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.

A diagram explaining Products lead to user acquisition, expansion, conversion, and retention.

Slack

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. 

The homepage of slack.com

Dropbox

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. 

The homepage of dropbox.com

Zoom

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 homepage of zoom.com

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.

A Washington Business Journal headline discussing KBR's acquisition of Centauri. The headline reads, "KBR rocks quiet M&A market to buy a Chantilly government contractor."

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.

In Conclusion

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

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

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.

Recap

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.

A screenshot of a video game asking the user if they would like to watch an ad in exchange for in-game currency.

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.

A screenshot of a racing video game showing in-game billboards available to showcase advertisements.

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. 

Person wearing headphones looks at their phone

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. 

Every brand is a story, and marketing is your one chance to tell it. Storytelling has always been a successful way to connect brands with their audience because it creates an experience that people want to buy into. But the unfortunate truth is most adults don’t have much availability or attention for storytime like we once did as children. Competition for consumer attention has grown with the seemingly endless information and content that bombards us daily. The solution? Cut to the chase, SparkNotes it if you will. It is most effective to be concise, and engaging, and build a feeling that a consumer can buy into through micro-storytelling.

Micro-storytelling highlights what is truly important and showcases the small ideas that make a brand unique in under 30 seconds. Create a voice for your brand. In a sea of stories, you want to stand out. Catch people’s attention with vibrant colors, and an intriguing tagline, or start your video with a hook that will engage your audience. Make them pause their scrolling and soak in your information. Connect with them so they want to buy into your brand.

With micro-storytelling, the goal is not to fit everything into one video or post but to promote many smaller pieces of content that can easily be consumed at various touch points to tell potential customers what your brand stands for. Audiences want to get through information quickly, especially if they are new customers who are not yet invested in learning more about your brand. Micro-storytelling introduces people to your brand and sparks that initial interest. It’s the perfect teaser to either engage with your brand or share your information with others. It also gives new customers a way to quickly learn more about you, by encouraging them to visit your website or follow your social media accounts.

Four Fundamentals to Help You Create Micro-Stories for Your Brand

Know Your Audience

With micro-storytelling being so concise it is important to convey a tone and message that resonates with your target audience. It is essential for brands to target specific audiences and their specific needs, with a specific message. To create a successful micro-story you must research and gather information to better understand your audience and how you can authentically connect with them. Creating a trusted bond with your customers extends beyond a simple transaction, it works to build a community.

Tap into Visuals

While text helps to tell your story, visuals are a powerful way to communicate quickly with your audience. They must be eye-catching and aesthetic, and showcase your brand or products in a way that supports your brand’s story and values.

Cut the Fluff

Think of how the information you are presenting will be received by people quickly scrolling. Keep it simple. Avoid meaningless details that distract from the overall message. Use short and simple words.

Leave Them on a Cliffhanger

Try not to be definitive with your narrative’s ending. For example, when you go to post about an upcoming event or product launch, announce it in a way that teases what is coming soon. Not only does this save space and time, but it leaves your story open for interpretation and gives customers a chance to think about your brand or come back later to find out more.

Three Effective Ways for Your Brand to Promote Micro-Storytelling

Video

One of the most powerful ways to convey your message in an engaging way is through video. Instagram stories, Tik Toks, or other short-form videos provide an opportunity to convey your story in a short time and continue telling it over time. It also gives you an opportunity to tell your story through unspoken visuals. Think of who is representing your brand. What story is being told by their appearance, tone, and body language? Even what they wear can convey something about your brand story.

Social Media Updates

Another compelling way to promote your message is through social media updates. Twitter is a really valuable tool to enforce condensed character counts, which limits brands messaging into more digestible sections. This platform is also adept at piecing content into multiple updates which can be displayed throughout your timeline. This gives users a train of thought to follow the subconscious urge to continue to scroll down and piece together multiple micro-stories.

Infographics

Using infographics to tell your brand’s story creates an effective and digestible way for your consumers to get a lot of information at once. Infographics quickly highlight key takeaways using images and charts. Visuals accompanying text promote higher engagement. With important information involving statistics and facts, infographics help users absorb information with ease.

Micro-stories are just one block of the overarching brand story and when executed correctly, these micro-stories create a powerful message that resonates with consumers.

As a full-service digital marketing agency, Bluetext offers multiple services that can help your brand tailor content to meet customers’ expectations. Connect your stories to your customers. Contact us today to learn more about our messaging and content marketing services.

No matter what industry your company is in, or who your target market is, the goal of any customer interaction is to foster a relationship that converts to revenue. In today’s digital landscape, customers’ expectations have elevated to instant yet personalized feedback to their questions at the click of a button. While this seems like an impossibly daunting task, it has become an expected digital experience with the help of technology. Artificial intelligence-powered live chat, chatbots, and messaging apps have all helped companies achieve this blend of efficiency and customization. Below, we dive deep into the power of conversational marketing and how to implement the right strategy for your business. 

What is Conversational Marketing? 

In its essence, conversational marketing is a series of one-to-one interactions in real-time across multiple channels. Conversational marketing enables you and your team to foster relationships with both potential customers and existing customers, improving overall online customer experience and brand perception. A successful conversational marketing strategy ensures your customers feel satisfied and supported in all their questions, and trust your brand throughout every stage of the sales funnel.  Additionally, as we know, data is a powerful tool, and utilizing conversational marketing technology can increase that amount of data allowing you to tweak your strategy and increase conversions. Every conversation could be considered a mini focus study and learning experience for how to continually improve your business.

Chatbots

As your business scales up, so will the number of questions from prospective and existing customers. That being said, there will come a time when it is simply not feasible to increase the number of sales representatives you have to answer every question that comes in via your website. That’s where chatbots come in. Chatbots have become the go-to conversational marketing tool for a lot of businesses. Platforms like Drift, which integrate seamlessly with your existing website make chatbots a very easy and effective way to up your conversational marketing efforts. Chatbots are very effective when it comes to easing customer pain points quickly and provides a visual cue of reassurance upon landing on a web page that support resources are readily available. Pre-programmed answers to frequently answered questions allow you to talk to your customers, regardless of the time of day. This is especially beneficial for businesses with an international reach, as customers outside your local time zone will always feel supported. If the query is too unique to respond with a canned response, chatbots can connect the customer with a live representative who can better answer their questions. Plenty of conversational marketing platforms enable businesses to identify which leads are most likely to buy and then move them to the front of the line.

Customer Feedback

Pulling data from your chosen conversational marketing tool on customer engagement will only get you so far. At the end of the day, you’ll need to gather feedback from your customers, asking them their thoughts on how to improve the customer and prospect experience on your site. This will not just enable the customer to feel that they have a say but also will help in the optimization of the tools after some time. Adding a quick feedback survey to the end of a chatbot or live chat conversation will go a long way in improving customer satisfaction. 

How to Get Started

Implementing a successful conversational marketing strategy starts by choosing the web pages where you want your conversational bot to engage with your visitors. Sometimes it makes sense to have a constant chatbot available on every page, at all times. Other times, and especially when utilizing live chat versus a chatbot, it pays off to choose the pages that get the most traffic, have the most conversion opportunities, or have visitors with a high intention of buying. This will help maximize the number of interactions you enter into, and the likelihood of success of those interactions. Now that you’ve decided where you want to speak to your customers on your website, it’s time to define what kind of information customers will ask for, and how in the simplest terms you can provide them with that information. As a general rule of thumb, try to keep the conversations simple. Your customers will expect the interaction with your company to be smooth and want to get answers and guidance quickly.

Regardless of the size of your company, having a conversational marketing strategy is key to increasing customer satisfaction and therefore revenue. Are you looking to begin your conversational marketing strategy but not quite sure where to start? Contact Bluetext and see how we can help.

Since late last year, the technology industry has been alight with news and developments surrounding the Metaverse. Companies large and small are betting big on what is seen by many as the successor to the internet. Microsoft’s record-breaking acquisition of Activision Blizzard has been seen by many as a Metaverse play. The likes of Facebook have even restructured their entire organization and established a new parent company, Meta, named after the Metaverse.

But what exactly is the Metaverse? In simplest terms, “The ‘metaverse’ is a set of virtual spaces where you can create and explore with other people who aren’t in the same physical space as you.” If you’re still confused, that’s okay. The Metaverse is constantly evolving as more and more companies invest in the concept. Chances are you’ve already experienced flavors of the metaverse but may not have even realized it. To break it down, major players in the technology industry are looking at the Metaverse from a capabilities perspective for the likes of: 

  • Real-time 3D graphics
  • Feature sets that overlap with real-world activities
  • Personalized avatars unique to each user
  • Person-to-person social interactions that are less competitive in nature and more goal-oriented compared to stereotypical games
  • Designs best well-suited to virtual and augmented reality headsets
  • Links with outside economic systems so people can profit from virtual goods

Regardless of how you feel about the Metaverse and its capabilities, there’s no denying that AR/VR is growing more popular. In 2021, it was estimated that approximately 85 million users experienced AR or VR at least once a month. Virtual reality headsets, which were originally intended for gamers back in the 1990s, have picked up momentum in the past decade as companies are releasing sleek, futuristic consumer headsets and applications.  That userbase will only continue to grow as VR/AR devices become more accessible from a cost and usability perspective. Given the fluidity of the concept of the Metaverse, the marketing opportunities are truly endless at the moment. Below, we take a look at just a smattering of ideas for marketing in this next generation of the internet. 

1. Gamifying your Brand

As we’ve discussed before, gamification is the act of taking a process that already exists and applying game mechanics to make it more engaging. Given the current state of the Metaverse and its existing uses, gamifying a brand is the first natural step we’ll see companies take as they expand their reach into this additional marketing channel. We’re already seeing some companies dive headfirst into brand gamification in the Metaverse. To promote the new Nike React Flyknit running shoe, Nike created its own virtual world, called Reactland, allowing users to create avatars of themselves and then navigate through the game’s forests and rooftops while jogging (in real life) on a treadmill for three minutes.

2. Parallel Metaverse Marketing within Real-Life Marketing

Just as we create physical manifestations of digital marketing campaigns, marketers need to be ready to expand their focus to the Metaverse as a third component of any future campaign. Campaigns targeting millennials and Gen-Z’ers will comprise the majority of initial Metaverse marketing campaigns, as these audiences are the predisposed primary users of the platform. Experiential marketing will also be a major component of any Metaverse marketing campaign, offering branded installations and events that users can interact with, as opposed to just placing simple ads. 

3. Harness the Power of Facebook’s Meta

While Facebook is still in the early stages of rolling out its Metaverse to consumers, there’s a good chance that any experience will include digital advertising and in-experience transactions. Anything from building virtual stores, hosting immersive events, or creating Facebook Ads will no doubt be considered. Additionally, we’ll definitely see comparable offerings from other companies staking their claims in the Metaverse hype such as Walmart and Microsoft.

It’s fair to say that the Metaverse in its current state is filled with uncertainties. While many companies are pouring tons of capital into the space, no one knows what it will look like in five to ten years, let alone next year. That being said, it will be important for marketers to stay in the loop and decide when might be the best time to stake their own claim in the Metaverse. Interested to see how Bluetext is taking advantage of up-and-coming technologies on behalf of our clients? Contact us. 

Video marketing can be a vital tool when it comes to leveling up your marketing program. Video, as a medium, is an exceptional opportunity to tell your brand’s story and mission using dramatic visuals, voiceover, and music. Video allows you to inject emotion and feeling into your content, something that written mediums like blog posts and product pages just can’t compete with. As some may say, the medium is the message. To humanize your brand and create a memorable connection, audiovisual content can build that bridge. Additionally, the ease with which you can upload your video content to a variety of social media platforms allows you to share your story with as many potential customers and reach as wide an audience as possible. 

Below, we dive deep into the five reasons you need to use video in your marketing strategy and why partnering with a video design and production firm like Bluetext is the right choice for you. 

1. Authentic Video Builds Trust

Perhaps most importantly, video content helps build trust between you and the prospective buyer. Trust is the foundation that drives conversions and overall sales. 57% of consumers say that videos give them more confidence to purchase online. With a great voiceover and a moving music track, videos can provoke a very emotive, and therefore, human response, more impactful than any generic landing page. Having your team on camera explaining your product or service is also a great way to provide prospective customers with a sense of your company culture and why they should work with you. Additionally, video content filmed and edited the right way evokes authenticity and transparency, both key points when aiming to build trust. 

Through our work with Invictus, we produced a video around the story of their unique, military family-oriented mission that resonated with their prospective customers.

2. Explain Difficult Concepts With Ease

We live in a fast-paced visual-based world, where users are less likely to read through a product description and more likely to prefer an infographic or video that explains the solution succinctly. Technology has made us all accustomed to immediate satisfaction in finding the answers we seek. And if users don’t find the information they’re looking for, they lose interest or look elsewhere. Video content reduces the overall effort it takes to learn something new, especially when it may be a difficult concept to understand. If you’re launching a new product or service, explaining its features and advantages will be easier through video than a product landing page. The way the human brain processes information varies by individual, some are more visual learners, some auditory, and even some kinetic. If you don’t have the words to explain your product, the use of animation can help bring any concept to life. An audiovisual medium allows you to effectively reach a wider audience. The quicker someone can understand your product, the quicker the conversion from prospect to a customer will be. 

Through our work with IoT cybersecurity company, Phosphorus, we told the story of their mission and the power of their groundbreaking platform.

3. Google Loves Video Content

There are a variety of reasons Google loves video. Perhaps most importantly, Google places great value in the length of time a user spends on your webpage. If your video content is enticing enough for the user to watch it all the way through, they’re more likely to spend more time watching a video on your site than reading through a lengthy landing page. Additionally, as we know, including keywords in your written content is important in any SEO strategy and helps improve your search rankings. Using the latest Video Intelligence API, Google can catalog the relevant keywords in your videos and increase your ranking in search engine results. Relevant keywords in your video and written content packs the maximum SEO punch into your webpage. Another great reason video content is a great SEO value is as video content can be adjusted to multiple screen sizes, Google ranks this content very high in search results.

4. Mobile Users Benefit

In the world we live in, everyone is glued to their smartphones throughout the day, watching, liking, and sharing content. According to a recent study, 90% of users actually watch videos on their smartphones rather than on computers or televisions. The ready availability of so much video content on smartphones is driving this statistic and will only grow as more and more content is produced. So what does this mean for you? Increasing the amount of video you put into the market will only increase the engagement with your content from prospective customers. Well-produced, informative content will be more likely shared and will lead to increased sales.

5. The Competitive Advantage

Stay one step ahead of the competition by producing video content. A lot of companies are still of the mindset that video content is way too expensive; and sure, some very well-produced content can get expensive when you’re factoring in custom shoots, actors, and multiple 8K cameras. That being said, video content doesn’t have to be expensive. With the right story and a camera as readily available as the one on your smartphone, you can create perfect video content that will resonate with your target audience and lead to many conversions. Being smart with your resources (financial & human) can result in an impressive video that no one would know was built on a budget.

Videos can play a massive role at every stage of the marketing funnel. That being said, creating high-performing video content takes time and effort. Ensure you have the right video content strategy from the get-go and that you maximize authenticity, creativity, and uniqueness. Need support putting together your video content strategy? Contact Bluetext today.

Where is the next great opportunity for your business? Well, government agencies for one. According to USAspending.gov, approximately five trillion dollars is being allocated to government agencies in Fiscal Year 2021, with over $1 trillion going to Health and Human Services alone. These agencies are growing, and their needs for hardware, software, and services are increasing along with them. 

If you are already marketing to “the government,” you understand that winning government contracts is a long sales cycle. The opportunity-to-award process might be 90 days on average, but the lead-up to those 90 days is a critical period where the deal is won or lost. During those 90 days, all data gathering and relationship-building you have done over the previous 2-5 years comes to fruition. So what exactly sets the winning businesses apart? Memorability. Government contracting is a long game, built on endurance. After many years of B2G marketing experience, Bluetext is here to break down what gets your foot in the door and sustains success in business to government marketing.

Division of time between positioning your company for success with government agencies and bidding on specific contract awards.

Winning government contracts is not as simple as pointing your existing sales and marketing engine at a new target. “The government” is not a monolithic entity, and even “the agency” needs to be treated with more nuance: It is composed of dozens of sub-entities that make independent decisions based on independent decision criteria. In enterprise sales, winning over a single decision-maker can often close the deal. In government contracts, groups of stakeholders across the agency influence which business wins the contract, even if a single decision-maker completes the signs off. So instead of persuading a single stakeholder, B2G companies are tasked with winning over multiple groups, at multiple different stages and occasions. Hence, why brand endurance is critical. 

Complicating matters further, traditional channels for establishing relationships with government agencies have been disrupted by the pandemic. Most in-person conferences and meetings will not occur this year, and some will remain online for the foreseeable future. Government stakeholders are more geographically distributed and digitally dependent than ever. 

The tides have shifted. Once an industry that operated in an isolated silo of its own rules, businesses seeking government contracts must adopt new, digital marketing initiatives to effectively position themselves.B2G companies should leverage the data-driven, digital marketing tools developed for B2C companies to segment and personalize their approach to agency stakeholders. B2G is too broad a term, and even business-to-agency (B2A) abstracts away from the customer understanding your company needs to have to win contracts consistently. A business-to-stakeholder (B2S) marketing approach is what your company needs to win consistently.

To succeed in data-driven B2S marketing, we explore:

  1. What success looks like in B2S
  2. The lifecycle of data-driven stakeholder cultivation
  3. The division of labor between internal departments for successful execution of that lifecycle.

Begin with the End Goal in Mind

Before we determine how to develop our marketing and sales pipeline, we need to define success. Agency leadership and stakeholders can frequently change, at a minimum, with every new government administration.

Therefore, we prioritize targets that will allow your company to evolve as agency priorities and decision-makers change. Your company must first make its impression as a strong, reputable industry player, whilst also remaining top of mind through consistent brand recognition and relevant thought leadership content. These are the characteristics of a successful B2A marketing approach:

  • Your company is considered a thought leader in the space where the agency is procuring products and services.
  • Government agency stakeholders regularly call your company to ask your opinion on upcoming agency initiatives, product and service specifications, RFPs, and contract awards. Occasionally, you are invited to co-craft the RFP in ways that position your company to win.
  • You are aware of the potential for shifting priorities months before those shifts occur.
  • Information on the priorities and interests of your agency stakeholders is filtering directly to your sales team, who pass relevant information to content creators, who are crafting bespoke campaigns that reach your contacts as related conversations occur internally at the agencies.
  • Business development staff follow up on that content with meaningful conversations with key stakeholders. Those conversations assure your agency contacts that your company is focused on their individual and organizational priorities.
  • You have both breadth and depth of relationships at the agency: deep relationships with key stakeholders and associations across the organization. A few people leaving the agency does not impact your company’s ability to retain the status and relationships described above.

Does your content dress the part? A sure sign of a reputable industry player is professionally branded collateral assets, such as Invictus

The Stakeholder Development Lifecycle

In order to accomplish those goals, start by treating the agency as a combination of individual stakeholders and stakeholder groups. Organize your company’s sales and marketing approach around the Stakeholder Development Lifecycle for B2A marketing, which includes:

  • Acquiring Stakeholder Contacts: Start with breadth. In order for your company to establish deep relationships in an agency, you need to acquire as many points of contact as possible. Target ads based on geolocation to get in front of as many relevant stakeholders as possible. Get their title, contact information, and social media presence. Build from there.
  • Monitoring Stakeholder Contacts: Capture social media posts, digital content interaction (with a privacy-first approach of course), conference attendance, and internal agency relationship information from contacts over time so that you can understand and target their needs, interests, and priorities.
  • Segmenting Stakeholder Contacts: Based on a contact’s position in the organization and their activities and expressed perspectives, segment them into groups that should be targeted and messaged together consistently.
  • Nurturing Stakeholder Contacts: Develop marketing, business development, and sales outreach that messages contacts according to their segment and the depth of their relationship with your company. Build a customer journey map that helps you identify what messages move contacts deeper into understanding your company’s value proposition and believing in it.
  • Fostering Stakeholder Promoters: Identify your company’s highest value and strongest promoting contacts as the champions your company needs to win individual contract awards. Prioritize according to how naturally the contact aligns with your company’s offerings and how important the contact is to your company’s long-term relationship with the agency.

Stakeholder Development Lifecycle for B2A Marketing

Considering Stakeholder Segments

Within each agency, there are groups of stakeholders with priorities that will govern how well your company competes in a given contract award.  The priorities of the agency can be efficiently stored within a single person’s head. But understanding the priorities of each stakeholder within each stakeholder group requires a data acquisition and data management approach that efficiently captures, aggregates, and generates insights about how your company is positioned with regard to that stakeholder group and the awards they oversee. 

To understand how stakeholder priorities can differ, we use an example company, CyberSample, selling cybersecurity solutions to the Department of Transportation (DoT). 

If CyberSample were to interface only with the DoT’s contract oversight and contract administration team, they would get a simplified and sanitized understanding of what governs the contract award. They would miss the critical details and priorities needed to assuage the concerns of each stakeholder group.

If they were to interface only with agency leadership or technology leadership, they would get a sense of broad organizational priorities and gain credibility from being introduced by internal power brokers. However, unless they leverage those introductions to dig deeper into specific needs surrounding an award, CyberSample’s team is unlikely to understand the tactical needs of technology implementers, users, or initiative leaders. 

Example stakeholder groups and their corresponding priorities for CyberSample are provided in the figure below.

CyberSample stakeholder segments and their priorities. Segments and priorities should be validated by marketing interactions, public discussions, and business development and sales conversations.

Within each agency and with regard to each industry vertical selling into the agency, there will be a different set of stakeholder groups that influence decision-making. Your first task is to gather the intelligence needed to identify, segment, and target each stakeholder group. Taking a card from the B2C marketing playbook, it’s very similar to traditional customer personas, focus groups, data collection and tracking. Businesses that open their minds to alternative digital marketing and outreach methods are putting themselves miles ahead of the competition.  This will allow you to move from a broad B2A approach to a more focused B2S methodology.

Executing on B2S Marketing with a Data-Driven Approach

For the approach described above to be successfully executed, each of your internal departments needs to coordinate. That coordination is built on a shared understanding of the agency landscape. A shared understanding requires a consistent and comprehensive approach to data collection, manipulation, and utilization.

Within the Contact Acquisition phase, your company’s Marketing and Content teams need to develop top-of-the-funnel landing pages, emails, webinars, white papers, and presentations that make agency contacts want to opt-in to a relationship with your company. Your Technology team needs to have the systems in place to capture customer interactions from your web properties and events, as well as to trigger intelligent outreach based on those interactions. Your Data team needs to clean and integrate the information captured from these interactions so that intelligence can filter back to Marketing, Content, Business Development, and Sales.

A summary of your company’s information needs is provided in the table below.

Once your company has acquired contacts and is actively monitoring activity, your Marketing, Content, and Business Development teams need to know what messages are resonating with agency stakeholders, and who are credible thought leaders through which to filter those messages. That provides the platform for new content development and for influencer marketing via the people who already have your stakeholders’ attention. 

Those messages also enable the Business Development team to schedule meetings and start having conversations with stakeholders about their individual priorities and the interaction between those priorities and the organization at large. Your company can surface conflicts between agency groups to discover how to navigate potential barriers to contract awards. 

Meanwhile, your Marketing team can deepen relationships with agency stakeholders through increasingly targeted messaging that moves those stakeholders closer to being promoters of your business. Your Product & Service team can ensure that your product or service value proposition is aligned with the priorities of each stakeholder group as you enter the RFP process. Your Business Development and Sales teams can focus on the individual needs of key stakeholders and customize your messaging to those stakeholders’ needs. 

It is the job of your Data team to ensure that each department has the intelligence they need, when and where they need it, to effectively cultivate those relationships and respond with well-honed sales and marketing messages. 

Below, we illustrate the division of labor between different departments throughout the Stakeholder Development Lifecycle.

Division of Labor Between Departments for the Stakeholder Development Lifecycle

With an improved strategic approach to B2A marketing, focusing directly on the stakeholders, and a commitment to building the infrastructure and processes to gather and interpret data about them, your company will be better positioned to win government contracts for many years to come. 

Centauri utilized Bluetext’s services to launch a new name, brand, and website following a merger. Their go-to-market strategy succeeded in winning new awards, company recruits, and even an acquisition from KBR. Check out how Bluetext has set up more brands for M&A success.

How Do I Get Started? 

For the approach described above to be successfully executed, each of your internal departments needs to coordinate. That coordination is built on a shared understanding of the landscape within the agency. A shared understanding requires a consistent and comprehensive approach to data collection, manipulation, and utilization.

The starting point depends on the maturity of your company, specifically in the Data and Marketing Teams.  For those with fully staffed teams that can execute, you can follow the plan outlined in this post.  

The Data Team holds responsibility for timely, reliable access to data to allow the MarCom Team to execute and your other teams to act on the results. If you are still attempting to develop the overall strategy and buy-in from departmental or executive leadership, or if you don’t have the confidence in the systems in place, Bluetext has several options to  help you move forward: 

  • Data Summit:  This workshop is customized to your specific requirements, but is designed to bring together stakeholders from the relevant departments to educate them on the goals of the initiative, gather input from various departments about any concerns or limitations, and move toward a consensus regarding the strategic approach that will improve your targeted marketing efforts.     
  • Data & Systems Assessment: For those who have made the decision to move forward with improved data-driven marketing, it is critical to have confidence in your data systems (reliability, scalability, and accessibility), data governance (security and policies), and ROI (time to value and budget).  Our assessment process addresses all of these aspects and culminates with the development and delivery of a Data Infrastructure and Capabilities Roadmap (DICR).  The DICR includes the findings of the assessment, strategic vision, proposed infrastructure solution, and an implementation plan (typically phased).

With the organizational buy-in in place, and you have the data and reliable systems in place,  but require assistance in execution in the marketing and content, working with industry-leading partners like Bluetext will allow you to start executing your strategy.    

Bluetext brings the marketing and business development expertise needed to elevate your targeting and messaging and brings the data expertise needed to make your web, marketing, sales, and business development data work for you. Reach out to start the conversation about how we can position your company to succeed with government agency marketing and business development.