Small Brands, Big Opportunity: Snapchat As a Customer Service Platform

The days of automated customer service calls are quickly being replaced by inventive, highly customized social customer service experiences. This shift indicates a pivot in consumer expectations: users expect their customer service questions to not only be answered promptly on social media, but also in a unique and personal way.

Thus, the new kid on the block, Snapchat has emerged as an interactive tool for immediate, personalized customer service that is unlike any other social channel. Recently, the channel unveiled a suite of new functionality that makes it easier than ever for brands to connect with their users in a personal and dynamic way. The Snapchat 2.0 update gives users the ability to make short-form video and audio notes, live voice and video calls, and add over 200 new stickers to their text chats.

This Snapchat update has been especially helpful to smaller brands, who have quickly implemented customer service practices on the app. They’re working to build relationships with their audience and connect with them through prompt responses, personalized messages and face-to-face communication.

The retail brand Everlane uses Snapchat to take their personalized customer service to the next level. Followers are encouraged to ask questions about their orders, the products and Everlane’s philanthropic practices. Through the app, Everlane’s dedicated Snapchat team addresses customers’ fashion advice, merchandise questions and quality concerns. This approach has created a unique, ultra-personalized relationship between the brand and its loyal customers.

Another early adopter of customer service through Snapchat is tech accessory company iOgrapher. This small business is able to maintain the customer influx of questions with timely, personalized video responses that effectively answer the customers’ questions and product concerns.

Snapchat offers a huge opportunity for brands to service their customers in a unique and unexpected way, but before a brand makes the jump over to Snapchat customer service, they must consider the following:

MAINTAIN YOUR CRM TRACKING

Before using Snapchat as a customer service tool, ensure you have a plan to track and manage your CRM activities. Think about how Snapchat integrates into your existing CRM tracking and management process and ensure that process evolves to accommodate customer service on Snapchat. Think about the resources you’ll need to ensure your responses are prompt and thorough.

CONSIDER YOUR AUDIENCE

Snapchat customer service is a natural move for a brand who has already established a following on Snapchat, has a target that skews toward a millennial audience, and offers a product or service that is easily serviced via social media.

PERSONALIZE THE MESSAGE

Snapchat users are a part of the “Now Generation” and want personalized content when it’s convenient for them. Snapchat makes digital face-to-face communication fun, easy and efficient. It allows users to transition from describing a problem through text to presenting the problem in a photo or video, which results in a personalized, quick solution. So, make sure your team is prepared to translate customer service best practices into short-form video, illustrations and concise text.

START SMALL, SCALE SLOWLY

As the Snapchat platform grows, the customer service requests are likely to grow along with it. Brands need to consider tone, processes and solutions before exploring the customer service experience. Consider launching a Q&A on Snapchat surrounding a specific topic to gauge your community’s response to 1-to-1 communication on the channel. For example, a brand could launch a Q&A surrounding a new product launch as a way to field new user questions and gather learnings for a broader Snapchat customer service launch.

LISTEN AND LEARN

Snapchat is a two-way communication tool that’s rich with insights throughout the social channel. Analyzing the feedback, learning from it and making improvements will result in stronger customer relations as well as increased loyalty. So, consider using common questions to inform future content and snap stories.

PROMOTE ACROSS CHANNELS

Once you’re prepared to launch Snapchat customer service, cross-promote it other social channels, being clear about what type of questions and responses you’ll accommodate on the channel.

Want to learn more about how to take your digital marketing from now to next? Reach out to Mat Lignel at 844.LC.IDEAS and let’s chat.

P.S. Don’t forget to sign up for our newsletter, for the latest in industry news, tips and inspiration. To start receiving updates from Laughlin Constable, subscribe here.

3 Ways UX Research Can Save Your Site and Your Budget

 

What is the one thing you could do now—before you launch—to save your company time and money in the future? Invest in user experience (UX).

User experience can make or break a brand.

Four years from now, customer experience is predicted to be the one key brand differentiator—overtaking both price and product.* This means UX research has never been a more vital component of your process since its entire objective is to craft an experience that feels uniquely tailored to meet your customers’ needs, while eliminating any bugs or pitfalls and proving or disproving any gut assumptions.

Beyond eliminating issues, UX research can also identify your target audience, then track their journey through your digital environment—analyzing everything from behavior flows and completion rates to social, bounce rates and session timing. Essentially, UX is the one upfront investment you can make now that’s guaranteed to have a healthy return.

Unsure how UX plays into your process? Let’s explore 3 of the many tactics available.

 

ux interviewsIdea #1: Interviews

What’s the best way to understand your audience and their behaviors, values or goals? Ask them! By obtaining early user feedback or answers from real people and analyzing that data to create insights, you can uncover key information to grow any aspect of your business or create meaningful experiences for your customers. This helps you avoid any superfluous decisions, while being guided by the very user base you are trying to connect with. Now, you can’t just take what they say verbatim, (in the words of Henry Ford, “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses”), but it’s a good start to understanding a variety of things with real people.

One way to better define users and their needs is through the creation of personas. Personas are archetypes built specifically for your product to identify real users’ profiles, needs, wants and expectations in order to design best possible experiences for them. Without identifying the various characteristics of the user groups visiting your site, you cannot hope to design an experience that includes the key elements that each type of user needs. Instead, you will end up creating a website that doesn’t perform well for anyone. One easy step to understanding key characteristics is to ask users questions via a survey. It’s simple, cheap and an effective research method.

But, you never use one method of research in isolation…

 

ux testing imageIdea #2: Testing

Companies who test their sites early on can help uncover experience and functionality problems. This eliminates any interaction assumptions and helps dive deeper into satisfaction ratings and positive net promoter scores. For you, this means getting one step further toward a smooth, bug-free user experience that both the web (as a whole) and your customer base love. It also helps expose real-time user problems, while ensuring your current navigation is getting the job done right.

For example, we were in the development stages of redesigning a healthcare website with over 2,000 pages of content and multiple user personas to design an experience around. Multiple rounds of user testing was built into the design process to ensure what we were creating was useful, meaningful and aligned to user needs before the site was even launched. If you think user testing is expensive, it’s not. What’s expensive is designing a site that no one uses.

 

ux contextual studiesIdea #3: Contextual Studies

Contextual studies conducted in natural environments make it easy to observe and track natural user behaviors and patterns as opposed to conducting studies in labs, isolated from when, where and how the user interacts with your site. One study method we use effectively is the “diary study,” which provides detailed insight into the expectations, mindsets, moods and environments of your users, written by your users.

Picture this: a company that provides products for new mothers is looking to understand how their website could better help mothers in need to care for their baby or themselves. By performing a diary study where mothers would track when they needed help, how they sought help and what types of devices they used during that time in need, the company learned mobile was huge and mothers usually only have one arm to use their device because the other arm was holding their baby. Understanding the context behind their experience, UX was able to create a unique mobile experience that allowed mothers to seamlessly navigate a website and find the information they were seeking with just one hand. Performing this study in a lab would never yield the same results from the diary study. So if you know who your users are, you can pick the right research method to gain the correct data, which will help you better align your site, experience or service with user expectations, and avoid costly navigation or experience issues in the future.

 

The one goal of UX design and research is to better captivate, engage and emotionally connect with users when they are trying to achieve a goal—no matter the time, place or circumstances. By uncovering these otherwise invisible or unproven theories you are able to improve the performance of your site and the satisfaction of your customer base. And when your customer base feels supported and heard, and avoids any negative encounters (think: website crashes, loading issues, payment problems), they not only help you avoid any future costly repairs or tweaks, they become loyal fans and consumers.

Want to learn more about how to take your digital marketing from now to next? Reach out to Mat Lignel at 844.LC.IDEAS and let’s chat.

P.S. Don’t forget to sign up for our newsletter, for the latest in industry news, tips and inspiration. To start receiving updates from Laughlin Constable, subscribe here.

*Walker: “Customers 2020: The Future of B-To-B Customer Experience” (2013 Report)

6 Ways to More Effectively Use Data

The emergence of business intelligence (BI) tools should come as no surprise. The value of leveraging data within organizations big and small can no longer be ignored. Businesses are using data to identify bottlenecks, streamline workflows, more efficiently allocate marketing spend and improve the overall customer experience.

Data is making business decisions smarter, and the applications are only going to continue to grow as the collection of data explodes. According to WhatsTheBigData.com, humans now produce five exabytes of data every two days, approximately the same amount since the dawn of civilization up until 2003.

As the amount of data at our disposal continues to grow exponentially, the principles for making it a foundational component at Laughlin Constable have remained constant. Here are six ways to more effectively use data within your organization.

1. Connect Your Datasets for Powerful Insights

The amount of data that organizations have available to them is virtually limitless, including Customer Relationship Management (CRM) data, Point of Sale (POS) data, sales data, web analytics data, email, social and traditional and digital media data. This information comes from different data sources and is often viewed and analyzed separately. As a result, organizations are left with an isolated view of their business performance.

Industry leading BI tools such as Microsoft Power BITableau and Domo have made the aggregation of data easier than ever before. With the ability to connect to popular data sources, including SQL Servers, Hadoop, Facebook, Google Analytics and Salesforce, BI platforms can give a cohesive story of an organization’s performance. Juxtaposing these separate data sources can be extremely powerful for your organization. Building an all-inclusive, cohesive data source can enable you to make deeper and more powerful insights.

For example, an organization that heavily relies upon weather to determine the profitability of their business may want to see how changes in weather patterns affect things like revenue and website engagement. Attaching weather data to your data-set could also help make marketing spend more efficient.

2. Establish a Business Purpose for Your Dashboards

Far too often, reports and dashboards become so cluttered with information that their original purpose becomes terribly unclear. Now that there is so much data available, it is important to identify the specific business questions that each data report will help answer.

At Laughlin Constable, we use the following format below as a framework for creating our dashboards:

Question: What is the essential business question this dashboard is aiming to answer?

  • Action: Identify that action you will take once the business question is answered.
  • Metrics: Choose the data points that will answer the essential business question.
  • Visualize: Identify the best way to display these data points.
  • Segment: Pick the dimensions to segment the data points for further insight.

3. Choose the Right Visuals

The essential component of telling a story with data is knowing how to visually present that information. Choosing the right visual often comes down to two factors. First, in order to have the information resonate with your audience, you have to understand their familiarity with data. With most audiences, you will often find that “simple” visualizations are better. Second, you need to know the point you are trying to convey. Each visual has a distinct purpose in analysis. We’ve included a few of our favorites below.

Choosing the Right Visuals

4. Look Forward, Not Backward

Organizations often have the habit of only looking backward: analyzing trends and correlations from past performance instead of using data to forecast the future. This is easier said than done. But with the new predictive analytics and machine learning capabilities that BI platforms are now featuring, predicting future performance is more possible than ever.

Looking forward allows organizations to be proactive instead of reactive. When we know what future performance is expected to look like, it becomes easier to track if we are on pace to reach performance goals or if we need to adjust  strategy or marketing budgets to get there.

5. Automate Everything

Gone are the days of manual data pulls and intricate spreadsheets. Automating the data pulling process eliminates the time wasted on tedious data aggregation. This allows organizations to drastically reduce the time it takes to produce reports and dashboards, making it available whenever they need it. When data aggregation is automated, it allows organizations to react to that information real-time rather than having to wait weeks or months.

One of the largest value propositions of leveraging a BI tool is the ability to automate what used to be manual processes. Companies that used to spend hours manually pulling data can now focus on providing further value with better, more real-time analysis. Updating the data that matters most should now take seconds, not hours.

6. Empower Stakeholders in Your Business to Answer Their Own Questions

Have you ever been pestered to pull numbers for the latest marketing campaign only to receive the same request a week later? Enter self-service BI. These tools, such as Microsoft Power BI, Tableau and Domo, help put individuals in charge of meaningful data in a way that can be understood by all: visuals. Interactive dashboards empower users within your organization to get the data they want, when they want it so they can quickly and easily answer their own questions when they arise.

Imagine a dashboard that gives marketing managers the ability to view campaign performance over a particular quarter, dive into marketing spend allocation and understand if we are on track to meet our conversion goals, all in real-time. Self-service dashboards like this are putting the power of data in the hands of the actual decision makers.

Business intelligence is transforming the way companies use data to make decisions. It is quickly becoming the differentiator between those that thrive among their competition and those that fizzle. In 2016, it is crucial to prioritize using data effectively to drive change in your organizations.

8 Key Takeaways from the 2016 Digital Summit

Digital-Summit_Logo_Resized-1

The 4th annual Digital Summit, sponsored by Laughlin Constable and the Diederich College of Communication at Marquette University, took place on Thursday, February 25, 2016. The daylong conference brought marketers and college students together to learn and discuss the newest trends in the digital landscape. Speakers from companies across the country provided key insights into how digital is the ultimate game changer in the marketing landscape.

Here are our main takeaways from the 2016 Digital Summit.

1. Technology has enhanced the perpetual importance of storytelling.

A compelling story that captures an audience’s attention has the power to make consumers listen to your brand. The many ways we tell stories have evolved immensely over time, thanks to innovative technology that has changed how consumers search for and digest stories.

Dan Williams, Midwest Sales Director at Spotify, expressed this concept with the emergence of the Streaming Revolution. Millennials are “soundtracking” their lives and curating playlists for specific moments or activities. For example, there are over 40,000 active “Shower” playlists on Spotify, averaging over 550,000 streams per day. Brands that strategically tap into these precise moments and weave their story with the consumer’s story will be reap the benefits of user loyalty and advocacy.

Laura Markewicz, VP of Digital Strategy at Laughlin Constable, touched on major technological advances, both historical and recent, that have changed the way stories are communicated. However, while technology changes, the power of a good story does not. As marketers, we must never stop using new technology to continue to tell stories and create experiences people love.

2. Meet your customers where they are searching.

Today’s rapidly evolving technology has introduced new media for consumers to search for anything at any given moment.

Joe Veverka, Search Insights Manager and Melissa O’Brien, Account Executive from Microsoft stressed why marketers should begin to consider the significant impact that mobile personal assistants such as Microsoft’s Cortana, Google Now and Apple’s Siri are making on paid search and digital advertising. Veverka and O’Brien emphasized that marketers should be adapting their pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns for voice search by using question words in certain keywords, such as “how,” “why” and “what.”

Veverka and O’Brien also explained that by 2018, Cortana is predicted to be the primary personal assistant for one billion Windows 10 powered devices. As mobile personal assistants continue to change the way consumers search through mobile devices, marketers must continue to adapt their paid and organic search strategies to optimize the reach and relevance of their content through this new search medium.

3. Stay authentic.

Now more than ever, it is crucial for brands to evolve with the quickly changing digital landscape, but stay true to their roots at the same time. Whether brands stay faithful to their heritage, are transparent at every consumer touchpoint or give back to the community, being authentic is the key to earning respect among brands’ target audiences.

Brad Heidemann, CEO of Tahzoo, defined the Experience Economy, where people value brands based on the experiences they have during their interactions with them, as the new market in which brands must compete to provide the most valued experience.

Patrick O’Brien, CEO of Paris Presents Incorporated, expressed the same idea with the Real Techniques brand partnership with Sam and Nic Chapman, two makeup artists and sisters from the United Kingdom, selected by Paris Presents Incorporated for their genuine interest in educating women on makeup tips. In their makeup tutorial videos, the Chapman sisters often use other makeup brush brands, allowing them to keep their audience’s trust and provide an authentic online experience with honest reviews, thereby growing their popularity and credibility as experts.

4. Dare to be different.

How can brands truly differentiate themselves and cut through the noise in their industries?

Laura Markewicz challenged her audience to pay close attention to what the competition was doing and find ways to do the opposite. For example, when other airlines charged their passengers more for tickets, luggage and assigned seats, Southwest Airlines took an entirely opposite approach. They chose to focus their whole brand around the customer experience. Southwest passengers have the liberty to choose wherever they would like on the plane and check their bags for free. As a result, brands like Southwest Airlines found competitive advantage through an entirely different approach than its competition.

When marketers choose to stop making minuscule changes, and instead strategically shift their approach to differentiate from the rest of the industry, the reward is often worth the risk.

5. Plan for your brand’s future.

As the digital universe grows, the potential disruptions in the future will have major implications for marketers. Instead of avoiding these major innovations, marketers must adjust and react to keep their brand competitive.

As Mark Carlson, EVP of Strategic Planning at Laughlin Constable stated, “If you hate change, you’re really going to hate irrelevance.” As technology evolves, marketers cannot afford to wait for the next big change, because if they do, they’ll fall behind.

With the example of Facebook’s new “reaction” buttons allowing for different expressions online (e.g., love, haha, yay, wow, sad, angry), Carlson discussed how marketers will have to continuously monitor how Facebook’s new reaction buttons will evolve what these human, everyday emotions mean in a social media context. In short, the brands that analyze, predict and adjust to changing digital consumer behaviors will triumph.

6. Experience is the most valuable currency.

Customer experience (CX), as defined by Augie Ray, Director of Research at Gartner, is more than just customer service. It’s about providing value beyond your product or service, and ultimately making your consumer feel better, safer and more powerful.

An example of a brand with superior customer experience is the ride-sharing company Uber. From its founding, the renowned and beloved brand found a way to disrupt the transportation industry by providing a ride to the user’s location when he or she wants it, making both riders and drivers feel secure and empowered with ratings and reviews accessible to both parties. This innovative concept disrupted a stagnant taxicab industry that was in dire need of innovation.

Overall, marketers must place value in each interaction a consumer has with their brand, and work to make every experience one to remember.

7. Connect with your customers in the moments that matter.

Google’s La’Naeschia O’Rear, Matt Eschert and Marisa D’Amelio discussed how mobile is now a behavior, not just a technology. On average, people check their phone 150 times, or 177 minutes, a day. These instances of needs-based mobile moments are opportunities for marketers to capture mobile users at their moment of need or want.

An example of this is how YouTube has become a hub for influencers to reach consumers with useful, interesting content that provides value and answers their needs-based moments, in the moment, from any device. Brands like Lowes leverage YouTube to empower DIY enthusiasts to complete home renovation projects on their own.

Marketers must identify these micro-moments where consumers are looking for support during their needs-based moments, and support them with the content they need.

8. Think like a human, not like a marketer.

Marketers have a tendency to focus on selling products and gaining profit instead of delighting their customers.

Erin Ulicki, VP of Sales at Okanjo, provided key tips for reaching consumers through native commerce, or serving up shoppable ads that correspond with the content of the article or webpage. Putting themselves in the customers’ shoes can give marketers insight into how delivering the right message at the right time in the right place is crucial to delivering a superior customer experience.

Laura Markewicz proved this point further by rewinding back to the first banner ad ever, created by AT&T, which had a 44% click-through rate. Over the past two decades, marketers have ruined digital banner advertising through oversaturation, with today’s benchmark CTR at only .07%.

Despite evolving technologies and online consumer behaviors, marketers must be the customer champion by always keeping their consumers’ best interests at the forefront of every marketing effort.

5 Ways to Build a Brand on Instagram

 

5 Ways to Build a Brand on Instagram

 

With a community of over 400 million, Instagram has evolved into a social media channel with an incredibly large reach and a unique visual approach, making it the perfect platform for your brand to tell a cohesive and engaging story.

We’re sharing 5 ways to build a brand on Instagram based on our experiences on the platform, especially those learned in the past six months of strategizing, concepting and creating social content for global beauty brands EcoTools and Real Techniques.


5

 

Distraction lives everywhere on social media, so stand out by following these rules. Instagram is filled with the best visual content creators so, invest in production. Shoot custom social photography with proper lighting and composition. With good lighting, you’ll be surprised how fantastic even your iPhone shots look. Also, keep an eye on industry and platform trends. For EcoTools and Real Techniques, we are constantly monitoring beauty trends and how people talk about them. Lastly, use creative testing to hone in on the ideal copy and imagery styles. We spent six months testing the ideal content formula. And what was it? We were surprised to find it wasn’t shots of made-up faces or fashion. Instead, it was simple, beautiful shots of our makeup brushes. Go figure.  

 

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Big or small, if your community is passionate about your products they will talk about it in social. And just as we create content to mirror various Instagram styles, your community will begin to mirror yours. So, feature that content and inspire them to create content on your brand’s behalf. We’ve seen the time and effort put into our EcoTools and Real Techniques Instagram pay off tenfold in impressions and engagement in the form of beautiful user-generated content (UGC), from simple brush photography to professionally lit vanities.

To do this, first, empower your community of content creators. We’ve found that the EcoTools and Real Techniques communities are eager to showcase their creativity and expertise. We ask them to share their photos, tips and expertise for a chance to be featured on our page. And, the UGC floods in.

Then, make sure you’re listening. Monitor your brand hashtags and mentions, looking for creative content creators. However, efficiency is crucial when you’re sifting through loads of great content. We use Olapic, which helps us to easily gather and organize UGC, tag products and ultimately make these photos shoppable — connecting users with the products featured in the photos.

 

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Of all of the images you’ve seen today, can you recall one that visually inspired you? You only have a second (or less) to grab a user and leave them feeling something. So don’t post any images on your brand’s Instagram that don’t live up to your brand’s and community’s expectations.

Of course there are no “rules” in the social media game. But here are some numbers we pulled from our friends at Curalate.

  • Images with high lightness generate 24% more likes than dark images.
  • Less saturated images receive 18% more likes than their more vibrant counterparts.
  • Images with a high amount of background space generate 29% more likes than those without.
  • Images dominated by a single dominant color generate 17% more likes than images with multiple dominant colors.
  • Images with high levels of texture generate 79% more likes than those without.

Note: These numbers were for brands across the board, not just beauty brands.

 

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So you’ve built an Instagram strategy and are now developing great content and building your community. Now what? Expand your reach and increase your engagement by diving into the world of Instagram advertising. Brands are now able to tap all of Facebook’s robust targeting capabilities and launch Instagram ads through the Facebook Ad platform. Advertisers can target based on interests and demographics, as well as custom audiences generated from email lists and site tracking pixels. And with creative options like slideshows and carousel ads, Instagram advertising is a chance to get even more creative with your content.

For EcoTools, we focus on ads optimized for both engagement and clicks. Our results prove that Instagram is not only an engagement channel, but can also drive site conversions and direct sales, as well.

 

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No matter how well you’re doing on the platform, you have to listen constantly to your community and adapt to them – THEY are your brand’s ambassadors. Stay up on the latest trends, keep a pulse of what’s popular and research what’s performing well. And it might seem like a no-brainer, but if a user has a question or concern, answer it in a timely manner, because community management is this generation’s customer service.

For example, we quickly learned how passionate the EcoTools community was about cruelty-free beauty, with frequent questions flowing in about the products featured in our photos. So, we made sure that every cosmetic product featured, even in our UGC content is cruelty-free. Now, month-over-month, we see our engagement continue to trend upward.

 

updated conclusion

 

Although we’ve highlighted the top factors, there are many others that will come into play as you lead your brand on to Instagram greatness. If that seems like a scary step, or if you feel like your brand needs a little more help, give us a call. Reach out to Mat Lignel at 844.LC.IDEAS and let’s chat.

Our monthly newsletters outline what’s next in our advertising world – and by opting in, you’ll be the first to know. To start receiving updates from Laughlin Constable, subscribe here.

Follow Us at the Marquette Digital Summit

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The fourth annual Digital Summit, co-sponsored by Laughlin Constable and the Diederich College of Communication at Marquette University is coming up on Thursday, February 25. Have you registered? The day-long conference features 12 sessions with speakers sharing insights, expertise and experience on how to take digital advertising and marketing to the next level. We’ll be live tweeting the entire event – follow along on Twitter, whether you can make it or not.

Along with some of Laughlin Constable’s best and brightest, the speaker lineup includes digital professionals from Shop Your Way, Gartner, Google, Merkle, Microsoft, Okanjo, Paris Presents, Retale, Spotify, Tahzoo, TalentFoot and Tribune Publishing.

Interested in an immersive learning session? Three classroom-based workshops will also be held on Wednesday, February 24, the day before the Summit. Workshop topics include market research on a small budget, social media analytics, and Google Analytics. If you’re interested, you can learn more and purchase tickets here.

Proceeds from the summit benefit a scholarship fund for students of the Diederich College of Communication.

Learn more about the summit and register to attend here. Be sure to follow along as we live Tweet each session with #MUISS.

The Top 5 Analytics Mistakes

When it comes to measuring the performance of your ad campaigns and marketing efforts, it’s probably safe to say you’re swimming in a sea of data. But are you tracking the right metrics and using the correct data sets to tell the story you want and need to tell?

Maybe so, maybe not.

If you’re on the fence, have a look at our infographic that breaks down the top 5 mistakes marketers are making with their analytics data — from misunderstanding conversions and click-thru rates to neglecting click to call data — we offer some suggestions on the best ways to correct them.

We’re big fans of data-driven marketing. But sometimes, even the numbers can be deceiving. Read on as we break down five of the most common analytics mistakes that can get in the way of delivering optimum results from your advertising campaigns.

5. Conversions Might Be Hiding in “Clicks to Call”

More Google searches now take place on smartphones than desktops, and clicks to call can represent a key conversion for both B2B and B2C sites. But often those clicks to call simply aren’t being tracked.

Our advice? Be sure tracking is set up on clicks to call via your analytics platform to better optimize your site.

4. There’s More To The Conversion Than The Last Click

The last traffic source that drove a user to convert on a site isn’t always the only one that produced the conversion. We live in a multi-screen world where users may first find sites from a paid search or email link, and then return later organically. Or, they may see a display ad, and use search later to find the offer.

We recommend evaluating the multichannel attribution reports in your analytics platform to better understand which traffic sources play an assisting role in producing site conversions.

3. Click-Thru Rate Rarely Tells The Whole Story

A high click-thru rate doesn’t necessarily mean an ad performed well – and, conversely, a low one doesn’t mean it failed. While sometimes true, a high number of clicks might not generate a desired conversion, especially on mobile devices where accidental clicks often occur. Also, overly intrusive creative often leads to “bought” clicks, which don’t necessarily convert for your brand.

Instead, when evaluating campaign performance, focus on conversion and engagement rates from ad visitors for actions you know correlate with desired results. For emails, be sure to evaluate email visitor engagement and conversion alongside click-thru rate.

2. Track Every Promotional Link

When it comes to email links, social media posts, sponsored news articles or promotional banners driving users to your site, oftentimes links are distributed without analytics tagging. This significantly dampens your ability to evaluate campaign effectiveness.

If you place the link, make sure it’s tracked. We suggest using campaign tracking tools like the Google URL builder or Adobe query parameter tracking to tag ALL links that lead users back to your site. For links that lead elsewhere, utilize a shortener like Bit.ly to at least track the number of clicks.

1. Bounce Rates – Why The Bad Reputation?

Most people shun bounce rates like the flu; however, bounce rates aren’t always a bad thing, and they’re frequently misinterpreted. For example, if a user clicks to view a blog article, reads it and then exits, that interaction will register as a “bounce” when it actually represents great site engagement. In addition, true “bounces” often aren’t reflected correctly in data. Sites with only basic Google Analytics tracking will count clicks on site links that take the user away from your site (social media footer links, fore example) as bounces.

At LC, we recommend analyzing bounce rate by looking at the “average time on site” metric alongside the bounce rate for a holistic understanding of user engagement. Second, be sure the analytics tracking on your site is updated to reflect the true bounce rate of visitors.

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Data-driven marketing isn’t the future. It’s here and now.

Every smart marketer knows that data can help drive their business, and an overwhelming majority are using it to measure and improve marketing results (86%, according to eMarketer).

We’re busy helping our clients optimize their marketing efforts with data – from developing new analytics strategies and approaches and finding new ways to leverage existing data to diving deeper into attribution and ROI. Give us a call to help you deliver on your analytics goals while avoiding mistakes that derail you. Learn More About LC’s Approach to Tracking and Analytics.

Have some questions about your analytics program?

Want to learn more about how to take your digital marketing from now to next? Reach out to Mat Lignel at 844.LC.IDEAS and let’s chat.

P.S. Don’t forget to sign up for our newsletter, for the latest in industry news, tips and inspiration. To start receiving updates from Laughlin Constable, subscribe here.

1. http://adwords.blogspot.com/2015/05/building-for-next-moment.html

Top 10 Digital Trends of 2016

As seen in TalentZoo‘s blog on January 21, 2016

We now live in a world where digital has become the most important channel in people’s lives and is a central driver of our culture. New technologies are being invented, but just as important, existing technology is evolving to be more user-centric and dynamic than ever before, promoting instant gratification and relevance. All of these changes are an attempt to build an even tighter connection between what’s digital and human, proactively meeting user needs and blurring the lines between on- and offline experiences.

With this continuous evolution, technology has quickly become the key driver of profitability and market differentiation in every industry. We’re in an accelerated digital world, where you need to always be solving for your future. If you solve only for today you’re going to have to solve for today again tomorrow. Because of this, the gap between brands who successfully unlock the key to digital success and the laggards who struggle to keep up continues to grow, creating an even greater sense of urgency to innovate.

Here are Laughlin Constable’s top ten digital trends to look out for in 2016:

1. The Internet of Things will pave new ground.
2. We are now entering the Outcome Economy.
3. Virtual reality will open a whole new world to brands and customers.
4. Artificial intelligence-driven technologies will find real-world application.
5. T-commerce will change the way we consume media throughout the customer journey.
6. The notion of privacy vs. prevalence will stabilize.
7. Location-based technology will reach a tipping point.
8. User experience will become more ambient and personalized.
9. Customers will prefer (and expect) super-service over traditional customer service.
10. The Sharing Economy will continue to create opportunities for brands to shift the human network.

Download the final report and infographic to discover more about the key trends that are shaping the digital frontier in 2016 and beyond.

The 3rd Annual Digital Advertising Summit = Another Success

The 3rd annual Digital Advertising Summit took place at Marquette University on Wednesday, March 18, 2015. Laughlin Constable and the Diederich College of Communication at Marquette University hosted the event, which is part of the Insight Summit Series, for the past three years. The Summit had an all-star lineup of presenters this year, with thought leaders from incredible brands, agencies and organizations hailing from across the nation.

The day began with an opening keynote presentation from Joan Malcheski, Director of Packers Media Group and Brand Engagement of the Green Bay Packers football organization. Joan’s keynote showcased digital marketing successes, a snapshot of internal goals, and what’s in the pipeline for the Green Bay Packers online presence.

Halfway through the day, Mike McAvoy, President and COO of The Onion, the iconic satire publication, shared humorous stories and insights on the history of the publication. He conveyed how comedy is often crowed the King of Content. Where many print publications have struggled with the transition to digital, The Onion has thrived. Its content and distribution strategy has evolved to be 100% digital, all while building Onion Labs, an in-house content development studio.

For the final keynote of the day, James Ford Murphy, Head of Animation at Pixar Animation Studios and Director, Writer, and Producer of the short film LAVA, talked about the inspiration behind the upcoming film LAVA and shared an informative behind-the-scenes “making of LAVA” presentation. He outlined the creative filmmaking process at Pixar, honing in on the details that go into their compelling productions. Throughout the presentation, Murphy talked about taking chances, learning from failures, and always pursuing what you love in whatever you do. He also taught us the value of following your heart, finding your passion, and telling stories in a meaningful way always, regardless of the medium or subject.

The Summit also featured multiple breakout sessions throughout the day:

  • Ross Kimbarovsky, Founder and CEO of Startup Foundry, explained the ways in which crowdsourcing has given companies direct access to global networks of experienced professionals as an alternative to accessing agencies.
  • Don McNeill, Co-Founder and President of Digital Kitchen, shared his experience evolving a creative digital agency into a total experience partner for brand clients. By amplifying its approach to content marketing, drawing on its Hollywood roots and investing in IP, DK creates marketing communications that both entertains consumers and facilitates meaningful relationships for brands.
  • Marisa D’Amelio, Agency Development Manager from Google, allowed her audience to take a strategic look at some of the most important digital trends, how they are affecting consumer expectations and the big questions that business leaders should be asking themselves.
  • Jiri Marousek, Chief Marketing Officer of Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA), shared his story of “the scars and broken bones I have picked up along the way” and how we can help our brands and ourselves in 2015.
  • Katy Lynch, Portfolio Director of Manifest Digital (formerly SocialKaty), showed her audience how to use social networking sites, as well as other outlets, to their full potential.
  • Ian Abston, Founder and Director of Development of NEWaukee, taught people how the world views Milwaukee behind their smartphones, how Millennials shape the way “The 414″ will be talked about for the next 100 years, and how to leverage Milwaukee’s unique assets to help you and your brand connect to consumers.
  • Molly Currey, Executive Vice President at DKC Chicago, shared her inspiring and thought-provoking journey of walking away from the realities businesses may ask agencies to finesse and harnessing the power of her personal truth and the brands she choose to work with who are brave enough to be nothing but themselves.
  • Pat Chambers, Midwest Sales Director of BuzzFeed, conveyed in his presentation that the way that people consume content is shifting. As the media company for the social age, BuzzFeed is responding to this shift by creating content built to entertain, delight, and inform people on the social web. Advertisers work with BuzzFeed to integrate their message into social conversations with original content.
  • Peter Kosmala, SVP of Government Relations of the American Association of Advertising Agencies (4A’s), explained the legal and regulatory dimensions of digital advertising, how government views these new media technologies and business models, and what the ad industry is doing to establish its own practice standards.
  • Christine Luby, Co-Founder of Pinrose, focused on the genesis and evolution of her fragrance startup. Christine talked with the audience candidly about her journey from Georgetown to Stanford to Silicon Valley entrepreneur. She shared with us the whole picture—the good the bad, and the ugly—about what it means to start an ecommerce business in today’s busy digital age.

Thank you to all of those who attended and participated in putting together this event!

Top 10 Digital Trends of 2015

We have entered a new era in which digital innovations are more individually relevant than ever before. Technology has always been people-centric, but it has transcended from task-driven tools to discovery mechanisms that fuel our motivations and lifestyles.

Many of the changes we’re seeing come to fruition this year are born from the idea of the “Internet of Self” (IoS), which Mike Elgan of Computerworld defines as the convergence of connected devices and biometrics. This connection allows marketers to gain access to more precise data and leverage a deeper understanding of exactly who their customers are, their authentic habits, desires, and relationships and, in turn, learn how to reshape business models to their preferences in a highly personalized, diverse, and predictive fashion.

Here are Laughlin Constable’s top ten digital marketing and advertising trends to look out for in 2015 and beyond:

01 THE INTERNET OF SELF

What it is: According to Elgan, IoS is the blend of the “Quantified Self,” the concept that biometric sensors track health and behaviors, and the “Internet of Things,” the concept that connected objects communicate with each other without conscious human involvement. Data is collected from your body and sends information and commands to objects in your life to create an individually tailored experience.

How it’s being used: According to Autoweek, Volvo is creating in-car sensors that monitor driver alertness and distractions that could prevent them from focusing on the road. The technology also recognizes the driver’s dimensions and automatically adjusts seats and mirrors as soon as they get behind the wheel.

Wearables are another example – clothing and accessories that connect sensors with devices and advanced electronic technologies. They will be the ultimate form of integration to transparently monitor health, location, and behavioral information.

02 BIOMETRIC MARKETING

What it is: Unique human traits and behaviors are being used to authenticate identity through the science of biometrics. With sensors being embedded into everyday objects, and the use of these objects growing rapidly, the ways in which customers can experience and interact with brands are transforming.

How it’s being used: Instead of typing, clicking and swiping on computers, smartphones and tablets and requiring the traditional username and password credentials, we are seeing forms of interaction through embedded voice recognition, fingerprint sensors, expression, and movement and gesture systems. These are now being used to access confidential information, enter buildings, and make payments. As customers become more comfortable using their hands, voices, eyes, or movements to converse with technology, the IoS will continue to evolve.

estimote-indoor-location-300x17103 BEACONS + THE ADVENT OF HYPERLOCALITY

What it is: Beacons are a geo-targeting game-changer. They are small, low-priced pieces of hardware that use a low-energy Bluetooth connection. The technology detects customer location and pushes relevant and useful information to nearby mobile devices.

How it’s being used: Beacons are renovating the ways in which retailers, restaurants, sports stadiums, transit systems, airports, museums, and educational institutions connect with people indoors by giving them the ability to send hyperlocal messages and content based on a person’s exact location. For instance, someone may be at a museum looking at a specific exhibit and receive a push notification with additional information about the artist or specific pieces they’re looking at.

04 CONCIERGE TECHNOLOGY

What it is: Virtual concierge technology is the idea of leveraging advanced customer data in order to customize and enhance services and experiences offered to customers. It’s really all about making users’ lives easier by using data to better serve and support them.

How it’s being used: For example, tools and services that suggest what items you should buy for your home based on where you live, what you own, your personal style and members of your household. Through IoS, these types of recommendations are getting significantly more intelligent (and automatic).

05 ENHANCED FILTERING + SMALLER NETWORKS

What it is: People are becoming less focused on the mass broadcast ideology and more focused on intimate, private networks. As people refine their social networks, they seek out users and brands that add value to their lives. Users are seeking targeted, group-focused communication and information exchanges. Brands will start to have more individually significant propositions to get their customers’ attention by means of their common interests, lifestyles, and ways of enhancing intimate conversations.

How it’s being used: Apple Watch has a feature in which users can send each other their heartbeats or a custom drawing. Ephemeral (display content for a short time then self-destruct) social networks, such as Snapchat, Skype Qik, and Vine, allow for a more confidential, low-risk exchange of content.

06 TRUE OMNICHANNEL MARKETING

What it is: Omnichannel is a multichannel marketing approach that provides customers with a seamless experience across all touchpoints on- and off-line. The term has been thrown around as a buzzword for cross-channel done well, but it’s more than that. Due to our incomplete and fragmented data, it hasn’t truly come to fruition. IoS is changing this, as digital and traditional channels and CRM databases are merging into one tracking structure to touch users across the entire decision journey.

How it’s being used: Examples are often that the mobile app should match the responsive design of the website, which should thematically reflect the look-and-feel inside the store. However, true omnichannel is when data is collected and leveraged across channels and brands in order to create seamless continuity.

07 THE COLLABORATIVE ECONOMY

What it is: The Collaborative Economy is a socio-economic system built around the sharing of human and physical resources. It involves the shared creation, distribution, trade, and consumption of goods and services by multitudes of people and organizations. Great brands of the Collaborative Economy have proven to consumers that, with the right structure, they can depend on shared services more than ever.

How it’s being used: From Airbnb to Zipcar, the newest generation of users realizes the cost-benefit of a sharing society when it comes to luxury items; thus, they are getting smarter with their money and sharing costs and responsibilities with others.

Crowdsourcing has become intertwined into marketing strategies across industries. Brands are empowering customers by allowing them to dictate how the business evolves and expands. When information about products and services is shared, the value of those goods and services may increase for the business, individuals, and the community. Access to startup capital is becoming simpler with the success of crowdfunding for business services such as crowdSPRING and donation sites for entrepreneurs and those in need, such as Kickstarter, Indiegogo, and GoFundMe.

08 THE ASCENT OF THE SOCIAL SUPERAGENT

What it is: Today, we are all about sharing advice, experiences, tips, and personal stories. Bloggers, YouTube and Instagram stars, and digital producers are becoming more influential than celebrity endorsers. It’s about those who have fans with the most loyalty more than those who have the most fans. Their influence (and fees) continue to rise as they realize their power to shift brands.

How it’s being used: Visual storytelling from real people will be employed by brands to strongly communicate engrained philosophies while engaging and cultivating consumer communities and amplifying equity. With an increased use of rich content and media, visual stories crafted for marketing purposes will be able to spark a customer-driven movement, inspire emotions, and send a clear message about the brand to its evangelizing communities.

09 ENGAGEMENT AT A PRICE

What it is: A few years ago, social was the cherished “free” platform for companies to inundate their target audiences with their advertising messages and attempt to “engage” with them in their communal space. With that notion, floods of brands added social to their increasingly complex marketing mixes. That day is gone, as 2015 marks the year when Facebook, the social network with the highest saturation of brands, is expecting their organic reach to drop near 0%. In turn, social will become true media as we know it – a place where brands pay to play.

How it’s being used: The result? Some brands will be forking over the money to get in front of users. But their strategies within social become less about “engaging” and more about getting their messages in front of their target audiences, in addition to using the space for transparently handling customer service needs. Other brands will be finding different places to play (e.g. owned branded platforms and communication channels and engagement in niche communities / groups).

mollywood-apple-payments-videoSixteenByNine54010 DIGITAL CURRENCY + ePAYABLE TECHNOLOGIES

What it is: Digital currency is an internet-based form of currency or medium of exchange that allows for instantaneous transactions and open transfer-of-ownership. ePayable technologies are a form of virtual payment, where you can pay for a good or service without the need to physically use money or credit cards.

How it’s being used: Digital currencies such as Bitcoin and Amazon Coins are reinventing currency, including who holds the power and how that money moves around globally. Users can now work around banks to pay for and exchange goods. With ePayable technologies, wallets and cards will be used less as mobile apps will take their place. With the help of Google Wallet and Apple Pay, mobile transactions are about to become the new normal. People can now sync their credit and debit cards with Samsung Wallet or Passbook and make purchases by simply by placing their phone in front of a sensor at checkout.