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What You Need to Know About Google Chrome’s Ad Blocking Update

Google Chrome is used by nearly half of all Internet users, and big changes in regards to how we use the browser are on the horizon. Come tomorrow, February 15th, Google will enforce ad blocking on all websites – desktop & mobile. The goal of this is to make the Internet viewing experience more navigable for all users by preventing ads from loading that are particularly intrusive.

On desktop, Google is planning to block pop-up ads, large sticky ads, auto-play video ads with sounds, and ads that appear on a site with a countdown blocking you before the content loads. On mobile, Google is planning to filter pop-up ads, ads that are displayed before content loads (with or without a countdown), auto-play video ads with sound, large sticky ads, flashing animated ads, fullscreen scroll over ads, and ads that are particularly dense. Here’s what that looks like:

Google is not planning to wipe out all ads from Chrome, just ones that are considered bad using the standards created by the Coalition for Better Ads. The more annoying the ad, the more likely it is to be blocked by this update.

Passing, Warning, or Failing

Google is evaluating sample pages on sites based on the Better Ads standards and then giving websites 3 different ratings: passing, warning, or failing. The evaluation status of sites can be accessed via the Ad Experience Report API. Website owners can see more detailed results, such as specific violations, via the Ad Experience Report in Google’s Search Console. From the Report site owners can request their site be re-reviewed after they have addressed the non-compliant ad experiences.

So, what happens if your ad continues to fail and not meet Google & Better Ads’ standards? Site owners will be given 30 days to rectify any bad ads; if the ads are not to standard within the 30-day time period, Chrome will automatically begin blocking those ads. Chrome will show the user a message indicating that ad blocking has occurred as well as an option to disable this setting by selecting “allow ads on this site.” Here’s what that looks like on mobile:

What Early Results Show

 Google and by proxy Chrome’s goal is not to filter any ads at all but to improve the experience of all Internet users. As of February 12th, 42% of sites which were failing the Better Ads Standards had resolved their issues and are now passing. This is exactly the goal Google had hoped for: removing intrusive ad experiences from a user’s desktop or mobile experience.

The Takeaway

While Chrome will likely face criticism from the advertising world, if it achieves its goal of improving web ad standards, that’s a good thing for everybody: Internet users and advertisers alike. Google’s engineering manager Chris Bentzel is quoted, “We’re encouraged by early results showing industry shifts away from intrusive ad experiences, and look forward to continued collaboration with the industry toward a future where Chrome’s ad filtering technology will not be needed.”  

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8 Marketing Trends for 2018

marketing trends

 

How people interact with brands continues to evolve. User experience and personalization will remain a constant and will be a driving force in this year’s marketing trends. We’ve outlined the top marketing trends we predict will be at the helm of marketing strategy for 2018.

 

1. Leveraging Data and In-depth Understanding of Targeting Audiences

It will become increasingly harder to stand out and reach your target audience if you aren’t utilizing your consumer data. Technology and the growth of marketing tools make it easier to connect with your target audience in ways that were impossible or very expensive before. Today, there are many marketing automation and CRM solutions that allow for marketers to use their customer data and connect with audiences in large-scale, strategic, and affordable ways. Leveraging and implementing the use of data should be the foundation of any good marketing strategy. Your consumer data will allow you to engage with consumers where and when they want on a personal level.

 

2. Native Advertising

Digital ads have been the norm for a while now. In 2018, however, there will be more of a shift in paid media where the ad experience follows the form and function of the user experience in which it is placed. This makes sense as there has been increased emphasis on the overall user experience. A better, seamless experience will increase the response rate of your ads and will improve your ROI.

 

3. Content Marketing

By now organizations have realized that personalized and individual communications are the constant theme that is driving a lot of the trends for this year (and, really, for the past few years).  Consumers continue to favor individual, personalized experiences that are tailored to them, their interests and their immediate need. Your content should be well thought out and provide relevant information. Your content marketing should be focused on creating and distributing well thought out, relevant information that is valuable to your audience. Focus more on the quality of your content versus the quantity – make sure you are providing a value. This will help drive interaction with your brand and lead to conversions or desired action along with retention of your target audience. Incorporating a blog is a good platform for content marketing, read more about incorporating a blog in your website

 

4. Consumer Journey or Lifecycle

Emphasis on the consumer journey and how consumers interact with your brand throughout the decision, action and other various stages of their lifecycle. Implementing a strategy that prioritizes and integrates the full range of marketing communications channels and experiences should be on your to-do list for this year if it isn’t already. Personalized messages, retargeting and other techniques can be employed to support your consumers (and potential consumers) along their path to convert.

 

5. Incorporating Video

Ads on YouTube, short videos on social media, and other video components continue to increase in popularity. Standing out and capturing your audience attention is becoming increasingly challenging for marketers and brands. How can you stand out on social and digital channels? Create compelling visual aspects – especially in video form. The visual aspect of your message, and using video will help you engage your audience and capture their attention.

 

6. Transparency and Trust

Give consumers a behind-the-scenes look at your business and your practices. Humanize your brand – you’re more than a logo, product, or service. Credit Unions and Community Banks are in a unique position. When we speak with Credit Unions and develop campaigns or strategies, we ask “what sets you apart from everyone else?” Often products and services aren’t much different from the competition, with only slight variances in price or features. So what will make a consumer choose your brand over another? Trust. Credit Unions’ brand is trust – members trust your organization, the branch manager, the financial representative that has helped them navigating buying a home or car. Trust and transparency will become more important to consumers’ decisions.

 

7. Location-based technology

You should be taking advantage of location-based technology providing experiences, messaging, and information. Geo-targeting can help you take advantage of your brick and mortar locations or other key service areas. Exploring the possibilities of targeting your audience based on location, both in real-time and historical, will allow for you to provide content that is more relevant to their lives.   

 

8. Convenience

All in all, consumers are flooded with information every day. They look for and will stay loyal to brands that provide them with personalize and relevant information that is convenient for them. The more effortless an interaction the better. Who doesn’t love it when things are easy and convenient?

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Facebook Algorithm Update: What Your Business Needs to Know

Facebook Algorithm Update - What Your Business Needs To Know

Well, Facebook has done it again on us: time for another Facebook algorithm update. Whenever Facebook posts an algorithm update, the social networking giant changes the types of content people see in their News Feed: some types of content get higher priority, while others are pushed deeper into our News Feeds.

So, what is Facebook’s newest mission to tweak its News Feed?

Facebook is going to prioritize the following 3 types of content:

  1. Posts that spark conversations and meaningful interactions between people
  2. Posts that you might want to share and react to
  3. Posts from friends and family

 

Perhaps the most alarming News Feed change for brands and businesses is part 3 of the update: making posts from friends and family a higher priority than posts from brands and businesses. But hasn’t this always been Facebook’s mission? To serve only the most relevant, shareworthy, and meaningful content to its users? Simply put, yes. Facebook has spent years making sure you see only the posts you want to see in your News Feed.

It isn’t all bad news for brands and businesses. Parts 1 and 2 of the update largely speak to what businesses have already been doing on Facebook up to this point. Create content that people are compelled to like, comment, share, and react to or as Facebook says it themselves, “Page posts that generate conversation between people will show higher in News Feed.” You want to show up in the newsfeed alongside wedding and baby photos, create content that is buzzworthy and that gets people reacting. Facebook recommends the following types of content to keep your audience engaged:

  • Facebook Live (which may average 6x as many interactions as regular video)
  • Videos that explicitly prompt discussion
  • Posts in Facebook Groups
  • Posts especially relevant to local fans
  • News that starts conversations regarding important, timely issues

 

To recap: Facebook has changed its algorithm (again). What’s changing: more updates in your News Feed from friends and family. What’s not changing: share engaging content to reach the most of your audience. See, not so scary after all!

Need help getting your Facebook Business Page to reach the right audience? Send us an email at connect@epicmc2.com and we can help you right away!

 

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Is a Blog Right for Your Credit Union Website?

Is a blog right for your credit union website?Is a blog right for your credit union website? The simple answer is yes. A blog is one of the most powerful marketing and branding tools you have at your disposal. A blog for your credit union website accomplishes several major things:

 

  • A blog adds fresh content to your website for search engines to “crawl” i.e. gives you the opportunity to rank for keywords your customers may be searching for
  • A blog can rank high enough in search engine results to lead people to the rest of your website
  • Evergreen content (that which stays relevant over time) can direct visitors to your site month after month
  • Blog content is super-shareable on social media
  • Blog content answers your visitors most pertinent questions and positions you as a thoughtleader in the field

 

More website visitors, better site authority, content ready for social media, and helping your members find useful information: what’s not to love about a blog? But you may be asking yourself, “what types of things could I write about on my blog to help drive visitors to my credit union website?” We’ve done the legwork for you and identified a couple topics to help get you started:

  • Is it Time to Refinance Your Mortgage?
  • 10 Tried & True Tips for an Easier Retirement
  • Online Banking: What Is It?
  • The Best Thing You Can Do for Your Finances This Year
  • How to Get Started Consolidating Debt

 

….And the list goes on and on. The best blogs will be focused around the keywords your existing and potential members are searching for online now. Start with your customers’ pain points and make lists that are easily digestible and actionable. Providing real value will keep your customers coming back for more and more.

Need help on getting started on a blog for your credit union website? Send us an email at connect@epicmc2.com today!

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Voice Search: What It Means For Your Business

Voice Search - What It Means For Your Business“Hey Siri, Alexa, Google why is voice search important for my business?” It isn’t too hard to believe anymore that this is an actual question we could ask our phones or our Internet of Things home devices. That’s because voice search is taking over an increasingly large online search real estate. In 2016, 20 percent of online searches were conducted through voice search. By 2020, that number is expected to increase to 50 percent! So, what does it mean for your business?

First, since voice search is easier to perform than typing a search, searches tend to bring up more long-tailed content. For example, you might ask your phone assistant, “Siri, what’s the closest credit union near me?” Siri will then pull up a map link, with phone number, address, and direction. If you ask Siri “what’s the best credit union in town?” she’ll pull up a list of credit unions sorted based on distance, number of positive reviews, and optimized content.

Take note of the above. The list your phone or home assistant pulls up is determined by factors like if you’ve claimed your online business listing, if people have left reviews of your business on sites like Yelp, if you business listing has a description, photos, and videos. A search engine is a search engine whether powered by text or voice and wants to serve you the very best results for every instance you type/ask.

What else is changing with the advent of voice search? Keyword searching. Voice search shifts the context for typing in phrases to asking full sentences in natural language i.e. like you were asking another persona a question. The use of search queries starting with “who,” “what,” “where,” and “how” has increased by 61 percent. Adjust your keyword strategy accordingly so your business’ content appears as a good match: transitioning from keywords and meta descriptions to full sentences and conversational copy. The goal is to be as helpful as possible.

How else can you take advantage of voice search for your business?

  1. Add a Q&A section to your website to collect and answer common questions
  2. Use voice search to search the questions you come up with and determine how the current answers are written
  3. Create content that answers those questions in simple clear sentences
  4. Consider local voice search

 

Your customers are increasingly using mobile devices to access your business’ information and now more than ever voice and home assistants. Follow the above simple steps to ensure your brand is everywhere your customers want to find you.

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2018 Credit Union Marketing Strategies: Introducing the Xennial

2018 Credit Union Marketing Strategies - Introducing the XennialAs 2017 comes to a close, it’s time to reevaluate what’s worked and what could use some fine-tuning in the New Year. Financial marketing in 2017 focused heavily on capturing the ever-demanding attention of the mobile-first user, especially Millennials. While Millennials will still need a technology-centric strategy moving forward, there’s another nearby generation who are prime for marketing towards in 2018.

The Xennial generation is the micro-generation between Gen X and the Millennials, members born between 1977 & 1983. The Xennial is perhaps the last generation to grow up without technology at the core of everyday life, but on the flipside the first generation to embrace it wholeheartedly in adulthood. The Xennial is ready to adopt mobile banking, but will pick up the phone to make a call, or gasp! even stop by a physical branch. They seek a type of personalized member services akin to Gen Xers but are also comfortable with the technology Millennials demand.

Xennials occupy that credit union member sweet spot where they are looking to increase their 401(k) contributions, are maintaining retirement accounts, refinancing mortgages, paying college tuition, planning for children’s weddings, and more. This is the prime time to market to this generation. We’ve identified several credit union marketing strategies to capture Xennials’ attention:

  • Offer savings programs that allow Xennials to build their rainy-day or vacation fund
  • Offer multiple investment plans for retirement goals like 401(k)s and IRAs
  • Offer lending solutions that allow them to purchase big-ticket items like a boat or second home that their increasing salaries allow
  • Create online videos for easily digestible content, but be sure to have someone at the branch they can call and consult
  • Ensure to have e-Signatures as an option for closing loans and accounts

 

As you put together your 2018 marketing budget, consider focusing on this age group with their key interests in mind: remembering they grew up with and without technology. Facebook ads, Google AdWords, email campaigns, Twitter, and Instagram are all platforms they are fluent in, whereas Snapchat may not be the ideal platform to target their attention. Therefore, print advertisements and traditional mail are more than just accepted, they’re encouraged. The Xennial is a bridge generation that spans both the analog and digital era and need to be marketed to accordingly.

Don’t make the mistake of lumping the Xennial in with Gen X or the Millennials. 2018 is the perfect time for your credit union to pay attention to this niche generation and make the most of your marketing efforts.

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Make Your Credit Union Website More ADA Compliant

 

Make your credit union website more ADA compliant

Recently, there have been several lawsuits filed against credit unions for their websites not being accessible enough to people with disabilities. The Department of Justice has taken notice and will likely issue accessibility standards regarding websites in the not too distant future. In order to make your website ADA compliant and more accessible to members with hearing, vision, reading, and other disabilities there are many actionable steps you can take now. We’ve outlined  some of those steps…

 

User-friendly Page Titles:  Making a website that is user-friendly to all visitors starts with the page titles themselves. Page titles should clearly and concisely describe page content.

Images: Next, images on your website need to have alternative text. For instance, an image of a stop sign is read by a screen reader as “image,” not as “stop.”

Headings: Headings should be included on all pages in a logical order denoted clearly within the page content.

Text Size: Text size of 18px or larger is recommended for general content – larger text makes it easier for visitors to read. As the pages are enlarged for viewer preference, the resizing/adjustment of the text needs to be adequate.

Color and Contrast: Throughout the website, color should be easily recognizable, high contrast colors should be utilized.

Video and Audio: Another area which should be optimized for accessibility is video and audio. Videos should not automatically play and captions should be incorporated.

Responsive Design: Whether responsively designed or a dedicated mobile site – a website must be usable and user-friendly on any device. The focus is to ensure any user can access the same information anywhere they encounter your website.Many credit unions have separate mobile sites. Your mobile site will need to be reviewed for mobile member experiences as well. For example resizing of text and color contrast – just like your full website.

Keyboard Navigation: Visitors should be able to access content solely through their keyboard therefore keyboard navigation should be incorporated throughout the website.

 

Almost all elements of your website will need to be inspected for ADA compliance: page titles, headings, color, audio & video elements, forms, and site responsiveness. Ensuring your site is ADA compliant allows you to better serve your members. For more information on ADA compliance email us at connect@epicmc2.com.

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Mobile Search and Why Credit Unions Need to Care

Mobile Search & why credit unions need to care

With a total number of estimated smart phone users in the US topping 224.3 million in 2017, there’s no doubt that we’re all doing more and more daily business on our phones. A recent Consumer insight report from Hitwise estimates 73% of potential homebuyers reach for their phone when looking for mortgage information, 65% check best interest rates, and 58% search for car loans. And while we know people have been moving to remote and mobile banking for years now, now they are searching and comparing options for big financial decisions on the small screen as well.

Just imagine what’s going to happen this weekend.  People are going to be out in your community, looking at new homes. They might see something they like, but are concerned about what their mortgage payment might be, so they start shopping for rates online, while they are in the driveway of their potential new home.  Just down the street, another young couple is looking to buy a new car, because they are expecting their first child. While the dealer has financing options, they want to know what they can get- and if they can get a better deal without going through the dealer. They may be checking out loan rates while they are on a test drive- not waiting until Monday morning to call your office.

This means Credit Unions not only have to be concerned about where they show up in search results, but also have to worry about how websites perform on mobile devices. Google estimates that 1 in 5 searches in now location related and over 53% of people will abandon a website choice if it takes longer than 3 seconds to load. It means you not only have to make sure you have done everything you need to to show up on a search, but then your website pages also have to load quickly and deliver the answers consumers are asking, at the moment they need the answer to the question most.

Google has a project called AMP- Accelerated Mobile Pages. While a lot of the work that needs to be done to make a web page fast-loading is technical and best led to your web developer, you need to make sure you are pushing them to make key pages on your website easy to load and easy to navigate.  Likewise, AMP-powered advertising on other websites also increases conversion rates, so you also want to make sure your pay per click campaigns are likewise AMP’d up, so to speak. Google has a variety of case studies showing how beneficial AMP pages can be for businesses across the board, increasing mobile transactions, click through rates and revenue.

Your credit union might not have extended hours, or long hours on a Saturday. Few banks do, either. However, by having AMP pages for your website that show up quickly on mobile and provide consumers with the information they need, faster and more efficiently than your competitors, will not only increase your traffic, but it will lead to better search position and conversions as well.

If you’re concerned about how your website performs on mobile, and want to AMP up your marketing, give us a call or email us (connect@epicmc2.com) here at Epic Marketing- we’ll bring you up to speed in no time!

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Why Personalization Should Be Added to Your Marketing Strategy

Personalization Marketing

Personalization Marketing is like walking into your favorite restaurant, sitting at your favorite table with your favorite drink waiting for you, while the cook makes a special dish just for you. We love personalization and often crave it. This is why integrating personalization in your marketing strategy just makes sense.

In today’s noisy and crowded air ways, it’s easy to see why we (consumers) love personalization, and now are increasingly beginning to expect it from our favorite brands. Receiving a personalized and tailored message just for you seems less like advertising. And because it doesn’t seem like advertising, instead it’s content about what someone is looking for or what they’re interested in, your audience is more inclined to engage with you. According to a Hubspot study, personalization generates more responses and conversion which translates to a better return on investment. And better return on investment in our marketing is always welcomed.

However, personalization involves more than placing someone’s name on content that you are sending out. Personalization should be incorporated into every aspect of the content and message, keeping relevance at the forefront. Irrelevant messaging and advertising just seems like junk or noise to your audience. The message, product offering, and overall content should be relevant and tailored to the person.

Credit Unions can really take advantage of personalization utilizing their data, including member relationship information, consumer behavior, and engagement. Also, incorporating personalization in the marketing for your Credit Union will be an extension of the personalized service Credit Unions are known for providing their members. Developing a strategy that cultivates your information into providing the right message, at the right time, to the right person will help drive better results when it comes to your marketing overall.  

Personalization can help your credit union with engagement, acquisition and retention goals.

 

Need assistance or have more questions about incorporating personalization in your marketing? Shoot us an email (connect@epicmc2.com),  we’d be happy to chat more.

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Top 10 Marketing Planning Mistakes

marketing planning mistakes

 

Organizations have more marketing choices than ever before, making it easier to maximize your marketing budget. However, even the most seasoned professionals sometimes fall prey to mistakes that are easily avoidable. The list below details 10 common pitfalls to avoid when planning your marketing initiatives for the year ahead.

1. Failing to continually monitor your marketing programs. The phrase “you can only manage what you measure” is true. Online marketing offers you the ability to measure your marketing programs. This allows you to know what components of your marketing program are working, and what you should consider refining.

2. Staying on the same path. Sometimes the only constant is change. Objectives shift to align with business goals, new marketing channels enter the mix, and prospects begin using different resources to obtain relevant business information. Therefore, unless you’ve proven your current program is optimized for today’s marketing environment, your plan needs to evolve accordingly.

3. Forgetting to “fish where the fish are.” Virtually all professionals now use the Internet throughout their work processes. Are you reaching this target audience where they can be found looking for products and services like yours?

4. Ignoring frequency. “Fishing where the fish are” is only one component of a successful marketing campaign. Equally as important is how often you are reaching your target audience. Are you pushing your message out to the market on a regular basis, or are your efforts sporadic at best? Are you attracting professionals while they are looking and where they are looking for the products and services you have to offer?

5. Working “in a bubble.” Are the results you are seeing from your marketing campaign in line with what your sales team is looking for? It’s vital for marketing and sales to work together to ensure that your campaigns are delivering measurable results.

6. Focusing on quantity versus quality. Leads that provide intelligence to begin a relationship and gain a customer are more valuable than piles of nameless, faceless clicks. Be sure to capture relevant information.

7. Neglecting to maximize your media partner relationships. While accountability is a necessary component of any marketing program, you shouldn’t be expected to shoulder the burden on your own. Look to your advertising media channels for detailed reports delivered in a timely manner.

8. Overlooking timing. Are your marketing initiatives in sync with company-wide events such as product or service launches or trade show appearances? Neglecting to keep timing in mind can result in missed opportunities.

9. Abandoning branding and exposure. An increased emphasis on leads has resulted in some businesses shifting their focus away from branding and exposure. However, continuous exposure to your target audience will ultimately result in qualified sales and marketing opportunities. Are your media channels keeping you in front of your desired audience?

10. Moving into the year ahead without a plan. Still haven’t developed a road map for the future? It’s a good idea to set aside time to brainstorm your goals and objectives, and plan your tactics for the year ahead, including marketing channels that align with your plans.

ViaGlobalspec

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