Blog

Your Guide to Keeping Consumer Data Secure While Personalizing Campaigns

Customers expect personalization. A well-crafted email with a customer's first name and a product suggestion related to a past purchase, for example, has become the norm.  Research shows 98 percent of marketers believe personalization advances the customer relationship, with 74 percent claiming it has a "strong" or "extreme" impact on the relationship, according to Evergage.

While marketers see the value of personalizing messages, creating them requires customer data. To market effectively, you have to know a lot about a customer. That can range from basic information (such as a customer's name and hometown) to more intrusive information like buying history and spending limits.

Having this kind of coveted data provides amazing targeting applications, but it also comes with great responsibility. Customers are concerned about privacy. One survey shows 91 percent of Americans believe customers have lost control over how their personal data is collected and used, according to Pew Research.

So how can brands provide personalized marketing and protect customer data at the same time? Here are some tips:

Get Consent to Contact

Before reaching any customer digitally, make sure you have permission to do so. Aside from being a best practice, it's also mandated by new privacy legislation. The European Union's GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation), for example, requires businesses to get consent from digital customers before collecting, storing, and using personal data.  Although this legislation was passed in Europe, experts say more laws aimed at protecting personal data elsewhere in the world are likely in the future.

How do you get consent? Ask customers to voluntarily join your email list, or run a promotion on social media that asks for permission to contact the participant with future offers. Whatever the tactic, get permission to make contact.

Don't Assume You Know What Customers Want

Many marketers make assumptions on behalf of customers, and that is starting to bother those customers. What kind of assumptions? Marketers sometimes use pre-checked boxes on forms that automatically sign up subscribers for promotional emails. These pre-checked boxes assume every customer wants to get coupons or a weekly email digest, when customers might not want that at all.

Or, let's say you're at a trade show and you exchange business cards with dozens of people. When you get back to your office, you add everyone to your email list. Why? You assume everyone wants to stay in touch after the show. But they didn't give consent to join your email list at all. That's another assumption.

One of the best ways to respect customers and their privacy is to avoid making decisions for them.

Explain How Information Is Used

One of the best practices pushed in laws like the GDPR is transparency. GDPR requires brands to tell customers how their personal information is collected, tracked, and used.  Many brands use cookies to track a customer's online activities. Since GDPR was enacted, brands must explain how their sites' cookies collect, track, and store data. As a result, you've probably seen "cookie consent" messages pop up on your favorite websites, like this one:

blog21MAR19.jpg

In this case, customers can accept the data tracking policy, select how much data they want collected, and see how their information is used by the company.

Whether you use cookies or not, one of the best ways to show customers that privacy matters is to explain exactly how you gather and use their personal information.

Be Honest About Data Breaches

Data breaches happen, and some of the biggest companies have experienced them. While they're embarrassing, it's important to tell your customers about it, and quickly.  

In the U.S., Uber was forced to pay a $148 million settlement when a 2016 data breach was found to have been covered up by the transportation company's then-CEO, Travis Kalanick. The breach wasn't made public for a year, according to USA Today.

Customers want transparency. In Europe, the GDPR sets strict requirements that companies notify customers of any stolen data within 72 hours.

Personalization and privacy have become a balancing act for brands across the globe. Customers want personalized experiences, but they want to trust their data is safe and being used in ways that they approve of.

Insta-Game Changer

Today Instagram announced the long awaited confirmation of the beta rollout of Checkout on Instagram. There’s been rumbling in the industry for months about Instagram’s desire to push in-app ecommerce sales and it’s finally becoming a reality.  A select list of top brand partners will now allow users to shop right in the app. This tactic is a win for everyone involved and has been much sought after.  Providing in-app checkout is a great way for brands to encourage shopping with the ability to customize content based on user profiles. It also allows Instagram users to keep scrolling longer, eliminating the need to leave the platform for additional product information or purchases.  But most importantly, it provides a more personalized experience for the users while simplifying the shopping experience.

So how does it work?  The new checkout option will be an extension of the existing shopping tags already in place and will now include a “Checkout on Instagram” button in the post,  allowing for purchase completion within the platform. User information will be securely stored on Instagram to make future purchases for any participating brands that much easier.  Although this is only being extended to select brands while in beta, it’s definitely a play to become more competitive in the ecommerce space while leveraging the growing audience already in place.

The continued push for social ecommerce has the potential to be a big revenue driver for both Instagram and businesses.  With Instagram users expected to reach 113.3 million US users in 2019, according to eMarketer, it only makes sense to provide in-app conveniences to users which keep them engaged.  Since Instagram is personalized according to your interests, retailers have access to detailed user data that gives them significant advantages in what products or services they promote and to which audiences turning casual viewers into loyal brand shoppers.

Integrating social and ecommerce is the match we’ve been longing for.  In a market where consumers expect personalization at every interaction and have been conditioned for immediate gratification in their online experience, this pairing is sure to resonate with users.  

The Power of the Hashtag

Hastags are now a normal part of social media activity but you may be wondering how you can leverage them for business.  When used strategically, hashtags hold an amazing power to reach large audiences and there's little doubt they can serve as effective tools for marketers when properly implemented.

One of the major benefits to marketers are the countless ways to measure hashtag campaign performance. Engagement, for example, could include metrics about retweets, replies and comments. Awareness might be measured with reach, exposure and volume. Traffic to your website could be measured in clicks, conversions and shares.

Hastags can create opportunity and increase visibility.  Here are some examples of successful hashtag campaigns at work.

• #TweetFromTheSeat

After launching its #TweetFromTheSeat hashtag campaign, Charmin earned "Time Magazine's" vote for the "Sassiest Brand on Twitter."

RESULTS: Approximately 80,000 new followers

• #WeAccept

This Airbnb campaign used images of people of various ethnicities with the hashtag #WeAccept to demonstrate the founders' commitment to welcoming groups such as refugees.

RESULTS: 1,954,277 YouTube views, 109,000 Instagram views, 14,022,922 Facebook views

• #LikeAGirl

The Always brand used the #LikeAGirl hashtag as a call to action, inviting women to tweet about the positive things they do "like a girl" to remove the stigma from the phrase. They complimented it with a #LikeAGirl page hosted on Always.com..

RESULTS: Twitter followers tripled in the first months; 177,000 #LikeAGirl tweets in the first three months, including celebrities

Ready to get started on your next hashtag campaign? Consider these guidelines:

1. Research existing hashtags.

You want to create a hashtag unique to your company, so do your homework to ensure you're not diluting your messaging by distinguishing yourself from competitors. Incorporate trending hashtags into your campaign to complement your main hashtag.

2. Create a tag that's unique to the brand.

Generic hashtags are fine as supplemental pieces, but your primary hashtag should be unique to the brand. Good examples include Lay's #DoUsAFlavor, Ryu's #WhatsInYourBag and the Worldwide Breast Cancer organization's #KnowYourLemons.

3. Create unique tags for different promotions.

Be creative and use different hashtags for different campaigns, products, etc. Oreo, for example, has used #MyOreoCreation, #OreoHorrorStories, and #PlayWithOreo.

4. Use the hashtag across multiple social media platforms.

Hashtags aren't just for Twitter. Use them on all social media updates.

5. Test varying amounts of hashtags per post to find your sweet spot.

As a general rule, use two hashtags on Twitter and seven or fewer on other platforms.

6. Choose niche hashtags.

Stay away from generic hashtags and get more specific, such as using #BigAndTallTuxedos over a broad term like #Tuxedos.

7. Follow your hashtag on social media.

Keep an eye on what others are saying by following common hashtags you use.

Using these tips, you'll find hashtags can make an impact on your marketing strategy and increase your reach.

Tips for Marketing to Spring Break Travelers

No matter your target audience, spring break is an excellent time for brands to get in front of their consumers.  With college students spending an estimated $1 billion on spring break every year added to the amount spent by families who take advantage of the time off school for travel, spring break has become a huge marketing opportunity.

For business, you can use this time to boost your brand, attract more followers and promote sales. Here are four tips to get started.

Hold a Spring Break Sale

Regardless of your business, running travel-themed marketing campaigns can entice consumers to try your product or service. Spring break is the ideal time to clear out inventory or offer promotional items to drive more traffic to your website or physical locations. One example of success was a direct marketing campaign by Great Wolf Lodge.  They offered a promotional discount to travelers who booked rooms during spring break to increase reservations and attract repeat customers.

Leverage Social Media

Spring break is a great time to host contests, giveaways and live events for your followers. It's also an opportunity to create a campaign centered around themed stories and invite your followers to contribute. This could include videos, photos or written content detailing their adventures with your product, letting everyone in on the fun they're having. Users with the best stories or photos could then win products or services.  The authenticity of showing products in use resonates with consumers and creates the feeling that your brand is part of the spring break experience.

Deliver an Experience

Experiential marketing tactics are all about becoming another factor in the fun surrounding spring break. They aren't about making revenue as much as they are geared toward exposing travelers to your brand and letting them interact with it, creating a positive impression to share with friends, coworkers and families. In a recent example, Axe took a two-pronged approach by setting up a tent and games on a popular beach to attract spring breakers, in addition to sponsoring toiletries at popular hotels.

Stamping your presence on a hot spot is not the only way to take advantage of experiential marketing. You could have brand ambassadors hand out samples and free gifts or use your social media strategies to drive traffic to your website with interactive games or events.

Sponsor Events

Whether it's a party geared toward college kids or a families, sponsoring spring break events can increase brand awareness, provide an opportunity for engagement and help your brand gain traction. Many times this doesn’t require you to be on the site to reap the benefits, but attendees will likely take note of your name on the promotional materials or sponsored activities.


Spring break is a tradition where people of all ages are ready to celebrate the end of winter with some fun in the sun.  Use this time to your advantage to get in front of consumers and be part of the action.


Leveraging Platforms for March Basketball Hysteria

Basketball viewing during the March tournaments used to be restricted to only the game(s) that were playing on cable at the time. Now, fans have the ability to watch multiple games on various devices while staying up-to-date with bracket-busting news via social media.

Social platforms alone have become a hot spot for hoops hysteria.  During the 2015 tournament, there were 350 million impressions on Facebook and Twitter, according to Koeppel Direct. In 2017, March Madness Live (MML) brought in 69.1 million live streams. All the excitement is prime opportunity for brands to leverage the influx of users streaming the live action and catching up on the day’s wins and losses. To help your brand slam dunk its campaign, we’ve provided some strategy tips.

Facebook

Facebook profiles are full of customer-specific data, including a user's college history and location, which provides ready-made segments for your ads. This presents a variety of strategic campaign options to appeal to various audiences.

A company selling sports gear, for example, can create Syracuse Orangemen ads for Syracuse alum, or a travel agency can create an ad for a Final Four trip aimed at fans vying for the chance to see the games in person.

Instagram

Instagram has access to Facebook data allowing for similar segmenting of users.  It also presents the opportunity to leverage trending hashtags around game excitement.  Adding a relevant hashtag to your message can tie basketball and your brand together. The searchability increases your brand presence when used correctly.  For example, Acme Footwear asked users to pick the game winner by combining the predicted winning team name with its company name for responses like #dukeacme. Fans love to show their team fandom and get excited to be a part of the celebration.

YouTube

To get the most bang for your buck, consider launching a campaign via YouTube during the tourney.  With audience-specific targeting available, you can show ads to users who have watched a specific video or tournament related content.  You can also leverage remarketing capabilities to further your reach.

Digital Video Ads

With people now watching sports via live-streaming channels at all hours, digital video ads are a great way to stay in front of consumers.  This spans platforms, increasing opportunity for exposure. Facebook, for example, will interrupt a live stream with breaks for ads. Since viewers are already engaged in the game and ads are limited, you have a captive audience who are more likely to remember your brand and product.

The hype surrounding bracket success, or the sleeper team that’s sure to be a bracket buster, presents a great opportunity to reach consumers with fun and memorable ad experience.  Fans are engaged and playing into the excitement is sure to be a marketing win.

Digital Marketing Trends for 2019

To kick off 2019, we’ve identified the top trends you can leverage to improve your marketing strategy, reach a growing audience and boost branding and sales. We cover the advancement of voice search, the increased adoption of streaming video and the implications of artificial intelligence on how chatbots can improve your business to name a few.


Watch the webinar for a full breakdown of the 2019 trends worth noting for your marketing strategy.

Leverage First-Party Data to Boost Personalization

To succeed in today's marketing world, personalization is crucial. Research shows 84 percent of customers say being treated like an individual and not a number is important to winning their business, according to Salesforce.

To treat customers like real people, you need to know who they are. But this isn't always easy. Sure, you might remember a few customers who frequent your business, but it's impossible to know everyone, let alone create marketing messages tailored to each person.

Personalized messages rely on customer data. You need to collect data in every category possible. From collecting email addresses at checkout and tracking order histories to asking customers to fill out forms and surveys, your data collection strategy should be diverse and continuous.

Any data you collect is considered first-party data. Thus, the emails you collect on your website form, the information shared when customers join your social media contest, and the data collected as customers browse your site are all first-party data. You collected it.

To help marketers take personalization to the next level, we'll dive into the data world and explain what first-party data is and how to utilize it.

  • Tips for Using First-Party Data Effectively

Once you have first-party data, it's time to put it to work for you. Here are a few tips:

  • Do a Deep Data Dive

At the beginning, you probably focused on collecting the basics from customers, such as their names, email addresses, and ages. Now, it's time to go deeper. You need behavioral data like past purchases and browsing history to create more detailed messages.

  • Refined, Smaller Segments

As you collect more data, you can create more defined segments. Essentially, you should segment your segments. For instance, if you segmented your customers by sex, take it one step further and segment based on past purchases. So rather than just sending an email to all female customers, you can send an email to all female customers who made two shoe purchases in the last month.

The further you define your segments, the more personal the messages become. An email aimed at your female customers isn't as targeted as an email sent to shoe-loving female customers who have recently made purchases

  • Use Data for Targeting

You can leverage first party data to improve your advertising strategy. Platforms like Facebook, for example, allow you to input data to customize audiences that see your ads. The more data you have, the more likely you are to attract interested customers.  

  • Deploy Retargeting Messages

By monitoring customers' online actions, you can deploy retargeting campaigns that are specific to each user. Let's say a customer comes to your site, searches for shoes, and spends considerable time looking at a pair of black heels, but never makes the purchase. They can then be retargeted via a variety of platforms (social, mobile, desktop, etc) with a tailored message that includes that same pair of shoes.  Retargeting gives you the ability to deliver personalized content to customers who have actually shown interest.

With these tips, you can up your personalization game and start connecting with customers on a deeper, more meaningful level.

Here's How to Get Better Data With Google Analytics

Google Analytics is the go-to tool to monitor customer behavior online. This free tool is used to track metrics on more than 27 million websites, but the power of the tool rests with the user. You can glean all sorts of information from Google Analytics, but to gather advanced data beyond clicks and conversions, you have to know a thing or two about the platform.

To help marketers get more from Google Analytics, we'll explain how to use filters to refine data and get a better look at your online activity.


Use Filters

One of the easiest ways to get more from your data, is to apply filters. Google Analytics gives you the power to add the following filters:

Exclude data

  • Include data

  • Change data

  • Search and replace data

  • Set up advanced filter

Filters give you a different perspective and help you get more detailed metrics. For instance, you might filter your traffic to exclude any internal hits. In other words, any employee who visits your website from inside the building doesn't count in your traffic stats.

To add a filter, log into your Google Analytics account, go to Admin, and click filters under the Account column. Then simply add any of these pre-made filters to your data.

Strategies to Filter Data

You can collect and sort data in hundreds of different ways, but here are a few common ways that marketers apply filters:

Measure Traffic From Local Audiences

Set a filter to see what kind of traffic your site gets from people who are in a specific location. If you know where people are located, you can create personalized campaigns that cater to them. For example, if you’re opening a new store in Phoenix, you can create a campaign that’s especially for Phoenix-based customers that announces the new store.

  • Exclude Traffic From Company Employees

We mentioned this example above but the idea is to remove any traffic data that stems from people inside the company. The idea here is to a more accurate traffic reading. If the company website loads automatically on every computer when it’s started, for example, that’s not customer-based traffic so you wouldn’t want it included in your stats.

  • Eliminate 'Fake Hits'

Spammers are constantly trolling sites looking for a way in. As they conduct their searches, their visits are counted as traffic. You can exclude these ''fake hits'' from your metrics for more accurate readings.

  • Tips to Create Effective Filters

Before you log into Google Analytics and add filters, you should know a few things:

  • Create an Unfiltered View

You need one view that's untouched, or unfiltered. That way, should other data get rearranged or deleted, you'll always have this view as a fail-safe. Name it something obvious such as ''Unfiltered View,'' and make it clear to everyone this view shouldn't be touched.

  • Filters Work After the Fact

In other words, you can't apply filters to data you already have. Filters are only applied to data collected after settings are in place.

  • Filters Are Applied in Order

The order in which you apply filters matters. Google Analytics applies filters in the order that you set them, so take some time to think through the process.

  • Work With Pre-set Filters First

To start, use pre-set filters like ''exclude data'' and ''include data'' before you move on to creating an advanced filter. Advanced filters give you the power to customize your metrics, but it's aimed at savvy users.

Google Analytics gives businesses great insights, but getting pertinent data that are specific to your company takes some work. By applying filters to your data sets, you can refine your results and get a better understanding of your audience.

Getting Started With Marketing Personalization

To reach customers, a generic email, text, or Facebook ad won't cut it. Today's customers have high expectations. They expect personalized advertising that's relevant to their lives, and they are willing to help make that happen.

As many as 57 percent of consumers are willing to share personal data, as long as it results in personalized content and offers. At the same time, the majority of consumers (88 percent) aren't happy with the level of personalization they receive from brands they like, according to research presented by Econsultancy.

To help marketers better meet consumers' expectations, we'll explore what personalization is and why it's important, and provide a few tips to get started.

Personalization Defined

Personalization is more than just adding a customer's first name to an email subject line. Personalization is the act of knowing your customers and creating customized content and messages that resonate with each one. Customized content can take many forms. From sending a personalized promotion to customers based on their purchase history, to targeting a specific audience for a Facebook ad.

Why Personalization Is Important

Personalization helps brands attract and retain customers. By crafting messages and ads that are relevant to customers, you’ll draw more people in and keep the customers you have delighted with your efforts.

In time, you’ll build a relationship with your customers. It's similar to building a relationship with a friend. The closer you get and the more experiences you share, the more trust you develop.

As we've mentioned, customers want personalization. In fact, 58 percent of customers are willing to switch half of their spending to brands that excel at personalization, according to a recent report.

Tips to Achieve Personalized Marketing

To put your new personalization strategy into place, here are a few tips to get started:

●       Collect the Right Data

Get to know your customers. In today's modern age, that means collecting personal data. You'll likely need a tool or platform to collect, store, and utilize the data. Ideally, you'll get both demographic information (like name, age, and sex) and behavioral information that tracks things like past purchases and visit frequency.

●       Segment Audiences

Your customers are likely a diverse bunch. To pull off personalization on a large scale, you'll need to segment your customers, or break them into smaller, like-minded groups. Doing so gives you the power to create content for each niche.

●       Start Small

Create a small list of ways you can personalize your next marketing campaign. Don't try to do it all at once. For example, segment customers by location and send a promotion that's specific to a store in that area.

●       Test, Test, Test

As with any marketing campaign, you should test to see what's working and what's not. You can test many different personalization tactics. For instance, you can send an email that includes a customer's name and test it against a generic message that doesn't include the name.

Personalization is an important marketing and advertising tactic, but it takes some time and effort to perfect. You need to collect data and leverage it in a way that customers will respond to. Doing so will help you build a strong relationship with your customers.

How to Use Instagram to Grow Ecommerce Sales

Instagram sees engagement from over one billion active users every month, offering brands a unique opportunity to interact with potential customers right where they are. Instagram's visual-heavy platform can be harnessed to boost ecommerce sales driven by social engagement. These five methods can help your business develop an Instagram strategy that increases conversions, drives sales and creates loyal customers. 

Create a Business Account

If your business is still relying on a personal Instagram account to drive ecommerce, it's your first priority to make the switch to a business account. Instagram's business accounts have access to advanced features such as Instagram Insights, promoted posts, and the ability to include contact information.

To switch, log in to your Instagram account and go to settings. Tap “Switch to Business Profile.” Here, Instagram will prompt you to connect to your business Facebook page, choose a category for your business, and fill in your contact details. You'll be able to start running ads and obtaining audience insights immediately.

Curate Your Instagram Aesthetic

Instagram is a visual medium, and it's important that each image or video shared is artfully crafted individually and displays a cohesive visual theme for your business account.

Drive ecommerce sales by portraying your products in their best light, in ways that appeal to your customers. Curate an artistic vision for your brand by including posts and images that aren't quite so promotional as well. An aspirational photo or conversational post can encourage customer engagement with the brand.

Tag Products Within the Instagram Post

The ability to tag products within an Instagram post is a major benefit of converting to a business account. With product tagging enabled, your customers have a direct path to purchasing the featured product on your own website or via Facebook's Catalog.

 To use Instagram Shopping, you must first connect your business profile to a Facebook Catalog. Products that have been added to the Catalog can then be tagged in an Instagram post, up to five per single image or video.

 Research and Target Hashtags

 Similar to keyword targeting for search engine optimization, Instagram hashtags allow your content to appear in searches by potential customers on the platform. Researching these keywords takes a familiar path towards identifying the topics your customers are searching for and targeting trending social media hashtags.

Utilize Instagram Advertising

Instagram offers its business accounts a number of ways to advertise to potential customers. Within the Ads Manager, your business profile can set up, run, and track campaigns using the same targeting tools offered on Facebook.

Instagram ads appear directly in user feeds, either as an Instagram Story, a photo, or a video up to 60 seconds in length. A highly integrated Collection Ad can combine video and images to allow potential customers to browse your product catalog from within their Instagram feeds.

Whether your business invests in Instagram advertising or takes an organic approach to driving traffic, it's clear consumers enjoy being inspired by brands within their Instagram feeds. You can help your customers complete their purchases by using Instagram's business account tools for driving ecommerce sales.

Brand Perception: What It Is, Why It Matters and How to Measure It

When was the last time you really thought about your perception of a product brand or service? Sure, we might use online brands every day in our work or at play, but do you think about how you perceive a brand? You should.

Brand perception is important. It's the sum of our feelings, attitudes, and experiences with a product or service. Brand perception is what moves the needle for companies, taking a common product and giving it elements that evoke emotional feelings. Every car ad during football season is appealing to a viewer's emotions about the brand. Every skincare ad seeks to sway a consumer's emotions into creating a favorable brand perception.

Ultimately, the customer is the one who decides their perception of your brand. Whether you're marketing a consumer commodity like clothing, or a high-level B2B web application, how consumers view the brand can make or break a product.

Let's break down exactly what brand perception is, why it matters and how you can measure its impact in your daily work.

What Is Brand Perception?

Put simply, brand perception is the sum of feelings a consumer has about a brand. These thoughts and feelings happen when a consumer is aware of the brand, and what follows when that consumer hears, sees, or interacts with the brand and its product.

Brand perception incorporates a multitude of areas that touch upon the brand's customer interactions. From product development and packaging to public relations and social engagement, brand perception is a top-level measuring stick of a product's visual presence, goodwill, and emotional character. All of these can play into the product's success.

Think about Facebook, for example. Last year Facebook's brand perception fell out of favor with many because of privacy issues and the platform being found to be the conduit of false or misleading news stories. Brand perceptions of Facebook were significantly changed in 2018, which is why the company is now making moves to make public opinion of its brand more positive.

Even for small companies, brand perception is one part of a larger marketing equation. How does your product or service resonate with its target audience, why does it matter, how do consumers feel about your brand, and how can you measure this?

Why It Matters

Brand perception is important because it reflects what consumers think about a company's culture. We've mentioned Facebook, but this affects even emerging online brands such as Fashion Nova and Everlane.

You might see a branded TV spot, read a review, or catch a pre-roll YouTube ad. These brief interactions can quickly change a consumer's perception of a company from negative to neutral, or from neutral to positive. That's the power of brand perception, and that's why it matters.

Once consumers formulate a perception in their minds, whether positive, negative, or neutral, it's hard to change their beliefs. That's why companies are trying hard to measure brand perception on their own.

Measuring Brand Perception

How can companies measure brand perception? There are agencies that would be glad to charge $5,000 to $25,000 a month for the privilege, but your own team can scout the web to get a fairly reliable reflection of consumers' perceptions of your brand. Some ways your research and marketing teams can do this might include:

●       Setting up Google alerts to track online mentions.

●       Reading online reviews. (This is critical for all brands. Efficient customer response can also help with brand reception.)

●       Social listening, which means monitoring social media comments, hashtags, and other mentions.

●       Measuring metrics for pay-per-click brand search and dwell time.

Overall, companies need to work hard to measure brand perception. A brand owner must measure the brand from the outside to truly understand how people view it. To do so, companies can try a variety of methods to gauge brand perception:

●       Track metrics in your target audience around your brand.

●       Use custom research among primary and secondary target audiences.

●       Conduct a brand audit on your company's brand perception against that of your leading competitors'.

●       Track customer sentiment through each stage of the purchase cycle, including information search, product evaluation, comparison research, buying decision, and post-buying feelings.

Brand perception is a critical part of your company’s marketing effectiveness. Getting a handle on it and putting your resources into knowing how to use it will help your company better plan its marketing campaigns.

Driving Your Digital Presence with Video

We live in a world of convenience at every turn. Information and entertainment is available on demand. Thanks to streaming video and Connected TV, you can view the content you want when it fits in your schedule with the click a button or voice command.  The landscape for viewing has changed immensely having not only an enormous effect on traditional television advertising, but also how marketers are adjusting their budget to accommodate the rapidly changing landscape.

With Connected TV users expected to exceed 190 million in 2019, the need to adapt to this growing platform as another vehicle to tell your story is becoming more imminent by the day.  Digital video now accounts for an average of 25% of a daily video viewing for the average person, which is only projected to increase. However, many marketers are not adjusting their budget distribution accordingly and are missing a valuable opportunity to get in front of their target audience.  Auto dealerships specifically have been one of the slowest adapters to this increase in video consumption, many of which are still spending 100% of their video advertising budget on traditional television versus digital video.

So what makes it different and why should dealerships care?  Unlike cable ads, Connected TV (CTV) and video campaigns can be measured and optimized as part of your overall digital strategy.  Ad effectiveness can be tracked by views, clicks and video completion rates (VCRs). This data enables more insight into the customer journey and car buying experience.  In addition, the power of view-through data can help you attribute users who saw your ad and later took action to get more information or contact the dealership, furthering your ability to measure your return on investment.

Interested but don’t know where to start?  We have broken down the basics to help you better understand how video and Connected TV can help your dealership accelerate past traditional television and begin transforming your market presence.

Download our white paper on Digital Video and The Rise of Connected TV

4 Ways to Make Better Decisions With Marketing Data

14JAN18.jpg

Effective digital marketing campaigns are built on data. Conversions, cost per click (CPC), traffic sources — with so many potential variables to analyze, it's vital to identify the data that is most important to your business. Data-driven marketing decisions can increase spending ROI and provide better, faster results. We've outlined four effective ways to make better decisions with your marketing data.

Use data to answer business questions. Where can we get the most value for our ad spending? How can we better reach our target demographic? By using marketing data to answer business questions first and provide insight second, marketers can speak the language of business with data-driven evidence. Individual statistics, such as the highest converting traffic channel or the lowest CPC ad campaign, work together to give insight into overall business goals.

Combine marketing and sales data for a complete consumer view. Remove the silos that separate marketing and sales data to form a clear view of the complete customer journey. Which traffic source produces the highest sales? Which ad campaign results in the lowest return rate? Data can tell the story of the customer's complete journey to product satisfaction, from the first ad view to a positive product review.

Use data to find new opportunities. Data can help you look outside your current campaigns for indications of new opportunities. Is there a surprising new source of traffic with high conversions? A new market may be revealing itself in your analytics data. After combining marketing and sales data, is there an ad campaign that produces high product return rates? Drill down on the advertising messages that resonate best with your customers. 

Make every marketing decision with data. Including data analysis as part of every marketing decision (rather than as an occasional addendum) ensures the process becomes a habit. Data-driven decisions can produce better, faster results than trial-and-error methods, and provide a mathematical basis for marketing campaign effectiveness.

A digital marketer has a mountain of analytics data at his or her fingertips. To use data efficiently and effectively, it's important to align your analysis with the goals of your business. From finding new business opportunities to increasing product satisfaction, marketing data has the potential to impact every facet of digital business.

Integrating Search and Social - The Perfect Combination for Your Ad Campaign

Digital advertising pros have a great opportunity in 2019 to integrate social media into their Search Engine Marketing (SEM) campaigns to help boost conversions and revenue.

Social media strategies have grown to be a key part of marketers’ advertising campaigns. Marketers are seeing higher results when they create great content for adaptable use across multiple channels. For instance, juice drinks company Bai reached 15 million people and increased its ad recall by 17 points by running a video campaign on Instagram and Facebook. And using Twitter for ads around its Mayochup campaign in 2018 helped Heinz increased its brand awareness by 28%, with over 1 billion impressions in just 48 hours.

Adding social dollars on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and other networks have many benefits to marketers, including higher brand awareness, more personalization opportunities to consumers, stronger data capabilities and better audience targeting. Some marketers have reported seeing a faster ROI from social media ad activity, compared to traditional organic search and content marketing techniques, which build online momentum over time.

For your agency to do this right, it makes sense to get your social and SEM teams on the same page. For instance, task the social media team with learning about how consumer search behavior affects social media results. Use your client social media insights and search analytics to create a more targeted ad campaign. Digging through the data will open up areas for collaboration for social campaign effectiveness.

Benefits of SEM/Social Integration

Here are some of the clear benefits to integrating search and social into your digital advertising campaigns:

  • Raising brand awareness

  • Increased personalization opportunities

  • Stronger data capability

  • Better audience targeting

Raising Brand Awareness

Integrating search and social brings a great deal of brand awareness to your target audience. These consumers can learn about your brand through social media, and then utilize search once they are ready for additional details or in need of your product.  The trick to raising brand awareness is to find, nurture, and reward your avid followers. By consistently offering engaging content on social media channels, brands can boost their follower count using tactics such as exclusive offers, contests, and giveaways.  

Increase Areas for Personalization

Social media can be used to build trust, and brands can build this trust with personalization efforts. One example might be to nurture top-of-the-funnel consumers on social media for your brand's products and services. In capturing these consumers' attention with your content, you can drive them to your site(s) for data capture and the high possibility of conversions.

Stronger Data

Integrating social into your search strategies can produce better data for your marketing teams. Social media success can help to fill any gaps in search data. You can also create opportunities to mine social data and evaluate audience habits. This new wealth of data can be useful in your existing analytics, and you will be able to use these gained insights in your upcoming SEM campaigns.

Targeting Audiences

You can also find new ways to target audiences by combining the strengths of both SEM and social media. There are various ways to integrate these strategies, such as by creating lookalike audiences, utilizing search landing pages (with social URLs as the bait), and targeting different demographics with a variety of messages in search.

If your SEM strategy isn't incorporating elements of social media, you should rethink your overall marketing strategy. Today, social is much more than just having accounts on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Use these channels to build your brand image, personalize your interactions, engage with your local consumer base, and gain followers.

5 Key Ways to Leverage Snapchat Marketing for Millennials

iStock-867345208.jpg

It may not be Facebook or Instagram, but Snapchat has its rightful place in the marketing arena. This may be especially true when it comes to brands' engagement with millennials. From the app's simplicity and its easy integration with social media browsing to the appeal of its impermanent nature, Snapchat has captured millennials' attention for a number of reasons. That's why marketing to this generation via the app has so much potential. Here are five key ways brands can market to millennials via Snapchat.

Create Customized Geographical Filters

Millennials use geofilters to set their content apart from others. Brands can implement the same strategy to promote products and services, promotions, events, and location. Think of it as a step up from traditional text-based tagging. Geo-filters add more expressive content to snaps, giving viewers immediate access to your brand's activities and current location. Snapchat is the ultimate organic method for users to promote your brand to their followers, and a terrific way for users to become brand advocates within their networks.

 Exclusivity is one popular feature of geofilters. When Snapchat users activate location service on their smartphones, the app identifies if the user's location is within the boundaries of the geofilter. If it is, the user can apply exclusive geofilters based on location. As a result, content is more freely shared. Another popular feature is Snapchat's variety of geo-filters for streamlined customization.

 Here's where you can personalize brand messages and quickly get them out there to your followers, and to the followers of your brand's followers. There's also the success brands gain through sponsored geofilters. Remember, people trust the opinions and experiences of those they know, which makes word-of-mouth a powerful tool for targeted ads. This is the perfect opportunity to connect your ads to the user experience, which is what Snapchat's geofilters do best.

Taking Advantage of the Geofencing Feature

When you want your followers to be where you are, geofencing does just that. It tells Snapchat where a filter can be used geographically. When drawn right, your geofence gives the right audience access to your brand's filter. When promoting an event, for instance, your filter's exposure depends entirely on your geofence.

 Snapchatters snapping within the boundaries of your geofence are more likely to see and use your filter, post the snaps as stories, and expose you to their followers. Opportunities for engagement abound further if a user creates a geofenced story from your location. This will inevitably encourage others to add their stories, and to do so with your filter!

 To get the most out of this feature, consider these tips:

●       Ensure your filter is a minimum of 20,000 square feet, as 50,000 square feet is where geofencing tops out.

●       Avoid excessive use of circular points or shapes with small areas to ensure proper coverage.

●       Purchased filters aren't viewable, and an email usually follows once they're approved.

Placing Video Ads in Live Stories

With nearly 200 million daily users viewing about 10 billion videos per day, Snapchat paves the way to connect with millennials on a grand scale. Delight your audience by highlighting activities or events as a day in the life of your brand unfolds. If it's a captive audience you want, implementing video ads in live stories on Snapchat is the place to be.

 Your Snapchat ads can either be vertical video ads or full-screen, and last about 10 seconds. These are ideal to drive traffic to your site or to motivate them to watch long-form videos. Entice followers to interact with your brand, and encourage photo shares of the interaction or their use of your products. Promotions or contests are great incentive boosters to get engagement rolling. Say you decide to run a challenge each week for a few months; you can later repost the content in a Snapchat video story when advertising to expand your reach.

 What's more, video ads always play with sound. You want your following to pay attention to your brand, right? Why not generate video ads with a great audio track? Your following will not only watch, but also listen intently. There's even the option for users to drag the video upwards to see additional info, like entertaining content or informative articles.

 Also, the more your audience can relate to your brand, the better. Talk with your audience, not to them. Tell good stories, because more people are turning to video for stories than ever before. Keep things fresh and share news or customer videos with the latest industry happenings. Be casual, funny, and even a little silly. Snapchat is where brands get to foster endearing relationships with potential customers, so be real. The more you relate, the more you can sell.

Using Longer Videos and Direct CTAs

Snapchat makes it easy to link a snap to long-form media to quickly play when users swipe up. It's a great teaser for use in a 3- to 10-second snap to present a commercial or new trailer. Direct calls to action (CTAs) are strongly encouraged because Snapchat allows viewers to quickly act on ads. This, of course, is a more valuable commodity to marketers when results are key.

 When designing your video, take both the orientation and length into account. Why? Well, there's only a small window of time to make an impression. Besides, once the video is played, it disappears forever. Consider one of these two paths: Either create amusing or memorable long-form videos to impress in a limited time span or aggressively drive conversions to encourage viewers to take swift action. Mind you, the action is to invite a "Swipe Up" to follow your CTA.

Using Snap Ads Templates to Create Video Ads

Brands can also take advantage of Snapchat's gallery of templates to create compelling ads. The selection is diverse, and offers several options to dazzle viewers. There's even a wide range of customizations for animations and to have fun using various creative studio and design tools.

 Every template shows well, whether on mobile or vertical videos. Campaigns can always be managed manually if ad spend needs to be adjusted throughout campaign duration.

 Snapchat can prove to be the right medium for direct response marketing, especially for B2C marketers. To reap the rewards from its popularity, focus on its plethora of attributes to generate brand awareness. Brands simply can't go wrong with Snapchat, and will find it easy to create ads — and a lot of fun, too.

Digital Video Is the Future of Advertising. Here's How.

iStock-696580364.jpg

Traditional network/cable/satellite TV viewing numbers are on the decline, with more consumers (especially younger ones) preferring to stream content on their devices and smart TVs.

In a recent Nielsen survey, during this past October, the number of younger viewers age 18 to 34 watching traditional TV was down 16 percent from the same period a year ago, and 36 percent from 4 years ago. Digital research firm eMarketer predicted that by the end of this year some 33 million people will cut the cord and stop their traditional cable or satellite subscription services, a 32 percent increase from the previous year. 

If fewer people are watching traditional TV, how can marketers use the medium to reach viewers? TV hasn't gone away from most American homes, it's just that the content being watched is coming from internet connections. That's why it's important for marketers to understand the switch in viewing preferences.

In the digital video/digital advertising industry, we feel this situation creates opportunities for smart marketers. Digital video advertising offers interactive, visual opportunities to connect with consumers and inspire new relationships with brands.

Here are some of the reasons why video will continue to have a significant impact on digital advertising in 2019.

Video Is Engaging

Nearly all millennials are consuming video content on a daily basis with their mobile devices. As a result, it's likely they are seeing digital video ads on Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube, and other video-centric channels.

Interactive digital video advertising will dominate the US advertising landscape in 2019. Another recent eMarketer report shows US digital video ad spending will show continued growth from a mix of mobile and social media video ads, and will eventually take up half of top marketers' budgets in the coming year.

A Customized, Personal Experience

Younger viewers (and some older ones, too) are no longer watching what's on TV. Instead, they are using their smart TVs (with YouTube, Roku, Apple TV, and Chromecast leading the way) to deliver content the way they want it, when they want it. TV is becoming a personalized, customized viewing experience. That opens the door to personal engagement with advertising.

Video Is Memorable

Thanks to being able to pick and choose what consumers want to watch, the experience of massive (or binge) video watching (such as an entire season or two of a favorite program in one evening) becomes more memorable and shareable as well.

No More Prime Time?

How does this new viewer reality square with marketers still spending more of their money on "prime time" advertising? Does the concept of "prime time" still warrant the higher values? With a plethora of streaming outlets available, more younger viewers are clearly not pressured to watch TV at any particular hour.

 New Video Formats

Because of the new types of viewing, video ads have been taking on new forms. There are native outstream video ads used in social and online media feeds, live videos from social media channels, and an emerging class of online TV shows being sponsored by major online marketers.

With these changes in the way people (and particularly younger people) watch their programs, brands now have fantastic possibilities for standing out by using creative combinations of personalization, user experience interaction, and hot spots/outstream/native video formats.

Refining Your Marketing Strategy with Google Analytics Data

1JAN19.jpg

Google Analytics is a gold mine for marketers — a very large gold mine that can provide vast amounts of data to analyze. Breaking down that data and applying it to data-driven marketing decisions can have a big impact on business goals. We'll show you how to use the three main Google Analytics sections — audience, acquisition, and behavior — to identify your customers, discover what brought them to your company website, and understand what they do while they're there.

Google Analytics Audience: Who Are Your Customers?

The Google Analytics Audience section provides information about who your customers are — including basic demographics such as their gender, age, and location, as well as more detailed information including their interests, engagement, and accessing devices.

Audience data can confirm if your campaign is reaching its target demographic, as well as provide opportunities for growth. Marketers can use this information to identify the campaigns that produce conversions within a demographic and optimize advertising to deliver higher return on investment (ROI).

For example, a small, local boutique without e-commerce capability would only need to advertise to a local audience. An effective digital marketing campaign would optimize location data to increase views by potential customers within this single location.

Google Analytics Acquisition: Where Do Your Customers Come From?

The Google Analytics Acquisition section provides information about where your customers come from, whether it's organic search, referral, direct, social, or paid search, and how customers from each of those sources interact with your website.

Acquisition data can help identify the sources of your best customers. In this analytics section, each source is broken down by behavior (such as bounce rate, pages per session, and average session duration), as well as by conversation rate, number of transactions, and total revenue.

By breaking down each traffic source, Analytics offers the opportunity to focus marketing dollars and effort on the channels that produce the highest conversions. For example, a social media campaign may produce high traffic statistics but low conversion rates. This analytics section can help separate the effective from the ineffective and deliver higher campaign ROI.

Google Analytics Behavior: What Do Your Customers Do on Your Website?

The Google Analytics Behavior section provides information about how your website visitors interact with your website. How many pages do they typically view before leaving or purchasing? How much time do they spend browsing? Which pages are the most popular?

Digital marketers can utilize this information to develop more engaging content, improve website flow, or increase the number of events per session. Each of these improvements could result in increasing the overall conversion rate and improving marketing ROI.

By refining your digital marketing strategy with Google Analytics data, a savvy marketer can improve many aspects of the customer's online experience, as well as increase conversions and have an impact on your business's bottom line.

2018 Review - The Year in Digital Marketing

iStock-1083582410.jpg

Digital marketing had a tumultuous time in 2018. Technology moved into new areas for growth over the past year that affected the way we shop, communicate, and live. From the growth in artificial intelligence and automated voice systems to live video and changes in Facebook’s algorithms, it was clearly a year to remember in digital circles. Let’s take a closer look.

Facebook's News Feed Algorithm Changes

This year started with a shock when Facebook announced changes in its feed algorithm to promote more content from local news sources, friends, and family for “more meaningful social interactions.” Facebook also wanted to lessen the number of publishers’ news items in feeds, and the company may have wanted to thwart the rise of hackers and bots as well. Regardless, the January move by Facebook threw a wrench into marketers’ plans for the year, creating a period of adjustment. This link shows all of Facebook’s algorithm updates over the years.

AdWords Grew Into Google Ads

In mid-year, Google announced it was switching the nearly 20-year old brand “AdWords” to the simpler “Google Ads.” Google said the change reflected that its ads are all over the digital landscape now in web display and video ads, text and shopping, and even in app installations; ads are not just words on search platforms. Today’s web advertisers with Google can now run ads on Google’s search platform, on apps and websites, in Gmail, and on a variety of YouTube offerings. The name change represents a shift in digital thinking for marketers, and one that will likely pay big dividends to Google in the years ahead.

AI Technology Growth

Another huge trend in 2018 was the advancement of artificial intelligence (AI) technology by marketers across our data streams. Increasingly, companies are using smart systems, chatbots, and devices for more accurate customer segmentation and improved customer interactions.

We all contribute to the increase in AI when we personalize our recommendations on services like Netflix and Hulu. Other brands including Hilton, Levi Strauss and Co., and Nordstrom are using AI in chatbots to customize sales interactions with customers. Look for this digital marketing category to expand in 2019 and 2020.

Smart Speakers and Voice Search

In just two years, smart speakers have invaded our homes. Today, nearly 50 million Americans own a smart speaker, and that number will likely increase as people get more comfortable with sharing their living spaces with these devices.

Voice search is also growing fast. Web research firm Comscore predicts that more than half of all searches by 2020 will not be done by type or text but by voice. You are already seeing more people at work talking into their devices on search requests. It has become as commonplace as our desktop searches were a decade ago. Marketers will have to adapt to reaching consumers on smart speakers in the home.

Growth in Instagram Stories and Live Video Outlets

Another trend we saw in 2018 was the rapid rise in the use of live video and Instagram Stories. The number of users who create live video on their mobile phones and share with the world rose dramatically in 2018.

Google’s YouTube is the frontrunner in live video, dominating the amount of time spent by users watching video online.

The number of daily active users on Instagram Stories rose to some 400 million, Instagram reported in August. That’s from a universe of over a billion active monthly users. By contrast, Snapchat finished the third quarter with just 186 million daily active users.

Marketers are following those numbers, too. eMarketer noted that 86 percent of marketers use Facebook and almost 70 percent of marketers use Instagram. Only 28 percent of marketers use Snapchat. 

Personalizing the Consumer Experience

A growing trend in 2018 was the increase in personalization in many of our customer experiences. With our mobile devices and search immediacy, we are able to move quickly between purchase considerations and actual purchases. Increasingly, our expectations have risen across all our customer experiences. The winners will be those businesses that can deliver on the personalization process.

Marketers recognize this and have advanced to using SMS messaging, mobile apps, social media, and voice automation to personalize their communications with us as consumers. It’s a world in which we’re becoming increasingly comfortable, and we anticipate more of these personal customer journey touchpoints around us in the coming year.

How Can Machine Learning Boost Your Brand? Check Out These Key Ideas

iStock-1027630124.jpg

Artificial intelligence is now playing a greater role in capturing and developing relationships with consumers, and machine learning is one field of AI that has marketing potential to harness. To truly understand machine learning's potential, deeper insight is required to fully execute its impressive applications.

Building Trust and Improving Experiences With Chatbots

Conversational interfaces continue to improve consumer relations, which ultimately opens the door for marketers to use chatbots in an array of applications. An intuitive form of conversational AI, chatbots are used across sales and customer support to provide customers with 24/7 self-service on their own terms. Not only does this machine learning technology align with the millennial mindset, but it's also hailed by industry research firms as a dominant force amongst decision makers in the purchase process.

Chatbots extract and sift through data quicker than humans can. The result? Better delivery of more personalized consumer experiences. This is especially true for customers desiring self-service. As such, the need to fulfill a task independently now outweighs the need for another person when technology is the desired choice. Instead of being instructed to "press three to speak with a representative," chatbots are quick to extract details to direct prospective customers without delay. This allows users to naturally communicate based on personal preference. 

Brands can effectively implement chatbots to serve as the first point of contact for engagement. What better way to drive up interactions and generate leads to funnel into the appropriate channels? Moreover, it's a definitive resource with which to operate more efficiently, add value, and build brand loyalty.

Prioritizing Personalized Care

Top brands are adopting machine learning practices to identify, predict, and take action on trends affecting product or service development. With more insight into leveraging machine learning, brands are better equipped to improve upon existing products and services.

Savvy brands use machine learning to launch innovative strategies for better customer experiences. It's the orchestrated efforts to attract, sell, and serve that win out when enhancing customer satisfaction. Another competitive strategy for market leadership hinges on customer intimacy — provide unique methods to personalize service and customize products to meet differing needs. AI is better at learning what's effective for prospects and consumers.

Improving Targeting Accuracy

As with any marketing strategy, there's always room for improvement. An investment in machine learning allows marketers to create targeted advertising effortlessly and effectively. The value of doing so (besides giving marketers valuable data on consumer behavior) is that advertising decisions are carried out in real time. With an AI-based model in place, the decision on when to display targeted ads is entirely up to you.

There's a heavy reliance on data, but as it increases, so does the challenge to manage data effectively. Machine learning streamlines the processes of data analysis in advertising. AI is the go-to process when brands want to target potential customers with precision. For example, Facebook Business Manager is an important advertising tool. When a target audience is created based on interests, machine learning enhances the strategy. The targeted interests are all generated via machine learning, which is the same algorithm that analyzes data users voluntarily input into their profiles.

Optimization of Pricing

For brands struggling to set appropriate prices, machine learning can help. Since consumers have a wealth of options with which to compare prices, brands must factor in specific competitor criteria to accurately set prices. Machine learning's algorithms generate data to better detect emerging trends or new demands. Brands benefit most from predictive models to best price products and services.

Next to autonomy and speed, the biggest advantage of using machine learning to optimize prices is globalization. Imagine manually inputting pricing parameters into multiple channels. Then there's price changing, which can impact product sales in other areas. Machine learning crunches the numbers more accurately. It even anticipates market trends when brands need to make appropriate decisions to adjust prices.

Lastly, when competitive pricing strategies are paramount to success, it is possible to use machine learning to crawl the web and social platforms to collect essential information about competitor prices for identical or similar products. You can also analyze customer feedback, popular deals, and pricing history over a period of days or weeks. An intelligent system like this will constantly learn the digital landscape to give brands more leverage over the competition, which leads to wiser pricing decisions.

Determining Incentives and Sale Offers

Brands can further optimize marketing efforts by defining which sale offers, promotions, and incentives to present to prospective customers. This is accomplished through the use of multiple channels, which is yet another machine learning strategy that's transforming marketing.

Specialized sale offers are created through contextual information, offers, and incentives. Each is systematically structured using machine learning. In turn, AI regularly predicts the best possible combinations of marketing elements to generate an upsell, cross-sell, or new sale entirely.

As brands work vigorously to ensure products are exposed to the right consumers, advances in AI continue to emerge to help reach marketing goals. With proper planning and execution, machine learning has the potential to have an exponential impact on advertising.

3 Ways to Promote Your Business Using the New Year's Holiday

iStock-872550060.jpg

During the holidays, consumers have the spending spirit. Americans' holiday spending in November and December (excluding automobiles, gasoline and restaurants) has risen between 4.3 percent and 4.8 percent in 2017, for a total change of between $717.45 billion and $720.89 billion. The forecast, according to the National Retail Federation, compares with an average annual increase of 3.9 percent over the past 5 years.

To capitalize on the expected spending frenzy this holiday season, you should consider these three ways to promote your business during New Year's: 

1. Position products as "resolution solutions."

A new year means a fresh start. As a result, many Americans make resolutions as a way to improve their lives or reach new goals.

While up to 40 percent of Americans make resolutions, just 8 percent actually keep them, according to the Huffington Post. Why not help more people achieve their goals this year? Market your product as a tool that helps people keep their resolutions.

Your product or service might help people lose weight, improve time management, or limit stress. Think of ways your company can sell ''resolution solutions'' during the new year. 

2. Have a "fresh start" sale.

 As a new year rolls in, many people have an ''out with the old, in with the new'' mentality. You can capitalize on this concept by hosting a ''fresh start'' sale. Maybe you're looking to bring in new products and need to clear out some of your old inventory. New Year's is the perfect time to do it.

Promote your sale on social media, hang in-store banners, and create postcards you can add to shopping bags as a reminder.

3. Create content that helps people start new habits.

Since consumers are looking to learn something new or focus on improving certain habits, you can create content surrounding that idea while subtly promoting your product or service. 

Content marketing is big right now. It costs 62 percent less than traditional marketing and generates three times more leads.

A company selling cookware, for example, might offer online cooking classes to help people learn something new. An investment company might create an eBook that offers wise investment tips for the coming year.

By using these three promotional ideas, you'll start your new year strong. Even hosting an impromptu New Year's sale or an online flash sale promoted via email can give your company a financial boost heading into 2019.