It’s no surprise that video has taken the digital ad space by storm. It’s rare that you scroll your newsfeed or surf the web without being served an ad that is relevant to your specific interests. In 2019, 87% of marketing professionals were leveraging video in their media strategies and more than 80% of video marketers saw a stronger ROI than when they ran static banner ads or paid social image ads.
So, why are video ads so popular? And why should marketers continue to invest in video advertising in 2020?
For starters, video inventory is incredibly robust. You can reach users across a variety of different platforms and sites – from social platforms to Connected TV devices. That’s right, you can now tailor ads to reach users while they’re streaming a show through their smart TVs. Marketers can also place video pre-roll ads across premium website inventory, along with video-specific platforms like YouTube, where ads play before or during video content that a user is viewing.
Video ad inventory has expanded across social platforms in the past few years as well, and the results have been significant. Platforms such as Instagram and Facebook see 49% higher interactions on video ads than with image ads. With such impressive engagement metrics, it makes sense that marketers are investing more of their media dollars into paid social video ads. In fact, paid social video ad spend accounted for 28.7% of all video ad spending in 2019 ($10.35 billion). This number is projected to grow to $12.48 billion in 2020.
Unique Ad Formats
The unique ad formats offered through video is another reason why marketers are investing more of their paid media budget into the medium. Sprout Social reports that marketers are increasing their digital video budget by 25% year-over-year due to the increase of new ad formats. For example, marketers are now leveraging Instagram stories to connect with users for :15 seconds through an immersive experience with a full-screen interactive video. In 2019, one-third of Instagram’s most-viewed stories came from businesses, and 20% of those stories drove users to directly message businesses.
Another evolving ad format that businesses are taking advantage of is YouTube’s 6-second bumper ad. YouTube bumper ads are non-skippable, and while quite short, marketers have been able to successfully story-tell through a sequence of these 6-second ads. Google Ads shares that “many large brands are using bumper ads to drive upper-funnel goals like ad recall and awareness…. [they] are a cost-effective way to reach your target audience, ensure your message is seen and heard, and keep you top of mind.”
As mentioned previously, the ability to target users through Connected TV (CTV) devices is a huge win for marketers. There is a shift happening between traditional TV and CTV; many households are ditching cable subscriptions and switching to subscriptions with streaming services such as Hulu, Amazon Prime and Apple TV to get their news and entertainment. By 2022, it’s projected that 35 million viewers will watch TV exclusively through streaming services. The result? Marketers are investing less in traditional TV commercials, and instead, putting those dollars behind non-skippable :15, :30 and :60 second CTV ads. The best part of CTV advertising is that you actually have access to ad data! With traditional TV, networks will provide projected impressions for running commercials during specific time slots; however, with CTV, you’ll know exactly how many users watched your ad, along with viewability metrics and insights into ad recall.
The Future of Video
While banner and image ads have seemingly run their respective courses, the future of video advertising looks promising. With new formats and campaign functions rolling out across platforms specifically for video, marketers should set aside a healthy media budget for testing new video opportunities in 2020.
One new practice that Google Ads recommends is to make your video and search ads work together. Google Ads states that marketers who run search and video together will experience a 45% higher lift in ad recall, and a 180% higher message retention. One brand, in particular, found that running video alongside paid search led to a 4x increase in branded search, and dropped their CPA by 70%.
Another new trend popping up across paid social is the use of live video. Marketers are investing in live video as a means of building trust and transparency with consumers. We’re used to seeing this trend across Instagram and Facebook Stories, and video-first platforms like Snapchat. However, some businesses are migrating live video to LinkedIn to help tell brand stories and to show followers the real people behind the company name. Live video is helping to break down walls and let users connect with businesses in a personal way.
Bottom line: Invest in video advertising in 2020. You’ll be glad you did. Find out how Bluetext has leveraged video ads in successful go-to-market campaigns.
Driving engagement and other key metrics through organic social media is often an important component of a marketing campaign that targets business executives as its target audience. It complements any paid social or media, helps build awareness, and motivates target audiences to click through to a website or other campaign assets.
The question is, how do you determine the best timing in order to get the best results? This is especially tricky, given the short shelf-life of a Tweet, a Facebook post, or a LinkedIn feed. There are many myths regarding when to post organic social to drive the best results for a marketing campaign. Most of them are based on old, out-of-date assumptions, or gut instinct. Bluetext decided to test these to get hard data behind our campaigns.
The Old Common Wisdom on Social
There are some older pieces of conventional wisdom that have become ingrained in practitioners and that date back a dozen or so years to when social media campaigns were relatively new. Here are a couple that seem to make sense, but that we thought might be outdated given today’s “always-on” business culture:
- Don’t post on Mondays or Fridays. On Mondays, people are busy getting ready for the week and are likely to miss the posts. On Fridays, people are leaving early or checking out for the weekend. And never expect them to engage over their busy weekends.
- Avoid first thing in the morning and late in the day. It’s better to try other times when your target market isn’t so busy or trying to clear out of the office to get home.
Why We Wanted to Test Those Assumptions
Ultimately, we weren’t convinced that the older conventional wisdom was still valid. People work more flexible hours now than previously and are on-line and multi-tasking on a regular basis. Here at Bluetext, we wanted to get real data for ourselves so we could make the best recommendations for our clients.
How We Designed the Test
Working with a large client whose target audiences include business executives in the retail space, Bluetext designed a test that would send out social posts across three platforms where the client has a significant presence and following:
We did this over a four-week period, sending out those posts at a different time of day each week. For Facebook and LinkedIn, we also send out posts on different days of the week to see if and how that might make a difference. We looked at re-posts, replies, likes and link clicks.
Contrary to the conventional wisdom, the best results for the test’s Tweets were for those posted at 9:00 am and pm weekdays, outperforming those sent at 8:00 am, noon, or mid-afternoon.
The best results for LinkedIn were for those posted at noon on Tuesdays and Thursdays but other positive results for 9:00 am on Wednesdays and Saturdays.
For Facebook, the best results came at noon on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays & Saturdays.
How to Leverage This New Data
Focus social posts around those best times and dates for each platform, but don’t ignore the other times or days of the week. Although posting content during “off-hours” might not deliver as much engagement, they will help to build awareness.
We all know the feeling: You’re scrolling through social media and you see a sponsored ad for a piece of clothing you were just looking at on your favorite retailer’s website. By now, you’re used to seeing your favorite B2C companies pop up on your social media. While it’s most common for consumer-facing companies to have a strong social media presence, B2B companies can also leverage these platforms in a similar way.
As social media has evolved, we understand much of it to be visual media, a tool that lends itself well toward B2C marketing to drive purchase conversions. While many B2C companies have already seized upon this opportunity, B2B companies can also take advantage of social media to drive insights and profits in much the same way. By turning to the right B2B marketing agency, they can help you develop an organized and creative content strategy and enhance your brand’s messaging.
The Art of LinkedIn
For B2B companies, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn are the most reputable of the social media sites to establish your brand and drive awareness, with LinkedIn being the most impressive in terms of leads generated via social media.
LinkedIn is one of the most important social media channels for B2B companies to focus their attention on. This is where you can interact with industry leaders, potential employees, and future clients. While you may not necessarily be selling your capabilities through these sites, you will be able to express your brand’s legitimacy and display an understanding of your industry’s cutting-edge technologies or thought processes. A B2B marketing agency can help you develop a comprehensive social media plan to ensure that your brand’s page rollout is thoughtful and informed, which gives your company credibility and helps generate leads.
The Stats Say It All
Additionally, 64% of corporate website visits originate on LinkedIn. That’s not a number to ignore. With the right B2B marketing agency and LinkedIn content strategy, you can be generating leads at exponentially higher rates than before you turned to LinkedIn. A B2B marketing agency, like Bluetext, will be sure to engage your audience, resulting in more site visits and leads.
Using social sites such as LinkedIn positions you as a forward-thinker in today’s digital world, illustrating to future clients and employees that your company is modern and innovative. Social media can be your company’s next best marketing tool that drives leads and expands your profit margins. Working with a B2B marketing agency to elevate your brand to its greatest potential ensures that you are taking advantage of all that social media has to offer.
Bluetext is a B2B marketing agency that works to advance our clients’ brands in the digital sphere, resulting in maximum lead generation and profits.
Top digital marketing agencies are quickly learning that mobile retargeting is now a key element in any successful campaign. But moving our clients to this strategy is not always an easy sell, as the many challenges that mobile presents can be intimidating. In spite of the roadblocks, mobile retargeting can increase reach and engagement far beyond other channels. Here are Bluetext’s six top tips for getting started with a mobile strategy:
- Unsure on how to reach target audiences on their mobile devices? Think social media platforms. Today’s target audiences are more likely to browse their social media apps on their mobile than search websites. Take advantage of the tools that Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter offer for their ad campaigns.
- Want to increase mobile traffic to your site? Optimize your website for mobile to fully take advantage of this platform. That means a design that is responsive for all devices, and features simple and concise headlines, titles and other text. More importantly, make sure that images are sufficiently compressed, reduce the number of redirects (nobody wants to wait for a new screen to load), and minimize code to maintain a high-performing experience.
- Not sure how to design for mobile? Think like a visitor to your brand would, accessing your site via a mobile device. That means simplified designs and copy, but also calls-to-action that are clear about where the visitor will land if they click on that button. Viewers don’t want to leave the screen they are on unless they know there they are going.
- Need to improve your reach on mobile? Safari is the leading browser for mobile devices, but leveraging Apple’s tool is not so easy. One simple trick: Make sure you are enabling Safari, which typically blocks third-party cookies in its default setting. Find a provider that is skilled at accessing Safari’s massive number of users.
- Still not seeing the conversions you expect? It could be your landing page. Try to simplify the actions on the landing page to make sure there is no confusion or abandonment from that conversion point.
- Want to get hyper-specific with your targeting? Try geo-fencing for conferences, events, shows and other gatherings of target audiences. Sophisticated new geo-locating tools allow geo-fencing to specific blocks around convention centers, hotels and other venues. Serving ads at the right time and place can pay big rewards.
Any marketing campaign can be much more effective with a mobile component, as long as it’s well-executed.
There’s good news and bad news for companies hoping to make their mark in the cyber security universe. First the good news: The market for these products is huge and growing exponentially. Security Analyst and researcher Richard Stiennon, in a column on Forbes.com and extrapolating from Gartner data, projects a ten-fold increase in IT security spending over the next 10 years- to $639 billion annually by 2023. That’s a number that would have any company executive working overtime to tap into.
But here’s the bad news: This is not exactly a secret. The competition is fierce and growing, as the growing number of solution providers races to meet this demand and take advantage of the opportunity.
It’s easy to have a marketing plan that pushes key messages out to prospective customers. At Bluetext, we think an influencer strategy is essential as part of that plan, and especially in such a crowed space as cyber security.
How any company—from established household names to challenger brands—can break through the noise and the clutter to attract the attention of this market requires an engaging and creative marketing approach that clearly sets it apart and above the competition. This demands a fine understanding of the value it brings to its customers and why it’s the best solution for any particular challenge.
Yet, simply having great creative is only half the battle. Getting that message out to the market is a whole new challenge, and needs both a direct approach and an in-direct strategy—the bank shot to reach the intended audience. Direct tactics are obvious—direct mail, email blasts, online and print advertising, a digital presence, trade shows and webinars; these are all direct appeals to potential customers.
The indirect approach is in many ways more difficult. It requires using industry influencers to reach their larger audiences with your content and messages. That is no small task, and it takes a dedicated investment in time and research. Here are some of the required elements to implement an effective influencer strategy:
1. Identify the best influencers for cyber security.
2. Recruit those influencers as allies and advocates for your thought leadership.
3. Engage those influencers through social media and direct outreach so that they will spread the word to their audiences.
Let’s take these one at a time.
Identify. Identifying the right influencers for any market, and in particular for cyber security, takes some research and digging. The key is finding the leaders who not only have the most followers on social media, but whose content—including tweets, blog posts and news articles—are shared the most frequently. When Bluetext executes an influencer campaign for its clients, we look first at the number of twitter followers and LinkedIn connections for each influencer candidate. But that’s only our starting point. More important is researching their history of shares among that audience. If a particular individual has a large number of followers yet few who share and rebroadcast that content, it could mean that his followers don’t find his content to be valuable, or that he doesn’t post content very often. If there are a lot of shares, retweets and comments, that’s a good indication that the person is read and taken seriously across the industry.
Recruit. Recruiting an influencer doesn’t mean offering them a job. It means building a relationship so that that person knows you are reading his content and pushing it out to your audience. The best way to do this takes work. The first step is to follow that person on Twitter, and to subscribe to his feed if he has a syndication service. The second step requires that the person’s content be reviewed on a daily basis. Any time there is a post that is relevant to your market, share it, follow it, retweet it, comment on it or call it out and add your own perspective. The idea is demonstrate that you are an active fan and follower who is paying attention to the expert.
Engage. Engaging with the influencer is a long-term project. After you have shown interest and built a credible track record of reading and sharing his content, he can be approached as an industry expert, a colleague and a reporter. That might include asking for his opinion on a new development, offering to share an announcement that he might find interesting, and even giving an advance look at a new piece of research or development. The goal is to be viewed the same way that a reporter would view a valuable source—with credibility and interest. When that engagement is solidified, the influencer is much more likely to pay attention to your content and to share it with his audience.
This may seem like a cumbersome process, and Bluetext dedicates a fair amount of energy to make this happen for our clients. But the payoff is significant. Using the bank shot to reach a much broader audience through sources that they trust can help rise above the competition in a crowded and growing market. A smart influencer strategy takes time and commitment, but it’s worth the effort.
Leading digital marketing agencies like Bluetext work in social media everyday for both our clients, and we see firsthand the social media trends that impact the market. The reality is that social media evolves more quickly than any brand could realistically keep pace with.
It wasn’t that long ago that Twitter, for example, was the hottest property in the market and enjoyed the fruits of a successful IPO. Two years later, its share price has plummeted because marketers haven’t been able to figure out how to use it to drive brand awareness, loyalty and revenue. As it has become the pulpit of choice for politicians, sports figures and entertainers, brands have struggled with the character and video limitations and are moving on to other platforms to build engagement with their target audiences.
This is a long way of showing that understanding social media trends is important to an effective and successful social media program. Here, then, are five trends to watch in 2017 to keep your social media campaign on track:
- Fads can make for great content, but you need to move fast. Remember Planking? Hard to believe that was nearly three years ago. More recently, the current fad was the Mannequin Challenge. The shelf live of both of these was a matter of two or three months. If you think a fad will provide good social media fodder for your brand, by all means go for it. Just do it asap, because the it won’t be popular for long.
- The value of Social Media to marketers is continuing to expand, if done right. It’s no longer just about building a brand, but is now being used not only for customer engagement, but for brand recognition, customer service, and driving sales. We leverage tools like boosted posts and retargeting as a key element in lead generation.
- Social Platforms are getting sophisticated – and expensive. Social media companies have seen the green from marketers, and are building in some very sophisticated tools to take advantage of their growing audiences and the insights and information they have on them. At the same time, it’s now harder to have content go viral and to get an organic boost, due to the competition for attention and the algorithms that platforms are deploying. As a result, boosted and paid campaigns are becoming the norm.
- Video’s influence will become even stronger. Video content as a driver of social media engagement is only getting more entrenched. Don’t fight this trend. Use video as much as you can, as long as it’s content that is interesting, relevant and delivers value. If it’s clever or fun, even better.
- “Immersive” will continue to be the goal. Bringing your target audiences along for the ride is more effective than ever as a marketing and sales tool. SnapChat and Instagram are going to town on this trend with their “Stories” capabilities. Digital Briefing Centers and virtual reality will continue to be popular. Don’t just tell them, take them on the journey.
Want to learn more about how your brand can employ these 2017 social media trends to drive your marketing goals? Bluetext would be more than happy to help.
The world has changed dramatically with social media. Businesses are following suit. Salesforce found that 70 percent of brands are increasing their social media spend this coming year.
Social media isn’t just an alternative to traditional media—it’s turning the traditional model on its head. Since the beginning of the modern era, consumers made purchasing decisions based on the advertisements that they saw or heard. Today, it’s easier to connect with other consumers via social media and make better purchasing decisions by learning about their experiences with a product or service.
People expect brands to talk with them rather than at them. They no longer want brands that merely sell to them, but rather they prefer brands to entertain and inform them. In this new paradigm, influencers are a force to be reckoned with. Brands can strategically partner with the right personalities to spark organic conversations and seduce their followers.
Simply having even one influencer share your content across their social platforms can result in a huge surge in social reach and engagement. But how can we get an influencer to share our content to their large and loyal following?
In this Bluetext ebook, we frame out 6 ways to get influencers to share your content to their large and juicy audiences.
Designing, developing and implementing a new website can be very rewarding, especially when design and functionality work together to deliver a great experience for your audience. But it’s not always easy. Understanding the audience, how it interacts with your site, how it likes to obtain information, and what it responds best to is complicated and takes a lot of insight and experience. We know. We do it for a living.
That’s why we are proud to show off our own new website here at Bluetext. We are not the cobbler’s kids who don’t have shoes. Our website has been a key element in our success, and we keep it both cutting edge and fresh. One of our key objectives is to show off the great work we have done for our clients.
For our regular visitors, you may not notice some of the new design changes. There are additional case studies, the information is laid out in a more logical manner, and you will see new graphics and promotions. But from the back-end, it’s a significant progression for us.
The site is hyper-optimized for search engines, leveraging the latest changes in the Google search algorithms to ensure that the site gets the most organic traffic. It is closely integrated into our analytics and marketing automation platforms so we can track how people are using and interacting with the site. It’s also focused on delivering a personalized experience so that visitors can quickly get to the content they want and don’t have to revisit the home page each time. We’ve improved the load times so that everyone should have a good experience on the site. This is partly in response to Google’s rewarding good user experience, including load times for images and videos, in its search results.
We’ve also focused heavily on mobile as more content and sites are optimized for a mobile-first experience. The site is fully responsive. The creative displays are better and will provide examples of our work in more categories so that visitors can quickly find exactly what they are looking for. We’ve also enhanced the blog for greater industry insights on trends and best practices that we are seeing in the market, and have included an Ideas and Resources section on the home page.
So check it out, take it for a test drive, bang on the doors and kick the tires. Let us know what you think, and ask us how Bluetext can help you achieve greater success for your brand.
With roughly one month until Star Wars: The Force Awakens hits the theaters, I’ve decided to channel my inner Obi Wan Kenobi for the latest edition of “these are not the softball questions your CEO was looking for.”
The CEO in question here is Jerry Strizke, head of outdoor gear and clothing store REI, who became just the latest executive to fall victim to Reddit’s Ask Me Anything (AMA) series. The Reddit AMAs are pretty much as the name implies – actors, politicians, executives, athletes and everyday individuals – can try to set up a Q&A with Reddit members, with the only requirement being that members can ask any question they want (within guidelines of course). The topics range from an actor’s movie career to a guy driving furniture down to Fort Worth, Texas, and as you might guess, the topic and guest strongly correlate with the number of Redditors who join.
REI CEO Jerry Strizke was probably feeling pretty confident ahead of his November 10th AMA. After all, he had received mostly widespread plaudits for the decision to close REI on Black Friday and still pay employees despite what would be a negative hit on revenues. Riding that wave of good publicity, the decision was made to pull the trigger on the Reddit AMA, despite the long list of others who exited the series bloodied, battered and beaten (see: Woody Harrelson, Morgan Freeman, Ann Coulter who, like Admiral Ackbar, realized too late that, “it’s a trap!”)
Sure enough, the bio posted for Strizke to kickoff the Reddit AMA oozed with confidence:
Hi Reddit. I’m Jerry Strizke, CEO of REI. You might have heard about us recently when we announced that we would be closing all of our stores on Black Friday this year. We’re paying our 12,000 employees to take the day off and we’re encouraging them to opt out of the Black Friday madness and spend the day outdoors with loved ones. I have my team here helping me answer questions, so go easy on me. I’m new to Reddit and have already learned the hard way that /r/Trees isn’t about the great outdoors. Ask me anything!
Ask they did, and while some certainly addressed the store closing, the most upvoted comment was for an employee who painted a negative picture of working for REI and that if you don’t sell enough memberships, it’s bad news as that is the overwhelming metric that matters. That commenter was far from the only one to rail about working conditions.
Reddit AMAs, Twitter chats and other free-flowing forums that allow executives to interact directly with a large number of people hold appeal for numerous reasons, ranging from a desire to make the CEO seem more accessible to a genuine desire to shift from one-way communications to a two-way dialogue. For any business considering a CEO Twitter Chat, Reddit AMA or similar forum, there are a handful of strategies to consider:
- Reaching an unreachable audience – The controversial guests who appeared on The Jon Stewart Show who succeeded are the ones who fully understood what they were getting into. The ones who knew they were going to take their hits, could be good-natured about it, and still effectively get their messages across. There may be times when the audience you are trying to reach is difficult to access via traditional public relations, marketing, advertising and social media. If the target audience is critical to your business as a CEO or career success as an actor, then a case can be made to evaluate these higher risk opportunities.
- Weigh risks vs. rewards – What is the goal of a Reddit AMA, or Twitter chat? They must be clearly defined, and the marketing/social team must put significant efforts into preparation and execution – without making it look like an overly rehearsed, staged event. Think carefully about what the best-case scenario payoff is, relative to the viral risks of hosting a Twitter chat or AMA gone wrong.
- Be wary of CEO hubris – Even if you lay out the challenges of a series such as AMA, many CEOs will feel that it won’t happen to them. That they can be funny and witty and disarm even the most hostile questions. If you view these types of opportunities as something to “win” or “lose”, you will lose. The goal should be to communicate desired messages and understand that not everyone will respond favorably.
- You can’t cherry pick questions – Some of the most universally panned AMAs and Twitter chats have as much about what the interviewee didn’t say as it was about what they said. Ignoring tough questions or failing to answer many questions at all can draw even more scorn then giving bad answers, because it will be apparent the CEO and handlers are trying to tightly control the session and use it purely as a marketing vehicle.
When it comes to where a brand should spend its video ad dollars, YouTube has long been the go-to destination. With more than 3 billion video views per day, content producers direct the majority of its efforts here – and unsurprisingly the advertiser budgets have followed.
But this presumption is being seriously tested by a video traffic explosion – chronicled in great detail by Fortune magazine writer Erin Griffith – underway at Facebook. Facebook users are watching 4 billion video streams a day, which is a 4x jump from just twelve months ago. Granted, Facebook counts a “view” as any video that plays for three seconds, which means that users scrolling down their feed and allowing a video to briefly auto play before moving on inflates the view total. Nonetheless, 4 billion is 4 billion.
Fortune’s Griffith goes into some of the reasons behind social network’s video success – which unsurprisingly includes efforts by engineers to adjust algorithms that make it not only easier to watch videos, but also to share them. While Griffith’s focus is on how all of this impacts advertisers and where they spend their money, Facebook’s rapidly growing impact with video presents a conundrum for B2B and B2G brands and the public relations/marketing firms that represent them.
In evaluating the major social networks and where to focus resources, investment and, most importantly, content, Facebook typically comes up last for firms seeking to influencer decision makers across government and businesses. Sure, everyone is on Facebook, so it goes, but the working assumption is that the largest social network is where you go to view new pics of the grandkids or post updates from the beach – not to consume B2B/B2G focused content.
Griffith’s article supports as much when it comes to videos, with the author pointing out that, “…Facebook’s biggest advantage over YouTube and other video providers may be boredom.” Griffith suggests someone lands on a YouTube video either because they are searching directly for it or a related topic, or a video being shared is ultimately sourced on that site. With Facebook, most of the time we are watching videos because we are killing time on the site and it is just another thing to do.
Because Bluetext works with so many B2G and B2B firms, social media strategy comes up quite a bit. Often, recommendations lean towards LinkedIn, Twitter and YouTube depending on the ultimate goal and category of decision makers the client is trying to reach. Even with B2B and B2G clients for whom we are not supporting social media, Facebook is usually trailing the pack in their social efforts.
But the fact is that Facebook drives one-quarter of all web traffic, and its video traffic explosion demands B2B and B2G firms reevaluate how best to use the site with video content. Is it ideal for placing corporate marketing, event or deeply technical product and service videos? No, absolutely not. But are there times when Facebook, rather than YouTube, should be ground zero for launching a more consumable brand humor video or engaging content that can be easily viewed – and shared – across Facebook and then on to other destinations? 4 billion video streams a day say yes, and going forward B2B and B2G brands may be saying yes as well.