VR, AR, AI, Oh my!

Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR), Artificial Intelligence (AI)… If your head is spinning, you’re not alone. It’s a lot to keep up with, and even more difficult for your business to master.

Customers crave a more transformational experience with brands, products, services, and information. And there’s power in delivering those experiences.

Augmented Reality is defined as “a type of interactive, reality-based display environment that takes the capabilities of computer generated display, sound, text and effects to enhance the user’s real-world experience.” It is predicted Augmented Reality will grow to be a $35 billion industry by 2022! Talk about opportunity knocking!

So, how are brands using AR effectively and strategically to not only increase brand awareness but to create meaningful customer experiences (and loyal fans?) How to do go beyond the gimmick and make AR work for your company? How does AR become your brand differentiator?

Here’s how industries and brands are leveraging AR to do more than simply impress and entertain.

There’s an app for that

Nike is using Augmented Reality to assist shoe buyers to not only find the right shoe for their activity, but the correct SIZE. Their research showed up to 60% of their customers were purchasing the wrong size shoe, which was leading to more returns and more unhappy customers. Their sizing app, Nike Fit, lets buyers scan their feet at home to get their correct size (within a 2mm of accuracy which, we don’t measure things with rulers much these days but we’re pretty sure that’s super close to perfect) The result – a rise in consumer confidence, more brand loyalty, and fewer returns.

How Will I know?

Companies like Ikea, Wayfair, Target, and Amazon are augmenting the purchases of items, especially larger ones like furniture, and allowing buyers to “try before they buy” — you can virtually place the item in the room to see the piece in the real world before buying and potentially assembling (and we all know the joys of assembling an IKEA piece…) The result again is consumer confidence and a higher likelihood the buyer will ultimately make that big-ticket purchase.

Not sure if you’ll love a paint color? Try it out through AR and get it right the first time — companies like Sherwin-Williams are having extreme success with their ventures into Augmented Reality paint selection and it’s reinforcing the brand’s commitment to helping customers get it right the first time.

Don’t Just Tell Me, Show Me

We all know how essential visuals are to a brand. AR is taking this fact to an elevated level (basically, it’s like a picture times a million). Gone are the days of just showing an illustration to explain how something works. Or dropping a logo onto a piece of collateral to brand it as your own. The possibilities are endless when it comes to AR showing, versus telling, about your brand.

Jack Daniels is using AR to bring customers into the whiskey manufacturing world to immerse them in the distillery and makes the brand more relatable. The bottle’s label becomes a virtual pop-up storybook to show consumers the process, the location, and the history of the company. And, frankly, it’s just cool to watch.

Make The World a Better Place

Augmented Reality is being used as assistive technology for the visually impaired. One service “connects blind and low-vision people to highly trained, remotely-located agents.” The goal of this brand is to make information available to everyone regardless of disability, making life more full and enjoyable and further enhance everyday experiences.

Social and Search

Social media platforms have been on board with the utility of AR, and are leading the charge. Snapchat and Instagram have built entire identity on filters, which brands are now monetizing into awareness, relationship building, and just plain fun. The use of AR on social communicates the organic voice that a basic post simply cannot convey.

And of course Google is in on the frontlines of AR. Google maps are interactive with walking navigation and visual overlays. Google searches include AR immersive experiences to feel connected to the content that comes up on your next search — it’s fun to see an 18-foot great white shark floating in your backyard as you help your child research sharks for a school project.

Just Plain Fun

A Snapchat filter for a special event is a small investment to create a memorable impact. (Check out the filter we used for our recent RPS Open House event…)

But, be careful. There still has to be value to be, well, valuable to your base. Otherwise, it’s just a novelty that could hurt your brand more than help. Your AR experience has to have a strong message and clear function, and go beyond the initial “coolness” factor.

If your AR experience doesn’t drive customers to take action (buy that IKEA sofa, it’ll fit perfectly!), make an informed decision (that lipstick is totally your color!), meet a customer’s need (“What does this error message mean, oh wise AR tech support guy?), showcase your capabilities (have your smartphone out next time you’re in the RPS offices for our full AR experience), or directly align with your brand’s message and values it could end up being just a novelty (a moment of silence for QR codes…)

Bottom line: Don’t be Pokemon Go (hot one minute, obsolete the next). Using AR, and any other Experiential Marketing tools, correctly can have a lasting, positive effect on your business and brand. The key word — “correctly”.

Loud and Clear- 3 Quick Tips for Uploading Quality Images

In a world of Yelp reviews, Facebook advertising, and 140-character tweets, your online presence has really become your storefront. The online adaptation of business and marketing means that image size and quality are now even more important to your success. While we would all like to believe that consumers don’t judge a book by its cover, outward appearances do matter – whether it’s the sign out on Main Street or your header photo on Twitter.

Have you ever uploaded a crystal clear photo to Facebook only to be disappointed in the fuzzy edges it produces in your image? Whether managing your own page or landing on another’s, there’s nothing more off-putting than poorly sized images and blurry text. Keeping your social media presence consistent and professional is important, even down to the last pixel.

Here are three quick tips to solve the conundrum of poor-quality online images!

 

Ditch Your JPEG for PNG

While JPEGs and PNGs are both standard image file formats, they make a world of difference when it comes to Facebook. JPEGs have what’s known as “lossy” compression, while PNGs are considered “lossless.” In simple terms: JPEGS are more compressed and lose their quality, while PNGs are only compressed when uploaded to sites such as Facebook. So next time you upload a new cover or header photo, opt for a PNG and eliminate those fuzzy edges.

Know Your Dimensions

Each social networking site is different, and it’s important to know what dimensions your photo should be. For example, a Facebook cover photo is 851×315 pixels, while a Twitter header photo is 1,500×421 pixels. Knowing this and sizing your image accordingly will help to produce the best results. Want to know more dimensions? Check out the 2016 Social Media Image Sizes Cheat Sheet.

 Stay True to Your Brand

Don’t have brand guidelines?  Maybe it’s time to start developing some. It’s not only important to upload your photo in the correct format, but to also ensure that you’re giving your logo the respect it deserves on the image. This means: don’t distort it to make it fit, cover any part of it with other art, place it on a busy background, or stray from your brand guidelines in any other way. Be consistent and meticulous with your logo across all platforms and you’ll ensure success in displaying it.

 

Want to better understand online imaging or create your brand guidelines? Click here to connect with our team.

 

Five Ways to Stay True to Your Brand on Social Media

Today, social media is the fastest way to expose a brand, so it’s essential that it’s represented and communicated accurately. A brand is anchored by its values, and there’s no better place to let those values shine than in the social realm. Whether you’re just getting started in social or have been a pro for years, here are a few ways to ensure that you’re staying true to the brand you’ve worked so hard to build.

 

1. Know Your Social Personality

Before you can stay true to your brand in the social media world, you have to know what your personality is. Social media creates space for your brand to reveal its authenticity and give a great picture of what you’re about. While some brands may default to humor, it’s not the only way to be personal. Maybe your brand is warm and caring, or maybe it’s more direct and serious – whatever it is, be sure that the tone of your posts shows the personality you wish to convey. The best way to establish your personality is to outline your brand’s values and identify your audience.

 

2. Be Creative but Consistent

You can’t have creativity without some consistency. Once you’ve landed on what your brand personality is, ensure that the majority of your content follows that voice and embodies your values in every post. So you’ve decided you want to up your creativity with #WisdomWednesday? Go for it – but make sure the content stays in line with your brand personality and is posted consistently each week.

It may feel constraining, but as with many lessons in marketing, some rules are meant to be broken – as long as they’re executed strategically. Say you have a fairly “serious” voice in the social realm, but every once in a while, you want to infuse a sense of fun with your audience. Feel free to stray from the norm, but make sure it’s executed thoughtfully and is appropriate for your target audience.

 

3. Be Visual

Whether your business is finance or fashion design, the best way to reveal your personality is through imagery. Never has a picture been more worth a thousand words than on social media. Social Media Examiner found that photos are the most engaging type of content on Facebook, with a staggering 87 percent interaction rate from fans. Whenever possible, opt for utilizing photos and videos to communicate your values and showcase your personality.

 

4. Stick to a Story

Every brand has a story – whether it’s the story of how the company was built or the stories of who it impacts on a daily basis. Story matters, and on social media, it can be one of your greatest tools. The strongest connection a consumer, donor, or partner of a brand can make is to hear from someone just like them. Utilize your staff and customers to share their own stories and use them in the social realm.

 

5. Be Responsive

You may have noticed that some Facebook fan pages have started displaying response rates to messages and inquiries if more than 90 percent of them are answered in less than five minutes. More and more, consumers are trying to connect with brands via social media rather than the contact form on their website. Whether through messages or comments, each post gives you the opportunity to connect with your audience directly, so take advantage of it and invest time in responding efficiently.

Along those same lines, take this opportunity to show authenticity with your brand. If someone uses your page to post problems or complaints, respond quickly and graciously. This will show that you’re not only determined to help in any way, but also that you’re paying attention.

 

Want to better understand your unique brand personality? Click here to connect with our team!

The Best and Worst Times to Post, Pin & Tweet [Infographic]

So when do you post that clever Facebook post? When should you send out that awesome new graphic with the inspiring quote? What about the amazing photoshoot you just had? When do you post those pictures? There’s tons of info out there, but HubSpot posted this pretty cool graphic on their blog that helps us mere mortals take one glance at a really pretty infographic and know exactly when to post our social media stuff!

 

Check out the graphic from HubSpot’s blog:

Post-Pin-Tweet-Best-Time-Outreach

Definitely click here to go over and check out the HubSpot post.

Great website lead capture methods to turn your traffic into sales!

Lead Capture Methods

So what is “lead capture” anyways?

It’s the bulls-eye of your website! In almost every case, if your website is generating leads, it’s doing it’s job!

The whole purpose behind any method of website lead capture is to capture a prospect’s information in some form or another. This could be a sales lead in which they are asking about your services, it could be their email address so that you can continue to market to them, a social follow so they can remain exposed to your marketing or any other form of lead or connection. It is pretty common for websites to just provide information, but no real lead capture opportunities. Without lead capture, how will we convert visitors into leads and more sales?! We won’t… and that is why lead capture is one of the key elements behind a results-focused website.

Think about it… warm leads from people already interested in what you have to offer sounds much better than cold-calling or bulk-mailing tons of people who might not even need what you have to sell, huh? You will hear it from any good internet marketer, the money is in your list. If you have a solid list of prospects to market to, you will make more money. Making great use of lead capture methods on your website will help convert traffic into leads.

 

Start with excellent content

You will need to make sure you start by creating excellent content for your website that presents the benefits of working with you and what you have to offer them. I have some great colleagues who are internet marketing coaches and one of the things they tell their clients is that the purpose of each line of copy is to get the reader to read the next line. It’s so true! Your content should guide the visitor through your page and ultimately end on some sort of lead capture.

[sws_pullquote_left] “Your content should guide the visitor through your page and ultimately end on some sort of lead capture.” [/sws_pullquote_left]

You need to write with your visitor in mind and get them excited so they WANT to take action with one of our website lead capture methods. Your content will be a key determining factor in if they find value in your offering and if they feel safe providing you with their information.

 

 

Now on to the fun part. Let’s chat about some of the actual lead capture methods you can use.

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#1. Contact forms

Contact Form ExampleA contact form is the most basic and most obvious of the lead capture methods. The visitor fills out a form which is then emailed to you. Pretty simple. These are normally found on the contact us page, page sidebars and even on the home page and are normally tied to something like a quote request or a free consultation.

This method is going to actually be expected by most visitors and people are used to seeing it, but at the same time it isn’t terribly attractive and does not create a lot of value or incentive. We use this method on our Contact Us page as a simple contact method should someone go directly to that page and as an option on some of our sales pages, however we use more advanced methods elsewhere on the site.

(psst… always avoid using the word “submit” on forms)

 

#2. Freebie form

This method is an evolution of the contact form. The reason it works so well is that it first creates an incentive and added-value to a visitor completing it before requesting their information. You are essentially saying “if you fill out this form, I will give you something for free in exchange”. The goal behind this is to create something of value that your visitor absolutely must have and that will incite them to give you their contact information for. This could be an eBook, report, whitepaper, audio, video or even a sampler kit you mail them. The freebie you choose should be something they see value in and will want enough to fill out your form.

The most common delivery method is to provide the form and setup an autoresponder that automatically emails the download link to the visitor who fills out the form. A thank you page for the form can also be setup for this purpose. I highly suggest using a third party system to capture the email and automate the sending of the email with a link to the freebie as well as a tool to be able to follow up with an email newsletter. Some of the better systems include InfusionSoft and 1ShoppingCart which provide form codes to embed on your website that will capture the email, add it to a list, send out autoresponders and ongoing email newsletters. You can also use Mail Chimp or Constant Contact, but they are more geared towards just sending newsletters and have less autoresponder options.

Again, keep it simple and only ask for the information you need. In most cases, for a freebie, you are only going to ask for a name and email and in the case you are mailing them something, a mailing address. You will notice we have a freebie form through-out our website on various pages. You can also find a page on our website dedicated to capturing leads through our freebie form. Click here to check it out.

 

#3. Schedule a call button

Schedule an Online Call Example

This is a great lead capture method (one of my favorites!) that places a button on your website, normally within your content or as a home page call to action that opens up a calender with available times for the visitor to choose from and schedule a phone call with you. This is powerful because it not only captures the lead, but you have more than just their contact information, you have a scheduled call! We use this method throughout our website and in fact you will find one at the bottom of this blog post.

Be sure to create value and incentive for them to take action. For example we offer a “free 30-minute consultation” and when they click on the button, they are taken to the scheduler to choose when they want to call us. We also tell them exactly what is going to happen to them on the button by including “click to open scheduler | no opt-in required”.

I highly recommend using a company called TimeTrade for this functionality. It is very affordable and provides you with the tools to setup the scheduler, customize it with your information, choose the time slots you want open, integrate it with your Google Calendar and provides you with the link to attach to your button on your website.

 

#4. RSS feed

RR Feed Signup ExampleAs funny as this is going to sound (we are not making this up, I promise!), the term RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication. “Ok, cool, so it has a funny name, but, what is it”? Well, here’s the Simple version: It is a really easy way to send out content so programs and other websites can read it.

This makes it super easy for people to use RSS readers to pull in all the feeds from all the blogs, news sites and other websites they are interested in. WordPress websites automatically generate RSS feeds of your blog posts, so if you have a WordPress website you just need to know how to provide that link to your visitors so they can subscribe to it using their favorite reader.  By getting people to subscribe to your feed, it is almost as good as capturing their email for your newsletter because they regularly see your new content.

We use Feedburner to manage our feed since it provides additional options and statistics for us and should we ever change our blog URL, we can move our subscribers along with us instead of losing them. You will find that we provide an RSS button in our footer as well as at the bottom of our blog page and individual blog posts.

 

#5. Social media like or follow

Social Media Lock ExampleWhile a little more passive than some of the other methods providing ways for visitors to “like” your Facebook fan page or “follow” your Twitter account still exposes them to your ongoing marketing and provides a way for them to engage with you. This, of course, hinges on the assumption that you are posting regularly on your social media presences. Integrating a Facebook “like” button or a Twitter “follow” button is pretty simple and should be placed in positions that make sense to visitors. Communicate what the benefits are for them to connect with you so they know what to expect.

There are also tools and methods available to “lock” content until someone “likes” it or shares it in some fashion via social media channels. This advanced technique is very similar to the freebie above and in fact can be done in conjunction with a freebie. You promise your visitors additional content or a freebie in exchange for a social interaction.

For example, we have a landing page on our Facebook fan page that requires a “like” to download our freebie as incentive.

 

#6. Honorary Retro Mention: Newsletter Opt-in form

While still something that we use on some of our clients websites from time to time, it’s not something we use very often any more and I’ll explain why.

As another iteration of the contact form, the opt-in form requests the visitor provide their name and email (or just email) to be included on your email newsletter list. While nowhere near as effective as a freebie form, this will allow visitors who are interested in what you have to say to provide their contact information in exchange for it sent to them on a regular basis.

This method can work to garner some leads, but don’t expect hordes of people to give away their email addresses just to receive MORE email in their box each week. If you are going to be capturing emails for your newsletter, tie it into a freebie so you create more value. If you must place a newsletter capture form, place it in your footer or at the bottom of your blog posts. On some occasions when a client has a particularly valuable newsletter, it may be placed in the header.

 

When using any kind of lead capture method, keep these things in mind:

  • Keep it simple! Don’t ask for alot of information. Always ask for the absolute least amount of information you can. That means that if all you need is name and email, that’s all you ask for. Other common fields to include are the phone number and a field for their message. Beyond that, if you don’t need it to make contact, don’t ask for it. I’ve seen lots of forms that ask for tons of information such as address, gender, multiple service questions, etc. People are much more likely to fill out a form that asks for less things.
  • Tell people what to expect. Your visitors will always appreciate being told what is going to happen. What is next after they fill out the form? Will they get spammed? Will you email them? Will you call them? What is next? Use some pointed content to assure them what is coming. This could be something as simple as “Use the form below to request your FREE 30-minute consultation and we will call you within 24 hours”.
  • Make it look trustworthy. You are asking people to share personal contact information, make sure the form or button (and the whole site for that matter) looks like they can trust it. That means spend a little time making sure it is easy to read, text is lined up properly and everything is spaced out appropriately.

 

 

So, now what are you going to do about it?

Web IdeasSo you see how important lead capture is to a results-based website and you’ve even learned about five or six methods… so what are you going to do about it? Take action! Make sure you are incorporating at least one or two of these on your website so you aren’t wasting traffic to your website.

All the information you can learn won’t help your website make you more money unless you apply it. So I encourage you, pick one or two of these and apply them to your website so you can start converting that traffic to leads and ultimately sales!

 

Not sure where to start?

(psst, here’s a great example of a website lead capture method and call to action! ) Schedule a 30-minute consultation with us to see how we can help you. We build websites that are results-focused for people who are awesome at what they do… like you! Click the button below and get your 30-minute call scheduled today.

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