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MARKETING

Zero-Cost Marketing Strategies That Provide Instant Traction

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zero-cost-marketing-strategies-that-provide-instant-traction-–-entrepreneur

New marketing strategies come and go all the time. There is always something new to test out and try, but many brands quickly revert to the proven strategies that produce results month after month, like SEO (Search Engine Optimization), Google pay-per-click advertising, Facebook ads, and occasionally email marketing.

The “OG” marketing strategies will always drive results, but brands that rely solely on those and don’t test new trends will never realize their full potential. While many marketing trends eventually slow down and lose their effectiveness with time, some hidden gems can drive fast results if you strike while they are hot.

Knowing where to allocate your marketing budget can be tricky, and if you go big on a marketing strategy that ends up failing, you can miss out on revenue opportunities had you pushed those marketing dollars into your tried and true campaigns.

When you hit a winning trend, the return exceeds far beyond just revenue. You gain valuable brand exposure and acquire new customers that you can market to in the future, but also increase your valuation as a company. My marketing firm, X Network, specializes in SEO and paid advertising, and we have proven case studies about this topic. We are constantly innovating new strategies and marketing angles for brands of all sizes, from new direct-to-consumer products to worldwide household brands. Here are a few marketing strategies that you can try out that will cost you nothing and have delivered some outstanding results for our clients:

Cause-Driven Campaigns and Purpose-Driven Initiatives

We began experimenting with purpose-driven marketing campaigns during the beginning of the 2020 pandemic. With consumers at home and looking for outlets to stay entertained and distracted, it naturally opened the door to online sales.

Consumers were spending an absurd amount of time online and there wasn’t any hold back when it came to purchasing. Brands that rolled out purpose-driven campaigns were thriving. Consumers had more time to shop around and take a peek into the backstory of the brands they encountered.

With so much uncertainty at the time, it opened up the opportunity to connect with potential customers by triggering emotions. Consumers were willing to support brands that supported a cause and set out to make a difference.

There is no shortage of causes, from environmental issues to human rights and equality, without forcibly doing so, you can naturally always get behind a cause that you truly believe in. Authenticity speaks volumes, and if your message is truly authentic, the audience will be drawn in instantly. On the other hand, if the message is not genuine and reeks of a marketing ploy, consumers will be turned off and you can lose consumer trust.

Audiences of any brand are more willing to part with their money knowing that some of it will be going towards a purpose they can get behind. By supporting your brand, you can make them feel that they are contributing to your cause — that feeling of making a positive difference is what fuels a lot of purchases.

Launch a FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) Campaign

Let’s continue using the pandemic as our case study. Data shows that it caused an increase in the online competition simply because more consumers were shopping at all hours of the day. Brands could launch a targeted Facebook ad campaign and run a profitable campaign with little to no effort in the beginning because the consumer supply was so large.

As more states in the United States and countries around the world began to lift stay-at-home orders and begin to open back up, it required a little creativity to maintain those healthy sales figures. FOMO offers are very underestimated and effective because the average person does not like to lose and miss out on what they believe to be perceived as popular or trendy.

Game-changing brands shift towards FOMO marketing campaigns because it’s brilliant to increase sales without decreasing a brand’s value. Be it with limited-edition drops, time-sensitive special offers, or special ‘online only’ exclusive offers. You can take almost any product or service and create a FOMO-based version to spark interest and drive sales.

Consider reaching out for well-being follow-ups.

Early on in the pandemic, brands had to be very cautious as to how they delivered their marketing messages and came across. It was a time of sudden crisis and there was no blueprint to how brands should behave or approach their audiences.

Some brands avoided the topic like it didn’t even exist, while some offered relief in the form of discounts or pledged a certain percentage to COVID relief efforts. As things started to resume to normal, an opportunity began to open for brands to reach out to their customers for a little well-being communication. 

A simple, “We hope you are doing well and we are here alongside you while the world adjusts and shifts back to what we remember as normal” without a pitch or discount was a great way to genuinely connect without it appearing to be just a way to slip in an offer.

Reconnecting this way shows your customer that you truly care about their health and safety. It demonstrates to your existing and new potential customers that your brand is there to provide the best possible customer service beyond what they’re used to. Always put yourself in the shoes of your potential client and make decisions that would positively impact your decision if you were on the other side. I myself use my own Instagram account to frequently check on the well-being of my corporate contacts and agency partners, but you need to find the perfect way to create that line of communication that best compliments your brand or company.

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MARKETING

YouTube Ad Specs, Sizes, and Examples [2024 Update]

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YouTube Ad Specs, Sizes, and Examples

Introduction

With billions of users each month, YouTube is the world’s second largest search engine and top website for video content. This makes it a great place for advertising. To succeed, advertisers need to follow the correct YouTube ad specifications. These rules help your ad reach more viewers, increasing the chance of gaining new customers and boosting brand awareness.

Types of YouTube Ads

Video Ads

  • Description: These play before, during, or after a YouTube video on computers or mobile devices.
  • Types:
    • In-stream ads: Can be skippable or non-skippable.
    • Bumper ads: Non-skippable, short ads that play before, during, or after a video.

Display Ads

  • Description: These appear in different spots on YouTube and usually use text or static images.
  • Note: YouTube does not support display image ads directly on its app, but these can be targeted to YouTube.com through Google Display Network (GDN).

Companion Banners

  • Description: Appears to the right of the YouTube player on desktop.
  • Requirement: Must be purchased alongside In-stream ads, Bumper ads, or In-feed ads.

In-feed Ads

  • Description: Resemble videos with images, headlines, and text. They link to a public or unlisted YouTube video.

Outstream Ads

  • Description: Mobile-only video ads that play outside of YouTube, on websites and apps within the Google video partner network.

Masthead Ads

  • Description: Premium, high-visibility banner ads displayed at the top of the YouTube homepage for both desktop and mobile users.

YouTube Ad Specs by Type

Skippable In-stream Video Ads

  • Placement: Before, during, or after a YouTube video.
  • Resolution:
    • Horizontal: 1920 x 1080px
    • Vertical: 1080 x 1920px
    • Square: 1080 x 1080px
  • Aspect Ratio:
    • Horizontal: 16:9
    • Vertical: 9:16
    • Square: 1:1
  • Length:
    • Awareness: 15-20 seconds
    • Consideration: 2-3 minutes
    • Action: 15-20 seconds

Non-skippable In-stream Video Ads

  • Description: Must be watched completely before the main video.
  • Length: 15 seconds (or 20 seconds in certain markets).
  • Resolution:
    • Horizontal: 1920 x 1080px
    • Vertical: 1080 x 1920px
    • Square: 1080 x 1080px
  • Aspect Ratio:
    • Horizontal: 16:9
    • Vertical: 9:16
    • Square: 1:1

Bumper Ads

  • Length: Maximum 6 seconds.
  • File Format: MP4, Quicktime, AVI, ASF, Windows Media, or MPEG.
  • Resolution:
    • Horizontal: 640 x 360px
    • Vertical: 480 x 360px

In-feed Ads

  • Description: Show alongside YouTube content, like search results or the Home feed.
  • Resolution:
    • Horizontal: 1920 x 1080px
    • Vertical: 1080 x 1920px
    • Square: 1080 x 1080px
  • Aspect Ratio:
    • Horizontal: 16:9
    • Square: 1:1
  • Length:
    • Awareness: 15-20 seconds
    • Consideration: 2-3 minutes
  • Headline/Description:
    • Headline: Up to 2 lines, 40 characters per line
    • Description: Up to 2 lines, 35 characters per line

Display Ads

  • Description: Static images or animated media that appear on YouTube next to video suggestions, in search results, or on the homepage.
  • Image Size: 300×60 pixels.
  • File Type: GIF, JPG, PNG.
  • File Size: Max 150KB.
  • Max Animation Length: 30 seconds.

Outstream Ads

  • Description: Mobile-only video ads that appear on websites and apps within the Google video partner network, not on YouTube itself.
  • Logo Specs:
    • Square: 1:1 (200 x 200px).
    • File Type: JPG, GIF, PNG.
    • Max Size: 200KB.

Masthead Ads

  • Description: High-visibility ads at the top of the YouTube homepage.
  • Resolution: 1920 x 1080 or higher.
  • File Type: JPG or PNG (without transparency).

Conclusion

YouTube offers a variety of ad formats to reach audiences effectively in 2024. Whether you want to build brand awareness, drive conversions, or target specific demographics, YouTube provides a dynamic platform for your advertising needs. Always follow Google’s advertising policies and the technical ad specs to ensure your ads perform their best. Ready to start using YouTube ads? Contact us today to get started!

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Why We Are Always ‘Clicking to Buy’, According to Psychologists

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Why We Are Always 'Clicking to Buy', According to Psychologists

Amazon pillows.

(more…)

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A deeper dive into data, personalization and Copilots

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A deeper dive into data, personalization and Copilots

Salesforce launched a collection of new, generative AI-related products at Connections in Chicago this week. They included new Einstein Copilots for marketers and merchants and Einstein Personalization.

To better understand, not only the potential impact of the new products, but the evolving Salesforce architecture, we sat down with Bobby Jania, CMO, Marketing Cloud.

Dig deeper: Salesforce piles on the Einstein Copilots

Salesforce’s evolving architecture

It’s hard to deny that Salesforce likes coming up with new names for platforms and products (what happened to Customer 360?) and this can sometimes make the observer wonder if something is brand new, or old but with a brand new name. In particular, what exactly is Einstein 1 and how is it related to Salesforce Data Cloud?

“Data Cloud is built on the Einstein 1 platform,” Jania explained. “The Einstein 1 platform is our entire Salesforce platform and that includes products like Sales Cloud, Service Cloud — that it includes the original idea of Salesforce not just being in the cloud, but being multi-tenancy.”

Data Cloud — not an acquisition, of course — was built natively on that platform. It was the first product built on Hyperforce, Salesforce’s new cloud infrastructure architecture. “Since Data Cloud was on what we now call the Einstein 1 platform from Day One, it has always natively connected to, and been able to read anything in Sales Cloud, Service Cloud [and so on]. On top of that, we can now bring in, not only structured but unstructured data.”

That’s a significant progression from the position, several years ago, when Salesforce had stitched together a platform around various acquisitions (ExactTarget, for example) that didn’t necessarily talk to each other.

“At times, what we would do is have a kind of behind-the-scenes flow where data from one product could be moved into another product,” said Jania, “but in many of those cases the data would then be in both, whereas now the data is in Data Cloud. Tableau will run natively off Data Cloud; Commerce Cloud, Service Cloud, Marketing Cloud — they’re all going to the same operational customer profile.” They’re not copying the data from Data Cloud, Jania confirmed.

Another thing to know is tit’s possible for Salesforce customers to import their own datasets into Data Cloud. “We wanted to create a federated data model,” said Jania. “If you’re using Snowflake, for example, we more or less virtually sit on your data lake. The value we add is that we will look at all your data and help you form these operational customer profiles.”

Let’s learn more about Einstein Copilot

“Copilot means that I have an assistant with me in the tool where I need to be working that contextually knows what I am trying to do and helps me at every step of the process,” Jania said.

For marketers, this might begin with a campaign brief developed with Copilot’s assistance, the identification of an audience based on the brief, and then the development of email or other content. “What’s really cool is the idea of Einstein Studio where our customers will create actions [for Copilot] that we hadn’t even thought about.”

Here’s a key insight (back to nomenclature). We reported on Copilot for markets, Copilot for merchants, Copilot for shoppers. It turns out, however, that there is just one Copilot, Einstein Copilot, and these are use cases. “There’s just one Copilot, we just add these for a little clarity; we’re going to talk about marketing use cases, about shoppers’ use cases. These are actions for the marketing use cases we built out of the box; you can build your own.”

It’s surely going to take a little time for marketers to learn to work easily with Copilot. “There’s always time for adoption,” Jania agreed. “What is directly connected with this is, this is my ninth Connections and this one has the most hands-on training that I’ve seen since 2014 — and a lot of that is getting people using Data Cloud, using these tools rather than just being given a demo.”

What’s new about Einstein Personalization

Salesforce Einstein has been around since 2016 and many of the use cases seem to have involved personalization in various forms. What’s new?

“Einstein Personalization is a real-time decision engine and it’s going to choose next-best-action, next-best-offer. What is new is that it’s a service now that runs natively on top of Data Cloud.” A lot of real-time decision engines need their own set of data that might actually be a subset of data. “Einstein Personalization is going to look holistically at a customer and recommend a next-best-action that could be natively surfaced in Service Cloud, Sales Cloud or Marketing Cloud.”

Finally, trust

One feature of the presentations at Connections was the reassurance that, although public LLMs like ChatGPT could be selected for application to customer data, none of that data would be retained by the LLMs. Is this just a matter of written agreements? No, not just that, said Jania.

“In the Einstein Trust Layer, all of the data, when it connects to an LLM, runs through our gateway. If there was a prompt that had personally identifiable information — a credit card number, an email address — at a mimum, all that is stripped out. The LLMs do not store the output; we store the output for auditing back in Salesforce. Any output that comes back through our gateway is logged in our system; it runs through a toxicity model; and only at the end do we put PII data back into the answer. There are real pieces beyond a handshake that this data is safe.”

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