Digital TV, Movie Streaming Reaches a Tipping Point

The growth of customers watching TV and movies onlineContent providers experiment to attract more viewers
US digital TV and movie content audiences will grow faster than previously expected due to increased viewing on tablets and smartphones, a wave of internet-enabled TVs, and greater content availability, according to a new eMarketer report, “Digital TV and Movie Streaming: A Rising Tide of Devices, Content and Viewing.”

The number of US digital TV viewers will reach 145.3 million in 2017, up from 106.2 million in 2012, according to eMarketer. The February 2013 figures represent increases ranging from 5.3% to 9.3% more than the corresponding figures in its August 2012 forecast. Digital TV viewers will cross a critical tipping point in 2014, surpassing 50% of the US internet user population. Continue…

Credibility and believable marketing: 9 elements that help

This article brings up a good point about credibility and believable marketing. Even if you know your product is the very best thing since sliced bread, how can you expect your potential customers to believe you? Did they hear about your product from a friend (probably the most trustworthy and perhaps the hardest endorsement to get)? Or are they having to take your word, as the advertiser’s, as true?

Lance Armstrong cheated. Manti Te’o didn’t have a girlfriend. Heck, a Subway footlong isn’t even 12 inches long. Face it — we live in a fairly uncredible age.

Which is, of course, a major challenge for marketers trying to communicate the value of their products.

That’s why, in the MECLABS Value Proposition Development online course, Flint McGlaughlin, Managing Director, MECLABS, teaches about the importance of communicating with credibility.

After all, you can create an extremely appealing and exclusive value proposition. But, if no one believes it, it is essentially worthless.

“If your value statements are not believable, then you have nothing more than an ‘As Seen on TV’ gimmick product,” said Adam Lapp, Associate Director of Optimization and Strategy, MECLABS. “They may work, but you don’t really know until you try. And usually they don’t.”

So, how do you overcome skeptical consumers?

“For your words to be believable, you need to be transparent, specific, and show some proof you are telling the truth,” Adam says.

Let’s look at some proof you can provide …

#1. Testimonials

These can come customers or industry experts, but having people who do not have any skin in the game and will not profit from your product or service talking about how good it is helps your entire offer become much more believable.

#2. Case studies

Richer than a testimonial, this deep dive shows exactly how others have benefited from your product.

#3. Press

Media reports are also a credibility indicator, and are more powerful the more prestigious the news organization is.

#4. Social media

The Web 2.0 of testimonials, they have the benefit of happening in an unsolicited fashion, making them even more believable. Just be careful how you display them. If you’re simply allowing a stream of social media, an overwhelming amount of negative comments could hurt you.

#5. Negative comments

That doesn’t mean you don’t want any negative comments at all. If you are naturally and credibly showing customer feedback, some people won’t like your product. Some people don’t like everything. Even if nine out of 10 dentists recommend Super Spiffy Dental Floss, there’s always that “10th dentist” who doesn’t like it …

Some people complain about your product for legitimate reasons. And then, for others, their favorite team lost the playoffs, they got into an argument with their wife, and then they see your offer and just rip into your product for no good reason.

Either way, treat them transparently and honestly, and you will help improve your company’s credibility in your customers’ eyes.

#6. Reviews

Give your customers a clear way to express what they like about your products (and, per above, what they do not). Not only does this show the value of products from your customers’ peers, but it can help you identify and fix or pull defective products, further increasing your credibility.

Continue to the other elements of credibility in advertising here: Credibility: 9 elements that help make your marketing claims more believable | MarketingExperiments Blog: Research-driven optimization, testing, and marketing ideas.

Logo Designs for Inspiration

Collection of the best logo designs of 2012.

Collection of the best logo designs of 2012.

Designing your company logo, colors, and fonts can be one of the most important branding choices a company makes. This list by Awwwards includes some of the more creative logo designs and fonts I’ve seen in a long time. Using fonts to show what a company provides a customer a quick and creative glance at what a company is all about. So the question is what is your logo design and/or font saying about you?

Achieving a well designed logo requires really hard work and being up to date with the latest trends in design. It’s probably the best way of establishing brand identity, making an impact on customers and ensuring that they’ll remember your site and come back for a second visit. Most logos communicate ideas, for instance the kind of quality services a company can provide for its customers.

Today we’ve gathered 99 creative logo designs for your inspiration, hope you find them useful.

See all the logos here: 99 Creative Logo Designs for Inspiration.

12 Must Haves For Newsletters

What makes a newsletter functional? It’s not just about the content when trying to ensure your clients open your newsletters. In this article published by Social Strand Media, Tracy Sestili, gives us a good list of 12 must-haves for your upcoming newsletter. Does your next newsletter contain all 12?

Email is not dead and nor are newsletters. These days you don’t need to be a professional web designer to send out a newsletter. Most newsletter management systems have WYSIWYG editors with templates and plugins to maximize your reach.

There are however some basic rules to creating a compelling newsletter:

  1. Permission. It’s important that you get permission from people to email them. Having them opt-in to receiving your emails will be better received and your click-thru rate (CTR) much higher. Plus you’ll comply with the CAN SPAM rules.

  2. Segmentation. Send people emails that are pertinent to them. If you are having a fundraiser or event in North Carolina then don’t send a “Save the Date” email to everyone in your list because it’s not relevant to them.

  3. Simple Layout. People don’t like to read paragraphs of text unless they are reading a book or a newspaper. So keep it brief. Use a simple layout (2 columns, 2 rows) and make it ready easily, like a list.

  4. Catchy Subject Line. Make it short (less than 40 characters), avoid control characters (@#$%!*, etc), a catchy headline and keep it simple.

  5. Concise Text Formatting. Use bold, bullet points, short paragraphs, few paragraphs. Consider the medium in which the newsletter is being consumed. (i.e. smartphone, desktop, iPad/tablet, etc)

  6. Image Formatting. Use a mail service that hosts the images on a server rather than in the email. This way their email server won’t block the images from appearing. They will appear when the email is opened automatically.

  7. Don’t use MS Word. MS Word has built-in formatting that when you copy and paste from it into a newsletter template, often times you’ll get hidden carriage returns and unwanted formatting. If you want to type up your text first, then use Notepad. Copying and pasting from Notepad will keep the original formatting.

  8. Utilize plugins. Most email campaign management systems allow you to incorporate social media plugins so that people can tweet, email or share your newsletter online.

  9. Create a newsletter archive. Another thing is always insert the option to “Click to View this in a Browser” so that you can easily copy and paste that link to create an archive of your newsletters on your website (and also use that link to post to social media outlets).

  10. Allow easy opt-out. Most programs offer a one-click option that you can place anywhere in your newsletter. Consider placing it in the footer. Also, include a reminder that they opted-in to this newsletter.

  11. Test. Test. Test. And I mean this. Test the email newsletter on different browsers (Chrome, Safari, IE, FireFox) and test it on different smart phones vs how it appears on a tablet or desktop computer.

  12. Regular Frequency. Like with anything else, by establishing a regular frequency you get people accustomed to seeing your newsletter in their Inbox. Most companies can default to a monthly, bi-monthly or quarterly newsletter. Too few newsletters make people lose interest and forget about you and could potentially cause them to opt-out when they receive your newsletter. Too frequent, can become annoying. So find the right balance.

12 Must Haves For Newsletters – Social Strand Media.

Email Marketing Basics: 4 tactics of the incredible email marketer

So what is the difference between a successful cross media marketing campaign and one that doesn’t produce the results you hope for? In this article Daniel Burstein of MarketingSherpa explores the basics of successful email marketer. Think through these from a user perspective- do you come to the same conclusion of what works?

When I went to the movies over the holidays, I saw the preview for the new Steve Carrell movie — “The Incredible Burt Wonderstone” — about a magician.

Maybe it’s the fact that a good illusionist has to get the audience to opt in to the performance. Or maybe it’s because the trailer featured many scenes in Las Vegas, site of the upcoming Email Summit 2013.

Either way, it got me thinking of some of the key tactics every email marketer should know. So I turned to MarketingSherpa’s Email Marketing Handbook – Second Edition to pull out some basics.

For example, while every magician should know The Best Coin Fold and The Mystery of Princess Karnac, every email marketer should know …

The Reward Delivery

Email is a perfect delivery mechanism for loyalty and check-in rewards, as well as offers in general. For example, Groupon and other daily deal sites always manage to wrangle my email address from me when I buy a coupon.

Once they have said email address and I receive my coupon, more email promotional messages usually follow.

For example, Tanger Outlets used email to send gift vouchers to customers participating in a social media check-in campaign. After six weeks, they received approximately 5,000 opt-ins.

But, is one opt-in enough? …

The Double Opt-In

Many email marketers can get a single opt-in. But can you secure the coveted double opt-in?

This tactic usually consists of sending a confirmation email that must be clicked once you receive an email opt-in (usually through a form fill).

For the novice email marketer, this might seem ridiculous. After all, it’s hard enough to obtain a single opt-in, any additional friction added to the process will likely reduce conversions. Plus, some customers who don’t know what you’re doing might be unnecessarily annoyed.

However, with email deliverability a continual challenge, the double opt-in might be worth considering, to help you maintain a clean, high-quality database of subscribers who really do want to hear from you.

It can also help you catch problems early. For example, Jack Hogan, CTO, LifeScript, found there are more than 500 ways to misspell yahoo.com, including yahoo.ocom and yahoodotcom (no relation to Kim Dotcom). Collecting and categorizing these bounces can help you find salvageable email addresses (the “confirm email address” field can help as well).

With some email service providers requiring double opt-ins, especially those serving small business, you may be practicing this tactic without really even trying.

Once you get the opt-in …

Read entire article here: Email Marketing Basics: 4 tactics of the incredible email marketer | MarketingSherpa Blog.

Email Marketing Timing

Does time really matter? In the case of email marketing, it most definitely does! What time an email lands in your customers’ inbox can drastically effect whether or not that email gets opened, read in full, or your call to action is completed. Think carefully next time you are scheduling an email blast to get the most results from your particular audience.

Open rates can vary by 6-7% based on time of day

One of the biggest questions email marketers I work with often have is:

What’s the best TIME OF DAY and DAY OF THE WEEK to send my emails?

Here is the simple (but very effective) solution we use to solve this question …

First, because every market is different, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer. In some markets, email subscribers tend to consume email content M-F during their lunch hour … In other markets, subscribers read email first thing in the morning.

But, if the name of the game is to MAXIMIZE email open rates and clickthrough rates, sending at the OPTIMAL time of day (and day of week) can have a significant impact.

So, What IS the best TIME OF DAY and DAY OF THE WEEK to send your emails?

In my agency and consulting practice, here’s how we answer this question (and how you can do the same): By split testing.

Here’s what I mean:

If split-testing is a science, then there’s usually an “academic” way of doing things – and the more 80/20 – friendly “pracademic” way of doing things.

Here’s the 80/20 “pracademic” method we use to determine the BEST time of day and day of week to send emails in every market we’re involved in:

Step 1: Upload a broadcast email into your email service provider, and set up a four-way split test to your list. (ESPs like AWeber make this easy to do.)

Step 2: Keep the subject lines and email body copy identical across each variant.

Step 3: Send each split-tested broadcast (all the same email) at different times of the day on the same day. We typically start with a Wednesday, and choose 6:00 AM EST / 12:00 PM EST / 5:00 PM EST / 10:00 PM EST.

Step 4: Track the open rates (and clickthrough rates) for each variant.

Step 5: Whichever variant produces the best Open Rate % / CTR % gives you a good indication on the best time of day to send emails in that particular market.

I’ve found in some markets open rates can vary as much as 6-7%, simply based on WHAT TIME OF DAY the email hits a person’s inbox.

Now, as far as figuring out the best DAY of the WEEK? You follow the same process.

This time you control the “time of day” variable by sending the same broadcast email with the same subject line, at the same time of day (based on your first experiment) at four different days during the week.

We typically send on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday.

Once you’ve run these two experiments, you’ll likely walk away with one of – if not THE – optimal “time of day” and “day of week” combination to send your emails for YOUR market (and more importantly, you’re making the decision intelligently, based on actual, quantifiable data).

– Ryan Levesque, president, LTP Marketing LLC

Continue reading article here: Email Marketing Timing: When is the optimal time to send your next marketing email?

5 Things to Avoid when Branding

As students, branding is something that constantly thought about both in relation to selling ourselves as Graphic Communication majors and when thinking of companies logos and branding packages.

FedEx logo uses negative space to illustrate the company's services in a positive way.

In the article below written by Tara Horner for Design Festival, she explores what elements don’t work in branding and why. And she has some really good points. Make sure you get to the bottom of the article for some serious giggles.

Have you ever found yourself in a brand design project that has taken on a life of its own and you’re just along for the ride? Well I have, and it can be a frustrating experience, especially if your clients or colleagues are passing on obvious opportunities for improvement and overlooking significant mistakes.

In some cases, the client has an old logo that they just want me to “clean up” or “update” — this is rarely as effective as building a completely new brand, and ironically, it’s often harder. In other cases, you have so many hands in the pot and so many ideas rushing around that it’s impossible to get any kind of consensus — this tends to end up with hodge-podge design work that stitches everyone’s different ideas together into a “frankenbrand” monstrosity.

Regardless of how you end up in these overwhelming situations, there are a couple of ways that you can present your concerns in a rational, logical way that business people can understand. I’ve found that it helps to both visually illustrate their mistakes as well as articulate exactly what’s wrong from a business perspective. So, here are some classic issues that I’ve seen crop up consistently in branding and logo design, as well as my methods for leading the client toward a more focused, effective brand.

Continue reading full article here:

5 Shapes, Symbols, and Concepts to Avoid in Your Brand – DesignFestival.

Homepage Optimization- is your site worth testing?

Can a few well thought out changes increase your home page conversion rate? It’s time to test your homepage optimization and see what causes performance changes. Marketing Experiments does a detailed write-up on how this company makes a few changes to their website and in return sees a 400% higher conversion rate.

We only have a split second to grab a visitors attention so the question is: What makes each person decide to stay and read more? Colors, images, layout, words, typography all play a roll in the initial impression. How can we, as designers, make the best choices for our company website to capitalize on these seemingly tiny design decisions?

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Homepage optimization

Homepage Optimization: Further test ideas for a page that converts 4 times higher | MarketingExperiments Blog: Research-driven optimization, testing, and marketing ideas
Live optimization sessions help marketers bridge the gap between customer theory and application. But even after a big lift, the testing (and learning) must continue. Read further to learn more about …

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