Gold Stars: Mobile Marketing Best Practices

22 Jul

It’s no secret that mobile is where marketing is going. From Q1 2012 to Q1 2013, mobile’s share of website traffic doubled, as seen below. While traditional (desktop, laptop) still rules, tablet and mobile are taking off. There are even many studies that show different groups in the United States utilize their smart phones for internet access rather than a computer of any kind.

Ecommerce sites - mobile site usage statistics 2

Smart Insights

How Engaged is your Customer Base with Mobile?

So what does this mean for marketers? Yes, it is a good assumption that your customers have smart phones and use them to access the internet, have downloaded and use mobile apps, and engage with brands they use in one way or another. But before investing too much, you should try to gauge how engaged your target market really is with mobile. For example, if you are targeting an older demographic, it might not be the best move, whereas you are much more likely to have success in reaching a younger audience via mobile apps.

Further, what are they using it for? The number one reason people follow companies on social media and download their apps is to receive exclusive deals, or some other value added content. My company is currently developing a mobile app that gives access to chromatographic calculations for quick reference in their lab. We know that the scientific community is willing to download apps they can use for their jobs, and that they frequently visit this page of our website. We can also use it to promote exclusive deals and new products, but the main function must be to give the end user some value.

Two Examples of Great Mobile Marketing

Here are some examples of some very creative and successful campaigns carried out for the mobile platform. While they utilize different strategies, one used mobile advertising while the other is an application, but all both offer their customers a great opportunity for attaining value via engagement with their brand.

1. Adidas “Light You Up”

An event-based marketing campaign in 2012, Adidas targeted mobile users who were located within 3 miles of NYC’s Penn Station via mobile banner ads. The event was a light show featuring soccer star Leo Messi before the Argentina vs. Brazil game.

The event was hugely successful and extremely well attended. This marketing campaign was smart for a few reasons, but particularly their targeting only those that could quickly attend a guerilla-style event like this.

2. IKEA Catalog

The first thing you do in the IMC program at WVU is take an Intro to IMC class, in which you develop an integrating marketing communication campaign for global furniture juggernaut IKEA. The company is known for its legendary catalog (in fact, it began as a mail order business,) but as the times changed, so did people’s desire to read or order from a printed book. Thus, their website traffic and ordering system began to evolve. The natural next step was to convert their massive catalog to a mobile application.

This could easily have become convoluted, cavernous, and ineffective, but IKEA rose to the challenge by working to McCann New York. Rather than simply offering the IKEA catalog, the campaign transformed it into an interactive space for customers to engage with the brand. The users could unlock extras via scanning the page and use the app in-store. It resulted in 6.2 million downloads, making it the number 1 global downloaded marketing application in 2012.

What other great examples of mobile marketing can you think of? What value added materials do you think offer the most opportunity for engagement? Post your thoughts below!

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Improving your SEO: Why it Matters

20 Jul

SEO is “search engine optimization,” or to put it simply, enhancing customers’ ability to search for and find you on search engines. Where does your organization come up when your customers search for not just your name, but your products, your niche market, or other keywords that describe your business? For small businesses, this can make or break you. If your potential customers are looking for a bakery in Chester County, PA, are you “above the fold” on the first page? In my market, liquid chromatography is a business where you have maybe six or seven competitors, so your chances are good to be close to the top when people look for columns. But something like a small boutique or bakery? I can think of two dozen within twenty minutes of me.

Last week, I had the experience of looking for a bakery to make my fiance’s groom’s cake for my upcoming wedding. Since my venue is doing our cake internally, I didn’t really know any bakeries that do customized cakes, so I just searched on Google for a local business. Cakes and Candies by Mary Ellen, about fifteen minutes away from my house, came up at the very top of the first page, followed by their Facebook, their blog, their Twitter, and their Yelp page. I liked the bakery on Facebook, checked out some pictures of custom cakes, read some reviews, and checked out their website. Impressed, I called, made an appointment for a consultation, tasted some cupcakes, met Mary Ellen, and wrote a check right there, without even comparing to any other bakeries. Mary Ellen’s excellent SEO won her my business.

How to Optimize SEO

So, we are clear on why SEO is important? If your customers can’t find you, they can’t be your customer. So how do you increase your SEO? There are a few important steps to getting your content high up in searched, which obviously includes creating content. We have talked about blogs and social media on this blog a lot, so we know that creating and disseminating content on multiple channels is a great way to reach customers in a variety of places, but it is also an important trick to getting more results on a search engine.

Optimizing your keyword searches is another important piece of the puzzle: use Google AdWords to find out which keywords your customers are searching for, and the levels of competition for them on the search engine. Use these keywords in your About page on your website, on your social sites, and in your blog titles. This will make it easier for the pages to show up earlier in searches. There are some you may not have even thought of that will help drive traffic.

The importance of links cannot be overstated. Link in your external content. Link on your social. Link in your ads. Link on your website to deep pages it may be hard for customers to find. The most popular page on my company’s website is four clicks into our website. Keyword optimization allows it to come up and lead back to our website when customers search for “Chromatography Calculation,” (which are pages, by the way, that have nothing to do with our products, rather they offer technical calculations for scientists performing HPLC – thought leadership, my friends!)

The below infographic does a great job of showing the importance and some tips for improving your SEO. As you can see 92% of marketers agree that SEO is important and content creation is important for SEO. My classmate, Infinitely Evolving Media, wrote a blog this week focusing on some upcoming trends in SEO, and cited Google’s position on SEO, saying that “it will being demoting sites in mobile search results if they are not mobile friendly or are misconfigured,” making it even more important that your content is compatible on a variety of mediums, as discussed in an earlier blog!

Content for SEO

Jeff Bullas

What does your company do to improve its SEO? What other tips and tricks do you find important for showing up where you want in search results? Chime in below!

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Choosing your Social Media Platform: Facebook vs. Twitter

11 Jul

The emergence of social media is what catapulted the web into the new age. Choosing the right platform for your audience can be challenging with so many options out there, and growing every day. Facebook, Twitter, Linked In, Instagram, Pinterest, Vine, Google Plus…the list goes on. Where is your target market spending their time? What kind of messages are they engaged with on which platform? What is the most efficient use of your organization’s time and money in establishing a social media presence?

Facebook and Twitter are obviously the juggernauts of social media and have the largest online community for you to access. While there is a growing overlap between them, especially with Facebook’s new ability to organize information via hashtags, there are several important differences that set these platforms apart and can help you to differentiate which might be best for you.


Facebook remains the largest, with 1.1 billion registered users, 656 million active daily users, and 751 million mobile users. Comparatively, Twitter has 500 million accounts with 200 million active users. Both are still growing, with Facebook’s numbers up 23% in 2013 from last year.

Community Vs. Messages

Facebook is community-based, while Twitter is focused on messages. Both utilize a home page, with live updating content from their friends and those they follow, but Facebook creates communities on organization’s pages. A company’s Facebook page is their home base, where they create content, engage feedback from their friends and followers, and create a community for their products and brand. Twitter, on the other hand, allows for the dissemination of targeted messages utilizing hashtags for easy and organized consumption. Things go viral on Twitter, and messages are engaged with on a piecemeal basis.

The below infographic from QuickSprout gives a great breakdown of how users interact on these platforms, as well as the growing online pinboard Pinterest.

Facebook vs Twitter vs Pinterest - 2013 Statistics


So do you have the choose? Not necessarily. Some market research will show where your users are and how they interact. While your customers may be on Facebook, it may be where they look at pictures of their grandkids, and not be where they want to engage with companies. A younger demographic, who is engaged with social media from a very young age, will be more likely to have their personal messages and advertising messages in the same medium. Older demographics may not be so willing. My company found that while scientists may have Facebook accounts, they weren’t talking chromatography on them, and we focused more on our efforts on Twitter. As I mentioned above, times are changing, and the new hashtag feature of Facebook is sure to change how content is consumed.

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Corporate Blogging: Why You Should Be Doing It

5 Jul

Corporate blogs exploded onto the scene a few years ago as the next way to interact with your customers in a more “human” way, pre-dating even the social media giants of today. In 2010, it was estimated that companies who blogged received 55% more website visitors. An obvious advantage of corporate blogging is showing up more than once and higher up in internet searches, significantly increasing your SEO and driving up your web traffic. This is one of the easiest ways to measure ROI of any online activity: are we seeing a spike in visits to the website? Are we seeing increased sales?

Thought Leadership

Immediate increased sales can be tough as a result of a blog, since they shouldn’t be too “sales-y,” or focused on marketing your products. There should be a value-added aspect of your blog that establishes you as a thought leader in your industry. It is the same principle as social media. Nobody wants to follow you if you are just spewing advertisements at them all day. If you sell crayons, they want coloring tips. They want free coloring book downloads. They want the latest news on the coloring industry. You get the idea. Your company doesn’t sell crayons, you ARE coloring.

Meg from the Crayon Store, I know her!

The second greatest reason to start blogging is humanizing your brand. When your customers know you, they trust you, and they want to buy from you. In a big company, or even one with many different departments, it is a great opportunity for your customers to see perspectives from different parts of the company. My company’s corporate blog is typically written by our director of sales and marketing, but occasionally a Tech Service guy pops over to give his two cents, as do the product marketing managers for the three different product lines. We all have a particular voice, area of expertise, and insight into the chromatography world. This is a great thing to share with your customers, and can absolutely lead to increased interactions and engagement over time.

Integration of Social Channels

In a perfect social world, your Twitter should support your Facebook should support your blog should support your website. They should all be intertwined and interactive, and your corporate blog is a great platform from which to achieve this. As you can see on my own blog, my Twitter feed is along the right hand side as my chosen means of interacting with media thought leaders and contributing my humble two cents to those conversations. You can also link up to your website, your Facebook, your Vine or Youtube, or any other channel you are on. Your content should be related – one account should not be running a campaign that the others aren’t tuned in with. And if something exciting is happening on your social channels, you better be writing about it on your blog- just not in a promotional way. More, “We are having so much fun looking at your submissions for the coloring contest! Here’s some pictures of our growing mural at the office” and less “Get in your submissions!” You see what I’m saying? Content is king, as they say, and a corporate blog is a great, regular source of content for sharing on your other sites.

TMG ContentChannels Infographic resized 600

The M Group

Corporate blogs are an awesome way to extend the conversations that are happening on social media, take a bit of control back from the quick and volatile nature of those channels, and share your company in a human way. And if you share the responsibility around your company, it is low-cost, low-effort, and can even be fun.

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YouTube vs. Vine: What Channel is Best for your Marketing Message?

28 Jun

Everyone knows YouTube. Since its inception since 2005, predating even the explosion of social media, it has revolutionized how people consume video content. Marketers have been utilizing it to connect with customers ever since. I guarantee you will find that most companies have their own channel on the site, with varying degrees of engagement and success. My company utilizes it to answer frequently asked questions about an instrument that we sell, such as having one of our scientists show how to replace a part. We heard a popular request for help, and we utilized our YouTube channel to provide an answer for customers with a hands-on demonstration. We also use it for educational purposes: to review the technical differences between products and give tips and tricks for selecting the right tool for your analysis.

If a scientific company can find engaging ways to have a presence on YouTube, imagine how easy it is for companies with flashy products, like makeup or cars. Further, even if your own site doesn’t host video, YouTube videos can be embedded into HTML, making them easy to transport across social media and web channels.

More recently, however, a social site called “Vine” first made its appearance. It is a mobile application similar to Instagram, only instead of sharing pictures, it allows users to record and upload six-second videos to their accounts, as well as their other social sites (Facebook, and especially Twitter, where Instagram first shot to fame.) From May to June, 2013, Vine skyrocketed in popularity and boasted a .031% engagement rate, just .017% behind YouTube at .048%, as seen below.

Socialbakers YouTube v Vine Engagement Rate on Twitter June2013 YouTube vs. Vine Engagement Rates On Twitter, May 6   June 5, 2013 [CHART]

Marketing Charts

Of course, YouTube videos can be far longer than 6 seconds, which can be an advantage for obvious reasons. You can’t give a demonstration video in 6 seconds, like the ones my company channel is known for. But, you can boost your social media engagement, as people’s attention spans get shorter and shorter. These videos are great for sharing on social, quick and easy to watch, and allow more creativity than you would think in 6 seconds. Check out General Electric’s #6secondscience Vine videos. They are fun, engaging, and quick. Great branding tools to solidify a massive company like General Electric as a hip but knowledgeable source in the scientific community.

Predictably, Instagram (owned by Facebook) has answered the Vine phenomenon with their own video hosting capabilities. In the first hour of this announcement alone, massive companies like Lululemon, Urban Outfitters and Burberry all signed up. Only time will tell if this will edge Vine out of the short video hosting game, but the point is this: 67% of people are visual learners. As the second most used search engine on the web, YouTube still owns the market on instructional videos, corporate storytelling videos in the style of short documentaries, and any video that intends to tell a story.

Social media is changing the way stories are told, and especially the way they are consumed. Vine is a powerful, easily share-able, viral tool for sharing your brand. You can’t tell a story in 6 seconds. But in an endless catalog of 6-second videos? Maybe you can.

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The Post-Advertising Age: Cross-channel storytelling

24 Jun

Last semester, I took a class at WVU called “Digital Storytelling,” which, while its focus was on film and video, was more about how to brand a story, or, telling the story of your brand. I chose Dia Doce, a local gourmet cupcake truck that won the Food Network’s Cupcake Wars last year. It was an easy branding story to tell because it was local, it was fresh, and it was still close to its roots as a start-up. Often, big companies become so enthralled with the bottom line and increasing profits, that it can be easy to forget who your company truly is. And if it’s easy for you as the company to forget, think of how hard it is for the customer to tell.

Some people believe that we have entered “the post advertising age,” in which all advertising is opt-in. People only see and hear what they want to. We can DVR our favorite shows and fast-forward through the commercials. We can minimize the window with the ad playing while streaming online. We can ignore the banner ads, the pop-ups and pop-unders, and a company’s social media presence is null and void unless we “like,” “follow,” “subscribe,” or otherwise choose to engage with it.

This week in my Emerging Media class, we talked about companies that did a great job of engaging with customers through a variety of channels, utilizing all of the “tools in their tool belt,” so to say: web ads, social media, videos, external endorsement, blogs, SEO – the works. While the examples of major corporations that are nailing this are endless, the real key to cross-channel excellence is telling a great story.

Not every method works for every company. The company that I work for, for example, is a B2B whose primary customers are scientists that work in method development in laboratories. We found that Facebook, while absolutely a vital part of a strategy in many B2C companies, wasn’t where our customers were. So we focused more on Facebook and LinkedIn. Some research gives you insight into who your customers are, where they are, what they want, and what they are already telling you.

Check out this awesome video from Palio Ignite’s #ChalkChat series, 6 Key Factors to Telling a Compelling Brand:

Telling your brand’s story across multiple channels can be difficult, and must be done with attention to what kind of story it is that they want to hear. I believe that the greatest under-utilization of social media is missing the opportunity to listen. Companies are so focused on talking at their customers and treating their social media pages like a bullhorn that they don’t tune in the conversations about their industry, their products, and even their brand right in front of them. In an opt-in advertising age, those who don’t listen will soon be ignored themselves.

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Making Content Flexible: Desktop, Laptop, Mobile, Tablet Integration

10 Jun


Emerging media has made it easy for people to access information on the go. According to recent car commercials, you can now touch a button on your steering wheel and have Siri access information for you from your cell phone. While this constant connectivity is great for the consumer, it can create significant challenges for marketers in making their content easy to access, view, and act upon regardless of which device the end user in on.

Your website must be flexible, and at its best whether viewed on a desktop, laptop, mobile device or tablet. Mobile and tablet are the most current new waves of accessing information, as marketers have been designing for laptop for years. I don’t even have a desktop. In college, I had a laptop that I brought around campus with me to class and the library and I wrote papers on, and now as an adult, I simply plug my work laptop into a monitor at my desk, both at home and in my office. It keeps everything centralized and easy, and I still have the advantages of a large screen when I need it. I think this is becoming more of the norm. That being said, as a consumer, most of my surfing is done in my downtime on my IPAD or my IPhone. This holds true to most of America, as mobile is estimated to have grown more than 500% over the past two years. See the awesome infographic below, courtesy of, for some awesome facts about why your content better get flexible soon.

Many studies have shown that certain cultural groups in the U.S. are more likely to have a smart phone than a computer, and it makes sense. If you can only afford one or the other, why not just access the internet on your phone? It has been estimated that this year, 2013, will be the year that mobile takes over desktop as the dominant mode of search.


So what goes into making content accessible on all platforms? According to The Deep End Design, web developers with their finger on the pulse of these changes, it all comes down to:

  • Flexible site grid
  • Flexible images
  • CSS3 Media Queries and Screen Resolution

There are many developers in the game who can help you switch over your site: build it for you, make it more mobile/tablet friendly, adding plugins to detect and switch the necessary site components, but media queries, a major part of the responsive design concept, allows you to build your content from the ground up to show best on each device.

And of course, there’s the option of an app. In my opinion, it depends on what you want your site to accomplish. E-commerce does very well with an App. A great example of this is Groupon, which is so efficient with getting people from initial contact ( a pop-up on your phone with the daily deal) to purchasing decision that I have literally accidentally purchased something I didn’t mean to. The process is that quick and painless that you can do it by accident. They kindly issued me a refund, by the way.

Explore the options, decide what works best for your company, and invest some time and manpower to designing flexible content. The landscape for how people consume content online is rapidly changing, and you don’t want to be left behind.

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