Tuesday, August 25, 2015

The Millennials: How to Use Print to Capture the Attention of the Technology-Driven Generation

Officially, a person is a millennial if they reached young adulthood sometime around the year 2000. Also commonly referred to as Generation Y, these are people who are just now becoming the age where they matter most -- at least as far as marketing demographics are concerned. They're starting to break out on their own, live their own lives, and spend a great deal of money. Historically, they've also been the most difficult to market to for one simple reason: technology.

Chances are, if you happen to see a young person who can't be bothered to look up from their smartphone or tablet for a single second to take a look at the world around them, you're looking at a millennial -- or at least a stereotypical one. In reality, it's actually pretty straightforward to market to millennials, as long as you go about it in the right way.

Be Relevant

By far, the absolute best way to market to millennials is the same way you market to anyone -- by being as relevant as possible. Go out of your way to understand Generation Y. Discover how they think and -- more importantly -- what they're looking for. You can try all the flashy gimmicks you want or sink a huge amount of time and effort into social networking and similar bits of technology in an attempt to gain a foothold in this ever-important market, but none of it will mean a thing if your message is completely irrelevant to the people you're after.

It's Print's Time to Thrive

Print marketing is actually one of the most powerful techniques you can use to attract the attention of the millennial generation for a very simple reason: it's difficult to ignore. Whereas baby boomers have decades of experience sifting through direct mail and advertisements in general, it's still something unique to the younger generation. This makes it more impactful, giving you a competitive advantage over those who forgo this route.

You can also make your print and digital campaigns work together. Use a QR code on your direct mailers, for example, to give millennials the opportunity to begin the conversation in print and finish it online where they feel most comfortable.

Personality Talks

Each new generation tends to be a little more informal than the one before it, but not necessarily in the way you might think. What this trend really means is that each new generation embraces a true sense of personality more than the one before it. Millennials are after a sense of fun and a company that represents a hipper image that they want to be part of. While injecting as much personality as possible into your mailers might not work for that 50-year-old housewife, it will absolutely capture the attention of a millennial.

With each passing year, the millennial generation becomes more and more important. They're already poised to overtake the baby boomer generation in spending, sooner rather than later. Now is the time to strike while the iron is hot, so to speak. By going after the millennial generation now, you'll begin to amass an army of loyal followers ready to spend money on your products or services for decades to come.

Measure Performance and See Success

George loves fantasy football. He began playing a few years ago while still in college and has continued throughout the beginning of his professional career. Fantasy football serves as a fantastic escape for him -- a great way to relax and dive into the sport he's loved since childhood. It's also a great way to bond with many of his colleagues, since there's a football league right in his office. The group spends many lunch breaks together, studying the latest football stats from the weekend's games and determining how those stats will impact their own teams.

If you were to ask George what the secret is to a successful fantasy football season, he would answer, "statistics." You need to have a good understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of each player. You can use this understanding to see how performance metrics can dictate how the fantasy team performs. After players perform in real games, their every move is broken down and analyzed to determine how they would have performed according to the setups of the fantasy team. Performance metrics are an incredibly important aspect of any fantasy team.

If you've ever participated in a fantasy team, you've also been exposed to the importance of statistics and performance metrics. This fun game can provide you with incredible insight you can use to improve your marketing efforts. Here are just a few lessons you can learn from fantasy sports teams that can be transferred to marketing.

Performance Metrics are Everything

As any sports fan knows, performance metrics are continuously analyzed for every athlete. Whether batting averages, average distances thrown, or the typical number of points scored, the actions of every player are regularly scrutinized.

In marketing, performance metrics are equally important. While it can be tempting to run marketing campaigns based solely on best practices -- and best guesses -- these types of campaigns will have limited value for your brand. To be successful, a campaign must be perpetually monitored to see how well the different aspects are performing.

Performance Metrics Should Be Used to Guide Decisions

On the sports field, coaches will use statistics about players to form their starting lineup and opening plays for the next game. In football, for example, it's common for coaches (and players) to study film of their upcoming opposition to determine the weaknesses they can exploit in the other team. Coaches will also use the statistics of their own team to see who's at the top of their game and who needs to sit the game out in an effort to create the optimal lineup.

In marketing, you should regularly make adjustments and tweak your marketing efforts to reflect what your performance metrics tell you. If the metrics tell you your direct mail campaign or your email campaign is not having the desired impact, you need to examine why that may be and what you can do to better reach the intended demographic. By perpetually measuring the success of your campaigns, you'll be able to see how well your changes perform and continue to refine your campaign. This will help you avoid spending unnecessary money on unsuccessful campaigns, while also better reaching your intended audience to bring in more customers.

As anyone who loves fantasy football (or any other fantasy sport) knows, statistics and performance metrics are critical for developing a successful team. This lesson also translates well to marketing, where perpetually measuring customer behavior will help you refine your efforts and boost your bottom line.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Ways to Ensure Everyone Has their Favorite Type of Content

Imagine three friends walk into the local grocery store. They're roommates in a nearby apartment building and are planning a fun get-together with their friends that night. The friends split up, each with a separate shopping list, and plan to meet up at the cash registers in half an hour.

Thirty minutes later, they reconvene and look over each other's selections. The one tasked with selecting salsa pulls three jars of Brand A out of her bag. The other two roommates grimace slightly.

"What?" she asks.

"Oh, it's nothing," another roommate says. "It's just that I prefer Brand B salsa. I always find Brand A a little too watery."

The other roommate chimes in, "Really? I always prefer Brand C. I find Brands A and B both to be too mild."

They each laugh. "Wow!" exclaims the first roommate. "I had no idea there were so many different opinions regarding salsa. How about I get one jar of each? Then, we can all have our preferred flavor at least some point in the evening."

Like the friends in this story, your customers often have different tastes and preferences. When planning your marketing, you must remain considerate of your customers and recognize that it's possible for different customers to have different content 'tastes.'

The Different Types of Content

The digital world has long been dominated by text, but in many ways this is changing. People are realizing how critical and engaging images are when added to text. In fact, tweets that contain images are known to receive up to 5x the engagement of those without images.

People like images because they give them something to relate to. When you see a picture of a company's customer using their product or service, it becomes easier to see yourself in that position. As a brand, you can take advantage of this by beginning to build a stronger relationship with potential customers and enticing them to do business with you.

Videos have also become an increasingly important aspect of digital content. Customers have begun demonstrating their preference for this form of content in many ways, and customers upload 300 hours of video every minute on YouTube alone. Visuals allow people to process information up to 60,000 times faster, making it a valuable way to communicate with page visitors.

There are also other valuable forms of content to consider. For example, on social media, memes and other fun images are easy to create and share with audiences. These types of images fit well with the casual attitudes of many social media platforms, while also communicating basic ideas about the business and industry.

Infographics are another generally appreciated form of visual content because they communicate valuable information in an easy-to-digest format. Infographics can be used nearly anywhere, from your website and blog, to your social media platforms.

The content of digital marketing continues to evolve as marketers realize that not all customers will respond to the same type of content. Just like the roommates who all like a different type of salsa, you can be confident that different customers appreciate different types of content. By producing a variety of content types to nurture your relationship with all these different groups, you'll create a strong digital marketing campaign.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Writing Thank You Cards and Keywords

Remember as a child, sitting at the kitchen table, writing thank you notes following the holidays or your birthday? The adults in your life likely had high standards for these notes as well. They wanted to see notes that expressed your gratitude and showed just how much you appreciated the gift. Those extra sentences about how you planned to use those gifts were always important as well.

Did you ever struggle to find the right words for those little notes? You wanted to find words the reader would understand that would communicate how much you liked the gift. You searched for vocabulary that would speak to the reader and resonate with them.

When you create content for your marketing efforts, you're doing the same thing. You want to find language and vocabulary that correctly expresses what your potential customers want to hear. When you learn to speak the language of your customers, you'll have far greater success in reaching them and convincing them to use your products and services.

The Importance of the Right Vocabulary

When drafting marketing materials, your customers want to know you understand their individual issues. They want to feel confident you understand their problems and have solutions. When you speak in language that doesn't resonate with these customers, you risk losing the connection with them. They won't be able to internalize your message as well or relate to your advertising campaigns. Choosing the right vocabulary helps to ensure a positive response and a stronger relationship with prospective customers.

Vocabulary in Digital Advertising

In the digital world, selecting the best words goes even further than your connection. It determines if your content will be seen at all. Search engines work to match queries to content based on keywords. Using the same vocabulary as your customers allows you to promote your content naturally. The closer your content matches your potential customers' queries, the higher it will rank and the easier it will be to find.

The key to using keywords correctly is to use them naturally and focus on producing high-quality content. When people click on your content, they want to find valuable information that answers their questions and helps them solve their problems. If you only produce low-quality, keyword-stuffed content, people will click off your page as soon as they open it. This will lower your click rate significantly because your page won't have any engagement.

Instead, focus on writing information people will want to read and will find helpful, while also naturally adding in keywords as they fit. This will help your content get found, while also engaging your audience. As more people are attracted to what you have to say, your content will continue to rise in the search engine results, attracting even more viewers.

When you wrote those countless thank you notes all those years ago, you probably had no idea you were preparing for your future in marketing. This was actually a valuable experience in finding the right vocabulary that resonated with your audience. Check your vocabulary to make sure you're using words your potential customers are most likely to respond to, and get started improving your marketing strategies today.