Marketing Agency vs. In-House Team: Which Should You Choose?

Marketing Agency vs. In-House Team: Which Should You Choose?

Like most business owners, you know you need to effectively market your business in order to expand your sphere of influence and engage new customers – but you’re unsure of the right approach. Is it more practical to recruit a dedicated marketing team to manage all your marketing in-house? Or is it wiser to enlist the services of an experienced digital marketing agency to tackle it for you?

Both are reasonable options, but there are also ramifications connected with either decision. In this article, we’ll take a look at the pros and cons of hiring a digital marketing agency versus hiring an in-house marketing team.

3 Time-Tested Methods for Growing Your Business

If you want to grow your business (and why wouldn’t you?), there are a few tried-and-true methods you can employ to attract new customers:

  • Word of Mouth & Referrals
  • Advertising & Marketing  (PPC, SEO, Social Media)
  • Direct Sales  (Cold Calls, Email Blasts, Knocking on Doors)

In a perfect world, a business would land so many new customer referrals that they wouldn’t have to shell out money for advertising, marketing, or direct sales. But when you’re first getting started in business, referrals can be hard to rely on. Because of this, many companies will contemplate hiring an in-house marketing team or outsourcing their marketing to an agency. Let’s examine both options:

WHY HIRE AN IN-HOUSE MARKETING TEAM?

Based on your specific business needs, it might seem more reasonable to employ a dedicated marketing team in-house. Sure, you’re accruing additional salary expenses to the business, but you’re also gaining total control over how your marketing plan is put into action.

Recruiting an experienced, skilled marketing manager who can take charge of every aspect of your marketing efforts can help grow lead generation and steadily attract new customers. So, let’s weigh the pros and and cons of hiring an in-house marketing team:

PROS:

In-House Marketers Have a Deeper Understanding of the Business

Someone who works for your business is naturally going to have a much better understanding of the needs of your customers. They’re more acquainted with your products and services, as well as how best to promote them to clientele. If you’re a B2B organization – one that specializes in selling products and services to other companies – this may be even more critical, as an outside agency might not be as familiar with your specific market.

In-house marketers are likely to feel more connected to and in line with your overall business strategy. Chances are, they also have a fairly solid knowledge base and awareness of previous campaigns – and whether or not they have been successful – without having to go to the trouble of researching them, like an agency would. Additionally, an in-house team gives you creative control over the end-to-end digital process.

An In-House Marketing Team Is Focused On Your Brand Only

While marketing agencies will certainly make the effort to familiarize themselves with your brand and devote ample time to its marketing strategy, they’re also focused on the marketing needs of their other clients. 

By contrast, in-house marketing personnel are able to focus on your business 100% of the time. Each of their marketing efforts is customized to your specific needs. They spend time examining what’s working for you and making adjustments to marketing goals and processes. Because of this singular focus, your in-house marketing team is liable to put forth more ideas that are unique to your business.

In-House Marketers Are Available All Workweek Long

With a dedicated in-house marketing team, you don’t have to schedule a time to meet – you can brainstorm or revise plans anytime you need to.

Having convenient access to key decision-makers in real time can help streamline creative timelines and project management much more so than if a project has been outsourced.

CONS:

Oprah Winfrey saying,

In-House Marketing Can Be Inconsistent and Lackluster

One of the challenges of having just one or two people working on your marketing is that it’s often a part-time role. In-house personnel might already have other duties they’re expected to perform, and handling the business’s marketing needs is simply bundled into their job description.

As a consequence, consistency plummets quickly. It’s conceivable that weeks could go by without any new content being posted and ad campaign statistics going unmonitored.

Additionally, if budget constraints prevent you from recruiting a diverse team of crackerjack marketers, the content created by these individuals might be lifeless and uninspired as a result.

Yoda saying,

An In-House Marketing Team May Have Limited Training Time

Marketing agencies often spend a considerable amount of time and resources ensuring that their employees are updating their knowledge and skills. Ongoing training can entail attending marketing conferences or webinars, exchanging articles and resources online, and brainstorming between various departments.

By contrast, in-house marketers usually have less time to dedicate to improving their skills. They also don’t have the benefit of learning from or collaborating with other marketing departments. While you may initially hire individuals based on their digital marketing experience and expertise, once they’re a part of your in-house team they are far less likely to have the time and resources available to continue to maintain and refine their skills.

Steve Martin unsuccessfully trying to think of new ideas.

In-House Marketers May Run Out of Fresh Ideas

Effective marketing demands inherently imaginative minds that thrive on change. When a small in-house marketing team is focused on managing your brand alone, creativity can begin to languish over time. It’s difficult to keep formulating new and innovative strategies to promote products and share content when you have no one outside your circle to bounce ideas off. 

In some cases, company leadership keeps a tight rein on their creative team and doesn’t give them leeway to take chances and try new things. There may also be some overarching arrogance on the part of leadership, believing that no one outside the organization can represent the company as effectively as its employees.

Some rando guy saying really slowly,

Companies Must Foot the Bill for Retaining an In-House Team

In the short term, it can seem like you’re getting a better bargain by opting for a small in-house marketing team. But ultimately, it can become considerably more costly.

When you first link up with a marketing agency, you can anticipate paying out more money to get you set up – but these costs will dramatically decrease to monthly maintenance over time.

With an in-house team, you will continue to pay them an annual salary, as well as benefits and paid time off in most cases. With cost-of-living increases, this amount will only grow.

Digital Marketing Graphic with Soaring Rocket

WHY HIRE A DIGITAL MARKETING AGENCY?

Securing the services of a digital marketing agency can feel like a monumental maneuver. Typically, there’s a preliminary meeting, a contract of some duration, numerous discussions regarding the scope of work, and interacting with a variety of different people on the team. Finding the ideal agency can involve a great deal of time and effort.

Then there’s the cost. Working with an agency is oftentimes more expensive than “DIY” marketing or recruiting in-house personnel, primarily because the agency is more experienced. But a digital marketing agency can deliver a more expansive array of services and also churn out higher-quality work. Here are some pros and cons of hiring a digital marketing agency:

PROS:

Professional Marketers Have Specialized Skill Sets

Effective marketing demands a multifaceted approach, involving content creation, social media management, email marketing, search engine optimization (SEO), pay-per-click advertising (PPC), graphic/website design, and web development. Assembling an in-house marketing team teeming with all this talent is no easy undertaking.

When you partner with a reputable digital marketing agency, you gain access to an entire team of specialists – each of whom knows their niche and understands how best to get results. These passionate and knowledgeable marketers routinely manage a wide range of clientele, making it all the more probable that they’ll implement the proper strategies for your company with not as much trial and error.

A Marketing Agency Can Offer a Fresh Perspective

Companies that have been in business for any significant period of time may ultimately come to the realization that they’re circulating the same ideas over and over again. Campaigns start to look alike, and copywriters continue using the same terminology to describe things. In-house marketers keep trying to devise new and innovative ideas, but it’s getting more and more challenging to do so.

This is entirely normal. There’s a natural limit to how long a company can craft quality content when they’re promoting the same products and services day in and day out. It’s easy to become single-minded when working from inside an organization. For this reason, getting an outside perspective can be immensely beneficial to a business.

Partnering with an agency can help you view your company from a different perspective and bring a fresh approach to your marketing strategy. While it’s true that an outside agency will not have a thorough, expansive understanding of your company’s brand and history, this can actually be beneficial. An agency can objectively identify opportunities that might have gone unnoticed or were not as easily recognizable by in-house personnel.

Digital marketing specialists have years of knowledge and experience, and they’re trained to analyze your business from the consumer’s or client’s viewpoint. The old adage “two heads are better than one” is especially relevant when it comes to digital marketing.

Additionally, an agency may be more willing to push the envelope and think unconventionally. This can bring about increased ingenuity and quite possibly more successful marketing strategies.

Consistency and Speed of Work are Hallmarks of Digital Marketing Agencies

Consistency and Speed of Work Are Hallmarks of Marketing Agencies

When generating new marketing collateral, it’s easy for an organization to become careless about what and when to communicate. More often than not, attending to customers is their primary focus, and marketing takes a back seat.

As the majority of in-house personnel have other responsibilities apart from their marketing roles, the amount of time they have available to keep up to date on all the latest social media, SEO, content marketing, and branding trends is extremely limited.

By contrast, when you outsource your marketing efforts to an agency, they are able to jump in and start implementing strategies right away, carrying out each project from planning to completion. Because these agencies routinely handle a wide array of client accounts, they typically work far more efficiently than an in-house marketing team.

Over time, these agile marketers have designed state-of-the-art workflows and processes that are built for quality, volume, and efficiency. Outsourced agencies will strive to make sure that your content, ad campaigns, and social media marketing are all sent out on time and looking great, as well as ensuring that your branding is consistent.

Kim Kardashian flashing that cash

Marketing Agencies Are Cost-Effective Over the Long Term

While partnering with an outside agency might seem more expensive at face value, when you compare it to the costs of recruiting a full team of dedicated marketers, it’s a bargain! In-house personnel can set your company back hundreds of thousands of dollars per year in salaries, benefits, and technology investments.

Alternatively, you might choose to designate a single, in-house employee to handle all of your social media marketing, graphic design, and online advertising. But for less than the costs associated with that one individual, you could hire an agency and gain access to an entire team of specialists who are experienced in meeting the needs of a variety of diverse clients in multiple industries.

Working with an agency that comprehends your specific needs will allow your company to move swifter, secure better outcomes, and make decisions more effortlessly. You may not even have to work with an agency long-term at full scale – once you’re up and running successfully, you may only have to manage maintenance fees, which are considerably less by comparison.

Schitt's Creek:

Outsourcing to an Agency Gives Your Company a Competitive Edge

Competition is fierce and technologies evolve at lightning speed. Thus, it’s essential to keep up-to-date with the latest trends in order to stay ahead of your competitors. It’s conceivable to do this with an in-house team if your organization is prepared to invest in marketing education, new technology, and advanced resources. But most aren’t.

Fortunately, staying on top of the most current digital marketing techniques is an agency’s lifeblood. Marketing agencies often enjoy early access to cutting-edge technologies, tools, and software – most of which just aren’t available to smaller, in-house marketing teams.

Unless your internal marketing team is large enough to justify the costs of ongoing education and technology, it’s generally more economical to outsource your marketing to an agency.

CONS:

Will Smith on The Fresh Prince of Bel Air looking nervously uncertain.

Partnering with a Marketing Agency Can Incur Higher Costs Over the Short Term

Depending on how many functions you decide to pass on to an agency, you can expect to spend a bigger chunk of your marketing budget than you would with a single, in-house professional – at least at first.

But, as previously mentioned, you can’t always get the best results when entrusting all of your marketing efforts to one person. If you’re currently covering the total cost of salaries and benefits of supporting an entire in-house team, you might find that outsourcing to a marketing agency is actually more affordable.

When you link up with an external agency, it’s important to bear in mind that, in addition to gaining access to a whole team of professional marketers, you’re also laying the foundations of a long-term marketing strategy that will gradually decrease costs and improve overall profitability.

Naturally, being businesses themselves, marketing agencies have their own salaries, taxes, and other expenses that must be met. In order to accomplish this, they have to set prices for each of their various services. Most agencies are upfront about their pricing and are willing to adjust their fee structures to meet your budget.

While an agency might cost more in the short term, they are going to be able to generate better returns that you can measure right away. This signifies that you know the value that you’re paying for.

Dream Corp:

Marketing Agencies May Lack Your Knowledge of the Industry

While some marketing agencies concentrate on a specific industry, most of them work with clients in a variety of markets. Consequently, they may not have the degree of knowledge you have about your products and services.

In such cases, there will be a bit of a “discovery period” in the early days of a project until the agency has become familiar with the particulars of your central business processes. Even agencies that have worked with a vast array of clients will need time to grasp your customers’ needs.

As each market is distinct, what performs well for one business could fail miserably for another. You won’t want to squander money on a campaign that will turn out to alienate potential customers.

Finding a firm with demonstrated results in your field can help counterbalance a lack of industry knowledge.

The Umbrella Academy:

It Can Take Time for Agencies to Get Up to Speed On a Company

It can be hard to get down to business straightaway after hiring an agency. The client-agency partnership needs time to ensure proper alignment to the client’s stated objectives.

A creditable marketing agency will want to gain a deep understanding of your clients and identify what it is that they’re looking for. At the same time, they’ll need to make certain they have a grasp of your brand’s voice and image.

After taking the time to evaluate your goals and prior marketing efforts with their team, the agency will work to determine what direction to take with your marketing and make certain that you approve of it as well.

Once a campaign has concluded, the agency will ask for your feedback so that they can adapt and enhance your marketing strategy going forward. All of these things take time, and a freewheeling approach won’t produce the optimal results.

You Can Expect Lots of Meetings, Especially At First

When outsourcing your marketing to an agency, you can anticipate taking part in lots of meetings and discussions, especially at the outset of the relationship.

Every single aspect demands your consent and stamp of approval early on, and you can’t relegate the critical decisions to the agency. It can be burdensome at times – being tasked with reviewing a new web design or web content, or greenlighting ad campaigns – but it’s an integral part of the process.

As the client-agency relationship progresses, you can expect to continue having regular meetings in order to:

Warner Archive:

Regular Communication with Marketing Agencies Can Be Challenging

Effective communication is crucial to keeping your marketing plan running smoothly. But when you partner with an outside marketing agency, you won’t always have instant access to your team. Lack of physical proximity is a natural barrier, and face-to-face communication is understandably more limited.

Communicating with your agency partners often takes place via phone or email, and they may be slower to respond to requests, questions, or concerns than you’d prefer. While meetings can be arranged, they typically occur hours or days later.

The fact of the matter is, you aren’t the agency’s only client – you may not even be their biggest client. Agencies routinely manage multiple accounts for a variety of clients. If other clients contract for more services, your company’s project may not be prioritized as highly. Simply put, it can be easy to get lost in the shuffle.

Principled marketing agencies, however, work to ensure that no client feels less valued than another. They strive to keep in constant contact with each of their clients and make a conscious effort to respond to concerns quickly.

Final Thoughts

Both recruiting an in-house marketing team and outsourcing to an agency have their benefits and drawbacks. Neither option is inherently “right” or “wrong” for any business.

In order to determine which approach is right for your company, it’s important to examine your short-term marketing goals as well as your long-term growth strategy. Weighing these against your own team’s strengths and weaknesses is critical in assessing whether you should keep your marketing initiatives in-house or entrust them to outside experts. In addition, identifying which particular services your company needs and what your marketing budget is are essential to reaching a final decision.

Many companies already have a core of in-house individuals tasked with handling their marketing. By and large, in-house personnel live and breathe the company brand and are likely to have a far more in-depth understanding of the business’s unique selling proposition, product set, and buyer personas. Thus, in-house marketers may be better qualified to create relevant content and effective communication strategies for the company.

Nevertheless, the range of expertise and resources available to in-house marketers may be limited – indeed, they may find it difficult to implement new software or keep pace with ever-evolving trends and technologies.

There’s a steep learning curve involved with digital marketing, and teaming up with an external agency can help avoid classic “newbie” mistakes. Instead of spending time and effort exploring various possibilities, agency specialists will formulate and carry out a hard-and-fast plan without delay, so you can receive a quicker return on your investment.

Many organizations find that a hybrid approach to marketing works best. Outsourcing key services to agency specialists can not only be extremely cost-effective, it also provides an outside perspective which can help in-house marketing teams recognize opportunities to improve. Keeping some of your resources in-house also helps the company maintain some degree of direct control over its content, branding, and other marketing resources.

Now that you’ve had a chance to analyze the pros and cons of retaining an in-house marketing team versus partnering with an outside agency, it’s time to take the next step.

If you or your business could benefit from the services of a professional, full-service digital marketing agency, HighClick Media is here to help! 

HighClick provides comprehensive digital media and online marketing solutions for businesses of all sizes. Our talented team of creative thinkers, innovators, and digital marketers bring skill above and beyond the ordinary to every project, resulting in explosive business success!

Whether you’re looking for a fresh website design, brand development, email and social media marketing, search engine optimization (SEO), or pay-per-click advertising (PPC), our highly skilled team is fully equipped to assist you!

Reach out to us today by calling 252.814.2150 or visit our website for a full description of our services!

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What the Emergence of 5G Wireless Means For Marketing

What the Emergence of 5G Wireless Means For Marketing

It’s been a decade since 4G – the last generation of mobile network technology – was introduced. With its arrival, the landscape of digital media and mobile communication was forever altered.

Smartphones and other devices designed to fully utilize 4G wireless technology gave consumers the power of supercomputers in the palms of their hands, enabling them to quickly and easily search the internet for products, services, reviews, and media, as well as find answers to nearly any question imaginable.

In a short period of time, we’ve come to take 4G’s capabilities for granted. It’s worth bearing in mind, however, that many of today’s mobile apps – with their capacity for streaming video and audio and in-app advertising and purchases – could not have existed on 3G.

No previous generation of mobile technology has had the wherewithal to drive economic growth to the extent that 5G promises. Much like the advent of 4G made it possible for services like Uber and Lyft to launch, 5G is likely to spark a brand-new wave of tech titans.

5G also gives every indication of opening up more opportunities for the growth of the Internet of Things (IoT), connecting everything from your house lights to your garage door and even your toaster to the internet. This translates into more people and more devices spending more time connected to the internet, increasingly consuming more content.

While it could take as long as a decade to realize the full potential of the technology, 5G is projected to cover up to 65% of the global population by the end of 2025, fielding as much as 45% of global mobile data traffic. When 5G wireless networks and devices finally start to take root, they will fundamentally change customer behavior and open up new marketing opportunities for organizations.

WHAT IS 5G?

5G, the fifth-generation cellular wireless network, is a cloud-based network that connects people on mobile devices to the internet remarkably faster than previous networks. While 4G requires cables and infrastructure to operate smoothly in a neighborhood, 5G’s cellular towers enhance cloud-based signals, eliminating many cable-related needs.

Whereas preceding wireless networks were only truly capable of powering mobile devices up to the size of a tablet, 5G will be strong enough and fast enough to effortlessly power computers, televisions, and even smart devices.

5G technology carries with it the potential for download speeds up to 100 times faster than 4G; very low latency (the time it takes for a network to send a data packet after it’s requested from a receiving device); higher network capacity (the ability to connect far more devices to a network simultaneously); and faster message transmission, due to supercharged connectivity.

The possibilities of 5G are limitless and could transform the digital marketing landscape in more ways than we can conceive of.

HOW 5G WIRELESS WILL CHANGE CONSUMER BEHAVIOR

The expansion of 5G will be powered by the introduction of 5G-compatible iPhones and Android phones in the near future. This will likely spawn a huge wave of smartphone upgrades. Along with being on a faster network, these devices will feature better-quality screens, faster processors, higher-resolution cameras, and other improved components.

Once customers have acquired these compatible devices, wireless carriers will begin vying for these customers by building out their respective networks. This build-out will take some time, but 5G should be an everyday experience for the majority of Americans within the next 3 to 5 years.

Faster internet speeds on 5G-supported devices will make surfing the internet, watching videos, and online shopping much more attractive on mobile. This will likely motivate consumers to use their mobile devices even more often than before. Already, 37% of web traffic and 56% of revenue is from mobile devices, according to Smart Insights. As 5G expands to more communities, these numbers will certainly escalate even further.

With better and faster data exchanges, 5G will also lead to enhanced location accuracy. Having relevant data in hand to increase targeting accuracy for any ad, search page, or web page experience means improved results for both consumers and brands. Consumers will enjoy a better experience and marketers will reach a more targeted audience. While this won’t necessarily change the tactics that local marketers use to connect to their audience, it will increase the chances that the consumers they reach are the right ones.

WHAT 5G MEANS FOR MARKETING

A Solid Online Presence Is Essential

With higher loading speeds and dependable, super-fast connections, people will be able to consume more online content, faster. In fact, early users of the 5G network have reported using four times more data than they did previously. Consumers are likely going to be spending more time browsing, scrolling, and swiping on the internet and less time viewing traditional content like cable TV, newspapers, and magazines. More screen time translates into more opportunities to reach your target audience.

If your brand doesn’t currently exist on all the relevant platforms, now’s the time to establish and develop a solid online presence. If you haven’t already launched a website, this is a crucial first step. Set up and optimize your business profiles on all the major social media networks, including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram. Consider creating marketing videos aimed at increasing brand awareness. Starting a company blog is an excellent way to build a community and provoke conversations among industry peers.

Digital Ads Will Be on More Screens & Surfaces

With 5G and advancing Wi-Fi technologies, wireless internet is going to be noticeably faster and more widespread, even in rural locations. Due to the higher network speeds, visual and media in digital ads could be much more advanced.

Currently, digital ads can be seen on smartphones, websites, and occasionally on screens at shopping centers and airports. Super-fast wireless connectivity means high-end screens could be located anywhere an internet connection exists. Quite literally, any surface has the potential to become an interactive digital marketing ad platform. Faster speeds could even open the door for functional holographic ads. 

Super-fast wireless connectivity means that high-end screens could be located anywhere an internet connection exists. Faster speeds could even open the door for functioning holographic ads. In a world where literally any surface has the potential to become an interactive digital marketing ad platform, advertisers can dramatically increase the number of locations and methods by which they can reach potential customers.

Augmented Reality (AR) & Virtual Reality (VR)

For years, marketers have deemed immersive technologies like virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) to be rife with potential for paid advertising. While some major brands have played around with VR and AR for some time, opportunities in these areas have been constrained based on Wi-Fi access.

One of the chief reasons why VR, AR, and other forms of extended reality (XR) haven’t yet become widespread in popularity is because these technologies demand significant bandwidth, less latency, and greater speed than 4G is capable of providing. The expansion of 5G networks will allow advertisers to utilize this format with more reliability and less lag.

Augmented reality inherently relies on immersion. A lag or stutter can shatter the illusion. In order to maintain the suspension of disbelief, the AR experience needs to be utterly convincing, real-time, and executed seamlessly. As internet speeds accelerate, delivering on these requirements is becoming progressively easier.

Low latency and high system capacity will improve overall consistency, helping to bring smooth, immersive experiences into mainstream reality, and offering a wealth of opportunities for marketers.

 

In the near future, we can reasonably expect to see brands launching innovative and compelling messaging using high-quality, interactive creative imagery overlaid on practically every surface imaginable. This innovative marketing content will likely be viewable not just when wearing standard AR-enhanced glasses, but also in store windows, on walls, in car dashboards, and on next-generation mobile devices that also function as projectors.

Internet of Things (IoT) Will Reach Its Full Potential

The Internet of Things (IoT) describes the concept of connecting any possible device to the internet. This goes beyond the obvious connected “things” like computers, cell phones, smart TVs, cameras, home security systems, and wearable devices (Apple Watches and FitBits, for example), and extends to more commonplace items like thermostats, lighting fixtures, household appliances, doorbells, and even barbecue grills. All of these and more can be controlled through devices such as smartphones or smart speakers.

While many IoT devices are capable of functioning on 4G networks, connections between devices generally can’t rely on transferring large amounts of data because there simply isn’t enough bandwidth. With the increased bandwidth that 5G networks will bring, the number of connected items will skyrocket, and the connection between these items will become more efficient and seamless.

As adoption of 5G continues to increase, the amount of data generated by IoT devices will also grow exponentially. Marketers will have to learn to separate the valuable data from the “junk,” but once they’re able to reliably pinpoint the good data to use on a large scale, the possibilities are endless.

What benefits can marketers derive from this treasure trove of data?

  • Understand audiences more deeply in order to better personalize their messaging
  • Generate contextual and location-based ads that are hyper-targeted to reach their ideal audience
  • Create timely, relevant content for prospective customers at each stage in the buying journey
  • Listen to the needs of their customers based on their behavior
  • Make real-time adjustments to marketing campaigns based on ongoing data analysis

Going forward, advertisers should be ready to interface with users across a variety of different devices using a vast array of ad formats.

More Interactive Advertising

Up to this point, buffering and other technological limitations have impaired the accessibility of interactive ads.

At present, advertisers are tasked with finding a happy medium between producing compelling creative content and minimizing webpage load times. High-definition or interactive digital display ads lengthen the amount of time it takes for a page to load, which can cause some website visitors to skedaddle before they even see the ad.

5G download speeds will be fast enough that marketers will no longer be limited with regard to the quality of creative features on a webpage. 4K and live videos will be commonplace across the internet, even on mobile.

Since interactive ads won’t negatively impact a website’s performance, the sites will be significantly easier to navigate. Improved website performance could potentially boost click-through rates and decrease bounce rates as well.

Marketing Processes Will Be Improved

Reporting and data mining that once took hours or days for marketers to complete might only take a few minutes or seconds with 5G. Analytics, applied to every phase of the marketing process, can help predict where demand will be for particular products, optimize pricing to gain a competitive edge, and identify consumer purchasing patterns and behaviors.

With faster data communication between devices, marketers will finally have access to real-time analytics. This opens up the possibility to maximize and modify marketing campaigns in real time using artificial intelligence (AI) and other marketing automation tools.

Greater Personalization & Hyper-Localized Targeting

As internet speeds increase and mobile connectivity reaches deeper into more rural and remote areas, the number of internet users is likely to grow at an even faster rate than before. With the proliferation of users, marketers will also see a noticeable increase in the amount of valuable data they are able to collect. With more detailed information in hand, marketers will be able to deliver hyper-localized content and multifaceted campaign strategies. Hyper-localization makes personalization and targeting increasingly important. With this data, marketers will be better able to:

  • Tailor ads by demographics, consumer behavior, and specific device usage
  • Improve segmentation, customer experience (CX), and customer journey
  • Generate customized calls to action, personalized emails, and location-based homepages
  • Build meaningful relationships between the brand and the consumer

Expansion of Mobile Marketing

Over the past decade, screen time on mobile devices has significantly increased. With users’ eyes glued to their cell phone screens, mobile marketing is more vital than ever. 

Marketers understand that there’s a discernible difference between how people use a computer and a smartphone. Desktop search inquiries can be more complex, whereas smartphone queries are generally simpler and more direct. Bearing this in mind, marketers will need to fashion content that’s more appropriate for mobile devices.

This content will likely be centered around screenless searches – voice search and digital assistants, for example – as well as micro-moments (when people reflexively consult a device, typically a smartphone, to act upon a need to learn, do, discover, watch, or buy something). Consequently, this content will be more conversational in tone and framed to answer frequently asked questions to aid users in acquiring information on the go.

Mobile ecommerce sales in the U.S. represented nearly 40% of total retail ecommerce sales as recently as 2018 – and it’s anticipated that these numbers will keep climbing. Despite this unprecedented growth, U.S. consumers are nonetheless encountering considerable difficulties while shopping online.

Consumers’ greatest frustration emanates from latency – in a recent survey, 42% of users referenced low-performing websites or apps as their biggest inconvenience. As network speeds accelerate with 5G, zero latency will essentially eliminate the number-one problem for mobile shopping.

Now is the time for companies – and marketers – to gear up for the progression of 5G by streamlining shopping apps and enriching the customer experience.

Video Advertising Will Increase

Video is already the most consumed content on the internet, as well as a fast-growing segment of digital marketing. While 4G networks are relatively fast, lag issues still creep up when streaming videos. Due to limited bandwidth, pages load slowly, preventing many marketers from doubling down on video as a central focus of their efforts.

With heightened connectivity and accelerated internet speeds, the use of video content, streaming, and mobile video consumption is expected to skyrocket. Page load times will dramatically decrease and buffering time will be reduced to virtually nil, creating a nearly seamless streaming experience for users.

5G networks will allow users to stream high-quality videos faster than ever before, contribute to better overall quality (such as 4K video), easily support longer-form and data-rich videos, and enhance live video capabilities.

Consequently, video advertising will become more prevalent online. Marketers will focus on producing unique, high-quality video content as a primary component of their advertising strategies. Consumers should expect that the quantity of video ads they see will rise; however, these same users may be more open to video content if they find it to be particularly relevant.

As recently as 2018, users reported having viewed a combined 1 billion hours’ worth of YouTube content each day, substantially more than the next leading platforms combined. Rival social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, and Snapchat have all rolled out emergent video platforms in an attempt to seize a portion of YouTube’s viewership for their platforms. As the breadth of video-streaming networks continues to expand, marketers will work on diversifying and gearing their efforts toward each specific platform.

Decreasing Use of Ad Blockers

Currently, an estimated 47% of consumers routinely use ad blockers. One of the biggest reasons for this is that ads can significantly slow down a page’s load time.

With the higher speeds and lower latency that 5G will bring, the use of ad blockers is likely to decline. This means that marketers will be able to serve more ads to more people, much faster than before.

Faster load times and a better user experience (UX) will ultimately lead to more positive relationships between brands and consumers as well.

Richer Content for Websites & Emails

More mobile bandwidth would seriously diminish concerns about website load times, allowing businesses to use more images, animation, and video. Just because they can, though, doesn’t mean that they should – busy and frenetic web designs can be confusing to visitors. However, 5G does allow for richer content with fewer worries.

5G technology would decrease concerns about email load times as well. Marketers could be more confident about using retina and 4K images in emails, and could even use larger-sized animated gifs with more frames.

Voice Assistants Will Be The Norm

Whether scheduling activities or creating lists, people are now using voice assistants for anything and everything they please. Sales of smart speakers, such as Amazon’s Alexa, have also boomed in recent years.

Smart speakers and voice assistants demand rapid access to vast amounts of data in order to accurately encrypt a verbal command and return a useful response. 5G technology will allow these tools to function even faster and be more helpful. In addition, the data transfer speeds available from 5G networks will enable you to take your smart speaker with you wherever you go for even greater versatility.

One of the biggest marketing impacts of 5G will be that consumers can have actual voice conversations with mobile devices, instead of merely issuing a few voice commands and interacting at other times by thumb-typing or screen-touching.

As voice assistants become more omnipresent, marketers will look for new ways to leverage this developing technology. Mobile advertising could eventually become entirely slanted towards voice conversations.

HOW TO KEEP UP IN A 5G WORLD

It’s understandable if your company isn’t quite ready to explore the possibilities of interactive advertising, augmented reality, or virtual reality. However, you should still keep tabs on the latest marketing technologies in order to be “in the know” about what the bigger brands are doing. This can help you identify which opportunities might be more accessible to you in the future, or come up with similar strategies that you might be able to recreate without the high-priced technologies.

If you haven’t already, you should also work on building up your digital and online marketing tactics. The ongoing improvements of Wi-Fi and the expectations of 5G have demonstrated that there’s a business case for being hyperconnected. If the majority of your customers weren’t online frequently already, they certainly will be in the coming years.

Make sure you’re actively engaging with consumers on the most popular social media channels for your industry. Build a robust website awash with digital content such as blog posts, marketing videos, and other relevant information.

If you’ve already got an amazing online presence, consider exploring newer mobile platforms that could thrive in the 5G era. You might not be able to afford to create an AR advertisement, but you could experiment with creating content that utilizes AR or new-media filters on apps such as Snapchat, TikTok, or Instagram.

In a 5G world, marketing will be distinctly data-driven with messaging served to individuals, not the general public. At every micro-moment of decision, you’ll be seeking to gain influence. Thus, you will need solid marketing technology in order to capture and analyze data and respond in real time. Accomplishing this goal will demand investment and meticulous planning. Utilizing a customer data platform is a great place to start

FINAL THOUGHTS

While the move to widespread 5G coverage will be a gradual progression, the latest generation of wireless technology stands as a colossal creative and strategic opportunity for marketers. Integrating technology into the marketing realm was already bound to happen; but with the realization of 5G on a massive scale, digital will indeed begin to dominate.

Amidst this rapidly changing landscape, marketers must work to establish closer relationships between consumers and brands through more relevant and compelling communications and experiences. 5G will allow marketers to find new and innovative ways to communicate with their existing customers, based on better location accuracy and other techniques. 

Marketing professionals would also be wise to invest in new skills and strategic planning in order to fully leverage the new technology and its infrastructure. By keeping an eye on key digital marketing metrics and monitoring customer behaviors closely, marketers can quickly identify major shifts and adapt accordingly. 

As with any new technology, unexpected pitfalls may arise, such as data breaches and identity theft. Marketers must ensure that comprehensive security and privacy procedures are in place to safeguard their own assets and those of their clients.

Overall, the addition of 5G and even improved Wi-Fi networks will be great for businesses with an online or digital presence – and marketers who run many of their daily processes online.

There’s definitely a lot to unpack, but as 5G takes shape and becomes part of our collective reality, we’ll continue to discover new ways to harness the technology and enhance the consumer’s experience.

If you’re looking for a digital marketing and creative services team to deliver precise marketing solutions to help grow your business, look no further than HighClick Media. We provide comprehensive digital media and online marketing solutions for businesses of all sizes. Our talented team of creative thinkers, innovators, and digital marketers bring skill above and beyond the ordinary to every project, resulting in explosive business success. Give us a call today at 252.814.2150 to see how we can help you #elevateyourbrand!

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Why Shop Local?

Why Shop Local?

It’s become something of a fad for folks to hop on social media and encourage their friends and neighbors to “Shop Local.” There’s a lot of good logic behind the mantra, though.

First, let’s look at the numbers.

Small businesses with fewer than 100 employees account for 99% of all businesses in the United States. Locally owned businesses employ over 77 million Americans and are responsible for creating 75% of all new jobs. Nonprofits receive 250% more support from local businesses than from nationally owned chains.

Still not convinced? Consider this!

Smaller-scale, locally owned businesses contribute to creating communities – like yours – that are more prosperous, more entrepreneurial, more connected, and generally a lot better off!

Here’s another startling number, and it’s a doozy! Approximately 1 in 12 small businesses closes every year, with low sales being the primary cause. Imagine your favorite 12 businesses in the community and decide which one you could live without. Tough choice, huh?

Saying “Shop Local” is all well and good, but we have to actually take the time and spend the money to support our local businesses with both our presence and our dollars. If not, we are contributing to a loss of our community and maybe even its identity.

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1) Strengthen the Local Economy

For every $100 you spend at a local business, $73 stays in the local economy. Conversely, for every $100 you spend at a non-locally-owned business, only $43 will return to the local economy. When profits stay local, the community’s wealth, tax revenue, and standard of living increase. When you shop local, you’re individually stimulating the local economy – and in turn, helping shape your community’s unique character and personality.

2) Invest in the Community

Local businesses are owned by your friends and neighbors who live in the community. Because of this, they’re less likely to leave and are more personally invested in the community’s future. Locally owned establishments tend to support each other, working with other local businesses such as banks, service providers, and farms to fulfill their needs. This helps both businesses and the residents of the community – like you and your family! In times of economic downturns, local businesses are more likely to work harder to stay open. Local ownership means that important decisions about the business are made by people who live in the community and can personally feel the impact of those decisions.

3) Support Community Groups

Small businesses donate significant portions of their profits to nonprofits, events, and teams within their communities. Big businesses often donate to charities and nonprofits as well, but this money doesn’t typically go back to the community where you live. When funds are donated to local nonprofits, they go directly towards helping you and your family, friends, and neighbors.

4) Keep Your Community Unique

One-of-a-kind businesses help give your community its distinct personality. This exclusive experience can make your city or town a desired destination for tourists or visitors passing through. The more interesting and unique your community, the more it will attract new neighbors as well. Entrepreneurs and skilled workers, in particular, are increasingly likely to invest and settle in a community that actively strives to preserve its distinctive character.

5) Diversity of Products

Big-box stores are beholden to national sales plans and marketing strategies. Thus, they generally don’t stock their stores with products that are highly sought after within a specific region. Local business owners choose products based on what they know their customers want, often carrying unique items and handmade goods from local artisans. Community shops and farmers’ markets are stocked with locally grown produce that’s fresher, longer-lasting, and often more flavorful than that which you’d buy at the supermarket.

6) Better Expertise

Small business owners are passionate, well-informed, and highly knowledgeable about the products they’re selling. They often hire employees with more specific product experience as well, which better equips the business to educate potential customers and “story tell” about the brand. Because they know their customers personally, business owners can easily adjust their inventories to include the goods and services local people want to buy.

7) Nurture a Close-Knit Community

When you shop at neighborhood businesses, you’ll likely run into friends and family more often, which can help unite the community as a whole. Cities and towns with a higher number of local businesses are proven to enjoy stronger social ties and greater participation in civic affairs. Local ownership of business means residents with deep roots in the community are actively involved in development decisions that shape our lives and local environment.

8) Personalized Customer Service

Maintaining positive relationships with community members is important to local businesses. Employees have a vested interest in the products or services they’re selling, and this drives them to go the extra mile to deliver personalized support and ensure customer satisfaction. Business owners are usually directly connected to every employee in the store, and this personal approach often means that any problem you have is taken seriously. Owners of local businesses are often easier to get hold of than decision-makers at a large chain store, so any customer complaints that may arise are usually resolved quickly. Other drawing factors for local businesses include a less-crowded environment and frequently shorter lines, meaning less stress and hassle when it comes to getting what you need from the business.

9) Reduce Environmental Impact

Because local businesses make more of their purchases locally, less fuel for transportation is required. They typically set up shop in town or city centers, which helps contribute to less sprawl, traffic congestion, habitat loss, and pollution. Independent businesses often have a smaller physical footprint than larger companies, and they generally utilize far less packaging than big-box stores as well.

10) Promote Entrepreneurship

Creativity and entrepreneurship are the foundation of the American economy. By supporting local entrepreneurs, you get a higher level of service and help make your community a better place to live.

11) Create More Job Opportunities

Small businesses create jobs where people live, so community members like yourself, your friends, family, and neighbors can work closer to home. This cuts back on commute time, which helps keep employees happy and improves retention and overall job performance. The increase in jobs for local residents will have a positive domino effect, as local stores will need to partner with other local residents to help with accounting, printing, and other essential services. Local businesses also contribute to higher-paying jobs for your neighbors. When you shop locally, you are helping create jobs for teachers, firefighters, law enforcement officers, and many other vital professions. During economic downturns, locally owned businesses tend to retain more of their employees, as compared to big-box retailers which decrease the number of jobs under the same circumstances.

12) Put Your Taxes to Good Use

In addition to generating more tax revenue per sales dollar, taxes paid by small local businesses are widely used to support vital public services such as schools, libraries, parks, street repairs, trash collection, and police/fire departments. By shopping locally, you are actively contributing to these and other local programs that directly benefit your friends, family, and community!

13) Increase Competition

Unfortunately, big-box stores have a long history of driving mom-and-pop shops out of business. With less competition, the big-box stores can charge higher prices. With a multitude of local businesses within your community, all stores will need to keep their prices competitive in order to gain your business. Having lots of small businesses in the community also guarantees a much broader range of product choices, many of which are carried specifically to fill the needs of local customers.

Final Thoughts

Shopping locally is, hands-down, one of the best and easiest ways you can help improve the community in which you live. Patronizing small businesses in your neighborhood has endless positive and long-lasting effects – not only for the businesses, but for everyone in the community!

What’s your favorite local business to shop at on a regular basis? Drop us a line here to let us know or call us at 252.814.2150!

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Get to Know HighClick Media’s Senior Content Developer & SEO Specialist, Jason!

Get to Know HighClick Media’s Senior Content Developer & SEO Specialist, Jason!

My name is Jason Hill and I am the new Senior Content Developer & SEO Specialist at HighClick Media. Since I was very young, I have been passionate about creative writing. From poetry to short stories to songs, I’ve just about written it all!

Though I didn’t know at the time how hard it would be to forge a career as a professional writer, it was always my aspiration. I earned a Bachelor’s Degree in English with a concentration in Writing from East Carolina University in 2000 and paid my dues at non-writing-related jobs for the next four years before finally landing a gig at the local community newspaper. Four years later, I joined the e-commerce team of a national sporting goods company as a Web Content Specialist where I would spend the next twelve years.

While my previous jobs afforded me the opportunity to churn out reams and reams of content, very little of what I wrote was anything I would consider “creatively fulfilling.” When I was offered the chance to join the HighClick team as a Senior Content Developer & SEO Specialist, I knew I had found my niche.

Being able to partner with local businesses to help them succeed is not only exciting, it’s extremely rewarding. I’m looking forward to what the future holds, not only for me personally at HighClick, but for you and your business as well.

HighClick Media is a full-service digital marketing agency offering comprehensive digital marketing and web solutions that will elevate your brand! We specialize in SEO, Web Design, Social Media Marketing, PPC, Branding, and more! Our innovative solutions are custom-designed to meet your specific business goals. Learn what we can do for your brand!

“Striving to be a good role model for my kids

is what drives me to succeed, not only

professionally but also as a human being.”

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Embracing Creativity: How Do You Stay Creative?

Embracing Creativity: How Do You Stay Creative?

As a full-service digital marketing agency in Greenville, creativity is our fuel. Each team member brings a unique set of innovative skills to the table, and we celebrate that every day! But, on National Creativity Day, we cheer for the creative personalities in the world just a little bit louder! Learn how we acknowledge, motivate, and inspire all things creative at HighClick Media!

How do you stay creative?

Michelle: My curiosity definitely keeps my creative juices flowing. New experiences, ideas, and connections are the best way for me to see the world from another angle.

Margot: I break the routine, get out in nature, get around other creative people- like the HighClick team- and keep my vision board in front of me!

Richard: I stay creative by constantly finding new things that inspire me or draw my curiosity to understand them better. YouTube and Instagram are my favorite tools to discover new material.

Alana: I get most of my inspiration from my daughter. Kids are super honest and have no filter! Also, social media, web surfing, community exploring, and magazines.

Leah: I stay creative by looking at the inspiration all around me. I always try to keep an open mind so this way when inspiration knocks, I answer!

Kendall: I actively look for inspiration! I use Instagram as a source a lot, but inspiration can really come from anywhere.

What is your earliest memory of being creative?

Margot: Painting clay pieces with my mom!

Richard: As a kid, I can remember on many different family trips, my Dad and I would to go off on side adventures to find something cool to paint, draw, or photograph.

Alana: During my childhood, I used to do a lot of role-playing in the house when it came to my desired career, and I was involved in several artsy things from grade school all the way through high school.

Leah: My earliest memory of being creative is when I was in elementary school. My uncle does construction and when I was younger, I went to one of his job sites and made a makeshift lemonade stand. It was summer and there were a lot of workers outside… Let’s just say little Leah knew how to reach (or choose) a target audience.

Kendall: I remember making my parents presents for Mother’s and Father’s Day when I was pretty young. I made my dad an apron out of bath towels and made my mom a lion out of a hair dryer and more bath towels.

Michelle: My grandma took care of me during the day, and for years we would meet her friends for breakfast daily. While they would sit and chat, I would get grandma’s pen and draw pictures on napkins.

How do you stay creative outside of the office?

Richard: Over the last few years I have developed a passion for music production. My favorite part is visually being able to see the individual layers of a song and understanding all that goes into creating a finished one. I think people often overlook that music is so much more than just clicking play on Spotify.

Alana: Outside of the office, I like decorating with DIY projects whether it’s simple artwork or re-vamping furniture. I also enjoy making little gifts for friends.

Leah: My latest obsession is to refurbish older furniture and home décor and turn it into something modern and beautiful!

Kendall: Lettering and calligraphy are probably my favorite thing to create just for fun.

Michelle: I write, paint, and make music!

Margot: Making fun memories! I like doing things with my family and friends to create an awesome experience that they’ll remember.

What, in your personal life, has influenced you to choose a creative career?

Alana: Generally, people influenced me with my career choice. I enjoy working with people and doing everything in my power to make them happy. It’s part of the whole “making the world a better place” kind of mindset.

Leah: I wanted a career where I could constantly push myself to think outside the box. I don’t like having a cookie cutter lifestyle, and it’s exciting to push the envelope!

Kendall: My senior year in high school I decided to do an art show as my senior project and things just took off from there. I was also always really competitive about coloring better than my older sister.

Michelle: I gravitated towards a creative career because I can’t stand to be bored. When I’m able to create, I never get bored!

Margot: Having been raised with a mom and grandmother who are  EXTREMELY creative encouraged my creativity and imagination growing up so that I can be creative and use that in everything I do.

Richard: My Dad is probably my biggest influence on why I am in a creative career. He definitely sparked the creative side of me at an early age and has helped fuel it ever since.

What is your favorite color? Does this color describe you as a person?

Leah: Hot Pink! Hot pink is meant to radiate warmth, joy, and love for life! Who doesn’t love it?!

Kendall: Definitely green! The color psychology of green doesn’t really match me as a person so much, but it’s still my favorite.

Michelle: Blue and green are my favorite colors! They’re relaxed and easygoing. These colors describe me sometimes, but depending on the moment I could be passionate red, energetic yellow- who knows?

Margot: Purple, and absolutely!  It’s bold, bright, creative, magical and FUN!

Richard: Blue is my favorite color. I would say it describes me because I’m a relaxed person.

Alana: My favorite color is green. Green represents life and makes me feel good as a person.

If you could interview a creative person (past or present), who would that person be and why?

Kendall: Currently, Lauren Hom. I really like her work and she has a very impressive freelance career in lettering. I recently considered signing up for her Passion Project course.

Michelle: Frida Kahlo! She was fearless and honest and bold!

Margot: Walt Disney. He grew up poor, had a spirit of adventure, took big risks, dreamed big, and succeeded despite the failures along his journey. He has created a legacy and improved so many lives along the way. I would love to pick his brain!

Richard: I would like to interview, either Kevin Parker of Tame Impala or the guys in Odesza, because I love their music and would enjoy learning from them both.

Alana: There are several people I love and wish I could interview: Maya Angelou, Langston Hughes, Beyonce, Anderson Paak, SYD, Shangela, Karl Lagerfeld, and Marc Jacobs.

I want to interview them because I’d like to pick their brains on what drives their creativity and learn what influenced them. I’d also like to know all the objections they’ve overcome and how they’ve managed to remain motivated and disciplined.

Leah: Ellen! She has been knocked down so many times in her personal life and professional career but has still found a way to radiate positivity! Ellen touches the hearts of many and I aspire to be like her every day.

How do you deal with creative blocks?

Michelle: I take a break, and work on something else! It usually gives me a fresh perspective.

Margot: I go for a drive until I no longer know where I am and need to pull out my GPS to get back home.

Richard: I deal with creative blocks by getting outdoors, traveling, and hanging out with friends. I feel like taking your mind off of what your doing helps and also experiencing new things that could spark your creativity is a great way as well.

Alana: I put everything on hold and sing and dance around the house to kinda work off the negative energy.

Leah: I turn up the jams! I sing until I am no longer in my own head. I have found that if I stop overthinking, it is SO much easier to keep those creative juices flowing!

Kendall: Depending on what kind of block I’m dealing with, either research or take a break.

If you could offer one piece of advice for someone who wants to unleash their inner creative genius, what would it be?

Margot: Just go for it, mess up, move forward, and enjoy the journey!

Richard: I guess I would say, don’t be afraid to express whatever creativity you have inside you. If you are interested in trying something new, don’t let other people’s opinions sway you from giving it a go.

Alana: Beware of your outside influences, and ensure that you take advice from those who truly have your best interest at heart by giving you honest feedback regardless if you like what they have to say or not. Stay in touch with your inner child and shine. Last but not least, surround yourself with loving, positive, and supportive people.

Leah: Write every little idea down, no matter how random it is. You never know where a strike of inspiration can lead you!

Kendall: Everything you make is not going to be your best thing. And that is 100% okay.

Michelle: Don’t be afraid of new experiences or making decisions on a whim!

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Employee Appreciation Day 2019

Employee Appreciation Day 2019

Today is National Employee Appreciation Day! While showing gratitude to employees should be a regular occurrence, today is the perfect day to go the extra mile to show your staff how much you appreciate their hard work!

Studies show that employees desire more consistent encouragement, greater recognition, and stronger work relationships. Our digital marketing strategist, graphic & web designer, and digital marketing consultant got together today to answer some fun, but insightful, questions. Wanna get to know some of the employees at HighClick Media? Keep reading!

Michelle, Digital Marketing Strategist | Kendall, Graphic & Web Designer | Rachel, Digital Marketing Consultant

Time for the fun part…

Who inspires you?

Michelle: Anybody working hard to make a positive impact!

Kendall: Tons of people! My favorite kind of creative inspiration definitely revolves around letterers though. They’re always creating completely original content and have make-it-happen attitudes. Lauren Hom, Gia Graham, Carmi Grau, and Jessica Hische to name a few specifically.

Rachel: Just about everyone inspires me to do or want to be something!

What was the best concert you’ve ever attended?

Michelle: Every Third Eye Blind concert I’ve ever attended! Also, Jon Bellion.

Kendall: I volunteered at Bonnaroo twice, so does that count? It was like a giant, floating, multi-day concert. But if I have to pick a specific one, probably City & Colour. All the feels.

Rachel: Zac Brown Bands Southern Ground Music Festival!

Where is your favorite place in the world?

Michelle: The beach! Nowhere I’d rather be.

Kendall: MY HOUSE.

Rachel: Snuggled with my doggies.

If you could be any animal, which would you be?

Michelle: Probably a lion mixed with an otter.

Kendall: I’d be an indoor cat for sure.

Rachel: Unicorn

What’s the last book you read?

Michelle: Today means Amen, poems by Sierra De Mulder.

Kendall: Currently reading The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin

Rachel: 30 Second Bible

What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done?

Michelle: I jumped off of a waterfall back in college! Like, a big one. I’m terrified of heights, but this was #1 on my bucket list!

Rachel: Started a cover band and auditioned for The Voice! #LiveDauntless

What do you love to binge-watch on Netflix?

Michelle: The Office! It never fails to lift my spirits.

Kendall: Crime dramas are my number one!

Rachel: Gilmore Girls

Who would you most like to swap places with for a day?

Michelle: Cardi B!

Kendall: In this moment, Arielle Vandenberg. She just seems like a good time.

Rachel:  I don’t know if I would like to swap places with, but I would LOVE to hang out with Chelsea Handler. So, maybe swap places with one of her BFF’s. One she is quasi nice to.

What’s your go-to late night snack?

Michelle: Ice cream!

Kendall: Popcorn.

Rachel: Halo Top or Doritos!

If you could have a superpower, what would it be?

Michelle: The power to heal.

Kendall: Time manipulation.

Rachel: To know if people were telling the truth or not.

What did you want to be when you grew up as a kid?

Michelle: An artist

Kendall: A marine biologist, but it turned out that science wasn’t my niche.

Rachel: Independently Wealthy (this answer was instilled in me by my father when I was in Kindergarten. 😊)

What is your favorite thing to do when you’re not working?

Michelle: My list of hobbies is endless, so it changes depending on the day!

Kendall: I’m such a homebody. I love being at home and recharging, just hanging out with my pets and watching a good series.

Rachel: Hmmm, Cooking, Eating, Sleeping, Overthinking, Creating, Laughing, Inspiring, Planning, Living!

What job would you be terrible at?

Michelle: ….a chef.

Kendall: Marine biologist, haha

Rachel: Pro Golf Tournament “QUIET PLEASE” sign holder.

What’s your guilty pleasure?

Michelle: Looking up Kanye West rant videos on YouTube.

Kendall: Talent shows. The Voice, American Idol, America’s Got Talent? Give them to me.

Rachel: Every Show on the CW Network.

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Can Blogging Help My Business?

Can Blogging Help My Business?

If you think your business will flourish without blogging, think again. Incorporating a blog on your website is a powerful way to drive business success.

Before I dive into the reasons you should start a blog, here are a few of my favorite statistics that will get you pumped up about blogging!

  • Over 409 million people view more than 21 billion blog pages monthly.
  • Small businesses with blogs receive 126% more lead growth than small businesses that do not blog. (Source: ThinkCreative)
  • 6 out of 10 US consumers have made a purchase based on recommendations from a blog.

I could keep going, but you get the idea. Unfortunately, the statistics alone aren’t always enough to encourage a business owner to start blogging. If you don’t have a blog for your brand yet, the reasons why probably sound a little something like this:

  • I wouldn’t know where to begin!
  • I don’t have anything business-related to blog about!
  • I don’t have time!

If these reasons resonate with you, take a deep breath and hear me out. Starting a blog is not that difficult, and once you take that first step, the benefits of brand blogging will make your hard work totally worth it!

Here are five ways blogging can help your business.

1. Increase Website Traffic

One obvious way blogging can drive traffic to your site is through SEO (search engine optimization), which is the process of crafting content so that it improves your Google search ranking. With a business blog, you can regularly strengthen your SEO success by effective use of keywords and frequent updates (which prompt search engine bots to crawl and index your site more frequently).

Ranking higher than your competitors in Google means that your target audience will see your business first! When someone performs a Google search and lands on a web page, they’re expecting the said page to provide useful and compelling content. Whether your blog provides tutorials, entertaining stories, or product and service information, the users that search for solutions and land on your blog will set aside time to read it.

So, with blogging, not only does your website traffic increase but so does the average time users spend on your site.

2. Establish Credibility

Any smart business owner knows you can’t just talk the talk, you’ve gotta walk the walk. You can claim to be an industry expert all day long, but does your website actively prove that you really know what you’re doing? By sharing valuable info about products and services in your niche, you’re strengthening your brand. When you shed light on solutions to customers’ pain points, you earn their trust.

One company blog that oozes credibility is the Whole Foods blog, Whole Story. This blog enhances the company’s brand identity, addressing their target customer base that’s interested in healthy, organic options. Whole Story is a powerful example of a brand using a blog to provide value while promoting their own products.

3. Humanize your Brand

A brand is the promise, the big idea, the expectations that reside in each customer’s mind about a product, service, or company. Branding is about making an emotional connection. – Alina Wheeler

In many of my blog posts, I touch on consumers’ desire for a personal relationship and human connection with their favorite brands. From social media to email marketing, multiple forms of digital marketing allow space to humanize your brand.

However, blogging gives you a bigger opportunity to add a personal touch. Social media platforms are great for short, quick bursts of ideas, information, and entertainment. But blogging gives you the opportunity to dive deep into a subject and really show readers your enthusiasm!

A blog can make a business more transparent and further express a brand’s personality in ways that might not be as obvious on other platforms.

The more “human” you’re perceived by your customers, the more loyal they will be to your brand.

4. Results that Last

So, you write a blog post, make it live, and share it to social media. Your post gets your brand a little bit of audience engagement, and soon you’re on to writing your next post. Is your old post still relevant? Sure is! Does it still serve a purpose? Absolutely!

You see, months or even years after a blog post is published, it can continue to attract new leads to convert.

Hubspot says that more than 90% of their blog’s leads came from old posts. Why would older posts perform better than new posts? It’s simple. Gradually, new posts become old posts that grow in search ranking through views and shares.

Here’s an example. I searched “how to pitch a business idea” on Google.

The top 4 results are from 2013, 2018, 2009, and 2017, and you don’t make it to the top of Google by not being relevant.

Blogging is a gift that keeps on giving!

Start blogging now to elevate your brand’s success!

Clearly, blogging has awesome benefits. If you’ve realized you need to start blogging but don’t know where to begin, our seasoned and versatile content creators are happy to help!

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Emoji Marketing: 3 Brands Who Did it Right

Emoji Marketing: 3 Brands Who Did it Right

Happy World Emoji Day!

Yep, you read that right. Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock today, you’re already aware of today’s “Holiday” – a day to celebrate the tiny cartoon images on our devices that most of us use every day! Emojis have been in our lives for a long time. Beginning as components of chatroom conversations in the 90’s as emoticons, emoji’s have reshaped the way we communicate in 2018.

Yes, they are cute and fun and kind of addictive, but they also improve our capacity to make our intended meaning known. -Psychology Today

Whether or not you’re a fan of these little digital icons, there’s no denying that more and more successful brands are jumping on board with the trend. And the brands that are doing it right present their emojis in ways that are both impressive and memorable.

If you’re a business owner who hasn’t jumped on the bandwagon yet, keep reading for examples of brands who pulled it off flawlessly.

Deadpool’s Emoji billboard

Hilarious + creative = genius. Capturing the attention of fans, 3 simple emojis were used to spell out ‘Deadpool’ to promote the new movie. This marketing campaign reportedly played a role in Deadpool breaking box office records for an R-rated movie. An emoji that appears to be smiling poo is not something you see on a billboard every day. This campaign is proof that doing the unexpected can totally pay off!

WWF’s #EndageredEmoji Twitter campaign

In 2015, WWF developed the #EndangeredEmoji campaign with a goal to save animals from extinction. Targeting millennials by using a social platform and alternate communication method proved to be a great idea. A fresh audience flocked to this emoji campaign, leading to 559,000 mentions and 59,000 sign-ups during the first month of the launch.

McDonald’s Emoji stories

McDonald’s produced a simple and light-hearted campaign to tell a short story using only emojis. They start by acknowledging a potential bad day and showing empathy. They follow up with humor and the suggestion that visiting their business will turn your bad day around.

As businesses evolve alongside their customers, using these new technologies are vital for emotional connection with their target audience.

However, for every successful emoji campaign, there have been attempts made that were not so successful. So, before you decide to incorporate emojis into your marketing campaigns, make sure they flow with your marketing strategy.

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Pride Isn’t Just For June

The transparency demanded of brands by social media today means that attentive consumers can keep tabs on a brand’s values and behavior year-round

This shouldn’t be a channel that’s merely activated in February for Black History Month, or one day a year for Martin Luther King Jr. Day or Juneteenth – it needs to be perpetual. 

Brands that fail to acknowledge this run the risk of their messaging – for Pride Month, for example – being seen as insincere or strictly performative, particularly by younger demographics.

MarTech recently sat down with Adriana Waterston, SVP of Insights and Strategy for Horowitz Research, to discuss this issue.

Gen Z’s Unflinching Support for LGBTQ+ Rights

Horowitz Research recently conducted research on Gen Z – born roughly between 1997 and 2012 – a generation that many brands are finding it hard to connect with, due to the breakdown of the media ecosystem. The agency discovered that 28% of Gen Zers surveyed self-identified as LGBTQIA.

“That’s a substantial proportion,” noted Waterston. “The story of Gen Z,” she said, “is one of allies and being inclusive. The big message from our data is that for brands to really engage with Gen Z audiences, the tokenism of Black History Month or Pride Month or Asian and Pacific Islander [Heritage Month] – that kind of pandering engagement during these marketing months just really falls short.”

The younger generation especially, she added, is concerned with the brand’s voice, values, and social responsibility all year round. “If you’re keeping your company headquarters in a place that’s going after LGBTQ+ rights and trans rights, and yet you come out with fancy statements during Pride Month, it’s going to come off as disingenuous,” Waterston asserted.

There may be even greater cynicism among older audiences, she stated. “Marketing works one way, business and politics work another. These young people – maybe it’s a real cultural shift, I’m not sure. Are these young people going to support brands they align with politically when they’re a little older and have other considerations? I don’t have a crystal ball.”

A New Cultural Consciousness

Despite a common perception right or wrong – that the LGBTQ+ audience is a coveted demographic for brands, with ample disposable income, the community has still been somewhat marginalized over time. Why is that?

“I think it has a lot to do with the way brands think about marketing and how they spend their marketing dollars,” explained Waterston. “It’s not just LGBTQ+, it’s multicultural and diverse in general. Brands would look at numbers like, less than 5% of the U.S. audience is LGBTQ+ and think, this is not a sizable enough audience for us to market to year-round – forgetting that it’s also about the allies, about the families, about tapping into the zeitgeist – a cultural sensibility of inclusiveness and progressiveness.”

With regard to Gen Z, the matter becomes even more intricate, suggested Waterston. “There’s so much fluidity. Older generations are just now learning that gender is perhaps not just binary. Young people today were born into this sensibility, and that makes it complicated for brands. People don’t feel they have to hide their preferences.”

Essentially, whether the Horowitz Research study points to an actual upsurge in LGBTQ+ numbers in the Gen Z demographic is open to debate; what it does show is a greater inclination for individuals to openly identify with that segment of the population.

Here, a correlation between the LGBTQ+ community and the Black Lives Matter movement can be drawn. The more willing people are to be outspoken on an issue – even as allies – the more liable they are to call for consistent commitment from the companies they purchase from.

Three Practical Insights

First, as already attested, brands must be mindful of diverse audiences not only at specific times of the year but all year long.

Second, having diverse viewpoints in the room when marketing decisions are made creates opportunities for authentic engagement.

Third, “brands need to start thinking more creatively about engaging with audiences beyond traditional advertising. For example, with these young people, we saw how powerful something like TikTok is,” added Waterston.

“It is about rethinking all of your marketing approaches,”  Waterston said, “and it’s part of the whole conversation that’s happening in this country. It’s not just about LGBTQ+; it’s about diversity overall. The marketing world has, for way too long, been very binary, meaning that white and straight is called the general market, and everything else is not. The reality is that what is white and straight is not only not the general market, but is actually a much smaller portion of the market than you would have thought.”

Diversity, argued Waterston, needs to be the norm. And if truth be told, she added, “a lot of brands realized that what happened in 2020 was a wake-up call. We’ve been busier than ever because brands have started to figure out that they don’t know what they don’t know.”

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An earlier version of this article appeared at martech.org.

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Choosing the Right Digital Marketing Agency

Choosing the Right Digital Marketing Agency

 

I had no trouble hiring a digital agency for my business. We jumped right in and there were no issues at all! – No one ever

So, your business has grown to the point where you realized you need outside help, and it’s time to make moves! You’re ready to hire a digital marketing agency to help tell your story. If you’ve been reading our blog, you already understand the importance of a professional website design and smart marketing strategy. It can be pretty easy to get wrapped up in the enthusiasm and awe an agency can offer, especially if this is your first time. However, if you aren’t careful when making your selection, you might find yourself disappointed by an agency that over-promised and under-delivered.

 Answer these questions before reaching out to an agency

Which set of skills do we need?

This is a good question to start with, because if the answer is “Nothing” then why are you even reading this blog, silly? If you’re considering hiring an agency, you’ve obviously come to the conclusion that your current set of skills isn’t cutting it for the goals you want to reach.

Consider your digital marketing strengths and weaknesses to determine which services you really need. As liberating as it might feel to shout out “EVERYTHING!” it’s not very practical or cost-effective to dive into everything right off the bat.

What are our goals?

When determining your company’s goals, specificity is key.

“Generating leads” is not a specific goal, but “Generating 20 new leads a month through SEO and content marketing” is. The more you specify your goals, the better chance you have at finding an agency that will deliver.

And if you don’t know what your goals are, that’s okay too. A good agency is essentially a good partner, and they’ll be able to help you elucidate your goals after initial meetings.

What are our priorities?

Time to put on your thinking cap and brainstorm ALL THE THINGS! There are things that need to be done, no doubt, but what, when and where? Get your team together and throw your magical ideas around like confetti!

Once you put these ideas in writing, you’ll likely start to notice themes. Grouping your goals into these themes will help you truly identify what needs to be done. Maybe you have several goals related to social media marketing or a lot of goals related to website updates. Pull 3-5 themes out of your list, and then put those themes in order of importance and start with those!

What will happen if we don’t make a change?

Nothing changes if nothing changes.

Realizing that you need to do something different, then making a choice not to do it comes with consequences. Will you continue to drop in ranking if you’re not staying on top of your SEO? Will you continue to lose leads if you don’t optimize your website?

Consider the effect that inaction would cause your brand, and decide whether or not it’s feasible both short and long-term.

How much time can we spend with an agency?

This is a question full of questions that need to be answered in order to find the right agency.

Are you willing and able to communicate with your agency? Are you available for regular calls and meetings to ensure that your business and your agency is on the same page? Is your leadership team willing to be available if need be?

It’s vital to consider how much time you have to invest in your relationship with your agency so that you can be straight-up with them about how much of your time they can have. Make sure you’re able to help them understand what is doable for you.

What are our relationship goals?

Each of our clients are unique. Some want steady communication, while some prefer monthly check-ins. Some clients want to give final approval on all decisions, and some simply want their agency to tell them what is happening and then go for it. Knowing where you are on that spectrum allows you to communicate that at the start of your new relationship. Help the agency help you!

Ready, set, go!

Seems easy enough, right? Answering these questions before you reach out to an agency can mean the difference between success and failure. Any agency is as helpful as you allow them to be. Arm yourselves with the knowledge needed to attain your specific goals and your agency will help you get there in the most efficient way.

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