Tech Data + Sparxoo = The Silver Lining in the Cloud

This past June, the Xoo crew produced an award-winning trade show booth for Tech Data, a world leading distributor of technology products, services and solutions.

Our team served as brand strategy experts, fusing innovative design with technology to produce the conference’s largest booth. We started by collaborating with the Tech Data team by concepting the theme and bringing it to life in a fully interactive and immersive experience, inclusive of augmented reality, interactive Cloud software demos, promotional videos, product displays and more.

Our team also produced various supporting assets, such print collateral and environmental signage to amp up the booth’s appeal. The final result? Guests were wowed, and Tech Data earned the title of the most badass booth of the conference.

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SocialPro 2016 Conference Takeaways

SocialPro 2016 took place in Seattle, Washington from June 21-22nd, and covered strategies and tactics for managing the paid and organic sides of social media. As Facebook’s Head of SMB Marketing, Wei Kuan Lum, says, “Communication on social media is not the exception- it’s the rule.” Here are our 3 of our top, easily digestible takeaways:

Video:

The endless talk of “mobile, mobile, mobile” is shifting towards “video, video, video” says Wei Kuan Lum, Head of SMB Marketing at Facebook. Social media platforms are paving the way for more immersive experiences since that’s how users are choosing to engage.

User-generated video is so hot in particular since it is often so authentic and giving a behind-the-scenes look at others’ lives.

Facebook has transformed from a text-based platform to an immersive one with elements such as video, pictures, emojis, news, and more.  To keep up, brands must use the same elements to connect with users.

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Audience:

Advertising on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and other social media platforms isn’t about reach; it’s about hitting the right audience. Audience layering can have a stronger ROI than most other channels since it allows for very precise audience targeting criteria, allowing ads to be hyper-relevant. For that reason, it’s critical that marketers segment their audiences from the get-go to understand how they respond to different messaging, creative, content, and other elements.

As a bonus, brands should see how they can use hyper-targeted social advertising audiences as paid search audiences.

Pinterest:

Pinterest users are planners. They are planning for big and small life events alike, and often 3 months before proactively searching online for what they want. As a huge advantage over other marketing platforms, when pinners come to Pinterest, they are expecting promotional content and so are much more open-minded about brand offerings. In fact, 93% of pinners come to Pinterest when planning to buy something. By the time they do search on Google or Bing, they have a much firmer idea of what they are looking for since Pinterest has helped mold their wish list.

As a whole, social media is about being social. Social media is no longer a place that can exist on its own. Brands are responsible for integrating social media into their larger marketing plan.

Understanding the How and Why of Brand Activation

Today, leading brands understand the importance of engaging the hearts and minds of their consumers, and the impact that this engagement can have on a business’s objectives—from bottom line ROI to brand awareness. At the core of this engagement is brand activation, which involves creating a positive experience that connects the consumer with the brand and evokes a favorable impression.

When considering how to activate a brand, it is important that brands understand the impact that a successful activation can have, from the early planning process to strategy implementation. Beyond understanding this potential impact, brand leaders must also understand that “brand activation comes in many forms and is delivered through multiple channels” and that successful “brand activation that resonates with customers and achieves results calls for strategic planning that starts with Why and How” (Advertising Age).

Some questions to consider when determining the “Why” and “How” include: Why would the audience care about your brand? How will target audiences engage with the brand? How will audiences react to the new brand? With answers to these anticipated questions at the forefront, brands are primed to bring the new brand to life in a memorable way, and create a seamless identity across all branded properties and places.

With a group of branding and marketing experts, our team at Sparxoo has had the opportunity to lead branding activation efforts for a range of clients—from non-profit organizations to city government to professional services. As we understand with any brand activation effort, clients’ needs vary from one project to the next. Accordingly, we know how important it is that activation efforts are customized and are planned to address the “Why” and “How” questions for each brand. To demonstrate, below are examples of three brand activation efforts that we have led.

 

Brand Activation Examples

  • ELCHC: The Early Learning Coalition of Hillsborough County (ELCHC) is a 501-C3 organization that specializes in the funding and delivery of quality early childhood care and education and after-school programs and services to the children and families of Hillsborough County.

For ELCHC, a successful brand activation meant gaining stakeholder buy-in and approval on a logo that is professional yet friendly. The organization’s new brand will be introduced in July 2017, and will be rolled out to a range of target audiences including families, partners, providers, etc.—all of whom played a role in developing the new brand and were an integral component during the brand research and validation process.

  • City of Clearwater: In 2015, the City of Clearwater embarked on a rebranding process and hired Sparxoo to lead the brand rollout initiatives, which included activating the brand across the City’s various audiences, i.e. staff, residents, tourists.

Given the brand’s reach extended across the entire City, the brand activation required that our team consider all of the various touch points, ranging from basic collateral and brand education presentations to print magazine implementation and city signage.

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  • Lewis Longman and Walker (LLW): Founded more than 20 years ago, LLW is a Florida-based law firm, dedicated to providing expertise in a range of industries including, but not limited to land use, real estate, and governmental law.

As part of LLW’s new brand activation, the law firm decided to use the rebranding as an opportunity to revamp the firm’s website. Activating the brand via the public facing website provided an ideal platform to share the refreshed firm look to a variety of audiences including: clients, staff and stakeholders.  The new website, which reflects the rebrand, can be viewed here: http://www.llw-law.com/.

 

Preparing for Your Company’s Brand Activation

When preparing for your company’s brand activation, it is important that you review and refine the “Why” and “How” questions posed in the up front. Continuously revisiting these questions will further enable your brand to connect with your target audiences and create meaningful consumer experiences.

As brand leaders, we often advise our clients to take full advantage of the excitement and buzz that surrounds brand activation efforts and to not let the opportunity pass by. A well-executed brand activation plan is an exciting opportunity for any brand to energize the brand, engage followers and share the brand’s story.

6 Tips to Ensure Marketing Automation Success

Marketing departments are increasingly adopting marketing automation technology as they discover the power of using buyers’ digital footprints to send relevant, timely and personalized marketing communications.

At Sparxoo, marketing automation technology is one of our specialties. Time after time, clients turn to us to help them harness all of the automation functionality in their specific instances. Whether they’re using Pardot, Oracle (Eloqua), Marketo, Aprimo or any other provider, here’s a list of the initial steps we almost always recommend:

Integrating Your CRM

In order to truly maximize all of the features and benefits of a marketing automation system, it must be integrated with a CRM database. Syncing data between the two systems allows information to be transferred freely, and that transfer is what drives most of the triggered and automated actions. Without this integration, a marketer is merely scratching the surface of what’s possible with a marketing automation system.

Giving Leads a Report Card

To close the best deals quickly, sales teams need to prioritize the leads who fit their ideal customer profile and are more inclined to make a purchase. This can become complicated at a larger scale—after all, hundreds and thousands of leads can’t be evaluated manually by a single salesperson.

Lead scoring, which assigns a score to each prospect based on their activity on the company website, allows sales team members to identify which prospects are more interested in buying from them.

Additionally, grading comes in handy when you’re trying to determine if the prospect is a good fit for a product. By combining scoring and grading metrics, marketers and sales team members can cherry-pick the prospects who are more inclined to make a purchase.

Playing IP Address Detective

Most marketing automation systems will track anonymous visitor data, and based on the visitor’s IP address, they can match that data back to a company. This feature is particularly helpful if a sales team has members of the ‘hunter’ variety; they can gather these company names and—with a little guesswork and crafty LinkedIn skills—can usually identify exactly who visited their website. This makes cold-calling just a little bit warmer, and ultimately increases conversion rates.

Establishing Real-Time Alerts

One of the first things you need to do when implementing a marketing automation system is tag all webpages with a JavaScript code. This code tracks prospects’ activities online, and catalogues their visits in the marketing automation system in almost real-time.

When you create notifications and page actions for high-priority website pages—such as a pricing page—you can use the system to send notifications of that prospect’s webpage visit to the prospect’s assigned salesperson. This allows the sales team to connect with the prospect while they are in the research and buying mindset; it enables the sales team to have the right conversation, at the right time.

Creating Forms for Live Events

Most online marketers understand the necessity of forms for capturing leads on their website; they often use these forms to gate premium content, such as whitepapers and webinars. However, using forms at in-person and live events—such as tradeshows—is often overlooked.

With the help of marketing automation technology, a marketer can easily create a form that allows tradeshow booth attendees to submit their contact information to enter giveaways, request more information or any other activity related to the live event. This eliminates the need for business card collection, and when paired with an email drip program, it helps you start a relationship with the prospect before they even leave the show.

Calculating Return on Marketing Investment (ROMI)

The holy grail of marketing analytics is the metric known as return on marketing investment, or ROMI. Often times, ROMI is difficult to calculate because lead and sales data is stored in different systems that are too difficult to connect.

By using a marketing automation solution tied to a CRM, a marketer can track how many leads or customers were generated by an activity. Since the system is connected, this tracking can expand all the way through the buyer’s journey and attribute revenue directly to a marketing action. This return on marketing investment data is exactly what company leaders are looking for, and it can help justify marketing budget growth.

In the past, marketing automation was just another portion of the job for most marketers. Today, as the technology becomes increasingly specialized, marketing automation is almost completely a job role in itself.  As a result, we greatly recommend working with an agency partner such as Sparxoo to truly understand how you can make the most of your marketing automation system. If partnering with an agency or specialist isn’t possible, follow these tips as a starting point and then learn more about marketing automation.

Succeed at Marketing Automation with Sparxoo

5 Biggest Inbound Marketing Trends of 2016

Inbound marketing has transformed the way businesses engage and interact with their customers. The inbound movement continues to gain speed and with it, many more exciting trends are following. Here are the five biggest waves in inbound marketing that 2016 has seen thus far.

  1. Automation, Automation, Automation

Now more than ever before, marketers are striving to reach audience members in meaningful ways and are using marketing automation to do so. In fact, a staggering 79% of top-performing businesses use marketing automation to generate leads and customers (Pardot). Marketing automation’s impact continues to grow the more marketers are able to customize it for their specific business functions.

  1. Marketing + Design

Nowadays, marketers wear many hats. In the inbound world, they’ve become advertisers, analysts, designers, and researchers. Inbound marketing revolves around helping potential customers solve a problem, and oftentimes this happens through content creation. Marketers create inbound content and test it upon completion for optimization. After repeated testing, marketers confirm what content is receiving the highest traffic and clicks. The best approach for creating content can then be made going forward. This up and coming trend has made such a huge impact in the inbound world, it’s even coined the term ‘growth driven-design.’ In this way, inbound marketing is shifting into the world of web design and has no signs of stopping.

  1. Data is Everything

In 2015, big data is cited as the number one priority for markets (Kentico Software). Every facet of marketing can be tracked – whether a prospect clicked on an email, viewed a page or accepted your friend request, it all becomes data. The more data collected means greater insights to help create bigger, badder inbound marketing campaigns. Marketers are masters at proving return-on-investment and data is their most trusted friend when it comes to providing it. Data collection will only continue to trend.

  1. Email Marketing Makes a Comeback

Email marketing is dominating the world of inbound marketing. It’s ability to be hyper-targeted, and personalized makes it an ideal avenue for generating leads and customers online. Nowadays, there are all kinds of smart marketing automation systems, such as Pardot, HubSpot and Marketo, that allow users to get closer to their prospects and obtain data, such as who opened and clicked on email as well as their basic information. Gaining access to this data allows businesses to market like never before, creating targeted email campaigns for every type of customer and non-customer alike. Last year saw the resurgence of email marketing and its popularity is expected to continue among B2C companies.

  1. Increased Relationship Building 

All of these inbound marketing trends can lead us to one conclusion: building solid businesses relationships is everything. It’s no secret that consumers buy from people they like. Marketers have taken full advantage of this fact and implemented it into their daily business activities. Personalization, data and email automation all lead us to building better relationships with our buyers and in turn, increasing sales.

Inbound marketing gives the competitive advantage needed against other businesses and helps us connect businesses to buyers in new ways. This marketing tactic is evolving just as quickly as consumers are and adapting to their current buying trends. Use these five tactics as key components in your 2016 marketing game plan and be prepared to be some remarkable results!

Client Portfolio: Lewis, Longman & Walker

Founded more than 20 years ago, Lewis Longman and Walker (LLW) is a Florida-based law firm, dedicated to providing expertise in a range of industries including, but not limited to land use, real estate, and governmental law.Screen Shot 2016-06-15 at 5.13.22 PM

Over the course of 2015, Sparxoo has had the opportunity to work with LLW on a variety of marketing initiatives including: branding, collateral design and website design and development. At the start of this project, we understood that LLW was at a pivotal point in their branding process and were interested in creating a new brand that better conveyed their value proposition and connected with target audiences.Screen Shot 2016-06-15 at 5.13.26 PM

With this background in mind, we focused our efforts on understanding the updated LLW brand and incorporating the new brand across all marketing elements, i.e. brochures, business cards, and a new corporate website. As part of our process, we continuously sought and integrated stakeholder buy-in from the LLW leadership team. This open dialogue and feedback process, enabled our team to deliver final products that resonated with the client and were aligned with the organization’s goals.

In June 2016, we officially launched the new LLW website, which reflects LLW’s new brand and further elevates the firm’s practice areas and the industries that their attorneys serve. Beyond showcasing the refreshed brand, the dynamic new site features an interactive attorney filter feature and a presentation/articles database, which are two of the most prominent areas of the new site. The new site can be viewed here: http://www.llw-law.com/

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Accordion-style brochure