keep track of any links achieved, how many emails you've sent and who has responded and who has not. Buzzstream basically puts the organisation SEO outreach. The chrome extension is also great when you come across a blog or website you know you want to contact, you click on the Buzzstream extension and you can save it directly to the relevant prospect list without ever leaving the website. Time-saving wizardry.

Stephen Gibson
Founder @
Vyteo

Content marketing is the foundation of everything we do as marketers. Our list of favorite tools could go on for quite some time, and we're always on the hunt for new and exciting one. Here are some of our favorites to supercharge any content marketing campaign.

Canva is extremely useful for creating beautiful and engaging cover photos, images for social shares, and more. It just takes a few minutes to get professional looking digital images for any project you're working on.

Grammarly is a wonderful tool for checking grammar before any content is published. Just copy and paste your text, or use their browser extension, and with one click you can get pristine content.

Moz's Open Site Explorer gives you a wealth of information of not only a website but specific web pages. What I like best about it is checking both the Domain Authority and Page Authority of specific pages. Their browser extension gives you the ability to take the same functionality wherever you browse. You can always know right away the health of a website you're considering working with for your campaigns.

Also, we'd be lost without Google Docs. The ability to take documents from draft to finalization is invaluable. We can see everybody's edits and quickly gather feedback. Gone are the days of emailing Microsoft Word documents with change tracking on. Google Docs is beyond useful and an essential part of getting things done.

Digital Marketing Experts Discuss The Impact of Net Neutrality Changes

In two days’ time the internet as we know it could fundamentally change, that’s if the proposal by the Federal Communications Commission(FCC), led by Chairman Ajit Pai, to overturn net neutrality laws stopping ISPs from blocking or giving preference to certain content is given the green light.

Net neutrality makes it so that all content is treated equally on the internet, be it streaming services, sports, shopping sites or news. Therefore you as a consumer have an easy enough time finding what you’re looking for without anything being filtered or hidden.

Critics worry that getting rid of neutrality regulations will lead to a “two-tier” internet: ISPs will charge fees to sites, apps, and advertisers and slow down or block the sites that can’t or won’t pay the fees. As a result, users will only have access to part of the internet, with the rest either inaccessible or extremely slow.

Will the internet be divided into a two tier system? Will small businesses struggle to stay afloat without being able to spend huge amounts of money? Or are the concerns overblown? I spoke to some digital marketing experts to find out what they think.

Vanessa Watts

Executive Vice President @ Laughlin Constable

PAUL: What impact do you think ending net neutrality will have on digital marketing?

VANESSA: Honestly, if everyone in the marketing industry isn’t worried about net neutrality, then they’re not paying attention.

Content providers—both vendors and brands—will be most affected by an end to net neutrality. This isn’t limited to just consumer content; B2B can also be impacted. Mainstays of B2B marketing like free white papers and webinars may be competitively blocked, suffer access fees, ending equal availability to all potential customers. That would be a major blow to the B2B marketing industry.

With the ability for ISPs to charge for bandwidth, we may see publishers cut deals to give preferred access to their content. And you can say goodbye to start-ups. If they’re not able to afford high-speed bandwidth, they’ll be lost in the shuffle. Same goes for blogs and other kinds of long-tail content providers. We could see a return to the days of content behemoths like Google and Facebook as the forced choice for information and entertainment, but the impact may not stop there. We could see advertisers offer new 'incentive' marketing opportunities. 'Gift with Purchase' would take on a whole new meaning. Access could become a gift rather than a given. Ending net neutrality opens up the possibility of promotions like 'Come to our store three times this week and we’ll upgrade your internet speed.' The scope of the impact is purely speculation right now, but the ramifications of this decision could be massive.

Mark Rapley

Director of Operations @ KWIC Internet

PAUL: What impact do you think ending net neutrality will have on digital marketing?

MARK: Digital marketers will feel pressure from a non-neutral internet as places online become more stratified. For example, should ISPs have the option to portion up internet access, subscribers will have to choose what they really want to see and forgo access to sites that they would have visited previously, which will mean that there will be less crossover of demographics for a given site. People interested in a certain service or subject matter will pay their ISP in order to get access to the content that matters most to them, and simply stop visiting sites that are not in their primary interest category rather than pay to access them. This, in turn, means that digital marketers will be fighting over a shrinking number of opportunities to get their product in front of their target audience. This will make digital marketing a much more inefficient proposition and may slow growth of digital marketing spend. The end of net neutrality will turn digital marketing into a much more competitive and stratified business, and the strong correlation of interest to subscription will make things like retargeting less effective because potential leads simply won’t show up nearly as often on unrelated sites, as is the case now.

PAUL: Which areas do you think will be most affected?

MARK: The areas of digital marketing that stand to be most affected are those that use search engines’ networks to place ads. Since these ads are served on partner websites in addition to the search results, consumers may be “locked out” of seeing placements on web pages, simply because their subscription doesn’t allow them access to those particular websites. Strategies like pay-per-click will have to deal with a shrinking supply of pages to display their ads, and marketers who rely on affiliates will see a steep decline in effectiveness as the internet becomes a vertical, rather than horizontal, entity. Content marketing is also likely to be significantly affected, as having new content is only half the battle without net neutrality. A new website could be producing outstanding content on a regular basis, but if internet companies do not include this website in their standard access plans, then even the best content will not succeed in generating traffic. All of this is to say that if providers are allowed to create walled gardens then there is an increased risk of types of marketing that depends on exposure in lots of online venues will simply dry up or be superseded by more email marketing or social engagement.

PAUL: Which businesses do you think will be most affected?

MARK: Small businesses are likely to be most affected by the end of net neutrality. The problem with reducing the number of websites that a consumer can visit is that there are fewer low-cost opportunities for small businesses just getting started with digital marketing. For example, a new online service for food lovers can no longer count on being able to advertise across a wide variety of small food blogs, because it will no longer be effective. In the same way, popular websites will be able to charge more for prime ad positions, which will effectively shut small businesses out for budgetary reasons. In the current digital marketing landscape, where effectively run campaigns matter just as much as total budget, small businesses and start-ups can make an impression and generate traffic by creating novel content, targeting under-utilized websites or platforms, or making up for budget constraints with time and sweat equity. In an internet without neutrality, these strategies will be dramatically less effective, because the root of the problem will always be that consumers will not often want to pay simply for the ability to access the website of a new, unproven business. They would rather make sure they can access the established, larger players in the segment, because this guarantees them a minimum standard of quality, even if the potential for quality or innovation is higher with a smaller business or startup.

Steve Yu

CEO @ MediaAlpha

PAUL: What impact do you think ending net neutrality will have on digital marketing?

STEVE: For small and medium-sized e-commerce and digital advertising companies, the only real debate is whether the repeal of net neutrality will be only moderately negative or utterly disastrous.

Consumers will be less tolerant of slow load times for websites they have not used before, which will lead to higher customer acquisition costs for smaller companies, whether in the form of reduced marketing efficiencies or fees paid to ISPs. And, the consumer uproar that may ultimately protect Netflix and Ebay from unfavorable treatment will do little to preserve unfettered access to these smaller companies' websites.

Because of limited brand awareness and lack of scale, smaller companies already pay a disproportionately higher price to acquire new customers through Google, Amazon, and Facebook, and the repeal of net neutrality will simply add ISPs to this list of gatekeepers and further tilt the playing field to the advantage of established, well-known brands.

I would urge Congress to retain net neutrality to protect small business.

Eric Dahan

CEO @ Open Influence

PAUL: What impact do you think ending net neutrality will have on digital marketing?

ERIC: The entire online advertising industry is based on monetizing people's attention, and by eliminating net neutrality the FCC would give the cable companies a monopoly over how you use the internet. This would allow them to manipulate what you can and can't pay attention to- giving cable companies full control over the online advertising industry (along with many others). The effects would be catastrophic to the ad industry, as cable companies take advantage of their monopoly to increase their profits – resulting in a huge loss of value to all advertisers, consumers, and the greater economy. For example, slowing or eliminating access to social networks would be detrimental for the consumers who depend on these networks to connect with friends and family, and change how brands engage on these networks – ultimately forcing the social networks to rethink how they monetize.

To be clear, net neutrality is not a partisan issue. Repealing it doesn't favor any American who uses the internet, and it will negatively impact all businesses, both big and small, with the exception of course of the cable companies. Many Americans may not understand the ramifications of a repeal today, but they will as soon as it passes. Voting to repeal net neutrality is corrupt and political suicide.

Sergey Denisenko

CEO @ MGID Inc.

PAUL: What impact do you think ending net neutrality will have on digital marketing?

SERGEY: In February I, like many others, predicted the Trump administration would put an end to net neutrality, so while this is saddening it’s not surprising. Today’s consumer expects every website to function flawlessly, and any site that doesn’t have ties or budget to pay internet service providers to ensure it loads quickly and perfectly is going to struggle to maintain its audience. This is where we see a domino effect – a business can’t afford to pay an ISP for premium service, so it loses its audience, which leads to a fallout from advertisers and then maintaining day-to-day operations becomes impossible, so it folds. As a result, we’ll see less competition in the world of digital content creation, which will then reduce overall digital ad supply while demand remains high. It’s tough to say who will be impacted most, because really any ad network, publisher or advertiser without ties to big cable is going to feel this one way or another.

Joshua Feinberg

Founder @ SP Homerun

PAUL: What impact do you think ending net neutrality will have on digital marketing?

JOSHUA: The end of net neutrality will have a chilling impact on how some small businesses and non-profits use digital marketing.

Historically, low barriers to entry have attracted companies and organizations to digital marketing -- and especially content marketing and inbound marketing.

However, most savvy marketers recognize that content creation is only half of the battle. The other half of the battle comes down to promotion and distribution.

If all of a sudden the majority of what's been free or organic becomes pay-to-play, this pricing model could elbow out a ton of small businesses and non-profits whose metrics and business models simply can't afford to make those investments.

As an example, think about how Facebook business pages were used five years ago. A small business CEO was relatively confident that most of those that liked their page would see their content. In the post-IPO Facebook world, with increasing competition, an entirely new digital marketing frustration and an opportunity were born: "Boost Post." Imagine the entire Internet being filled with "Boost _______" where there are monopolistic and oligopolistic pricing models.

PAUL: Which areas do you think will be most affected?

JOSHUA: The lines will continue to blur between native advertising, traditional digital advertising (like Google AdWords Text Ads), and organic content promotion.

Email service providers (such as Constant Contact, GetResponse, and MailChimp) and marketing automation software providers (such as Act-On, HubSpot, and Infusionsoft) will increasingly be forced to pass along additional costs for email marketing that make many offerings based more on variable pricing than a fixed monthly cost.

Because Amazon Web Services has done this so successfully, I see a lot of product managers emulating that model if net neutrality forces their companies to absorb new overhead costs.

So the days of a static pricing page, with three boxes, are numbered. And instead, we'll see a lot more calculators that model a half-dozen or more different pricing variables.

Will small businesses and non-profits be in a position to pay these new costs that could be anywhere from nominal to exorbitant? I think that's a lot of what the net neutrality protests and petitions are getting at..

PAUL: Which businesses do you think will be most affected?

JOSHUA: Again, small businesses and non-profits that today are only able to marginally promote on paid search and paid social will be the hardest hit.

There's a Darwinian element to this as well, where some businesses and organizations will be forced to rethink and adapt their business models, pricing, and how they achieve product/market fit -- the degree to which they're able to scale strong demand.

We use average client lifetime value (LTV) as a barometer for driving what can be invested in the average cost of client acquisition (COCA). For example, a SaaS company selling a $250,000 platform to Fortune 500 law firms will be able to make much more aggressive digital marketing investments than a competitor of theirs selling a $250 per month application to small law firms.

In much the same way that U.S. intellectual property laws -- especially copyright, trademark, and patent -- are designed to encourage investment and provide a level playing field, there are definitely some policy issues at work here as well. Since I'm neither an attorney nor a politician, I'll leave it at that.

But at the end of the day, there will most definitely be winners and losers in the net neutrality battle. It's not hard to imagine certain small businesses and non-profits losing out here.

7 Yoga Studio Owners Share Their Best Marketing Ideas

When it comes to marketing, not all tactics work for all industries. There are a variety of factors, from the audience to budget restrictions and offering that will influence which strategies are going to get the highest results for your business.

With roughly 36 million American's practising yoga, it has never been more popular, and studio competition has never been more fierce.

As with any competitive industry, marketing is essential to making your studio stand out and guaranteeing your loyal customers continue to return. 

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Community Weigh In

Our team at Spooky Digital are experts in yoga studio marketing, we help studios to grow their brand, improve visibility and most importantly, increase revenue and ROI for their marketing efforts. We provide clients with insight on how to market their yoga teacher training and get the most out of their investments. But who really wants to hear us bang on about how we can help?

The Yoga community is large and united, with similar experiences that can be learned from when it comes to what has and has not worked in their marketing efforts.

For the most part, the studio's agree that social and email marketing are the most powerful tools in a yoga studios marketing arsenal, while print mediums have dropped in popularity due to the low and hard to track ROI.

Enough from me, here are our yoga studio representative with more on what is working for them:



Yoga Studio Marketing Ideas That Works


Name: Gretchen Lightfoot

Studio: Goorus Yoga Studio in Pacific Palisades, CA

Goorus Yoga Studio has 40+ yoga and fitness classes each week, as well as weekend workshops and teacher trainings.



What marketing methods are working best for you right now?  

Our best marketing methods are:

  1. LA Yoga Magazine
  2. Facebook
  3. Instagram
  4. NextDoor

We are fortunate to have LA Yoga Magazine in our community and I frequently submit event listings to them which get published in the hard copy of the magazine or in their weekly email blast. They gave us a really nice spread when we opened the studio and recently used our space for a location shoot where we received credit as a contributor. We've just started experimenting with paid advertisements for our teacher trainings and a few select events, and we are excited to see what unfolds.

Facebook and Instagram are helpful because of their reach into neighboring communities and beyond. I primarily handle all of the studio's marketing and I try to "friend" as many of our clients as I can so that we can keep them in the loop regarding schedule changes, upcoming workshops, and the like. Likewise, I follow many of our clients on Instagram as well as strategic partners or potential partners. Following and friending are just the first step, however; interaction is crucial. I typically post daily, but occasionally experiment with downtime (3-4 days at most). We have dabbled in paid ads on Facebook on several occasions and will continue to do so as our budget grows.

NextDoor is a social media environment much like Facebook, but it restricts your interactions to your immediate neighbors. I frequently post our events and class announcements there, but have also created a special "Yoga in the Palisades" group where I can have more of a regular dialogue with our yogi friends in the neighborhood. This has been helpful especially when marketing our beginning and kids yoga events.

What methods did you give up on?

While I still use Twitter and Yelp, they haven't proved as fruitful for our marketing at Goorus. We are slowly starting to use Google+ a bit more and are taking a "wait and see" attitude there.

Name: Anita Perry

Studio: YogaAnita

YogaAnita provides yoga instruction in private sessions, group sessions, schools, and corporate environments. The business is active in community events, and is available to support community causes.



What marketing methods are working best for you right now?

The best form of marketing is word of mouth. I like to cultivate and retain as many of my students as I can, and my efforts extend to reaching out personally through newsletters and emails, I solicit suggestions from the students and always remind them that the class is for them, and anything I can do to help I am there for them.

The second best form of marketing I use is social media on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. The third form of marketing is keeping my website up to date and writing relevant blog posts on asana and reflection pertaining to a yoga lifestyle. I have also written a book (Yogaminute) to help people not within my local area learn about the advantages of incorporating a yoga practice into their lives.

What methods did you give up on?

When I was first starting out, I gave away my services for free and had many promotions to earn free classes. Through I will still be available for community causes, I realized that free services does not attract committed students; only good, honest customer service will show customers that you care. 

Name: Nathania Stambouli

Studio: SoulPlay Yoga

SoulPlay Yoga are in the business of providing high quality, extremely varied yoga classes. Where many Los Angeles based studios have a specialty like Vinyasa Flow classes primarily, they specialize in offering a wide range of classes including kids' yoga, restorative, slow deep stretch, BandzYoga (yoga with resistance bands), vinyasa flow, yoga for kids with special needs, therapeutic yoga for injury rehabilitation and more.


What marketing methods are working best for you right now? 

Marketing methods that are working best for us right now are offering a significant discount to our Groupon members who wish to stay on as full-priced customers in the future - it's working well in converting members who would otherwise just jump from Groupon to Groupon. We are offering all of our members 2 free guest passes to bring friends who have never been here for free. Once those guests come in, we send them an email with a special discount off of our 2-week unlimited trial which is working well to get them signed up for that offer. Word of mouth tends to be our best marketer! We offer an amazing experience to our members on-site - create a totally non-pretentious place to practice and get to know our members personally - all of those things make it so they refer their friends and family without hesitation.

What methods did you give up on? 

We are doing away with magazine advertising like print ads in yoga-related publications - there's just no bang for the buck. We are also doing away with spending hundreds on Facebook and Instagram ads that get a lot of clicks but very little follow-through. 


Name: Kelly Kostecki, Owner

Studio: Om On Yoga

Om On Yoga is a yoga studio and fitness boutique located in Richmond Virginia.  We offer vinyasa style yoga classes from the beginner to the advanced student, as well as, in-depth workshops, special events, and 200 & 300 Hour Teacher Training.  We also handcraft yoga retreat experiences around the globe, pulling together students both near and far.  Lastly, we run a full fitness boutique that offers the area's most exclusive selection of fitness athleisure apparel, eco-friendly gifts, beauty products, and accessories.  These are also sold online at www.shopomon.com.

Our Mission is to empower individuals to aspire to an even greater life for themselves through the transformational power of yoga.  



What marketing methods are working best for you right now?

Currently, we have a multifaceted marketing approach including an online focus where we tailor Google advertisements and SEO to reach our target clients.  In addition, we have a comprehensive content strategy that includes social media where we are active on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest, as well as, an online blog and email marketing.  We round that out with personal touches through in-store promotion and printed media.  

What methods did you give up on?

We have let most magazine advertisements go along with our focus on Twitter.  Return on investment in these areas was simply not where we needed it to be and we truly believe in maximizing and honing our efforts.  We strive to concentrate on what makes the most impact in peoples' lives, which we believe is empowering individuals to lead a more balanced life through yoga and wellness. 

Name: Lauren Hanna

Studio: Sonic Yoga

Sonic Yoga is a 5 star Google rated studio based in NYC. They have just celebrated their 16 year anniversary.






What marketing methods are working best for you right now?

Our marketing efforts include Google AdWords & FB advertising as well as our Sandwich Board postcards and word of mouth!

What methods did you give up on?

We gave up on print advertising and yelp.

Name: Cara Bradley

Studio: Verge BodyMind

Verge BodyMind is a yoga and meditation center in suburban Philadelphia. We’ve been in business for over 13 years. We offer weekly yoga and fitness classes, workshops, yoga teacher training, retreats, and meditation series.





What marketing methods are working best for you right now?

Mass emails are working best. But we are very intentional about what we send.

A. We send content-based emails every Sunday evening. They can include short blog posts, videos, podcasts and other helpful information along with a list of our upcoming programs. Twice a month these Sunday emails are sent to our full email list and twice a month they go only to students active for the past two years.

B. During the week we will send a targeted email to a smaller group of students based on a specific workshop or program that is coming up.

What methods did you give up on?

We gave up on print advertising a few years ago.

Name: Ajita Patel, Owner

Studio: Sanctuary Wellness Center and Yoga Studio

The Sanctuary is a complete holistic wellness center and yoga studio based in Tustin California. In addition to daily yoga classes taught by certified yoga teachers and yoga therapists, the center offers Ayurvedic consults and Pancha Karma therapies in its Ayurveda Clinic as well as massage and therapeutic body treatments from all eastern and western traditions in its SPA.



What marketing methods are working best for you right now?

Positive word-of-mouth and Yelp reviews are our most effective customer acquisition tools.  We have also found postings on the social media platform Meetup to be effective to build our awareness and drive customers to our studio.  We advertise on Facebook and Instagram as well but unless significant budget is put behind paid social media campaigns, they do not provide the same results as other channels.  Nevertheless, organic social media campaigns such as informative postings of our yoga teachers on these social media channels (Facebook and Instagram) bring awareness to their knowledge and the quality of yoga classes they teach at our studio which build loyalty of our current students while further promoting word-of-mouth.

What methods did you give up on?

Direct mail, using coupon discount services like Groupon. The return on investment of these marketing methods was very low.

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Experts in Yoga Marketing

What's most important is to realize that every business is unique and you should work with an agency that can look at your business and create a plan that works for you.

Here at Spooky Digital, we specialize in marketing for the fitness, martial arts, and yoga industries. We can show you how to increase your marketing ROI and achieve these results fast. Contact us today on 917-633-6518 to see how we can help, or visit our website to learn more about Yoga marketing.


8 Artificial Intelligence Experts Predict The Future Of AI Marketing

Hey

Paul, here from Spooky Digital.

Artificial Intelligence used to be the stuff of science fiction nightmares, robots taking over the planet and keeping humans as pets, but now businesses across the globe are using AI marketing technologies to make smarter business decisions and engage customers in ways that seemed unfathomable a few years ago.

Chat-bots, AI enhanced PPC, programmatic media buying and dynamic pricing are just the embryonic stages of AI, as companies invest billions of dollars to stay ahead of the competition.

In the last week we’ve seen IBM announce its new Power9 chip developed specially for AI, AWS(Amazon Web Services) launch a web suite of AI services for business and Google Brain announce it has developed an AI capable of building its own AI. Yes, you read that last one correctly.

I caught up with 8 artificial intelligence experts to find out what the future holds for AI marketing and how marketers are going to have to evolve to keep up with that changes.

Ryan Redding

Owner @ DP Marketing Services

Business Consultant @ Oklahoma State University

PAUL: What impact do you think AI will have on marketing strategy in 2018?

RYAN: Marketing has already been impacted by the development of AI for a number of years, but is increasingly becoming more and more integrated. In many ways, Google has been leading the way in making this AI-push mainstream with their Knowledge Graph and Featured Snippets products. As popular consumer devices such as Google Home and Amazon Alexa become more common, all signs points to even more overt efforts with AI integration. For instance, Google just announced that Google Home will start offering specific companies for things like Plumbers and Home Contractors. Basically, a person may make a request to Google Home saying something like 'Hey Google, my sing is clogged', and Google will recommend a very limited list of plumbers for the customer to choose from- and even make the call for them. This may be a seismic shift for both customers, and marketers."

PAUL: What impact do you think it will have in the longer term (5-10 years)?

RYAN: It may be hard to imagine, but Apple's iPhone has been on the market just over 10 years now. And in that time, that singular device has distributed so many industries. A decade ago, very few people would've been able to foresee how that device would have such an impact on areas such as finance, medicine, communication, industrial design and more. Of course, the iPhone has now spawned development with everything from wearable technology to security standards. In a similar fashion, as mature as AI-technologies are, in some ways, we're really right on the cusp of seeing how disruptive AI will be. Certainly, as computing prices decrease and internet speeds to consumers increase, we may find ourselves on the verge of a AI-revolution that may radically disrupt all industries.


PAUL: What kinds of skills and insight/intelligence will marketing professionals need in the future to work with AI?

RYAN: To fully leverage AI, marketers will be required to be both data-obsessed and user-obsessed. Traditionally, marketers have used conversion ratios and reach projections to calculate efficacy of marketing campaigns. As a part of that, there's been this mindset of measuring the 'point of last touch', or essentially, only being able to measure the results of a marketing strategy based on the last influence upon a customer's action- such as a coupon or an AdWords click. With AI, marketers will be forced to think things through a more psychological level by providing useful information to customers where the information is actually desired and useful, while at the same time, leveraging the deep analytics that AI provides to continually measure and revise strategies. For a marketer, this means that we'll now be able to measure the full conversion process for our clients- things like how effective that billboard along the highway was for influencing the conversion process- and at the same time, think more holistically about the end-customers being people first, and not objects to target.

Philippe Gerard

CEO & Founder @Eyedream

PhD in Artificial Intelligence & Pattern Recognition

PAUL: What impact do you think AI will have on marketing strategy in2018?

PHILIPPE: While AI has been around us for decades, these last few years AI has been more fashionable. So far, It has been intensively used for hand writing recognition in bank to read checks, or for speech recognition. The methods need usually to be trained and require a set of data to learn. In marketing, this technology has a huge potential since more and more objects are connected (phones, tablets, watch, domestic robots, ...) and the produced data are becoming tremendous. Communication is usually poorly targeted with linear medias, while we can see new interactive screens capable of recognizing the type of audience watching it, and using this information to display the best content for everyone. Age, gender and emotion can be detected using a single camera and to modify the display and fit better the target. In Merchandising, AI can model behaviors of clients and give very useful information to increase the revenue of a retail shop. AI can basically reshape retails. In E-commerce, Artificial agents are helping clients as if they were in a real store with vendors. We can expect in 2018, that all these first steps will be further developed. Collecting data and keeping contact with customers will be a crucial challenge of AI.

PAUL: What impact do you think it will have in the longer term(5-10years)?

PHILIPPE: Since the number of connected object belonging to the IOT (internet of things) will be increasing drastically. the power of communication between all these elements will be difficult to use without an automatic AI. In Marketing, if the people have accepted their data to be used, it will be very interesting to better select what data the targets will be happy to receive. For instance services such sending automatic calls to emergency, when the sensor of someone's connected pace maker is giving an alert, or a service ordering automatically food that will reduce health problem according to body sensors information... so many services could be proposed that could combine data from sensors and customized services to everyone. A lot of domestic and daily tasks could be treated by a "smarter" domestic system capable of cleaning the house, turn/on and off the air con or start a robot to mow the grass, when is more convenient for the person living there. etc... All these domains of service should only be AI-based in order to learn and predict what people want. The collection of data and the process of learning will create a perfect assistant. Marketing will become more and more specific to everyone. It should collect and combine the data from e-commerce and real retails in order to engage with their clients in a more natural way. Virtual Agent on E-commerce will be more human and will not look like a Q&A session. It will engage a real discussion with clients. These conversations could be treated and used to recognized and continue the more friendly discussion with the clients in further session. The agents will recognize you as if you were shopping in the shop next door and won't ask again the thing he/she should already know such as your size, age and weight if you already bought the day before

PAUL: What kinds of skills and insight/intelligence will marketing professionals need in the                               future to work with AI?

PHILIPPE: Marketing professionals will need to acquire the fundamentals about what AI really is. Today AI is not always really understood and some applications sold as AI-based are not more than pattern recognition. AI should be used to learn, to be able to dig valuable information into a huge pile of data and should give accurate results after training. i.e: detecting if a person is smiling or not is just a pattern recognition tool, while speaking a language and replying to questions with accuracy is closer to what we expect from AI. Marketing professional just needs the basic to judge what they are buying from the companies who are giving them such a service to be able to select the right partner and also to understand better how they could use the technology into their domain.

Aaryn Kobayashi

AI Growth Marketer                  @ Kahuna

PAUL: What impact do you think AI will have on marketing strategy in 2018?

AARYN: Today's highly dense market puts consumer loyalty at a premium. Top brands all have one thing in common: they are leaders in consumer retention. AI marketing isn't tomorrow's game—it's today's game. Most brands are still struggling with retention and CRM databases because they are expecting a human to crunch pages and pages of exported data sheets and distill insights. Ironically, AI marketing is the only way to put a more human touch on your consumer relationships. Personalization, powered by AI, means better product recommendations, more attuned message delivery, predictive audience segments—all with a few clicks.

PAUL: What impact do you think it will have in the longer term(5-10 years)?

AARYN: The output of AI is improved with immense datasets. Meaning, as AI marketing becomes the standard, the strategy we are used to putting together as a marketing team might not be necessary anymore. At Kahuna, we are already seeing a shocking degree of accuracy and complexity with AI being able to plot out an optimal path to purchase based on past audience behavior and predictive insights.

PAUL: What kinds of skills and insight/intelligence will marketing professionals need in the                                  future to work with AI?

AARYN: These days, some AI platforms require knowledge of SQL for audience segment creation, for example. But, similarly to web development, soon everything will be drag-and-drop or perhaps completely automated with 1-click. For successful AI adoption, marketers must have a base understanding of what AI can and should be able to do. There is a level of trust needed between human and machine in order for AI marketing to be initially adopted and ultimately successful.

Ryan & Chad Steelberg

President & CEO of Veritone

Business Journal 40 Under 40 Award Winners

PAUL: What impact do you think AI will have on marketing strategy in2018? 

RYAN : In 2010 we saw the emergence of on-demand media where it went from linear environment to DVR to streaming. Right now, it’s about on-demand selection and minimal interruptions. As consumers expectations and standards shift, interruptive and spot-based advertising will adjust to native and organic methods. We believe that the traditional model of interruptive-based advertising may be a thing of the past but on the topic of traditional methods, old school sponsorship models may become premier strategies for awareness, where a whole compilation is sponsored by one brand.

PAUL: What impact do you think it will have in the longer term(5-10 years)?

RYAN: In 2017, there is a disproportionate balance between purveyors of the tech and consumers. We predict that in 2018 and beyond, brands will generally have a better understanding what AI means for business applications because of intentional education, experimentation and strategy with AI. Forward-thinking businesses will set aside budget for AI in the coming years. Now, if you didn’t take the time to become educated about AI or set aside budget for innovative technologies, you'll soon be facing a digital divide. There's still time to learn and strategize, but unfortunately, there will be a huge chasm in business application of early adopters and those who fell behind. 

PAUL: What kinds of skills and insight/intelligence will marketing professionals need in the                                           future to work with AI?

CHAD: Those who fear that AI will take their jobs shouldn’t rail against this inevitable technology innovation. Instead, they should hone their skill sets with talents only humans possess, such as creativity, emotional intelligence and unstructured problem-solving. Better yet, become a fearless early adopter: integrate AI into your job and demonstrate the efficiency gains to your co-workers. Embrace your humanity, your emotions and the other things that distinguish you from a computer -- welcome AI into your life as a helping hand.

David Gutelius PhD

Founder @ The Data Guild

Founder @ Motiva AI

PAUL: What impact do you think AI will have on marketing strategy in 2018?

DAVID: AI will probably have less impact than most think in the short term. But in 2018 you'll begin to see top B2C brands and B2B companies who've invested in bringing AI into their marketing begin reap the rewards. The ones who do it right will achieve better customer loyalty and satisfaction, and higher response rates with lower human effort. This will set those companies up to win against the competition.

At the same time, marketers everywhere will also see another even more profound change in 2018: there's a new generation of highly effective AI-driven spam and ad filtering that will hit the market. If the message wasn't clear before, it is now: if you want to engage audiences, mindless push campaigns are not the way to do it. Keep it up, and customers will go to where they feel appreciated - with the help of AI.


PAUL: What impact do you think it will have in the longer term(5-10 years)?

DAVID: Longer term, AI will allow companies communicate with customers in fundamentally different ways - and paradoxically this will feel much more human than most marketing does today. It will also begin to blend the domains of marketing, sales, and support with machine intelligence, helping human teams help customers however and wherever needed - proactively. Machines may take over some of the rote tasks human do today, but the story is less about automation and more about augmentation. Marketers will use their "digital prosthetic" assistants to communicate and care for customers in entirely new ways. The stuff we think of as "marketing" today will seem ridiculously quaint.


PAUL: What kinds of skills and insight/intelligence will marketing professionals need in the                                           future to work with AI?

DAVID: Marketers with deep creativity, a willingness to experiment, and a genuine concern for customers will be in higher demand. You'll likely be working directly with machine assistants that can help you do more, test more, deliver more - and they'll need your guidance and training to deliver the best results. You'll be part of a new team that's a mix of adaptive assistants and human colleagues. You won't be doing many of the routine tasks you have today - particularly if they can be scripted or are rules-based. That means you'll be left with higher-order, creative work: thinking deeply about who customers are, what they want / need, and different strategies to satisfy them. In the end, the machines will allow us to be more human in our marketing.

       Sameer Patel

     CEO @ Kahuna

PAUL: What impact do you think AI will have on marketing strategy in 2018?

SAMEER: Immediately. AI will take the guesswork out of marketing. Today, the marketer is subsumed in campaign design and segmentation. AI immediately lets the marketer take control of the hard questions. Questions such as who to target, which consumers will churn, the best time to engage them, the best channel to engage them on, and the best message content that will convert.

PAUL: What impact do you think it will have in the longer term (5-10 years)?

SAMEER: AI will help the marketer scale in the long-term. The proliferation of engagement channels from email to mobile, chat-bots, AR/VR, beacons, voice and others requires machine learning and AI to make sense of a million digital breadcrumbs that every consumer leaves behind every day. To genuinely build a relationship with this hyper-connected consumer that just a few years ago was only tied to email, the modern marketer must embrace AI to get ahead of this tsunami of data.

PAUL: What kinds of skills and insight/intelligence will marketing professionals need in the                                           future to work with AI?

SAMEER: Marketing will need to learn how to become less programmatic and more strategic. If the machines will help make more accurate decisions on who to target, when to target, who will churn, and the like in near real time, the marketer gets freed up from the block & tackle, and first and foremost gets to focus on building authentic relationships with every consumer that can far outlast individual transactions. As important is the fact that the marketer is now very strategic—based on a real time handle of the consumer, she figures out which kinds of products to bring to market, how to drive supply & demand planning, and how to increase the lifetime value of every consumer.

Damon Waldron

Vice President @ Protagonist Technology

PAUL: ​​​​What impact do you think AI will have on marketing strategy in 2018?

DAMON: Artificial intelligence is going to have an emerging role in marketing strategy in 2018. Until now, AI has been an abstract idea in the space - largely focused on chat-bots and robotic “job-stealers”. These notions don’t have a legitimate place in marketing. However, as more marketers become aware of what AI has to offer in terms of unprecedented access to data, uber-personalization, and extreme segmentation, the marketing world is waking up to the power of AI as a tool to enhance marketing engagements and strategy.

To effectively engage with buyers today, marketers need to identify, analyze, and action all the available customer data. Without AI, this is impossible. 2018 will prove to be the year that marketers see wider adoption of AI in marketing and the technologies will go from theory, to practice in sophisticated organizations like marketing automation did in early 2000.

PAUL: What impact do you think it will have in the longer term( 5-10 years)?

DAMON: In the longer term, AI will become an essential part of the martech stack just like CRM or marketing automation. Marketers and their organizations will embrace AI solutions with open arms once the effectiveness of these technologies are more widely demonstrated across verticals and in adopted use cases.

With AI, marketers can connect with their buyers and deliver empathy-at-scale via their highly-personalized, data-driven engagements and this will clearly differentiate effective from traditional marketing processes. AI in marketing is here to stay and will only get better in the longer term.

PAUL: What kinds of skills and insight/intelligence will marketing professionals need in the                              future to work with AI?

DAMON: The skills and insight marketing professionals will need in the future to work with AI will be analytics-driven. Marketers will need to learn to analyze and operationalize data like never before. The emergence of AI as part of the marketing tech stack means data that was previously inaccessible, is now accessible and marketers will need to learn to action data to drive better conversions and ultimately, more revenue.

7 Public Relations Experts Share Their Holiday PR Secrets

The Holidays are the most important time of the year for brick and mortar retailers and e-commerce businesses alike. Some companies rely on the last two months of the year to make almost all of their annual sales! 

With so much noise in the world today, it can feel hard--if not impossible--to break through and reach people who could be interested in buying your product or service. That's why now, more than ever, it's important to have a well-thought-out marketing and public relations plan for being seen and standing out during the Holiday sales rush.


The Best PR Strategies for Increasing Holiday Sales


April Neill

CEO/Principal Consultant
April Neill Public Relations
@AprilNeillPR



"If you’re looking for a great way to boost your client's brand exposure during the holidays, try mixing up your marketing strategy with feel good public relations’ initiatives.

Here are some quick tips for boosting business and spreading holiday cheer that have worked for my clients:


Campaign for a Cause

Increasing numbers of brands are mixing social good into marketing programs.

Not only is it smart; it can reap big rewards! Studies show that consumers are prone to make purchases and seek out services from brands that give back and do good work. I've personally had great success in garnering media attention for clients with charitable efforts that combine giving with a special timely offer. Not only will it drive sales or bookings, your client will be perceived as a brand that cares!

In my experience, the media loves stories about brands that are doing good so it's the perfect time to spread a little holiday cheer with a feel-good campaign. So host a toy drive, a holiday coat drive, or collect food for a local food bank. You can add up all the donations and send out a press release or newsletter to recap your results to keep the good will going.

Share Holiday Tips

Another way to give back is providing helpful tips that help potential customers solve problems they’re facing during the holidays. You can write a blog post, send a tips-related press release or contributed article to your local media. Not only will you establish your client's industry expertise, you’ll provide a valuable service to the community while driving traffic to store,website or blog. And it really works! I've personally sent out dozens of tips-related press releases and contributed articles and have garnered both local and national coverage.

Measuring Results


Tracking data and trends is important in measuring a campaign's success. Be sure to track media hits, including reach and impressions, increased traffic to website, increased social media engagement, as well as increased sales. I love using Excel to create charts and track trends and have learned to pivot tactics based on insights.

So whether you host a holiday outreacheffort or craft seasonal tips to share, don’t miss out on a great opportunityto build your brand awareness while also celebrating the season of giving. Chances are, you’ll boost your saleswhile also generating positivity and goodwill in the world. Cheers and Happy Holidays!"

Karin Tobiason

KT-PR.com



My publicity strategy for the holidays as a consumer products publicist is to start pitching products approximately six to seven months prior to the holiday for all gift guides for long lead, monthly glossy magazines.

The next tier I’ll hit is the gift guide(s) for the weekly magazines, often providing product placement with celebrities. Next will be the national consumer TV and radio shows, and winnowing down to the very short lead, I’ll pitch the blogs, online, etc

Obviously, the mix of media we pitch depends on the demographic of the customer; a mom consumes different media than a tween. We find that when our client’s products “hit” in all the media outlets around a similar time frame, the public perceives the company’s products as “trending” and more important to check out.

Publicity can help increase company sales. The more people who are aware of your product, the more opportunity the company has to sell.

However, in my experience sales increases of any size only happens when every other department in the company is solidly working together. If we’re able to get a product featured on the highest circulation outlet and the company’s website crashes, our work and your dollars paying us, is wasted. If your product falls apart, cannot be shipped or fails to live up to its marketing, no amount of significant press can increase your sales numbers. As much as I’d like to take the credit for increasing a company’s numbers, publicity is just one of a well-oiled cogs that help make it happen.

Once your product begins “trending” we have a lot more options to get creative to produce much larger, far-reaching, multi partner campaigns. That’s when it gets really fun.

GG Benitez

GG Benitez PR




In addition to strategically pitching our clients through the traditional means for consideration in holiday gift guides for print, tv, and online through the carefully crafted pitches and sampling, GG Benitez PR also works with various on-air talent to ensure our products are on their radars for when they are called to be experts curating these lists, themselves.

Additionally, we utilize more of the non-traditional means of PR by seeding celebrities and other social media influencers with our products, incentivizing them to share the clients’ offerings as giveaways to their followers, and/or offering to collaborate with the celebrities on their favorite charities to donate a portion of sales resulting from social media posts.


We also have worked with celebrities on curating their favorite holiday gift guide suggestions, including our clients, and helping placing those in the media. Although PR cannot be solely responsible for nor guarantee sales, these all work to help increase brand awareness and visibility, which can be easily measured through traffic, sales, and increase in social media followers.

Tracy Bagatelle-Black

Bagatelle Black Public Relations



There are lots of things PR pros can do to promote their clients over the holidays.  When I worked with PetSmart, we used to do a survey each year regarding how much people spend on presents for their pets.

This campaign was used in print, online and in video, as we created a short video clip showing the results and people at PetSmart getting their pets’ pictures taken with Santa.  This way we were promoting both getting holiday gifts for your pets and their in-store Santa photos.  It was always a bit hit with the media and the client.

Rhonda Rees

Rhonda Rees Public Relations Company



The very best way to promote clients during the holidays (or at any other time) is to come up with a good PR angle or hook.

One year I had represented a smoke detector tester company, and my client and I felt that it was important to highlight the importance of family safety in the home. We decided to inform the media of the potential danger from dried-out Christmas trees.

Many people were not aware that in a very short period of time, and given certain conditions, a tree could ignite and cause a serious fire.

To demonstrate the point, I pitched the idea to the media and secured a spot on the Home & Family show. I also purchased a Christmas tree, and had it delivered to the studio. I then made arrangements for a firefighter to set the tree on fire in a controlled setting. (This was done indoors of course.) The results were quite dramatic to say the least.

To continue to position my client's product and tie it into the message, the hosts and other experts mentioned how the tester could be used to make sure that smoke detectors were working properly. This was a good example of a successful tie-in with an important holiday lesson in safety that the media were interested in covering.
Needless-to-say, attention on the product and sales were given a big boost.

Christian Reed-Ogba 

BethanyEast PR & Mgmt. Consulting



Outside of the normal "top gift list" submissions I snatch up meaningful brand interaction directly with consumers by matching client brands with local event sponsorship opportunities.

With an increase in holiday soirees, sponsorships with the right events or campaigns make it's easy to build experiences shared long past the end of the holiday season.

Samantha Martin 

CEO, Media Maison



As a consumer products firm specializing in the toy and game industry, the holidays are their busiest time of year.
It is imperative that we get their products seen on national broadcast segments, lifestyle and parenting print publications and online where the reader is a click away from a purchase.

We start by creating a buzz about the product with toy and youtube influencers with the goal of kids asking their parents for that specific toy.
Then we utilize our personal relationships with celebrities and their children, starting early in the year by sending samples directly to the celebrity so we can receive feedback and use that we can use as media fodder when pitching. We partner our clients with large events for charity and giving back as a sponsor.

We encourage our clients and work with them to design fun Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday events/deals and we release our best social media content to tie into those promotions. Whether it is to their own site or to their retailer's site we work with them to make sure each placement gets the most views.

Our clients all see a massive upswing in their holiday traffic and the ones who are in retail bank on those sales for the next years orders.

3 Addiction Experts Give Insider Info on the Industry’s Marketing Problem

NOTE: Last week, we talked about the Addiction Recovery industry's unethical marketing problem. This week, we'll talk to 3 successful addiction recovery professionals to get a comprehensive understanding of what's going on.

Let me know what you think in the comments below!

Hi there,

Dan with Spooky Digital here.

The topic we're about to discuss is probably as personal to you as it is to me.

According to a recent report by the U.S. Surgeon General's office, one in seven in the USA will experience addiction in their lifetime. That makes it hard, if not impossible, to not know someone who's been affected.

Whether you're a treatment professional, loved one of an addiction sufferer, or someone struggling with these issues yourself, there's no doubt that unethical marketing in the treatment industry has touched your life in some way and probably caused some harm to you or someone you care about in the process.

While there are many amazing treatment professionals out there (some of whom you'll hear from in this special report), working hard to provide the treatment that saves live, and bring shattered families back together... there are an equal number of bad actors who seek to take advantage of desperate people to get rich and who think of nothing more than their bottom line.

The recovery industry has been rocked with scandal lately as more and more shady marketing tactics have continued to come to light. The revelations have exposed a variety of activity, ranging from unethical to downright illegal. A number of arrests have been made; shady drug rehabs and detox programs have been shut down; and even Google has been forced to jump in to regulate the type of ads recovery facilities are allowed to run.

In the $35 Billion addiction recovery industry, there's more than just money at stake.

Vulnerable people are fighting for the lives of their loved ones and looking for any helping hand they can find. What they're often finding instead is dead ends, tricks, and insurance scams.

As the CEO of a digital marketing agency specializing in marketing addiction treatment services, the question of how to honestly, ethically and legally help new patients find our clients is always on my mind.

I caught up with well-known recovery experts to get an inside look at this complicated issue, and find out what can be done to solve it once and for all. Enjoy, and let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

YOUR RECOVERY EXPERTS

Asher Gottesman

Founder/CEO​

Transcend Recovery Community (VIEW ON FACEBOOK)

New York City, NY

Offering: High end sober living environment, sober companions, sober housing.

Dick Dillon

Founder and CEO

Innovaision, LLC (VIEW ON FACEBOOK)

Greater St. Louis Area, MO

Offering: Recovery services and coaching.

Adam Bartholomew

Chief Executive Officer​

Reflections Recovery Center (VIEW ON FACEBOOK)

Prescott, AZ

Offering: Men's drug and alcohol treatment center.

 ASHER GOTTESMAN

 FOUNDER & CEO AT TRANSCEND RECOVERY COMMUNITY 

quote-left

"...THE HONESTY AND VULNERABILITY OF SOMEONE ASKING FOR HELP IS BEING EXPLOITED AND THAT MOMENT OF OPENNESS CAN BE SHATTERED BY THESE PRACTICES, JEOPARDIZING NOT ONLY THE ADDICT'S LIFE, BUT THE LIVES OF THEIR LOVED ONES."

DAN: What are the most common forms of unethical marketing in addiction treatment (online and otherwise)?

ASHER: Unfortunately, there is a lot that can be discussed on this topic. 

Offline, body brokering would be one of the worst. This is where unscrupulous people use addicts as means of currency, by offering them to centers in exchange for kick backs. Oftentimes, these brokers will incentive recovering addicts to relapse, just so they can be re-entered into treatment again, so the broker can get another commission.

Along the same line, many such people will ignore the needs of the client and refer them to a kick back facility vs one that would be the ethical, medical, appropriate, etc, decision.

This commoditization of people is disgusting. Also offline, the misleading marketing of lead-generation call centers is another unethical practice. Think of the late night TV ads, "Are you sick and tired of being sick and tired". Many of these companies are simply marketing agencies that buy media time, put together terrible spots to attract callers, then sell the calls to top bidders.

People see the spots and call, thinking they are reaching a treatment center. Rather, they are calling a lead gen firm that is simply rerouting their call to whoever paid the highest or bought that block of calls. Online, these same lead generation/call center companies have claimed the Google business listing accounts of legit treatment centers and replaced the treatment center phone # with their very own.

That starts the whole call rerouting/bidding process again. Beyond these lead generation companies, many treatment centers also exploit Google advertising by placing ads using other company's names and descriptions as their own, just to get their calls.

DAN: How does unethical marketing hurt patients?

ASHER: It hurts patients in a variety of ways. When someone wrestling with addiction is finally ready to make the call for help, how damaging is it for them to then be lead through these labyrinths of call centers and rerouting. They need help now, not after the highest bidder can be found. In the case of the brokers, clients aren't being given the treatment that would be best for them.

They are getting the help that puts $$$ in the broker's pockets. In short, the honesty and vulnerability of someone asking for help is being exploited and that moment of openness can be shattered by these practices, jeopardizing not only the addict's life, but the lives of their loved ones.

DAN: How do you take care to avoid ethical problems when marketing your business?

ASHER: We make sure all employees operate by our core company principles- accountability, spirituality, and community. We also train our staff in what is ethical/unethical and make sure that our employees understand not only what we DO as a company, but also what we will NOT do. By living with clear principles and defining our values, our staff knows the right calls to make.

DAN: What marketing methods are working best for your business?

ASHER: This might sound vague, but it's the honest answer- we focus on telling our story clearly and effectively, whatever medium we choose. What makes us different, how we will care for the client, our expertise, etc, are all things we work hard to communicate. Whether it's online or offline, being honest, expressive, and purposeful has always worked the best.

DICK DILLON

Founder and CEO Innovaision, LLC

quote-left

"...there are far more people who need your help in your immediate area than you could possibly serve."

DAN: What are the most common forms of unethical marketing in addiction treatment (online and otherwise)?

DICK: A) Claiming to be able to help match clients with the best appropriate treatment when in reality you are serving as a funnel to one or a limited number of providers who are paying you for leads, and may or may not be a good treatment fit. B) hijacking search results so that someone looking for a name branded program ends up on your site, where you then do (A) above, C) paying people part of a finders fee you receive from a program to entice them to enter that program. D) making false claims results (not based on valid outcome measurement)

DAN: How does unethical marketing hurt patients?

DICK: Let me count the ways. A) connects them with treatment that may not be appropriate for their situation, B) entices them to spend money based on unsubstantiated results, C) adds to mistrust that affect future attempts to get help

DAN: How do you take care to avoid ethical problems when marketing your business?

DICK: Just don't do it. It's not rocket science to figure out that what you are doing is wrong.

DAN: What marketing methods are working best for your business?

DICK:  Relationship marketing. Unless you live on the moon, it is likely that there are far more people who need your help in your immediate area than you could possibly serve.

They are showing up in other peoples offices - clergy, marriage counselors, physicians, emergency rooms, their human resources manager, etc. with all the many life problems which are associated with addiction. Reaching out and educating these other professionals on how to identify addiction-related problems and what to do about them is a much better and far more cost-effective way to connect with the people who need help than casting a wide Internet net to try to find people around the country or the world.

Use your web presence as an information and education tool and not as your primary marketing strategy.

Adam Bartholomew 

Chief Executive Officer Reflections Recovery Center

quote-left

"It’s disgusting what these fake, false, scammers manipulate google to produce clients."

DAN: I'm working on an article about marketing in the addiction industry and am wondering if you have any comments to add. Google has been cracking down lately on addiction treatment ads, and as more eyes are focused on this issue more regulation is likely to follow.

ADAM: I have used paid ads, but only for a short amount of time. 

It didn’t make sense to try and compete with these facilities that aren’t facilities....places spending millions of dollars a year and/or a month to get clients. I have witnessed these publicly traded rehabs build hundreds of websites and buy virtual offices in every major and minor city to show up on google local.

It’s disgusting what these fake, false, scammers manipulate google to produce clients. While the little rehabs like ourselves do the hardest and most important work with the patients themselves.

How can these publicly traded companies be so unethical and still have any form of gains? We need a federal enforcement action team to wander the country and see what’s really going on.


NEXT WEEK: We'll dive deeper into this issue, and hear from more experts who want to see change in the industry. Have you been affected by this issue in some way? Let me know in the comments below!

LEARN MORE: Learn about addiction treatment marketing and how you can ethically and effectively promote your program.

Using SEO to Promote a Movie Launch at the Tribeca Film Festival

Using SEO to Promote a Movie Launch at the Tribeca Film Festival


THE RESULTS

COMMENTS, LIKES & SHARES:
Increase in Comments and Engagement on Official Trailer on Youtube

VIEWS OF OFFICIAL TRAILER:
+9,335 Video Views in One Week before the US Premier


In this article, you'll learn from a real-world example how to get your video ranked higher on Youtube and your website ranked higher on Google using search engine optimization techniques (SEO). Want to know more about SEO for your video project? Leave us a comment!

"Website & Trailer Nowhere to be Seen..."

When emmy-award winning director Lana Wilson came to us just two weeks ahead of the Tribeca Film Festival and told us her film's official website and movie trailer were nowhere to be seen online, we knew we had an interesting challenge on our hands.

To make matters worse, the name of her film (The Departure) is similar to one that came out with the same name earlier this year, as well as the hit movie The Departed that came out in 2005. Search results on Google and Youtube showed results for each of those competitors, and nothing for the official movie.


PICTURED: Lana Wilson with her film's subject, Ittetsu Nemoto at the Tribeca Film Festival in NYC.

THE CHALLENGE: Get eyes on the official website and film trailer on youtube.

We targeted keywords related to the movie title, Lana Wilson, Ittetsu Nemoto and the Tribeca Film Festival. With only two weeks to the NYC premier, we needed to see improvement fast.

When we started, the official trailer wasn't anywhere to be found on Youtube. You can see results for the other movie by the same name, and for The Departed.

The official website, where viewers could watch the trailer and get tickets to the NYC premier, was also nowhere to be found on Google.

THE FIX: USE SEO METHODS TO INCREASE VISIBILITY.

All search engines, whether it's Google or Youtube, use some kind of computer algorithm to decide what results to show when various keywords are searched on their platform. They want to show the user the best result, and get them the information they're looking for.

#1: Number of subscribers your channel has.

If your channel has lots of engaged subscribers, it's a good sign that you make good content. Building your subscriber base regularly by promoting your channel across multiple platforms (Facebook, on your website, etc) will help all of your videos rank higher.

With only two weeks until the film premiered, we didn't have time to grow the subscriber count of the account that published the official trailer for The Departure. Even though this is the most important metric to consider, it can definitely be bypassed if needed.

To build your subscriber base, there really is no "secret". Here's all it takes:

- Regularly create engaging, professional quality content. Use tools like Buzzsumo and Google trends to find topics that are trending and getting lots of engagement. 

- Include a call to action at the end of every video you produce to tell the viewer what benefit they'll get out of subscribing. For example: "Don't miss our next video! Subscribe now to get our next video first."

#2: Number of video embeds and links.

When lots of trusted, authority websites link to and embed your video it shows Youtube that your video is popular and is more relevant to people searching for terms related to it.

We knew we had to focus our efforts on improving this metric in order to see results for The Departure. We made a list of every blog and media outlet that was covering the Tribeca Film Festival.

Next, we asked each writer to include a link and/or embed of the official trailer on Youtube in their piece.

EXAMPLE OUTREACH EMAIL

#3: Quantity of long video views.

Youtube tracks the amount of time each viewer spends on your video. If they see your video is keeping people engaged for the entire length, that's a good sign that your content is interesting to viewers and will give you a boost in the search results.

#4: Comments & Likes

One of the ways Youtube can tell if your video is worth promoting higher in their search results, is by seeing how many people like and comment. The more activity you get, the better.

Comments and likes should happen naturally as people watch and hopefully enjoy your video. You can increase your chances of getting someone to like/comment by simply asking them to at the end of your video.

Asking people their opinion a controversial question related to your video helps (though since we didn't create the video, we had no control over that with the film).

A recent study that analyzed 1.3 Million Youtube Search Results Shows That the Number of Comments a Video Has Strongly Correlate to Higher Rank on Youtube.

#5: Optimize Youtube Video Title & Description

YouTube can't rank you for anything if they don't know what your video is about!

Your title should be less than 100 characters in length, including spaces and should focus on the main keywords you're targeting. We chose "The Departure - Official Theatrical Trailer 2017" because it covered all of the main keywords for this campaign.

You'll also want to write a detailed description of your video in the video description. Video descriptions on Youtube can be up to 5,000 in length before getting cut off, so make sure the most important information is available first.

EXAMPLE Youtube description for SEO

OPTIONAL STEP: Include a call to action in your description.

Since our main goal for the campaign with The Departure was to drive views of the trailer AND traffic to the official website, we made sure to include a clear call to action (CTA) for people interested in seeing the film ("SEE THE FILM").

Your CTA will be most effective if it is clear, simple and direct.

What are you promoting on Youtube?

Let us know what you're working on in the comments below!

An Inside Look at the Drug Rehab Industry’s Unethical Marketing Problem

Hi there,

Dan with Spooky Digital here.

The topic we're about to discuss is probably as personal to you as it is to me.

According to a recent report by the U.S. Surgeon General's office, one in seven in the USA will experience addiction in their lifetime. That makes it hard, if not impossible, to not know someone who's been affected.

Whether you're a treatment professional, loved one of an addiction sufferer, or someone struggling with these issues yourself, there's no doubt that unethical marketing in the treatment industry has touched your life in some way and probably caused some harm to you or someone you care about in the process.

While there are many amazing treatment professionals out there (some of whom you'll hear from in this special report), working hard to provide the treatment that saves live, and bring shattered families back together... there are an equal number of bad actors who seek to take advantage of desperate people to get rich and who think of nothing more than their bottom line.

The recovery industry has been rocked with scandal lately as more and more shady marketing tactics have continued to come to light. The revelations have exposed a variety of activity, ranging from unethical to downright illegal. A number of arrests have been made; shady drug rehabs and detox programs have been shut down; and even Google has been forced to jump in to regulate the type of ads recovery facilities are allowed to run.

In the $35 Billion addiction recovery industry, there's more than just money at stake.

Vulnerable people are fighting for the lives of their loved ones and looking for any helping hand they can find. What they're often finding instead is dead ends, tricks, and insurance scams.

As the CEO of a digital marketing agency specializing in marketing addiction treatment services, the question of how to honestly, ethically and legally help new patients find our clients is always on my mind.

I caught up with well-known recovery experts to get an inside look at this complicated issue, and find out what can be done to solve it once and for all. Enjoy, and let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

Recovery Expert: Zach Snitzer

Owner/Director of Business Development

Maryland Addiction Recovery Center (VIEW ON FACEBOOK)

Baltimore, Maryland

Offering: Medically Supervised Outpatient Detoxification, Long-Term Extended Care treatment, Partial Hospitalization (PHP) day treatment, Intensive Outpatient (IOP) and outpatient (OP) substance abuse treatment and Continuing Care.

"We are in the midst of an epidemic where people are dying everyday- the last thing that should be happening is people dying because the addiction treatment industry failed them."

DAN: What are the most common forms of unethical marketing in addiction treatment (online and otherwise)? 

ZACH: Obviously the first and most recognizable now is patient-brokering (rehabs paying for patients, typically through a broker getting kickbacks for referring a patient to a specific facility.)

However, just as the Google restrictions on advertising are showing, online marketing is just as widespread and often just as unethical. Facilities posing as incorrect levels of care online and marketing themselves as such (an outpatient facility with a sober home marketing themselves as residential or inpatient treatment) or call centers online posing as objective “referral” sources when in truth they are selling those leads to treatment centers. This is the same thing as patient brokering. Or treatment centers that market themselves by creating landing pages that look objective online but filter those “leads” to their facility.

The final one I’d say are these ridiculous TV ads for addiction helplines. They are just another lead generation source, preying on individuals and families in crisis that do not know where to turn and then selling those leads to the highest bidding treatment center.

EXAMPLE OF AN ADDICTION RECOVERY TREATMENT TV AD (PROVIDER BLURRED). ADDED BY AUTHOR.

DAN: How does unethical marketing hurt patients? 

ZACH: First, it hurts patients because patients do not end up at the places that are the best clinical fits for their needs.

It also hurts the entire population suffering from addiction as a whole, because poor experiences from patients and families make them weary of addiction treatment as a whole. The addiction treatment field is thrown into a single category in the eyes of the consumer- “they are all just about the money” or “they are all unethical.” And the truth is, many are and many fit that description. However, we do not stop seeing doctors because many doctors get indicted for medicaid fraud or because numerous doctors have been unethical and created opioid pill mills.

As a consumer, we know that medical care is essential so we search out the many ethical providers that we know have our best interests as patients at heart. Overall, not just unethical marketing but unethical practices as a whole gives a black eye to the addiction treatment field and in the best case scenario stops people from seeking help. In the worst case scenario, tragedies occur and families lose loved ones because they ended up at a poorly run or clinically inappropriate facility that could handle their issues.

We are in the midst of an epidemic where people are dying everyday- the last thing that should be happening is people dying because the addiction treatment industry failed them.

PICTURED: POLICE INVESTIGATING "PATIENT BROKERING" IN FLORIDA, WHERE TREATMENT FACILITIES TRADE PATIENTS WITH HIGH END INSURANCE TO OTHERS IN EXCHANGE FOR KICKBACKS AND MONETARY GAIN.

DAN: How do you take care to avoid ethical problems when marketing your business?

ZACH: First and foremost, your clinical programming (your actual treatment) needs to be of the highest quality.

People forget, if a rehab is unethically marketing their product in numerous ways, what are we to think of the actual product they are marketing? If I find out a facility is paying for patients or stealing other rehab’s contact information online to filter patients their way, I automatically don’t trust the clinical services they are providing. If you are shirking your marketing I can only assume you are not providing the best patient care. So we make sure we are offering the highest quality in clinical services and make sure that is what we are offering. We are not marketing amenities or cool locations or spa-like destinations. Those things are great but they do not do anything to help someone recover from addiction.

This is a life-threatening illness. If a person has cancer, it’s great if they can get treated at the Four Seasons, but that would be an added bonus. If they have cancer they want to go to the best doctor or hospital that offers the best treatment for their illness. Addiction needs to be the same. So we make sure our clinical products is what we are marketing and that’s what we market- our clinical services for patients and families.

We are direct about who we are and what we do. Not only that, but we make sure to explain who we are not and who we don’t treat. Not everyone can be everything for everybody, but in the addiction treatment industry it seems that’s how most places want to appear to the consumer.

EXAMPLE OF AN ADDICTION RECOVERY WEBSITE (PROVIDER BLURRED). ADDED BY AUTHOR.


DAN:
 What marketing methods are working best for your business?

ZACH: We find it best to traditionally market our services to the clinical and therapeutic communities. We believe in building relationships with other ethical treatment providers, treatment professionals and our local medical and therapeutic community and referring within that network of trusted providers.

We have also taken an educational approach to not just the treatment or professional community, but also the local community and public as a whole. Educating them on addiction and what treatment should look like. Making sure they are aware of how to find reputable, ethical providers. What questions to ask and what expectations they should have of the treatment provider and the treatment experience. We have found offering free community events or educational events is beneficial and we have also found social media to be an excellent platform to offer awareness and education to the community, not to market our services specifically but marketing addiction treatment as a whole.

We are also outspoken about who or what we will not work with in terms of providers and their practices. We have always taken the stance of transparency--in our clinical services, in who we treat, in the financial piece of treatment. That stance has been very successful for us in terms of the response we’ve received from both the community and within the addiction treatment field.

DAN: Do you have any other comments or thoughts on this issue?

ZACH: I think it is important to understand how fragmented the industry is as a whole. There are many unsavory and unscrupulous operations within the addiction treatment space (just like any other industry) so what is important is educating individuals, families and the community at large at how to go about becoming an educated consumer of addiction treatment.

The one thing that is almost universally agreed upon is that a chronic, progressive illness like addiction requires long-term, comprehensive treatment in order to make sure a patient is set up for their best chance at long-term success. Therefore, the addiction treatment industry needs to take the lead in educating the public about what treatment really needs to look like.

The idea of “I just need 28 days and I’ll be okay” is long gone. Patients are coming into treatment with much more complex mental health and psychiatric issues, trauma, sexual identification or relationship issues and family systems issues. So time is our friend.

However, the public still sees addiction treatment as something of a nuisance--the idea that I can’t take off 30 days from my life to deal with this. Unfortunately, people are dying. 

No one comes seeking addiction treatment at Stage 1. All patients are basically in Stage 4, yet it is the nature of addiction to fight against change (and therefore treatment.) Families often feed into this. However, you wouldn’t hear a patient or family arguing with a doctor about taking off work or school in order to receive long-term treatment for Stage 4 cancer, would you? Of course not, but that is where the stigma and misunderstanding plays a big part.

The addiction treatment industry needs to do more to educate around those issues of addiction and treatment and what quality treatment looks like and is needed in order for people and families to heal and recover. THAT is what we as a whole should be marketing to the public.


NEXT WEEK: We'll dive deeper into this issue, and hear from more experts who want to see change in the industry. Have you been affected by this issue in some way? Let me know in the comments below!

LEARN MORE: Learn about addiction treatment marketing and how you can ethically and effectively promote your program.

New Student Nurture Facebook Ad Strategy

WE'RE RE-DOING THIS CONTENT TO REFLECT THE LATEST CHANGES AT FACEBOOK!

To keep this accurate, we had to take down the original description. The full guide will be back soon, but in the meantime, please feel free to email me at [email protected] if you want an update on where we're at. We're expecting by October 15th at the latest.

Here's a high-level overview of the steps...

STEP ONE: Create 5 engaging yoga Videos with Animoto.

STEP TWO: Create ads in Power Editor with the goal of getting video views.

STEP THREE: Target ads at your demographic (age, sex, zip code).

STEP FOUR:  Create ads with goal of Conversion. For more on that, check this article that goes into detail.

STEP FIVE: Create a custom audience who watched more than 30 seconds of your yoga videos.

STEP SIX: Target ads at the custom audience.

WHY IT WORKS...

YOU SAVE MONEY:

Facebook is giving preference to Video Ads right now. You can get more views of your ads for your money.

YOU GET MORE NEW STUDENT LEADS:

People are expressing an interest in yoga when they watch more than 30 seconds of any video.

Your second ad will show to fewer people, but will be more targeted, so you'll get more conversions than you would without a video.

YOU ATTRACT LOYAL CUSTOMERS

People feel as though you're giving them something (free content). Rather than coming in straight away with an ad, you're offering them something of value. Scientific research has shown that if you give someone something, they'll be more likely to feel as though they owe you something in return. Psychology!

This Small Shop Used Influencers to Grow Their Business (Here’s How)

Hey what's up!

My name is Dan, and I'm the CEO at Spooky Digital.

In this short Instagram influencer marketing guide, I'll show you exactly how we used the popular social media platform to help one New York City Christmas tree retailer grow their business and get new customers.

You'll learn every step it takes to set up a successful Instagram influencer marketing campaign, so you can apply this same method to your business. I'll show you everything you need to know, including one secret trick for making Instagram marketing super easy that I haven't told anyone until now. Make sure to read all the way through to the end to catch that!

How to Sell Products & Services with Instagram Influencers

In this short Instagram marketing guide, you'll learn everything you need to know to start making money with Instagram celebrities & influencers, including...

How to Find the right Influencers.

Learn how to find influencers in your niche, who have direct access to the kind of people who are ready to buy your product or service right now.

How to track your IG marketing results.

Learn how to track your Instagram influencer marketing efforts, so you know how much money your campaign is making.

How to automate parts of the process.

Learn my secret techniques for automating part of the Instagram influencer marketing process. These time-saving hacks are priceless!

quote-left

I tried Influencer marketing before, but it never worked...

I went as far as hiring an Instagram influencer marketing agency, using several apps, and even paying for access to an influencer network.

It wasn't until Dan came along that things really kicked off!  He and his team quickly set me up with a campaign and I couldn't be happier with the results: over $15,000 in 30 days last year! Our network is still growing, so we reach even more new customers every year. It's awesome.

Morgan S. 

CHRISTMAS TREE BROOKLYN at 184 Underhill Ave. Brooklyn, NY 11238 (347) 474-0079 


Step 1: Set Up Your Instagram Profile.

The ability to track the revenue from your Instagram influencer marketing campaign is vital to its success. You need to know how much money you're getting from your efforts to make sure that you're making more than you're spending on those relationships. 

There's a number of ways you can accomplish this. We used Google Analytics e-Commerce tracking with the Christmas tree business, but you can also use an Instagram-only coupon code. Here's how each of those options work...

Google Analytics e-Commerce Tracking (Advanced)

Setting up e-Commerce tracking in Google Analytics first requires that you have basic Google Analytics tracking installed. You can learn how to do that here.

Some e-Commerce platforms have plugins that make adding Google Analytics e-Commerce tracking easy. WooCommerce has a plugin for it, as does Magento

If you want to add this feature manually, you can learn how to do that on the Google Analytics Support site.

Coupon Code Tracking (Easy and Beginner-Friendly)

e-Commerce platforms like Shopify, BigCommerce, Volusion, Wix, 3dcart, Big Cartel, Squarespace and LemonStand, to name a few all have coupon code functionality built in. 

Create a coupon code that's only available on your Instagram profile and through your Instagram influencers. You can track how many purchases come through that code, and in some cases, you can even see exactly how much revenue the code has generated.

Make sure to add the code in your IG profile description, with a strong call to action. For example, you could write "Use coupon code LOVE for 10% off your next order!"


Step 2: Decide What Kind of Influencers You Want.

Next, we'll want to determine what kind of influencers you want to target.

One common mistake many business owners make is that they go after influencers who are intentionally trying to be influencers.

They quickly find out that some of those people pad their accounts with fake followers and fake engagement, and are hardly influencing anyone at all. 

Influencer marketing agencies and influencer apps tend to attract people who are out there trying to make money advertising products and services. Not only are their posts less valuable because their fanbase is bombarded with ads all the time, they're also likely to be padding their follower count.

What kind of audience are you trying to reach? What are their interests?

Go off the beaten path and seek out accounts that your current customers might follow to find the real influencers. You can try asking your existing customers what kind of content they look at on Instagram, and what their favorite accounts are.

For the Christmas tree business, we decided to seek out "Mom Bloggers" in the New York City area. These ladies have a huge social media following, and as parents, are likely to be friends with other parents in the area. We were able to find a large list of "Mom Bloggers" on the CISION media database. 

The key takeaway here is that you should be creative. The perfect audience for your business is out there. With a little research, you'll discover the right influencer who can reach them.


Step 3: Reach out to Influencers

Decide how you want to compensate your influencers. Offer free product / service (must be desirable); offer money; offer affiliate commissions using a unique coupon code.

Craft your pitch. Keep it clear, concise, and make sure it's an attractive offer. Here's a real example...

This style of email works like magic! Especially if you have a compelling offer. Make sure to keep track of who responds to your offer in an excel spreadsheet, and build your list of influencers over time. You never know when you might need them again.

Here's some of the awesome results!

These micro-influencers reached the perfect audience for this small local business. Remember, it's not always about the number of followers an account has--it's whether or not those followers are likely to buy what you're selling, and how engaged they are with the account you're targeting!

The Time-Saving Influencer Outreach Secret...

The secret to saving time and effort when reaching out to influencers is automation. You can use tools like ActiveCampaign to bulk email a large number of influencers quickly. You can find influencers to email on media databases like CISION or trend spotting services like Buzzsumo.

I'll go into more detail on these methods if there's interest. If you want to know more, or you want to talk to Spooky Digital about growing your business with influencer marketing, drop me a line in the comments below!