For the majority of December 2022 and into January 2023, the world has been captivated by the recently uncovered conspiracy of the nepotism baby, or nepo baby for short. In a nutshell, nepo babies are children of Hollywood industry insiders who likely benefitted from their family connections in the launching of their own careers. For example, “Emily in Paris” star Lily Collins, is the daughter of musician Phil Collins. Or “Stranger Things” star, Maya Hawke, who is the daughter of Ethan Hawke and Uma Thurman.
In today’s Bluetext blog, we’ll uncover the role nepotism plays in the world of sub-brands and product suites. We’ll discuss when it may be right to reference a parent brand and act as a branded house, and when it makes sense to market your solutions separately under distinct brands and operate as a house of brands.
The Case for the Branded House
The most common form of brand architecture for brands big and small, a branded house operates as a set of sub-brands housed underneath a core, parent brand. A house of sub-brands benefits companies that offer multiple services or products, especially when a parent brand provides solid brand recognition and visibility. To the consumer, it is very clear that these offerings all come from the same parent company.
From a marketing perspective, a branded house operates under one marketing strategy and avoids confusion in the marketplace regarding who owns the sub-brand. This strategy typically works best when each sub-brands target audience share commonalities. A similar industry or job function, or perhaps the sub-brands are compliments with bundling potential. A branded house is recommended if the parent brand has an established positive reputation with consumers.
The Google Workspace is perhaps the world’s most famous branded house today. The goliath product suite houses Gmail, Sheets, Docs, Calendar, Meet, Drive, and so much more. As soon as you see the simplistic style and elementary school scheme of one of these sub-brand logos, you know it’s Google baby. With a staggering 3 billion users worldwide, Google takes up a vast majority of the work app ecosystem and certainly benefits from architecting its business as a branded house. Their brand recognition is strong and Workspace apps are seamlessly integrated, allowing customers direct ease of use.
Adobe Creative Cloud
Another of today’s tech giants, Adobe, launched Creative Cloud in 2011 featuring known and loved standalone applications such as Photoshop, Lightroom, Acrobat, After Effects, XD, and Illustrator in one package. The logos for each app offer a periodic table-inspired collective look and feel that tells the user it is an Adobe product and part of a branded house. These products are designed to serve separate functions but complement and strengthen each other. Therefore making the case to bundle or purchase the entire ‘Cloud’…because if you’re going to rent most rooms you might as well buy the house right?
Sourcefire hired Bluetext to reimagine its product architecture and create a branded house that would sit underneath the main SourceFire brand. Their suite of products, Snort, AMP, Immunet, and Firepower were great standalone applications but lacked a cohesive story that would tie them to Sourcefire. Bluetext renamed the products FirePower, FireSight, FireAMP, and FireCloud, taking inspiration from the Sourcefire name and perceived recognition in the market. Bluetext was also able to sunset Sourcefire’s famed, “Snorty the Pig” gracefully as part of the rebrand, shifting the brand perception from startup to global leader. For Sourcefire, having a branded house of products aligned its marketing strategy and increased its overall brand perception. Following, the successful rebrand, the company was acquired by Cisco for $2.7 billion.
The Case for the House of Brands
A house of brands is remarkably different from a branded house, where each brand has its own unique brand identity and marketing strategy usually dictated by the target demographic. The major benefit to operating as a house of brands is the ability to service a diverse set of target markets and create economies of scale for the parent brand. On the other hand, a house of brands can be a complex system to run, and maintaining each brand’s success may be almost impossible.
Procter and Gamble
For over 180 years, Procter and Gamble has specialized in a variety of products across a wide range of target markets. Chances are, you’ve used a P&G product without even knowing it. Have you brushed your teeth with Crest toothpaste? Washed your hair with Head & Shoulders shampoo? Cleaned your clothes using a Tide POD? P&G probably wasn’t the first association you made with this experience. All of these brands and so many more are the product of a successful house of brands.
That being said, the company has gone through a reshuffle in recent years. As of 2014, Procter and Gamble decided to retire or sell close to 100 of their existing brands, leaving just 80 brands that made up 95% of their profits. This is a classic example of a house of brands getting too big (and too expensive) to manage and needing to cut costs. Nonetheless, this is a great move by P&G, allowing the company to adapt and support their profit-making brands, and reallocate spend to develop new, innovative products that will pay dividends in the future.
British consumer goods company, Unilever, has been in business for just under 100 years and has grown to operate in over 190 countries around the world. Unilever specializes in products related to food, cleaning products, toothpaste, and beauty products, and they are the largest producer of soap in the world. Did you use Dove soap this morning? Spread some Hellman’s mayonnaise on your sandwich at lunch? Snack on a pint of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream last night? All of these brands operate under the Unilever house of brands. Unilever’s success derives from operating multiple brands in the same category targeted at unique demographics. The same consumer doesn’t buy both Dove and Suave soap, but both are owned by Unilever. This allows the company to target as much of the market as possible, all through the power of branding.
GM is the largest automaker in the United States, operating brands including Chevrolet, Buick, GMC, and Cadillac. General Motors is possibly the perfect example of a house of brands that operates at all levels of the market to reach as many consumers as possible. A prospective car buyer is not in the market for either a Chevrolet or a Cadillac. Each brand represents a segment of the market and positions itself accordingly from a price, performance, and look and feel perspective. GM has positioned itself as a brand with potential to truly appeals to everyone by offering distinct models to just about every price range, catering to wide range specific preferences.
GM has also expanded outside of the US market, competing in Europe with its brands Opel and Vauxhall, and in China with its brands Baojun and Wuling. General Motors has also been very successful in its brand consolidation efforts. For example, the company bought Hummer in 1998 and discontinued the brand in 2010. A Hummer EV pickup truck and an SUV are now in the works and will be marketed under the GMC brand. Another example of brand consolidation under GM was the acquisition of the Yellow Cab Manufacturing Company, which produced cars for the Yellow Cab company in New York City. General Motors acquired a controlling stake in the company in 1925 and bought the business entirely in 1943. Following the complete acquisition, the company was absorbed into its brand, GMC.
With brand perception under constant scrutiny, brand architecture is an important consideration in today’s marketing world. For many companies, a branded house is the best structure as it allows them to operate under a core, leading brand and logo, focusing on one market strategy. For others who are targeting multiple market segments in the same category, a house of brands is the correct choice as it allows them to compete at as many levels of the market as possible. Not sure which strategy is the right one for your company? Speak with the experts at Bluetext today.
We already feel like we’ve cracked the code for designing and developing responsive websites, but how do we adapt to ever-changing hardware and thus, screen sizes? How do we address the design for touch-screen flip phones? How about new designs from Apple or Samsung that shake things up in the display department? This year alone we have seen new formats bringing back the 2000s nostalgia of phones that flip, fold, and more.
In this blog post, we explore the top 4 ways to ensure your website is ready for new breakpoints as handheld devices, laptops, desktop computers, and televisions continue to evolve.
Ensure your design is leveraging the specs of the latest hardware so that you’re not launching with an already out-of-date design
When you’re planning for a new website, make sure your website design agency knows the latest hardware specifications for the most frequently used devices. They should keep an eye out for the pixel height and width of the top five most widely used screens and ensure their design can adhere to these standards. This should be considered for mobile, tablet, and desktop sizes, otherwise, your designs may be considered out-of-date before they even get into development. Be diligent in checking your website’s Google Analytics to see an up-to-date breakdown of device types & even models being used by your current website visitors.
Additionally, as many still working from home due to the COVID-19 pandemic, some people have adopted larger monitors for their at-home workstations. Some of these monitors will display websites at much larger sizes than intended, so we need to consider what the maximum size will look like as well so they do not look distorted or have any unintended bugs.
Establish breakpoints for the design before getting into development
Now that your website design team has established the most commonly used browser sizes for mobile, tablet, and desktop and designed the display for each, it is time to think about when the design needs to transition between each layout. How should the vertical display of the tablet differ from the horizontal? How should a small desktop browser size look in comparison to a larger desktop screen? These are all questions to consider before getting into development.
Your website design agency should ensure there are no gaps between breakpoints, meaning that there should not be a 10-pixel difference between designs so that the development team knows when to trigger the next display. Establishing the pixel breakpoints will keep the website responsive across all displays and will ensure there are minimal opportunities for a display mishap.
Get down to the nitty gritty in your code
When development gets underway, make sure you are using the best practices for writing responsive code. You can even start by developing the mobile display first, working your way up from mobile to tablet, and then eventually desktop and larger.
Consider leveraging viewport specifications directly in your code by using the initial-scale definition within your meta tag to ensure you are setting the stage for the rest of the code to come. From there, you will be able to use percentage values to set font sizing, image scaling, etc. to make sure your website is scaling up and down appropriately. You can also set the max-width for images and different sections within the page to ensure they do not scale too large on certain displays.
Be sure to test your website design before going live
No website is perfect overnight. Make sure your website design agency is fully equipped to perform quality assurance testing by leveraging the latest devices. Don’t have the actual device? That shouldn’t be an issue. One cloud-based testing tool that provides users with all of the latest hardware to test is BrowserStack. BrowserStack is a testing platform that provides developers with the ability to test their websites and mobile applications across on-demand browsers, operating systems, and real mobile devices. By testing the website across various devices, you can discover new breakpoints that may cause display issues for your users, giving you time to remedy them before making the website public.
While it is hard to forecast what the next device is going to look like, we can prepare websites for the changing hardware landscape by designing and developing responsive websites. Taking the time to find the right website design agency will ultimately save you time and money in the long run as technology constantly evolves.
Looking for your next website design agency? Contact us today.
Sales strategies are constantly evolving, but transitions are rarely seamless and each comes with a distinct set of challenges. One digital marketplace trend many B2B companies are experimenting with is expediting the sales process to enable direct e-commerce features. Perhaps new products or promotions are being debuted, or a-la-carte features are newly available for specific use cases. All may have high growth potential, but for a company that has been built and scaled within the B2B sphere, it can be difficult to bridge the e-commerce gap and offer the B2C experience consumers have grown to need. Let’s break down 3 essential steps to bridging the e-commerce gap for B2B success.
Optimize UX Design
When website users are accustomed to the latest and greatest UX experiences in their personal lives, there will be a natural expectation for these features in their professional settings. Not only do users expect a streamlined design, but they also demand speed and ease. Think about your last Amazon purchase or Uber Eats order. Forgot to grab milk at the grocery store? No problem, millions have gotten into the habit of turning to AmazonFresh. Within a matter of seconds, you were likely able to find the desired product, add it to the cart, check out and viola your milk can be at your door within an hour. B2C experiences have never been faster.
Now while your customers will not be expecting a one-hour delivery window, they will be accustomed to that ease of browsing, comparison, and checkout process. It is critical for any B2B company entering the e-commerce space to centralize product and pricing information. Important information for each product offered should be clearly presented, along with transparent pricing information. Interactive pricing tables are a great way to enable a self-service UX and efficient feature evaluation. Even if your business isn’t offering an e-commerce channel, interactive pricing sliders such as the ones used by Apprsl are positive ways to exemplify transparency and autonomous browsing.
The UX is arguably the most important piece of a B2B e-commerce strategy in optimizing e-commerce features. Your website user experience determines how users navigate the sales funnel, from start to finish. Brands should follow established best practices like making calls-to-action stand out, ensuring important elements are easily identifiable using color or size, and making the navigation experience just as intuitive on tablet and mobile as it is on a desktop. But a lesser acknowledged aspect of UX design is the ability for the user to manage all order fulfillment scenarios in a single viewport. Complex scenarios like sourcing, consignment, and delivery should be easily accessible in one place online to improve the sales experience from start to finish.
Speaking of self-service, contact information is absolutely critical. A B2B e-commerce optimization strategy must also include making it easy for prospects and customers to contact you. This is particularly true for new customers, as while you may be offering direct purchases on your platform, some may prefer to discuss their particular needs over the phone or chat.
Beyond generic contact forms, brands should seriously consider customer self-service tools, like chatbots, that can provide fast and efficient support while providing increased flexibility for the customer. A chatbot, as long as it is non-invasive and provides relevancy, is a great way for brands to efficiently complete simple communication tasks, gather information, and answer commonly asked questions. There has been an evolution toward self-service in B2B industries—for good reason. It enables customers to research and purchase on their own terms while reducing overhead costs for the company. Read more about why chatbots are becoming critical to businesses of B2B, B2C, and everything in between.
Make Relevant Recommendations
Finally, providing recommended product information and resources is the icing-on-top feature that will go a long way in improving the customer user experience. Many businesses put all the focus on the early stages of the sales funnel and neglect the follow-through. When users become so accustomed to the “Recommend For You” or personalized content across digital touchpoints, it can leave them unsatisfied and wanting more. The power of the right product recommendation and personalization overall should not be understated. Accenture found that 91% of consumers are more likely to shop with brands that provide relevant offers and recommendations. Following up on an e-commerce purchase with a recommendation for supplementary solutions or relevant product resources is an easy way to keep a personal touch on the impersonal individual checkout experience.
With so many recent technologies coming to market, B2B brands can leverage AI-driven product recommendation engines that improve the customer experience by serving up personalized, relevant content that buyers might not have discovered otherwise. Read more on why Bluetext recommends the benefits of website personalization for increased conversion rates, customer acquisition, and brand perception.
A shift into e-commerce channels may seem like a big lift for your business’ website. However, with the right strategies and keen focus on the three areas above, it can be achievable and sustainable for your business to boost conversions and sales. Bluetext has helped many clients implement e-commerce channels within their website’s UX strategy, such as SixFifty’s document marketplace and Centre Law’s course catalog. Contact us to learn more about the untapped potential of bridging B2C e-commerce features into the B2B world.
In a time of economic uncertainty, it’s more important than ever to stay ahead of the curve as well as the competition. Stale digital marketing strategies simply won’t make the cut. Here at Bluetext, we’re committed to providing our clients with the latest and greatest when it comes to up-and-coming marketing strategies and trends. In this blog, we’ll look at five key predictions to bolster your marketing strategy in 2023.
Content Marketing in 2023
Gone are the days of strict, professional content and messaging for companies. In 2023, consumers are looking for you to empathize with them, breaking down the traditional walls that separated corporate from compassion. Lean into emotive content filled with transparency, empathy, and relatability. Your customers want to know they can trust you, especially in times of economic uncertainty when every penny counts. Ditch the sales-based pitch in your content and speak to your customers as if they were your friends.
In today’s culture, TikTok is all the rage. The average user now watches 19 hours of video content every week, and a lot of that is happening on their mobile devices, accounting for 80% of all mobile data traffic. In other words, short-form video is huge and should be taken seriously by companies heading into 2023.
Producing content specifically for TikTok, Instagram Reels, and YouTube Shorts also lends itself well to companies, as shorter content takes less time and effort to produce. Additionally, viewers are more likely to engage with a shorter video that gets straight to the point versus a video they have to sit through for 30 minutes.
Using AR in marketing campaigns was certainly on the rise in 2022 and will continue to grow in both capabilities and use as we get into 2023 and beyond, with the global AR market expected to reach $28 billion by 2028. While AR may seem to be only available to large companies with large marketing budgets like Ikea, there are opportunities for smaller companies to lean into the augmented reality trend. Even something as simple as adding augmented reality functionality to your business card could be a great way to set yourself apart from the competition. You could add buttons to text or call, include a pop-up video showing off your product, and more.
Although the technology behind artificial intelligence is still maturing and a sound business case is still being developed, that doesn’t mean you’re not able to jump ahead of the curve. It is predicted in 2023 that the science behind marketing data analysis will benefit greatly through AI with tools such as TensorFlow and Gretel, allowing your company to glean more information from your data than ever before and drive higher profitability.
The power of conversational AI will also continue to grow (looking at you, Chat GPT) on the back of terabytes of data, enhancing your ability to actively engage with your customers on a personalized level. Tools like Campfire and Kore are making it easier for businesses to take advantage of the power of artificial intelligence with their platform-based solutions.
The metaverse was certainly a trending topic throughout 2022 and will continue to make headlines into 2023 and the future. According to a recent study, 59% of consumers are excited about transitioning everyday activities to the metaverse, with a similar number of metaverse-aware companies (57%) already adopting the concept. In 2022, we saw a variety of events being hosted in the metaverse, a trend that will continue into next year via virtual tradeshows, customer experiences, and facility tours. We’ll also see an increase in metaverse use for internal business processes such as employee onboarding, training, and even company happy hours.
Advertising in the metaverse will also continue to rise in popularity as the metaverse itself continues to grow. In order to align with the metaverse ethos, ads will need to be immersive and complement the user experience, allowing advertisements to become part of the gameplay and establish meaningful engagement with users.
You may already be aware of these upcoming trends and the implications they could have for your business but unsure of how to start addressing them. Bluetext has the expertise and industry experience to help you grow your brand and implement effective changes to your marketing strategy. To learn more about our offerings, contact us today.
Since Bluetext’s founding in 2011, the agency has experienced stellar growth in size, expertise, and creativity. So much so that our brand and logo were beginning to feel tight and outgrown. Some healthy self-reflection left us realizing an evolution was necessary.
Watch our brand evolution
With our clients, we often consult on the pros and cons of a brand evolution vs. revolution. For Bluetext an evolution meant keeping the core aspects that defined our brand, like the name, logo symbolism, and obvious color choice. Anything other would run the risk of appearing like an IHOB-level stunt. We love the name and meaning behind Bluetext. Just as when you apply a link to text the color changes to blue, applying Bluetext to your brand becomes the digital doorway to your brand. It highlights our digital focus and positions the agency as ambiguous to the multitude of services and specialties we offer. Aside from that, the name “Bluetext” is internally joked to be rooted in our project managers’ love and developed muscle for hyperlinking, which we cannot confirm nor deny.
Even with the core ingredients solidified, so many elements were up in the air for modernization. Bluetext’s creative director, Kevin Galligan, led the charge with a redesigned logo to inspire the complete CVI & eventual website design.
Some key principles to remember during any sort of brand development are:
- Be associated with something
- Protect your identity
- Consistency is key
- Never say no to evolving
For Bluetext, our brand identity centered around our logo icon, which previously formed the lowercase ‘b’ and ‘t’ of the wordmark. We had become associated with this symbol, often adopting a shorthand abbreviation of BT, diving into the straightforward angles as a reminder of our values. But as the agency has grown, we felt it only fair the logo should grow up too. In this evolution, we were careful to guard our brand’s identity and legacy, but apply stylistic tweaks to elevate the core designs. The lowercase style was replaced with a sentence case and a new font. The logo icon was upgraded to symmetrical angles that matched the new custom lettering, but still preserved origins within the ‘B’ and ‘t’ angles.
Minimal doesn’t mean simple. The evolved logo is intentional down to every angle, which becomes leveraged throughout the pattern systems of the CVI. Leaning into our core logo symbol, the outlined shape became a pattern system repeated across our website & collateral. The most noticeable change to the brand was the color shift from a light blue to a rich cobalt blue. In the spirit of consistency and honoring the name ‘Bluetext’, a blue-based palette was adopted. But monochromatic does not mean monotone. Our creative team took this rebrand as an opportunity to surge new energy into the secondary color palette choosing energetic aquas and navy tones, complemented by cream, white or black.
As a brand development agency, our evolved brand identity has made us all the more energized for the coming new year, and inspired to do the same for our clients. Could your company’s brand use a little glow up too? Whether you’re ready for an evolution or full revolution, check out what Bluetext can do for you.
Product-led growth (PLG) strategy is at the forefront of a massive shift in the software purchasing process. Read our most recent blog in this series, PLG Series: Product User POV, to determine if your company is ready to put end users in the driver’s seat. For companies looking to make this shift, consider the steps it will take to get there, which will require two major stages of transformation: the evolution of the product, and the evolution of the organization.
Steps to Becoming a PLG Company
Evolution of the Product
PLG strategy hinges on end users being thrilled by the product the company offers. How can organizations create a thrilling software experience? While it may seem like an oxymoron, thrilling software is possible. It starts with prioritization of design, empathy, and frictionless touchpoints with a combination of user journey mapping, user testing, and intelligent data implementation. The end-user experience is what sets a working product and a great product apart. The product needs to serve as a solution to the user’s troubles, not just a jumble of benefits and features. The user journey is top of mind for pioneering PLG-focused companies, rather than the specs and selling points of the product itself.
A good example of this is the onboarding process for new users. In demonstrating software products, the demo should be focused on helping the user achieve their goals, not showing off features of the software it’s trying to sell. Product-led growth really means user-led: anticipating their needs, reducing their friction, and providing ongoing support to create a joyful, exciting user experience with the product. In the PLG model, product enjoyment leads to subscription sales, additional referrals, and customer retention. When shifting to a product-led growth strategy, companies must create sticky products, which capture user interest by delivering consistent value and compel users to use them more regularly.
Evolution of the Organization
To become a PLG company, the organization must first be willing to turn away from sales-led and marketing-led growth strategies. Instead, the business structure has to support the ability to move faster, more collaboratively, and with more complex dynamics. Collaboration and inclusivity are more than industry buzzwords; they actually can make or break internal strategies. To pull off the rate of product improvement necessary to keep pace with competitors, a PLG-focused company has to run as a democracy, taking input from a diverse group of stakeholders from a variety of different teams. Marketing, sales, CS, design, and engineering teams, for example, will all need to weigh in to make decisions that result in the best product and end-user experience.
The resulting company structure is often at first more difficult and complex than legacy structures, but it has proven the best way to organize a company that prioritizes the quality of the product for the consumer experience. When scaling, the first thought may be to attempt to grow teams through hiring to accommodate for better, quicker, product improvements. That process tends to be time-consuming, costly, and inevitably leads companies to fall behind their faster, leaner competitors who are prioritizing employee growth, flexibility, and collaboration. As a step toward this organizational transformation, it’s important to break down silos to stay communicative, informed, and aligned across teams.
After going through the transitional phases outlined above, the real work of a product-led growth company begins in harnessing value from the Freemium to Premium chain.
Capitalizing on the Freemium to Premium Chain
For a PLG-focused enterprise, after creating the best possible product and putting the organizational systems in place to support the development of increasingly spectacular products, the value in the product-led growth model comes from encouraging the following: Product adoption, Customer Loyalty, and Advocacy. This growth can be reaped from the Freemium to Premium chain, composed of three stages:
A frictionless entry point for users, leading to customer acquisition.
The user’s first interaction with the product should be personalized, delightful, and convincing. A free trial or demo experience allows users to self-educate about the benefits of the product and its ability to solve their needs, rather than having to deal with a salesperson or middleman to handle the transaction. This freemium experience can come in a couple of different forms: a reduced features version, a reduced capacity or usage version, or a reduced support version.
There are a few reasons as to why the free trial method is the best entry experience for customers seeking software solutions. First, the software is an intangible object and can be difficult to adequately describe with marketing lingo; it’s better to give users a hands-on experience that shows (rather than tells) the product’s benefits. Second, free trials reduce the fear of committing to a purchase, so users can explore the software offerings without concerns about getting locked into a subscription. Lastly, observing or collecting data during a demo experience allows you to gain valuable feedback on the product at hand. By seeing how end users experience the product designed for them, you can get a realistic sense of their positive reactions and friction points in order to continue improving the product offering.
Features located behind a paywall, leading to expansion.
The free trial leads the process by introducing the user to a must-have technology (where they’re reaping actual value), and the paywall follows by scaling up the pricing for the software as usage or benefits increase. After an opt-in free trial, a good conversion rate should be around 25%, and that rate jumps to 60% for opt-out free trials.
The product-led growth strategy for conversion is simple: freemium users are enticed to subscribe to premium accounts when they enjoy the product. To encourage subscriptions, it’s important to remind users of the benefits and product features. In addition, putting a clear time limit on the length of the trial creates a sense of urgency for freemium users to switch to premium subscriptions. Trial period expirations can help push users to take action, for fear of losing out on the benefits that they’ve come to appreciate while utilizing your software throughout the demo period.
Valuable integrations, leading to retention.
While gaining initial subscriptions is important, PLG strategy necessitates that these users continue coming back to the product. Ideally, each time the user utilizes the product, they should have a better and better experience. The PLG model will not work successfully if the company’s product becomes outdated or uncompetitive. Users must not only fall in love with the product but stay enamored. This can be done by continually improving the existing user experience, or by building out additional features and benefits to the product. However, if exploring the latter, keep the user journey segmented so that different audiences are still able to find the most relevant solutions quickly. As the product grows to encompass more features, the UX designers should ensure that the additional capabilities don’t cloud the interface to make it confusing or overwhelming.
For companies in the software technology space, shifting to a product-led growth strategy could lead to a better experience for customers and keep the enterprise at the front of the competitive edge. If you are interested in learning more about how Bluetext could use marketing tactics to help reposition your brand as a PLG-focused business, contact us.
The way that users engage with technology has dramatically changed in the last decade. As SaaS companies are stepping up their game to meet these demands, users are met with an abundance of software available at their fingertips to fulfill their every need. Tech-savvy people are seeking software that is more beautiful, more powerful, and more affordable than ever before. The patience for dealing with clunky designs or a challenging user experience has completely dissolved. Now more than ever, businesses are recognizing the value of leading with a great product and user experience in order to generate growth. Enter Product Led Growth.
Product Led Growth
Product Led Growth is a business strategy for companies to use their product as the primary driver for customer acquisition, retention, and expansion. Imagine a pancake house that is famous for its pancakes. You hear about the pancakes, try them, love them, and tell all of your friends to try them as well; thus, the cycle repeats itself. The restaurant’s main goal is to create an unforgettable pancake that keeps customers coming back; they don’t have to prove or tell anyone that they have amazing pancakes because the product speaks for itself. Businesses that have adapted Product Led Growth strategies are thinking about how they can put their product at the forefront of every step of the customer journey–the foundation is having an amazing product with exceptional focus on the user. People hear about it, they test it out, they start using it, and all of a sudden it becomes a necessity to run their business. This type of strategy fosters company-wide alignment across teams around the product as the single most important source of long-term, scalable business success.
Product Led Growth allows for a significantly lower cost to acquire customers because existing users are promoting and selling the product simply by enjoying using it. Unlike sales-led businesses, which aim to get a customer from point A to point B in a sales cycle, product-led businesses turn the typical sales paradigm on its head by allowing customers to try their product for free, through a freemium or free trial that eventually becomes a subscription or an add-on purchase. Some of the most successful companies implementing the Product Led Growth approach are Slack, Dropbox, and Zoom, just to name a few.
Perhaps one of the greatest examples of a company that has mastered the PLG strategy is Slack. By creating a completely new way for teams to communicate with each other, Slack leads with a product that is widely beneficial to almost any business, unique in its offerings, and initially free. Customers start with a free sign-up process with frictionless onboarding and are met with a superior customer experience throughout usage. Slack swiftly slides in premium plans for users to expand the scope of the platform after they’ve already started using it.
The company boasts over 12 million active daily users, with 156,000 businesses subscribing to the app and a profit of $292 million in 2021. They’ve also uniquely branded themselves with quirky and fun features that cannot be found on traditional messaging or communication platforms. By bridging the favored aspects of modern communications, like the iPhone emoji, the swift speed of the classic IM, and even conferencing abilities of Zoom, they’ve made a one-of-a-kind product that adopters find irreplaceable. It’s the kind of app that sells itself; you hear about it, you try it, and soon enough you’re using it every day. Slack is an excellent example of a company that leverages product features and usages as its main driver for acquisition and retention.
Next up, we have Dropbox. With sales that have surpassed $1 billion in less than ten years, Dropbox has a clear and undeniably successful product-led growth strategy. Dropbox’s product-led strategy succeeds in two crucial areas. First, Dropbox has developed a user-friendly product that satisfies market demands by making file sharing simple and convenient for end users. For users, the platform is intuitive and easy to set up, and accessible for recipients regardless of subscription status. Second, the platform encourages users to convert non-users by passing along a referral link that subsequently increases their storage credit. This recommendation strategy has allowed Dropbox to gain new clients while improving the satisfaction of current ones.
Last but certainly not least, we have Zoom. Unbeknownst to us at the time, a global pandemic created the ideal environment for Zoom’s product strategy to become a master class of the Product Led Growth model. Zoom continues to distinguish itself from its well-known competitors by putting the needs of its clients first and keeping its promise to offer a straightforward connection. By expanding on its PLG model, Zoom makes many of its essential capabilities freely accessible, putting Zoom in the hands of millions of customers who connect for work meetings, educational purposes, workout classes, and book clubs. Other premium features are further accessible through a paid subscription.
The bottom line is, Product Led Growth strategy is here to stay. It is challenging the traditional sales-driven growth model of software companies and transforming the way customers are acquired and retained. If you are interested in learning more about how Bluetext could use marketing tactics to help reposition your brand as a PLG-focused business, contact us.
There are no written rules when it comes to determining how to efficiently increase your company’s enterprise value. Unfortunately, there is no one-size fits all formula for enterprise success. Simply put, the strategy will vastly differ for every industry, sector, and individual company. That being said, marketing has been proven as a cornerstone of any effective business strategy and critical in raising enterprise value.
Your marketing strategy dictates the overall market’s understanding of what your business brings to the table, how you differ from your competition in the eyes of customers and investors, and perhaps most importantly, what the future holds for your business and how you intend to evolve as both the market and overall economy change. Whether your ultimate goal is to take your company public or take on capital investment in the near future, marketing will play a significant part in how you succeed. In this blog post, we’ll discuss tips on putting together a sound marketing strategy and how this can lead to an increase in enterprise value.
Understanding the Current Market and Its Needs
As you know, the competitive landscape is constantly shifting, and any dramatic change in the competition calls for change in your strategy. The first step to putting together an effective marketing strategy is to understand your company in its position within the current market. Customer tastes and expectations are constantly evolving, so being able to adapt to current market conditions is critical in today’s economy. It’s important to ask yourself: What is your value proposition against your competitors? Are you where you need to be to maximize value? Can customers quickly get the information they need and are questions and service issues resolved promptly? Ensuring you’re meeting your customer’s needs will set you up for long-term success and increase your value as not only a supplier but also in the eyes of any potential investors.
When Government technology giants Octo and Sevatec decided to merge, they tapped Bluetext to guide them through a brand evolution, aligning both company brand identities into a new cohesive corporate visual identity. We worked hard to understand both companies’ positions in the market and design a message and visual identity that aligned Octo and Sevatec’s legacies under one united mission from both an internal and external perspective, increasing the combined entity’s enterprise value.
Future-Proofing Your Marketing Strategy
While it’s important to understand the current needs of your customers, it’s equally important to take a look in the mirror and focus your marketing strategy on your company’s future goals, both in the short- and long-term. What are your business goals and objectives? Do you anticipate a significant capital investment raise in the next 2 years? Or 5 years? It’s imperative to make conscious, strategic decisions by beginning with the end in mind instead of simply letting tactics evolve.
When Arlington Capital Partners acquired three leading companies in the national security sector, they turned to Bluetext to develop and launch a new unified brand from scratch. In less than six months, Centauri was born. Following the launch of the brand and a successful integrated go-to-market strategy that included PR, digital advertising, and social media, the firm went on a contract-winning spree and in less than two years, was acquired by industrial engineering juggernaut, KBR, for $800m. With an understanding of Arlington Capital’s goals from the outset, focused on raising the enterprise value of a combined entity, Bluetext was able to build a comprehensive marketing strategy that achieved the PE firm’s wildest dreams.
In Marketing, ROI is Everything
Let’s be clear, marketing can be an expensive undertaking. When you think about the various marketing tactics you can choose to include in your marketing strategy, consider every channel including but not limited to: direct marketing, public relations, digital marketing, advertising and promotion, and trade shows. While it would be great to put a significant budget toward each of these channels, that just isn’t feasible for the majority of companies out there. Just like you would diversify your stock portfolio, you should also diversify your marketing efforts, especially when starting out. Be smart about where you decide to invest your marketing dollars but don’t be afraid to commit to a research-driven marketing strategy.
Discuss internally the pros and cons of each channel, especially in the context of your competitors, industry, and customers, both existing and future. Additionally, determine if you can handle the execution of these marketing channels in-house, or if it may make sense to hire a marketing agency like Bluetext to take some of the load off of your internal team. Most importantly, however, is to establish clear metrics designed to capture ROI for each channel you decide to invest in and keep your internal and external teams accountable to them. Diversifying your marketing mix is the best way to ensure you’re increasing your brand awareness across a variety of customer-facing touchpoints, which will lead to an effective increase in perceived enterprise value from an investor perspective.
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to marketing. That being said, having a strong understanding of your market, customer base, and short- and long-term business goals will strongly inform your marketing strategy and put you in the best position to succeed in increasing brand awareness, customer acquisition, and overall enterprise value. If you’re in need of support in putting together a comprehensive marketing strategy or a marketing partner to execute an already determined strategy, consider contacting Bluetext. For more than a decade, Bluetext has helped companies and private equity firms raise enterprise value. We specialize in planning, developing, and executing effective brand transformations to exceed business goals, with our clients benefitting from our deep creative expertise, seamless strategy, and innovative way of problem-solving.
“Should I use infinite scrolling versus pagination on this website?” is a question that many UX designers will ask themselves when starting a new project. Of course, the answer is “It depends.” This article explores the pros and cons of infinite scrolling and pagination to give you the context on when to use each in website design.
Infinite scrolling is a technique that allows users to scroll through a massive chunk of content with no finish line in sight. The page essentially refreshes as you continue scrolling, making it feel as if there is an infinite amount of content available. There are certainly some contexts for which this works very well but naturally, it does not suit each use case.
Pro #1: User Engagement
Infinite scrolling is best suited for instances where users are in “discovery mode”. When the user does not search for something specific, they need to see a large number of items to find the one thing they like.
The best examples of this are on social media, when users scroll through Facebook or Instagram they are excited to see what the next piece of content has to offer. Infinite scrolling affords exposure to as much information as possible at once, which means more information is consumed. The higher the exposure (in other words, impressions and reach), typically the higher the engagement is.
Pro #2: Scrolling Takes the Cake Over Clicking
Designing for users to click rather than scroll can cause a much longer user experience journey. Depending on the instance, we typically like to see scrolling used for quick actions that should be seamless for the user. For example, if you are looking to employ a tutorial for your new mobile app, you should consider a vertical or horizontal scroll experience to allow a seamless, one-page experience for your user. Clicking will impede their ability to quickly navigate through the tutorial and get to your app. Scrolling allows us to keep the user experience to remain easy-to-use and navigate.
Pro #3: Scrolling is Mobile-Friendly
Infinite scrolling is most frequently used on mobile devices where the screens are smaller. The smaller the screen, the smaller amount of information users can see within one viewport, which provides an excellent use case for infinite or long scrolling.
Con #1: Page Performance
Infinite scrolling requires the page to constantly “refresh” at the bottom to display more content. This scrolling undoubtedly affects your page speed and load time. Various research studies have shown that slow load times result in people leaving your site or deleting your app which results in low conversion rates. For that reason, it may be best to leave the long scroll at the door if you are looking to keep your website ranking high in SEO performance.
Con #2: Item and Search Location
For those looking to shop online or look for a specific resource, infinite scrolling doesn’t provide them the visual cue for where to find the item later. There is no ability to truly “bookmark” their place on the page, which can cause frustration if they go back later to find the same post.
Con #3: Scroll Bar Provides No Context
The scroll bar becomes irrelevant when you employ infinite scroll in your user experience. Users see the scroll bar and assume they’re close to the end of the page when in reality, the page will keep updating to show more content and there is no end in sight. It can be very misleading when users attempt to estimate the amount of data there is to surf through, which can cause frustration for the user and can lead them to leave your site.
Con #4: Absence of a Footer
With infinite scrolling, users will never reach the end of the page. This makes it difficult for them to ever find the footer, where important information and navigation links typically reside. Some ways around this are to make the footer sticky and always visible or collapse the footer into a sidebar. Alternatively, user experience designers can introduce a “load more” button that provides users with the ability to take control of their own experience on the site.
Pagination is a user interface pattern that divides content into separate pages. If you see a row of numbers or pagination dots at the bottom of a page, then you are experiencing a site’s pagination.
Pro #1: Good Conversion
Pagination is great for an instance where users are looking for something specific. As we saw before, scrolling is perfect for discovery mode—now’s the time for a solution for identification mode. “Scrolling is a continuation while clicking is a decision” (Joshua Porter)
Pro #2: Control and Item Location
Providing pagination within your website’s user experience, users instantly have a sense of control over the information they are browsing. Providing numbers or icons to click on gives users the sense that they are making a decision for themselves.
In addition, pagination affords users the ability to remember an item’s location and navigate back to it at any time. For example, if you are on your favorite e-commerce website looking for the right sweater to buy this fall and you find one you like but aren’t quite ready to buy, you can take note of which page you viewed it on—maybe you even bookmark it since the URL has the exact item location within the page. Pagination gives us this opportunity to take control of our usage of the website and gives a sense of authority to the user.
Con #1: Clicking Means Extra Actions
When you require your users to click to see more information, you’re requiring them to take an extra step. One way to make this less cumbersome is to allow users to dictate how many items appear within each page so they can scroll through more content up front and then navigate to the next page.
When considering user engagement within website design, user experience designers should consider the end goal of the user. Are they looking to find a specific piece of content that they can easily refer back to? If so, pagination may be the best option for your website. But if you simply are looking for endless discovery and providing your end user with as much new information as possible, then infinite scrolling may be the best for you.
In the end, it is best to consult a UX design agency, like Bluetext, to recommend the best approach for your business.
Looking for a UX design agency to partner with for your next website? Contact Bluetext today.
It’s 2022, and the term “gamer” no longer refers to teenagers playing video games in their parent’s basements. Gamers are all around us, thanks to the explosion of game formats, genres, and platforms. Roughly 40% of the world’s population admits to playing some kind of video game. The typical stereotypes of people who partake in this hobby are far from reality; 70% of gamers are over the age of 18, 46% of gamers are female, and only 2% play out of their parent’s basements (actually, we made that last stat up). Especially after the pandemic, the gaming industry has boomed and it is expected to keep booming. As online games continue to rise in popularity, marketers are recognizing the potential of advertising within gaming platforms, otherwise known as in-game advertising.
While players may have a knee-jerk reaction when they hear the term “in-game advertising,” the practice has proven extremely successful for brands. For example in 2009, Microsoft promoted Bing in a series of games, including NBA 2K10 and DJ Hero. After their first exposure to the ads, the percentage of gamers visiting and searching Bing increased by 108% according to Microsoft. Surprisingly, two-thirds of the gamers who visited Bing after seeing the ad were visiting for the first time. According to a recent study conducted by Vantage Market Research, the global in-game advertising market size is forecasted to reach USD 12.35 Billion by the year 2028. While in-game advertising (IGA) can include banners, video ads, audio ads, or mini-games, the most popular types of IGA are static ads, dynamic ads, and gamevertising. When it comes to reaching your target audience with in-game ads, the most important factors are picking the right format and gaming service to deploy ads on. Let’s quickly deep-dive into some of the options, and take a look at some of the games that reach wide demographics.
Video In-Game Advertising
It’s no surprise that video is a key format for digital advertising; dynamic, engaging content fits perfectly with what users now want to experience. When it comes to using video in games, there are multiple different ways to present short, impactful content. There are pre-roll videos, which pop up a few seconds before the gaming experience starts, and there are also rewarded videos that will give the player a reward for sticking around to watch until the end.
Native In-Game Advertising
Native in-game ads are arguably the most innovative in-game advertising formats of all. A brand’s key message can be directly integrated into the video game itself, creating a non-intrusive advertising experience for the user. For example, there could be an advertising banner in a sports game applied along the playing field, mimicking how the ad would appear in real life. This way, the user is exposed to advertisements in a way that does not pause or delay their playing experience whatsoever.
Audio In-Game Advertising
Audio is another form of advertising that has risen in popularity over the past few years. The music streaming platform Spotify recently released a study that showed that streaming from gaming consoles went up 61% in 2021, compared to the year before. High-tech gaming consoles such as Playstation and Xbox now include a dedicated music app, which is where in-game ads can be utilized. This format is another non-intrusive strategy that does not inhibit the game.
Picking the Right Game
From esports gamers to social gamers and casual gamers, the gaming target audience is highly diverse and offers great market potential to companies. The decision on whether to include ads is ultimately up to the game developer, so you’re less likely to see a promotion for Mountain Dew or Takis in big titles like Call of Duty or God of War. But smaller, independent games—especially those that utilize the free-to-play model—are likely to embrace in-game advertising. Here are a few options of popular video games that reach a wide demographic that could be a fit for your next in-game ad.
- Candy Crush Saga
- This popular mobile game has over 250 million users to date, with the average age range of players falling between 25 to 45 years old. The gender split is pretty even, with 46% of players being male and 54% being female. The most popular type of advertising within Candy Crush is a video and/or rewarded ads.
- FarmVille 3
- Another mobile game that originated through Facebook, FarmVille 3 is one of the top-grossing games amongst middle-aged adults, particularly females. In 2022, the third rendition of FarmVille reported over 200,000 downloads.
- Words With Friends
- A mobile game that has maintained popularity amongst older generations since 2009, Words With Friends has at least 170 million registered users.
If you’re looking to bring your digital marketing and advertising strategy to the next level, contact Bluetext. With award-winning creative services, video and digital capabilities the possibilities are endless.