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As the world slowly crosses into a post-pandemic norm, it has become more important to understand how brands adapt and change to meet evolving expectations and considerations. Digital marketing is about having an adaptable mindset, letting you take in information, foresee trends and act accordingly – brand marketing is no exception here. In this issue of the Marketing Expert Series, experienced brand consultant and digital expert, Tania Tai, takes it one step further. 

Encouraging us to ‘outsee, outthink and outdo’, Tania shares her life and career experiences. She offers insights into the world of brand consulting, and what it takes to make a strong, lasting impression on consumers and team members alike. 


Hi, Tania, thank you for joining us in our Marketing Expert Series. Let’s kick off with your background, can you tell us a bit about yourself? How did you get to where you are now? 

My pleasure Olwen. I have always believed in the shaping influence of life experiences. Honestly, it’s quite amazing how seemingly unexpected connections come together as mini-experiments for us to tinker, learn and grow in new domains. All we need to do is stay true to ourselves yet have an open mind to explore and muster up enough courage to pivot when the time is ripe. As such, was my journey of self-discovery until I found my calling in brand consulting.

The early years in divergent fields of financial audit and hospitality taught me valuable lifelong lessons. If you take systems-based thinking from auditing and fuse it with the precious human moments from hoteling, violà! You will have a winning combination to drive success in branding, marketing and communications.

I will always be grateful to Su (founder of Su Yeang Design, subsequently Holmes & Marchant) who provided the first stepping-stone when I contemplated my career pivot and nurtured my growth trajectory in the pioneering years of branding in Singapore. Fast track 20 years down the road, I’ve had the privilege of working alongside visionary leaders across categories to co-create brands that are worthy of remark. This is the worthy work that I do. And I’m still as passionate about until today – helping brands find their purpose, design better futures and become that special force of positive impact in the world.

Marketing, as we know, comes in many different shapes and sizes and can be rather demanding. How do you believe that marketing leaders can help their brands – and their teams – grow in today’s world?

Thriving in these exceptional times requires a very different mindset. Brand owners need to plan ahead, ride the wave of hopeful rebounds and help society regenerate. Just like how Pantone launched a more vibrant colour palette to mark a brighter 2022, I’d like to share some useful habits to help marketing teams grow their brands and ride this optimistic wave back to normalcy:

Outsee: Consider the brand ecosystem and deep-dive to align beliefs. The power of branding lies in how meaningfully your brand connects to beliefs, be it leadership, customers or employees. When customer experiences are well aligned with culture (i.e. employee experiences), and brought to life by brand experiences based on the bedrock of shared values to improve the world, you will discover the magic formula for sustainable branding. The ultimate goal is to build brand love by forging deep emotional connections based on empathy and compelling storytelling.

Take for example the rebranding of Progresif, a telco in Brunei. Beyond the impressive numbers of new customers onboarded, the zero to hero story of its successful rebranding was because we created a brand that stood for all things progressive from the retail experience to the curation of an emergent tribe of influencers. Little by little, a new Progresif movement was born, fueled by a growing tribe of Progresifs who believed in leading where others feared to tread. And it was this progressive tribe of loyal customers that helped the brand weather Covid’s perfect storm.

Outthink: There is nothing more inspiring when beautiful minds come together at ideation sessions during workshops. Whenever you’re in need of a creative jolt to solve the toughest of challenges, always remember that imagination is our strongest currency. Ideation is a non-linear process, so be prepared to reframe challenges and reimagine your world from a different lens.

From experience, let me share a lateral thinking technique that has been particularly effective – “Embrace Constraints”. During the envisioning workshop for Penang Butterfly Farm, one of the breakout team activities was to come up with a new brand name for the well-loved tourist attraction. We needed to hunt for a name that better reflected their refreshed positioning to be the voice of nature – an edutainment destination of the future that celebrates the unsung heroes of nature (i.e. insects and butterflies). Under the constraints of a whole slew of taboo words, such as “butterfly”, “nature” and “park”, ideation ventured into the unexpected. A turf that is far from the norm. Eventually, it was an exploration in a science-inspired realm that “Entopia” came about, coined from “Entomology” and “Utopia”.

Outdo: In the go-to-market race to the next normal, the world has reset at a different level. The pandemic has mainstreamed conversations on sustainability, digital futures and a hybrid way of life. Whether your brand is ready for the metaverse or not, brands now have more room to play across platforms virtually and/or physically. With the blurring of boundaries between online and offline and access to rich data-driven insights, welcome to the era of omnichannel marketing on steroids!

This is the time for brands to shine in moments that matter by sharing content that enriches the lives of their customers. Brands that win the battle, will be those that are prepared to back what they promise with heartwarming brand acts. So that more people can not only see and hear what the brand is about but also feel the brand love.

Take the case of Lexus when they launched the Lexus ES Self-Charging Hybrid “Feel Your Best” campaign last year, emotional AI was used to offer viewers a more personalised experience through facial recognition. Imagine adapting content real-time in immersive cinematic sequences. Imagine the thrill of an ad that responds to your emotions just as the car responds to the driver’s behaviour and needs. Wow!

You’re the outgoing Managing Director at DIA Brand Consultants. Can you tell us a bit about the work you did there? How does it compare to other career experiences?

DIA made its way to Malaysia when I settled here 15 years ago. At that time, branding was still in its nascent stage. It was exciting to build the business and share the invisible aspects of branding that people often miss or overlook. Through the years, I’m thrilled to have helped businesses at different life stages unlock their full brand potential and empowered brand teams to realise their path to purpose.

A career in brand consulting is like no other. It’s fascinating because you get to work with a lot of different clients from divergent industries, which gives you the chance to immerse and understand each category better. Perks of the trade: when you consult on FMCG projects, you become a smarter consumer too because you will understand the category and the competitive landscape most intimately. And so, you will know how to make the best choices that suit your needs.

How did the developments of the COVID-19 Pandemic affect your own strategies at DIA? What challenges and/or developments did you have to adapt to since the start of 2020? 

The benefit of a diversified portfolio strategy is that your business becomes more resilient in times like these.

From a project perspective, new opportunities emerged in the health and wellbeing space, which led to projects such as DuPont’s digital immunity cookbook and Top’s Anti-virus laundry detergent packaging revamp. When you brand, you brand for the long haul so that you can hit the ground running faster when the good times return. That’s why brand training and design thinking workshops carried on unabated during these pandemic times. Although workshops did take a very different form, 100% virtual and more interactive, thanks to Miro.

From a workplace perspective, we had to quickly adapt to working from home. Suddenly, the home transformed from a downtime nest to an uptime hub. A whole new set of challenges around work-life integration jump-started the future of work. Looking on the brighter side of life, the team had to learn faster, become more disciplined and self-aware, and master the art of setting boundaries. Regular check-ins, fun projects, wellbeing gifting and virtual parties kept the team together while apart. True to the wisdom of Stoic philosopher Seneca, on how adversity sparks greatness.

What sort of lasting impact do you believe the pandemic’s forced acceleration of digital transformation has had on the various industries in which you’ve worked over the years?

The pandemic has left a mark on every industry, and the world has changed. Once we have tasted the convenience and benefits of digital life, it is hard to go back. The stage is now set for more exciting times of digital integration and data mining post-pandemic. As people are by nature highly social, which is why I believe that hybrid experiences will be the future of everything, from the way we live, learn, work and play. Right here, right now. This is the moment for all of us to respond with a deeper sense of awareness as a community to reshape the world that we should make.

Do you think that this impact has permanently changed how you will go about your work in the future – whatever work that may be? 

Yes, the impact is here to stay for a long time to come. The best way forward is for everyone to embrace the future of work as soon as possible and use this opportunity to reinvent. Given the current reality of burnout, anxiety and mental health concerns, we will need to find new ways to collaborate better remotely or in-person going forward.

To manage a hybrid way of work, it’s healthy to be more transparent and lock-in downtime too. By scheduling non-meeting times, especially heads-down time (when we need alone-time for deep thinking) or me-time (for self-improvement and growth to stoke our passion). It’s good to make time and schedule these often-neglected moments so that we can always be at our best.

Leadership and mentoring have never been more important during uncertain times, especially for women. What role do you believe women with successful careers, like yourself, can play in the lives of women today?

Leadership and mentoring have evolved in these uncertain times too. Irrespective of new joiners or experienced professionals, many interesting situations present themselves as meaningful coaching-learning moments. Women, like men, play multiple roles at home or at work. The key is in finding the right happy balance.

Unfortunately, the pandemic has painfully highlighted the disproportionate impact on women in Southeast Asia. A sad fact according to the recent research by the Asian Development Bank at the end of 2021. There is much work to be done to reverse this, be it through peer professional networks or mentoring startup communities, or even reaching out to those not typically under the radar, such as Women of Will for single mums or Ideas Academy to educate displaced teens.

What would you say to aspiring marketers just starting with their careers?

If you love a world in perpetual beta, thrive on discovering something new everyday or get a high from solving thorny problems… Brand consulting is the best career to start off with. Here you will have the best arena to hone your full-stacked marketing and creative thinking skills amidst a smorgasbord of industries. It is indeed a career less ordinary, where taste, style, wit and intelligence come together wonderfully. It is the best platform for you to discover yourself and how to navigate your future.

It’s been great to learn more about you and your work, Tania, thank you for sharing. How can people connect with you if they’d like to know more about you?

I’m taking some time off the grid at the moment, so LinkedIn would be the best way to reach out.

Social media has turned into the most prominent platform used for connecting with friends, forming communities, networking, engaging with customers, and promoting a business. 

Through this tool, marketers and business owners can reach new audiences and engage with prospects. It also enables them to attract a wider, targeted audience by placing ad campaigns.

First, What is Social Media Marketing?

Social media marketing, a.k.a. SMM, is the process of interacting with your target audience through social media platforms, such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, and more.

SMM is a powerful way to build brand awareness, draw in potential customers, stay on top of engagements, and promote your products or services, among other things. This practice also includes creating and sharing compelling content pieces, including articles, images, and videos.

Social Media Marketing Glossary

Check out the list of commonly used social media terms to keep yourself in the know.

A-H

  • Algorithms – is a process or set of rules to be followed in calculations or other problem-solving operations, especially by a computer.
  • Advertisement – short for ad, it is the promotion of a product, brand, or service to a specific audience. 
  • Brand awareness – is the level of familiarity consumers have with your brand. It’s often considered one of the main goals of social media marketing. 
  • Content marketing – is the practice of attracting and retaining customers through the creation and distribution of original, valuable content such as videos, whitepapers, guides, and infographics. 
  • Direct message(DM) – refers to a private message sent directly to a user’s social media inbox. 
  • Digital marketing – is a concept that uses the Internet and digital technologies such as desktop computers, mobile phones, and other d online platforms to promote products and services. 
  • Engagement rate – is a social media metric that tells you much about a post that motivates people to interact with it. It’s defined as (number of people who engaged with your post/number of people who saw your post) 
  • Follower – refers to a social media user who has subscribed to see your posts in their feed. Both personal and business accounts can have followers. 
  • Frequency – is a Facebook/Instagram advertising term that refers to how many times your ad was shown to the average user in your target audience. 
  • Hashtag (#) – is a way of connecting your posts on social media to other posts on the same subject or trending topic.

I-N

  • Influencer – is a social media user with a significant audience who can drive awareness about a trend, topic, company, or product. 
  • Influencer marketing – a strategy involving collaboration with an ‘influencer’ to promote a product, service, or campaign.
  • Insights – refers to the analytics and performance statistics you can see on your Instagram profile in the Instagram app. 
  • Mention – is the act of tagging a user in a social media message. Sometimes called @ mentions, these usually trigger a notification for that user and allow your audience to click through to their bio or profile.
  • Newsfeed – is the Facebook term for the screen that shows all the latest updates posted by people the user follows. 
  • Notification- is a message or alert indicating new social media activity. For example, if somebody likes one of your Instagram photos, you can receive a notification on your phone that lets you know.

O-Z

  • Objectives – are the results you want to achieve through your ad campaign. These objectives are used to determine which key performance indicators to follow and optimise ad spend.
  • Platform –  means the same thing as “social media network” or “social media channel”. However, a social media platform is technically the software behind a social network, including its API, backend, and markup language. 
  • Reach – is a social media metric that tells you how many people have seen your post. It differs from impressions in that even if a user sees your post multiple times, they still only count as one person reached.
  • ROI – short return on investment, is a measurement of how much revenue your activities on social media are generating for your company versus how much you are spending on them. 
  • Social media analytics – is an umbrella term used to describe both social analysis tools and the information those tools provide. 
  • Targeting – is a social media advertising term that refers to how you select the potential audience for your ads.
  • Traffic – is the number of users who visit a given website or page. 
  • Trending – is a subject or event that had a sudden surge in popularity on social media. 
  • Viral – is a term describing content that spreads exponentially on social media. This typically occurs when people share the content with their followers, then their followers share the same content to their followers, and so on, creating a snowball effect.

Benefits of Social Media Marketing

Iphone, notification, laptop, office, man

1. Build Brand Awareness and Recognition

Social media marketing helps build better brand awareness and recognition. Unlike conventional media, like TV or print, social media brings your business in front of customers more rapidly. The reason? It’s because half of the world now uses social media.

On average, people spend 145 minutes on social platforms. The fact that the average daily time spent on social media continuously grows means more exposure for your business.

Prospects might come across your social media post–and they might share it when they find the content handy and relatable. The shared post could attract more eyeballs and encourage engagement (i.e., likes, comments, shares), helping spread the word about your brand faster

Building online communities are one of the most effective ways to get your name out there. Here’s the good news: forming a community has now been made easier, thanks to social media.

Facebook, in particular, lets you bring as many people as possible together through Facebook Groups. Members can invite their friends, family members, or colleagues to join the community and share their stories, posts, and opinions.

Apart from creating a Facebook Group, you can also create a community by sharing meaningful content. Getting your social followers to tell their stories sparks conversation. It encourages others to participate in the thread, allowing your social media posts to appear in the News Feed.

When your posts show up in the people’s News Feed, you’re likely to prompt more discussion–and promote positive word-of-mouth. For instance, existing customers may recommend your products and encourage prospects to give them a try.

2.  Form Online Communities

Social media marketing helps build better brand awareness and recognition. Unlike conventional media, like TV or print, social media brings your business in front of customers more rapidly. The reason? It’s because half of the world now uses social media.

On average, people spend 145 minutes on social platforms. The fact that the average daily time spent on social media continuously grows means more exposure for your business.

Prospects might come across your social media post–and they might share it when they find the content handy and relatable. The shared post could attract more eyeballs and encourage engagement (i.e., likes, comments, shares), helping spread the word about your brand faster.

3. Increase Website Traffic

While social media marketing and search engine optimisation are two different concepts, the former plays a pivotal role in the latter. Social media allows you to scale up your SEO efforts in different ways, including:

  • Social media profile optimisation. Adding branded keywords to your social media profiles lets your business become searchable. It also helps to include links to your company website, products, or services.
  • Content distribution. Social media gives you access to a much wider audience than your website alone. Publishing and sharing content across your social networks helps attract more traffic to your site.
  • Link building. Building links is one of the many SEO techniques. You can incorporate links in the call-to-actions (CTAs) of your social media posts or link the product you’re promoting to a specific landing

4. Improve Customer Satisfaction

Social media allows you to establish direct contact with your target audience. You can engage with your audience consistently and respond quickly to their questions or concerns via the platform.

Since social networks provide you with opportunities to connect with fans and followers, building healthy customer relationships becomes easier. Here are a few ways to use social media in enhancing the overall customer experience:

  • Connect with customers who have questions, complaints, or feedback 
  • Keep followers updated on the new services and product offerings 
  • Involve prospects and followers in campaigns (i.e., polls, giveaways, share to win, etc)

Social Media Marketing Strategies

Like in other digital marketing concepts, you’ll need a solid strategy to succeed in social media marketing. Thankfully, there’s not just one but a handful of techniques you can implement to leverage the power of social media. Here’s how you can use the tool to its full potential: 

1. Personalise Social Media Content

According to a study, 81% of customers want brands to know them deeper and find the best way to approach them. Users crave personalised experience and respond better to content tailored to their needs and interests.

This is where crafting personalised content comes in handy. Personalisation can give your business a boost in social media engagement, not to mention customer loyalty and brand affinity.

Below are some tips to get your content personalisation right:

  • Segment your audience. Start by creating buyer personas, a profile of your ideal customer. Then, compare them against your existing customers’ data, such as age, location, language, interests, goals, and more.
  • Create content for each segment. Once you have your personas in place, produce content that’s most relevant to them. While blog posts and videos are the most comment content forms, you can also explore other types including:
    • case studies
    • product demos
    • product comparison guides
    • Keep personalisation offline and online. Investing in AI-powered chatbots is one way to facilitate personalised, real-time conservation. 

2. Partner with Influencers

  • Influencer marketing is another tried-and-tested social media marketing strategy.  Collaborating with ‘influencers’ (thought leaders, celebrities, other individuals with a large following) lets you expand your customer base and drive purchase decisions. 
  • A post by an influencer can have a much bigger effect than a post by an everyday user on the same platform. The reason behind this is either because consumers find influencers credible or they look up to them.

3. Run Social Media Campaigns

Social media marketing works hand in hand with social media advertising. Advertising on social networks is a sure-fire way to reach your target audience fast. So if you have more funds to support your SMM initiatives, consider placing ads on different platforms.

Types of social media ads include Facebook ads, video ads, stories ads, slideshow ads, playable ads, ads in Explore, and more. Whichever ad you plan to run on whatever platform, make sure to set marketing goals. A few objectives you can include are:

  • Obtain user input 
  • Create email marketing lists
  • Increase website traffic 
  • Increase overall brand engagement
  • Generate more sales

How to Measure Social Media Marketing Performance

The best thing about social media marketing is that it allows you to measure the performance of your SMM efforts. In short, it helps you determine whether your strategy is hitting the mark or not.

Here are four of the most important social media metrics:

  • Engagement. The engagement metric measures how users actively interact with your content. Engaged audiences interact with a post through likes, comments, shares, retweets, and brand mentions, to name a few.
  • Reach. This metric is influenced by two factors–timing and content. It indicates the number of unique users who have seen your post.
  • Impressions. This social media reporting metric tells you the number of times your content appears on someone’s feed.
  • Conversion. The conversion metric lies at the end of the funnel–it measures the number of leads converted to sales.

Evaluate & Adjust Your Social Media Marketing Strategy

By this point, you should have a clear grasp of your social media strategy.

You’ll never know how one campaign performed until you evaluate and compare it against your goals. 

The ability to take a bird’s eye view of your social media interactions can help you put things into perspective. Take a look at your best-performing content and modify your campaigns when your material isn’t working as expected.

Befriend social media analytics. Use data to track your social presence. React to your social media ads to keep the momentum and most importantly, maintain a laser focus on your goals. 

When things become overwhelming, go back to basics. Revisit this guide to start anew and come up with an even better strategy.

Do You Have Your Social Media Marketing Plan for 2022 Figured Out?

A well-thought-out strategy is insufficient if not carried out in the same manner as planned. You must design visual content so that the user is fascinated by the post even before they read information. 

It might be as simple as a designed social media post, a video, or even a picture of your product that has been professionally or artistically photographed. The goal is to catch people’s attention before they get interested in your product or service.

The goal of social media marketing is to connect with your target audience. So, put a strong emphasis on this to keep your business ahead of your competitors.

This article emphasised the fact that there are several parts to having a current social presence. Making your own doesn’t have to be time-consuming or a drag. If you create measurable objectives and follow each of the processes above, you’ll be well ahead of the game when developing a social media marketing plan for your company. 

Need help boosting your brand awareness, audience engagement, and online visibility on social media? 2Stallions got you covered! We provide social media marketing services that can help you grow your audience and business.

Learn more about our social media marketing services and process here. Wishing you the best in 2022!

Do you remember when was the last time you saw an ad without any appealing design or images?

Well probably no.

That’s because it’s almost impossible to capture anyone’s attention without a catchy headline combined with colourful graphics or attractive visuals. This is especially so when the typical attention span of a consumer lasts only 8 seconds.

In a study conducted by the Technical University of Denmark, the results suggest that the “collective global attention span is narrowing due to the amount of information that is presented to the public”.

“As consumers are inundated with new content almost on a daily basis, it can exhaust their attention and increase the urge for a sense of newness, said Philipp Lorenz-Spreen of Max Planck Institute for Human Development.

With more things to focus on, consumers can only concentrate on certain things for short periods of time- causing their attention span to be short-lived.

Humans are 90% visual beings

To grab and hold anyone’s attention, image plays an important factor.

The human brain is designed to process visuals 60,000 times faster than text. As a dominantly visual being, people can remember images better and faster, processing entire images that the eye sees for as little as 13 milliseconds.

Picture Superiority Effect

In a similar time frame of 3 days, an individual can remember 65 % of information that is accompanied by images. Compared to information which only has text and/or audio, the same individual will only recall 10% of the information!

Hiring a creative agency

Given the importance of images in making a long-lasting impression on the human mind, companies cannot do without hiring a creative agency.

When it comes to marketing, creative assets Is a big part of every campaign or project, especially so for social media marketing and dynamic social ads. In this period where digital marketing is fast becoming the norm, companies will need  the combined expertise of content strategists, advertising specialists as well as a team of creative professionals to bring out the best of what their company has to offer

Even with a powerhouse sales or inbound marketing team to sell your story, you’ll still require the support from a team of creative designers to bring your ideas to life.

Still not convinced? Well here are some examples which are bound to change your mind after watching them.

Introducing the new iPhone SE-commercial by Apple

Apple is a prime example of what it takes to make an effective advertisement.

The video which lasts for less than minute can inform the audience about all the features of the phone without boring the audience. With a combination of fast-changing images, bold fonts, rhythmic beats and a mix of dark and bright colours, the ad is capable of keeping the audience wanting for more.

This is not the first time Apple has used such a style for its ads. Over the years, Apple has successfully acquired an advertising format that is uniquely recognised as Apple. This emphasises the critical role of a creative team which can make or break a brand.

Valentine’s Day Print Campaign for Mcdonald’s (Thailand)

Did you do a double-take when you first saw these images?

Released on Valentine’s Day for McDonald’s  (Thailand), these are printed ads which showed pictures of people supposedly leaning in for a kiss…with a burger! Ditching the usual family-friendly approach with McDonald’s  ads, the creative team behind this campaign decided to turn up the heat and bring in some romance. Toying with the idea of two people kissing, the pictures showed individuals leaning towards their favourite burger cleverly shaped like a person’s face.

Whether you’re single or in a relationship, everyone can say “I’m lovin it” to these burgers!

Spotify My Year in Review Outdoor Ads

Another unforgettable ad campaign is Spotify’s outdoor billboard ads which sought to poke fun at its customers by revealing their weird listening patterns and creative playlists.

Driven by data and the use of humour, Spotify’s billboards success can also be attributed to the use of clearly defined branding elements. It’s almost impossible to miss their use of bright colours and bold fonts which is both attention-grabbing and memorable even among non-Spotify listeners.

The use of consistent tone and message also helps to pique and renew interest in the brand among existing and potential users. It creates conversations and keeps people talking about it which effectively spreads Spotify’s brand awareness. Consequently, it also builds brand loyalty as it unites the Spotify community every year to talk about these hilarious listening statistics.

Attonics: Spectroscopy from lab to pocket

Antayra (our Creative Strategy Lead) and her team created this fabulous video for Attonics marketing campaign. The campaign was recently featured on Bestdesign.co’s as one of the 10+ Best Marketing Campaigns Of 2020 (So Far)

Despite being an essential tool that many industries should invest in, a spectroscope is widely known for its high price and huge build. To address the lack of spectroscopy application in these industries, Attonics Systems created an extremely high-performance spectroscope at a price that is unprecedented by many. Unlike traditional spectroscopes, the Atto3 fits weighs a mere75g and a height of 6cm.

Our creative approach:

Since the spectroscope essentially generates high-quality colour measurements, our creative team played around with muted colours to match its function. Abstract images, heavy fonts and music-matched animations were added to give the Atto3 a modern and upbeat feel that attracts different industries

Spectroscopy from lab to pocket – Attonics Video
Campaign featured on Bestdesigns.co

Wrapping Up

By now, I hope you can see that visual design is a critical factor that can increase the success of any marketing campaign these days. To stand out from the myriad of ads online, a business will need the use of visually impactful designs. This is especially important since a customer’s attention span lasts for a mere 8 seconds today, and online ad formats are getting shorter and shorter. So, before you start your next campaign, remember to hire a creative agency that helps you create designs that can attract and sell!

Discover more with 2S Creative Services

We are a full-service digital marketing agency based in Singapore. From strategy to execution, we provide personalised digital solutions, including creative services for over 300+ clients ranging from MNCs, government institutions to local SMEs. Recently, we’ve also been featured as one of the 35 best creative agencies in Singapore.

Discover more works done by our diverse team of creatives who’ll bring your ideas to life with impactful designs. If you’re looking for a branding and visual communications expert, don’t hesitate to contact us.

Brand promotion does not seem like the best move during the coronavirus crisis. However, other businesses braved the pandemic and launched inspiring COVID-19 ad campaigns—and the results are fantastic.

While most ad agencies agree that trying to advertise during these times is difficult, some brands turned the crisis into an opportunity.

Instead of avoiding to address the outbreak or stay away from the topic entirely, these companies decided to create a balance of creativity and crisis management.

Keep on reading to find out who these brands are, how they used the circumstances presented by pandemic to their advantage, and what marketing lessons we can learn from them.

4 Brands That Exercised Creativity Amid COVID-19

1. Lush’s In-store Free Handwashing

Lush, the popular cosmetic retailer from the United Kingdom, invited the UK public into their stores to wash their hands for free.

The initiative was launched in all their stores in the UK, during the government’s push for better basic hygiene practices in the country. This campaign aims to educate the public and to minimise the spread of the virus.

Any customer who enters the store to wash their hands will be given a soap to use and are under no obligation to buy anything.

Mark Constantine, a representative of Lush, shared that companies should turn the crisis into opportunity and use this period to initiate public service campaigns.

“If people just get in the habit of washing their hands properly, it will make a dramatic difference to public health,” said Constantine.

Brands should highlight the role of basic hygiene in minimizing the spread of viruses.

Marketing Lesson: Offer a free trial of products

Lucky for Lush, they sell products that people can use to combat the virus. It is their huge edge over companies from different industries.

By offering a free trial of their soaps, Lush can sway store visitors to purchase a single item or more.

This is a great tactic that never gets old. When people fall in love with a product on their first try, they will spend bucks on it no matter how expensive it is.

2. Nike’s “Play Inside, Play For The World” campaign

The pandemic has robbed joggers and athletes of their daily routine. To help, Nike developed something that allowed fitness enthusiasts to relate to its advertisement.

Despite store closures of the leading sports brand apparel last March, Nike inspired people through the power of sports.

Nike launched its “Play Inside, Play for the World” campaign, which urged everyone to play inside their home. The campaign was a public call for everyone to do their part by staying home.

Nike’s Play Inside Play For The World Video Campaign

Many Nike athletes, including Cristiano Ronaldo, supported the campaign by sharing Nike’s campaign slogan on their social media.

Cristiano included the #PlayInside and #PlayfortheWorld hashtags in his social media posts, and people started to follow the lead.

Marketing Lesson: Use hashtags to good effect

Nike got its marketing right this pandemic because of its engaging Play for the World campaign, not to mention that it also makes a relatable hashtag.

This teaches marketers to use relevant hashtags in their campaigns. Brands should use hashtags that fit their businesses to grow engagement, improve searchability, and increase outreach.

3. At-Sunrice’s #standupandwashup campaign

At-Sunrice GlobalChef Academy, a leading culinary school in Singapore, also launched a coronavirus-related campaign called #standupwashup.

StandUp and WashUp is one of those COVID-19 ad campaigns that boldly addressed the crisis.

The Singaporean culinary school gathered 9 Michelin Star Chefs in a series of 11 videos. Each Michelin Star chef demonstrated the best hand washing methods and provided tips on proper food handling practices in their own language.

Among the chefs featured include familiar names such as Chef Sebastien Lepinoy of Les Amis, Chef Chan Hon Meng of Hawker Chan, and Chef Sun Kim of Meta.

StandUp & WashUp with Chef Emmanuel (Restaurant Saint Pierre)

Marketing Lesson: Partner with familiar, credible personalities

At-Sunrice tapped celebrity chefs to help spread valuable information faster than the virus. Since these chefs are experts in their field, it would be easier to get people’s attention and spread the brand’s message.

Collaborating with popular names (i.e. celebrities, social media influencers, etc.) in the industry not only allows brands to connect with their target audience but also lets them boost their brand exposure.

Note: We are proud to be the official digital marketing partner for this meaningful campaign and we hope everyone continues to do their part in being socially responsible by adopting better hygiene practices.

4. Brave’s Netflix “Spoiler” campaign

Some countries had trouble containing the virus and convincing the public to stay in the comfort of their homes.

That is the exact reason why Seine Kongruangkit and Matithorn Prachuabmoh Chaimoungkalo, known as Brave, came up with the Netflix “Spoiler” campaign.

Unlike other COVID-19 ad campaigns, Brave’s campaign did not highlight any tips to spread the virus. Instead, the pair communicated other dangers of going out during the pandemic—spoiling their favourite Netflix series.

While the ad campaign is not affiliated with Netflix, the spoilers seen in the billboards are real. The Netflix shows that are spoiled to the public are Money Heist, Narcos, Love is Blind, and Stranger Things.

Marketing Lesson: Inject creativity in campaigns

These Netflix spoiler ads prove that creativity grabs audience attention. Although not officially from Netflix, the ad has gone viral because of its unique approach to encouraging the public to stay at home.

Businesses should adopt the idea of injecting creativity into their campaigns. Creativity is like a driving force that enables brands to stand out from the crowd and capture more eyeballs. Plus, it is an essential ingredient of every memorable marketing campaigns.

Other Lessons We Learn From These Brands

Apart from marketing to their target audience amid the COVID-19 crisis, these brands also taught businesses to take advantage of the current global situation.

The pandemic offers companies the opportunity to create deeper connections with their audiences. Now is the time for your company to give your customers updates about your operations and reinforce the message that you are ready to help.

Since most of your customers are now spending more time at home, it is also ideal to create more insightful content online, including webinars, how-to-videos, actionable guides, and so on.

Turn Crisis Into Opportunity

Marketing in times of crisis is not easy, but it is possible. Instead of seeing the coronavirus outbreak as a parasite that sucks up your sales, see it as an opportunity to better connect with your employees and customers.

Acknowledge the new normal and find ways to stay relevant during the pandemic. For example, our agency offers educational webinars, and free website audits to help other businesses in this critical period.

So if your company needs help with your marketing campaign or in need of digital marketing advice, feel free to contact us. Learn more about our host of services here

Video and digital marketing are a dynamic duo, like pen and paper or Batman and Robin. Both sides complement each other and can create a work of art, or make the world a better place.

Any form of videos (i.e. demo videos, video ads, how-to videos, explainer videos, etc.) can be a versatile marketing tool. Videos can increase purchases, establish brand awareness, and widen a business’ customer reach, to name a few of the many benefits.

As a bonus, videos are also entertaining.  Video content grabs people’s attention more than other media, and it often elicits emotional connection, thus helping to drive more engagement.

So if you have not considered making videos for your brand, now is the time. Below are four reasons why video marketing is worth the investment.

Why Is Video Content Important

digital-tv

1. Demand for Online Video Is Increasing

Did you know that people are switching to online videos? According to Think with Google, 6 out of 10 people prefer online video platforms over live TV.

The Internet and today’s multi-platform world played a vital role in this big transition. People watch less television because they have their phones, desktops, and other devices to use not only for streaming but for social networking as well.

Videos are driving dramatic growth on social media. Facebook, the world’s most popular social network, sees 100 million hours of Facebook video views each day from billions of users.

And that’s not all: the demand for online video is growing exponentially.

  • Users view more than 1 billion hours of video each day on YouTube. (YouTube)
  • 75% of all video plays are on mobile devices. (eMarketer)
  • 92% of users watching video on mobile will share it with others. (Wordstream)
  • On average, people spend 2.6x more time on pages with video than those without. (Wistia)

2. Video Content Boosts Customer Engagement

Video is the most engaging type of content. It brings together auditory and visual experiences and incorporates all content formats such as text, music, photographs, and links.

The movement, text, and sound in videos influence the message delivery. Contrarily, the static text is limited to only a specific choice of words, punctuation, and visual cues (i.e. emojis) to convey a message.

Since videos can include all content types, they can make information more digestible and easier to understand.

Video content has also helped marketers share their brands’ stories and maximize engagement across social media platforms.

In a 2017 Invisia research, it was found that 82% of Twitter users watch video content. This means more audiences prefer watching lengthy videos than reading 120-character microblogs.

Meanwhile, Instagram video posts get more engagement than other post types. The Instagram Engagement Report showed that video posts generate an average of 150 comments compared to image posts with only an average of 65 comments.

3. High-Quality Video & Content Builds Better Brand Authority

A high-quality, informative, and visually-appealing videos help brands to attract more eyeballs and also allows them to build better brand authority.

Videos can create a meaningful experience for the audience. As a result, they are more likely to create a connection that helps “humanize” any brand.

If a brand successfully pulls consumer’s heartstrings, it can easily capture and hold the attention of its audience. This can result in stronger brand authority and a better brand image.

This is why brands should create visual content and integrate it into their digital marketing campaigns. Doing so guarantees them more shares, likes, and mentions on social media and gives them a satisfactory return on investment.

4. Compelling Videos Drive More Search Traffic to Your Website

Customer engagement has a direct link to increased website traffic. If users do not visit sites often, chances are those sites’ places in the search engine results would drop.

Conversely, websites that have low bounce rates, high click-through rates, and several post shares can double their search traffic. This is where compelling video content comes in handy.

Unlike text-based content, videos can foster engagement because they are generally more entertaining. They entice site visitors to stay longer on a page, drive audiences to share on social media, and most importantly—encourage them to take profitable actions.

When any of these things happen, businesses can get their name, website, products out on the Internet and improve on their SEO (search engine optimization) ranking to increase their digital visibility.

Here are a few statistics that show how videos have an immense impact on SEO rankings:

  • Online videos will account for 82% of all internet traffic by 2022. (Cisco)
  • Video drives a 157% increase in organic traffic from SERPs. (Wyzowl)
  • Landing pages with a video on them are 53% more likely to show up on a SERP. (Wyzowl)
  • Blog posts incorporating video attract 3x as many inbound links as blog posts without video. (Moz)

How Do I Make Good Video Content

To make sure you reap the above benefits, you must first learn how to create good video content. We have listed three video marketing best practices to help you get started.

1. Edit for Engagement

Engagement normally includes several factors, like people commenting, liking, sharing, and adding to cart.

It is important to build engagement, regardless of what video type you created. Here are a few principles that you can use to boost video engagement:

  • Keep your videos short. A 2-minute video can get the most engagement, so keep the video content concise, informative, and entertaining.
  • Make quick transitions. People have short attention spans. Cover all the key points in 2 minutes or less.
  • Use effects and graphics. Use appealing visuals and appropriate animations to make your video more engaging.
  • Add a call-to-action (CTA). Always include a CTA. Be clear about what you want viewers to do. Examples of CTA are join the conversion, enter to win, fill out the form, ask a question, and more.
  • Avoid sounding irritating or salesy. No one goes on YouTube to see a sales pitch. Make the video appear and sound like sharing a story. After all, videos are effective visual storytelling tools.

2. Make it Search Engine-Friendly

Videos must be optimized for SEO to give them a higher chance of ranking. While optimizing your video depends on the platform, here are some ways to increase the odds of people discovering your video:

  • Find popular keywords. Ensure you are targeting keywords that people are actually searching for. Mention your focus keyword on the title and description of your video.
  • Insert a video transcript. Adding indexable texts allows your page to rank for more queries.
  • Choose a strong thumbnail. Research found that videos with custom human thumbnails receive a 30% higher play rate than those without.
  • Upload only in high resolution. A Backlinko study found that HD videos tend to appear more frequently on the first page of YouTube search results.

video-content-daily3. Optimize for Mobile Devices

According to Think with Google research, 40% of audiences access YouTube videos through their smartphones. The study also reported that 98% of 18-34-year-olds watch video content using their smartphones.

Given that videos are mostly streamed through small-screened devices, it is crucial to optimize for mobile devices as well. Below are some ways to make your video content mobile-friendly:

  • Aspect ratio is key. Ensure the video fills as much of the screen as possible. For Facebook, a 4:5 ratio is ideal for feed placements, while a 9:16 ratio works best for stories placements. Check out the recommended aspect ratios for different placements here.
  • Consider typography and captions. Add captions or dynamic text since not everyone on mobile browsers with their sound on.
  • Add branding to your videos. Show your logo at both the beginning and the end of the video. Your logo must also be visible, even in thumbnails.

Final Thoughts

Video content production takes great planning and coordination between various teams.

You will need experienced creative directors to come up with your brand messages, lighting professionals to illuminate the video aspects you need, and a good post-production team to ensure high-quality videos.

Most importantly, you need the help of a digital marketing agency to distribute your videos online and increase your online presence.

At 2Stallions, we not only help our clients determine the right distribution channels but we can also provide fresh ideas and visual concepts to engage your audience and keep them coming back for more.

To learn more about our creative services, visit www.2stallions.com/service/creative-services/.

Storytelling has been a part of ancient human tradition for as long as we can remember. From paintings etched onto cave walls to modern bestselling novels found in bookstores, it remains an important part of human communication.

Storytelling is effective in helping people remember things easily as it helps to paint a picture in their minds. It also often pulls on their emotional chords, helping them to relate better to one another.

This is why some of the world’s biggest brands are the best storytellers. They’re able to package their brand stories in well-made, emotionally-packed and empathetic narratives. They deliver them in the form of marketing campaigns that allow them to touch upon their audiences’ sensitivities, creating a bond of friendship and reliability. There are plenty of things to learn from some of their most successful video storytelling campaigns.

Emotion and Empathy Guides Every Consumer Step and Decision

Emotion is a universal language. It makes it possible to enjoy music regardless of language. Empathy is the understanding and sharing of emotions between two individuals.

Businesses that can create strong emotional bonds, as well as unique and authentic connections with consumers, have more than double their lead generation and conversion rates. When compared to rational and combined rational and emotional marketing, focusing simply on emotions in storytelling deliver the highest success rate for any campaign.

Read: Brand Storytelling in a Nutshell

Seven Great Video Storytelling Examples and Key Takeaways

Airbnb: Authenticity

Airbnb, the world’s leading property-sharing platform, always focused on the idea of “living like a local.” The chain’s objective to break the boundaries between travelers and countries to make foreign lands feel like home is manifested in their brand storytelling campaigns. They let the two sides of their customer chain, the property providers, and the bookers, to share a unique experience together.

In this light, Airbnb positioned itself as a “friend” who refers you to this reliable fellow with a home who guarantees a great place to stay. In addition, the brand guarantees an experience you’ll both never forget.

In its “Based on a True Review” playlist on YouTube, Airbnb has a collection of true stories from hosts and customers. One of the best ones includes a customer who got lost finding her initial host and ended up finding a new one and received the same great experience thanks to Airbnb.

Given that hosts and customers are real strangers interacting directly with each other, the resulting stories in the videos show authenticity in the emotions and happiness felt by both parties in each video.

Adobe: Nostalgia

When you say “Photoshop,” you cannot help but think of Adobe. The product name has become synonymous with photo editing and manipulation it has become a verb (just like the term “Google”).

Adobe has marketed its products through instructional materials in the past, but its 2016 campaign featured the recreation of a nostalgic character: Bob Ross. Millennials, the generation adept at new and upcoming technology, had a penchant for nostalgia and liked the 80s recreational painting host’s show. Adobe was quick to move in on this trend.

The brand did not cut corners in finding the most authentic and convincingly nostalgic way to implement its “Joy of Sketching.” It went as far as to use children’s book illustrator Chad Cameron to play the Adobe-style Ross and worked with Bob Ross Inc. to ensure the video measured up to the standards of the old recreational instruction videos.

Chevrolet: Heartfelt and Touching

Chevrolet, an American car brand, had an idea. It would use a woman and her dog in its one-minute video commercial. You might think “But what does a dog and a woman got to do with a car?”

Chevrolet used the heartwarming storyline of a woman’s relationship with her dog to allude to Chevy’s campaign tagline: “A best friend for life’s journey.”

The idea was unconventional and broke the stereotype of car ads always being about speed and performance. It used the storyline to evoke warm and fuzzy feelings which helps to capture the customer’s attention and keep them watching. Instead of blatant advertising, director Lloyd Lee Choi wanted to create compelling content to make the brand more relatable to its customers.

However, the emotional ride allowed the brand to evoke empathy in its consumers and like Maddie’s owner (or vice-versa) they will always be there looking out for their customers.

Nike: Inspiration

No one will ever forget Nike’s famous tagline that won its seat amongst the biggest shoe brands in the world: “Just Do It.” The powerful tagline, coupled with inspiring stories, makes a shoe and sports brand capable of firing up inspiration in almost all its commercials.

In one of its campaigns, the “No Excuses” commercial featured wheelchair basketball star Matt Scott. The top athlete who plays for the Warhawks was born with a condition called spinabinifida, making him wheelchair-bound. The video shows his story as he went on to lead the Warhawks to three national Wheelchair Basketball Association championships from 2004-2007 and having taken part in the Paralympics from 2004-2012.

The message is clear from Matt in the video: if you want something, you’ll do everything. No excuses. It is another way of saying “just do it,” but just as powerful.

TED Talks & Education: Innovation and Ideas

TED Talks and Education’s style is to get an inspiring individual to share his or her struggles and explain the methods and mindset he or she has used to achieve success.

If it’s not about an individual, they talk about different topics that encourage viewers to think. Their “Schools Kill Creativity” video raises the idea that a point system in class encourages a reward system rather than a learning system. Another video such as the “Power of Vulnerability” shows why weakness is as important as one’s strength.

These fact-driven inspiring talks continue to gain views over the years, keeping viewers watching for longer, moving from one TED Talk to the next, or even sharing short clips with their network on social media. TED Talks truly inspire engaging and shareable content.

FCA: Strange But Memorable

In the United Kingdom, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) is not a brand name but a government body that regulates banking activity. In the last few years, the country’s bank industry plunged into disarray due to its oversight after millions of UK borrowers purchased an insurance policy they were ineligible for, egged on by commission-hungry bank employees.

The decades-long financial scandal came to an end in 2017. The FCA had a plan to ensure each borrower could make a claim. In their communication campaign, they used a fake, disembodied head of Arnold Schwarzenegger on tank tracks, telling people to “make a decision” and “do it now.”

The surreal yet funny video definitely paid off because by April 2018, the campaign helped boost claims numbers by 40% according to the FCA. This shows that sometimes the strangest things burn a deeper impression into our minds.

Usher: Interactivity

Usher’s “Chains” music video is an amazing example of its potential to become more than just a passive medium that you can play and pause at your heart’s content. Music videos aren’t exactly the first niche you would think of when it comes to ground-breaking video ideas. However, Usher and his team looked beyond the idea of using images to spread his message. “Chains” music video, hosted on a website, urged viewers to keep on watching.

It was iconic because the video does not simply show Usher singing and dancing. Instead, it shows photos of police brutality victims while the music plays. If viewers turn away, the music will stop. The site does this by asking users to turn on their webcams prior to watching the video (and it won’t go forward unless they do). The webcam uses facial recognition software that stops the music if it detects the user looking away.

The interactive video received 500,000 viewers in just four days, with an average of two minutes and 30 seconds spent on average. It became a huge sensation across the web and made headlines, too. Talk about harnessing the power of video and holding someone hostage (or in “chains”) to ensure they’re glued to the screen for the entire video and boosting his personal brand.

Wrapping Up

Video storytelling is a powerful medium because it combines dialogue, text, audio, and visuals in a single consumable item the brain can process in a short amount of time. Through emotions and empathy, any brand with a compelling video can create an authentic connection with their customers, helping them improve their brand’s recognition, relevance, and overall performance.

These seven examples from the world’s top storytelling brands serve as excellent ways video remains a key part in building your brand story. It’s easier to evoke emotions when you’re engaging your audience’s senses through powerful visuals, content, and sound, helping you leave a longer-lasting impression.

As the use of the Internet grows every day, so does the popularity of content marketing as well as content marketing myths. It should be a priority for you because every website, social media campaign, and even Adwords campaign, thrives on content. As a digital marketing agency, we’ve noted how clients have reaped long-term benefits from creating and publishing quality content. They enjoy an expanding reach, grow their new customer base, and have established brand authority through content written years ago.

Content is the heart of any digital marketing campaign. Without it, the beautiful aesthetic of a website or an expertly edited video is ultimately useless in converting a visitor. However, there are some myths that have proliferated over time as well. Some content marketers still espouse and back these statements, which we’d like to dispel. Want to know what they are?

5 Content Marketing Myths and Expectations

Myth 1: Quantity of Content Trumps Quality

This wasn’t a content marketing myth just a few years back. Back in 2011, when you published more content, you would expect a much larger reach via organic search. As a result, marketers sacrificed quality for quantity to rank for more keywords on Google.

The Google Panda update in 2011 started penalizing “thin content” sites and every new update to the algorithm since has further clamped down on poor quality content. Today’s marketers have realized that pushing out a high volume of content doesn’t help them achieve their goals.

Why is quality content attractive? It is information people are searching for and provides well-researched depth on the topic. If you spend the time and effort to research the facts and put it together coherently in a quality article, people will love you for it, and your reach will widen for sure. Remember, a single blog post that reaches thousands of people is more valuable than a thousand blog posts that reach a handful of people.

Myth 2: Great Writers Come Cheap

Have you ever heard or thought – “Anyone can do the job, it’s just writing!”

A major reason behind a company’s failed content marketing attempt is setting unrealistic expectations of high quality content in a short space of time for the lowest cost. Like any project, the Project Management Triangle holds true for content marketing as well.

You may think it is easy to write quality content that goes viral, and are therefore unwilling to pay for the right content writers. If you hire a cheap writer, chances are your results probably won’t be spectacular. Even if you find a needle in the haystack, eventually, they would be demotivated – so invest in a good, quality content writer.

It is not easy to produce quality content. Writers have to invest time and effort to develop a genuine understanding of your brand and your audience in order to create amazing content that resonates. In the long term, it will be worth it. Looking to work with an agency for your content creation? Reach out to us.

Myth 3: It Costs Too Much!

This content marketing myth can be busted quite easily. First, let’s come to terms with the fact that every major marketing platform today will cost you money to reach an audience at scale.

Therefore, on the surface, content marketing can seem expensive. You can spend a lot just developing producing quality content. Then, you have to invest in SEO and/or online advertising to drive traffic to the content.

However, it is very interesting then, that according to CMI, B2B marketers choose to spend 39 percent of their marketing budget on content marketing. Why do they see the value in content marketing? It is because studies show that 68% of consumers spend time reading from a brand they’re interested in, and B2B researchers do 12 searches on average prior to engaging on a specific brand’s site. Companies who actively market their content enjoy 67% more digital leads. All of these statistics point to content marketing being a great lead generation tool.

It is imperative that you focus on the ROI rather than the cost. Over a prolonged period, your content marketing costs will seem minute compared to your gains.

Myth 4: It’s Not For OUR Audience

Whether you’re selling watches for a niche audience or a mass consumer product like cheese, content is for everyone. It’s simply a matter of what FORM the content takes. While advertisements work for some brands, 70 percent of consumers prefer to get to know a brand through an article instead of ads.

People crave personalized content these days. This is why companies who make their audience feel like a part of their community, through conversation and useful information, see promising yields. Based on your customer persona, your audience may enjoy viewing photography, illustrations, infographics, videos or even slideshows instead of reading long-form blog posts. So mix and match these other formats with your written format to appeal to your audience. However, understand that it’s the content that draws them in.

Myth 5: We Don’t Have What it Takes

Content marketing is still quite young in the digital marketing world. As a result, marketers and companies still have a lot of learning to do before they start seeing results.

In a survey of 1,000 marketers, it was found that the biggest challenge with content marketing was creating the content. Despite this, 80-90% of both B2B and B2C marketers still choose to strive towards creating quality content because they understand its ability to create stronger brand authority and retention among customers.

It can get overwhelming trying to learn content marketing from various sources – hence we suggest finding a course or even reading a book. We’ve recently released our own Content Marketing on Steroids ebook on Amazon that you may choose to learn.

Alternatively, if you have the budget, you can work with a digital agency to run content marketing for you.

Content Marketing For The Long-Term

There are plenty of reasons to allocate a portion of your marketing budget towards content marketing. However, you should always consider your business objectives. If you’re looking for immediate payoffs, then content marketing might not be for you. Investing in PPC advertising and email marketing would be better.

It’s always good to have a mix of short-term and long-term goals. Content marketing may take a longer time to yield results but is certainly a good one. With the content marketing myths debunked, we hope you’ll go ahead with your content marketing strategy!

If you’re looking to learn everything you can about content marketing, I’ve got the perfect book for you! Check out my first eBook “Content Marketing on Steroids” to learn from tried and tested methods. Create a content marketing strategy that works and gets you the ROI you’ve been looking for! Get your copy on Amazon now!

Customers like small to medium enterprises (SMEs) in Asia for their consumer-centric approach to products, services, and after-sales support. In fact, SMEs come close to achieving customer satisfaction at the rate of 56.3% compared to 60.9% for larger companies.

Making a great mark on your consumers helps not only your sales, but also your brand identity. As an SME, CRM software and marketing automation is critical to evolving and expanding your reach. You can easily manage the activities, complaints, suggestions, and other concerns of your growing customer base.

CRM software can help your business grow further because of the following benefits:

  • A Birds-Eye-View of Everything: CRM software can collect every bit of information about a client, generate reports, and provide updates on a client’s most recent interaction with your company. This makes it easier to pick up where you left off with a particular customer quickly.
  • Increasing Sales: Comprehensive reports make it easy to identify the personalities and preferences of every customer in a database. This leads to better sales performance and productivity because businesses can identify sales qualified leads more quickly.
  • Real-Time Updates: Get updates on marketing qualified leads and organize, track, and manage them from a single source in real-time. This helps improve the business’ response time by a mile than without the use of CRM software.
  • Social Media Tracking: Many consumers use social media. But tracking each update and every single consumer conversation across the various platforms can be a hassle. CRM products can collate all these information in a single, easy-to-understand report. It even includes valuable information about the common responders in a business’ social media account.

According to Capterra, the biggest impact businesses saw after using CRM is on their customer retention and customer satisfaction rates. To determine what works best for your business, you should choose it based on the following criteria:

  • Value for Money: Growing businesses work on a limited budget. The more useful features and data the CRM delivers for a specific price point, the better.
  • Business Operation Size: As an SME, you are no stranger to receiving and managing hundreds of customer calls every day. Depending on the size of your business, you can select the software that best suits your operational size needs.
  • Features and Capabilities: All CRM software log sales activities automatically. However, different software have different features and capabilities that give some an edge over the others.

If you’re ready to invest for your business’ growth, here’s a list of great CRM products to use.

The Five Best CRM & Marketing Automation Softwares

5. Capsule

Capsule is a browser-based CRM platform that focuses on simplicity while delivering powerful features for users.

Dashboard: Capsule’s dashboard is excellent because it acts like everyone’s personal assistant. It briefs you on new updates or changes in files, tasks, and reports based on consumer interactions in any channel the business has. Capsule’s interface also allows users to filter these data for faster browsing.

Leads List:  The contact list allows you to see every email conversation, tasks, notes you have added, opportunities, cases, and other activity related to the particular person.

Calendars and Tasks: A simple tracking calendar that notifies any user of an upcoming deadline, report, and time it takes to complete a task. It’s also a great tool to measure milestones in marketing campaigns.

Sales Funnel: The best CRM products must have an excellent sales data management that allows them to list down, identify, and associate certain web forms with certain lead goals. Capsule does this, and allows the creation of custom milestones for accurate reports.

Cases: The cases feature is similar to the leads list, except it shows every single file, note, task, and other interaction of users. It offers the ultimate birds-eye-view to everything and can be useful for upscaling SMEs.

4. HubSpot

If you have no budget at all, you would be pleased to know that Hubspot CRM’s basic product comes free! Do note that in the free version, your Contact activity is only stored for the first 7 days, making it a passive CRM at that cost.

Dashboard/Sales Funnel: An intuitive interface similar to Capsule. It gives each user a heads up for every update on new files, consumer activity, cases, and other aspects of a given project or lead. The dashboard appears like a contacts list that shows the closing date of deals and allows users to categorize them based on the progress of each deal from set to completed appointments, buyer journeys, and pending cases for rectification or improvement.

Leads List: Each client has an individual wall that tracks all their activities and the user’s own client actions, such as sending an email, making a call or note or any other interaction on social media. Users can create lists to classify leads, which is helpful in improving actions on certain leads and de-prioritizing others.

Calendars and Tasks: A calendar that tracks all user activities, perfect for integrating actions with other users and managing marketing campaigns.

3. Act-On

Act-On is an affordable CRM product with a host of useful features such as:

Dashboard: More than a CRM tool, Act-On shows all its features in its dashboard. Clicking on a feature shows a report on how things are doing in that aspect. For example, if the business recently had a webinar, the “Webinar” option displays the audience’s response post-airing. It does this for CRM, Web Analytics, and even Social. It makes for easier data digestion while having a birds-eye-view on everything.

Leads List: Act-On’s CRM function is outstanding. It allows users to automate lead nurturing based on scores set by the users themselves. It also displays the history of all interaction a customer has with the business from email to social networks.

Custom Email and Content: Act-On also allows the automated sending of personalized email responses, creating targeted lists, A/B testing for landing pages, forms, and content and image integration. You can even use WebEx or Adobe connect for customized invitations to webinars or offline events. Everything marketing campaigns need is in one place!

Calendars and Tasks: The calendar shows all activities from marketing to CRM lead follow-ups and deadlines for closing deals.

2. Sharpspring

Sharpspring makes the list because it concentrates effectively on CRM, marketing automation and management all while delivering great bang for your buck.

Dashboard: It might be a little intimidating when you first use it, but the dashboard shows the performance of all marketing channels including website visitors, social media campaigns, CRM, and others in pie charts. It’s so easy to see everything on a single page. Instead of getting overwhelmed by the different features, take it slow or customize it so it doesn’t look confusing.

Custom Email and Content: The software product has its own email editor. It allows users to customize emails for particular lists and leads. The blog-style approach to creating emails, along with A/B testing for marketing maximization, makes Sharpspring one of the best email marketing software in existence. The landing page and blog builder, which also has A/B testing, are the cherries on top.

Lead Lists: Sharpspring displays each lead as if it were a social network profile. All interactions with the customer, along with his or her communications in social networks and other media, are recorded automatically. Users can also create lists of these leads for better project integration. Additionally, the system scores leads based on their demographics and online behaviors.

1. Infusionsoft

Infusionsoft caters for both CRM and marketing automation that SMEs in Asia truly need. Watch Raj Shah, owner of Math Plus Academy, share how Infusionsoft helped his business run more efficiently, reducing time spent on billing from 20 hours a week to less than three. 2Stallions is an Infusionsoft Certified Partner and we’re avid users of the software ourselves, so if you’re looking for guidance, get in touch with us! Infusionsoft also works just as well for B2B businesses.

Dashboard: The dashboard shows all CRM and Marketing progress in simple tables with the ROI and profit amounts being the priority. This is helpful information especially for improving sales for SMEs. Users can add dashboard widgets or even customize this page for optimum usefulness.

Leads List: Everything you need to know is on the contact’s page. Users can see where their lead came from, their activity on your website, emails they read, landing pages they visited, forms they submitted, their sales interest, and any purchasing activities.

Visual Campaign Builder: Multi-step marketing campaigns can be created as flowcharts in Infusionsoft’s campaign builder and automated. Now there’s no need to send emails out manually. You can even integrate landing pages, web forms, and email formats that you need to use.

Here’s a comparison of each product’s general features:

  Price Storage Contacts Limit Users Limit Emails Limit Content Customization Add-ons
Capsule $12/monthly per user 2GB per user 50,000 Dependent Unlimited Yes (Third Party) Yes
Hubspot Free Unlimited 1,000,000 Unlimited Unlimited Yes Yes
Act-On $2,000/monthly Unlimited 2,500 100 sales users, 6 marketing users Unlimited Yes Yes
Sharpspring $800/monthly Unlimited Unlimited Unlimited Unlimited Yes Yes
Infusionsoft $299/monthly Unlimited 10,000 5 50,000 Yes Yes

 

Wrap-Up

CRM software play a huge role in an SME’s success. You can automate and simplify customer interaction, identify loyal customers, improve brand recognition through positive customer care experiences, and expand your market through a single platform. Productivity improvements and the potential to upscale quickly are two benefits of CRM and marketing automation that would prove invaluable to your business. In short, investing in a CRM is a must for every growing business.

What other CRM software do you use besides the five we mentioned and how have they helped your business? Share with us in the comments below!

 

Your marketing team, no matter how good, is only human. From managing marketing campaigns, customer engagement and multiple social media accounts, there are many marketing tasks that require daily attention. The smaller your marketing team, the harder they find it to stay on top of campaigns, which affects your business’ efficiency and ability to generate sales qualified leads.  Fortunately, there is a way to keep up with your company’s marketing tasks all at once – Automated marketing.

Never heard of it before? You’re probably not alone. A whopping 90 percent of marketers don’t know what automated marketing is and how it can reduce workload while increasing productivity. By the end of this article, you’ll be glad to have joined the remaining 10%.

Marketing Automation And Getting Good Results

As a business, personalization is key to connecting with your customers. This helps to build positive relationships and encourage loyalty. However, as your customer base grows, it’s harder to keep up with personalizing every single interaction you have with them.

Such was the issue for Math Plus Academy, a children’s tuition agency aiming to create a fun learning experience for kids.

Founder Raj Shah implemented several marketing strategies to boost his agency’s performance but achieved unsatisfactory results. They overspent on online advertising and several marketing obstacles made the academy’s offers unappealing, making expansion hard. In fact, their marketing objectives took precious time away from developing their primary product: fun-filled courses for the kids.

However, Shah was introduced to Infusionsoft, an integrated automated marketing platform. It efficiently managed his business with its automated customer relationship management (CRM) system, allowing him the time he desired to work on his product. His courses sold better through an integrated and efficient e-commerce module creation, expanding his reach.

Getting to Know Automated Marketing

For Math Plus Academy, marketing automation led to an overall increase in business efficiency and sales. In fact, companies that utilize automated marketing experience an 80 percent increase in leads and a 77 percent increase in conversions, according to VentureBeat. There is a lot to be gained if you’re willing to take the time with the initial set up.

Three Major Channels of Automated Marketing

Marketing automation allows marketers to utilize software to perform repetitive online marketing tasks. When we think of repetitive tasks in terms of digital marketing, we can distribute them into 3 broad online channels.

1. Email Marketing (also SMS Marketing)

If you have a large, well-segmented audience, sending out emails or SMS can be a full-time task, even with a few templates prepared. Fortunately, you can turn to software to automatically send out emails or SMS that are triggered by certain events (a new subscriber, an enquiry, etc.).

2. Social Media Marketing

Managing multiple social accounts for your business can be time-consuming and even disorganized. However, automated marketing software lets you manage multiple accounts on a single platform and even automates your social media engagement. It allows you to connect with your followers and leads with the least amount of effort.

3. Landing Pages

Landing pages are what your customers see when they click through on links in your emails. In the past, it took a lot of time and effort in designing landing pages that appeal to your audience. Marketing automation makes it easy to customize landing pages and content to your segmented audience depending on where they are in the sales funnel.

 

Getting Started with Automated Marketing

1. Organize Your Contact List

The first thing you need to do is establish a centralized list of contacts. This may be the most time-consuming step of the process as you gather these contacts into a single list.

Jog your memory a bit; where do you typically store contact names and email addresses? Search through your desk for business cards, look at email sign up forms, and squeeze your hard drive dry of any spreadsheets with email addresses. Once you have them all, be sure to discard contacts that you’ve not been in touch with for over a year and are unlikely to remember you.

Make sure to create contact groups based on criteria relevant to your business. Organize them according to their interests to make it easier to send personalized emails. Once you’ve done that, you’re ready to import them into your marketing automation software.

2. Know Your Audience

Sending the same email to everyone doesn’t work as customers want to feel connected to your business on a personal level. Catering to your customer’s personal interests is one way that helps you create that connection. Use Google Analytics for insights on your site visitors, and develop email content based on the customer personas you have created for your business and their interests.

3. Create Your First Email

There are many types of emails you can try sending. For example, welcome emails, qualification emails, trial emails, newsletters, and DIY Course emails.

Start by repurposing high-quality content from your business’ blog to send as an email. You can experiment with different approaches and find out which are successful and which are flops. Infusionsoft (2Stallions is an Infusionsoft Certified Partner), among other automated marketing software, can help you design your first email, save templates, and organize a profitable contact list. If you’re having trouble designing an eye-catching, quality email, utilize software that can guide you with templates and newsletter creation interface.

4. Create More Content ­

When someone gives you their email, they are inviting you to be part of their digital lives. In return, you have to dish out quality, gated content. You can send them eBooks, whitepapers, online courses, and more. The goal is to build a relationship with your contact list over time and see it prosper.

See to it that you only send relevant content. For instance, if a portion of your contact list consists of fitness enthusiasts, send them workout routines courses that they can do from home.

5. Track and Improve Performance

It is great that you’ve invested time and effort to connect with your audience. However, there is always room for improvement, and you should find out how you can take your automated marketing strategy a step further.

Analysing your email list is one way to find out. How many contacts did you start off with and how many do you have now? Open rates and click-through rates can also give you an idea of what content your customers are interested in and what they are not. Data such as these matters if you want to expand your reach and improve your marketing efforts. Below are some metrics to keep an eye out for once you launch your automated marketing venture:

 

  • Contact List Size: Keep tabs on your contact list size and track its growth. Decide on a goal to reach by the end of the year. How many contacts are you aiming for at the end of the month? Ask yourself these questions and work towards crossing out achieved goals at a steady pace.
  • Email Open and Clickthrough rates: You’ve experimented with a lot of email approaches and techniques. Which ones received the best open rates? Keeping this in mind will allow you to recalibrate your focus and invest more time and energy on the strategy that works and decrease efforts on flop approaches.
  • Engagement: Figure out what kind of content is best received by your audience. Which blog post reeled in more traffic? What sort of CTA got more visitors to take action? Utilize Google Analytics and find out which stuff works and what doesn’t. This will help you understand what type of content your audience wants to see more of for a better bottom line.
  • Unsubscribe Rate: An “unsubscribe” can be a little heartbreaking. However, it is important to pay attention to how many people are unsubscribing from your email list. If the rate increases over time, perhaps it is time to rethink your strategy, sending schedule, and content.

Automated Marketing Is Your Friend

Like anything new, automated marketing can seem intimidating. Despite this first impression, don’t let this great opportunity slip away. Automated marketing will require some effort and research on your part, but believe me when I say that the returns are worth it.

If you encounter any roadblocks to understanding and setting up your automated marketing strategy, leave a comment below or shoot us an email. We’ll be glad to shed some light on your issue and might have solutions to make your venture easier!

The growth of the Internet has provided companies with a wealth of online marketing options, including social media campaigns. Now, businesses can promote their brands on social media to increase visibility, revenue, and customer reach.

According to We Are Social’s Digital 2020 Global Overview Report, there are 3.8 billion social media users worldwide. The report also found that smartphones account for more than half of the time spent online.

This means businesses, big or small, should be taking advantage of social media platforms. It also means that it is time to transition from traditional marketing (i.e. TV ads, print ads, etc.) to social media marketing.

Unlike traditional media, social media fosters a conversation between the brand and the consumer. The audience can comment, like, tweet, share posts, and more. Not to mention that social media posts can be edited or deleted when necessary.

Keep on reading to learn more about how you can harness social media’s marketing potential.

More About Social Media Marketing

Social media marketing uses platforms to establish brand awareness. It also increases customer reach, monitors customer feedback, and does a variety of other things.

It involves running campaigns and sharing content to drive audience engagement and conversion. The major social networking services today are Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Each platform engages audiences in different ways. Here are the metrics used to measure engagement across the three platforms:

  • Facebook: shares, likes and followers
  • Twitter: re-tweets and followers
  • Instagram: likes and followers

What Is A Social Media Campaign

Social media campaigns are a planned marketing efforts executed on one or more social media platforms. Campaigns come in different forms such as polls, contests and giveaways, events, or podcasts, to name a few.

These social media marketing initiatives focus on a business goal. The common goals include:

  • driving direct sales
  • generating new leads
  • getting direct customer feedback
  • boosting web traffic and brand recognition
  • building a strong, engaged and loyal community
  • creating an email marketing list of engaged customers

Inspiring Social Media Campaigns You Can Learn From

Starbucks, Dove and IHOP are a few top brands that have launched successful social media marketing campaigns. Let’s take a closer look at why their campaigns worked.

1. Starbucks: Unicorn Frappuccino

As part of its 2017 Frappuccino Happy Hour, Starbucks rolled out its one-week-only, pastel-hued beverage: the “Unicorn Frappuccino”.

starbucks, unicorn, frapuccino,

Image by: Starbucks

With its limited offer period and  ‘Instagrammable’ appearance,  the drink and its hashtag #UnicornFrappuccino generated nearly 155,000 Instagram posts.

2. Dove: #SpeakBeautiful

Dove promises to deliver body confidence and self-esteem through its campaigns. In its #SpeakBeautiful campaign, the brand partnered with Twitter to show the effect of insults on people’s images.

Video by: Dove

Twitter’s technology identified negative tweets about beauty and body image. The Dove account then sent responses about confidence, optimism and self-love.

3. IHOP: IHOb

IHOP, the International House of Pancakes, flipped the last letter of its acronym upside down and temporarily became IHOb. The brand asked its Twitter followers to guess what “B” stood for—and more than 70,000 users reacted and responded to the tweet.

Tweet from: IHOP

While the name change lasted only for a short time, this gimmick increased burger sales.

Key Components Of Successful Social Media Campaigns

1. A Well-Thought Plan

Your campaigns’ successes depend on your social media strategy. Review your social media goals and identify the ‘who,’ ‘what,’ ‘why,’ and ‘how.’

Who. Identify who your target audience is. Determine ideal customer characteristics and demographics that your business can best cater to.

Shaping your audience personas will craft the right message and brand voice for your social media campaigns.

What. Find out what social media channel your business will use. Choose the ones that best support your strategic goals.

Explore the big four social media channels—Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram. You could also look into other platforms such as YouTube, Pinterest, TikTok, or Snapchat.

Why. Understand the motivations behind your prospect’s goals, reasons for their challenges, and the issues they face.

Once know the answers to your strategy’s whys, it would be easier for you to proceed with the how.

How. Learn how your brand, products, and services can best address your customer’s pain points.

List your audience’s choices and responses along your customer journey. Then, map out a plan that will entice them to take part in your campaign.

2. Compelling Content

Build social media campaigns around compelling content. A campaign with impressive storytelling and accessible information has a greater audience engagement.

To impress your audience, your content should be:

Optimized for viewing. Social media optimization and search engine optimization are two different things but they support each other. Here are two of the best practices that SMO can borrow from SEO:

  • Keyword Research. This technique identifies phrases and topics your target audience searches for. This way, you can create relevant content for them.

It also helps determine hashtags and phrases to use in your social media posts. Hashtags make it easier to find your content, even for people who are not following you.

  • Profile Optimization. Website optimization is a crucial step in SEO. Optimize your website and its content so search engines know what your website is about.

The same thing applies to social media optimization. Your company’s social media profile contents—profile phone, username, bio, etc.—should be complete and consistent to get the attention they deserve.

Fun and informative. People love sharing useful things on social media. These could be tips, suggestions, fun facts, and quirky stories that tackle difficult topics like science or math for example.

Make your content easily shareable to increase the chances of drawing your audience’s attention. For example, create videos that tell relatable stories or tug at your customer’s heartstrings (like Dove’s #SpeakBeautiful campaign).

Craft memorable content to boost your social media shares. Incorporate the element of surprise into your strategy, like what IHOP did with its IHOb campaign.

Short but sweet. Writing long-form content in today’s time-starved world is not always the best option. Squeeze your content into something that is easily consumed. Focus on a single topic, include a graphic or visual, and feature an enticing headline.

3. Rewarding Promotions

In website marketing, creating an email list is simple if you can offer something in exchange for customer information.

For instance, Netflix and Spotify give a “Welcome Bonus” to new registrants that let them try out the paid service for 30 days. After the promotion period, customers can decide whether to stop or continue.

spotify-rewards

You can use social media to advertise your ‘free’ product. Anything free and compelling has a high chance of going viral. Contests for high-end or high-value products are also great for promotion.

4. Thorough Analysis

Like with SEO, you must measure your social media campaigns performance through their analytics:

  • Are you reaching qualified people?
  • Are you engaging with qualified people?
  • How many of your social media fans inquired about your product or service?
  • How many of them actually become customers?

The things you can measure vary in every social media platform, but tend to include:

Engagement. This measures how many people have engaged with your social media posts. It also plays an important role in how far your posts travel (aka social media reach).

Engagement metrics include clicks, likes, shares, comments, brand mentions, profiles visits, and active followers.

Reach. Social media reach is the number of users who viewed or watched a particular content on a social media channel. Unlike engagement, this metric has no definite amount as it is only an estimate.

You can measure reach by tracking the number of followers or fans, impressions, and traffic.

Leads. A lead refers to any information that you can use to follow up with your fans or followers. It could be a name, a phone number, or an email address. This valuable item value could develop into hard leads—qualified prospects or customers.

Customers. The main objective of social media campaigns is to attract new customers. If you have found the right leads and kept them engaged, they will be more likely to buy your product or service.

By tracking customer acquisition and conversion rates, you will know how many fans made it to the finish line. Built-in analytics tools such as Facebook Insights, LinkedIn Company Page Insights, and Pinterest Web Analytics, come in handy when measuring social media performance.

Switch to Social Media

Social media is a gold mine for followers, leads, and customers. It allows businesses to increase exposure, boost traffic, and gain market insights.

If your brand is not making the transition from traditional to social media, now is the time to make the switch. Take advantage of ever-increasing social media users: launch social media campaigns to generate qualified leads and increase your conversion rates.

Need help with your social media marketing efforts? We got you covered! 2Stallions can assist you throughout the entire process. We perform social media audits to optimize profiles and help with content strategy, execution, quarterly review and tweaking.

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