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The Digital Economy Rewired Your Consumers’ Brains: 10 Tips For Engaging Them Now

Jesse Kalfel

Of all the ways the Internet has transformed our lives, there’s one change that surprises me most: our reading and communication habits. We are now a community of scanners, scrollers, and skimmers that spends more time interacting with screens than with each other. Letter writing has been reduced to tweets, emoticons, an alphabet soup of acronyms, and instant messaging. Even the Oxford Dictionary’s 2015 Word of the Year was the emoji “Face with Tears of Joy”!

Our digital environment has rewired how our brains consume and share information. People now read content to suit their purpose and find what they want without wasting time. In fact, most visitors only scroll halfway through a Web page – and only 16% of people still read them word for word.

Our attention span is down. Our impatience is up. And we’re easily distracted.

How can sales and marketing teams possibly hold peoples’ attention and keep them engaged? The key is understanding our rewired digital brains and knowing how to cut through the clutter.

10 ways to break through your consumers’ digital brains

Here are 10 steps that can help you get started – now.

1. Get your message out quickly and declutter to grab attention

Consumers will stay on your website long enough to see what’s offered if the content is relevant, engaging, and clear. By making your content stick in consumers’ brains, you can keep them engaged and encourage them to share this new-found knowledge. The key is knowing how much content is enough and whether it is eye catching and user friendly. And don’t be afraid to apply this to blogs, collateral, videos, and interactive demos.

2. Personalize and prove that you know your consumers

Use data-driven marketing to define your target audience and pinpoint what they worry about and want. Do not use a shotgun, one-size-fits-all approach. Draw on persona-based research to get a 360-degree understanding of your readers.

3. Stay tuned to all social media channels

Listen to what social media says about you, your competitors, and your industry by monitoring social channels. Not only will this information help fine-tune your persona research, but you can engage with consumers in discussions that are meaningful to them. For example, bounce off marketing or product ideas with your followers and open yourself up to their ideas as well. Drive people to your e-commerce site or other content that is interesting and relevant to them.

At all costs, do not self-promote. Rather, maintain a professional, thought-leadership approach that follows your brand’s communication and social media guidelines.

4. Keep your content concise and effective

People have become very adept at finding and consuming information quickly and efficiently. In turn, content consumers expect instant delivery of seamless, personalized, and hyper-relevant content at any moment.

There are 10 best practices that can help deliver this promise:

  1. Make your strategic message – and, most important content – visible at a glance, especially in titles, imagery, and tweetable statements
  1. Use short paragraphs and sentences
  1. Favor the use of familiar phrases and words over industry and corporate jargon
  1. Avoid passive tense whenever possible
  1. Write copy optimized for search
  1. Highlight keywords and use bulleted lists as appropriate
  1. Get rid of needless repetition
  1. Address your visitors directly
  1. Use links to related topics instead of overcrowding information
  1. Avoid content overkill

5. Select your tone of voice

The tone of your content helps define and differentiate your brand. How will your audience respond to the way you are talking to them? Do you want to create an emotional reaction or be conversational? What do you want them to know about your business and what it represents? Most of all, avoid marketing fluff and offer relevant information no matter what tone you use.

6. Create a brand bible and speak with one voice

Produce guidelines for all aspects of your company’s brand. This includes logo use, imagery, fonts, and colors as well as instructions on how to communicate across the entire business network. Consistency is vital to reinforcing your image.

7. Use images and video to complement your copy

Give your consumers an instant impression of your business and services. Through video, customers can see your brand story and value in a highly relatable and compelling way. Make sure videos and other graphical or rich media elements directly support your copy. Video is also trending for people who would rather see what you mean than read what you mean.

8. Keep it fresh and interactive

Your website and content are your company’s face to the world. Make sure it shows that your company is current on industry trends and actively engaged by regularly creating new content.

Make your website interactive to learn what content interests your readers. HTML-based assets create an interactive, participatory experience. Gamification can bring people into a new interactive experience. And quizzes, ROI, calculators, surveys, and contests can help you learn more about your audience while keeping things fun for your consumers. If appropriate, create a “try and buy” feature.

9. Assess and measure your content and delivery

With real-time analytics, you can track your visitors’ digital footprint, including time spent reading, bounce rates, and what content is of most interest. These stats can be fed back to sales and marketing for insight and follow-up on:

  • Content usefulness and relevance
  • Influences for better engagement
  • Findability and optimization of search results
  • Success metrics for the intended audience
  • Consistency with business priorities
  • Areas for improvement
  • Opportunities for monetization and new sales

10. Keep an eye on laptops, tablets, smartphones, and next-generation devices

People are using mobile devices more often than laptops, and for the marketplace that means a Web design that is clean, simple, and engaging. For example, adding hyperlinks to deeper content can guide people towards related topics. Choose fonts that are easy to read across devices and design every page as a landing page.

Smartphone use will continue to escalate, but you still need to be prepared for new devices as technology continues to advance. That’s why you need to create content that all audiences can view and interact with – no matter which device they use. Make sure your website can detect all devices and format content accordingly.

From distracted to engaged: A marketer’s dream come true

As attention spans shrink from minutes to mere seconds, giving consumers a reason to stay for more than a few seconds is getting harder. Slow Web page loads, cluttered content, confusing navigation, limited interaction – these are the attention killers.

If consumers are not engaged quickly, they jump off to something else. Worse yet, that can be to a competitor’s website. Can your content keep them engaged and ready to purchase? Maybe it’s time to take a look at your content and see if any of these tips can move your audience from distracted to engaged and loyal.

Gather more expert insight on how to differentiate your organization in this dynamic new environment in  The Digital Economy: Disruption, Transformation, Opportunity.

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Jesse Kalfel

About Jesse Kalfel

Jesse Kalfel is the Director of Creative Services, Global Marketing Communications at SAP. His specialties include marketing communications, strategic planning, demand generation, go-to-market strategy and product marketing.

Amazing Digital Marketing Trends And Tips To Expand Your Business In 2015

Sunny Popali

Amazing Digital Marketing Trends & Tips To Expand Your Business In 2015The fast-paced world of digital marketing is changing too quickly for most companies to adapt. But staying up to date with the latest industry trends is imperative for anyone involved with expanding a business.

Here are five trends that have shaped the industry this year and that will become more important as we move forward:

  1. Email marketing will need to become smarter

Whether you like it or not, email is the most ubiquitous tool online. Everyone has it, and utilizing it properly can push your marketing ahead of your rivals. Because business use of email is still very widespread, you need to get smarter about email marketing in order to fully realize your business’s marketing strategy. Luckily, there are a number of tools that can help you market more effectively, such as Mailchimp.

  1. Content marketing will become integrated and more valuable

Content is king, and it seems to be getting more important every day. Google and other search engines are focusing more on the content you create as the potential of the online world as marketing tool becomes apparent. Now there seems to be a push for current, relevant content that you can use for your services and promote your business.

Staying fresh with the content you provide is almost as important as ensuring high-quality content. Customers will pay more attention if your content is relevant and timely.

  1. Mobile assets and paid social media are more important than ever

It’s no secret that mobile is key to your marketing efforts. More mobile devices are sold and more people are reading content on mobile screens than ever before, so it is crucial to your overall strategy to have mobile marketing expertise on your team. London-based Abacus Marketing agrees that mobile marketing could overtake desktop website marketing in just a few years.

  1. Big Data for personalization plays a key role

Marketers are increasingly using Big Data to get their brand message out to the public in a more personalized format. One obvious example is Google Trend analysis, a highly useful tool that marketing experts use to obtain the latest on what is trending around the world. You can — and should — use it in your business marketing efforts. Big Data will also let you offer specific content to buyers who are more likely to look for certain items, for example, and offer personalized deals to specific groups of within your customer base. Other tools, which until recently were the stuff of science fiction, are also available that let you do things like use predictive analysis to score leads.

  1. Visual media matters

A picture really is worth a thousand words, as the saying goes, and nobody can deny the effectiveness of a well-designed infographic. In fact, some studies suggest that Millennials are particularly attracted to content with great visuals. Animated gifs and colorful bar graphs have even found their way into heavy-duty financial reports, so why not give them a try in your business marketing efforts?

A few more tips:

  • Always keep your content relevant and current to attract the attention of your target audience.
  • Always keep all your social media and public accounts fresh. Don’t use old content or outdated pictures in any public forum.
  • Your reviews are a proxy for your online reputation, so pay careful attention to them.
  • Much online content is being consumed on mobile now, so focus specifically on the design and usability of your mobile apps.
  • Online marketing is essentially geared towards getting more traffic onto your site. The more people visit, the better your chances of increasing sales.

Want more insight on how digital marketing is evolving? See Shutterstock Report: The Face Of Marketing Is Changing — And It Doesn’t Include Vince Vaughn.

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Sunny Popali

About Sunny Popali

Sunny Popali is SEO Director at www.tempocreative.com. Tempo Creative is a Phoenix inbound marketing company that has served over 700 clients since 2001. Tempos team specializes in digital and internet marketing services including web design, SEO, social media and strategy.

Social Media Matters: 6 Content And Social Media Trend Predictions For 2016 [INFOGRAPHIC]

Julie Ellis

As 2015 winds down, it’s time to look forward to 2016 and explore the social media and content marketing trends that will impact marketing strategies over the next 15 months or so.

Some of the upcoming trends simply indicate an intensification of current trends, however others indicate that there are new things that will have a big impact in 2016.

Take a look at a few trends that should definitely factor in your planning for 2016.

1. SEO will focus more on social media platforms and less on search engines

Clearly Google is going nowhere. In fact, in 2016 Google’s word will still essentially be law when it comes to search engine optimization.

However, in 2016 there will be some changes in SEO. Many of these changes will be due to the fact that users are increasingly searching for products and services directly from websites such as Facebook, Pinterest, and YouTube.

There are two reasons for this shift in customer habits:

  • Customers are relying more and more on customer comments, feedback, and reviews before making purchasing decisions. This means that they are most likely to search directly on platforms where they can find that information.
  • Customers who are seeking information about products and services feel that video- and image-based content is more trustworthy.

2. The need to optimize for mobile and touchscreens will intensify

Consumers are using their mobile devices and tablets for the following tasks at a sharply increasing rate:

  • Sending and receiving emails and messages
  • Making purchases
  • Researching products and services
  • Watching videos
  • Reading or writing reviews and comments
  • Obtaining driving directions and using navigation apps
  • Visiting news and entertainment websites
  • Using social media

Most marketers would be hard-pressed to look at this list and see any case for continuing to avoid mobile and touchscreen optimization. Yet, for some reason many companies still see mobile optimization as something that is nice to do, but not urgent.

This lack of a sense of urgency seemingly ignores the fact that more than 80% of the highest growing group of consumers indicate that it is highly important that retailers provide mobile apps that work well. According to the same study, nearly 90% of Millennials believe that there are a large number of websites that have not done a very good job of optimizing for mobile.

3. Content marketing will move to edgier social media platforms

Platforms such as Instagram and Snapchat weren’t considered to be valid targets for mainstream content marketing efforts until now.

This is because they were considered to be too unproven and too “on the fringe” to warrant the time and marketing budget investments, when platforms such as Facebook and YouTube were so popular and had proven track records when it came to content marketing opportunity and success.

However, now that Instagram is enjoying such tremendous growth, and is opening up advertising opportunities to businesses beyond its brand partners, it (along with other platforms) will be seen as more and more viable in 2016.

4. Facebook will remain a strong player, but the demographic of the average user will age

In 2016, Facebook will likely remain the flagship social media website when it comes to sharing and promoting content, engaging with customers, and increasing Internet recognition.

However, it will become less and less possible to ignore the fact that younger consumers are moving away from the platform as their primary source of online social interaction and content consumption. Some companies may be able to maintain status quo for 2016 without feeling any negative impacts.

However, others may need to rethink their content marketing strategies for 2016 to take these shifts into account. Depending on their branding and the products or services that they offer, some companies may be able to profit from these changes by customizing the content that they promote on Facebook for an older demographic.

5. Content production must reflect quality and variety

  • Both B2B and B2C buyers value video based content over text based content.
  • While some curated content is a good thing, consumers believe that custom content is an indication that a company wishes to create a relationship with them.
  • The great majority of these same consumers report that customized content is useful for them.
  • B2B customers prefer learning about products and services through content as opposed to paid advertising.
  • Consumers believe that videos are more trustworthy forms of content than text.

Here is a great infographic depicting the importance of video in content marketing efforts:
Small Business Video infographic

A final, very important thing to note when considering content trends for 2016 is the decreasing value of the keyword as a way of optimizing content. In fact, in an effort to crack down on keyword stuffing, Google’s optimization rules have been updated to to kick offending sites out of prime SERP positions.

6. Oculus Rift will create significant changes in customer engagement

Oculus Rift is not likely to offer much to marketers in 2016. After all, it isn’t expected to ship to consumers until the first quarter. However, what Oculus Rift will do is influence the decisions that marketers make when it comes to creating customer interaction.

For example, companies that have not yet embraced storytelling may want to make 2016 the year that they do just that, because later in 2016 Oculus Rift may be the platform that their competitors will be using to tell stories while giving consumers a 360-degree vantage point.

For a deeper dive on engaging with customers through storytelling, see Brand Storytelling: Where Humanity Takes Center Stage.

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Julie Ellis

About Julie Ellis

Julie Ellis – marketer and professional blogger, writes about social media, education, self-improvement, marketing and psychology. To contact Julie follow her on Twitter or LinkedIn.

How Much Will Digital Cannibalization Eat into Your Business?

Fawn Fitter

Former Cisco CEO John Chambers predicts that 40% of companies will crumble when they fail to complete a successful digital transformation.

These legacy companies may be trying to keep up with insurgent companies that are introducing disruptive technologies, but they’re being held back by the ease of doing business the way they always have – or by how vehemently their customers object to change.

Most organizations today know that they have to embrace innovation. The question is whether they can put a digital business model in place without damaging their existing business so badly that they don’t survive the transition. We gathered a panel of experts to discuss the fine line between disruption and destruction.

SAP_Disruption_QA_images2400x1600_3

qa_qIn 2011, when Netflix hiked prices and tried to split its streaming and DVD-bymail services, it lost 3.25% of its customer base and 75% of its market capitalization.²︐³ What can we learn from that?

Scott Anthony: That debacle shows that sometimes you can get ahead of your customers. The key is to manage things at the pace of the market, not at your internal speed. You need to know what your customers are looking for and what they’re willing to tolerate. Sometimes companies forget what their customers want and care about, and they try to push things on them before they’re ready.

R. “Ray” Wang: You need to be able to split your traditional business and your growth business so that you can focus on big shifts instead of moving the needle 2%. Netflix was responding to its customers – by deciding not to define its brand too narrowly.

qa_qDoes disruption always involve cannibalizing your own business?

Wang: You can’t design new experiences in existing systems. But you have to make sure you manage the revenue stream on the way down in the old business model while managing the growth of the new one.

Merijn Helle: Traditional brick-and-mortar stores are putting a lot of capital into digital initiatives that aren’t paying enough back yet in the form of online sales, and they’re cannibalizing their profits so they can deliver a single authentic experience. Customers don’t see channels, they see brands; and they want to interact with brands seamlessly in real time, regardless of channel or format.

Lars Bastian: In manufacturing, new technologies aren’t about disrupting your business model as much as they are about expanding it. Think about predictive maintenance, the ability to warn customers when the product they’ve purchased will need service. You’re not going to lose customers by introducing new processes. You have to add these digitized services to remain competitive.

qa_qIs cannibalizing your own business better or worse than losing market share to a more innovative competitor?

Michael Liebhold: You have to create that digital business and mandate it to grow. If you cannibalize the existing business, that’s just the price you have to pay.

Wang: Companies that cannibalize their own businesses are the ones that survive. If you don’t do it, someone else will. What we’re really talking about is “Why do you exist? Why does anyone want to buy from you?”

Anthony: I’m not sure that’s the right question. The fundamental question is what you’re using disruption to do. How do you use it to strengthen what you’re doing today, and what new things does it enable? I think you can get so consumed with all the changes that reconfigure what you’re doing today that you do only that. And if you do only that, your business becomes smaller, less significant, and less interesting.

qa_qSo how should companies think about smart disruption?

Anthony: Leaders have to reconfigure today and imagine tomorrow at the same time. It’s not either/or. Every disruptive threat has an equal, if not greater, opportunity. When disruption strikes, it’s a mistake only to feel the threat to your legacy business. It’s an opportunity to expand into a different marke.

SAP_Disruption_QA_images2400x1600_4Liebhold: It starts at the top. You can’t ask a CEO for an eight-figure budget to upgrade a cloud analytics system if the C-suite doesn’t understand the power of integrating data from across all the legacy systems. So the first task is to educate the senior team so it can approve the budgets.

Scott Underwood: Some of the most interesting questions are internal organizational questions, keeping people from feeling that their livelihoods are in danger or introducing ways to keep them engaged.

Leon Segal: Absolutely. If you want to enter a new market or introduce a new product, there’s a whole chain of stakeholders – including your own employees and the distribution chain. Their experiences are also new. Once you start looking for things that affect their experience, you can’t help doing it. You walk around the office and say, “That doesn’t look right, they don’t look happy. Maybe we should change that around.”

Fawn Fitter is a freelance writer specializing in business and technology. 

To learn more about how to disrupt your business without destroying it, read the in-depth report Digital Disruption: When to Cook the Golden Goose.

Download the PDF (1.2MB)

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