November 15, 2017

by: Marcus Varner, Senior Content Marketing Manager at Workfront

The most successful marketers spend 39 percent of their budget on content marketing and 70 percent of marketers say they are creating more content than they have in recent years.

Content marketing is effective and it’s here to stay, even though what it looks like is constantly shifting.

Review and approval is one of the biggest hurdles many marketers face, because it’s a part of the process they don’t have complete control over. From planning to setting goals and assigning tasks, marketers can, for the most part, drive a project through each step.

But, once it’s time for content to be approved, things can slow down and even come to a standstill, jeopardizing campaigns and inhibiting returns on investments. Miranda Barnard, communications director at Sorenson Media, can testify to the dangers of the review and approval process. “If there’s a roadblock involved with the approvals, it can stall the project to the point it’s no longer relevant,” she says.

If this sounds familiar, you’re not alone.

In 2015, Workfront polled Content Marketing World attendees and found that 92 percent confessed to being victims of the review and approval phase. That’s a huge majority, and things likely haven’t changed since then.

Instead of letting your projects get bogged down, use these seven steps to accelerate your review and approval process to speed things up and keep projects on track.

  1. Make a Template

Create and follow a template to establish the structure necessary to avoid roadblocks during review and approval.

A typical template might outline exactly how many days should be spent on pre-review, review round one, revision round one, review round two, revision round two, and distribution.

Keep in mind your template will be based on your company’s specific needs and will likely evolve over time.

  1. Avoid Reviewer/Approver Bloat

Too many businesses operate under the assumption that including more reviewers will increase quality of content. This can lead to including people who are unqualified, un-invested, or unavailable to review content, holding your project back and even causing damage.

Instead, limit the number of reviewers and approvers to those who are qualified, available, and can provide valuable and helpful feedback.

  1. Reduce Rounds

Having too many rounds of reviews usually signals a problem in the process, not the content. Avoid this slowdown by making sure teams have all the details they need before they start content creation so fewer rounds of revision will be needed.

Jonathan Burgoyne, marketing director at NOMATIC, would agree. About his team’s efforts to improve their content creation processes, he says, “We have tried to get folks to think through the entire process by using a creative/project brief. Though not perfect, this has helped get things moving in the right direction.”

  1. Get Commitments on Deadlines

Sometimes reviewers see themselves as casual observers rather than active participants, so they aren’t invested in the content and struggle to make deadlines.

Change this by sitting down with reviewers before you start a project to discuss what the project will entail, help them understand their input is crucial, illustrate the necessity of deadlines, check their availability, and then get them to commit to meeting specific deadlines.

  1. Educate Reviewers/Approvers on Consequences

If reviewers aren’t aware of the consequences of missed deadlines, they won’t feel the sense of urgency that keeps projects moving. Communicate to reviewers how missed deadlines or requested changes will have an impact on the current project, future deadlines, and other goals.

For example, tell reviewers that if they request a specific change to an ebook, it won’t be ready in time for the company’s big trade show.

  1. Enable More Specific, Informed Feedback

You’ve heard it before: “the layout needs to be changed,” “please rewrite this paragraph,” “edit the video to remove the part where she laughs.”

Vague, non-specific feedback isn’t helpful. It slows things down and definitely doesn’t improve the quality of content.

Burgoyne says, “Having to redo work because of poor communication is de-motivating to the team. And the project typically turns into, ‘Let’s just do what we need to to get so-and-so off our backs,’ instead of, ‘Let’s create something amazing.’”

Help reviewers give better feedback by providing context for content and making sure they have the tools they need, like a work management platform and a digital proofing solution.

  1. Perform a Post-Mortem

Take some time after each project to diagnose what worked, what didn’t, and what actions you can take to improve your next project. Included in this discussion should be an assessment of your review and approval process.

It’s easy to keep moving on to the next project without ever improving the way we work, which quickly becomes a recipe for mediocrity and chronic underperformance. Take the time for a post-mortem, and you’ll be surprised how, over time, many of the problems within your content creation process begin to vanish.

With these seven tips, you will find many of the roadblocks you used to face are no longer issues and your content creation is streamlined, efficient, and capable of supporting an overall marketing strategy.

About Workfront

Workfront is a cloud-based Enterprise Work Management solution that helps marketing, IT and other enterprise teams conquer the chaos of excessive email, redundant status meetings and disconnected tools. Unlike other tools, Workfront Enterprise Work Cloud is a centralized, easy-to-adopt solution for managing and collaborating on all types of work through the entire work lifecycle, which improves team productivity and executive visibility. Workfront is trusted by thousands of global enterprises, like, Cisco Systems, Comcast, iProspect, Schneider Electric and Trek. To learn more, visit or follow us on Twitter @Workfront

October 9, 2017

By Jerelle Gainey on October 6th, 2017

What happened?

Today, the default setting of all Safari browsers is to block third-party cookies that are dropped by domains other than the domain of the URL to which the user browsed. However, when a user clicks on an ad, the cookie dropped is treated as a first-party cookie. This is because a click gets routed through the ad network domain and therefore is treated as a first-party cookie.

iOS 11 will change the concept of a first-party cookie. Intelligent Tracking Prevention (ITP) puts restrictions on whether advertisers can continue to read or update first-party cookies when the user is not directly on the business’s site. In other words, it affects whether a company can access first-party cookies in a third-party context. In the first 24 hours, the cookie acts exactly like it used to – and can be used for retargeting and conversion tracking. So, if you click on ad, you can be retargeted and your conversions tracked for exactly 24 hours. For the next 30 days, the cookie lets you login on-site, but cannot be used for retargeting or conversion tracking. After 30 days, the cookie is purged from the browser.

Why is Apple doing this?

A blog post by Apple WebKit security engineer John Wilander explains that ITP builds on Safari’s existing default blocking of third-party cookies and “reduces cross-site tracking by further limiting cookies and other website data.” ITP is aimed largely at limiting pervasive (according to Apple) retargeting practices rather than disrupting advertisers’ ability to track ad campaign performance.

Apple’s new technology tightens Safari’s restrictions on the management of third-party cookies. It does not block ads online but does prematurely delete third-party cookies for advertising retargeting and measurement, and so it obstructs conversion attribution, as well as the recording of user behavioral histories (i.e., it blocks the formation of cookie-based audiences).

How will this impact digital measurement?

This change impacts mobile Safari (some sources state over 50% market share) and desktop Safari (around 10% market share) in the U.S.

We’re currently monitoring the actual impact of this development very closely, but below are some common expectations by various advertising organizations:

  • This will affect most ad buying platforms
  • Retargeting ability will be limited to 24 hours post first-party interaction with the browser
  • The cost of impressions on Safari will drop, while the cost on other browsers will increase
  • There will be a net loss of conversions so CPAs could increase
  • Walled gardens will not be affected as they are dropping first-party cookies on users frequently
  • Organizations and tools that use cookie-less measurement will not be impacted as much, as they typically derive insights from other attributes and user behaviors
  • Solutions that use first- party cookies in first-party context, such as Google Analytics, will not be impacted
  • Platforms leveraging cross-device graphs will mitigate the impact of this development.
  • Google has implemented a solution to maintain measurement in Google Adwords by connecting Google Analytics to your Adwords account
  • Google will use modeling based on historical conversion activity to record conversions from Safari in AdWords if you do not connect your Google Analytics account to Adwords
  • DoubleClick Search will begin using statistical modeling to estimate website conversions that could not be measured from Safari, and include them in your DoubleClick Search reporting

All BKV media teams are currently monitoring this change very closely and will make the necessary adjustments to campaigns to mitigate the impact of this change. Want to learn more? CONTACT OUR EXPERTS.

August 23, 2017

51.9% of marketing professionals worldwide name video as the type of content with the best ROI, according to Adobe. But in order to maximize that ROI, it’s important to keep your video project on budget. With a lot of moving parts, video can sometimes be an intimidating project to manage. However, there are four easy and actionable best practices to keep in mind in order to make sure your video production stays on track and gives you the best results.

Understand The Goal For Your Video

The first key idea to understand in managing your video production budget is that the scope of work is the most important factor in determining the price of your video. Therefore, before you even approach production companies or your internal video manager about your video, you must understand what you want to achieve.

To understand your goals, ask yourself these questions:

  1. What is my key takeaway message/messages?
  2. Where will my video be distributed?
  3. Who is my audience?
  4. What metrics will determine my success?
  5. Are there any ideal visuals or audio that must be included for branding purposes?

Once you are able to answer these questions, you and your video team will be able to work together to determine the ideal length of your video (longer videos are typically more expensive) and the exact strategies that will best suit your messages. With these clear expectations of your scope of work, you will save time and money.

Finding the Right Production Techniques to Match Your Budget

If you are working with an experienced video production team, you will have a lot of choices when it comes to the production techniques that will make your video stand out from your competition. Some of these techniques come at a cost, so with that in mind, you and your production partner will need to invest in the right styles to make the impression on your audience that you’re looking for.

For example, any sort of smooth motion in the video’s frame is made with a piece of equipment like a jib or dolly. In the video below for the Urban Land Institute, sweeping views contrast with fast-paced whip pans to highlight the immense impact Dr. Cheong Koon had on Singapore’s Urban Plan. These techniques work really well to emphasize the goal of ULI’s video, but it was a conscious choice to make an investment in moving frames. Read the full video production case study here.

Purely Motion Graphic videos tend to have less overhead than on-site productions, and can be a cost-effective way to create an entirely new environment to express your message. With a scripted voiceover and visuals that tightly match your message, they are a great option to create a cohesive video that stays completely on target. In motion graphics, you can also swap out a voiceover and make minor adjustments to the animation to create a new but similar video customized to each of your different markets – saving you time and money later. Blackboard did this with the video below; it was made in several languages for each country their campaign spanned across. Read the full video production case study here.


Hammer Out Production Logistics before your Production Day

Be sure to figure out logistical details prior to production day, not during. This will make a big difference in the long run, allowing for a smooth day of shooting to go as planned. Schedule your interviews all on the same day and condense your production schedule wherever possible. It’s best to interview individuals back-to-back instead of taking long breaks between each. This avoids wasting time to break down equipment just to set it back up later.

That being said, don’t overbook your team. You want to get the best bang for your buck by finding that perfect balance of planning for the time budgeted for. If you schedule too many responsibilities in one day, the team is likely to feel rushed to complete everything and hectic actions may produce less than stellar results. Flaws during production can lead to more work and greater expenses later. Learn from past experiences in regards to timing to figure out what works for you—what your team excels at, struggles with, as well as tasks that require more time to accomplish.

Choose and test all filming locations beforehand. By sending an informed location scout prior to the production day to check out your setting, you will limit distractions and issues such as audio problems by planning ahead. Ask important questions like “how will it sound?” and “will there be privacy?” to get the full picture.

Carefully consider and prepare people who will be in the video, especially those being interviewed. It is vital that people react well when the film is rolling to avoid extended production days or labor in post-production to account for hard-to-fix problems. Choose the right individuals who are comfortable with being filmed and give media training beforehand. Without preparation, elements like nervousness or a stutter can hinder progress while filming. This may extend interviews and push others back, creating more work and a longer production day.

Although you want everyone to be prepared, never give your talent the questions beforehand. By encouraging off-the-cuff answers, you create credible authenticity in your video. Interviewees are more likely to struggle to remember answers they have prepared as opposed to just talking openly on the spot. Allow for unique personalities and feelings to shine through and let your talent speak. You can always edit out pieces that don’t fit later in post-production.

Giving Feedback and Involving Decision Makers

Many people may have a stake in your video production. Although it can be great to collaborate with others,this can create a challenge as multiple revisions and phases may be added to the production process in order to accommodate everyone’s point of view.

To avoid this, dedicate one member of your team to confer with your video partner. That way, there is no confusion on who’s direction to follow. That person should be skilled at synthesizing ideas and distilling them down to the essentials, as well as making compromises between the visions of many coworkers.

On the other hand, no one’s ideas should be discounted. In fact, according to the University of Ottowa, 33% of projects fail because senior management was not involved. That’s why this point of contact must share the video with their committee at each phase of production, especially during the post-production rough cut phase. While a rough cut is not a finished video, it is the point where changes can be easily addressed. If your VP of Marketing doesn’t see your video until the fine cut and wants to make major adjustments, it may come at an extra price. This budget increase can be easily avoided by getting approval before the work progresses to a final draft.

In the end, your video production team should feel like your partner. If you and your video crew can keep communication about goals and feedback clear, identify the best techniques, minimize issues on production day, and seek feedback from key decision makers, you won’t have any trouble sticking to your budget. The result? Greater ROI. And what does that mean? A bigger budget for next time!


A leading voice in digital video content, Tod Plotkin is Principal and Founder of Green Buzz Agency, where he oversees video content creation for iconic advertising campaigns, including Ad Council’s #1 Campaign: Love Has No Labels. Additionally, His agency created the most viewed/shared branded video on Facebook in November 2016 for Cricket Wireless + Upworthy. Tod is (2x) Emmy winner for best short format program and a (2x) Webby Honoree.

July 1, 2017

from: Rocket Fuel

Rocket Fuel, Inc., a leading demand-side platform in advertising technology, is a Leader in Forrester’s independent research report, “The Forrester Wave™: Omnichannel Demand-Side Platforms, Q2 2017.”

2017-forrester-dsp-report.pngThe report, subtitled, “People-Based Data, New Paths To Inventory, And Even More Transparency Drive Innovation Amidst Consolidation” assessed top platforms in the space, and further outlined how Rocket Fuel is enabling artificial intelligence (AI) to self-service users at scale: “Rocket Fuel’s future is self-service and bringing AI to marketers.”

Vendors in the report were evaluated based on various, deep criteria across three main categories: Current Offering, Strategy, and Market Presence. Additionally,  Rocket Fuel believes it stands out with its strength in expanding the implications of AI, and driving continuous value for users.  The report notes “Rocket Fuel sees the investment in AI and ML approaches evolving to bring AI-as-a-service to its clients in the future.”

Download to learn more!

May 3, 2017

by Alice Oh, Content Marketing Specialist at MP Modern, Division of MarketPro

In a highly digitized world, how do brands cut through the noise and set themselves apart from the competition? As technology penetrates nearly every aspect of how brands and consumers connect and interact, it’s important for brands to focus on satisfying consumers’ needs by delivering a valuable user experience (UX).

New marketing technologies give marketers access to a pool of resources that can be employed to enhance UX like never before. Sure your website looks pretty, but what’s the point if it doesn’t serve any real value to your users? Optimize your UX by following the tips below and you will see key points of measurement like SEO, conversion, and lead generation significantly improve.

  1. Know Your Customer

First things first, understanding your consumers and what they’re looking for is essential in creating excellent UX. If your site doesn’t serve the needs of your users, it’s essentially pointless.

Understand who your customer is and what they’re looking for. Tools like Google Analytics can help provide insights into your customers. Use information extracted from this data to thoroughly understand the customer journey and how your site effectively serves the different stages.

Create an enjoyable browsing experience your users will come back to by focusing on their needs. Recognizing the customer journey and being able to relieve any pain points the user might encounter while on your site are key in designing optimal UX. Always remember to build every component of your marketing strategy with your consumers in mind.

  1. A Well-Thought Out Website Design

The initial impression users get when they first visit your site will be a lasting one. It will determine if they choose to stay or bounce, and possibly never come back.

Sure, your website traffic may be high but it means nothing if your bounce rate is too. Combat this by optimizing your site’s landing pages. This entails equipping your site with pages that are easy to navigate and have quick loading time.

If your pages take too long to load, people will leave. They don’t have the patience and are certainly not willing to wait when they can go seek information from an alternative source.

Keep your website simple and accessible. Don’t overwhelm your consumers to the point where it drives them away. Stay consistent with your design throughout your site! A well-designed website lays the solid foundation for your brand’s digital presence, and is essentially your digital home base.


  1. Optimize for Mobile

The use of mobile is now commonplace, as more people browse the web on their mobile devices than computers. With over 4 billion mobile phone users, it’s imperative to equip your site with mobile-apt capabilities. Not doing so will severely hinder your KPIs like SEO and conversion.

We’re diving heads-first into a mobile-first world, so it’s necessary to optimize UX by adopting an omni-channel perspective. By creating a seamless experience across all channels, you make the customer experience and journey as smooth as possible – something that will ultimately drive your bottom-line.

  1. Content Reigns

Along with a well-designed site, content is the other half that builds a solid foundation for your digital presence. Without good content, your site serves no real value to your users.

Build your credibility up by blogging and creating engaging content. One of the most compelling forms of content is infographics and video. Video is the most engaging type of visual content and can increase conversion by 80%!

Focus on user intent and relevant topics to create quality content and drive on-page optimization – content is king when it serves the user best.

Content is the most forceful factor in driving a superb user experience. You can have a well-designed site armed with quick loading time but without substantial content, it’s virtually meaningless.

  1. Don’t Intrude

The worst way to turn a customer or lead off is by placing all sorts of spammy content like pop-up ads on your site. Instead, evaluate ways you can subliminally promote your products or services and drive conversion, such as placing recommended items on the side of your page based on their search history. This is a tactic to drive sales, but not too obvious.

Don’t be aggressive – let your users have a choice of whether they want to add that extra item in their cart or not. No one likes to be bombarded with sales promotions and advertisements. Don’t disrupt the customer journey or intrude their user experience. You want to create a seamless, enjoyable experience that will make them come back.

Parting Words

Take a holistic approach when leveraging all your resources to create an optimal user experience. Being able to deliver an unforgettable experience can be the differentiating factor between your brand and your competitor. Set yourself apart from the competition in the heavily penetrated world of marketing.

Delivering a superior user experience is no longer an option. Ramp up the customer journey and UX by following these fundamental tips and enlisting the help of an experienced digital agency! While I can’t promise you guaranteed results, I can assure you that your bottom-line will significantly improve over time.

March 15, 2017

By Ashley Reed, Social Media Director at BKV

In late January, Instagram introduced live videos as part of its Stories feature. This move comes as little surprise, given that parent company Facebook has helped propel the trend toward live video streaming. This move by Instagram meshes the live video trend with the quick-hitting presentation and disappearing act popularized by Snapchat.

The following is a look at the basics of the Instagram live video feature and some ideas on how your brand can leverage this opportunity for enhanced social media marketing.

Basic Live Video Features

The Instagram live video feature is part of a platform of tools the company calls Instagram direct. You can record live videos for up to 60 seconds to connect with users or to deliver targeted messages to followers. After the video ends, it disappears from the app. If your messages offer real value to your followers, this process helps drive interest and scarcity motivation for your messages.

More Details on Instagram Live Video

You can go live at any point by selecting “Start Live Video” on your camera after swiping right from your feed. After you select this option, you have a 3-second countdown before the recording actually begins. If you want to target particular users while leaving some out, you can identify specific people you don’t want to see the video.

As part of video engagement, you have significant control over comments, including whether to keep them on and to “Pin” your favorite messages. You can also preset your comments’ preferences to prevent messages with particular words and phrases from making it into the conversation during your video. This ability helps combat negative or crude messages from distracting from your video.

How to Leverage Instagram Live

Snapchat has done a great job establishing a tool that allows users to interact authentically. This approach has created opportunities for marketers to brand these interactions with influencers and filters. Instagram is attempting to enhance its engagement and connections for the same purpose.

The only limitation for brands is their level of creativity. You could have influencers at industry events or in other particular settings go live to show off their experiences. Promote this planned event on your social channels.

Show off behind-the-scenes happenings at your company or in the field to tease new product launches or exciting activities. Invite users to post live videos documenting their experiences with your products. You could even hold competitions for the best videos.

digital advertising, marketing, social media


With Instagram live video, you can leverage authentic interactions on a popular social media platform to promote your brand. Build a fan following and utilize influencers to help spread the word.

As a top social media agency, BKV can help your company take advantage of Instagram live video and other popular social media tools. Contact us to discuss how!

February 18, 2017



Personalization in ad messaging is one of the most important trends in marketing in 2017. Therefore, to optimize your advertising and direct marketing investments, your business must deliver personalized ads that resonate with the intended target market.

The following is a look at several strategies to help you improve the level of personalization in your advertising efforts.

Know Thy Audience

The only way to optimize ad personalization is to target your messages to the right audience. In 2017, top marketers develop detailed buyer personas that represent the ideal customer profile for each brand or solution they sell.

Deep data dives allow you to build clear pictures of your target based on existing customer behaviors. Generate reports through CRM and analytics tools that tell you the traits and behaviors of your most profitable customers for a given solution. Figure out what these people have in common, and build your customer profile around the most critical shared traits or values.

Segment Your Segments

Another benefit of data-driven targeting is the ability to get more precise with market segmentation. You can get more refined in your segments knowing that digital strategies allow greater affordability and flexibility to tailor messages to distinct segments.

In your online campaigns, use filters to deliver your ads to people based on demographic and behavioral data. Create images and video ads with characters and stories that resonate with distinct groups of customers. The more your segment relates to the message, the greater the ability to connect with your brand’s story.

Integrate Social Media

Few communication platforms offer greater opportunities to personalize your message than social media, and all major social channels, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest, have significant paid ad opportunities. Each of these tools has a large audience that relies on text, image and video content to share ideas and feelings and to connect with other users.

Your brand can obviously leverage social personalization organically. However, paid posts allow you to expand your reach and to pinpoint messages to filtered audiences. Snapchat filters are an authentic opportunity to get your brand in front of a young audience. Amp up the impact by including your background image or design on personal photos.

Align with Passions

Certain markets have customers with shared passions or interests. Millennials, for instance, tend to have heightened passion for social justice and environmental causes. Including these causes or relevant themes in your messages can earn you favor with buyers of this generation.

Depicting family values or settings, like with a backyard barbecue scene, could resonate with young parents who prioritize family life. Including these lifestyle interests with your brands embedded in the story can have a powerful effect.

digital advertising, personalization,


Personalized ads affect the emotions and behaviors of customers more than general message strategies. To personalize your ads, balance thorough data-driven research to put together precise customer profiles and segmented messages. Leverage communication channels like social media that are structured for personalized message delivery. Align your brand with passions important to typical buyers.

BKV can help your company enhance personalization in advertising. Contact us now to get started!


February 7, 2017

By: Alice Youna Oh – Georgia State University ’17

The Internet of Things (IoT) is a hot topic across all businesses and industries alike.  IoT refers to the connectivity between the Internet and everyday objects that impact our daily lives and includes any internet-connected device that can be controlled from a remote location.  The increasing connectivity of people and technology paves the way for the growth of IoT.

When it comes to promoting products and services while regarding the potential of IoT, it’s ultimately the marketer’s responsibility to spread knowledge of their products so consumers can understand their full capabilities. It’s important that digital marketers use the rise of IoT as an opportunity to reinvent marketing strategies.

While the implementation of IoT is on a significant rise, the capacity of IoT technology is hard for some to fully understand. Consumers have heard of this concept before but many are skeptical of investing in IoT products and services due to various factors such as high cost and a lack of need. This is where valuable marketing comes into play.

The Internet of Things Today and How It Affects Marketing

“More connectivity leads to more data, leads to smarter data, leads to more relevant campaigns, leads to more customer engagement” (Marketo).

According to Neil Patel, we don’t just “access” the Internet anymore – it’s ingrained in almost every part of our daily lives.

So how does IoT affect marketing? “It operates as an automated entity that can carry out functions that reflect and affect the physical world. We conduct business, live our lives, and dictate our affairs in its presence and based on its rules.”

It’s predicted that there will be more than 13 billion IoT devices by 2020 – that’s more than today’s world population! The essence of IoT is data and as data continues to grow, the relationship between consumer and brand deepens. The amount of information through IoT is limitless! The surge of information overload has led to more sophisticated marketing methods, such as sending out personalized e-mails or retargeting a customer after abandoning their cart.

Marketers need to utilize the power of data and information to better uncover consumer preferences and serve their needs. By doing so successfully, businesses can drive efficiency and other measurable metrics. It’s important for marketers to realize how IoT poses great opportunities for brands to market their products and services in an innovative way.

Using IoT to Propel Your Marketing Efforts

Now that you know what IoT entails and how it’s changing the world of marketing, here are a few steps you can take to approach your marketing strategy with it in mind.

  1. Spread the knowledge

First things first. It’s essential to understand how IoT works and its full capabilities before crafting your marketing strategy. Learn everything there is about IoT and how it empowers your brand’s products and services. Spread your knowledge to educate your team and consumers!

  1. Tailor your marketing

Ensure that you’re directing your marketing strategy toward a specific target market by tailoring your campaign to fit your target consumer. Use customer data to reach your intended consumer at the right time and through the right channel.

Artificial intelligence and machine learning software crawl the web to learn and discover patterns. Browsing behavior is like a digital footprint and can be used to tailor search results and suggestions that appeal to users and their specific needs. Utilize this type of data to identify your intended target market and to effectively push your goods and services.

  1. Deliver value

The transformation of digital and the rise of IoT lead to the increase in consumer expectations. Today, every brand has to be on their toes and stay agile to keep up with their consumers’ ever- changing needs.

Let’s face it – humans (at least most) are lazy. If they can take a short cut to get something, they certainly will. Customers know they can place an order at a restaurant in the comfort of their own home and have it ready for pick at their convenience. If your brand isn’t able to deliver value and meet on-demand expectations, you’re falling behind.


“When the devices around our person – including our smart watches, smart homes, and smart cars – begin to transmit data to and from one another, we will have entered into what the Marketing Journal heralds as ‘the Fourth Industrial Revolution’” (IoT Revolution).

IoT affects the scope of marketing in many ways such as driving consumer expectations, driving engagement, and introducing channels through which brands can market their product. These all in turn affect important measurable KPIs such as conversion rate and SEO.

July 30, 2016

by Alex Membrillo, CEO, Cardinal Web Solutions

“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” – Benjamin Franklin
Just two short years ago, Facebook users around the world were up in arms that CEO Mark Zuckerberg would have the audacity to force people to download an entirely separate app to message with their friends and family.

“What’s the point?” many asked.

In 2016, I think we’re all beginning to see the point. Brands have begun to use Messenger – coupled with chatbots – to connect with their audiences on a far more personal, and targeted, level than ever before.

Those marketers who had the foresight to see this trend coming are now leading the charge, reshaping how businesses converse with their audiences and stealing market share from their competitors.

Isn’t it your time to do the same in 2017?

Building a marketing strategy for the upcoming year requires you to be equal parts Nostradamus and Weathervane: You have to be able to make some predictions while gauging which way the wind’s blowing. But predicting the trends to hit the marketing world in 2017 isn’t as daunting a task as one would think. The signs are out there. You just need to know where to look.

Integration is the buzz word

A few years ago, the terms chief content officer and social media manager didn’t exist. Now résumés and LinkedIn profiles are littered with these titles.

In some ways, this is great; it shows that the world of marketing can adapt to consumer behavior, expectations, and the technological tools that have disrupted the human race.
But in other ways, these additional titles have stalled the progress of a marketer’s goal: to deliver the best possible customer experience.

Take, for example, the title digital strategist.

A digital strategist is the guru of your digital marketing campaigns. If it’s on Google, Facebook or a mobile device, your digital strategist is on top of it.

The problem is, by establishing a “digital” role on your marketing team, you’re creating walls that stifle collaboration and communication. Sure, digital is an important part of your marketing strategy. But it’s time to think past the digital era and move toward (and, essentially, revert back to) the blanket term of marketing. Be it a newspaper, TV commercial, social media or your website, each of these channels serves as an opportunity to connect with your audiences.

Start breaking down your silos before 2017 and you’ll be in a better position to adapt to consumer behavior because, I can promise you, the hottest trends of today (Pokémon Go, for example) won’t be here for long.

It’s time to accept the role of the podcast

So much talk these days is around video, and for good reason. A stat by Video Explainers in 2015 revealed that 63% of senior executives visited a vendor’s site after viewing a video.

Videos tap into the emotional side of your audience; but, they can be costly (and a pain) to make.

About a decade ago, podcasts were thought to be the next big thing. And while that never panned out, it’s not like podcasting’s gone away. In fact, you should be looking at this channel for your 2017 marketing plan because few people are talking about its impact.

From a content creator’s standpoint, podcasting is far simpler to produce than a video, particularly if you’re looking to create an ongoing series. Whereas videos are effective as one-off pieces that pack the potential to go viral, podcasting gives you the opportunity to establish yourself as an influencer while building a following or loyal listeners.

From a user’s standpoint, podcasting remains the only medium where folks can multitask while still consuming your content.

No one’s watching a video while jogging down the street. I can’t name a single person in the history of time who simultaneously read an article from their phone while gardening.

Your audience is overbooked with things to do. They can’t dedicate enough time to brush their teeth, let alone consume your content. Podcasting gives them the ability to check-off their to-do lists while listening to your pearls of wisdom.

Ah, but here’s the kicker (and a good rule of thumb for all your content in 2017 and beyond): you can’t just create a podcast made up of useless information and hope to build an audience.

Podcasts are about the story. The Serial podcast was a huge success because of the way the story was told, over a series of episodes.

NPRs podcasts, like Fresh Air, are popular because they engage the audience.

Your brand can do the same. Don’t think of your podcast as a good channel to overtly push your product or service. Rather, find ways to tell stories of people, places, and things that fall in line with your messaging.

Start building out your physical web plan

As soon as consumers started being able to watch TV on their own terms (through DVRs and Netflix), the balance of power shifted. No longer do brands dictate conversations. No longer can a business be in charge of how, when, or why information is released.

Consumers hold all the power, and they know this.

That’s why so many consumers respond negatively to traditional forms of marketing. They don’t want over-the-top sales pushes that they didn’t ask for.

They want engagement.

The physical web falls in line with the modern-day consumer mindset.

The physical web relies on the use of beacons, but unlike how beacons are currently used, the physical web doesn’t push notifications to a consumer’s mobile device.

Instead, it allows consumers to see a list of URLs being broadcast in their immediate environment (be it a parking meter, store, poster). That consumer can then choose to access the URLs the he or she deems most relevant or engaging at the moment. With the physical web, brands no longer have to disrupt their audiences with potentially unwarranted notifications. Rather, it gives consumers the control they demand.

Brush up on your landing page skills

It’s no secret that the folks at Facebook want to essentially kill the web. They want to make it possible for users to access everything they need online, without ever leaving their platform.

I don’t see that happening anytime soon; but I do see consumers performing less and less deep site browsing.

A lot of this has to do with the influx of mobile devices, and the onslaught of apps (although I predict serious app burnout over the next year or two, which is yet another reason to start planning for the physical web).

Consumers don’t want to be forced to navigate through pages of your site, no matter how nicely that site might be designed.

That’s why you have to make sure you’ve mastered your landing page game. So, what’s that mean?

A/B testing on everything. There are so many services out there now that make it easy for you to A/B test your pages. Use them! From headlines to button colors, to font choice and more, there is no shortage of landing page elements you can test.
Personalization. Personalization. Personalization. If you’ve broken your audiences up into segments based on location, job title, and income, then you’ve only scratched the surface. In 2017, harness the massive amounts of data you can mine through your social ad campaigns and more. Segment your audiences based on micro-moment behaviors, and then target them with relevant ads that lead them to personalized landing pages. The technology is out there. Your landing pages should make your readers gasp, as if to say, was this written specifically for me?
Expanding your paid campaigns. Your landing pages won’t do much good if you’re not promoting them through campaigns. Take a good, long, hard look at where your audiences spend their time. I don’t want to break it to you, but it’s my job to: most people spend a ton of their time on their smartphones and, specifically, social media. Stop procrastinating and coming up with reasons why social isn’t worth the investment. It is. I promise.

Make 2017 the best year your business has ever seen – get back to marketing basics

Like you, I’ve heard it all before:

• Email is dead
• SEO is dead
• Social media isn’t worth investing in

It’s easy to get caught up in buzzwords and industry jargon; but if you want to hit a grand slam in 2017, it’s time to put aside those acronyms and focus on marketing as a whole.

Your goal is simple: target the right message, at the right time, to the right people. Whether that’s on social media, through email, or from the side of a bus all depends on your specific industry and goals.

More importantly is to understand that trends come and go, but the message of marketing remains the same: deliver the best possible customer experience.

About the Author

Alex Membrillo is the CEO of Cardinal Web Solutions, an award winning digital marketing agency based in Atlanta, GA. Named Technology Association of Georgia (TAG)’s 2015 Digital Marketer of the Year, his innovative approach to digital marketing has transformed the industry and delivered remarkable results to clients of all sizes and markets. Cardinal has been 3-time consecutively named on Inc. 5000 list of fastest growing privately-held US companies. Visit to find out more about Cardinal Web Solutions. Follow him on Twitter @Alex_Membrillo

July 30, 2016

by Alex Membrillo, CEO, Cardinal Web Solutions

Want to boggle your mind and impress your friends? Share with them this factoid:

More than 1 million pieces of content are shared on Facebook every minute, and the average user misses 70% of the feed. That doesn’t sound promising for your Facebook marketing strategy, does it?

Twitter, on the other hand, still retains its chronological newsfeed, which users think they like, but makes it nearly impossible for brands to reach their audiences.

At least, organically.

This isn’t just a downward trend – where organic social strategies are getting overshadowed due to sheer volume of content.

It’s a paradigm shift.

Now I’m not Chicken Little here, running around screaming that Organic Social Media is Dead! Organic Social Media is Dead!

I’m a bit less hyperbolic: organic social media isn’t dead. It’s just not as impactful today as paid social media is. If you want to get seen and noticed on platforms like Facebook, you have to be willing to invest.

I can hear the collective groans of budget-strapped organizations. Do we really have to start spending on social media? Is it really worth it?

Allow me to answer your questions: Yes.
And yes.

By next year, social media ad spend is slated to surpass $41 billion, meaning your competitors are investing in Facebook and the like. Their investments are robbing you of screen time with your audiences.

I know what you’re thinking now: Sure, but just because my competitors are doing something doesn’t mean I should.

True. Going against the grain is a fundamental precursor for disrupting the marketplace. But during Facebook’s Q1 2016 earnings call, CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced that users are spending more than 50 minutes each day across its apps.

If you subscribe to the adage go where your customers are, then doesn’t it make sense to invest in social media?

Don’t worry, you can still follow the herd – so to speak – by accepting that an organic approach can no longer drive your social strategy – while still going against the grain.

Let me show you how.

Get personal – target your posts to your audience

Email marketing continues to provide one of the most successful returns on investment for marketers. Why?


You can target your emails to audiences based on actions (or inaction), demographics, job title and more. When you segment readers into various lists, you can tailor your messages to speak to that audience.

The same goes for paid social media.

Let’s examine this by comparing an organic post vs. a paid post on Facebook.

Let’s say your business has a Facebook audience of 5,000 people. These 5,000 people could have “liked” your page for any number of reasons, including:

• A campaign you created
• A link on your website
• A blog post you published on a 3rd-party site
• From a related page they found on Facebook
• Because you convinced your friends and family to like the page (admit it)

Now let’s say that you publish a post promoting a sale that’s specific to a certain population of prospective customers. Great! Except, how many of those 5,000 followers actually fit the mold?
When you post organic content on Facebook, you have little control over who sees it, meaning your efforts could fall upon irrelevant ears (not to mention an organic post is confined to just your followers). With a paid strategy, you’re opening your post up to the entire Facebook community.

Of course, targeting an entire global community isn’t an effective marketing plan, which is why you can narrow down your audience (essentially creating little list segments) by choosing from a massive database of potential determinants (want to get your post in front of folks who just bought a car, moved, or got married? Great, you can! Facebook knows all.). This allows you to place your promotion directly into the news feeds of the people you want to see it and who are most likely to jump into action.

Retargeting – create a conversion funnel based on action

Personalization is the key to your social success, and remarketing to folks who’ve interacted with your content help you get downright personal.

Retargeting, which is only available through paid social strategies, allows you to target users with the most relevant possible content.

For example, let’s say you create a paid post promoting a How-to article you wrote on growing tomatoes in your backyard. Using the analytics made available through Facebook’s ad manager, you can target the users who read that article by promoting a new ad, pushing an eBook: The Complete Guide to Transforming Your Backyard into a Garden Paradise.

You’ve now just pushed your readers further down the conversion funnel.

Paid social media gives you tremendous insight into the actions your audience takes, so that you can remarket to them with not only relevant content, but content designed to get them closer to a conversion.

You know how to get personal. Now you have to get creative

At the core of a good paid campaign is the ability to personalize your message. But just because you think you’ve tailored your message to your narrowed audience, doesn’t mean you’ve actually succeeded.

I’m reminded of an article by Erin Sagin at WordStream, where she highlights 8 Super Creative, Crazy Effective Display Ad Ideas.

While the focus is on display ads, the message is translatable to social.

Within her article, Sagin shares two ad examples from one of WordStream’s clients. The first ad shows a stock-photo image of a generic female doctor, with the headline:

Healthy Weight Loss Solutions from Medical Professionals.

Not very personal, and not very effective.

The WordStream team decided to target a male-only audience for the revamped campaign. Smaller population, but the ability to get personal. They replaced the generic doctor with the unsightly profile of a bare, protruding male belly. This time, their headline read:

Size Does Matter.

The latter ad yielded a 47% higher CTR than the original ad. In other words, now that you know how to target a narrowed audience, make sure you deliver with your messaging.

Use the tools social platforms give you
When it comes to creativity, also consider the tools at your disposal. Both Instagram and Facebook give marketers the ability to use carousel ads to promote their goods and services.

Use these tools to their full capacity, the way Tieks by Gavrieli has. For example, let’s say you only sell one product (as Tieks does). You might not think the carousel format works for you.

Try again.

Tieks used the multiple-image layout to highlight their only product – women’s flats. Each tile card focuses on, and highlights, a different feature of the shoe. Not only that, but the company’s use of a woman’s hand (which appears to be dragging her fingers to zoom in to the shoe’s image) encourages readers to do the same.

Brilliance and worth checking out.

Try not to forget about storytelling

Whether it’s on a billboard, in a magazine, on a webpage, or on social media. I find myself inundated with advertisements that lack creativity and fail to engage.

The very notion of social media is about storytelling, conversation, and engagement. Just because you’re putting dollars behind your messaging doesn’t mean you should sacrifice the story.

With the tools and data that platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter now offer to marketers, there’s no reason why you can’t develop a highly targeted ad, that reaches a highly motivated audience, and captures their attention. But, you’re going to have to pay to play.

About the Author

Alex Membrillo is the CEO of Cardinal Web Solutions, an award winning multi-local digital marketing agency based in Atlanta, GA. Named Technology Association of Georgia (TAG)’s 2015 Digital Marketer of the Year, his innovative approach to digital marketing has transformed the industry and delivered remarkable results to clients of all sizes and markets. Cardinal has been 3-time consecutively named on Inc. 5000 list of fastest growing privately-held US companies. Visit to find out more about Cardinal Web Solutions. Follow him on Twitter @Alex_Membrillo

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