How can you, as a business owner, help your brand to stand out from the crowded competition?
The internet is teeming with brands not unlike your own. Traditional advertisements have eaten up every last inch of adspace. Grabbing consumer attention is no easy task these days.
And yet, getting the word out about your brand and becoming memorable in the minds of consumers are not impossible goals to strive towards. The secret is that you must build brand awareness.
For those of you who might be unfamiliar with the term “brand awareness,” this term refers to the relationship between consumers and a particular business brand in the following ways:
● A typical consumer’s ability to recognize a particular brand,
● And the growing scope of consumers who have knowledge of, or have had
direct experience with, that brand.
The emphasis is always on increasing both the number of consumers who have heard of the brand and the depth of understanding those consumers’ have about the brand. The ultimate goal of brand
awareness is to convert consumers into loyal customers, of course.
What business wouldn’t want to become a “household name”? We can’t think of one, which is why we’ve put together four powerful methods you can implement right now to spread awareness
about your brand both online and in person.
In this article, you will learn about:
● Using Native Ads on Social Media Platforms
● Promoting Your Brand Through Local Event Sponsorships
● Partnering with Local, Complementary, Non-Competing Businesses
● Launching Automated Retargeting Campaigns
Native advertising refers to purchasing paid ad space on social media platforms and using that ad space to launch posts that match the look, feel, and purpose of user-created content.
Native ads are extremely effective because social media users that encounter these types of ads in their feeds initially assume the content was posted by one of the accounts they’re following. This causes them to take a closer look and figure out where the content is coming from. Once they do, these users become interested, click the call-to-action included in the native ad, and immediately land on the brand’s website, eCommerce store, or social media account, depending on the actual CTA.
Try these content ideas to get your native ads to stand out on social media:
● Use infographics, strong visuals, and short videos
● Include CTAs that offer demos, free trials, and samples
● Provide interactive content such as quizzes and surveys
LOCAL EVENT SPONSORSHIP
Event sponsorships are a way for brands to advertise during real-world, local events. “Sponsoring” an event in this manner involves financially supporting the event, but that financial support could—and should—come in the form of providing free products to attendees.
Sponsorship marketing works in terms of spreading brand awareness locally due to the fact that providing free items to event attendees leaves a far more positive impression on them than any traditional advertisement could. When you sponsor a local event, people will infer that your business cares deeply about the cause that the event is all about, such as the fight against hunger, breast cancer prevention, or preserving the environment. A positive association between your brand and the cause you’re sponsoring will form in the attendees mind.
These sponsorship products will spread awareness about your brand without breaking the bank:
● Have bottled water custom labeled with your company’s brand and hand
them out at charity races, farmers’ markets, and other local events
● Donate a photo booth station at seasonal community events and be sure
the exterior and interior backdrop clearly present your company’s brand and
● Supply teachers’ conventions, students’ summer programs, and other educational events with branded pens and notepads
Do you own a pet supply store? The nearby animal shelter is a complementary organization that doesn’t compete with your business. A fitness center franchise does not directly compete with athletic apparel retailers to gain members, which means these two businesses complement one another and if partnered, could increase each other’s brand awareness.
Partnering with complementary, non-competing businesses is a great way to “cross pollinate” with the loyal audiences of other brands. This method of building brand awareness is advantageous because any audience will be inclined to trust the recommendation of a brand they’re already loyal to. When the business you’ve partnered with tells their customer base about your awesome brand, including the products or services you offer, those customers will trust the recommendation, check out your business website or location, and potentially become your new customers.
For low or no cost methods of spreading awareness about your brand via partnerships with other businesses, try these:
● Forge guest blogging arrangements and publish each other’s blog articles to spread awareness about each company’s expertise
● Host Q&A sessions, interviewing one another to establish expert authority, and post the edited video and / or audio interviews on YouTube, podcast platforms like Spotify, and other social media platforms
● Display digital content, ad campaigns, and other visuals on each other’s digital signage, whether in-store at retail locations or in the waiting rooms of professional offices such as law firms, accounting firms, dental offices, and other private practices
AUTOMATED RETARGETING CAMPAIGNS
Any website or eCommerce store constantly collects data about the visitors who land on each URL page. This technology tracks and records whether a visitor becomes a buying customer or leaves the website altogether. You can launch digital marketing campaigns that target all of your website visitors who did not become buyers. This type of campaign is called a retargeting campaign.
The fact of the matter is that 97% of visitors who land on your website or eCommerce store for the first time will end up leaving without having made a purchase. Statistically, these visitors will not come back unless they are reminded of the value of the products available on your website. By launching an automated retargeting campaign, you can succeed at influencing first-time visitors to return to your website. Even if they don’t purchase anything upon returning, the campaign itself will expose them to your brand again, which will increase their awareness of your brand.
Effective retargeting strategies that succeed at driving website and eCommerce store traffic include:
● Choose one of your website’s URLs and create an automated retargeting campaign that goes after all prior visitors of that specific URL
● Segment your website visitors into groups based on which stage of the “buyer’s journey” they’re in, either the awareness stage, the consideration stage, or the decision stage; and market to these distinct groups accordingly
● Once a website visitor converts into a customer, exclude them from your retargeting campaigns, but include them in all campaigns that target current, returning, and loyal customers
THE BOTTOM LINE
Building brand awareness might be a challenge for your company. Just remember, it isn’t going to happen overnight. It takes time. But if you implement the strategies we covered in this article and take consistent measures to review campaign performance analytics and make adjustments that improve campaign reach, then you should see an increase in brand awareness that grows slowly and steadily in the long run.
How can you measure brand awareness as you go? Try using the following methods:
● Brand Recall—Where does your brand rank among the competition?
● Organic Traffic—Is your business visible on Google and other search engines?
● Social Mentions—How positive or negative is public perception of your brand on social media?
● Visitor Loyalty—Are visitors converting into buyers and returning time and again to shop?
● Email Engagement—How are your email campaigns performing in terms of click-throughs and conversions?
● Content Reach—Is your target audience responding to your branded messaging?
Do you want to spread awareness about your brand, but aren’t sure you have time to manage these brand-building strategies? FTx 360 can handle it. Our digital marketing specialists and reputation management experts can devise a personalized brand awareness campaign strategy for you based on your unique business. Contact us now to get started.
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Is it time to outsource your digital marketing?
When you first opened your business, you probably did just about everything yourself. This is par for the course. In the beginning, the owners of most start-ups and small businesses handle every aspect of their day-to-day workflow either themselves or in-house by assigning tasks to their employees.
But this is only manageable for so long. As a business grows, its needs expand. Continuing to assign new tasks to pre-existing employees runs the risk of overburdening them, which could lead to sloppy work and unhappy workers.
There are certain signs that indicate it might be time for you, as a business owner, to consider outsourcing your digital marketing, which include:
● Your current staff doesn’t have the skills. Effective digital marketing includes a lot of moving parts. Trends change constantly. New technologies and platforms emerge regularly. Is it reasonable to expect your account managers to post on social media during their “down time”? Will the quality of their digital marketing efforts be very good when it’s outside of their chosen career path?
● Your digital marketing initiatives are focused on tasks and not strategy. In order for any marketing campaign to succeed, you must have a plan in place. When your team is overworked, they’ll only have time to address day-to-day tasks and their mindset will be to “get stuff done.” Digital marketing isn’t about getting stuff done. It’s about getting the right stuff done and parceling out strong campaign tactics that result in increased revenue and overall business growth.
● You’re anticipating company growth and planning for business expansion. Have you recently signed a bunch of new clients? Have you opened a second retail location? Are you about to launch an eCommerce site? If you’re in the process of expanding your business, then you might be assuming you’ll have to hire additional staff to keep up with the demand, and you’re absolutely correct. But hiring an in-house marketing team shouldn’t be your first move.
If you’re considering outsourcing your digital marketing, but are still on the fence, this article is for you. Here are the 5 benefits of outsourcing your digital marketing.
PROVIDES A FRESH PERSPECTIVE TO YOUR BRAND
As a business owner, of course you love your company. But as they say, love is blind. Way-back-when you first saw your brand-new company logo, you thought it looked amazing, and it probably did. But as time passed, your love for your brand might have kept you blind to the possibility that your logo, and other marketing elements you’ve been using over the years, haven’t exactly updated to stay on trend.
That’s a problem. An outside marketing agency will add a fresh perspective to your brand. Their professional experts will be able to see the big picture of how your brand should fit into your industry’s market and make the necessary upgrades for you.
AFFORDS YOU FLEXIBILITY
Unlike the high commitment that comes with hiring an in-house employee or a team of in-house marketing associates, working with a digital marketing agency will afford you flexibility, and is therefore considered low or no commitment by comparison. This is a huge benefit. If you don’t like the finished work that a digital marketing agency provides, you can release them because you hired them on a project basis and entered into a short-term contract. Simply move on to the next agency for your next project and test them out in the same manner.
When an agency delivers results as promised after the completion of their first project for you, then you can engage them for the next project. But if they haven’t delivered or if the ROI is dismal, then you’re free to move on. This kind of flexibility will save you from getting locked into an agreement with an agency that isn’t serving you properly.
Digital marketing takes time. It can be challenging, tedious, and demanding. Creating marketing campaigns, generating awesome content, and scheduling all of your digital marketing is a full-time job. While it might seem like hiring one in-house employee to handle all of your digital marketing is a smart idea, the fact of the matter is that digital marketing is extremely dynamic.
You will be hard-pressed to find one individual who possesses all of the skills required to write flawless content, create stunning graphics using graphic design software, research trending SEO keywords, and accomplish everything in-between. Hiring an entire team of marketers in-house to address all aspects of your digital marketing could cost a fortune when you factor in salaries, employer taxes, health insurance matches, and other associated expenses. To minimize your overhead and save yourself time and money, outsourcing your digital marketing is the way to go.
In the long run, partnering with a digital marketing agency will give you firsthand access to expert knowledge. The marketing professionals at full-service marketing agencies like FTx 360 include web and mobile app developers, SEO experts, graphic designers, copywriters, social media experts, and most importantly, campaign strategists, all of whom will comprise your dedicated team.
As you interface with your account manager, you’ll have the full breadth of support from the entire team. This includes access to advanced marketing and analytics tools, such as SEMrush, which might otherwise be unaffordable if you, as a business owner, opted to purchase a subscription. The benefits of having access to expert-level knowledge are never ending.
● The agency will accomplish your marketing tasks on their schedule, and when the unexpected arises, you will have to exercise patience until their marketers have time to help you.Tip: Before hiring an agency, ask them about their timelines for specific projects and how they will accommodate last-minute marketing requests. The best digital marketing agencies will assign an account manager to your business who will be available to help you immediately, no matter what.
● While an outsourced digital marketing agency is far cheaper than paying the salaries of in-house marketing associates, the costs can still add up depending on the agency you go with, how many experts they assign to your account, and how dynamic your projects or tasks are.Tip: When working with a new agency, really pace yourself. Don’t ask them to handle 100% of every aspect of your digital marketing. Carefully review their price points per service. Go with one or two services for a short period of time. And be sure to analyze the ROI before asking them to handle more of your marketing needs.
● Marketing professionals, especially creative experts, are known for their ability to decisively execute their creative vision. But their strong ideas for your company may not completely align with your own vision for your brand’s future. You hired them for a reason, however, and you will have to accept their directive and allow them to do what they do best.Tip: Prior to working with any digital marketing agency, sit down with their professionals and probe them to find out their creative vision for your brand, especially if you’re considering full-blown rebranding. See if they’re willing to create mock-ups of the image graphics they have in mind for your company. Vet them as deeply as possible. And understand that once you hire them, their expertise will trump your inclinations for your business. The major takeaway is that outsourcing your digital marketing will absolutely benefit your company, but it doesn’t come without risks. That being said, you can easily mitigate the disadvantages of working with a digital marketing agency by thoroughly vetting each agency you’re considering. Ask them hard questions and don’t accept sugarcoated answers. Be realistic as you assess your options, and once you decide to go with an agency, start slowly, engage them on a project-per-project basis, and carefully analyze whether or not they’re delivering the results they promised. Are you interested in outsourcing your digital marketing? FTx 360 offers a wide array of digital marketing services at affordable costs, and we never pressure our clients to turn over all of their marketing to us straightaway. Our professional marketing experts take pride in their skills and enjoy the process of proving themselves to new clients. Whether you need web design & development, eCommerce marketing services, social media marketing, content marketing, blog articles and blog management, organic and local SEO, email marketing, marketing automation, PPC marketing, or reputation management—we do it all and love every minute of it! Contact us today to speak with a marketing expert about everything FTx 360 can do for your brand! Want to read more articles like this? Enter your email below to subscribe to our mailing list and be the first to know about the latest marketing trends!
In terms of optimal digital marketing strategies, email marketing remains one of the core channels to directly communicate with consumers.
Email marketing can be personal, informative, and lucrative. In nearly every industry, businesses of all sizes benefit from marketing directly to their customers, clients, and subscribers via email. There is a direct correlation between a company’s email campaign performance and the overall marketing success of that company.
Put simply, the open rate, clickthrough rate, and conversion rate of a business’ email marketing campaigns will make or break their business growth.
How successful are your email marketing campaigns?
In order to understand whether your campaigns are successful or dismal, you first have to look at the average email benchmarks for your industry, including the average open rate, the average clickthrough rate, the average click-to-open rate, and the average unsubscribe rate.
Across all industries, the overall email marketing statistics for 2020 were:
● 18% average open rate
● 2.6% average clickthrough rate
● 14.1% average click-to-open rate
● 0.1% average unsubscribe rate
Take a moment to check out your email marketing metrics across all the campaigns you ran in the past six months. How do those averages compare to those 2020 statistics?
Now, compare your averages to the campaign averages held by industries that typically benefit from email marketing the most:
If your company’s email campaign averages fall short, then the tips contained in this article will help you increase conversions and grow your business.
Before we get rolling, let’s first address the most important tip of all… the “Messiah of All Tips” if
Present professionally written emails, period. This is the most important piece of advice we will ever give you regarding your email marketing campaigns. You could even stop reading this blog post right now and focus solely on generating professional-level content, and your email marketing campaigns will achieve a higher conversion rate than you’re currently seeing.
Today’s consumers are smart and unforgiving. You cannot afford to launch email campaigns that contain typos, misspellings, and funky wording for obvious reasons. But it’s especially critical to use correct grammar, syntax, spelling, and punctuation, because email copy that falls short of this standard will reflect poorly on your brand and could damage your business’ reputation. Not to mention, poorly written copy generally fails to convey a clear message.
Remember: if your recipients can’t understand you, they won’t be able to engage with you.
Now that we’ve established the importance of the quality copy, let’s get rolling. In this article, you’ll discover how to use:
● Subject Line Hooks
● Intriguing Preview Text
● Professionally Written Paragraphs
● Crystal Clear Messages
● Irresistible Call-to-Actions
Let’s take a look at each tip…
The content you use for the subject line of your email marketing campaign will be the first thing your subscribers read, and if it isn’t written well, it’ll be the last thing they look at… Yup, the email will head straight for the Trash folder if the subject line doesn’t “hook” the recipient.
What is a subject line “hook”? You can think of a hook as an offer, incentive, or teaser. The purpose is to grab the recipient’s attention and compel them to open the email so that they can gain more information. Can you tell which of the following subject lines is “generic” and which includes a “hook”?
“Modernize Your Digital Identity” vs. “Our Digital Marketing Services Are Affordable”
Would you agree that the subject line “Modernize Your Digital Identity” is a bit mysterious? Reading a subject line like that, the recipient will probably ask themself, modernize… how? which will compel them to click open the email to find out!
TIP #2 MAKE SURE YOUR PREVIEW TEXT INTRIGUES
Even before your recipients open your email, they can see the first line or so of the body of the email. This “snippet” of copy is called “preview text”, and it should be just as intriguing as the subject line hook you used.
The email marketing platform you launch your campaigns from will automatically pull text from the body of your email to use as preview text. Meaning, you might not be able to change the actual copy without editing the body of your email. This is a reason to be very mindful of Tip #3.
However, some platforms will let you edit the preview text that appears or allow you to replace it altogether. When you create the email copy itself, just be mindful that the first sentence will become the preview text and make adjustments accordingly.
The importance of presenting professional-quality copy in your emails cannot be overstated. But top-notch writing goes beyond grammatical correctness. The pros use a “beginning, middle, end” content structure that flows conversationally and never sounds too wordy.
The foundational subtext built into the “beginning, middle, and end” structure could unfold as follows:
Set up the “pain point”, otherwise known as the “problem” the recipient is experiencing.
Highlight the consequence of not solving the pain point problem, and then immediately offer your own product, service, or offer as the solution.
Highlight the additional benefits of your solution, and finish with a clickable CTA.
Each segment—beginning, middle, and end—should logically inform the next segment, presenting a clear message to the reader.
TIP #4 CONVEY A CRYSTAL-CLEAR MESSAGE
Professionally written copy will deliver a crystal-clear message, as we just touched upon above, but before you launch your campaign, ask a colleague or friend to read your copy. If they can’t articulate the “point” of the email, then you haven’t conveyed a crystal-clear message.
Ask yourself, what do you want your recipients “to do” as a result of reading your email? Probably click the Call-to-Action you’ve included at the bottom of the email, right? Then the “message” of your email has to convince the reader why acting on your CTA will benefit them.
If you used one heck of a subject line hook, made sure the preview text was intriguing, and composed professionally written copy that conveyed a crystal-clear message, then your CTA will automatically be irresistible to your recipients.
But make sure the exact wording you use for your CTA really pops. Can you tell which of the following CTA text is “generic” and which is “irresistible”?
“Register for Webinar” vs. “Join the Conversation”
We’re willing to bet you agree that “Join the Conversation” sounds far more interesting than the other, generic CTA.
It’s true. The frequency with which you contact your email recipients will directly impact the overall open rate of each campaign, but this isn’t to suggest that the more you email your subscribers, the more likely they will be to open, read, and click.
In fact, the opposite is true.
The more you contact your subscribers via email, the more likely they will delete your email before opening it. Why? Because receiving too many emails can be annoying for the recipient, or worse, they can come across as “spammy”.
If you’ve noticed the open rate of your recent campaigns going down, it could indicate you’ve been emailing too frequently.
Be very careful not to overcorrect this issue, however.
If you slow your email frequency way down, you will inadvertently increase the risk of your campaigns winding up in your recipients’ Spam folders.
This is especially true when the sending email address contains “donotreply@” or suspicious characteristics such as a lot of numbers. Even using emojis in the subject line could trigger the recipient’s malware to automatically route your email into the Spam folder.
Play around with how often you contact your subscribers. There’s no one-size-fits-all solution, and successful frequencies will vary from one company to the next depending on the industry and whether the company operates within the B2C or B2B market.
Interested in increasing the open rate of your email campaigns, but aren’t quite sure how to put our tips into practice? Let us handle it! FTx 360 offers email marketing services that include content writing, campaign handling & strategy, and marketing automation.
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The value of implementing content marketing campaigns as part of your overall digital marketing strategy cannot be overstated.
Traditional advertising is costly, impersonal, and frankly, going out of style.
Digital content marketing is economical, highly personal, and wonderfully conversational in a way consumers love.
But in order to quantify the real value of content marketing, business owners must first understand what it is.
As the name suggests, content marketing is a form of digital marketing that uses content—both written and visual—to attract internet users to a business’ website for the purposes of converting visitors into customers.
Generating successful content involves pairing excellently written content with stunning visuals, such as intriguing photos, engaging graphics, entertaining videos, and impactful multimedia.
Examples of content used for digital marketing include:
web pages, product & service descriptions,
blog posts & email newsletter content,
in-app notification content & SMS text message content,
podcasts & webinars,
e-books & educational articles,
and even social media promotions!
Once the finalized content is published online, the content’s built-in SEO keywords will prompt Google and other search engines to recommend the published content web pages to consumers who type those very keywords into the search bar.
There is a direct cause-and-effect relationship between publishing quality content online and gaining loyal customers, which is why content marketing has quickly become one of the most popular digital marketing strategies around.
But popularity spawns competition. As more and more companies discover the value of using dynamic content marketing strategies, the higher the “bar” rises in terms of quality. What does this mean for business owners who want to stand out from the competition and win loyal customers using content marketing specifically?
Shape up or ship out.
If that sounds severe, it should. The competition is cut-throat and consumers have short attention spans. The next website, eCommerce store, hashtag thread, YouTube channel, or podcast is only a click away, and if you do not hook your visitor the moment they land on your page, they aren’t going to stick around.
But there’s good news for all you ambitious entrepreneurs who want to roll your sleeves up, throw your hats into the ring, and fight to gain loyal customers before your opponents do!
In this article, we’ll lay out exactly what you can do to up your content marketing game so that you can take advantage of all the benefits that content marketing has to offer!
By implementing content marketing strategies, a business can differentiate their brand from their competitors and stand out within their industry marketplace. Content marketing, as a method of communication, develops customer trust and improves brand credibility within online communities, social media circles, and even major search engines like Google.
Talk about value! If you can convince Google you’re the leading expert within your industry, the sky will be the limit in terms of how much web traffic will funnel to your site!
You might be tempted to err on the side of caution and only dip your toe into the content marketing waters, but if you want to make a big splash, engage your audience, and earn big bucks, we recommend you dive headfirst and implement these four content marketing initiatives:
● Website Content
● Product & Service Descriptions
● Blog Posts
● Email Newsletters
Let’s take a look at each…
For businesses of all sizes, increasing web traffic is an integral aspect of growing a solid customer base. This is especially true for eCommerce stores and other companies that rely on web-based platforms. A company’s web content, whether intentional or blissfully accidental, contains SEO keywords, which essentially magnetize Google users to the company’s website, which is great!
But did you know that your website is in danger of aging? Websites containing stale content that have not been updated in a year or more actually slide down Google’s ranking system. Just because your website is on the first page of Google’s search results today, doesn’t mean you’ll stay there. If you don’t revamp your website and publish brand-new, SEO-rich content periodically, it will only be a matter of time before your site slides down to the 5th, or 50th, page of Google’s results!
Keep the high ranking you’ve earned and stay on the first page of Google’s results by updating your entire website with fresh content at least every six months.
A great way to publish updated website and eCommerce store content without investing in a major site design overhaul is to frequently update the descriptions of your current products and services, and also publish new products and services descriptions on your site as soon as they’re ready for purchase. Even short, well-written descriptions of only three sentences can provide enough trending SEO keywords to keep your website relevant.
The trick is to first research and select the best keywords for your products, audience, and industry. If your descriptions are going to be a strict 30 words, don’t attempt to plug too many keywords into the verbiage or you’ll run the risk of sounding awkward. Try using only three keywords, or one longtail keyword phrase plus one keyword. Once you have those, be sure to compose the content using an expressive “voice” that captures the tone of your brand.
Customers naturally connect with content that is written in a personable, expressive manner, because the conversational tone helps them relate to your brand. As opposed to customers that don’t connect with your content, you will always forge deeper, longer lasting relationships with customers that relate to your brand.
One smart way to regularly publish SEO-rich content that will drive traffic to your website or eCommerce store is to launch a blog on your site. Blogs are a cost-effective way to promote your company and build your online presence. Best of all, blogging can validate your business and establish your brand as a leading authority within your industry.
The one caveat that you must respect if you want your blog to succeed at keeping your website ranking high on Google and other search engines is that you must commit to a publishing schedule and stick to it. Be realistic. Know your capabilities and limitations. Can you commit to drafting, editing, and proofreading one blog per week? Will that leave you enough time to also create stunning visuals such as graphics, photos, and multimedia images to go along with each weekly article?
When it comes to blogging, it’s better to post once a month without fail—or once every two weeks without fail—than it is to post once a day for two weeks and then not post again for two months. Consistency is everything. If you can maintain a consistent publishing schedule, offer an e-newsletter opt-in, and begin collecting subscriber contact information, the value of your blog will soon become immeasurable.
Consumers love content marketing, as we mentioned at the beginning of this blog post. When a brand puts out content for customers to read and engage with, those customers feel a sense of personal connection with the brand. And nothing gets more personalized than email marketing. With email marketing, you can analyze CRM data—Customer Relationship Management Data—to segment your customers into highly specified groups, and customize the campaigns you send out to each group.
Create individualized content for your segmented customer groups that’s based on their unique interests, product favorites, and the informative subjects they’ve “liked” on your blog, social media, and other platforms. Email marketing can be used for many different campaign types. Retailers can use email marketing campaigns to alert customers to personalized sales they might be interested in. Law and accountant firms can use email marketing to educate and empower their recipients about important laws, rules, filing dates, and regulations, ending every email newsletter with a CTA. Educational institutions can use email marketing to promote their classes, courses, and special events. Email marketing can also be used to conduct surveys and collect valuable feedback from customers!
In short, the greatest value of email marketing is that this marketing strategy builds relationships with customers. Every email is an invitation to that recipient to engage in a one-on-one conversation with you!
Smoke shops, cigar retailers, vape stores, hookah lounges, and even hemp wellness retailers within the CBD industry have one major challenge in common—severe advertising restrictions.
The US Food & Drug Administration has controlled tobacco and nicotine product advertising for decades, but it wasn’t until June of 2009 that the FDA clamped down hard on tobacco industry advertising, including advertising that fell within the scope of digital marketing.
These new FDA rules and regulations were imposed on secondary industries that carried nicotine, tobacco-related, and tobacco-simulated products, namely the vape and CBD markets. Can vape stores run TV ads? Nope. Are cigar retailers allowed to place paid ads on Instagram? Not at all. What about CBD stores, can this type of hemp wellness retailer buy a half-page magazine ad? Not even for a million dollars.
With extreme advertising limitations, how can smoke shops, vape stores, and similar retailers actually promote their tobacco, nicotine, CBD, and smoke-simulation products?
How will these businesses reach customers, sell products, and grow?
Though challenging, marketing tobacco, vape, and alternative nicotine products is not impossible. In this article, we’ll show you how to maximize lawful strategies while staying in compliance with the FDA.
Here are the dos and don’ts of marketing your store.
There is a critical distinction to be made between “advertising” and “marketing”. Just because you, as a tobacco retailer, are prohibited from freely advertising your nicotine products does not mean you’re prohibited from marketing your nicotine products. You can think of “advertising” as directly promoting a product to a consumer audience. By contrast, “marketing” raises brand awareness using indirect methods of promotion. Understanding the difference and sticking strictly to marketing is imperative.
Do: Focus on Marketing
Don’t: Invest in Advertising
First, you must educate yourself about the specific search engine and social media platform policies, and obey those policies. Familiarize yourself with Google’s products promotion rules. Pay particular attention to their prohibited content, restricted content & features, and dangerous products & services. Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook each have their own policies and restrictions on nicotine product promotion that you should take a look at.
You might be wondering, if marketing isn’t advertising, then what is it? For smoke and vape retailers, examples of effective marketing include maintaining a Google My Business account, using social media to passively and indirectly attract consumers, and launching a blog, all of which we will cover in this article, so keep reading!
Ready to get started with implementing focused marketing campaigns? Take these next steps:
● Identify your marketing audience
● Research the best marketing strategies for your industry
● Consider marketing automation solutions
FACT: In 2019, the global e-cigarette and vape market size was valued at USD $12.41 billion, and this figure is projected to rise 23.8% between now and 2027! This means that consumers want to find your smoke shop, so make it easy on them by focusing on strategic digital marketing! This according to Statista.com.
As we mentioned in the previous section, it’s essentially impossible to advertise your tobacco, nicotine, and vape products via traditional search engine and social media ads, but that doesn’t mean you should give up on the internet. Never discount the importance of your internet presence! Even if you own a brick-and-mortar retail store without a corresponding eCommerce site, you still must promote your brand online using digital marketing strategies that include SEO.
Do: Implement an SEO Strategy
Don’t: Discount the Importance of Your Internet Presence
For the purposes of expediency, we’re going to assume you know what SEO is, but if not, check out our blog What Is SEO? Go ahead, we’ll wait… it’s only a 5-minute read. Keywords are the backbone of effective search engine optimization. Choosing current, “hot” keywords as you build your digital content will cause search engines like Google to recommend your site to consumers who are looking for retailers like you.
Yes, as we touched on earlier, even physical retail stores need to invest in expanding their online presence. You don’t have to go so far as launching an eCommerce site, but if you have a website, we strongly recommend you launch an associated blog. Even if you start a simple WordPress blog, you can then create “posts” on your Google My Business account, sharing the article links. This is a great way to get your blogging feet wet while utilizing effective SEO that will communicate directly with Google.
Ready to get started integrating powerful SEO into your marketing strategies? Take these next steps:
● Launch a scalable, mobile-friendly blog
● Focus on Google My Business & building customer reviews
● Invest in professional SEO solutions
FACT: Popular SEO keywords for tobacco, vape, and CBD industry content are constantly shifting and changing as new products are introduced to the market. Regularly publishing blog articles is the best way to keep up, use current keywords, and ensure search engines recommend your store’s website to consumers. This according to Forbes.com.
Want to hear something excruciatingly unfair? Years ago, Big Tobacco tried to game the social media marketing system using paid influencers and basically ruined the concept for the rest of us. What really happened? In May of 2019, roughly 125 public health organizations issued a “cease and desist” order to Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat to immediately end the promotion of cigarettes and e-cigarettes from Big Tobacco companies. The resulting ban included prohibiting promotions from social media influencers. Then, in epic Big Tobacco fashion, the biggest names in the nicotine business straight-up ignored the order.
Do: Partner with Social Media Influencers
Don’t: Rely Solely on Influencers
So, why in the world do our digital marketing strategists include “partner with social media influencers” as a “do” on this list rather than a “don’t”? Because of our tenacity! We would never advocate trying to game the system. Our clients are small businesses that don’t possess the kind of legal teams that can defend Big-Tobacco-caliber violations.
When it comes to partnering with social media influencers, you have to think waaaaay outside the box, like we do, and like one of our clients has been since they started working with us. We’re referring to CBD Source, the leading cannabidiol retail chain across Pennsylvania and New York State. In April of 2019, CBD Source launched the CBD Podcast, which expanded their customer reach so much that they had to create an eCommerce store just to keep up with the demand. Naturally, their podcast developed into a YouTube channel, and that’s where the real social media influencer strategies took off like a heat seeking missile!
Ready to get started with social media influencers? Take these next steps:
● Contact influencers to plug and review your products
● Launch a podcast, vlog, or YouTube channel
● Test out a professional SSM strategist and analyze the ROI
Email marketing is a powerful tool for businesses of all kinds. When implemented strategically, email marketing campaigns incentivize customers to visit a retail location or eCommerce site, which directly impacts revenue increases. Why is email marketing a definite “do” on this list? Because you can say and promote whatever you want within this private method of communication. That’s right, you can directly advertise your tobacco, nicotine, CBD, and vape products to your recipient list!
Do: Include Email Marketing
Don’t: Spam Using Generic Offers
No two of your customers are exactly alike, however. Don’t spam generic emails to every email address on your list. Effective email marketing campaigns are all about “personalization”. The trick is to only recommend the most relevant products to each of your email recipients. Succeeding at personalizing your email campaigns will depend on the CRM software you’re using. You can’t achieve personalization without having collected data about your customers personal browsing and buying histories.
Whether you collect customer data at the POS system within your retail location or have integrated CRM solutions on the backend of your eCommerce site, you can build a quality sales pipeline as a result of personalized email marketing campaigns. First, analyze your customer data and group your customers into segments according to their likes and interests. Then, tailor personalized email campaigns to each customer segment, informing them of sales, deals, and discounts on items they have a history of loving and buying.
Ready to get started launching an email marketing campaign? Take these next steps:
● Provide shoppers with opt-in subscription methods to join your email list
● Develop concise written content that takes recipient personalization into account
● Use email marketing software solutions with CRM capabilities
FTx 360 can help. Our digital marketing strategists have extensive experience working within the tobacco, vape, and CBD industries. If you have concerns about FDA restrictions, we know the law. We know how to stay in compliance. And we know how to grow businesses using marketing automation, SEO solutions, SSM strategies, and email marketing solutions to build awareness for your brand and expand your loyal customer base.
Ready to get started with our tobacco industry marketing strategies? Contact us today!
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Pretty much every business dreams about going viral. If you have a website, e-commerce store, social media accounts, or any other type of online presence, then you’ve probably hoped your digital content would spread like wildfire overnight. You may have even gained some traction with a blog article that got a ton of hits or a Twitter post that was retweeted way more than you could’ve ever anticipated.
But were you able to figure out why, duplicate what you did right, and increase the virality of all future content you put out?
Chances are, probably not.
We wish there were a formula that, if used for each post you generate, would guarantee your digital content would go viral, but there isn’t. In fact, when digital content really “goes viral”, it’s on accident. That’s both the beauty and mystery of online virality.
That being said, there are definitely a number of things you can do to create content that people will want to share with their business or social circles online. Here are the FTx 360 marketing tricks that can help you go viral.
The term “going viral” hasn’t been around for very long, but you would be hard pressed to find a single consumer who’s never heard of it. Any digital content has the potential to “go viral”, i.e. spread rapidly throughout the online population via frequent “shares” across platforms. Content that quickly becomes the talk of the virtual town is said to have gone viral, and all successful viral content has at least one of the following qualities:
“Digital content” encompasses a wide range of content, from blog articles to social media posts to YouTube, Vimeo, and Rumble videos. It seems that every day a new social media platform is popping up, and those that already exist seem to be ever-expanding their multimedia capabilities so that the type of content you can upload is becoming more and more diverse. Twitter began with 140 characters only, but now includes photo and video media. Similarly, Instagram used to only allow a single photo, graphic, or image, but now you can post multiple photos and videos, and also publish “stories”.
No matter what platform you’re using, we recommend that you bear the following tips in mind:
Use SEO to go viral. Yes, you can optimize your digital content for search engines to help you gain instant audiences. Search engine optimization means that you use keywords and longtail keyword phrases to amplify your Google ranking. For more on that, be sure to check out What Is SEO? The quick trick you can implement today is to plug relevant keywords into your website, blog articles, and e-commerce product descriptions. Use trending hashtags on social media, and clever titles for all your images.
Sure, you want your digital content to reach as many people as possible, but what you really want is for your content to go viral in front of the “right” people. You really need to know who your audience is. Once you do, you’ll be able to speak to them in their language. What will you say? That’s up to you. Just be sure to use great storytelling and highlight the value of the products and services you’re featuring in your posts.
Write less, say more. Have you noticed how everyone’s attention span seems to be getting even shorter? It’s true, which means that your content messages must be short, clear, and concise. People eat up concise content so readily that it’s no surprise that infographics are the most likely digital content to go viral, even more so than video, GIFs, and memes. When creating digital content with concise messages, aim to hit the 4 Es, which are: eye-catching, easy-to-consume, emotional, and engaging.
As we mentioned at the beginning of this blog, there’s no secret formula to use that will guarantee your digital content goes viral. But you can follow the marketing tricks we’ve laid out to increase your chances. You can also reverse-engineer your content by keeping the following in mind as you create it–the main reasons people “share” online content:
Once you’ve created your digital content, focus on strategically releasing it. One of the most important tricks to eventually having one of your posts go viral is simply staying in the game. Figure out what is sustainable and manageable for you in terms of releasing your content. The last thing you want to do is set a bar that’s so high, you can’t keep it up. If posting daily isn’t realistic, then post weekly.
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