Biggest User Experience Stumbling Blocks on Ecommerce Sites

Designing an ecommerce user experience that pleases the customer is difficult. Besides creating a pleasing ecommerce layout design, you want to craft a seamless experience from landing page to purchase. These are some of the common failings ecommerce sites fall into–and you should attempt to avoid. By focusing on your ecommerce UX and avoiding stumbling blocks, you can succeed where others have failed.

biggest ux stumbling blocks statistics facts infographic

Limited and Missing Product Info, Pictures

Website users want clear-cut, straightforward information. They want ample details the explains what your product is and how it will help them. Your ecommerce site should have multiple pictures of each of your product from various angles, presented in an exciting way. Don’t use stock images either; customers prefer images you’ve created or photographs that were taken expressly for your product.

Lack of Mobile Optimization

It’s impossible to ignore mobile–it’s growing and becoming a larger segment of ecommerce activity each year. People shop from their phones and tablets even more, especially around the holidays. Your ecommerce website should be responsive and easy-to-use on mobile, with large buttons and a simple checkout process.

Long or Confusing Checkout Process

A prompt checkout process in integral to the success of your ecommerce site. If your checkout takes too long and isn’t smooth, it can dissuade buyers and lead to abandoned carts. A one-page checkout, with multiple options for payment–including the option to sign in with Google, Amazon, or PayPal can increase your conversion–and success.

Bad Site Search

You hopefully already have a site search function for your ecommerce site–but how well does it work? It should include filters and advanced functionality to help your customers find what they need. Give them options to search by category or feature. Purchasing and enabling quality software will enable this.

Missing or Hidden Contact Information

This piece of advice is simple–don’t hide your contact information. You should provide multiple forms of contact: phone, email, chat; whatever works for your ecommerce website. The more expensive the items you’re selling are, the more easily reachable you should be. Place this information prominently in your header or footer and include easy links to a contact us page.

Lack of Engaging Content: Videos, Etc.

To create a successful ecommerce site, you need to engage your buyers. That means creating exciting content for them to watch or read, including videos, infographics, case studies, and more about your products. Your content should enhance the user experience, explain your products, and reinforce why your company is right for the customer.

Poor or Hidden Social Sharing Buttons

Social media is a vital aspect of ecommerce–and ignoring it can be the downfall of any ecommerce site. A successful ecommerce site allows customers to share items they wish to or have purchased. Social sharing can result in additional conversions–and by making this process easy, you can increase your web presence as well.

Creating a seamless user experience for your ecommerce customers is the key to your success.  Avoiding these pitfalls and focusing on ecommerce UX design will ensure your product shines and customers return to your site and recommend you to others. By following these ecommerce UX best practices, you can see increased conversions and higher revenue over time.


If you’re looking for some help with your ecommerce site, Leverage is here for you. We have experience working with ecommerce businesses and can tailor an approach for your company. Contact us today to learn more about our services and how we can help you.

6 Unique Ways to Use Video in Your Marketing

leverage green computer with mock facebook on screen and videos

Scroll down your Facebook feed, catch up on Twitter, or rummage through Instagram, and you’ll notice video after video after video. Visit a major retailer or electronics developer’s website and you’re likely to stumble on how-to and explainer videos. Opportunity exists to market your goods or services within those channels to customers who need and want them with a bit of clever video creation.


There are some rarely traveled avenues for video that your competitors probably haven’t explored yet. The following unique ways to use video in your marketing all require only a basic video setup with a microphone and some free space.

Attention-Grabbing GIFs

Animated GIFs don’t just have to come from your favorite TV shows and movies – you can shoot a custom video and turn it into an animation that will pull your website visitors’ attention immediately.

gif of person highlighting an offerUse GIFS to:

  • Draw attention to a CTA
  • Make an offer
  • Enhance branding
  • Inject personality

 

You can use GIFs on your website, in your emails, on social media, and in presentations. Just don’t overdo it – too many GIFs in inappropriate places will hinder your professional credibility. If you don’t have software like Adobe Photoshop to make custom GIFs, use Giphy’s GIF Maker to assemble your animations.

Video Email Signatures

Give prospects, business partners, and clients a chance to look through another entertaining and enlightening window into your business by adding a crafty signature video to your email signature block.

 

The video should exhibit your individual personality and include some elements of your work culture. There’s no one format, and you can film it anywhere at any time. Like most videos, keep it short – it should be fun for the viewer and heighten their goodwill and respect for your company.

Weekly Broadcasts

leverage purple computer showing weekly broadcast show

Weekly, monthly, or even daily broadcasts uploaded to YouTube are beneficial to your SEO and can also be easily posted and shared through major social networks like Twitter and Facebook. If your site garners a healthy amount of traffic, you can also feature them on an exclusive part of your website and encourage visitors to register for other special content that you provide.

Assemble short videos to:

  • Display new products
  • Update customers on upcoming products
  • Announce new services
  • Provide industry tips

If you haven’t addressed them in a while, you can also just say hello to your audience. Your broadcasts are most likely to catch views if you share them on social media and encourage others to share as well. However, you can still get some traction by recording periodical videos to create a library of company news and events as well.

Interviews with Influencers

leverage green computer showing interview with influencer

Influencers hold phenomenal authority in the world of social media, which gives them the ability to direct customers to a product or service they deem worthy of their fans’ attention. If you’re using influencer marketing as part of your marketing plan, you’re already on the right track to reaching your target audience and bringing your product or service to the people that are currently looking for it.

Influencers and video both currently dominate social media. Combine these trends to multiply the results of your efforts.

Broadcast and record live chats and interviews with influencers about your product. Do it question-and-answer style or just spend some time thanking an influencer for his or her endorsement and reinforcing the reasons that your product or service is worthy of attention from influencers and their followers. You can then turn your live videos into exceptional testimonials for your website.

Unscripted Testimonials

leverage purple computer showing video testimonial

Video testimonials exist scarcely in the deep recesses of the Internet – but that’s not because they aren’t effective. Text-and-photo testimonials still dominate because they are easy to make and post. But by employing only a small amount of additional effort, you can collect a few video testimonials that will tell more than text ever could.

Coordinate with happy customers and offer them an incentive if they don’t seem to have time to fit you in. A one-off free service or product offering is an incredible price for a video testimonial. Prepare a short list of questions to ask to get organic responses and provide the list to the customer beforehand.

Try some of the following questions:

  • What do you like about our product or service?
  • Can you tell me a story about a time when our product or service helped you or your business?
  • Why do you plan to continue to buy or use our product or service?

Bring customers or clients in for a shoot (don’t forget to ask them their name and company while recording), send them on their way, then do a quick edit for a 30-second testimonial and you’ll capture a new level of trust from your audience.

Offline Customer Service

leverage green computer with hammer and wood showing offline service videos

Customer service representatives often have a script from which they read to help customers solve their problems. Save your customer service team some time and eliminate the troubleshooting script with a video or series of videos that attempts to show customers and clients how to solve basic problems without human guidance.

Draw from an available Frequently Asked Questions database or start collecting information from your customer service department. Then draw out a script with step-by-step instructions on how to fix problems. Give the videos a single, cohesive format and brand them so your customers know that it’s your company that cares enough to give them a hand solving their problems.

Get creative with your videos, and no matter how you’re doing them, make sure:

  • Your brand is clear
  • Your actors are recurring
  • Your video fulfills a need
  • Your video’s content has not been done before

Follow content marketing best practices (provide useful information, don’t manipulate your audience, etc.) when creating and sharing videos to increase their power. When executed correctly, videos can enhance almost every part of your digital marketing strategy. Try to find new ways to integrate video into multiple marketing channels at once to take your brand or company to the top – fast!

Leverage knows video marketing. We stay up to the minute on video trends to keep our skills sharp and share information with trusted readers and clients like you. Stay afloat in the video information flow by signing up for our newsletter today. It’s easy, free, and loaded with marketing magic.

How Do Customers See Your Brand?

It doesn’t matter if you think your brand has the potential to be the next Apple or Nike—what matters is what your target audience thinks of your brand.

Understanding brand perception is essential to succeeding in a competitive marketplace, according to Brian Woyt, founder of the branding agency Wolf & Missile. “Ultimately, your brand is what the marketplace says it is,” Woyt says, “Not what you think it is.”

To be long-lasting, your brand must form a connection with your audience. That connection is based on trust, and your brand earns trust when it remains true to what your audience expects of it. Unfortunately, it’s hard to remain true to your customers’ expectations when you don’t understand those expectations in the first place.

You need to research how customers view your brand so that you can develop resources that meet your audience’s expectations.

Brand Discovery: When You’re Starting from Scratch

If you’ve been in business for a while, you’ll be able to use real customer feedback to understand your audience’s perception of your brand (more on that later). But if you’re new on the scene, you won’t have any marketplace feedback yet. Instead, Woyt recommends performing a brand discovery exercise:

  1. List the attributes or features of your product or service. (e.g. The FidoVac 5000 has a power rating of 8.5 amps.)
  2. Determine the consequences of the attributes (With the power of FidoVac5000, pet owners will be able to suck up pet hair from all surfaces).
  3. List the benefits of your product or service. (FidoVac5000 owners will enjoy the appearance of a cleaner home and won’t have to worry about pet hair getting stuck to their clothes when they sit down.)
  4. Determine the value of your product or service to your customer. (FidoVac5000 owners will enjoy greater peace of mind in their clean home.)

This exercise should help you move from the features of your product (which you already know) to the value of your product (which is what customers care about). Once you’ve identified the value your product or service offers, you can use this to define your brand. Your value should stay front and center of your traditional and digital marketing branding.

Positioning: How Your Customers See You vs. Your Competitors

Your brand doesn’t exist in a vacuum. Like it or not, most of your potential customers are weighing you against your competitors. To stand out, you’ll need to determine what makes your brand different from similar brands. Ask yourself: What does my audience want that I can deliver but my competitors can’t?

Woyt suggests taking the following steps to position your brand:

  1. Research the competition.
  2. Create a four-quadrant map of the competition’s positioning, as in the example below.
  3. Add your brand to the positioning map.
  4. Ask yourself what you need to do to minimize overlap or set your brand apart.

Next, you should write a brand positioning statement. This can be a sentence or two that states your brand’s unique value in the marketplace. To write this statement, ask yourself:

  • Who do my products/services appeal to and why?
  • What are the people at my company passionate about?
  • What promise is my brand making to the customer?

Understanding Brand Perception

If you’re an established business, you should be talking to real customers (and potential customers) to better understand how they see your brand. Conduct surveys by phone and email, and organize focus groups if possible. Questions to ask your customers include:

  • What attracted you to our brand instead of a competitor? Or, if you chose a competitor, why did you go with them?
  • What are the biggest frustrations you experience when trying to do business with companies in our industry?
  • Have you ever recommended our brand to another person? If so, who? And why?
  • What’s the first word that comes to mind when you hear our brand name?

In addition to interviewing customers directly, you can also use social monitoring tools to see what kind of online reputation your company has on social media and review sites.

There are dozens of social monitoring tools on the market, and you’ll have to do your due diligence to determine what’s best for your business. Here are just a few of the most popular tools:

  • Google Alerts: Lets you set up email alerts for mentions of your brand and other keywords in online publications
  • Hootsuite: Lets you view brand mentions (on social channels, blogs, and news sites) in real-time and gauge brand sentiment
  • Talkwalker: Lets you track mentions across all major social channels, print publications, and TV and radio broadcasts globally
  • Buzzsumo: Lets you view social shares of your brand’s content and identify specific users who have shared your content

Pay attention to both positive and negative sentiment. Looking at negative sentiment can help you identify what you need to change to improve your customers’ perception of your brand.

Your Customers See Your Brand Differently Than You Thought—Now What?

If your research reveals that brand sentiment is largely negative, it may be time to rebrand. As part of your rebrand, develop buyer personas. Identify buyer needs and pain points. Think about how your messaging can better connect with your customers. Work through the brand discovery exercise (if you haven’t already) to make sure you’re focusing on the value you bring to customers, not just the features of your products or services.

If brand sentiment is largely positive, but your customers think of your brand differently than you do, it’s still worth making some changes. Ask yourself if your brand’s actions and interactions are aligned with your positioning statement. If they’re not, think about how you can better tailor your marketing resources to your audience’s expectations.

Need help positioning your brand in a crowded marketplace? Leverage now offers digital marketing branding services—contact us now to learn more.

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Should You Axe Your Comment Section?

Small business blogs struggle to get their readers to comment on their posts.  Meanwhile, larger online publishers have a different problem: comment sections are dominated by trolls who are more interested in picking a fight with the writer and other readers than in having a conversation. Whether it’s an issue of too little engagement or too much of the wrong type of engagement, many bloggers have decided it’s time to say good-bye to their comment section.

Many major online publishers (such as Recode, Reuters, Popular Science, Mic, NPR, and Vice) have already shuttered their comment sections and shifted their conversations with readers to social media. Of course, these are news sites that were getting hundreds of thousands of comments per month—their position is a little different than that of the typical business blog.

So what if you’re one of those business bloggers who is getting some well thought-out comments on each post but is also having to wade through spam? Should you soldier on with your blog comment section or shut it down?

Before making your decision, you should consider some of the challenges that comment sections create, the benefits (and limitations) of social media comments, and your blog’s audience.

Keeping Up with the Vocal Minority

One person speaks into giant megaphone, representing the vocal minority in comment sections

In a perfect blog world, the comment section would include remarks from a representative sample of readers. These readers would take the time to think about an article and share resources or ideas that add to the conversation. In reality, most blog comment sections are dominated by a small number of (often angry or combative) readers who don’t represent the views of the majority.

Let’s take NPR as an example. In an NPR commentary piece from August 2016, editor Elizabeth Jensen noted that while their website had 33 million unique visitors in one month, comments came from just 19,400 users (less than one percent). And of those users, just 4,300 were responsible for two-thirds of all comments. Digging deeper, NPR found that an estimated 83 percent of commenters were male, while an estimated 52 percent of all NPR.org users were male. It’s clear that their commenters were not a representative sample of the NPR audience.

The unrepresentative nature of the comment section isn’t the only issue. Many sites allow users to post anonymously, which means commenters can say incendiary things without worrying about their words being tied to their real-life identity. Not only can this be exhausting for writers and site moderators to keep up with, but it can also affect the way a site visitor views the article they’ve just read. One study found that people who read a scientific article accompanied by insult-laden comments were more likely to have polarized views of the technology described in the same article than people who read the article accompanied by civil comments.

Moving the Conversation

Social media icons in speech bubbles, indicating social media comments

Turning off their comments and shifting the conversation to social media has been a natural move for many publishers. After all, their readers are, for the most part, already on social media. And with many sites now seeing more than half their traffic coming from mobile, communicating over social media just makes more sense. Mobile users frequently access news and blog posts through apps like Facebook and Twitter, and they’re more likely to add a comment within one of those apps than they are to go to the publisher’s site, create an account, and add a remark to the comments section.

In addition to the convenience of social media platforms, many bloggers have found that conversations stay more civil when they move away from the comment section. There are still trolls on social media (especially on Twitter), but in general, there’s more accountability for social media users than anonymous commenters. Facebook and LinkedIn users are encouraged to set up accounts that are associated with their real-life identities, so anything they say through that account appears under their name.

For some publishers, the decision to ditch the comment section and focus on social media comments is also about visibility.  Kara Swisher, the executive editor of Recode, told Nieman Lab that Recode is focusing on social because they are more likely to have well-known people or industry influencers retweeting or liking one of their posts than going to their blog and leaving a comment.

Of course, social media conversations aren’t without their drawbacks. For one thing, sharing a post across several different social media networks can lead to fractured conversations: someone might make a great point on Facebook that doesn’t get picked up in the conversation on Twitter, or a helpful resource that someone shares in the comments on LinkedIn might not make it to Reddit.

Another potential issue is that not all readers are on social media. However, this may not be a noticeable setback for bloggers, since two-thirds of U.S. adults—and 90 percent of people ages 18 to 29– now use social networking sites.

Questions to Ask Yourself

If you’re still unsure whether you should keep or deep-six your blog’s comment section, ask yourself the following questions:

Is anyone leaving comments? If they’re not, your comment section isn’t doing you much good. You might as well disable it and encourage readers to connect with you on social media.

Are the comments thoughtful and productive? Some niche websites, like SEO-focused blog Moz, get lots of meaningful comments on each post because of the nature of their audience. In Moz’s case, the audience is largely made up of SEO professionals who are interested in sharing their knowledge and gaining new insights from their peers, which makes the comment section a valuable resource.

Are you prepared to moderate? If you do have an active comment section, you (or your writers) need to find the time to participate in the conversation with readers. When writers engage with their readers in the comment section, it helps keep the conversation thoughtful and lets the readers know they’ve been heard.

Whether you decide to keep your comment section, shift the focus to social media, or find some middle ground, be prepared to start a dialogue with readers—not the trolls, but the people who find value in your content and want to be part of the conversation. Engaging with site visitors or social media followers in this way helps to build trust, and that established trust will make you stand out from competitors when your readers are searching for the products or services you offer.


Leverage still has a comment section on our blog, so feel free to share your thoughts below. However, we’d also love to take this conversation to social media—share this post and your thoughts on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn.

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9 Free SXSW 2017 Interactive & Networking Events

2017 is a unique year for South by Southwest (SXSW) in Austin, TX. Fresh visual technology and virtual reality will play a larger role than ever in the interactive sections of the event, and emerging mobile app capabilities are likely to dominate the floor. The ever-revolving marketing sphere turns on the axis of new technology, so wise marketers are already looking for free events that will upgrade their digital marketing game for the rest of 2017.

Enjoy these free SXSW 2017 Interactive & networking events and share the info with your fellow entrepreneurs, marketers, and friends. These events are accessible at no charge with a free guest pass unless otherwise noted.

Treehouse Old School Happy Hour

Date Time RSVP
March 8 6:00 PM – 9:00 PM Yes

Treehouse is not only hosting a happy hour with free drinks, food, and music at Old School in Austin, they’re also giving away free one-month memberships to Treehouse for Business. The happy hour will unfold crawl-style, and you’ll get the chance to experience both Austin’s most unforgettable food and drinks as well as some of the most influential speakers of SXSW.

treehouse old school happy hour shot of crowd enjoying drinks

Austin Tech Happy Hour

(Note: This event allows entry by ticket. Free tickets are likely to run out fast, so reserve your tickets right away, or you may have to pay for tickets or cash at the door.)

Date Time RSVP
March 9 5:30 PM – 7:30 PM Yes

The Austin Tech Happy Hour has been running for ten years, and it’s stronger than ever in 2017. Admission gets you two free drink tickets so you can loosen up with Austin’s tech crowd before the SXSW truly kicks off. The emerging technology community will be there ready to make friends online and offline.

austin tech happy hour logo

SX Create

Date Time RSVP
March 10 11:00 AM – 6:00 PM No

SX Create dives into the world of emerging technologies and the ways they can be customized and manipulated. Kids and adults alike can take in the wonder of 3D printing, drones, robots, biohacking, and whatever other secret projects with which inquisitive minds have been tinkering.

sx create r2d2 droid

Decoded Fashion: Content Is Still King

Date Time RSVP
March 12 3:30 PM – 4:30 PM Yes

Decoded Fashion wants to explore new and exciting ways to bring original content to fashion-hungry audiences. Even if you aren’t in the fashion industry, you’ll have the chance to learn a thing or two about PR, influencer marketing, and the very personal journeys that lead customers to relevant content.

decoded fashion house logo

Amazon Web Services ATX Startup Crawl

Date Time RSVP
March 13 5:00 PM – ? Yes

Amazon Web Services is pulling together Austin’s hottest startup businesses for a bar crawl that entrepreneurs and job-seekers alike won’t forget. The crawl is offering free drinks and pulled in a whopping 12,000 registrants last year. Guests can enjoy free drinks, check out local office spaces, share résumés, and talk with ambitious startup owners and employees.

atx startup crawl logo

Digital Media Women: Burgers & Bubbles

Date Time RSVP
March 13 3:00 PM – 7:00 PM Yes

Women are a powerful force in digital media, and the leaders of Digital Media Women want everyone to know about it. This is your chance to talk face-to-face with existing and upcoming digital media leaders as well as find out the secrets of women who are innovating at the forefront of technology. Plus, there’s food and tasty beverages.

digital media women sxsw 2017

Women in Digital Meetup

(Note: This event is already waitlisted, and the event coordinators are attempting to reserve an additional tent for those who want to attend. If you’re interested, register right away.

Date Time RSVP
March 13 4:00 PM – 7:00 PM Yes

It’s no secret that women are playing incredible roles in digital media and marketing, and this SXSW Meetup is set to celebrate the success of Women in Digital as it exceeds 450 members. This event is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to meet some of the most astounding minds in digital marketing and media and join a powerful network of hard-working women.

women in digital homepage screen grab

Pet Rescue Lounge

Date Time RSVP
March 13 5:00 PM – 1:00 AM Yes

Pets are near and dear to the dog and cat lovers of Leverage Marketing, a sentiment shared by nearly all of Austin. Meet like-minded individuals that can’t get away from their preoccupation with pets, and help find homes for deserving dogs and cats while enjoying unique entertainment from famous pets and free pet swag!

pet rescue lounge event logo

Local and Vocal

Date Time RSVP
March 15 4:00 PM – 11:00 PM Yes

Local and Vocal is an event that focuses on local Austin talent in entertainment. If you’re a marketer, you’ll have a rare opportunity to find talent to which you can offer your unique services. This event includes free drinks for those who are over 21 years old – which, of course, lends itself to some serious networking.

local and vocal sxsw 2017

Even though the events are free, we welcome you to support the event coordinators, participants, and local businesses by enjoying an extra drink or dish. Network, learn about new technology, and hone your marketing skills at these free SXSW 2017 Interactive & networking events coming your way very, very soon.

 

Want more free stuff? Sign up for our awesome Leverage Marketing newsletter. It’s packed with news about digital technology, marketing, business trends, and can’t-miss bulletins – and it’s all for free. FREE!

Brand Marketing at SXSW: How to Make Your Brand Stand Out

South by Southwest (SXSW) is an annual conglomerate of film, interactive media and music conferences that take place in Austin, Texas. With increasing attendance and new attention-grabbing tech displays each year, brands struggle to get noticed at SXSW. How can your brand bring a unique experience to SXSW that translates into something unforgettable? It’s increasingly difficult to get noticed when every consumer-facing company gives out free swag, throws parties with free beer, and shows off the latest technology.

SXSW is known for helping to launch Foursquare and Twitter, and the conference regularly screens excellent films and television shows, many of which go on to great acclaim. Marketing at SXSW is an increasingly complicated endeavor, as getting noticed above all the buzz is difficult enough. Brands struggle to tie in product releases, navigate consumer trends, and figure out how to draw attendees to their events.

While every SXSW is different, last year some successful brand activations made their mark on attendees and marketers. Creating SXSW marketing that stands out sometimes means doing something a little different than what everyone else is doing (or what you think they’re going to do).

Each of these SXSW brand activations highlights a unique aspect of their product and communicates that to the audience—something every brand needs to do. While you may be successful by just following the current marketing trends– whether that’s virtual reality, make-your-own soda, or just giving out free stuff—doing something that conveys your signature SXSW brand image will likely be more successful.

American Greetings

american greeting sxsw branding

credit: @mullenloweus

It might seem odd for a greeting card company to even come to SXSW, let alone do a brand activation. But American Greetings wanted to disrupt the mold of disruptive digital technology by bringing in the analog. Their three-day 2016 promotion was entitled #Analog and allowed festivalgoers to do DIY printmaking and pop-up cards. They could learn letter-making techniques from an American Greetings artist, fill in a coloring book mural, and even get a selfie stitched with thread. American Greetings’ message is not to say that digital communication is not important or analog can replace digital communication, but rather that they’re complementary. Many people don’t slow down to send paper cards, and American Greetings’ SXSW marketing message is that analog still matters, and we should slow down to appreciate it.

Suicide Squad

Another unique brand activation at SXSW 2016 was Suicide Squad’s tattoo salon. Although the movie didn’t come out until Summer 2016, Warner Brothers started promoted it early through this special Harley Quinn-inspired experiential marketing. Instead of just doing a sneak peek of the film, Warner Bros transformed Affinity Tattoo and Body Piercing into Harley Quinn’s Tattoo Parlor—and offered free real (and temporary) tattoos. This brand activation got people excited about the film, created a unique SXSW marketing angle, and involved artists and fans in an innovative way, without using virtual reality or alternate reality to do so.

Mr. Robot

Mr. Robot, a techie show that launched at the 2015 SXSW festival and won the SXSW Audience Award, wanted to come back in 2016 and make a splash. The show’s marketing team figured there was no better way to do way to do that than to bring their iconic “Wonder Wheel” Ferris wheel to Austin. In one of the largest SXSW brand activations to date, USA Network designed the Ferris wheel to look like the Coney Island Wheel in the show, complete with nearby carnival games. The Mr. Robot cast and crew even visited SXSW to pay homage to the success the festival helped them garner—and of course, see the Wonder Wheel in real life. By creating SXSW branding that directly references the television show and allows the audience to experience a piece of their world—Mr. Robot succeeded in their SXSW marketing.

Mophie

If you have a smartphone, you’ve probably heard of Mophie. They make external batteries and cases to charge your favorite devices. As you can imagine, at SXSW, battery life gets eaten up pretty quickly. Between all the tweeting, Facebooking, Instagramming, and interactive brand activations and events, your smartphone may be dead before the day is half over. But Mophie is here to rescue you—with adorable St. Bernards. At 2016’s SXSW, Mophie partnered with the National St. Bernard Foundation, Glympse, and a motorcycle company to bring you a fresh phone battery when festivalgoers needed it. If someone tweeted using the hashtag #mophieRescue, the company would send one of its fleet of St. Bernards straight to them with a Mophie battery pack to charge up. This cute SXSW brand marketing makes Mophie look good, helps people out, and helps a good cause—dog rescues.

The Takeaway

SXSW is a brand marketing war. There are hundreds, if not thousands of different companies competing for attention from festivalgoers and consumers. Many companies try using the tried and true techniques of giving out free swag, throwing parties, and utilizing the latest technology trends. But these aren’t enough to truly make your product or company memorable. Take note of the uniqueness of the SXSW branding campaigns mentioned in this article—they all did something that was integral to their brand identity and helped their core audience in some way. If you can harness this mentality for your SXSW marketing, you can succeed in the crowded marketplace.


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4 First-Rate Examples of Storytelling in Content Marketing

Which of these sentences is more compelling?

Our hotel offers day-room rates.

Don’t spend that 8-hour layover propped up in an uncomfortable plastic airport chair—book a day room at our hotel and spend that time lounging on a private balcony.

You were probably more interested in what was going on in that second sentence, right? Humans crave a good story, and we’re drawn to the specific over the general. Specificity in a story allows us to imagine ourselves in different scenarios. In fact, studies of fMRI scans have shown that while reading straight data activates just the language centers of our brain, reading a story activates the language centers and the parts of the brain we would use if we were actually experiencing what we were reading about.

This is useful information not just for novelists but for digital marketers as well. Using specific storytelling in content marketing can help your brand forge an emotional connection with a niche audience. And, as much as we like to think that our product or service descriptions are what draw a potential customer to our brand, research shows that, when evaluating brands, consumers place more emphasis on emotions than information.

In addition to building an emotional connection, using storytelling in your content marketing can make you stand out. Let’s say you own a flower shop and decide to write a short, very general blog post titled “The Best Flowers for Spring.” Let’s take a look at some of your competition in the search results:

Google search engine results page for best spring flowers

Clearly, a lot of major publishers have already written about the best flowers for spring, and you’re not likely to stand out or rank anywhere near them with your blog post. But if you write a blog post called “How 5 Spring Flowers Starred in an Unconventional Wedding,” you’ve got a topic that’s unique to your brand. Your content might appeal to a smaller audience (in this case, people who are trying to get unique floral arrangement ideas for their wedding), but that audience will be more qualified than the average person entering general search queries about spring flowers.

So how can you incorporate storytelling into your digital marketing in a way that resonates with your audience? Let us show you using some examples of storytelling marketing from brands who nailed it.

ModCloth

When I started thinking about digital brands that have mastered storytelling, women’s fashion retailer ModCloth was the first company to come to mind. Creative storytelling has infiltrated every part of their site, even their product names and descriptions. Check out this page:

Modcloth product page with a model in a floral dress

Let’s zoom in on that product description in case you didn’t get a good look:

Modcloth product description provides example of storytelling in content marketing

Is the product description a little cheesy? Yes. But is it also memorable? Definitely. The descriptions may not directly apply to most of the site’s shoppers—I know I’m not currently completing an internship that allows me to drift around an art gallery—but you can imagine yourself in that situation, wearing an outfit from ModCloth.

The ModCloth blog also allows shoppers to imagine themselves in new situations inspired by clothes from the retailer. For example, a recent post called “Valentine’s Day Looks Inspired by Our Favorite Love Stories” recommends outfits inspired by books like Atonement and The Price of Salt.

The Takeaway: It’s not about the product, it’s about how the product makes you feel.

With its vintage-inspired clothes, ModCloth is targeting women who might frequent consignment shops or occasionally shop at fast-fashion stores like Forever21 and H&M. ModCloth’s prices are (generally speaking) higher than those you’ll find at consignment stores and fast-fashion retailers, so to win over customers, they focus their content marketing storytelling on the experiences a shopper might have while wearing ModCloth clothes.

The stories that ModCloth tells are aspirational but not out of reach. Shoppers can picture situations in which they would wear the clothes, which makes it easier to push that ‘Add to Cart’ button.

Tom’s of Maine

Tom’s of Maine is a personal care company (think toothpaste, deodorant, body lotion) with a focus on sustainability. Like ModCloth, Tom’s of Maine is slightly more expensive than some of their bigger name competitors, but they’re not trying to compete on price point. Instead, they use their website content to attract consumers who care about sustainability and responsible manufacturing.

Check out some of the content on their homepage right now:

Tom's of Maine homepage highlights their community involvement

This page encourages readers to:

  • Meet the winners of two recent community contests
  • Learn how companies can reduce their environmental footprint
  • Learn about using recycled materials for product packaging
  • Watch a music video encouraging kids to brush their teeth
  • Explore Tom’s of Maine products, knowing that 10% of profits are donated to charities

That’s obviously not just one story (in all honesty, it’s probably too many calls-to-action for one page) but it paints a clear picture: Tom’s of Maine cares about their community.

When you visit their blog, you’ll find that this thread of community caring runs through all their articles. Topics include healthy living, natural products, DIY projects, and parenting tips, all of which tie into the story Tom’s of Maine is trying to tell.

The Takeaway: Don’t just be a seller—be part of your audience’s community.

People like a story that they can relate to, so when you’re marketing through storytelling, look for ways to align your narrative with the things that matter most to your audience. This approach will help you build trust and position yourself as a member of your audience’s community, rather than just a seller.

BoutiqueHomes

BoutiqueHomes is a short-term vacation rental company, much like Airbnb or HomeAway. However, unlike those larger competitors, BoutiqueHomes carefully curates short-term rentals with interesting architectural features, luxury amenities, and spectacular views. They cater to a niche audience of travelers who are passionate about home design, and the stories they tell on their website are tailored to that specific segment of customers.

BoutiqueHomes’ blog, which they call their Journal, highlights some of their properties but also includes posts on design trends, films made in interesting locations, unusual furniture, and more. They also feature interviews with some of the homeowners with whom they partner, which helps them put human faces to their brand.

BoutiqueHomes' interviews highlight their storytelling in content marketing

The Takeaway: When you’re going up against big competitors, tell the story of what makes you different.

BoutiqueHomes can’t compete with Airbnb and HomeAway when it comes to the number of vacation properties on their site, so they’ve made their story about something different—the care they take in selecting architecturally significant properties. Since they’ve focused their digital brand storytelling on their passion for home design and travel, it makes sense that their blog content aims to reach an audience that shares those passions.

Mint

Mint is an app that lets you track your spending, set budgets, and manage your bill payments. To use Mint to track your personal finances, you have to submit sensitive banking information—something that can understandably be a hard sell. Mint’s marketing team recognizes that they have to win their users’ trust, which is why their website content focuses on stories about finding solutions to financial problems.

The MintLife blog has become a valuable resource for young professionals who are trying to become more financially literate. Topics range from navigating student loans to identifying tax deductions, and every post includes actionable advice that readers can apply to their financial life. MintLife even has a monthly Money Audit post, in which a financial expert helps a real Mint user analyze their current finances.

Mint blog solves problems for real Mint users

The Takeaway: Identify your audience’s pain points and tell stories that offer solutions.

Mint uses content marketing storytelling to walk site visitors through common financial dilemmas and their solutions. By identifying the biggest money-related pain points that their audience members face and offering actionable tips, Mint has established themselves as a trustworthy financial advisor. It’s a strategy that has paid off—Mint now reaches over 10 million users.

Final Notes on Storytelling in Content Marketing

Although they operate in different industries, there’s one thing that all four of the brands described above have in common: they have a deep understanding of their target audience. The key to getting specific with your digital brand storytelling is to develop detailed buyer personas based on data, not just what you think your audience is like. Once you know what kind of consumers want or need your products or services, you can start creating the types of stories that will appeal to your specific audience.


Not sure where to begin when it comes to buyer personas or storytelling in content marketing? Contact Leverage Marketing to learn how our team can develop SEO-friendly content that connects with your audience.

How to Make an Explainer Video

An explainer video describes a product or service in a short time with simple language. It is designed to provide potential customers and clients an overview of your offerings as directly and concisely as possible and help interested viewers decide whether to purchase. Short and simple videos are popular in marketing because they carry effective messages to customers with little resource investment.

 

 

 

You can start making your own explainer videos with an affordable setup and just a little bit of basic video knowledge, and we’ll show you how.


What Do I Need to Make an Explainer Video?

The setup for explainer videos is straightforward. There’s no need for expensive jibs and advanced sliders. Cover the basics and you can start learning how to create explainer videos right away.

Must-Have Shooting Equipment

The following items represent the bare minimum equipment needed to shoot the footage for an explainer video:

Camera

Two types of cameras cover the essentials of shooting for explainer videos: Smartphones and prosumer digital cameras.

Smartphones now record video at shockingly high resolutions and output quality video files when you prepare your shooting space correctly. They are a perfectly viable option provided you can steady your shot by propping the phone against solid objects on top of a flat surface.

If you want more advanced control over your shoot than what is offered by smartphones, you can opt for a prosumer camera. Prosumer is a portmanteau of professional and consumer, so called because it combines the features of professional products with consumer-friendly functionality. Most prosumer digital cameras shoot video in 1080p, even premium compact cameras, and they usually perform advanced functions like shutter speed adjustment and iris control automatically so you can focus solely on getting the right shot.

Microphone

Your microphone captures the subject’s voice, which is essential to explaining your product or service. Unfortunately, the on-board microphone that comes with your camera is usually omnidirectional, which means it picks up sound from every direction. Omnidirectional microphones are great for recording ambient sound, but they also pick up echoes that will distract your viewer and lower the professional quality of your video.

cardioid audio pattern graphTo capture clean audio, make sure you have a lavalier or shotgun microphone that is directional, which means that it only records sound in a single direction and within a limited span. Cardioid microphones, which capture audio in a heart-shaped pattern, are also effective, affordable, and wildly popular.

Must-Have Editing Equipment

The items below represent the minimum equipment needed for editing.

Desktop or Laptop Computer

Desktop computers tend to house more power than laptop computers, but if you work on the go, a laptop can still help you fashion a formidable explainer video.

Ideally, you’ll operate with a computer that has a video card inside. Video cards provide exclusive memory for video-related tasks, which allows your computer to process and handle visual information at a higher speed. If you don’t have a video card, modern graphics chipsets such as the very common Intel HD Graphics chipset will provide slow but functioning power for basic graphics tasks.

sd card reader with small and large 16 gb sd card insertedMost modern cameras use an SD card to store video information, so your computer should have a port for an SD card if you’re using it to edit. If not, you can email slightly compressed videos from your smartphone to any device that connects to the Internet, but you’ll be sacrificing video quality.

Optional Shooting Equipment

The following are items that will make your shoot look more professional, but are not needed to create a basic video.

Tripod

The tripod is the three-legged device that holds and stabilizes your camera. If you have one, you can steady your shot and adjust much more easily than you could with a smartphone and a stack of textbooks. The most rudimentary tripods start at about $10, but professional-grade tripods can reach $10,000 or more.

Most tripods will fit most cameras if they have the right baseplate. When shopping for tripods, you won’t need to worry too much about whether your camera and tripod are compatible – just make sure that when you get a baseplate, it fits both the camera and the tripod.

Lights

Setting up lights is the fastest way to turn the look of your video from grainy home movie to glamorous silver screen film. Lighting has become astronomically more affordable in the last 10 years. The base price for an entire lighting kit now starts around $50. Even two well-placed standard lights can breathe new life into dull, flat video sets.

explainer video shoot subject with white background no lights

No lights – tough to see, not much dimension, fades into background

explainer video shoot subject with white background key and fill lights

Key and fill lights – easier to see, separated from background

How Should I Set up for a Shoot?

The shoot is all about the subject. If you want a great performance, make your subject comfortable by creating a fluid studio experience.

  1. explainer video shoot subject with white background no lightsPlace Your Subject – Using a stand-in (you, a friend, or a coworker), find a comfortable place for your subject to stand or sit that is at least a few feet away from your background. In any video, keeping the subject separated from his or her surroundings will make your video less claustrophobic and distracting to the viewer.
  2. smartphone in studio on book ready to shoot videoPrepare Your Camera – If you have a tripod, place your camera securely on it and place it far enough away from the subject so that the bottom of your shot ends at chest-level or mid-thigh. If you don’t have a tripod, stack books on a table and balance your camera or smartphone on a flat surface. For an explainer video, place the camera as close to the height of your subject’s eyes as possible.
  3. explainer video lavalier microphone sound checkTest Your Audio – Ask your subject (nicely) to count down from ten slowly or to try an enunciation exercise such as, “The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog,” while you record the audio. Play it back to make sure that reverb (echo) is minimal and each vowel and consonant sound is clear enough for your audience without popping.
  4. explainer video with optional key and fill lightingCreate a Lighting Scheme (Optional) – If you have lights, set them up so you have at least a key and fill. The key light is your main source of light that you place in front of and slightly to the side of your subject to create dimension. The fill light is a subtler light placed in front of your subject and slightly to the opposite side to soften the harsh shadow created by the key light.
  5. explainer video subject test shot with hand motions and speechShoot a Test Shot – Once your subject is framed, lights placed, and microphone tested, try a full single shot while your subject practices enunciation again. Ask him or her to do another countdown or exercise with a bit of facial expression and movement so you can ensure that your camera is focused. Review the footage and correct any errors.
  6. explainer video subject comfortable on chairSeat or Stand Your Subject – Bring in the real subject to either sit in a backless chair or stand in front of the camera. If you’re doing an interview-style video, let the subject know that you’ll be asking a few questions and that you would like for him or her to repeat the question in his or her response. For example, if you ask the subject “What is your favorite color?” the subject should respond with “My favorite color is green.”

Once you’ve prepared and your subject is in place, you can begin your shoot. The events of each shoot will vary, and it’s best to learn how you work with your actors to find out what process will work most efficiently for your sessions.

Remember these tips for your explainer video shoots:

  • If your subject is reading from a script: Try to begin and stop recording at the end of each section of speech. Unless your subject has memorized the entire monologue, it will be easier to scrub through takes than to try to pick out usable lines from one long, continuous shot.
  • If your subject is answering interview questions: Record the entire interview without stopping – you never know when your subject will say something unexpectedly profound or pertinent. Give yourself an audible cue before you begin a new question to make the editing process more fluid.
  • Keep water around for your subject to drink between takes. Even in the middle of an interview, a dry throat makes lines of monologue and answering questions nearly impossible.
  • Be ready to adjust lighting. If your subject is blinded by your lights when facing the camera or the interviewer, the lights are probably not properly placed. Maintain the dimensions created by your lights while improving comfort for your subject.

What Do I Do Once I’m Done Shooting?

Immediately after shooting, turn off your camera and microphone, shut down all lights, thank your subject for participating, and place your equipment safely away. Remove the SD card or DV tape from your camera before storing it.

Your next step will be importing video to your computer. The process will differ depending on your recording medium.

  • SD Card – SD cards store recorded information as ready-to-use digital video files. Most operating systems provide an importing wizard for you as soon as you plug an SD card into the port. If they don’t, you can use the Finder on a Mac or Windows Explorer in Windows to locate your SD Card and click and drag the files onto your hard drive.
  • DV Tape – Digital video (DV) tapes are an older technology, but if you have a camera around from the early 2000s, you might still be using them. You’ll have to use the Capture feature in your editing program to get DV tape data from a tape deck to your computer.

Your microphone audio may be attached to your video files, saved as separate files on your SD card, or may need to be imported from your smartphone or audio recording device if you’re using an external audio recorder. Pull them onto your computer before beginning to edit.

Once your footage has been converted to digital files via the Capture tool or imported from an SD card, you can bring those files into your editing software. Most video editing programs now have a click-and-drag feature that allows you to pull footage from your folders directly into the application by clicking and holding your footage, then dragging it into the application window. If not, your software should include an Import option that will open a Browse window where you can locate and import your footage.

Prepare Additional Assets

To make your video look ultra-professional, you may want to whip up or purchase some graphical assets. Consider grabbing some of the following, depending on your needs:

Logos

leverage marketing logo

Short Animations leverage monster suspicious animation Icons leverage guy flat icon

Buttons

green 3d button example

 

Make sure the assets you use are not copyright protected under a copyright that is not your own. Lots of companies offer royalty-free images and icons for a small up-front price or subscription fee. You may even be able to find free assets from graphic designers who are looking to garner a more elite reputation.

Organize your video and assets into distinct folders under a parent folder with your project’s name. Your editing process will benefit in speed and accessibility if you organize before you edit.

How Do I Edit?

Editing is the process of piecing your shots together into a seamless video. It’s where you get to see your video come to life.

Operating systems these days come with basic editing software that has a surprising number of features:

Mac: iMovie

iMovie becomes more powerful with each iteration, and its interface closely resembles that of professional video editing software. It includes templates for animations, trailers, and entire videos. Use a template if you wish, or customize your edit by clicking and dragging footage on the user-friendly timeline provided.

PC: Windows Movie Maker

Windows Movie Maker has come bundled with the Windows operating system for many years, and though it has been discontinued as of January 10, 2017, those who still have the software on their computers can use it without software support from Microsoft. It has significantly fewer features than iMovie, but can still help you perform fundamental edits.

Editing your video is a 6-step process:

  1. Choose the shots you like – Find the shots with the best audio and video combination and pull them into your timeline, the area of your editing software in which you make cuts, inserts, and changes.
  2. Arrange your clips – Make your clips fit the flow of your script or the goal of your interview. Remove questions from the interviewer so that only the interviewee’s answers remain.
  3. Trim the beginning and end of each of your clips – Give your video a distinct rhythm. Make sure any pauses at the beginning and end of lines of monologue or answers match as closely as possible between clips.
  4. Add an intro and outro – You can put your company logo or a title card at the beginning and end of your timeline. Editing software has tools that help you make quick and easy title cards. You can also import your logo graphic and plug it in.
  5. Add transitions – Apply a dissolve or fade to your cuts where appropriate. It makes the transition between clips smoother. At a minimum, you should apply a transition between your intro and the body of your video, then another between the body of your video and the outro.
  6. Export your video – Each application handles exporting differently, but most will have an Export option with default settings that make Internet-ready videos.

Your files will work best in AVI, MP4, MPG, or MOV format for web use. If you know how to compress your video, do it slightly so that when your page loads, your video will load quickly as well.

How Do I Use My Explainer Video?

Once your video is done and exported, it’s ready for use on the Internet. The easiest way to get your videos onto your website is to attach them to a video hosting service first, then embed them using a special code.

youtube official logo flatYouTube is owned by Google and is a fantastic hosting service since it’s likely to boost your SEO efforts as well. If you haven’t already, you can create an official account for your business or agency, then begin uploading videos directly to YouTube. Each one has an embed code that you can add to your website’s HTML built into the YouTube page that displays your video.

wistia official logo white backgroundMany businesses also use Wistia to host their company-related videos since the Wistia platform offers comprehensive analytics and open-ended APIs that allow video to integrate into many different platforms. You may need a plugin to place a Wistia video on your site, but installing one is usually free and takes only a minute.

still image of video from leverage comprehensive digital plan landing page

Using either your YouTube or Wistia embed code, find an attractive home for the video on your website and implement the ready-made player that comes with the code.

The most potent ways to use your explainer videos once you know how to create them are:

  • On Your Service Pages – When you offer a complex product or service, it’s tough to find an audience that wants or needs it. Make it easy on those searching for your solution by creating short videos that fully explain the broad concepts of what you offer.
  • On Your Landing Pages – Help your audience make the right decision about whether to take advantage of your product or service by providing fast-paced, to-the-point videos on your landing pages that will save them time and clinch their decisions.

As you get better and faster at creating video, you can find more ways to implement video into your marketing. You can start using video in blogs, articles, social posts, and even in the background of your website. Learning how to make an explainer video is an easy first step into the world of video, and there’s no better time to start creating videos than right now.

 

No time to make videos? No problem – your friends at Leverage Marketing have the know-how and the tools to make professional-quality videos that go well beyond the explainer video. Start a conversation with us about video marketing – there’s no obligation, just powerful marketing knowledge and friendly faces.

Valentine’s Day Campaigns You’ll Love—and What You Can Learn from Them

Valentine’s Day marketing can be difficult for content creators and marketing companies alike. How can you tap your marketing arsenal into a holiday where the message is all about love? The most successful Valentine’s Day marketing campaigns utilize the “human factor,” connecting with their audience and establishing trust. Building a relationship with potential customers is the best way to go about Valentine’s Day marketing.

However, it’s easy to strike a false note when attempting to create efficacious Valentine’s Day marketing ideas. How do marketers seem genuine when creating their marketing campaigns? We’re going to look at several Valentine’s day marketing campaigns that hit the mark and analyze why they worked for their respective companies.

With an average spend of $142.31 per person, and nine out of 10 people buying a gift for their partner, Valentine’s Day is a big retail holiday. While certainly not in the same league as the winter retail season, over $18.9 billion is spent on Valentine’s Day, more money than Easter or the Super Bowl, and in the same league as Mother’s Day. Let’s take a deeper look into how you can capture a share of that spend with a successful Valentine’ Day marketing campaign.

WestJet Proposal Campaign

The #WestJetLove Valentine’s Day commercial was an exceedingly popular campaign in 2015 with over 1.2 million views, detailing two couples’ surprise proposals on Barbados. Canadian airline WestJet flew two couples out to Barbados with the catch that the men had to propose when WestJet asked them. This situation results in a tear-jerking, beautiful video of two couples’ love stories, watching love come to life on screen. With just the right degree of awkwardness, the video strikes a personal tone, brings the love element of Valentine’s Day, and gives you access into the couples’ lives.

As a Valentine’s Day marketing campaign, #WestJetLove succeeds because it focuses on building a relationship with its customers. The ad isn’t describing how wonderful WestJet’s services are, but rather is a funny and sincere love story—a unique take on proposals that succeeds in showing the quirkiness of the company. Both JP and Stephanie’s and Mike and Heather’s love stories are relatable to the audience, but it’s the fun tone of the videos, complete with anticipatory music each time the host shows up—that push this campaign over the top.

The Takeaway

Try using personal techniques in crafting your own Valentine’s Day marketing ideas. How does your company or product appeal to your customers? Your Valentine’s Day advertising doesn’t have to correlate to your business—as long you’re connecting with your clients and driving traffic (and positive reception) to your site.

Cartier- The Proposal

Cartier’s “The Proposal” advertisement from 2015 is in some ways more insidious than WestJet’s—but tells a beautiful story in the process. Cartier lures you in with a touching three-part love story, telling simultaneous tales of Valentine’s romance (and struggle) between couples. The three couples in Paris are all slightly different ages, but the men’s aims are similar—to proclaim their love for the women in their lives.

The first, set in the Rodin Museum, tells a story of a man sending his wife on a scavenger hunt to find him until she finds the jewelry box (from Cartier) and he proposes. The second is set in the airport, as the wife is going away on a trip for six months. Her husband deftly removes her passport and re-proposes to her with a new ring (from Cartier). The last is set as a man and woman are separated by an elevator, and he desperately runs up the stairs, catching her as the doors open each time, making pleas that he cares for her. Eventually, he proposes—while she’s still stuck in the elevator.

The Takeaway

These intertwining stories of love in the City of Lights follow established rules of a Valentine’s Day marketing campaign. While enhanced by fantastic acting and a great storyline, the primary aim and focus of the advertisement are the Cartier rings. These gorgeous, diamond-studded rings make the audience want Cartier, associating love with the Cartier brand. That red box is instantly associated with love. Cartier has set up a world through these three stories, and at least eight million people have watched. Creating a successful Valentine’s day marketing campaign means associating your product with love, romance, and engagement. Cartier has done this—and you can do it too.

Netflix Binge for Love

Netflix’s 500 Hours Binge for Love video from 2016’s Valentine’s Day campaign capitalizes on Netflix’s successes in reaching out to its customers. The idea of “bingeing” a television show—watching a whole series quickly and viewing many episodes back-to-back– has grown familiar with the streaming service’s growing triumphs in the video space. This advertisement takes that concept and connects it to a blossoming love connection.

The man in the ad, after falling for the young woman shown at the beginning of the commercial, immediately watches all the available series of the Netflix original Orange is the New Black. It takes over his life for the span of the advertisement—he wants to impress the young woman. He is “bingeing for love.” The commercial cuts the tension when she hasn’t watched the season three finale with a singing group reprising the modified I Would Watch 500 Hours to them.

This advertisement succeeds on multiple levels. It capitalizes on Netflix’s new cultural cache and the concept of bingeing television shows. It also modifies an existing popular song for its purposes—successfully (unlike many commercial jingles), and it leaves the audience hanging. We don’t know if this couple will succeed, but the man has gone to absurd lengths to like her interests—and many in the audience can relate. We’ve all be in the situation where we’ve pretending to have an interest or like something as a conversational piece—and it works well here.

The Takeaway

What are your company’s strengths? Netflix has unique advantages in the cultural cache that they can incorporate into a Valentine’s Day marketing campaign, but it’s about founding your company or product’s individual assets—and utilizing them. Use popular culture to your advantage—tap into ideas and concepts that appeal to your target audience (your buyer personas)—and you’ll come up with great Valentine’s Day marketing ideas.


If you need some help creating Valentine’s Day marketing campaigns that will hit the mark, talk to the marketing experts at Leverage Marketing. Contact us today, and we’ll assist you in crafting a Valentine’s Day campaign of your dreams. Our team can help you understand the sophisticated new marketing technologies on the market and how they can work for your business.

Technology Trends Driving Digital Marketing in 2017

Introduction

It’s only the beginning of 2017, but it’s clear that digital marketing technology trends will change the way we do business. With a rapidly advancing tech sector, marketing and technology work hand in hand to create new methods for companies to target consumers and change the digital marketing landscape. With 2016 over, there are emerging digital marketing technology trends we can identify that will drive the market in 2017 and beyond.

While it’s impossible to know for sure which technologies will have the biggest impact, we think these are the ones you should invest your marketing efforts in and look for when planning how to use digital technology in marketing in 2017:

Livestreaming

As a technology, livestreaming has been around for more than a decade. But in 2017, we’ve finally reached the point in marketing and technology where it’s easy to implement due to faster Internet on smartphones and advanced marketing techniques. With companies like Facebook, Periscope, and YouTube enabling companies to stream their videos easily—it’s up to your marketing departments to decide how best to do it.

Using livestreaming successfully is difficult, as your audience will often dictate how conversations move and what kind of content they want to see. So, make sure your marketing and technology are adaptable to customer needs. Whether you’re holding Q&As about your brand, livestreaming special announcements or product introductions, or hosting a panel, make sure your client is your first concern. Livestreaming won’t be perfect, but you want to interact with your customers through the platforms that matter to them (whether that’s Facebook, Periscope, YouTube, or even Spotify).

Drones

Drones are one the most exciting products of the last several years. Companies and consumers are interested in them for many purposes: war, commercial, or personal. Simply put, drones are everywhere. With models that can capture high-quality 4K video and high-resolution photos, they’re perfect for marketers. Whether used for livestreaming or just taking photos, drones are a brand-new medium that mixes digital marketing and technology.

With their ability to fly high in the air, drones are ideal for taking gorgeous shots of real estate and architecture for those firms. They’re also an innovative new way to capture a wedding or other special event from a new angle. With the ability to explore new viewpoints and vistas, drones can take pictures and video for travel and tourism companies.

Drones are a new frontier for marketing companies—they can traverse new areas and shoot photos at angles humans just can’t. Incorporating drones into your marketing campaign is necessary to stay ahead in the game—just make sure you’re following FAA and local ordinances.

Amazon Alexa and Google Home

With the advent of voice recognition that finally works—digital technology and marketing are changing to meet the demands and new challenges of integrating with systems like Amazon Alexa and Google Home. Both of these virtual assistant programs can coordinate with your app ecosystems, including Spotify, Nest, IFTTT services, Uber, Google Calendar, and hundreds of services. They can control aspects of your life with an ease that was heretofore unimaginable. But what does that mean for marketers? When you can order the latest gadget from Amazon with your voice, how do you market to consumers?

Without needing to search on a smartphone or computer, keywords become less useful. I’m not saying keywords or SEO are going the way of the dodo, but marketers must search for new ways to reach out to customers ordering from smart assistants. Marketing and technology meet in targeting the individual through the smart voice-controlled gadget ecosystem—learning about them and figuring out new ways to market to them. Marketers must understand how to use the technology in the right means to reach their consumers.

Wearables

When you hear wearable, what do you think? Perhaps an Apple Watch comes to mind, or Google’s failed Glass experiment—but wearables encompass a broad class of connected devices that are quickly becoming a digital marketing technology trend. Wearables can, of course, be smartwatches, but they can be technology embedded into clothing, fitness trackers, virtual reality devices, and much more.

With focus turning to wearable devices as a new way to consume media and grab consumers’ attention, content marketing needs to shift to meet those needs. It’s difficult to read a lengthy online article on a small wearable screen—some wearables don’t even have screens. Content marketing may need to shift its focus to audio, which wearables will have connectivity for, in the form of Bluetooth headphones.

There will also be new forms of interactivity marketers can work with to engage their consumers. With virtual reality devices like the Oculus Rift, Samsung Gear VR, HTC Vive, and Google DayDream, VR is coming into the mainstream. Alternate reality and virtual reality will be new lands for consumers to explore—and places to create content to peruse. There are opportunities for location-based content, weather-based content—countless opportunities we couldn’t imagine ten years ago.

Conclusion

With the new year, it’s clear that new digital marketing technology trends will drive the industry in exciting directions. Whether it’s coming up with new ways to reach consumers with social media and livestreaming, taking advantage of the unique capabilities of drones, or utilizing the extensive connectivity of Amazon Alexa and Google Home, marketers have their work cut out for them this year. Wearables and Virtual Reality headsets represent the new frontier in technology, as content marketing must adapt to the new ways the public consumes content. The possibilities with these technologies are almost endless. Technology and marketing must continuously evolve together as marketing professionals determine how best to utilize digital technology in their marketing arsenal.


Make sure you’re on top of the latest digital marketing technology trends by talking to the marketing masters at Leverage Marketing. Read our Guide to Planning Your Digital Marketing Budget eBook to figure out where to spend your budget to get the best return. We’ll help you understand the sophisticated new marketing technologies and how to take advantage of them.

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