Lead the way: 5 cost-effective lead generation ideas

Today we’re introducing 5 cost-effective lead generation ideas. It’s time to start getting those eyeballs!

Brands today are fighting a new kind of battle. To be precise, the battle itself isn’t entirely new: what has radically changed is the arena where the battle takes place. The constant expansion and evolution of the internet’s many ecosystems (each one with their own boundaries, trends, do’s and don’ts) are nothing but a challenging panorama for modern-day brands. We’re in the middle of an increasingly bigger scenario – rich, diverse and seemingly infinite, but also more complex than anything we’ve seen before.

Like every battle ever fought on an arena, there’s a prize to be won here. For brands, the ultimate prize is nothing else than the customers’ attention. Of course, every brand has its own set of goals, but none of these will become real unless the company succeeds at grabbing people’s attention. Once there, things tend to go smoother. Today we’re introducing 5 cost-effective lead generation ideas. It’s time to start getting those eyeballs!

  1. Share your brand’s knowledge (and please, make it interesting). The reason why sharing works great is that people usually listens to what experts say. Recently, the Scottish brewery BrewDog became news for sharing its recipes for free, online. They received massive attention by sharing their knowledge in the right moment. The same principle works for (almost) every brand that does their thing out there.
  1. Talk about what you know. Similar to sharing, but not quite the same. A brand’s knowledge often goes beyond the products and services they’re selling / promoting. A good example lies within the companies that excel at outdoors clothing and gear. People expect them to know about waterproof fabrics and stuff like that – which is about right, but not the whole picture. Companies like the North Face are nature experts, and talk about what they know from an informed perspective. In other words: the best way to start the conversation is by starting with the brand’s stronger arguments.
  1. Experiences over giveaways. Giveaways generate a lot of ‘false leads’. In other words, people caring for an instant at best. On the other hand, giveaways can be integrated into larger experiences that aren’t exclusively focused on the gift. Regular giveaways feel meaningless, while experiences are remembered in disregard of winning the gift or not.
  1. Be part of your community. This doesn’t mean mingling with the neighbors or going for drinks with the competition. In a broader sense, a community is a group of people (or organizations) that share something in common. The key is to identify the common ground that exists between the brand and a community. Affinity can be a lot of things: from design patterns and music to beer preferences and humanitarian causes. Being an active part of a community not only is rewarding, but also a great way to build bridges between the brand and the members of such community.
  1. Maintain your communication channels active – and keep’em real. Two final notes here. First, seize what Facebook, Twitter, Instagram (and so many other platforms) give. Secondly, be real. Speak a language that your customers can relate to, don’t over promise and be sincere about what your brand does, is and thinks. A brand that maintains open and active channels while speaking the same language of their customers will always be closer to them than every other competitor who doesn’t do this.

A million screens await: why creativity is a PR campaign’s #1 asset

There’s always two sides to every story, and digital PR is no exception. Today, we’re going to talk about a major PR channel: videos. Nowadays, video channels are more popular than ever before, and platforms like Facebook, YouTube, Vimeo are being added as another layer of marketing for companies.

In terms of PR, the bright side of the video-sharing platforms is made of the many benefits that these offer: put together, they hold a +2 billion people audience per month. Also, they offer tools that make performance easy to follow up and give many customization options to campaign managers. All good things. On the other side, there’s no such thing as easy victories: in these platforms, content is uploaded at astonishing rates, competition is merciless and attention spans are limited.

Given that the potential audience for a PR campaign can be counted on the billions, a challenge-abundant scenario should not appear as totally absurd. The key, however, lies within choices. When planning a PR campaign, there’s nothing more important than learning to pick the right battles.

Poorly chosen battles aren’t really news. Day after day we get to see multi-million video productions fail against homemade videos, grandiloquent causes forgotten due to weak messages. While it’s great to count on some extra money when developing a campaign, money itself won’t come in the rescue. Above all the millions, way past an excellent media plan and beyond every possible celebrity backup, the most important thing in a PR campaign remains to be creativity.

Creativity is the main ingredient for a successful PR campaign. The benefits of creativity go beyond the message itself. For example, the famous ‘Ice Bucket Challenge’ relied on a creative concept that reduced production costs to nearly zero: people were making and sharing their own videos. It was, at the same time, one of the most successful and cheap PR campaigns ever.

Creativity is virtually limitless, except for one thing: every creative effort must be aligned with the brand’s values – otherwise, it wouldn’t make much sense. The Ice Bucket Challenge showed how a campaign can be aligned with a charitable cause and the core values of an organization.

On the other hand, if everything goes well and success is attained, the campaign will be scrutinized by the public. This means that at least a portion of the audience will connect the dots that separate what the campaign says from what the brand does and says (and what has done and said in the past), looking for contradictions. There aren’t many brands that want to be found between a rock and a hard place, and the only way to avoid such situation is to remain faithful to the values.

To conclude, it’s good to clarify that while creativity is the most important aspect of a campaign, it’s far from being foolproof. It will not guarantee low production costs or rapid viralization. However, creativity will provide alternatives and options that, given the ultra competitive context, can make the difference that a brand desires. That alone is worth the creative effort.

4 questions to evaluate your brand’s online presence

Nowadays, every brand – big or small – needs a consistent online presence. An articulated, strategically planned, cost-effective presence is the ideal scenario, but not always the case. Reasons why a carefully developed online presence is necessary are multiple and fairly obvious:

  • Increasing the brand’s value
  • Boost revenue
  • Improve brand-audiences communication
  • Get valuable data from interactions

On the bright side, it’s good to notice that most brands make – or have made – significant efforts to build their online presences, though the results tend to be more diverse than successful. While there’s no common ground for evaluating pure success, we’ve made a small questionnaire to help shine a light on a brand’s online presence status – assuming they have one, of course. Here it goes:

4-questions

  1. What do you know about your audiences? How did they start following you? Did you get them through paid campaigns or because of your awesomeness? Can you define your audiences using real data? Knowing who you’re dealing with makes things a lot easier for everyone, trust us.
  1. What are the interactions like? How do your audiences react to what you post? What percentage of your follower base interacts with your posts? Do they communicate with you? What are they saying? What are you saying? Reaping the benefits of great interactions requires both a strategy and an eye for detail to cover spontaneous situations. While the first can be defined beforehand, the second must be trained.
  1. Is there a strategy? Are you following a plan or just going where the wind blows? How is it working? What would you change?
  1. Is data driving your decisions? Information – in the form of hard data – should drive at least a portion of the things you do. A/B testing is a relatively inexpensive way to gather useful data about your online actions – from eyeballs to conversions, it shows what works and what doesn’t. Also, following up on the brand’s multiple actions – i.e. emailing campaigns, content uploads, responses – is a valid way to improve the quality of its online presence.

The questions above are useful to get an initial picture of the brand’s online presence. In addition, keeping track of related variables is a good habit and it will save both time and money in the future. Remember: asking the right questions is the first step towards the the right path.

Better safe than sorry: research is your campaign’s parachute

When it comes to developing new digital strategies, the dot-com bubble should always act as a guiding light.

 

Before the explosion of the dot-com bubble in the early 2000s, people were über-optimistic about the internet. The sky was the limit, and everyone involved felt invincible. Plainly speaking, during the second half of the ‘90s, websites became hot. Eventually, this statement proved itself right: websites were actually hot, but the hype surrounding them proved to be much hotter. As a result of distorted expectations, distorted investments were made and when collection day finally arrived, reality landed a hard punch on the digital business’ face. While some digital brands survived (and eventually thrived), thousands went straight down the drain.

Things are different now. Unlike 1997, people nowadays know a lot more about the internet. Developers, investors and users have come to terms with the ever-growing, fast-changing digital realm, and arguably understand that while things evolve fast, ‘maturity’ is a slippery, unpractical concept to rely on. Of course, blind bets over so-called ‘unicorn companies’ do happen here and there, but knowledge and data carry more weight now than they did 20 years ago. In this era of constant novelty, hype must be backed by real data. That’s why research is a must when it comes to plan a digital campaign, product launch or strategy.

When it comes to developing new digital strategies, the dot-com bubble should always act as a guiding light. It still works as a perfect example of how the ‘hype driver’ can hurt a company and the relationship with consumers. While the scale is different, we often come across examples of hype-driven ideas – for example, brands telling us that they want to develop a strategy that involves Snapchat, because ‘millions (internet) users are into it’. Thing is, Snapchat – or Facebook, Instagram and whatever you can think of – doesn’t work in a vacuum. Moreover, platforms like this live for an opposite concept: they are networks, all functioning under different sets of rules and offering different possibilities in multiple scenarios at the same time. What’s good for a brand might be terrible for another, and what proved right yesterday might be over now. Deciding to get into something for the sake of hype and popularity is nothing but repeating late ‘90s mistakes. And this is when research comes up as a valuable player.

We’re not stating that research would’ve prevented the bubble, nor that it will inoculate brands against future mistakes. But it will definitely reduce the risks associated to the (many) novelty items and moves that are now available (and growing). That’s the main reason why brands should at least give it a go before making up their minds over something. For us, it’s an obligation to be skeptic, to analyze the options that will lead to a great solution. We can’t afford to bandwagon whatever’s hot this week. As history shows, it’s not good for business.

Better safe than sorry: research is your campaign’s parachute

When it comes to developing new digital strategies, the dot-com bubble should always act as a guiding light.

Before the explosion of the dot-com bubble in the early 2000s, people were über-optimistic about the internet. The sky was the limit, and everyone involved felt invincible. Plainly speaking, during the second half of the ‘90s, websites became hot. Eventually, this statement proved itself right: websites were actually hot, but the hype surrounding them proved to be much hotter. As a result of distorted expectations, distorted investments were made and when collection day finally arrived, reality landed a hard punch on the digital business’ face. While some digital brands survived (and eventually thrived), thousands went straight down the drain.

Things are different now. Unlike 1997, people nowadays know a lot more about the internet. Developers, investors and users have come to terms with the ever-growing, fast-changing digital realm, and arguably understand that while things evolve fast, ‘maturity’ is a slippery, unpractical concept to rely on. Of course, blind bets over so-called ‘unicorn companies’ do happen here and there, but knowledge and data carry more weight now than they did 20 years ago. In this era of constant novelty, hype must be backed by real data. That’s why research is a must when it comes to plan a digital campaign, product launch or strategy.

When it comes to developing new digital strategies, the dot-com bubble should always act as a guiding light. It still works as a perfect example of how the ‘hype driver’ can hurt a company and the relationship with consumers. While the scale is different, we often come across examples of hype-driven ideas – for example, brands telling us that they want to develop a strategy that involves Snapchat, because ‘millions (internet) users are into it’. Thing is, Snapchat – or Facebook, Instagram and whatever you can think of – doesn’t work in a vacuum. Moreover, platforms like this live for an opposite concept: they are networks, all functioning under different sets of rules and offering different possibilities in multiple scenarios at the same time. What’s good for a brand might be terrible for another, and what proved right yesterday might be over now. Deciding to get into something for the sake of hype and popularity is nothing but repeating late ‘90s mistakes. And this is when research comes up as a valuable player.

We’re not stating that research would’ve prevented the bubble, nor that it will inoculate brands against future mistakes. But it will definitely reduce the risks associated to the (many) novelty items and moves that are now available (and growing). That’s the main reason why brands should at least give it a go before making up their minds over something. For us, it’s an obligation to be skeptic, to analyze the options that will lead to a great solution. We can’t afford to bandwagon whatever’s hot this week. As history shows, it’s not good for business.

Towards a peak content scenario? Opportunities beyond the noise

Think about this: an average connected citizen consumes more content in a couple of days than the average citizen did over a lifetime a hundred years ago.

 

More than 5 billion pieces of content are being produced every day, including +100,000  articles and +2 million blog posts. Along with technology and connectivity, content is one of the Internet’s backbones, an essential part that makes the digital revolution not only possible, but also very real.

In a broad sense, content is everything that can be labeled as ‘digital data’. However, we often use the word ‘content’ when referring to the text, video, audio and images that make most of our online experiences as users. Nowadays, we’re experiencing an explosion of content, a truly unique series of events that are new to the history of mankind. Think about this: an average connected citizen consumes more content in a couple of days than the average citizen did over a lifetime a hundred years ago. Established publications like the New York Times, the Washington Post or BuzzFeed create, edit and upload 200+ content pieces each and every day, 24/7 – and we’re not counting their Facebook status’ updates, tweets and other social media uses.

In addition, the towering numbers of content production, distribution and consumption do not live in a vacuum. An increasing number of people is feeling overwhelmed by the amount of content they consume. Tweets, emails, status updates, news, events, viral videos, episodes, articles! The content wheel spins faster and faster, and at the same time the connectivity and technology supporting it only gets better and better. It’s actually hard not to feel overwhelmed by this scenario. Given the facts and feelings that surround the content proliferation, question arises: are we heading towards a peak-content scenario?

You can tell a question is good when the answer is not clear. And no, we can’t tell if a peak content scenario is near, or even possible. On the other hand, we can tell that an increasing number of people may not be enjoying the current situation, and thus we try to improve it within our field of expertise. It’s not an easy task, but a necessary one, especially for the brands that can’t afford to get themselves lost in the noise.

So, what to do? Since every brand is a universe, instant solutions are a no-go. A series of steps, on the other hand, can be taken in order to take action:

  1. Know where your brand stands. Content per se isn’t a marketing messiah. There are brands who need it, others that need to improve it and, most likely, a bunch who are doing just fine with their current strategies. In-depth evaluation always comes first.
  1. Plan the next moves. Time to create, improve (and update) the strategy. Once you know where your brand stands, you can set goals and get things going.
  1. Take action. When it comes to content, taking action doesn’t necessarily mean creating more of it. Maybe it’s time to focus on quality over quantity, or perhaps to reach different audiences with new messages. The key is to improve the brand-user relationship, and each relationship has different issues that can be attacked from different angles.

To conclude, we believe that a peak content scenario will be tackled not only by digital marketing specialists like ourselves, but also by technology (something that is already happening). Segmentation tech is constantly improving, and that’s good news for everyone out there. However, until we get there, we’ll have to deal with the current state of things, the good ol’ reality. To do that, we must understand it and act in consequence to achieve what we want.

 

Why you should be extra careful with your email marketing strategy

As most things that survive the pass of time in the Internet era, email has evolved through the years, and still proves itself as a very effective player.

Countless times we’ve seen email portrayed as uninteresting and simple, a mere role player within digital marketing strategies. Given the fact that email is one of the Internet’s cornerstones since the very beginnings, to assume that it carries little interest can be a deadly mistake. Not only it is one of the most effective communication methods ever created, but it also works as a powerful and consistent marketing tool. There’s even a saying between digital marketing strategists for its reliability: email is gonna outlive us all.

As most things that survive the pass of time in the Internet era, email has evolved through the years, and still proves itself as a very effective player. For example, according to Mailchimp’s stats, email marketing campaigns grant a very attractive average open rate of 21%. And we’re talking about a company that sends +10 billion emails per month on behalf of its users – numbers not to be taken lightly.

The first thing to know about email is that it works in a perhaps riskier way than let’s say a Facebook or Google ad. For example, an ad that doesn’t get enough conversions can be tested, refined, changed, improved and relaunched. The worst thing that can happen with an ad is not getting enough eyeballs and clicks – a problem, sure, but one that can be adjusted and solved fairly quickly. Email, on the other hand, plays on a different court: the user’s inbox. The rules are different in the inbox; if you mess up, you get a spam label. In little words, game over. Digital strategists and brands that want a shot in the game should always remember that in the user’s inbox, exile is always just a click away. It’s their territory, not yours nor a neutral one.

When it comes to email marketing, a quick look at the Internet can be overwhelming: tons of advice, do’s and don’ts, rules and tips. Heads up, we’ll make it shorter for you:

  1. Propose first. It’s always better to ask first. If it’s not required, don’t push it.
  1. Personalize. When engaging, know who you’re reaching. This includes name, interests and appropriate hours: cold emailing is just as obnoxious as cold calling. Email means you’ll be approaching people on sensitive ground, not just viewers, consumers or audiences. You’ll need to know their names, interests and motivations.
  1. Dress up. Make your messages beautiful, both in terms of content and design. Like old-school mail, make people crave for it, expect it, want it.
  1. Be relevant. Once you’ve got someone’s attention, it’s showtime. If you don’t have anything relevant to say or give, chances are you’ll get blacklisted. Never show up with your hands empty!