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Basics for Your Travel Social Media Strategy

According to a recent study by Sprout Social, travelers are turning to social media to influence them more than ever before. In fact, only 48% of those that used social media to research travel followed through with their original plans.

Blog-BasicsTravelSocial1 Basics for Your Travel Social Media Strategy

As a destination, you certainly rely heavily on word-of-mouth marketing, so this is a trend that you simply can’t ignore. What are you doing to take advantage of these trends? At Advance 360, we recommend a few places to begin.

Develop Goals

Without a headline, call to action, or supporting text, an ad is just a pretty picture. Any ad unit you craft must have a goal and a purpose before it’s created. If you seek an increase of 1.75% in revenue over the next quarter, draft advertising units for the social spaces that push your customers or visitors toward that goal. Or if you rather change the makeup of the visitors to your property, seeking to expand your footprint to new geographies? Social media’s audience targeting can help with that, too.

Craft Something Beyond the Click

It isn’t enough to have a great ad. You also need something to explore once you’ve gained the click. You earned that click – but you won’t earn it again unless there is value to the action you’ve enticed.

Be Useful

Serve up tips, tricks, and the unexpected, and curate it well. Four Seasons, the luxury destination properties that nearly everyone knows, saw a 1000% increase in daily average visitors to their site, using this kind of strategy on Pinterest.

Don’t Bite Off More than you Can Chew

If you can’t manage SnapChat, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, and a YouTube account, don’t go there. Take on only as much as you can, and then grow only once you’ve achieved success in that platform. Your audience will feel that you’ve diluted your identity and your product, and you probably won’t disagree while you’re feeling stretched too thin.

Monitor All, Measure, Repeat

Track everything. Google Analytics will help you see your work from ad to conversion. Manually analyzing metrics across platforms is time consuming and cumbersome. Instead, use the aggregating tools available to you to automate as much as you can, and make more impact.

83% of travelers trust recommendations from family and friends. Use the social space, where those conversations take place, to your advantage.

Honda Case Study

Introduction and Background

A Northeast Ohio Honda dealer committed to implementing a complete digital marketing approach, transitioning away from traditional media such as television and radio, as well as third-party lead providers. This shift took place over the last three years, and has resulted in the dealer moving from a 4th place position in regional market share to a #1 ranking starting in the summer of 2016 that continues through today.

The Outcome

This Honda dealer saw a 55% INCREASE in sales over the time period, a difference of 850 more units sold per year in a market where the manufacturer brand has seen flat sales growth.

The Strategy

They reached these results by turning their own website into a lead generation engine, seeing nearly 1,400 direct trackable marketing leads each month (450 website leads, 900 phone calls).

This commitment to a digital-first approach centered on the dealership’s owned assets (i.e. their website) is evident in these lead figures, but stems from dramatic increases in their site traffic:

MLive-CS-Honda-Infographics-20170801-1 Honda Case Study

Site Visitors increased more than 100% over the last 3 years – from 5,750/month to 11,700/month

MLive-CS-Honda-Infographics-20170801-2 Honda Case Study

Site Sessions increased more than 95% over the prior 3 years – from 9,800/month to 19,100/month

So how did all of this growth happen?

The Honda dealership adopted a holistic approach that emphasized multiple traffic sources that both generated traffic alone and magnified organic and direct traffic at the same time.

MLive-CS-Honda-Infographics-20170801-3 Honda Case Study

SEM/PPC 135% + TRAFFIC GREW from 2,100/mo. to 5,000/mo.

MLive-CS-Honda-Infographics-20170801-4 Honda Case Study

SEO/DIRECT TRAFFIC GREW 36% over the last 3 years – from 6,700/mo. to 9,200/mo.

MLive-CS-Honda-Infographics-20170801-5 Honda Case Study

SOCIAL PPC TRAFFIC GREW FROM 2,600+ VIRTUALLY NOTHING PER MONTH TO 2,600+/mo

The shift in budgets, traffic sources, leads and sales didn’t happen overnight, and wasn’t the result of the dealership “flipping a switch.” Instead, it was an investment to try a different approach that kept yielding better results than what they’d previously done.

Used Car Dynamic Inventory: A SEM Case Study

A Cleveland-based Honda dealer signed with Advance 360 in 2015. During March of 2016, the dealer added used car dynamic inventory SEM to supplement traditional new car SEM. During the first eight months, the dealership saw tremendous lift.

  • 325 TOTAL LEADS (form fills and calls)
  • 15% average internet closing ratio
  • 49 cars sold
  • $112,161 gross profit

Influence Sales by Measuring the Right Things

You achieved 1,000 calls in your BDC. Do you know how many of them were initiated in your VDPs? You got 50 test drives last week. How many can you expect to move on to negotiate and buy? Last month your dealership sold 200 cars. Of those new purchasers, how many will transition into regular maintenance programs with your service department?

If you can readily find this information or can call these numbers to mind, congratulations, you are better than most. If not, you have a distance to go, but can rapidly make improvements on how you view your sales funnel and ultimately, can influence new buyers.

Your sales funnel, path to conversion or decision journey: these synonyms all describe the natural events that occur in order to generate a sale. It looks something like this:

  • 1000 people visit your website, which generated 4,500 VDP views.
  • Of those VDP views, 1.25% initiate contact.
  • Of those that contact, 50% make an appointment.
  • Of those, 25% will perform a test drive, and
  • Of those, 50% will buy from your dealership.

Do you know and understand how each of these points along the funnel can be amplified or improved? If you know the conversion metrics, you are better than most. If you’ve identified ways to optimize your VDP’s for more points of contact, you are in the top 2%. Use what you know to generate more sales!

For more on this topic and to download a funnel worksheet, click here.

Our market research team routinely analyzes trends in automobile purchasing, identifying where people are buying, what they are buying and from whom they are buying. We use this research to locate your customers wherever they are online and deliver targeted messages to them. The auto buying process is no longer linear. We use data to find auto intenders online based on of their online behaviors, and are able to deliver targeted messaging directly to them across multiple channels, delivering the right message to the right customer.

Mix it Up

Share of Digital Advertising Budget by Investment Type in the Nonprofit Arena

As is the case with any recipe, the right mix of ingredients is critical to the end result. Same holds true when it comes to finding the right mix of media solutions for marketing campaigns. A little too much or too little of one ingredient can be the difference between success and failure.

graph Mix it Up

Source: NonProfit Benchmarks Study, 2016

“How much to spend on digital ads, where to display those ads, and whether they are meant for donor conversion, list growth, visibility or something else, these are tough questions that will depend on your specific needs and goals. But every nonprofit needs to keep seeking new audiences, new stages, and new songs to sing – and digital ads are increasingly a part of that repertoire.”

When developing your media mix, it’s important to consider several criteria to ensure the investment you make achieves your desired results. At Advance 360 we focus on five areas when crafting a media mix:

Audience and geo targets:

Who are the target audience groups? Where are they? How do they spend their time? Making sure we have a strong understanding of who we are trying to engage will help guide us as we craft our plan.

Marketing and business goals:

At Advance 360 we partner with our clients to deliver successful campaigns at the business level, not just the marketing level. Marketing objectives often focus on reach, frequency, clicks,  and web sessions. While these are important benchmarks, we also monitor and the business impact of our campaigns. This includes measuring brand awareness, lead generation, conversions, and more which require a lot of  a lot of work behind the scenes work.

Website preparedness:

A thorough review of a client’s website is a must. Does the website support a strong user experience across desktop, mobile, and tablet? Is the site prepared to support campaign success? It’s important to think about how the media mix will affect web traffic across each device. Remember, more search traffic is now coming from mobile devices than desktop. And overwhelmingly most social media engagement is occurring on mobile. If the client website is not mobile optimized, campaign success could be compromised (or at least the media mix may need to be adjusted).

Stories/Assets:

Advance 360’s strategic approach centers on spotlighting our client’s stories (USP’s) in meaningful ways with the target audience groups in order to entice, convince and convert. It is important to confirm that these narratives are clearly outlined – on the website, within social media, within a blogging site, via photos and videos, etc… These stories and assets become the cornerstone of the messaging within the media mix and need to deliver a quality user experience that supports campaign success.

KPI’s/Measurements:

This is key. All media strategies need to be measured and (most likely) optimized throughout the campaign. In order to do this effectively, Google Analytics and Google Tag Manager need to be in place and configured properly. Goals and events need to be set up. Measurement needs to be tested and validated. Bad performance data – or worse, no performance data – will have a fatal effect on an otherwise great marketing campaign.

Once each of these areas have been reviewed and considered, the media mix can be developed. With a full focus on the decision journey and user experience, a quality media strategy can then be crafted and implemented.

At Advance 360 we do this work everyday. We have helped our clients achieve success with our strategic approach. It’s a lot of work, but it’s necessary. And when success is achieved, it’s very rewarding. For us and for our clients. Give us a call and we will show you how we can help you accomplish your marketing and business goals.

A Publisher’s Survival Guide for the Platform Era

Any way you measure it, it’s all about reach whether it’s paid, earned, owned, or shared media.

As brands and publishers rush to grab up as much land in the digital space as they can, it ultimately lands them in only two yards, Google and Facebook. This duopoly has become something that brands and publishers have to figure out and last week, Justin Smith, CEO of Bloomberg Media shared some of his thoughts on the subject of this duopoly. A year ago he warned publishers about rushing towards these platforms as the saviors of their business models and instead opted to differentiate in the space as opposed to embracing the race to feed the algorithm which reads as the modern-day race to the bottom.

His most insightful point is that content still holds value that can be leveraged by publishers. Traditionally we have seen publishers bending to the will of Google and Facebook but Smith argues that content is so vital to the modern digital landscape that these platforms will have to partner with publishers and brands going forward instead of rolling over them.

His final point is one we drive home with all of our clients:  pick a platform that works for your brand, not the one that is most popular because they might not be one in the same. Bloomberg has found success on Twitter where some brands (which brands, news or business brands like Bloomberg?) might not share that view and may find success on Snapchat or LinkedIn. The point is that publishers and brands need to be particular about where they put their content and understand not only why they are posting there but to whom they are posting the content for.

Check out the rest of his presentation here.

How to decide “Should I bid?”

Many marketers struggle with the decision to bid or not to bid on brand keywords through paid search. It can be a daunting decision.

At Advance 360, we first analyze businesses and their competition to determine if we should bid on brand terms. If competitors are bidding on a business’s brand term, we want to bid to the top position to outrank the competition.

If we do not find competition bidding on brand terms, we want to take our research a step further. Our Search Engine Marketing (SEM) team can run tests in specific geographies and analyze the cost versus the cannibalization of organic traffic as outlined in this article. With the results of this research, our clients feel a definitive answer regarding bidding on their business’ brand terms and we deploy a plan.

For more, check out this article which explores determining when it’s worth it to bid and when it’s better to let organic do the work.

Creating Engagement Through Content

Content Creating Engagement Through Content

In digital marketing, the best way to sell your product or service is by not “selling” at all. Instead of always asking your customers to buy, you can become a resource for them, by sharing valuable information or just something fun. For example, a car dealership could produce a used-car buying guide, or a dentist office might distribute kids quizzes on how to prevent cavities.

This information is called “content” and whether delivered through a blog post, social media update or video, it’s the heart of any successful digital marketing strategy. Consider that 50% of consumers report that a company’s content has a positive impact on their purchase decisions.

People spend more than 1,000 minutes per month watching online videos with the 18-24 and 25-34 age ranges leading the pack. Video consumption continues to rise, to the point where video social media network YouTube has become one of the leading search engines on the web. Educational institutions need to understand how their audience is consuming content online, and the fact is that more people than ever are watching videos for both entertainment and education. And with video content being among the highest converting metric, can you afford not to utilize the power of video? (Read on about video content marketing here, with this article from Advance Ohio.)

Nearly 90% of all brands use some form of content marketing, according to the Content Marketing Institute. Whether a mom and pop shop or Coca Cola, businesses recognize that this vital marketing resource helps them connect with their customers, generate more sales leads and grow their business.