2015 was a big year for the team at ATAK Interactive. We grew our core staff and moved to our new location in the Downtown Los Angeles Arts District, and of course, kept up with the world of online marketing and ecommerce.
During this week when many of us look back at the year we had and reflect on what was learned and what is to come, the team each penned some thoughts about what they learned about marketing this year, and how it's going to carry ATAK Interactive into 2016.
David Ephraim, CEO
In 2015, 16 of the 25 most popular Practical eCommerce blog posts followed a list format. Why? Well first, they are catchy and easy to create, so my guess is there are tons of them for publishers to choose from. Look deeper and there are other tells as to why readers and search engines alike enjoy this format.
In top 5 form (wink wink), I’ll give you reasons checklists draw readers.
Checklists (1) make us smarter quickly, on matters we don’t often have time to make ourselves experts on. We know exactly what we are getting.
Lists are (2) memorable in a world where so much content is readily available. Psychology shows there is only so much information a person can manage, therefore, this content reduction technique is already made for the reader relieving intimidation.
Checklists are generally quite (3) motivational and practical when it comes to “How To’s” in that adopters receive organization from the get go.
Top 10’s about software, car, music, athlete, or movie of the year allow us to (4) rank our views (we don’t like to miss out, but we also like to think we are too busy to read anything else), to compare, which everyone loves to chew on.
They also (5) let us define what matters to us in our culture.
Search Engines are very similar in that they too are looking to give users the best, most efficient experience. This is why I think this format works there too - our most popular search landing blog posts at ATAK are all lists. Therefore, the focus, when it comes to writing your top 10 or checklist, should not necessarily be the length of each item, but that the content is right for your search marketing, to bring in the buyer and not the browser.
The CMI/Marketing Professionals B2B Content Marketing Report shows that more than 75% of marketers will post more content in 2016 than 2015. The report also says 30% of those people do this effectively and less than 45% feel their organization knows what content marketing success looks like. The right content, not more content, is the answer going forward; create the content your audience is actually looking for.
Josh Goodman, COO
What I am taking away from marketing in 2015 is the power of validating the internal voice, also known as influencer marketing.
Marketing in 2015 has really helped the consumer address some of the internal dialogue issues that have been a part of the marketing landscape since its inception. Validating a customer's internal dialogue with influencer marketing now means knowing the influencer's own internal dialogue just as well.
Initially, influencer marketing was all about getting your product paired with a popular face. As influencers caught on to their power and negotiated their power with the brands who wanted to be represented, it has evolved. Now, an influencer endorsement is on the level of any other marketing partnership or alliance.
In 2016, prominent influencers bit back at marketing companies that tried to invade their lives and demand marketing messages that were too personal for their own comfort. Influencer marketing is facing a period of maturation, as the marketplace negotiates what's the right level of messaging for a given product and influencer.
In closing, I would like to remind people to know their audience and customers, and then find the potential amplifiers for the brand like an influencer that will speak to your market with useful and meaningful information.
Julien Gledel, Director of Marketing Accounts
Here are some of the things I learned in 2015 in marketing; in no particular order:
- 1. Engagement on social media does not equal interest: for example, boosting posts on Facebook to promote webinars can result in hundreds of likes but no actual new sign-ups.
- 2. Images are one of the most important marketing assets you should invest in: whether you build a new website, put together an email blast or design marketing collaterals, great images will make everything look more professional. This is even more critical if you are in e-commerce.
- 3. One of your top priorities should be to constantly work to add new contacts to your email lists. As you keep emailing the same contacts over and over, it is only natural that some will unsubscribe and others will bounce. To counter ever-diminishing open rates, you should always work towards acquiring new email addresses through a variety of marketing initiatives (signups for downloads, offers, giveaways, etc).
- 4. SEO really does have an impact on lead acquisition and website traffic. Even though it can be hard to stay up-to-date with new requirements, strategies and changes, investing in SEO is a determining factor in putting you ahead of the competition.
Lyndsay Peters, Director of Search Marketing
Starting with a small agency can be a challenge, because your new spot in the company suddenly increases the numbers by a much bigger portion than if you join a medium sized business. Internally and business-wise, one thing that was clear to us time and time again is that there’s no way to get around being prepared.
Whether it’s starting a new account or guiding internal growth with a very driven and diverse team, having a game plan ahead of time and a team that sticks to the plan is the key to succeeding in marketing. Don’t let the newest and shiniest distract you from the stable and steady that’s working now.
Renee Smith, Content Marketing Manager
At ATAK, no day is the same for me. My clients all have different needs and different goals — and I love that! It keeps things interesting and it keeps me excited to learn and work with them toward these goals.
If I’ve learned one thing in 2015, it’s to always take a step back before I start something. Think about the end goal for whatever you’re doing, and use it to help guide you how to do it. Typically after a campaign ends is when I look back and think “If only I set it up like this for better conversions” or “If only I tracked this better” do I realize how important it really is to think about what the takeaway is before you do something.
Don’t just do something to do it! Don’t just have a social media presence because you feel like you should. Don’t just do email marketing because everyone else is. Don’t just create calls to action on your site with no other purpose. If you do something because you think you should, then you’re not doing it to accomplish anything.
Good marketing means there's always a bigger picture, and if you want everything to connect properly and work together seamlessly, then you have to take a step back and look at all of it before you can look at the sum of its parts.
Svetlana Klyuchkova Outreach + Digital Marketing Director
When I look back at 2015, I get excited about the opportunities in front of me and my agency in 2016. But like all opportunities, these do not just fall in front of you, they come from developing a strategy, follow-ups, hard work, and networking.
I’ve always known that building your network is important, but 2015 taught me the value of networking on behalf of my clients who want to promote not only their services and products, but also content. The quality of your content is extremely important, but the quality of your network is a close second. If you can make your network of publishers, editors, bloggers, and journalists work for you and create a symbiotic relationship, it becomes a win-win situation.
Companies with ambitious growth targets have to rely on new partners to share their story. If you can tap into other channels and focus on content promotion as much as you do on content creation, then you can create a well-oiled marketing machine building a strong online presence for your brand.
However, if you want to be in the content game, low quality content without thorough research doesn’t cut it any more. It can actually hurt your brand, as consumers become more accustomed to getting high-quality, extremely useful and engaging content. You should be prepared to invest significant assets into both development and marketing. It may be a bitter pill for many businesses, but those who are willing to make the investment are reaping huge rewards. Search engines and social media outlets are getting a lot choosier about the content they push.
2016 should be the year of improving your online content though case studies, white papers and other variations of gated content while increasing the number of online ambassadors. Focus on building online partnerships, help your company with message amplification and increase your audience's reach!
Austin LaRoche, CMO
Spending your day immersed in analytics, traffic trends and data is very different from pitching a blogger a killer story that their readership will love (perhaps over dinner or cocktails). It takes different skills to be successful in each field and when these two entities can get past their different approaches to growth, they recognize that PR and SEO are very powerful when their efforts are synchronized.
Let’s say there’s this growing company that makes the finest protein shakes the earth has ever tasted. We’ll call them Swole Foods. Swole has a great product and is using their seed funding on a heavy marketing push. They want to appear higher in organic searches, but like any ambitious group, they want to see their product in Men’s Health, Esquire, and other popular fitness publications as well. If the SEO and PR teams are working together, then Swole is going to start by having a content calendar in place with keyword-driven content engaging enough to be pitched to other outlets by the other PR team.
Furthermore, let’s say Swole gets that Men’s Health link. It’s a win for the PR team. The SEO team is pumped because the backlink is going to provide a boost in Swole’s search rankings. The SEO team now needs to track the different user activity to measure the success of a PR win, so they know what publications’ readerships are converting the highest into Swole customers. Next time they pitch for Swole, they can prioritize which outlets to go after first based on past success.
The future, perhaps as soon as 2016, will see the death of the SEO numbers nerd and the charming PR extrovert cliches. To get better at each job, both SEO and PR team members will need to understand the important relationship between search and media relations. If and when the wall between the two can be broken, a far more powerful team than the previously segmented SEO and PR groups will emerge.