The different ways we are able to communicate with consumers is evolving at a pace that is staggering. New tools emerge almost daily and others fade into irrelevance in the blink of an eye. But one thing is certain, the digital age has dramatically changed the opportunity to effectively engage, connect and inspire real action among our target audiences.

Content is king

One size doesn’t fit all in today’s fragmented digital world. We all consume content differently, yet we all look for what interests, informs or entertains us the most. And that’s less a function of the channel, than it is the type of content and delivery. Creativity, relevancy, immediacy and credibility play a key role. Think of where you turn to learn, share or simply smile – Blogs, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Google+, Instagram, Infographics, Webinars – to name a few. Your customers are no different. Their choices are abundant. So remember, content is still king.

Mobile is transformational

With technology booming, we are always ‘on’. Literally, and figuratively. We sleep, eat and transact with our phones by our side. Gone are the days where multi-channel marketing required a visit to a store or purchase on a computer. Ultimate convenience and sales are a tap away. Currently there are over 115M smartphone users in the U.S., with 2012 spending exceeding $24B in mobile commerce sales – 11% of total ecommerce sales, and growing (source: Internet Retailer). Mobile presents a vast opportunity, as long as the experience is optimized. Mobile works best when integrated with social networks to deliver value and targeted offers, simply based on indirect user activities like check-ins or visits to a location. Consumer context is key – whether geo-targeted, user-preference based, or behavior driven. Additionally, the experience you create is paramount, from prioritizing information shown on the device to ensuring that the checkout process is seamless. Mobile is truly disruptive and transformational – and it’s in your hands.

Data is power

The world of digital advertising is based on sophisticated data collection and profiling. But digital advertising is no longer a science – it involves science. Data has revolutionized the way we reach our targeted customers and ensures that the content we present is relevant – from behavioral targeting, remarketing and look-a-like profiling – to the advent of real-time bidding on ad exchanges (also called programmatic advertising) – allowing every impression to be cost effective and placed in front of the right person, at the right time. This approach extends to RTB mobile and video as well to ensure advertisers have control over their entire advertising campaigns. But it’s not just the effective delivery of campaigns that comes from this rich data, but the insights gained once implemented. Data allows advertisers like you to see what variables are most effective – from content types and websites visited to location information and user interests. From this analysis comes the best targeting opportunities – who is likely to respond to specific messages at specific times. Data really puts the control back in your hands.

Some things haven’t changed

We know it’s easy to get caught up with all the new shiny digital tools at our disposal – to entertain, involve, educate, share… But it’s important to remember that the backbone of great content and creative remains the same as it was before the advent of all this technology. Truly understanding your customers and the emotional connection that is key to reaching them. The specific channel is less important than the relevance of the content that inspires them. So as you start to think about your next brand or marketing program – think less about the tool or platform, and more about who you’re trying to reach and what’s important to them. Then let old-fashioned consumer insights and creative thinking guide the way.

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Living in the digital age, your customers and prospects are subjected to an endless sea of information each and every second of every day.  Cutting through all of this noise can be a tough challenge for any brand marketer. One effective solution is the use of infographics.

Just about everywhere we look these days we see Infographics.  They are commonly used to translate complicated statistics or information into something that is simple, easy and desirable to visually digest.  Beyond the relevancy of your content, the success of an infographic is based on how well the information is represented and how visually stimulating it is.

Here are some tips for ensuring your infographic is successful and stands apart from the crowd:

  • Simplicity – If your infographic is too complicated you chance losing the attention of the viewer (who is also your prospect).  Try not to get too tempted by all the fancy design bells and whistles when creating your infographic, keep it to the facts and information.
  • Branding – Create a visual identity for your infographic that aligns with your brand so that it can quickly and effectively be distinguished from others and supports all of your other brand-building efforts.
  • Good Design – Don’t let free or inexpensive internet tools tempt you into creating your own infographics. There are core design principles that should be followed.  If you are not a designer, seek the help of one, there are no short cuts to good design.
  • Animation – An animated infographic opens more options; not only will your factual information be conveyed, but the medium also allows for a visual story to be told.  In turn, this helps keep the interest of your viewers which ensures your message will be received.
  • Spread the word – Now that you have your awesome infographic, it’s time to get it in front of as many eyes as you can through blogs, news sites, other third-party sites and social media channels.  All the links back to you and the posts you create to promote it, will boost your visibility and your SEO.

With both brand marketers and consumers having to deal with information overload, infographics remain an effective way to garner attention in a quick and compelling manner. In fact, you probably did not get this far through this blog post… I should have created an infographic about infographics instead!


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iphoneWe’ve been generating a lot of video content recently. It has been a steady stream of brand marketing commercials, launch videos, behind the scenes promos, video case studies, etc., etc. And whether those videos featured beautifully shot footage and were professionally cut and edited or they were put together in iMovie, the results tend to be the same… impressive to say the least.

Being the narcissists that we are, we were certain this engagement was due strictly us producing thrilling cinematic experiences as if we were the next Marty Scorcese or Steve Spielberg. But it turns out, that while our video content is quite stunning, the content itself may be irrelevant. It’s the video part of the equation that is doing a great deal of the heavy lifting. Here are a few eye-opening facts about using video in today’s social/mobile/web universe.

If you create it, they will watch.

  • 78% of people watch videos at least once a week and 55% watch every day.

Share and share alike.

  • More than 500 years’ worth of YouTube videos are watched daily on Facebook.
  • More than 700 YouTube videos are shared on Twitter every minute.

Everybody’s doing it.

  • 81 percent of senior marketing executives now use online video content in their marketing programs, up from 70 percent in 2011. (MarketingProfs)

For infinity… and beyond!

  • Your video will live online and in search results for a VERY long time and most often will require an admin action to be removed.
  • The initial media purchase or accompanying campaign will be the bulk of the up front cost, but unlike TV ads, video content stays online indefinitely, gaining valuable impressions and reducing your overall per-unit spending.

Going mobile.

  • Online video now accounts for 50 percent of all mobile. (Bytemobile Mobile Analytics Report)
  • 30-second mobile video ads have an 88.3 percent completion rate. (Rhythm Insights)

Buy buy baby.

  • 34 percent of apparel shoppers are more likely to purchase after viewing an online video ad, versus 16 percent after watching an ad on TV. (ReelSEO)

Power to purchase.

  • Shoppers who viewed video were 174% more likely to purchase than viewers who did not. (Retail Touchpoints)

These facts make a rock solid case for using more video in your brand marketing. It’s obvious that video content is more engaging and ultimately tells a story faster and more powerfully than static content. Whether that content is powerful, emotive storytelling or a hardy chuckle, you can bet that your audience will be paying attention, which hopefully translates to them paying for your product.

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Good presentation for healthcare marketers from Pew Internet Project Director Lee Rainie on understanding social networking and online health information seeking. You can view the presentation here.

Key takeaways:

new social operating system: networked individualism

impacts include: “second opinions, allies and complements for care delivery, providers assessed and judged in public ways”

empowered and engaged: 61% getting health info on line, 29% contributing, 19% consult rankings/reviews of providers and hospitals

relevancy of mobile: 63% of adults, 50% have apps on phone, 29% have mobile health apps

searching for health: 48% for others, 36% for self

affecting decisions: 60% say information found online affected decision about how to treat, 56% say it changed overall approach to maintaining their health, 53% say it lead to ask doctor new questions, 49% say it changed the way they think about diet, exercise, stress management, 38% say it affected decision to see a doctor

three levels of physicians as “nodes” in e-patient communities: act as sentries, act as trusted/wise companion, act as helpful producers/enablers

at the end of the day: 41% say they’ve been helped via online medical advice or information, 3% say they’ve been harmed

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Great information for healthcare marketers from outside category business leaders about what works and what’s next in social media.

Each year, thought leaders from major brands with expertise in social gather at the Social Commerce Summit, hosted by Bazaarvoice, to present the trends that shape best practices in social media. The 2011 Summit included speakers from Best Buy, Xerox, Newell Rubbermaid, L.L. Bean, Johnson & Johnson, Bazzavoice, Nationwide Insurance, Facebook, Dell, Estee Lauder, P&G and Adobe.

The four guiding themes that shaped the brand leader and social expert discussions, representing the key drivers of successful social strategies, include:

1. The immediacy of social gives brands consumer insights that drive business impact.
2. It’s a conversation, not a campaign.
3. Social media must scale across the organization.
4. Social gives consumers direct input to brands, creating wins for brands and consumers alike.

You can download the paper here.

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Socialcast created this infographic visualizing a social media study conducted by the Center for Marketing at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth on the use of social media in Fortune 500 companies.

The majority of companies studied found social media, e.g. blogging, social networking and online video, to be successful. Even as far back 2007, a majority of the companies surveyed found social media to be at least somewhat important.

One of the interesting trends from the infographic shows that Podcasting has become the most successful social media tool for business (up from 77% in 2007 to 89% in 2009), followed by online video blogging (88%), online video and social networking (87%) and Twitter (82%).

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According to two researchers from John Hopkins University, the answer is yes – with some effort.

They analyzed more than two billion tweets for health-related terms and say their research shows Twitter can be a valuable source of public-health information about a wide range of ailments.

The study, A Model for Mining Public Health Topics from Twitter, (download the pdf here), started with tweets posted to Twitter between 5/09 – 10/10. The two men – Mark Dredze, a researcher at the university’s Human Language Technology Center and Michael J. Paul, a doctoral student – then used a software algorithm to filter out approximately 1.5 million messages that referred to health-related issues, by focusing on a variety of terms related to medical issues and illnesses.

Said Dredze “we determined that indeed Twitter posts could be a useful source of public health information. In some cases, we probably learned some things that even the tweeters’ doctors were not aware of, like which OTC medicines the posters were using to treat their symptoms at home.” One example being “Had to pop a Benadryl … allergies are the worst.”

You can read the full article here.

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As reported on India’s pharma portal, Apollo Hospitals has signed on with deal-of-the-day website Groupon India to spread awareness of its medical services, beginning with its health check programmes.

The programmes will be offered over a specified period, at discounted prices, and can be redeemed at all Apollo-owned clinics and hospitals. According to its VP Marketing & Operations, “the social media outlet will assist both in spreading awareness as well as delivering healthcare solutions to our customer’s doorstep, thereby providing them an impetus to take their health more seriously. With Groupon India, we would add on more services including cosmetic surgery.”

Other modes of campaign like mobile & email marketing to subscribers are bundled along with Apollo’s brand presence on the website. Currently available only in Apollo Hospital Bangalore, the company will cascade this programme to its other branches nationwide, based on the initial customer response.

Is this a win-win for both consumers and providers? Do you see any downside?

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From a simple project by Blake Mycoskie in 2006 to help get a small group of kids in Argentina new pairs of shoes, TOMS has since redefined what it means to bring about social change (and health) through business.

With their One For One™ business model, a pair of shoes is donated for every pair purchased. The success of their bandage-style shoes (more than 1 million pairs distributed in over 20 countries) proved it’s possible to truly be led by purpose and be profitable. TOMS has also proven that social media is the catalyst for digital activism be it on Facebook (942,116 likes), Twitter (732,763 followers), guerilla marketing or blogging.

Now, TOMS is expanding beyond shoes (leaving this “descriptor” behind in its brand name) and transforming into a truly one-for-one brand. Similar to its “one for one” BOGO (buy one, give one) model, TOMS is expanding its brand into a second product line (eyewear) to give the gift of sight to those in need.

TOMS new collection of sunglasses, priced from $135-$145 a pair, come in three styles and will be sold in the same way as TOMS shoes – for every pair of shades sold, TOMS will help give sight to a person in need through medical treatment, or sight-saving surgery (such as cataract operations) through a partnership with the Seva Foundation, and prescription glasses. The TOMS website also offers the option to upload a photo for a virtual fitting.

Why glasses? Helping save vision is a solvable problem, and Mycoskie feels it’s an issue where TOMS can make an immediate impact. And it certainly flows from their mission and model of solving great human needs worldwide. TOMS Eyewear will begin with initiatives in Nepal, Tibet, and Cambodia. Seva has been in the business of sight restoration for over 30 years – and has given help to nearly three million people globally.

I’m a huge fan of TOMS (could you really not be?). It’s a company…
• built around a massively important (and attracting) central energizing idea
• propelled by a cult-like culture
• driven by a purpose to solve a real problem
• providing a uniquely branded experience
• empowering customers through their actions
• ultimately creating (and fulfilling) a global one-for-one community of like-minded participants.

Please share your point-of-view.

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Why state-of-the-heart technology, not state-of-the-art technology, is what really moves people.

Great video interview on Big Think, from Peter Gruber, Chairman and CEO, Mandalay Entertainment Group.

His premise, so wonderfully put and so true, is that what really moves people is not state-of-the-art technology, but state-of-the-heart technology. Ask yourself, he states, an important question: the benefit of this technology, how does it make us connect better? I don’t mean connect technically better, that’s important but how does it make us connect better. How does it get more and deeper heartfelt connection between people?

“Unless it moves something, unless it renders a benefit, unless it makes the distances closer, unless it makes it more resonant, more memorable, unless it offers a deeper meaning into your heart, into your soul, a deeper purposefulness, it’ll be vestigial, it’ll be gone.”

I think Peter’s words capture perfectly the true value of social media. The ability to listen, genuinely connect, and engage in real and respectful ways, as we’ve always valued and wanted.

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