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If you’re still using an Android or iOS device’s voice-search feature, search engines are still relevant. If you use Google for research, then search engines can still be used for content marketing.

Some marketers believe search engine optimization (SEO) is dead. The reason behind the belief: social media advertisements and mobile applications make content marketing more effective. They believe spending on SEO nowadays is a waste.

However, the industry is still growing. According to SearchEngineLand, research by Borrell Associates shows that businesses have spent about $65 billion on SEM campaigns. The researchers note that the industry can grow to $72 billion by 2018. Their reasons include the decline of traditional advertising, increasing fact-checking attitudes of audiences, and sophisticated techniques.

Sophisticated SEO is spot on. SearchEngineLand’s Stephan Spencer writes that SEO is a “shape-shifter.” He writes about how it has changed in practice over the years. Modern SEO is a far cry from just optimizing headers and meta-tags. It is now about monitoring “entities” or subject-specific keywords and informative content. Spencer also highlights the importance of UX (which Google measures).

seo-website

SEO has changed with the advent of Web 2.0’s appearance and technicalities.

Source: Slideshare 

SEO plays a vital role in any business. In 2009, Marin Search Marketer helped improve Century Novelty’s overall revenues by 20%. The 1951-established party decors and supplies business saw new light online after the project. Marin Search Marketer focused on creating keyword-bidding goals to minimize their paid ad budgets and maximize ROI.

Another example of SEO success is this one project of Prime Visibility (now known as WPromote). The company helped Compass-Guard Security Systems improve its sales by using SEO targeted content and a PPC campaign to minimize paid ad spending costs. The result of their 2005 search engine marketing efforts increased content visibility by 79.4%. The business site had 278 CTA button clicks per month, effectively increasing their leads.

Never underestimate the power of a reliable SEO agency willing to provide excellent results. If you need to look for one, you must make sure to note these five characteristics.

Five Characteristics of a Reliable SEO Agency

1. Assess their Assessment

Most SEO firm sites want you to send your email and your interest in scheduling a free appointment. Take the plunge; sign up and wait for their correspondence. Their online correspondent will ask you through an email to detail your business, its performance, and SEO goals. The free consultation, just like the real thing, will take time. The correspondent may likely ask for more information; remember not to provide delicate ones crucial to your business.

Once they provide you a final recommendation and quote, assess their assessment. Ask the firm how they came up with the milestones and methods. Inquire why they feel strongly about using the indicated procedures. Finally, question them how they measured the projected results.

If you want to make an informed decision, then you need to use the free quotations of other prospects, too. It may take some time to wait for each assessment. However, it will be worth it because a data-backed, informed decision will significantly save your business time and money. You can have a free quote here.

seo-company-tools

If they’re willing to, ask their tool’s tool accuracy, too.

Source: Backlinko 

2. Performance Metrics Guaranteed (and Fulfilled)

Reliable SEO agencies want to help you genuinely. It might seem silly to believe a copy that talks about their passion for data, analytics, and seeing growth. However, some firms sincerely feel it is their goal in existing.

These companies know the realistic metrics they can achieve for your business. Reputable agencies will need to know your goals for the SEO campaign, the timeframe you expect it done, and the budget you have to implement it. You will have several meetings with them. The goal of these interactions is to adjust certain metrics to achieve your goals within a realistic timeframe and budget.

Reliable companies will advise you on the type of digital marketing style advantageous for the company. They can create drafts for ideal and realistic plans to show you the difference between timeframes and budgets. SEO agencies you can depend on will never begin any project without your approval. They will also include in the contract all agreed metrics they intend to deliver for your business.

3. Years of Experience

An SEO company that is has been around in the industry for years indeed sounds impressive. Digital marketing as a whole is a continuously-changing environment. For a company to survive a year, they must have provided excellent service to their previous clients. However, make sure to observe their methods and assess their assessment (as mentioned earlier). If you do this, you can maximize your investment in these long-established companies.

4. Portfolio

If an SEO company strongly caters to you, it wants to achieve one of these two things. It might want to expand their services and learn with you. It could also be that the firm is confident because it had handled cases similar to yours. You can answer this question by asking them for their portfolio of case studies.

Some companies publish these case studies on their site. Some firms can digitally send them for your reference. Make sure to prioritize studies and service renditions similar or relevant to your industry.

If their portfolio is informative and data-packed, then the more helpful it will be for your evaluation. Take note of the set milestones and the results. See if they met these goals. Next, check the space of time between each procedure implemented and achieved the goal. These small details will help you make an informed decision in using the firm’s services. Meanwhile, feel free to check our previous works here.

5. Feedback from Trusted or Similar Businesses as Yours

A reputable SEO company can forward you to customers they serviced. On their pages, you can also find a list of client feedbacks. Most of these will be positive. You can email the agency and ask them to provide customers with your reference. Prioritize references for industries similar to yours.

Make sure to ask about the referred client’s goal during their project. Have them describe the firm’s attitude. Discuss scheduling and milestone achievement frequencies. Ask about the overall working system and logistics of the company. The more informative their answers, the easier it is to know whether the SEO firm is reliable or not.

Wrapping-Up

SEO is an industry that is bound to get bigger than its current stature in the next few years. Social networks, target-centric search engines, and applications might invade specific markets. However, users will still keep on researching regarding particular, and search engines are vital to doing this.

You will need an SEO firm to help your content and advertisements reach the top of results pages. Outsourcing SEM campaigns will be better for your business. Having a team dedicated to the task is time and resource-conserving than having an in-house equivalent.

Neuromarketing is a term that has been gaining a lot of traction in recent years. But somehow, the exact definition of neuromarketing seems unclear. For me, the best way to define neuromarketing is that it scientifically studies the brain to benefit marketing. For example, medical technologies like brain scanning and brain activity measurements are used to gauge a person’s response to different marketing elements like packaging, videos, ads, billboards, etc.

Sounds like utter science fiction right? But here is some food for thought – large companies like Ford motors and Coca-Cola have been investing heavily on neuromarketing since the 1990s. Today, a lot of other companies have already followed suit.  There are good reasons why you should start thinking about using the consumer brain when it comes to your marketing. Let’s discuss the most notable ones.

Five clever ways companies are use Neuromarketing

Great packaging

Have you ever gone through an entire aisle of potato chips in the supermarket and had to choose one among the multitudes of bright collared packaging? It turns out, the brand you pick might be the work of your brain’s preference.

Companies have figured out through Electroencephalogram (EEG) what elements consumer prefer on their packaging and subsequently, what they do not like. When Chips Ahoy decided to use neuromarketing in their packaging, they discovered that people had a negative emotional reaction to the “resealable” words on their packaging. This is because people found it a bit hard to read.

Surprisingly, the photo of the chocolate chip cookie on their packaging failed to garner great reactions amongst the test subjects. As a result, Chips Ahoy redesigned their packaging with a “resealable” tab that was more clear and a cookie visual that is more exciting (with flying chocolate chips).

Image by Neuro Science Marketing

Simply put, making sure that people will like your packaging is one great way to steal their hearts.

Limited Editions

Have you ever heard of the story about limited edition Nike sneakers causing mayhem among “sneakerheads” on opening day? Well, there is a reason for that and that has something to do about Neuromarketing.

The effect of consumers love for limited editions and limited-time offers are called marketing with scarcity. Marketers put limitations on a product like timed offers and dwindling supplies to pressure them into buying fast. Creating a sense of urgency for the customer has been a technique that has been used countless times and has proven to be so effective. Think midnight sales, limited edition items, and McDonald’s McRib.

Image by Summit Evergreen

Think about this, a report by Experian has noted that emails with words of urgency have a 14% higher open rates and a whopping 59% higher transaction rates. Marketing scarcity rushes the consumer mind and is a great tool to turn up the sales.

Multisensory stimulations

Companies are taking their marketing efforts to another level nowadays. This includes giving their customers an experience that goes beyond sight and sound. As marketers keep learning more and more about how the consumer mind works, we are going to see a lot of marketing elements that utilize the other senses – smell and touch.

A good example is the video game, South Park: The Fractured but Whole. In order to promote the game, the developers invited journalists and bloggers to try their latest gadget, the Nosulus rift. This gadget is supposed to be an accompanying peripheral for their game that emits an ungodly odour for various scenes. This blends perfectly well with South Park’s crass humour.

Suffice to say, the journalists love it and the story went viral. This just goes to show how various companies are turning their attention beyond visual marketing.

Striking Headlines

Headlines are one of the most important elements in advertising and its impact has not waned to this day. Oftentimes, headlines are what grabs the attention of people in an ad. So making sure that your headlines are attention grabbing and exciting is very important to surprise the human brain.

Here is a great tip: Try a technique called “Hippocampal Headlines.” This means that you can use familiar everyday phrases and tweak them a bit. This type of headline activates the brain making your headline more eye-catching and memorable.

For example, Silver Patron tequila used the slogan “Practice Makes Patron” as a twist on the familiar phrase, “practice makes perfect.”

Image by Neuro Science Marketing

Effective web layout

Neuromarketing in web layout aims to improve your visitor engagement and conversion rate. This is based on the cognitive preferences utilised within your website’s content and design. Little things such as the font, colour schemes, and layout have an effect on the visitors.

You’ve probably recently encountered websites that utilises modern horizontal design. This is often done by designers to keep up with the current trends. However, neuromarketers found out that the traditional vertical design engaged visitors more than the newer horizontal design.

The study revealed that people are more inclined to explore websites that are designed vertically. Neuromarketers explained that the vertical design sends a signal to the reader’s brain that there are more contents below, as opposed to the horizontal design. You can also read more about how you can optimise your website in our Design page.

Neuromarketing is here to stay

Neuromarketing is a relatively new player in the realm of business. However, the effects and results of neuromarketing have been impressive, to say the least. Marketers should be on the look-out for future neuromarketing trends such as eye-tracking and biometric engagement.

The consumer mind is still continuously evolving and companies have turned to science to keep up. There are still so many opportunities to explore and a lot of research to be conducted. With that, it definitely looks like that neuromarketing is here to stay and is definitely worth a look at.

*This article was first featured in The Singapore Marketer July-Sept 2017 issue. 

Marketers of today face many dilemmas – customers are going mobile, more demanding, and less loyal. The industry leaders have started embracing customer-centricity as a vital way to grow their companies and strategies that are more customer-driven in place of the more traditional business or product-driven ones.

However, it is not as simple as putting the customer at the top of your priority list. There are other approaches you can employ when it comes to customer-centricity, and most of them revolve around what the customers need.

But before we proceed to those factors, let us first answer an imperative question about this topic.

What Does Being Customer-Centric Mean?

You’ve probably heard from some of your peers, or maybe you are experiencing this yourself, that companies are now transitioning from product-oriented to customer-oriented and the strategies are different when it comes to acquiring new and return customers.

The customer-centric approach tries to answer the question of what matters most to buyers. It’s not a new term among marketers. However, I believe only a few actually understand it. Super Office, an awarded-winning Customer Relationship Management software developer, defines being customer-centric as not just having great customer service but offering an excellent overall customer experience. That means a customer is at the centre of a significant expertise in all aspects of his journey – from awareness, purchasing process, and even the post-purchase process.

Still think that customers are not king? According to a study from Walker Info, by 2020, customer experience will overtake price and product as the way brands differentiate themselves.

Graph by Super Office

5 Approaches That Can Make Your Company More Customer-Centric

Now, that we have defined what it means to be customer-centric, let us proceed on how we can make your company more customer-centric.

Adopt Omnichannel Marketing

Omnichannel marketing is one of the hottest marketing terms right now. Simply put, it is the seamless integration of all the points in your customer’s journey. In the old days, a customer’s journey was quite simple; go to a brick and mortar store and ask a salesperson about the product that piques your interest. The end of the customer’s journey is either leaving the store or going to the cashier to purchase it.

Nowadays, it is not as simple as that. Customers have an array of devices to do their shopping and usually go to different points before arriving at the purchasing part.  While most users start their online journey using mobile devices, they could end up purchasing it on a desktop or tablet a few hours later.

Image by Heidi Cohen

Making this entire process as seamless and as hassle-free to the customer is at the heart of omnichannel marketing. Starbucks is a great example of a company doing omnichannel marketing the right way.

Starbucks Mobile Apps

Their loyalty card app gets you free rewards when you purchase inside their stores. However, Starbucks goes far and beyond a simple rewards card program and lets their reward app users update and reload their cards through mobile, in-store, website, or on the app itself. Every single change on the app automatically updates the user’s profile across all channels.

Make Customer-Centricity Your Company’s Mission

Customer-centricity is not just some words that executives can throw around without practising it. Interestingly though, there is a huge discrepancy between how customers perceive their customer service experience versus how companies feel about their performance. Just take a look at the graph by i-scoop:

As you can see, many companies are thinking they are doing a good job in handling their customers. However, only 8 percent of those companies do. It can’t all be lip-service when it comes to being customer-centric, it has to be your company’s mission.

Amazon tops the list when it comes to being a customer-centric company. Most of their practices propelled their company to consistently rank first on the list of the most customer-centric companies in the world. Their CEO, Jeff Bezos, has successfully embedded customer-centricity at the very core of each of his employees. The whole company is on a mission to always be the best. Just check out some of the practices that keep them on the top of their customer service game:

-Each meeting, CEO Jeff Bezos leaves one chair open at the conference table and tells everyone that it is occupied by “the most important person in the room – the customer.”

-Amazon prioritises the development of products that the consumer wants and needs like the Kindle and FireTV.

-The company has a culture of metrics wherein they do head-to-head tests of customer’s reaction based on their different site features and designs.

Be “Right For Them”

These are times when customers liking your brand isn’t enough to keep them loyal but being “right for them” is.  According to the American Marketing Association, Home Depot’s sales reached 19.7 billion after they started offering a wider assortment of products that their customers need. Here’s what Home Depot CIO Matt Carey has to say.

“Most people try to solve for what their internal problems are, or a pre-determined view of what they think the experience should be, we want to listen to our customers first, they tell us how they’d like to shop with us, and how they’d like to see us presented to them, and make those changes appropriately.”


So how did Home Depot do it?

In addition to the products, Home Depot also focused on the customer experience of checking out by standardising the process across all channels – in-store, online, mobile, and in-home. They also updated their management system, so associates can have more time assisting the customers instead of spending time on the computer. All these ultimately led to their success – and they are even reinvesting more on customer experience this year. Check out the tweet below.


In Vietnam, Thanh Nguyen created a company named Anphabe, which is best described as a Vietnamese version of LinkedIn. The company works hard to have an efficient networking platform that can connect millions of professionals in Vietnam.

By localising their website, Anphabe is a company that the Vietnamese trust when it comes to connecting with others professionally. Thanh Nguyen believes in being right for the customer, and she says that “If we desire to succeed in business, we should create meaningful and useful products or services for customers first and relentlessly satisfy their needs.”

See: Localise Your Website To Increase Regional Presence In The Asian Market

Transparency And Innovation

United Services Automobile Association (USAA), a Fortune 500 financial services group, has a very forward thinking when it comes to the implementation of a customer-centric strategy. They employ transparency and innovation when it comes to serving their clients. Here are some of their customer-centric features that made them a huge hit among customers:

-Their 24/7 “My Account” feature provide their customers with a real-time status of their car insurance claim. Customers can check as often as they need.

-USAA is the first bank to make iPhone deposits to their customers. This nifty app allows clients to use an iPhone to scan an endorsed check and have it deposit straight to their account without having to go to the actual bank.

-Soldiers on the field are offered a text account balance service.

These features, among others, are what made USAA on the top of their industry. Bloomberg reported that 87 percent of survey respondents would do business with USAA again. In addition to that, JD Power’s survey also mentioned that USAA’s client retention rate is a near-perfect 97.8 percent Check out USAA’s mobile app:

Another company that implements transparency and innovation is China’s biggest tech start-up — Xiaomi. They are a cell phone manufacturer, but Instead of starting with the hardware, Xiaomi first focused on software.

The brand, which started back in 2010 went on bulletin boards, forums, and discussion places where most Android users were. From the forums, hundred were recruited to download, test, and give their feedback about different versions of Android that they developed. As soon as they got that right, they started making the hardware, and after over a year, the first phone model was born.

In an industry where being secretive is a norm, Xiaomi has a very open environment and Lei Jun, the company’s CEO, credits their customers for a third of the features added to their operating system and for reaching more than 100 million users to date. Check out the video of their latest smartphone below.

Sweat The Small Stuff

Focusing on the big picture will keep everything on track, but it is easy to overlook the other facets of the company. It is sometimes the little things that are the most memorable to the consumers. Sweating the small stuff usually doesn’t cost much, but it will go a long way in creating a lasting relationship with your company’s customers.

The international hotel chain, Marriott, instilled this on their employees. From their housekeepers making sure that the alarm is not set before leaving the room, to their social media division who actively respond to tweets, each one aims to focus on being more customer-centric. Founder J. Willard Marriott says it best:

“It’s the little things that make big things possible. Only attention to the fine details of any operation makes the operation first class.”

Companies who use this approach appears to be friendlier and to be showing a more genuine concern for their customers. In return, customers will more likely form a stronger bond and increase their loyalty to these brands.

Customer-Centricity Is The Way To Go

Customers nowadays drive the marketplace and companies are taking notice. Back in the day, the primary driving force behind sales is a superior product and excellent service. Now, times have changed, and consumers are valuing the experience more than the product itself. A seamless experience across multiple devices and marketing channels is now at the forefront of brand and customer relationship.

The ability to address your customers’ needs is, therefore, more important than ever. With all the new companies and products popping up at a fast rate, the capacity to create a bond with your customer becomes even more essential than the quality of what you are selling.

With a better understanding of customer-centricity, you are on your way to a profitable marketing strategy. However, one thing that you should look out for is how to accurately localise your marketing efforts when dealing with a foreign market. In the next chapter, we will discuss how you can localise your website for the Asian market.

Background

Nearing the end of March 2017 at 2Stallions, we realised that we had failed to “walk-the-talk” for search engine optimization (SEO). Despite offering SEO services in Singapore to many happy clients, our own website’s presence on Google for keywords was lacking. Most keywords were on the 2nd page and beyond, with none ranking on the 1st page of Google. Frankly, this did not help our standing with potential clients, who often searched for, and failed to find us. We decided to change this state of affairs and decided to target a vanity keyword – “SEO” – to rank our website for (amongst others).

Vanity Keywords vs Valuable Keywords

A ‘vanity keyword’ usually describes what the website is trying to sell. However, it is not likely to drive qualified traffic nor produce high conversion rates. These have high search volume and are highly competitive, meaning they’re difficult to rank on the 1st page of Google for. However, they also tend to have higher bounce rates due to being broad.

At 2Stallions, we highly recommend targeting ‘valuable keywords’ to all our clients. Generally, we target such keywords for our own efforts as well. While these may have a lower search volume, the traffic is bound to be much more targeted and likelier to convert. For a business, this is what matters.

Why Rank On 1st Page Of Google For “SEO”

You may be wondering why then, did we select a vanity keyword for 2Stallions to rank for? Quite simply, we needed to make a bold statement, and show off our SEO skills to potential and existing clients. Hence, ranking on the 1st page of Google for a competitive keyword like “SEO” appealed to us for this case study. We analyzed the keyword on Google in Singapore.

Average Monthly Searches For "SEO"

The term “SEO” has 4,400 average monthly searches and is considered a ‘medium’ competition keyword. The suggested bid of over $17, which is what advertisers are expected to pay per click for it, was what made the effort to rank for “seo” worth it. Even 1% of the average monthly searches and clicks back to our website, i.e. 44 clicks, would save $748 per month in potential ad spend. Cool!

Ranking Results For “SEO”

Here is the fluctuation in rankings for the keyword “SEO” from mid-April, when we started, to August 2017. As you can see, we hit the 1st page of Google Singapore for the term within 3 months, by mid-July 2017. You can observe on the graph that since we hit the 1st page, we’ve actually fluctuated between 9th and 12th position. This confirms that there is no resting on your laurels when it comes to SEO, and that staying on the 1st page can be tougher than getting there.

Our Website Rankings to 1st Page Of Google For "SEO"

If you are interested in learning about the techniques our SEO team used to rank our website for the term “SEO”, now!

Impact Of Ranking On 1st Page Of Google For SEO

Search Impressions, Clicks & Leads

As a business, your main objective from any SEO effort should be to drive targeted traffic to your website that can convert to a lead for you to follow up on, and generate revenue from.

Unfortunately, Google isn’t open about how much traffic a particular search term generates, so you may or may not be able to view this depth in data for specific keywords. Therefore, for a client SEO campaign, we focus on overall Organic & Referral traffic as our metrics, together with conversions (read our Guide on Web Analytics to learn more about how to set this up yourself).

As we do not have exact data for the specific search term for our website, we decided to pivot and analyse results from the perspective of the landing page. For SEO-related search terms, we’re focusing on having visitors land on to our SEO Services page. The table below shows the improvements we saw since we started our SEO efforts in % improvements from the previous month period.

Month-over-month Improvements May
Compared to Apr
Jun
Compared to May
Jul
Compared to Jun
Impressions (%) 4,497.6 69.9 69.1
Clicks (%) ∞ (divided by zero) 600 57.1
Conversions (%) 0 0 ∞ (divided by zero)

We saw an immediate, and dramatic, increase in impressions and clicks to the website when we began SEO work. However, we’ve only recently started seeing this traffic start to convert. Another reason for this low conversion could be that the vanity keyword resulted in traffic to the site that was not targeted or intent-driven.

Following the publishing of this case study, we shall be focusing our efforts mainly on valuable keywords rather than vanity keywords.

Analyzing Our 1st Page Ranking On Google

Screenshot of 1st page of Google Search Result for Keyword "SEO"
In an ideal world, being on the 1st page, and especially being ranked in the top 3 positions of Google should result in a dramatic website traffic increase. However, reality can be different. Despite organically ranking 8th, our visual ranking on the search result page is closer to 15th.

We took a screenshot of the search result page for the term “seo” on Google Singapore to illustrate our point. We have marked the area above the fold (light blue dotted line), which is what you see immediately when you land on the search result. We’ve also highlighted the area occupied by paid ads and areas taken up by rich snippets like business listings and video results.

For this particular search term, even the top organic result from Moz.com is only partially above the fold. The 8th position, where our 2Stallions SEO service page organically ranks, is towards the bottom of the page. Google now shows up to 4 ads at the top, with expanded ads like the 1st 2 ad results. You can’t really blame Google – after all, they stand to make $17 for every click. Statistics are clear that the top 3 results get almost 60% of the clicks, so the ads there are a major source of revenue for Google.

For a new business with poor organic traffic, that is trying to generate leads, SEM is vital. On the other end of the spectrum, existing businesses have their own reasons to continue SEM spends. For them, the goal is merely to keep their brand awareness high and prevent competition from occupying the top positions. Therefore, you should never discount SEM services for your own business. You can reach out to us for such services as well.

Furthermore, search results these days devote a great deal of real estate to localized business listings and YouTube video results. To show up amongst business listings, you can use Google My Business to set it up for your own business and optimize it.

Next Steps

Does this mean we should not be doing SEO, and focus our marketing spend on Adwords & PPC instead? Absolutely NOT! As you can see from the stats shared above – our organic search impressions have increased dramatically. There is now a greater chance of people seeing and recognizing our brand. To top it off, we have seen an increase in organic traffic to the website. We’re now also starting to see conversions to leads on our landing page from organic visitors.

We could focus on ranking at number 1 on the 1st page for “seo” going forward. However, it makes little sense fighting such fierce competition. It would mean overcoming established content from behemoths like Moz, Search Engine Land, and Wikipedia.com. These have been around for YEARS and have collected a ton of trustworthy backlinks that our content is unlikely to achieve.

Now that we rank on the 1st page of Google locally, it provides credibility with potential clients. We finally “walk-the-talk” when it comes to SEO. As this keyword does not generate targeted traffic, we’ll spend little effort to maintain its ranking. At the same time, we are shifting our focus to more valuable keywords.

To learn the techniques used to achieve 1st page results, !

Leveraging On Rich Snippets

Google’s apparent favouring of rich snippets makes it seem prudent to leverage on other forms of content, especially video. Therefore, 2Stallions has created and optimized a YouTube video. Specifically for our SEO services (see below), we are looking to generate additional traffic directly via YouTube. It also serves to increase our landing page relevancy to Google. If you’re interested in taking this path, our team has developed methods to dominate Google search results via YouTube videos.

Conclusion

SEO will not catapult your website to the top and keep you there without consistent effort. Also, while the techniques we discuss in our worked great for this particular keyword, it may not be the case everywhere. As an SEO agency in Singapore, our 2Stallions SEO team continuously refreshes our SEO skills. We learn and try out new techniques that help us to rank websites for our clients and ourselves. So if your business is looking to achieve similar results and boost its organic lead generation, reach out to us!

Email marketing is not dead. In the past, the focus of email marketing was coming up with attractive (and sometimes misleading) headlines in the hopes of grabbing someone’s attention. While the headline is still important, marketers have evolved to make emails more noticeable.

Text based emails a requirement as they are best for those with slow internet connections. However, a clever combination of visuals and words are more effective in keeping your audience engaged. This is where HTML email templates come in.

HTML emails are more attractive to viewers as they are more visual and interactive. Don’t let the programming term throw you off, though. Email marketing software should make it easy for you to set one up quickly. Before we get into that, let’s see why email marketing is important.

Why is Email Marketing Important?

Emails are prone to be deleted or left unread by recipients. This results in some business owners and marketers dismissing email marketing without a second thought. However, according to Campaign Monitor, such dismissal mean you could miss out on:

  • Getting a wider reach
  • Having your message seen
  • Achieving higher conversion rates
  • Getting higher ROIs

These are just some of the benefits of email marketing. If you want to make more product sales and earn the trust of your audience, I recommend you start utilizing it. Still not convinced? Read the 10 benefits of email marketing.

While creating HTML email templates may sound daunting, most email marketing software are designed to make implementing them easier. Now, let’s talk about the most popular one amongst small and medium businesses – MailChimp.

What Is MailChimp?

MailChimp is an email marketing software that will change the way you market your product online. It offers a variety of easy options for designing, sending, and saving email templates.

The software has an easy to use interface, making it one of the most popular software out there.  Just ask the millions of users who continue to use MailChimp as their email marketing tool. Already using MailChimp but finding it hard to build a mailing list? Check out Mailing List 101: Why You Need One And How To Build It.

Why Use MailChimp?

Here are a few reasons why users prefer MailChimp for their email marketing:

  • It will be your personal newsletter-publishing platform, allowing you to create newsletters of varying types, fast and easy.
  • Empowers you to build a list of the people you want to market your products to, and save the list for use later on.
  • Helps you to create and save custom templates for your products, thus saving you the trouble of writing a new one every time the need arises.

The best bit is that MailChimp offers a free-to-use version that lets you grow to 2,000 subscribers and send out 12,000 emails per month at NO cost.

Due to its popularity, I’m using MailChimp to show you how to set up a custom email template in the next section. If you’re looking for options other than MailChimp – scroll past the next section to read about them.

How To Set Up A Basic Campaign Email Using MailChimp Templates

Once you’ve signed up at MailChimp for your account, you can follow this step-by-step guide to make a simple, yet beautiful, email using an existing MailChimp template.

1. Login with your account

2. Click “Templates”

3.Choose“Create Template”

4. On the next screen, you will see three options to get started with templates -Layouts, Themes and Code your own.

  1. Layouts provide you with a plain HTML email layout created by MailChimp.
  2. Themes give you options of several complete email templates filled with dummy content.
  3. ‘Code your own’ is for developers, and shows you pure HTML code to work with and requires programming skills.

5. Choose Themes

6. I will choose the “New Collection” Theme for this guide.

7. In the next screen, you should see the email to be sent out on the left and the Designing tools on the right.

8. Designing tools have 2 tabs, for content and design.

  1. Content includes elements used to design within our email template. 
  2. Design is setting for overall email elements like text font size, font color, etc. 

 

9. If you want to edit an element within the email shown on the left, just hover your cursor over that element and it will show a black border around it. When this happens, just click the pencil icon and the Designing pane on the right will switch to display the currently selected element settings.

10. To add a new element, select the element you want from the Designing Tools under the Content tab and drag and drop it to the Email on the left side, placing it where you want it. The Designing pane changes to show the settings for the new element so you can make the changes you want to it before you hit ‘Save and Close’.

11. Make your edits and hit “Save & Close”

12. After you have made the changes you want to the email, you can click Preview & Test.

13. The preview screen shows how your email template would look like on both desktop and mobile.

14. Test Mode asks you for a test recipient’s email address. If you want to test the template on multiple emails, simply separate them with a comma.

15. Once everything looks perfect, you’re good to go. Remember to hit save and exit after giving your template a name.

That’s it. It’s simple, right?

Tricks To Create An Email Template Using MailChimp

Here are a few tricks for creating an email template that is compatible with almost any email client (Gmail, Outlook, etc):

  1. If you have coding knowledge, be sure NOT to use margins
  2. Use “ “ (white space) instead of ‘ ’
  3. Use images instead of text
  4. Less details, more links
  5. Even though MailChimp will scale down images for you, you need to make the image size the same as the container size to avoid inconsistencies when sending to multiple email clients.

What other options are there?

If you don’t think MailChimp is for you, don’t worry. There are a lot of email marketing software options although most others do not have a free version like MailChimp. These are some of the others I’ve used or currently use:

  1. SendPulse (https://sendpulse.com/)
    • Has a survey management system that can help us collect responses from our clients to know what they’re interested in.
  1. AWeber (https://www.aweber.com/)
    • Has a Spam check that will let us know if our email may be considered spam before we send it.
  1. Infusionsoft (https://www.infusionsoft.com/)
    • Great email marketing software. It has powerful analytics, a baked-in CRM, campaign builder and an e-commerce platform. This is what we use at 2Stallions and it’s very powerful and works great!

If you’re already using email marketing software and are wondering what’s next or how to optimize your business further – a marketing automation software may be what your business is looking for. Read Why Big Brands Rely On Marketing Automation To Do The Heavy Lifting to learn more about the benefits of automation.

Want to know more about email marketing? Subscribe and we will share more such interesting content with you in the future.

There is no way of stopping the mobile revolution that is currently happening in our world. More people prefer using their mobile devices to surf the internet than the Desktop PC. This is most likely due to the convenience and also the growing sizes of our mobile phones.

Think about it, there are probably even times where you use your phone to browse the web even when you have a desktop PC available. This is because mobile phones are normally within reach and could be used anywhere that has a 3G or 4G signal. Plus, with the “phablet” era continuously heating up, mobile phones are getting screen sizes that make surfing the net easier than the past smaller models.

Numbers do not lie, and the statistics are saying that mobile is dominating the web. According to Stone Temple, 55.79% of internet users are using their mobile phones to surf the web. In comparison, desktop PCs, which used to dominate this statistic account for only 44.21% in the latest study.

The same trend is happening in Asia where a huge population currently resides. According to China Daily, the country of China has already exceeded 1.3 Billion mobile users in 2016. And a whopping 30 percent of those mobile users are 4G subscribers. To give you a good perspective of that surge, there are 386 million 4G users in China which are triple from the number of users in 2014. And if you think about it, this number does not even include users who connect through Wi-Fi with their mobile devices.

Another big example is India. According to the Economic Times, India will have over 500 million mobile internet users by 2017. The same article also mentions a recent survey that prepaid smartphone users spend about 72% of their time accessing online content and only 15% making voice calls. That definitely says a lot about how the purpose of mobile phones has changed over the past few years.

And this is the main reason why your company should be adopting a mobile-first strategy. The trend of mobile phones as the dominant device is going to keep rising as the years roll by. Phones are getting more powerful every year and are inching towards desktop PC-like power and response. Your company should start adopting a mobile-first strategy or risk getting left behind.

Not yet fully convinced regarding this phenomena? Well, to put things in perspective, Google has already announced that they are going to roll out a mobile-first index. This means that the biggest search engine on earth is going to prioritize mobile URLs in their ranking.

Steps to having a mobile marketing strategy for your company

Make sure that your website is mobile responsive

There is a good chance that your website is already mobile friendly. But did you know that you still need to make your mobile website adaptive to various devices? Mobile phones have varying screen sizes, not to mention the numerous tablet sizes that plague the market. Make sure that your customer is having a pleasant time on your website no matter what device he/she is on.

According to Activemedia, 38% of users will stop engaging a website that is unattractive and unresponsive. That should be enough to tell you how much customers can be lost just because a website is not responding well to his/her screen size.

Take advantage of mobile wallets

The boom of the mobile phone industry has made a lot of big companies re-think of a new idea of payment. Mobile wallets work by using near field communication (NFC) to transfer data from your mobile phone to the payment reader. This makes it fast and convenient for people dealing with their transactions.

According to CMO, mobile based payments are expected to reach about $142 Billion dollars by 2019. The biggest mobile wallet services like Apple Pay and Samsung Pay are getting an increase in users as the years roll by.

In Asia, mobile wallets are already making moves. According to Business Insider, Singapore became the first country outside of the US to support all the major mobile wallets. It started with 20 retail locations and will most likely grow as time passes by. UnionPay, another major mobile wallet service, has already started entering the Chinese and South Korean market, this means that the rest of Asia is not too far behind.

Large companies like Starbucks are already using mobile wallets as a means for their customers to purchase. It would be a wise move for any company to start rethinking the way people can pay.

Start thinking apps

Mobile phones and apps come hand in hand, and plenty of companies have already taken advantage of this fact. This is because app usage is at an all-time high especially in places like Asia. Did you know that Asia is now the biggest market for mobile apps? According to lnternational Business Times, mobile app usage in Asia grew to 77 percent and has surged ahead of markets like the US in 2014 and 2015.

The main cause of this increase is the rise of shopping apps in various Asian countries. The same study found that usage in shopping and lifestyle apps have tripled in the span of one year.

With this study, it is pretty evident that e-commerce is booming in Asia. Companies are figuring out that apps help create a direct marketing channel between them and their customers. Apps can be valuable in creating loyalty programs, promotions, and an easier shopping experience. Asia’s top online fashion retailer Zalora, for example, has a mobile app that makes it possible for users to place coupon codes (normally found on their website) and enter that through the app.

 

If a company really wants to adopt a mobile-first strategy, then thinking about having an app might just be the best move to show commitment.

Mobile optimize your email campaigns

You might be wondering why you need to optimize your email campaigns for mobile. The answer lies with the current trend of email reading. According to Email Monday, 54 percent of all emails are read first on a mobile device.

Automobile seller, Auto Trader, figured this little fact out and decided to make their emails more mobile-optimised. This resulted in a 391% increase in click through rates since they redesigned their emails.

Making your emails mobile responsive is not particularly hard. First of all is to find out what email clients tend to use. Once you have that data, see if that email client can support various applications like video.

Phone screens are much smaller than desktop screens so make sure that you use bigger fonts in your email. Good mobile-optimised emails have fonts that do not need any zooming in from the reader. Check out the following image for a side by side comparison of a small font on mobile and a large font one.

Image by HubSpot

De-cluttering your emails from less useful links and long paragraphs is also helpful in making your emails more mobile friendly. Make your words shorter and your headlines more concise. People don’t want to be overwhelmed with so many things happening on a 5-inch screen.

Also, put touch friendly buttons on your emails. Don’t forget to utilize sharing buttons so you could take advantage of the power of social media. Lastly, use a single column layout to make it friendlier to the eyes of mobile users. Check out this great email design from Superthings that looks great on a mobile device.

Image by SuperThings

Don’t forget about SMS marketing

Despite cheaper online chat apps increasing in use, there are still companies sending us standard text messages with promos and ads. The reason is pretty simple – SMS messages has a whopping 82.1% open rate.

That makes SMS one of the most potent marketing tool for companies. Footwear retailer, Payless, still uses SMS to create awareness of their products through various promos. Below is an example of one of their SMS campaigns.

Sample SMS Marketing by Payless

Your SMS campaigns must have a clear call to action. For example, use simple keywords like BUYNOW or GETPROMO as what they should type before sending it to a number. SMS campaigns mostly fail because of unclear instructions which can cause users to leave your message quickly.

Keep in mind that you will need compliance before creating SMS campaigns. Check which entities govern the mobile industry in the country you wish to deploy your SMS campaign.

Take your company mobile in Asia

Mobile use in Asia is booming and marketers already started taking notice. There is no stopping this trend and it looks like companies are already taking a mobile-first approach. Emails, websites, and apps are just a few of the major things that a good marketer needs in order to be ready for the mobile-dominated future. With the rate of new technology and innovations, the next few years will be quite interesting in the field of mobile marketing.

Do you have any stories and experience about creating a mobile marketing strategy for the Asian market? Please feel free to write them all down in the comments section below. We’d love to hear from you!

Design has been at the forefront of advertising for as long as the latter has been in existence. Whether it is a strong logo, striking headline, or eye-popping colours, design is one of the most important aspects of ads. It is no wonder that in today’s advertising climate, where the competition is getting fiercer and tougher, Creative Agencies continue to thrive.

A lot of times, Creative Agencies get overlooked by its other more popular counterparts. One good example of this is the Digital Agency. The rise of online advertising has made Digital Agencies one of the most sought after service by advertisers. This creates a lot of confusion amongst advertisers on what type of agency they should use for their campaigns.

So what are the key differences between a Creative Agency and a Digital Agency? Before we answer this question, let us define the two agencies first.

What is the definition of a Creative Agency?

According to Playground Inc, Creative Agencies focus on design and often use outside partners like ad marketing consultants to fully deploy their work.

Most of the time, Creative Agencies offer print design services. Good Creative Agencies are typically “branding experts” who are great at marketing and product design which is meant to be visually exciting, enticing and persuasive.

Creative agencies are also known for designing great logos, letterheads, business cards, and achieving a cohesive overall branding feel.

Here’s a very interesting video on what truly makes an amazing logo:

Toronto agency Smith Roberts wanted to rebrand their company in 2013. What they envisioned in the rebirth of the agency is a name and feel that will touch upon the traditional values of Toronto’s Distillery District where the company is situated. But they also wanted a name that will embody the company’s commitment to helping their client’s grow. In the end, they settled for Corktown Seed Co. A quick look at their branding already tells you that the company nailed what they wanted with a minimalist and modern retro vibe to their collaterals. Check out the photo below.

Image by Lovely Stationery

Company structure wise, Creative Agencies focus more on the creative team instead of marketing strategy. Large Creative Agencies are often filled with Creative Directors and graphic designers. Firms like Bruce Mau Design is a very good example of a big Creative Agency, just by checking out their personnel page, you will see how much they emphasize on creative talent.

What is the definition of a Digital Agency?

According to Upanup, a Digital Agency is defined as a company that gives the creative, strategic, and technical development of screen-based products and services. A full digital agency can offer clients search engine marketing, online advertising, web design and development, and e-commerce consulting.

Importance of a Full Digital Agency

Why is it important to know what a full digital agency is? Because digital agencies that do not provide full-service functions as consultants and outsources the production part. Not that this is necessarily a bad thing as some good agencies use this model. However, it would highly depend if you want to work with an agency that focuses on consultancy and outsources the rest or a company that does everything in-house.

A lot of advertisers and companies are slowly putting more focus on online advertising nowadays. And they have very good reason to do so. Just look at these statistics taken from Smart Insights.

  • Instagram’s community has over 600 million users
  • Snapchat has over 150 million daily users since December 2016
  • Over 500 million tweets are sent each day

While those social media stats are definitely eye-popping, keep in mind that those sites do not even have the largest database of users. That honour belongs to Facebook, which has over 1.86 Billion users online. Thinking twice about email marketing? Well, according to Email is not Dead, you will be missing out on over 2.586 billion email users worldwide. And what about those silly videos? According to Banner Snack, 76% of businesses who use video believe that it provides a good ROI.

To drive the point even further, an annual survey by ComScore has stated that in 2016, a whopping 51% of shoppers prefer to do their shopping online. From the looks of the trend, this number will just keep going up.

This is why advertisers are turning to Digital Agencies for help when it comes to their marketing strategies. Not only does digital advertising give you the biggest audience, it is also cost effective, statistics-based, and audience targeted. If you are looking for an example of a full-service Digital Agency, look no further and visit our list of services.

So why do you still need a Creative Agency? Well, there are still some compelling reasons to do so. The next part of this article will tackle just that.

Benefits of Creative Agency

Creative Agencies are still king when it comes to design. These companies focus on creating the best designs for your brand and they will still do wonders for your campaign. Creating visual content is still a huge priority for business to consumer companies.

Image by Hubspot

According to Adobe, design-driven companies are still leading the way for over ten years now. The companies that focus on creativity enjoy 1.5 times market share than those that do not. There is a good reason why the CEO of Nike is a designer – despite other forms of advertising popping out, people still value design and creativity.

Which is better?

It is true that using a Digital Agency makes the most sense for your money. The sheer volume of users as well as it’s cost effectiveness makes it really a tough choice to beat. However, design is very important too when it comes to your campaigns. A good design will boost your promotion’s effectivity as well as polish your branding further. If you can spare some cash, having a great Creative Agency work with an amazing Digital Agency may just be the best combination for your company.

Any thoughts regarding Digital and Creative Agency? Please share them with us in the space below.

The continued growth of the digital world has changed the way that companies are marketing their products to consumers in Asia. Strategies have rapidly progressed throughout time and can be categorized to four distinct styles.

The Evolving Marketing Landscape in Asia

The first one is traditional marketing, which tackles marketing strategies that existed before the boom of the Internet. Marketing efforts utilize traditional media like mail, radio, television, newspapers, and outdoor marketing like billboards and events.

traditional marketing

Pre-1995

The next one is mixed marketing where companies try to implement web based marketing, usually a static website, to the traditional ones.

mixed marketing

1995-2004

Then we have web centric marketing. This is where web based marketing has greater priority than traditional marketing. Search engine optimization and pay-per-click (PPC) and email are more greatly utilized – with the website a central focus. Traditional marketing remains a strong presence as these companies understand the need for online marketing but aren’t ready to let go of the traditional formats.

 

2005-2009

Finally, we have what is called modern marketing. In this type of marketing, the use of social media outlets like Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, LinkedIn, etc., are heavily prevalent and online marketing forms the bulk of the budget, with little reliance on traditional marketing. On the other hand, traditional advertising relied on diversionary tactics to get you to buy a company’s product, modern marketing aims to form a bond with their customers and companies engaging in modern marketing have already realised this shift in their thinking.

modern marketing

 

2010-onwards

As the digital space keeps evolving rapidly, marketing trends have emerged that could rapidly shift modern marketing in Asia even further in 2017, especially when it comes to consumer goods. Here are some of the big ones to keep an eye on:

Mobile Commerce

Large companies like Apple and Samsung have already launched their mobile payment services and for good reason. This is because 2016 has seen a huge spike in shoppers using their mobile devices to purchase goods.

Mobile-first apps like Instagram for example, is fast becoming the social media outlet of choice for businesses. According to Search Engine Land, this past year, Google has already announced that there are more searches done on mobile devices than on traditional desktop PCs. Mobile devices account for more than 60% of google searches.

Photo by Smart Insight

Apple Pay, Samsung Pay, and PayPal are continuously growing because of this recent boom. More businesses are going to implement “mobile-wallets” in their payment models this year.

Social Shopping

Social Media is fast becoming one of the best ways for businesses to reach out to their audiences. Various social media outlets like Instagram and Facebook are already gearing their sites to make it more optimized for businesses and consumers to connect easily.

In 2017, these platforms will most likely bridge the gap between online commerce and physical stores closer.

Chatbots

Chatbot technology is getting better and better and the results could be big for businesses. A lot of big companies like Facebook and Microsoft have already invested huge amounts in the Chatbot technology because of the impact it could have in the future.

Chatbots offer a more genuine and personalized approach with regards to the transaction process with customers. Chatbots can give that human responsive feel that customers really love.

According to Daze Info, around 80% of all companies want to integrate Chatbots by 2020. In the US, 37% of the population are already saying that they are willing to buy from a ChatBot. A good chunk of the population has also experienced interacting with a Chatbot. This is definitely a sure sign that Chatbots are here to stay.

Photo by Daze Info

Personalised retargeting

The boom of mobile commerce has also given online retailers a problem. A lot of customers are abandoning their online shopping carts because mobile shopping also decreases the user’s attention span.

Did you notice how many emails you get from Amazon reminding you of items that you looked at or added to your cart? According to Baymard, e-commerce cart abandonment has risen to alarming levels from 60% in 2006 to 78% in 2017.

Because of this, more retailers are using a tool called Personalised Retargeting which gives customers more follow-up emails regarding their abandoned online shopping cart items. This gained a lot of success in 2016 and will most certainly be used more in 2017.

Virtual Retail

Virtual retail is going to be huge in 2017. This technology will allow customers to merge offline and online environment for a unique shopping experience. For example, virtual dressing rooms will allow you to try on clothes and see how it will fit without leaving the comfort of your home.

According to Digi-capital, virtual reality will become a $30 billion industry by the year 2020. Virtual Retail will continue to grow with applications ranging from health and beauty to the medical space. The car company, Audi has already announced that they are going to use VR to create virtual showrooms for their customers. Feel free to watch the video below:

Augmented Reality

Just like Virtual Reality, one of the biggest hits of 2016 was Augmented Reality. The biggest reason for Augmented Reality’s success is the mobile-app game, Pokemon Go, where users can catch their favorite virtual monsters in the real world. Augmented Reality application is really young, but because of the massive success of Pokemon Go, 2017 will be the year that Augmented Reality will really boom.

According to Expanded Ramblings, Pokemon Go has over a whopping 500 million downloads to date and has generated over a billion dollars in revenue. Expect a lot of other tech companies to follow this massive fad.

According to Digi-capital, the Augmented Reality revenue share will dwarf virtual reality in 2020 by a whopping $60 Billion.

 

Photo by Digi-Capital

Live Videos and 360-degree video

More people, and customers for this matter, crave interactivity in this digital age of ours. That is why one of the most popular social media experiences of 2016 was live videos and 360 degree-video.

Customers who feel that they are part of the whole experience are most likely to form a bond with the company. Live Videos make customers feel as if they are really taking part with the event while 360-degree video allow them to feel that they are manipulating and holding the product themselves.

Dunkin Donuts is a good example of a company who took advantage of Live Videos. They recently did a live video for the Valentine’s season where they  showed their “test kitchen.” They ended the video with a sweet surprise – a giant donut-themed wedding cake. You can watch the Facebook live video here:

A lot of businesses in the tourism and sports industry have already fully utilized these tools to their advantage. 2017 is going to be no different when it comes to Live Videos and 360-degree video.

Consumer Goods Company going direct to consumers and cutting down on their retail channels

Fast Moving Consumer Goods typically have a gap with its customers when it comes to communication. Normally these type of products rely on their distributors and retail stores to talk and form relationships with their customers.

However, the advances in digital marketing has allowed these FMCG companies to directly communicate with their customers through social media. This will help companies of that nature to better understand their customers and gain new insights.

Dollar Shave Club used this tactic to compete with giants like Gillette and Schick. Men who wanted an alternative to this pricier razors wanted a much closer bond with their razor company. Dollar Shave Club used social media and viral videos. The company skyrocketed. Today they sold to Unilever for $1 Billion, which is five times more than they were actually worth. Check out their video below which currently has over 24 million views:

<div=”video-container”>

Marketing Automation

Marketing Automation is one of the best tools available for companies today. It is a type of software that enables business to put their marketing and sales efforts on autopilot by nurturing potential leads with highly personalized, useful content.

Marketing Automation has a huge amount of benefits as it can help a small sales team get invaluable insights into a business’ customer base to help them make data driven decisions. It also helps a sales team get focused on closing the deal by allowing the software to do the heavy lifting of sending up to thousands of emails per day.

When people hear of Marketing Automation, many actually believe that it is just a more complex Email Marketing. However, once your knowledge becomes deeper, you will realize that Marketing Automation has a huge advantage over an email service provider. Below is a chart that can show you the difference between the two:

 

Marketing Automation software like Infusionsoft can help businesses capture more leads and improve their conversion rates. These tools can easily manage the sales and marketing processes for business.

A good example of a business that will benefit greatly from Marketing Automation is Events Management. Imagine being able to send thousands of emails per day to clients. Especially if the company has a huge client database, Marketing Automation will greatly aid in getting those leads and keeping clients in the loop.

Marketing Automation can also have desirable effects like word of mouth marketing. By being constantly reminded of a company’s offerings, there is a great chance that he/she will refer that company to others. Keep in mind that 84 percent of people trust recommendations from people that they know.

Marketing Automation will also fortify a company’s repeat business because of efficient marketing. Selling to an existing customer requires less effort and results in a larger success rate than dealing with new customers.

By streamlining the sales and marketing process efficiently, Marketing Automation is going to be one of the hottest digital trends of 2017. Still think Marketing Automation won’t help businesses? According to Salesforce, Businesses using marketing automation experience a 451% increase in qualified leads.

Mobile Commerce, Social Shopping, Chatbots, Personalised Retargeting, Virtual Retail, Augmented Reality, Live Videos, Direct to Consumer, and Marketing Automation are going to be at the forefront of the consumer goods landscape in Asia. If you are in the marketing field or own a business, keep an eye on these trends.

With all these digital trends booming in 2017 and beyond, which one are you planning to use for your company? Let us know in the comments below which digital trend excites you the most.[/fusion_text]

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