27th Star Co.’s IMC Plan (final project)

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A. Client Information

Positioning Statement:

27th Star Co. hopes to provide quality, handmade, and ethically produced home goods and other small goods to the everyday person looking for something new to add to their home or wardrobe collection. When customers “#shoplocal” with 27th Star Co., they not only support a small business but they receive a unique item made-to-order especially for them, that will be different from what everybody else has from other retail giants. Unlike their competitors, 27th Star Co. does not mass-produce anything and doesn’t use unethical or un-trustworthy production methods. Customers will always receive a quality item made of natural fibers while supporting local economy here in the USA.

 

Company Info:

27th Star Co. is a hand-made textiles and home-goods company dedicated to providing quality products inspired by natural materials and themes. Its’ focus is to use natural materials and support small businesses.

 

Target Audience:

Since 27th Star Co. provides home goods and personal accessories, they cater to anyone and everyone. The typical 27th Star Co. customer is someone of any age or gender who is looking for new home goods or other small goods. The typical customer is located here in the U.S. and is a fan of the “shop small” or “shop local” movement. It also helps when our customer is a fan of natural materials and eclectic designs.

 

What Sets 27th Star Apart?:

Some of 27th Star Co.’s strengths and aspects that differentiate themselves from competitors are: Unique items and designs, offering custom options (designs, fabrics, items, etc.), and the use of natural/hand-dyed fabrics that are made fairly and/or by hand. However, with strengths comes “weaknesses” a.k.a. a few opportunities for growth here. Since 27th Star Co. is a fairly small and new company, budgets for marketing are practically non-existent. A stronger social media presence is definitely a key recommendation of mine upon further review of social media strategies. Implementation of a more consistent post schedule and paid ads on Facebook and/or Instagram are a few of my initial suggestions. The ads may be morse sparse to begin with, due to the very low budget at the moment. I highly suggest using them progressively more and more. This will of course come with increased revenue.

 

Why Use An IMC?:

Creating and utilizing an IMC plan that uses both traditional and digital methods is extremely important, even for a completely online retailer such as 27th Star Co.

“Marketing is shifting and you will find the most optimum result by utilizing an integrated approach…There is great value in an integrated campaign that uses both traditional (e.g. billboard) and non-traditional (e.g. social media) marketing channels. The different channels reinforce the message and will often strengthen the outcome by increasing the chances that a consumer will take action. The unified marketing approach delivers numerous benefits by increasing brand loyalty, cultivating consumer relationships and boosting profits by increasing sales” (Lake 2016).

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                                                                                                               (photo source)

Having a marketing plan that caters to both traditional and web-based communications also ensures that you get the most bang for your buck (and efforts) and ensures that you reach more demographics. “Retail marketers and ALL marketers for that matter best not make the mistake of assuming that just because someone falls into a certain demographic…that they are not drawn to nor seek out what is considered to be more traditional marketing methods and platforms” (Olenski 2013). A combination of tactics such as print ads, billboards, postcards, etc. mixed with paid social ads, e-mail blasts, apps, etc. are a match made in heaven when it comes to marketing plans.

 

B. Website

Evaluation of 27th Star Co.’s Website:

Upon the first look and considering the fact that 27th Star Co. is a pretty small company, their website is good! The web address is simple and straight to the point, as it is just the company name. Plus, it’s a dot com, rather than an extension of a third party company/host.

As soon as you arrive to the homepage, you know what 27th Star is about; you can gather that it’s a home and accessory retailer. The site has a very clean, simple design that is both appealing and easy to navigate. All pages are available throughout the site with the navigation bar on every page, which is a seemingly small detail that is actually quite important.

When it comes to shopping and looking through the items for sale, product info is provided and is readily available within just 2 clicks away. Plus, the site is compatible with mobile devices, which is extremely important due to the ever-growing popularity of tablets and smartphones. Having a site that is not mobile-friendly can severely impact your traffic (and eventual revenue).

27th has done a decent job at making sure their social media pages are linked on the home page, but there is room for improvement site-wide. Clickable icons are presented on the homepage right below the logo and at the footer. Once you browse the other pages, though, the clickable icons are only at the footer and they are quite small. I would highly suggest making those larger and making sure that the icons are at the header on all pages. Providing social media channels is a great method of pull marketing and gaining traffic to those channels. Users who visit their socials are then (re)directed back to the website in order to make purchases (which is easy and secure via Stripe). Since it’s a start up, there isn’t much evidence of Push marketing campaigns, as it is not really in their budget at the moment, but once business starts booming more, that is definitely one of my first suggestions for 27th Star Co. to implement, as I’ve mentioned previously.

I also believe that incorporating an email or newsletter program highlighting new items and promotions would be extremely helpful, but that will be discussed further in section E. Also, I would recommend that 27th Star adds a search bar and a sitemap to the site, in order to streamline and optimize the shopping process for the customer.

 

SEO:

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Some example keywords that can help with 27th’s SEO are: handmade, natural, local, small business, accessories, travel, home decor, home goods, quilts, and pillows.

 

Competitor Comparison #1: Minna Goods

For comparison, lets look at two of 27th Star Co.’s competitors. First is Minna Goods. They have a pretty good site! Their web address is simple, and the layout is very neat and easy on the eyes. It’s a quite clean and professional layout. The layout and theme is consistent throughout the site, which is great for them because it makes it that much easier to focus on the products offered. If customers want to narrow down their search, there’s very convenient search bar. Minna’s site is mobile-friendly. Upon seeing the homepage, you can tell that they are a textiles company, as the homepage displays featured items. The site, products, information, and contact page are all easy to find and only a few clicks away. Some features on the site, which are also examples of Push and Pull marketing techniques, are a newsletter sign up (complete with a discount incentive) and social media links. Speaking of discounts, once customers are ready to make a purchase, checkout is safe and secure through Shopify. The social media icons are only featured at the bottom, which is something I would correct if I were in charge. They even have a feed that automatically posts their most recent Instagram posts, which is another great branding idea for a website. (27th Star should consider this)! My only “complaint” would be that there isn’t a home button, and while you can just click on the MINNA logo at the top left corner, I think a home button would be a nice addition to their navigation bar.

 

Competitor Comparison #2: R. Riveter

Another competitor is R. Riveter. Their website is pretty great, and definitely something to model 27th Star’s after. Their R. Riveter logo and identity of “Americana” is apparent upon first glance, you can tell that they are a retailer right away. The layout is very appealing and has nice, clean lines while still using lots of high-quality images. Social media icons are in the header and footer throughout the entire site. Products are nicely organized and compartmentalized, and product info is available within 2 clicks. Check out is secure via Shopify, and they accept a number of convenient payment options. What I love is that they have added product reviews that crawl along the bottom of the screen. R. Riveter also has one of my favorite push/pull marketing strategies: newsletters! I love when companies use this technique. R. Riveter also has my second favorite website “addition”: a blog. Their blog is very robust and definitely gives their brand a personality and engages their core demographic. Plus, the website is compatible on mobile devices, which is also important (as we have previously discussed).

 

C. Blog

Why Blog?

27th Star Co. does not have a blog, but I think there is a great benefit in blogging. Blogs are a great way to increase exposure for your company’s products (in this case, 27th Star Co.’s goods) and an extra way to give your brand an identity and a voice. “A blog creates a place to talk about new products or services, comment on timely news topics or market trends, and share company initiatives beyond your website. It’s also the place to let your brand’s personality shine and show people what you’re all about” (Watts 2015). Blogs also help increase traffic and revenue. Small Biz Trends mentions some great facts that help put the importance of blogging into perspective. “A small business blog is one of the most-used and effective content marketing tools at your disposal. Simply put, if you’re not blogging, you’re leaving money on the table. Here’s some stats for you:

  • Marketers that use blogs get 67 percent more leads than those who don’t.
  • 81 percent of U.S. online consumers trust information and advice from blogs.
  • Companies that blog have 97 percent more inbound links.
  • 61 percent of U.S. online consumers have made a purchase based on recommendations from a blog.
  • 60 percent of consumers feel more positive about a company after reading custom content on its site” (Charles 2016).

An added benefit of blogging that 27th Star Co. can benefit from is that writing a blog post is free! Plus, blogs help increase SEO, give an extra opportunity for analytics, encourages more two-way communication between companies and customers, and provides more content for your social media channels.

R. Riveter, our previously discussed competitor, has a pretty great blog titled “Bags on a Mission Blog”. In the blog, post topics include “Meet the Riveter”, a series featuring powerful women called “Empowered Women Empower”, fashion, army wife- and mommy- related, lifestyle, sales/promotions they are offering, new items, and more. Their first post dates back to June 2015 and they tend to post about 1-2 times a week, on average.

Check out this video from Lynda.com about blogging for business:

 

Blog Example:

In my opinion, 27th Star Co.’s blog should involve a mix of pieces on their items, decor tips, fashion, and lifestyle tips. In this case, since 27th Star Co. has a been using a travel theme for social media campaigns, I have written up an example blog post of packing tips that can be found HERE for the lifestyle section.

 

D. Social Media

Social Media Presence:

27th Star Co. is on Facebook and Instagram primarily. 27th Star has a limited presence on Snapchat, too. These channels are not being used to their full capabilities because the presence is weak. A more consistent posting schedule is pertinent, plus you can always use their paid advertisement, live streaming, promotions systems, and more. Here is some quick stats of the current state of the 27th Star Co. socials:

Facebook:

  • Followers: 140
  • Likes: 141
  • Post Frequency: > once a month

 

Instagram:

  • Followers: 138
  • Post Frequency: > twice a month
  • Verified?: No

 

Snapchat:

  • Friends: 55

 

One social media channel that can be incorporated into their mix is Pinterest. Pinterest is great for 27th Star Co. because not only is it visually-based, but it also caters to those who love shopping, fashion, home décor, and more. Plus, pins can spread like wildfire, which only helps build exposure and brand awareness.

Social media presence can greatly impact revenue, as explained on this chart:

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Comparison of Competitors:

Minna Goods has one crucial mistake when they linked their social media accounts on their site: not one, but two broken links. There are clickable icons for their Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram, but only the button for Instagram works. However, after some googling, their accounts have been found.

Their social media is pretty good, considering the scope of the company. Their most successful account is Instagram, which is mostly likely due to the current popularity of the app and their post frequency, which is a fundamental part of social media marketing. Here are some quick stats:

Facebook:

  • Followers: 700
  • Likes: 708
  • Post Frequency: 2-3x a week

 

Instagram:

  • Followers: 25,600
  • Post Frequency: daily
  • Verified?: No

 

Pinterest:

  • Followers: 443
  • Boards: 24

 

R.Riveter has a social media presence on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. Their most popular is Facebook, and I’m going to accredit that to their blog, which helps create content for their social medias (namely, Facebook). R.Riveter is verified on Instagram, which is great for brand integrity. The frequent posts and activity also helps with engagement and keeping followers interested. Here are some quick stats:

Facebook:

  • Followers: 30,800
  • Likes: 31,556
  • Post Frequency: daily

 

Twitter:

  • Followers: 2,335
  • Likes: 1,420
  • Post Frequency: daily
  • Verified?: No

 

Instagram:

  • Followers: 14,100
  • Post Frequency: daily
  • Verified?: Yes

 

Social Media Example:

This is an example of a 7-day “social media blitz”, as I like to call it, for Facebook and Instagram. Just as an example, we are going to use the week of Monday, March 27-Sunday April 2. 27th Star Co. is currently working on campaigns based on Spring Break/Summer Vacation travel, so this is a great jumping off point.

First up is Instagram. I think a fun way to use Instagram is to tease new items with multiple pictures of an item in different ways (different levels of zoom, details, etc.). I also am going to cross-promote the Facebook for a giveaway of the new item. As for formatting, we are going to incorporate the different angles approach, along with posts that line up with the travel theme.

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Next, is Facebook. We are going to stick with the travel theme, of course. I also will cross-promote the Instagram, as I previously did vice versa.

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E. E-Mail

Evaluation:

Currently, 27th Star Co. is not using e-mail marketing. This is definitely something to add into the marketing mix as soon as possible.

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 (photo source)

Why Use E-mail Marketing?:

E-mail is something that many companies may forget, but it’s so important! “According to the Direct Marketing Association via OutboundEngine, ‘Email marketing yields an average 4,300 percent return on investment for businesses in the United States.’ What’s more, as Hubspot pointed out, Forrester Research found that ‘companies that excel at lead nurturing generate 50 percent more sales ready leads at 33 percent lower cost’” (Covino-Deaso 2016).

E-mail campaigns have proven to have a great ROI and are among most marketing professionals’ lists of top marketing techniques. E-mail allows for everybody of all ages, whether they are on mobile devices or desktop computers to receive your e-mail. They are easily accessible, inexpensive, and have the ability ot be personalized. “According to Salesforce’s 2016 State of Marketing Report, ‘80 percent of marketers agree that email is core to their business’….Furthermore, Salesforce’s report noted that 49 percent of marketers (up from 20 percent in 2015) claim email is ‘directly linked to their business’ primary revenue source’” (Covino-Deaso 2016).

 

Example E-mail:

In this case, I have created one email that would promote a new item, and another email that would promote a sale or special offer. All logos/photos/icons are clickable links. The font is 27th Star Co.’s standard PT Serif. The company motif of black/white text with other natural, earth tones shall be adhered to.

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Automated Messages:

Another way customers will reach out to a business is via Facebook Messenger. There are two types of auto-messages: Greetings and Instant Reply. Greetings are, well self-explanatory, and they are a warm welcome to those who initiate a messenger conversation. Having an automated response to a customer’s message is great because it helps hold them over until you can reply with a thoughtful response. Here are some examples:

  1. (Instant Reply) Hi there, [Customer Name]! We appreciate you reaching out and your message is important to us. A representative will be in touch within the next 24 hours to assist you. Thank You!
  2. (Greeting) Thank you for reaching out to 27th Star Co.! We love talking to our customers, so feel free to reach out with any questions, comments, and concerns! We will get back to you ASAP. You can also find us at http://www.27thstarco.com/contact

 

F. Goals & Metrics

Evaluations/Suggestions:

As far as suggestions for the future, a planning and analytics program would be ideal. For planning, I suggest using a program such as Buffer, Sprout or Hootsuite, which allows for social media posts to be drafted and banked/saved for the future and uploaded according to the schedule you set. Those programs will even give analytics for the channels that are connected, which is an added bonus.

 

Metrics:

Some metrics that can help prove ROI for 27th Star Co. would be increases in sales/revenue, and an increase in web traffic. Of course, sales and web traffic is low because of the size and the age of 27th Star Co., but a nice goal for 2017 would be an increase (by using the suggested marketing techniques) of 15%.

 

Goals:

By the end of 2017, I would like to set the goal for an increase in Instagram and Facebook followers by 20% (each). I would also like to increase Snapchat activity by establishing a schedule that ensures posts to the Snapchat Story 2-3 times a week (since current Snapchat activity is almost non-existent). My third and final goal for 2017 is to implement e-mail marketing.

 

Wrap-Up:

All in all, the main takeaway is that having an IMC that focuses on balancing traditional and web-based marketing strategies is the best approach. Having an IMC that uses multiple mediums is the best for your budget because it reaches the most amount of people, it can be tailored to your demographic, it can be tracked and evaluated (for the most part), and has proven time and time again to have the most effective ROI. Aside from the typical marketing tools that everyone already knows about, such as billboards, magazine/newspaper ads, tv/radio ads, fliers, etc., using multimedia-based strategies are not only important because that’s where your customers are, but most of them allow for analytics, which helps you/marketers understand what works and why.

 


SOURCES

  • Charles, Jeff. “10 Important Reasons to Work Seriously On Your Small Business Blog.” Small Business Trends. N.p., 19 July 2016. Web. 23 Mar. 2017.
  • Covino-Deaso, Linsey. “The Top 10 Stats from 2016 that Show the Importance of Email Marketing.” The Content Standard. Skyword, 26 Aug. 2016. Web. 24 Mar. 2017.
  • Lake, Laura. “How Integrated Marketing Helps Small Businesses Succeed.” The            Balance. N.p., 19 Dec. 2016. Web. 23 Mar. 2017.
  • Olenski, Steve. “Why Integrated Marketing Communications Is More Important Than Ever.” Forbes. Forbes Magazine, 16 Sept. 2013. Web. 23 Mar. 2017.
  • Watts, Dechay. “19 Reasons Why Your Business Should Be Writing a Blog.” Content Marketing Agency. Sprout, 30 June 2015. Web. 23 Mar. 2017.

5 Essential Packing Tips

Here at 27th Star Co., we love to travel, and we assume most of our customers would agree.

It seems that no matter how much one travels, packing is almost always a stressful experience. Figuring out which clothes, shoes, accessories, toiletries, etc. to bring on a trip is such a pain!

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In an effort to streamline and de-stress the packing process, we here at 27th Star Co. have compiled a list of 5 essential packing tips for your adventure.

  1. Make a list. A list may seem like a tedious or arbitrary task, but having everything written down in front of you is key to staying organized and on track. Plus, once you’ve packed something in your bags, you can cross that item off your list. Just be sure to not remove said item from your luggage without taking note of it.
  2. Plan & consider daily activities. When I pack for a trip, I always take note of the daily activities we will be doing so that I can plan clothes and appropriate footwear in advance. This also helps limit my tendency to overpack, which happens when I try to “guess” what we will be doing. Lay out all of the clothes you initially plan to take, and then edit from there.
  3. Compartmentalize. When I travel, I like to keep makeup/skincare, bath & body items, and any medications separate. This way, I know what is in each bag and it cuts down the time searching through (and ultimately having to dump out) a bigger toiletries bag for a certain item. Psst! Our Nel Toiletries Bags are perfect for this.Screen Shot 2017-03-26 at 2.22.20 AM
  4. Roll your clothes. Rolling your clothes into cute little logs instead of folding really does save so much room! Just be sure to make it a neat, tight roll to avoid wrinkles and bulk.
  5. Relax! Our last quick tip is the most simple, yet most important: chill! I know that most of us are secret members of Over-Packers Anonymous because we get into the mindset of “you never know!”, but that just doesn’t work when you want to save time, space, and money while traveling. We always have to remind ourselves, if you have to re-wear something, who cares?! The days of being labeled an “outfit repeater” are over. Plus, as long as you have your wallet, phone, and Passport/ID, you can almost always purchase anything you need (toothbrush, sandals, hairbrush, etc.) at the hotel or nearby.

 

We hope these tips help you out when prepping for your next trip. Keep these tips in mind and you’ll be just fine! Now grab your Key West Duffel and go explore!

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Canva: An Awesome Visual Aid Tool for Dummies

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What is Canva?

Finally! A tool for those of us that want good graphics, but aren’t graphic designers. One of their slogans is “Canva is all about making design amazingly simple for anyone”. Canva is an easy way to create graphics for your marketing, blogging, and personal needs. Users can pick from a large selection of dimensions, backgrounds, fonts, graphs, photos, banners, and more to create a visual aid that will suit your needs.

 

Brief History

Canva launched it’s Beta version on August 26, 2013. Just over a year later, Canva reached a million users on October 30, 2014. By now, with just under 4 years since launching, Canva boasts 10 million users and over 100 million designs created. (source)

 

Pricing

The basic version of Canva is free. In fact, it’s listed as “free forever”. However, some design elements such as backgrounds, fonts, and stock photos are available for purchase (typically about $1 each) in case their large selection of free options doesn’t quite float your boat. Also, there is an option to upgrade to Canva For Work, and they will soon be launching Canva Enterprise. Depending on the size of your marketing teams and how many people will be contributing to your designs, the different plans are something to consider. They also allow you to make a lump sum payment and pay either yearly or monthly.

Here is a breakdown of the plan comparisons:

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Features

Canva has many great features included in their service. Some key elements of Canva include (but certainly not limited to):

  • Hundreds of Design templates. Design templates and dimensions are pre-loaded into the database. Just like that, worrying about how to figure out what the dimensions of a social media banner should be is a thing of the past, because they’ve already figured that out for you. Everything from Facebook cover photos, to wine labels, to Tumblr posts are just a click away. Of course, there is always the custom dimensions option if you like to do things the hard way.

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  • Photo Editing. Whether you’re using one of their photos (they have over 1 million to chose from) or your own uploaded photo, Canva makes it easy to edit right there on the design. Resize, rotate, crop, align, filter, add text, and more with their photo-editing tool.

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  • Canva Learn.  This is their own “design school” and blog that features design tutorials, social media tips, how-to’s, lifestyle articles, and more.

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  • Easily shareable. Your designs are saved to your account, but can also be downloaded to your computer, e-mailed, linked, shared to Facebook and Twitter, and embedded.

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Strengths and Weaknesses

Strengths:

  • Easy to use
  • Easy to share and collaborate
  • Over 1,000,000 images to choose from
  • Graphs! (For those of us who don’t have the patience to figure out Excel graphs)
  • Canva Learn (their blog including design tutorials, social media tips, etc.) is free

Weaknesses:

  • Have to pay for “upgraded” content (like stock photos)
  • Photo editing is still pretty basic, leaves a lot to be desired.

 

Check out this example business card & video I made for a quick run-through of how to use Canva:

 

Other Recommended Readings:

Visuals in Social Media

 

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Content Communities for Business

Content communities are all the rage lately, which makes it even more important for business owners to implement them into their social media marketing plans. Websites such as YouTube, Vimeo, Pinterest, Flickr, Wanelo, SlideShare, etc. are great because they are both business- and user-generated, which creates a perfect platform for word-of-mouth marketing when customers re-post your content.

 

For the company I have partnered with, 27th Star Co., we have created a Pinterest board for their Summer 2017 line. This line includes a mixture of brand-new items and the classics which have been either re-designed or expanded with more color/pattern options.

When it came to choosing content community platforms, Pinterest was our first choice for the simple fact that it’s wildly popular. In fact, Pinterest recently boasted that there are over 150 Million monthly active users. Pinterest is also awesome because you can upload images and links to videos with captions and hashtags, all while being categorized and organized appropriately.

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Another content community we chose to use was Flickr. Flickr is owned by Yahoo! and has 122 million users, as of November 2016. Flickr is not only extremely easy to use but it’s easy to share, as well. 27th is currently working on expanding and partnering with other retailers, so now 27th Star Co. plans to use Flickr as a supplementary portfolio to their website. Potential retailers can be directed to 27th’s Flickr and get many more photos of products and other promotional materials in order to get a better idea of what 27th Star is all about. You can view 27th’s Flickr album here.

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27th Star is utilizing our content community outreach as a way to increase brand awareness and ultimately drive traffic to 27th Star Co.’s site. These platforms help make sure as many people as possible are able to see all of the awesome goods, whether that be direct customers or potential business partners. Both of these platforms are great because they allow us as the business owners and marketers to produce our content our way and in our own “language” so to speak, so that our brand identity is perceived as ideally as possible. Plus, it’s where everyone is heading! We’ve all heard the tip to follow where the people are over and over, but it’s so true. In order to optimize your marketing efforts, follow the herd and get as much exposure as possible, and these content community platforms are where the herd is at the moment.

 

 

Proximity Marketing

What is proximity marketing? To put it simply, proximity marketing is also known as location-based advertising. It is enabled via electronic devices equipped with bluetooth, wifi, GPS, etc. and proximity-based services such as participating social media channels (FourSquare, Facebook Check-Ins, etc.) and business’ apps.

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photo source

 

There are many benefits to using proximity marketing and proximity marketing channels, including but not limited to:

  • Customers are already on their phones, why not push an ad directly to them?
  • Rewards/Loyalty points for frequent purchases and visits
  • Immediately redeemable coupons and discount codes
  • Customer check-ins are free publicity
  • Location-based services are not only based on an address, but even can be tracked down to a certain location within a store, making sure to be specific to customers’ needs
  • Beacons have a much higher percentage of CTRs. “The average click through rate (CTR) for a Facebook ad is 0.119%, according to a recent Wordstream report…The average click through rate (CTR) for beacon based push notifications can be as high as 80%, according to the data published by push notification technologist Kahuna” (Thomas)
  • Analytics are able to measure which offers, times of day, frequencies, etc. are successful

 

Along with mobile devices, the increasing popularity of smart watches and other wearable devices are making proximity marketing tactics even more important. These allow for yet another way to get your customer’s attention; No need to worry about whether your customer left their phone at home/in the car, if their phone is tucked away in a pocket/purse, or even in silent mode. Providing notifications to a wearable device means your business can follow them, in a non-creepy way of course… With all this competition for your customers attention, that only makes the ad space on their phones and on their wrists more desirable for marketers. Pretty soon, beacons and other location-based ads are going to be more expensive and of higher production value. In fact, “According to market research company, Research and Markets, the market for proximity marketing is expected to be valued at USD 52.46 billion by 2022” (Pavithra 2016). Retailers are currently at the front of the race, but tech developers are coming up quickly.

 

One example of myself taking advantage of a location-based advertising strategy is with Target stores. Every time I’m approaching a Target location, my phone automatically picks up on it and triggers their Cartwheel app to appear on my lock screen. From there, I am able to open it up and see all of the latest deals and promotions they have to offer, then load them onto a barcode that gets scanned at checkout. If you love shopping at Target like I do, I highly recommend downloading their app.

 

My client, 27th Star Co., is a small online retailer, so location-based advertising is not the same for them as with brick-and-mortar stores. However, if and when they do open up a physical location, I would highly recommend utilizing a beacon-promoximity marketing combo to increase sales. Customers could receive notifications highlighting any sales or promotions when nearby, and they could even get rewards for visiting the shop often, too.

 

 


SOURCES:

Babu, Pavithra. “Best of Beacons this Week: Proximity Marketing Market will be Worth $52.46 Billion by 2022 and more.” Beaconstac. N.p., 14 Oct. 2016. Web. 05 Mar. 2017.

Thomas, Luke. “Benefits of Proximity Marketing.” BeaconSage. n.p., n.d.,Web. 05 Mar. 2017.

 

 

 

Snapchat for Business

social-lg                                                                                                                                          photo: Snapchat

Snapchat is one of the fastest-growing social networks. I would say that it’s certainly in a business’ best interest to hop onboard with the snapchat obsession to use it to their advantage. Some ideas for businesses to use snapchat are:

  • Get your own Geofilter. This is great for users to e able to tag their location when they visit (if you have a physical location)
  • Use it as a focus group. Ask questions on your story and measure responses/outcomes by providing calls-to-action such as “screenshot this photo if you want this option!”, for example.
  • Go Behind The Scenes. Show customers a look into your workplace, a sneak peak of new items, etc. to make them feel like they know you a little better.
  • Give exclusive offers. Give out promo codes and other deals on your snapchat story. It’ll be time-sensitive and exclusive to those who follow you!

 

I have partnered with a company, 27th Star Co., to create a Snapchat story for them (follow them at: the27thstarco). We decided that we were going to go the “behind the scenes” route and give a sneak peak at some items that were being added to the shop soon. This is great because we want to build some anticipation for the shop and get people excited to visit and buy some items. When customers get a sneak peak, this makes them feel special and like they’re in on a secret. They feel included. Who doesn’t like that? Even big-budget companies love to give followers a look at “the man behind the curtain”, so to speak. Jessica Maslin, directing partner at DayDream Cinema, a multimedia marketing agency, says, “Snapchat is a glimpse into the lifestyle of your company.” It’s another way to give your company more personality and a taste of the essence behind the brand.

27th Star’s snapchat story looked like this:

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Overall, i’m a big fan of snapchat. I use it both personally and professionally, and it’s a blast every time! I think it’s important for companies to not only use it, but also know how they can use it properly: to build a brand identity and boost traffic/sales.

The platform itself is so fun and genius because of the time-sensitive nature. This creates excitement and urgency and gets people to log on often. Also, Snapchat has revolutionized the way people communicate with each other, because it allows people to let their guard down and be a bit more carefree since nothing is permanent.

 

A Closer Look at Klout

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What is Klout?

Klout is a social media influence measurement system.

What Klout Does:

Klout is a service that gives everybody on social media a way to measure your social media influence. Klout is “a website and mobile app that uses social media analytics to rate its users according to online social influence via the ‘Klout Score’, which is a numerical value between 1 and 100. In determining the user score, Klout measures the size of a user’s social media network and correlates the content created to measure how other users        interact with that content” (Parr 2011). It’s similar to the way that celebrities are given Q Scores.

Klout determines a user’s score based on activity and engagement on these social media channels: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+, Bing, LinkedIn, Foursquare, and Wikipedia

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The History of Klout:

Klout founder Joe Fernandez got the idea for Klout in 2007, while recovering from jaw surgery where he couldn’t speak to anyone for months. He realized that social media could be used to influence people, and he liked that some people were more influential than others.

After spending months in Singapore with a coding team he’d hired, Fernandez was back in his hometown of New York City and had launched Klout via a single tweet on Christmas Eve 2008.

By 2009, headquarters were relocated to San Francisco, CA in order to be closer to the rest of the social media giants.

In 2011, users were able to connect their Facebook, foursquare and LinkedIn.

In 2012, Klout launched a feature that showcased user’s biggest moments on their profiles. Also in 2012, Microsoft invested in Klout, and eventually led to a partnership with Bing, making Klout scores part of search results.

In 2013, user’s got to showcase their biggest Instagram moments on their profiles.

In 2014, Klout was acquired by Lithium Technologies, and most of the “perks” programs were diminished from there along with the popularity of the company in general.

Klout’s Target Audience:

While anybody and everybody with at least one of the featured social media accounts can use Klout, only those who are truly interested, dare I say obsessed, with social media and the power of being considered “influential” are the core demographic. “Klout matters today for those who are influencers or those who want to be influential. This is particularly true for people like authors, professional speakers, actors, marketing professionals and other thought leaders” (Palermo 2013). This means Klout is great for brands to find influencers to promote and endorse their products. Those with a high Klout score often received freebies (aka Perks) from brands in exchange for posting them on social media.

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Amount of Users On Klout:

Klout has scored over 620 million users and over 200,000 businesses have used Klout, as well (“About Klout”).

Klout’s Growth:

Klout went from being a tiny little Internet start-up to an Internet sensation in a matter of just a few years. After the initial excitement about the opportunity to tangibly rank your influence on the world, people come out in droves to see how they matched up. It didn’t hurt that it was free and linked to social media that people were already extremely active and familiar with. After receiving support from Microsoft (who hadn’t given money to another social startup since Facebook five years prior), Klout was on top of the world. The company quickly grew to about 70 employees and had hundreds of millions of users.

How Does Klout Work?

Klout determines a score on a scale of 1-100 using an algorithm (which they have kept quite mysterious) of many different signals, based on your social media engagement. To determine a score, Klout uses:

“more than 400 signals from eight different networks to update your                                     Klout Score every day… The majority of the signals used to calculate the Klout Score are derived from combinations of attributes, such as the ratio of reactions you generate compared to the amount of content you share. For example, generating 100 retweets from 10 tweets will contribute more to your Score than generating 100 retweets from 1,000 tweets. We also consider factors such as how selective the people who interact with your content are. The more a person likes and retweets in a given day, the less each of those individual interactions contributes to another person’s Score. Additionally, we value the engagement you drive from unique individuals. One-hundred retweets from 100 different people contribute more to your Score than do 100 retweets from a single person” (“The Klout Score”).

Basically, Klout looks at your followers, how often you post, how often you and your “friends” respond to each other, likes, shares, re-posts, and much, much more.

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photo: Klout

Social Media Channels Related to Klout:

As mentioned before, Klout determines users scores based off of their Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+, Bing, LinkedIn, Foursquare, and Wikipedia accounts and/or contributions. Some major social channels that Klout is missing out on would be Snapchat, YouTube, Periscope, and Vine (when it was around and in it’s prime).

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Is Klout Mobile Friendly?

Yes, there’s an app version of the site available for both iPhone and Android, as well as the desktop website is easily viewable on a mobile device.

Public Figures/Brands That Are Using Klout To Their Advantage:

Klout is not a social media meant to actually post much on, nor it is really even a social media that most share links to.

At it’s peak, Klout scores were considered by many employers as a qualification to get hired: low score, no job. Brands looked at candidate’s Klout scores either before or during an interview to determine whether or not they would hire, because their Klout score was an example of how influential and trustworthy they were.

One marketing professor at Florida State University even graded his students based on their Klout scores after he learned that may employers were looking at applicant’s scores before/during interviews (Popper 2012).

The Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas even used guests’ Klout scores to, in turn, improve their own. “Clerks surreptitiously looked up guests’ Klout scores as they checked in. Some high scorers received instant room upgrades, sometimes without even being told why. According to Greg Cannon, the Palms’ former director of ecommerce, the initiative stirred up tremendous online buzz. He says that before its Klout experiment, the Palms had only the 17th-largest social-networking following among Las Vegas-based hotel-casinos. Afterward, it jumped up to third on Facebook and has one of the highest Klout scores among its peers” (Litsa 2016).

Many companies either parternered with Klout, like Virgin Airlines (and the others mentioned previously) did, or took it upon themselves to reward influencers with high scores some perks. “Virgin America has offered free flights, Capital One has dispensed bonus loyalty points, and Chevrolet has loaned out its new Sonic subcompact for long weekends” (Stevenson 2012). Klout was also used by websites such as Salesforce.com and Gilt Groupe to monitor the scores of their customers, giving perks or higher priority to those with higher Klout scores.

Some examples of public figure’s Klout scores would be:

Barack Obama: 99

Justin Bieber: 92

Oprah Winfrey: 90

Lebron James: 90

Anderson Cooper: 86

Kevin Hart: 84

And just for fun… Dr. Selepak: 46

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A cartoon featured in The New Yorker

Criticisms of Klout:

One thing to know about Klout is that there is a lot of crisiticism surrounding the company. Complaints include easy fabrication and inflation of scores, social media influence vs. real life influence, and the stress involved with having another number attached to one’s name.

“Despite its growing business success, you would be hard pressed to find a more loathed startup. In the “criticism” section of its Wikipedia page the company is described as a “evil” form of “internet herpes” that preys on user’s social anxiety. There are clearly still a few kinks in the system” says Ben Popper of The Verge, “On Klout, where my score is 65, I’m cited as influential on the topics of Forbes, Branding, Boats and Manhattan. In reality I write for The Verge about technology, was born and raised in Brooklyn, and couldn’t tell the difference between a sloop and schooner to save my life” (Popper 2012). Another example of skepticism surrounding the Klout score involves an infamous situation where “Klout Scores indicated Justin Bieber was more influential than the Dalai Lama and the President of the United States” (Nathanson 2014).

Many people, including those at The Verge believe that they idea of being labeled with more numbers in too daunting, “When online influence becomes something that can be quantified, boiled down to a two digit number like a Klout score, it inevitably turns into a double-edged sword… Do we really want another number, along with our blood pressure and our credit score, that we need to worry about improving?” (Popper 2012). Those on Klout’s side will just argue that is the opinion of somebody with a low score. A company being labeled with a low score could damage their customers’ perceptions for a silly reason.

Another major criticism of Klout is the premise of the company in general. “Klout wanted to force accountability on the social world. That’s a legitimate premise. But in execution, Klout got everything backward. Its system created a selection pressure for frivolity at the expense of truth… The whole approach just doesn’t make sense. Klout’s existence defeats its purpose.” (Nathanson 2014).

Brands beware of these criticisms. These can go to show how Klout scores may not be the end-all be-all when it comes to finding spokespeople.

Overall…

Klout is great because for once, we all got to see just how far our voices can be heard, personally and professionally. It’s great for brands extremely active on social media and those looking to make a (personal branding) name for themselves via the Internet. Klout made it possible to give companies and regular people the chance to collaborate in a way they never had before, and it was a win-win situation for both parties.

 

 For more information, check out my Prezi here

 


SOURCES:

Klout, Inc. “About Klout.” Klout.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Feb. 2017.

Klout, Inc. “The Klout Score.” Klout.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Feb. 2017.

Litsa, Tereza. “Remembering Klout: how ‘influence’ has changed over the years.”

SearchEngineWatch.com. Search Engine Watch, 30 Mar. 2016. Web. 15 Feb. 2017.

Nathanson, Jon. “Klout Is Basically Dead, but It Finally Matters.” Slate.com. Slate

Magazine, 01 May 2014. Web. 15 Feb. 2017.

Palermo, Elizabeth. “How to Improve Your Klout Score and Why You Should

Bother.” Business News Daily. N.p., 21 Oct. 2013. Web. 15 Feb. 2017.

Parr, Ben. “Klout Now Measures Your Influence on Facebook.” Mashable.com.

Mashable, 13 Sept. 2011. Web. 13 Feb. 2017.

Popper, Ben. “Your Klout score must be greater than 35 to read this.” TheVerge.com.

The Verge, 08 Oct. 2012. Web. 15 Feb. 2017.

Stevenson, Seth. “What Your Klout Score Really Means.” Wired. Conde Nast, 24 Apr.

2012. Web. 15 Feb. 2017.