How Higher Education Can Adapt Digital Marketing Approaches

How Higher Education Can Adapt Digital Marketing Approaches

Marketing

COVID-19 has affected businesses across every vertical in different ways. Some are finding it nearly impossible to keep up with the demand for staple goods such as toilet paper and health-related products such as hand sanitizers and face masks. Others, ranging from hotels to restaurants, are struggling to find ways to keep employees on the payroll. The higher education industry is being affected as well. Let’s take a closer look based on our observations and client work.

Challenges for Higher Education

This pandemic has created several challenges for the higher education industry – some for which many were prepared for, and others which have left colleges and universities scrambling to adapt. Many of our higher education clients have robust online class offerings. In fact, many offer bachelor’s and master’s degrees that are 100 percent online. Those clients have experienced minimal disruption to their class schedules.

With that said, when we dig deeper into the data and examine marketing trends closely, we see some revealing details, such as:

  • When it comes graduate-level healthcare related degrees, we have seen a steep drop in overall demand (impressions and clicks are down significantly in Google) as well as a reduction in the number of people completing lead forms seeking more information about a degree program. These results are not surprising. We have all witnessed the heroic efforts of our healthcare workers over the past weeks, devoting countless hours to the point of exhaustion. They understandably need to put the rest of their lives on hold.
  • Conversely, we have seen a 5 percent lift in conversion rates from February to April for master’s in education programs offered by our higher education clients. Those programs are for people who possess education degrees and are looking to earn an advanced degree such as a master’s in education or a master’s in early childhood education. As K-12 classrooms around the country have turned to an abbreviated school day utilizing virtual learning, teachers are reclaiming a few extra hours of their day, and appear to be spending time looking for opportunities to further their own education and advance their careers.

Because of the vast difference in conversion rates between higher education degree programs, it is important to tailor your marketing approach. Now may be a great time to ramp up pay-per-click (PPC) spend for graduate-level teaching degrees, while pulling back on PPC spend for healthcare degrees.

Why Higher Education Needs to Stay Engaged Online

Although higher education is in a unique position with many already offering online learning prior to the pandemic, clearly there is still much disruption in campus programs. Colleges are struggling to complete the 2019-20 year in a virtual format. Many are offering pass/fail options versus a standard letter grade. There are virtual graduation ceremonies in the works,  and some are choosing to delay graduation until a later date in hopes there can be an in-person ceremony.

And a bigger question looms: will campuses will open on schedule this fall, and if they do, how many students will feel comfortable returning? This USA Today article speaks to the conflict being reported widely throughout the news media: students and their parents are going to be tempted take the 2020-21 school year off rather than return to an online format, especially if colleges and universities charge normal tuition rates for an online experience.

In this uncertain climate, all higher education providers must use digital to stay closely connected to current and prospective students as well as their parents. Doing so is especially important now as colleges and universities try to attract students to an experience that is radically different than the one that students signed up for. Right now, many schools are wisely investing more dollars in social platforms to keep students in isolation engaged during the 2019-20 year. They will need to do even more as the uncertain 2020-21 year approaches.

Be Ready to Pivot

Amid uncertainty, we are sure to see online learning play an even bigger role in higher education. Colleges and universities need to be ready to tackle the challenge. Competition is already strong resulting in high cost-per-clicks (CPCs). Currently we have seen CPCs range as high as $90 or more. As more and more colleges enter the online market, we should expect to see those CPCs increase further, and smaller colleges with limited budgets may be forced out by bigger players.

Contact True Interactive

It will become increasingly important to take full advantage of targeting options including geographic, household income, age, and interests to help make the most of your advertising dollars. The one-size-fits-all approach will quickly lead to failure. At True Interactive, we have extensive experience in the higher education field. We are happy to review your current marketing plan and work with you to ensure you are on the path to success. Contact us to get started.

Photo by Matt Ragland on Unsplash

How to Adapt B2B Marketing during Turbulent Times

How to Adapt B2B Marketing during Turbulent Times

Marketing

Businesses that market to other business can and should keep engaging with their clients and prospects during the disruption we’re all enduring right now. Let’s take a look at why this is so and how a B2B brand should stay visible.

The B2B Customer Journey Is More Complex

The B2B customer journey is more complex, and the sales cycle is lengthier. The decision-making process for purchasing a product or service for a business requires more research and approvals. So in a B2B setting, it’s even more important for a brand to maintain frequent outreach to stay on a prospect’s radar screen. During a disruption of operations, your prospects may postpone their decisions, thus making the sales cycle even longer. But if you fall off their radar screens, it’s going to be harder for you to re-connect with them when they are ready to re-engage.

What You Should Do

So what should you do to remain engaged? Here are a few tips:

1 Examine Your Analytics

Your B2B customer is just like a B2C audience: likely stuck at home during a period of social distancing (unless their profession dictates otherwise) doing their jobs exclusively online. We’re seeing dramatic shifts in both desktop and mobile search behavior across the board while people practice social distancing. Now, dig deeper into your own audience behavior. For instance:

  • What changes do you see in click-through rates for different paid media campaigns you’ve been running and at what time of day? They’ve probably changed depending on the type of product you offer.
  • What changes do you see in the content your prospects are searching for?
  • Where is your audience spending your time? It’s quite possible they are engaging more on social than they ever have while they combine professional and personal priorities while they work at home. A social platform such as Facebook, which might not have been your natural choice to advertise, might make more sense right now.
  • In addition, if you are a global B2B brand, your mileage may vary depending on where you do business, as different countries are being affected by the COVID-19 pandemic with varying degrees of severity and with different recovery time frames.

2 Be Ready to Adapt Your Tactics

Depending on what your data tells you, be ready to adapt the nature of your campaigns, for instance:

  • Adapt your keyword strategy to be more in tune with the topics they are looking for right now. Carefully manage your keyword exclusions to avoid having your name appear next to COVID-19 content.
  • Be prepared to invest more into paid social media if your audience is navigating there. In addition, consider that Facebook’s and LinkedIn’s audience targeting tools make them ideal for experimenting with the type of audience segments you want to reach.

3 Mind Your Tone

B2B audiences are experiencing the same feelings of doubt and uncertainty that B2C audiences are. Re-examine the tone of your content. Be prepared to tone down overly salesy, chipper content that will come across as tone deaf. Use phrases and images that emphasize that you are here for your customer and seek to partner with them during a difficult time.

4 Invest in Thought Leadership

Sharing thought leadership (such as blog posts and white papers) is a great way to augment your digital advertising with top-of-the-funnel awareness. Why? Because during a slowdown in operations, it is not uncommon for B2B customers to brush up on professional knowledge, and they’re also going to be more receptive to practical ideas for managing their businesses during trying times.

Contact True Interactive

True Interactive knows how to create and execute digital marketing for both business-to-consumer and business-to-business clients. We’re here to help you. Contact us to learn more.

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

 

What Is DuckDuckGo? Advertiser Q&A

What Is DuckDuckGo? Advertiser Q&A

Advertising Marketing

Part of the price of being popular is being a target. And as we enter 2020, Google is certainly a big target for privacy advocates, who are uncomfortable with the amount of personal data that the master of the search world collects. And when privacy advocates talk about Google, they mean more than Google.com – there’s also Google Maps, YouTube, and a host of other Google-owned properties to consider. Amid the ongoing discussion about Google’s size and reach, search engine DuckDuckGo has emerged as an alternative for privacy advocates. DuckDuckGo is cast as an underdog and defender of personal privacy, partly because of how the company positions itself (“privacy, simplified”) and partly because of DuckDuckGo’s operating model (DuckDuckGo does not store personal information, follow users around with ads, or track users).

What, exactly, is DuckDuckGo, and how big is it? Let’s tackle these and other questions we’ve been getting from clients.

What Is DuckDuckGo?

Founded in 2008, DuckDuckGo is a search engine whose claim to fame is protecting user privacy. DuckDuckGo does not store IP addresses or log user information; and DuckDuckGo uses cookies only when required. The search engine also markets itself with a bit of cheek (according to its website, “At DuckDuckGo, we don’t think the Internet should feel so creepy and getting the privacy you deserve online should be as simple as closing the blinds”) and defiance (“Too many people believe that you simply can’t expect privacy on the Internet. We disagree and have made it our mission to set a new standard of trust online”).

Think of DuckDuckGo as an alternative search engine for those who want to maintain a brick wall of privacy between themselves and the digital world when they search.

How Big Is DuckDuckGo?

DuckDuckGo accommodates 1.5 billion searches a month with nearly 15 billion searches conducted in 2019. By contrast, in 2019, Google accommodated 2 trillion searches a day. Although DuckDuckGo is tiny by comparison, the search engine is growing. Those 15 billion searches represent a 60 percent increase over 2018 (9.2 billion) and nearly a tripling of 2017 searches (5.9 billion). Clearly, DuckDuckGo is catching on – with a small segment of the population, yes, but a growing on.

How Does DuckDuckGo Make Money?

DuckDuckGo makes money through advertising and affiliate marketing. Just because DuckDuckGo protects your privacy, it doesn’t mean DuckDuckGo offers ad-free search results. If a user searches for, say, “vinyl records near me,” DuckDuckGo returns advertisements based on the keyword search. But DuckDuckGo does not track or use a person’s data after the search is completed. In addition, DuckDuckGo earns affiliate marketing revenue from sites such as from Amazon and eBay. When users buy something on those sites after reaching them through DuckDuckGo, DuckDuckGo collects a commission. For more insight about advertising on DuckDuckGo, check out this link from the company.

Is DuckDuckGo Reliable?

Your mileage may vary. The search engine has been called out for lacking certain functionality available on Google and Bing, such as custom date ranges. And to be sure, Google provides an interconnected universe of properties (Google.com and Google Maps being a good example). But DuckDuckGo is building out its functionality. For instance, you can do location-based searches through an integration between DuckDuckGo and Apple Maps. The best way to test it is to try it.

Should I Advertise on DuckDuckGo?

Businesses with a limited budget should focus on the properties where they’ll get the most bang for the buck, and without question there are bigger alternative such as Google and Bing that provide much more ad visibility. One of DuckDuckGo’s challenges is that the site itself requires a bit of word of mouth for people to find. But that said, businesses might want to consider DuckDuckGo for discretionary ad spend targeting a smaller privacy-conscious segment of the population.  According to research from SimilarWeb, loyal users of DuckDuckGo love tech, and they use DuckDuckGo as an alternative because they’re concerned about having their privacy protected while they search online. If that’s the type of audience for you, consider DuckDuckGo.

Contact True Interactive

To make online advertising work for you, contact True Interactive. We’re an independent agency that optimizes branded interactions to drive traffic and increase sales.

Gaming: a Golden Marketing Frontier

Gaming: a Golden Marketing Frontier

Marketing

As reported by VentureBeat, a new Consumer Technology Association (CTA) study indicates 70 percent of Americans aged 13 to 64 play games. That’s a whopping 192 million U.S. consumers, a number that reflects the way gaming has been informed in recent years by social phenomena like increased smartphone use. Brands who understand this demographic shift can only benefit.

Gamers: Who Are They?

The 2019 Future of Gaming study defines gamers as anyone who played video games for at least one hour in the past three months. And according to the study, the aforementioned 192 million gamers—playing on consoles like Xbox One or PlayStation 4; smartphones or tablets; and PCs—embrace gameplay as entertainment, but also as an active social channel. Perhaps because of this, the classic stereotype of the typical gamer—young male—no longer applies. Games are drawing a much bigger demographic.

“Not only is the classic teenage-boy-gamer stereotype untrue today, but it’s even less accurate when it comes to mobile games,” notes Tom Simpson, vice president, brand and exchange, APAC, AdColony. “More than one billion Asian consumers of all ages and genders play games every day on their smartphones. In fact, across many markets in APAC we see a larger number of female gamers than male.” Consider games like Candy Crush and its successor, Candy Crush Soda Saga: the archetypal player is a woman aged 25 to 45.

What Gaming Means to You

Because the gaming demographic is so large and varied, gaming represents a golden opportunity for brands. According to The Drum, projections indicate the global mobile gaming market will be worth $174 billion by 2021, for example. Advertisers can target a niche audience in that market, or deliver brand awareness at scale. It’s ultimately up to the brand, its budget, and advertising objectives.

Examples of Brands Killing It with Gamers

So who’s already doing it right? Look no further than Coca-Cola, which rolled out a mobile game app targeting teens and young adults. In the Crabs & Penguins game, developed by Coca-Cola’s Content Factory in partnership with McDonald’s, users guide a crab character through races and dangers, coming into contact with other animals, such as polar bears, along the way. The ultimate goal? Returning a soccer ball to a cast of penguin characters. The stated goal of the game is to “spread happiness,” which also happens to be Coke’s tag line; characters and products in the game are also branded with the Coca-Cola logo. Bottom line: the Coke brand is on the user’s mind as they play the game.

Meanwhile, brands like Gatorade and Asos are succeeding by matching product to game. In a digital recreation of how the sports drink fuels real-life activity, Gatorade offered players a digital “electrolyte boost” via energy refills in EA’s Madden NFL Mobile; gamers could then play longer. Clothing brand Asos, in turn, paired with The Sims Mobile game, introducing branded clothing and timed quests to Sims players. The real-world experience of shopping for clothing online proved a good match to the customization options within the game.

Three Key Takeaways

So what does this mean for your brand? Consider these takeaways:

  1. Gamers are a diverse audience. Identify your demographic; chances are that group plays games in some form. What games does your target market like to play? Understanding what games your customers enjoy helps you know where (and how) to reach them. Are you targeting busy moms who relax over a game of Candy Crush? Teens likely to be snacking (or craving a snack) while playing Fruit Ninja?
  2. Consider what games might be a good one-on-one match for your actual product. Are there games that digitally recreate the universe your product occupies in real life?
  3. Finally, consider whether your brand (and budget) are best served by targeted outreach, or more of a universal awareness blitz.

Contact True Interactive

Need help navigating the opportunities afforded by the gaming market? Contact us. We can help.

Photo by SCREEN POST on Unsplash

What Is the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA)? Advertiser Q&A

What Is the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA)? Advertiser Q&A

Marketing

The California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) takes effect on January 1, 2020. The forthcoming law symbolizes how consumer privacy is increasingly taking center stage among governmental bodies in the United States. Preliminary estimates suggest it will cost businesses $467 million to $16.5 billion to comply in coming years.

At this point, it’s safe to say that every major advertiser is aware of the CCPA. But it’s not always easy to understand exactly what this omnibus legislation is all about. So we’re going to answer some question that we’ve been getting. Check it out – the CCPA might apply to you whether or not you do business in California, so it’s important to understand it:

What Is the CCPA?

The CCPA is new legislation designed to enhance privacy rights of California residents. With a population of nearly 40 million, California is considered a bellwether state. Many privacy experts are watching the CCPA closely because of its potential impact on how privacy is legislated across the United States.

How Does the CCPA Enhance the Privacy Rights of California Residents?

The CCPA grants new rights to California consumers, per the CCPA website:

  • The right to know what personal information is collected, used, shared or sold, both as to the categories and specific pieces of personal information;
  • The right to delete personal information held by businesses and by extension, a business’s service provider;
  • The right to opt-out of sale of personal information. Consumers are able to direct a business that sells personal information to stop selling that information. Children under the age of 16 must provide opt in consent, with a parent or guardian consenting for children under 13.
  • The right to non-discrimination in terms of price or service when a consumer exercises a privacy right under CCPA.

What Does the CCPA Require of Businesses?

In a single sentence: the CCPA imposes requirements on how businesses collect, use, and disclose information about California residents.

But the legislation is dense and difficult to untangle. Per the CCPA website, businesses must fulfill these obligations:

  • Businesses subject to the CCPA must provide notice to consumers at or before data collection.
  • Businesses must create procedures to respond to requests from consumers to opt-out, know, and delete.
    • For requests to opt-out, businesses must provide a “Do Not Sell My Info” link on their website  or mobile app.
  • Businesses must respond to requests from consumers to know, delete, and opt-out within specific timeframes.
    • As proposed by the draft regulations, businesses must treat user-enabled privacy settings that  signal a consumer’s choice to opt-out as a validly submitted opt-out request.
  • Businesses must verify the identity of consumers who make requests to know and to delete, whether or not the consumer maintains a password-protected account with the business.
    • As proposed by the draft regulations, if a business is unable to verify a request, it may deny the request, but must comply to the greatest extent it can. For example, it must treat a request to delete as a request to opt-out.
  • As proposed by the draft regulations, businesses must disclose financial incentives offered in exchange for the retention or sale of a consumer’s personal information and explain how they calculate the value of the personal information. Businesses must also explain how the incentive is permitted under the CCPA.
  • As proposed by the draft regulations, businesses must maintain records of requests and how they responded for 24 months in order to demonstrate their compliance.
    • In addition, businesses that collect, buy, or sell the personal information of more than 4 million consumers have additional record-keeping and training obligations.

In coming months, what’s likely going to happen is that businesses will learn through trial and error. Stay tuned. And learn from the inevitable violations that are bound to make the news.

Who Must Comply with the CCPA?

Companies doing business in California subject to the CCPA if one or more of the following are true:

  • Has gross annual revenues in excess of $25 million.
  • Buys, receives, or sells the personal information of 50,000 or more consumers, households, or devices.
  • Derives 50 percent or more of annual revenues from selling consumers’ personal information.

I’m Not Based in California. Do I Need to Worry about the CCPA?

The conditions stipulated above may indeed apply to you if you are outside California. For instance, if you are buying, receiving, or selling the personal information of 50,000 or more consumers, households, or devices in California, CCPA may apply to you regardless of where you are located. Read this insight for more detail.

What Is the Penalty for Noncompliance?

Businesses may be fined up to $7,500 for violation. Businesses could also face civil damages of up to $750 per violation, per user. The key phrase here is “per user.” A major violation could cost a business millions.

Will More States Enact This Kind of Legislation?

They already are. Nevada has enacted its own version of the CCPA already. Here is more information on how other states are enacting privacy legislation.

How Do I Ensure I Am Compliant?

A number of security firms provide compliance services. Unless you have a strong in-house security team, your best bet is to look for compliance help from a specialist.

Contact True Interactive

To manage advertising online effectively, contact True Interactive. We’re here to help!

Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters on Unsplash

How Bud Light Turned a World Series Moment into a Marketing Home Run

How Bud Light Turned a World Series Moment into a Marketing Home Run

Marketing

The Washington Nationals were not the only World Series winner. Bud Light also won big.

In the blink of an eye, Bud Light enjoyed $7.2 million in media value because of a baseball fan named Jeff Adams. If you followed the World Series, you might know something about his rapid rise to internet fame. You might have even replayed (several times) the moment that went viral on social media, when Adams took a home run ball to the chest in order to save two Bud Light beers he was holding. What happened next was nearly as impressive as Adams’s toughness: Bud Light moved with lightning speed to seize upon the marketing opportunity.

Within minutes, Bud Light turned footage of the moment into a marketing opportunity on Twitter, which is still pinned to Bud Light’s Twitter account as of this writing, earning more than 18,500 retweets, 2,300+ comments, and 107,000+ likes:

 

Bud Light didn’t stop there. Creating a win-win for Adams and Bud Light, the company paid for him to Attend Game 6 in Houston (where he was treated like a conquering hero) – and clothed him in a customized T-shirt emblazoned with an image of Adams during the moment of impact and the catch phrase “Always Save the Beers.”

As reported in USA Today, this marketing gesture garnered Bud Light more than $7.2 million in media value. In addition, Bud Light further maximized value from Adams’s moment of glory with a simple commercial that ran during the game, replaying the celebrated moment in slow motion with a simple text overlay reading, “Not all heroes wear capes.”

Bud Light’s marketing response to this unexpected viral moment was perfectly played. The brand’s actions were immediate and effective. Bud Light generated free advertising by ensuring the company’s “hero” attended Game 6 wearing a quickly mocked-up T-shirt seen worldwide and rolled out a simple ad, striking while the iron was hot – not to mention the opportunistic use of Twitter.

As marketers we can all learn from Bud Light: timing is everything. When an opportunity arises like this one, it’s more important to be agile than perfect. Don’t worry about creating the perfect ad or the perfect T-shirt. Settle on an approach that represents your brand well and get it in market – FAST!

You never know when your viral moment will hit. Do you have a strategy in place to take full advantage of what could be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity? Is your marketing team empowered to act quickly when a fleeting, real-time branding opportunity arises? Based on the speed with which Bud Light acted, clearly the company prepares for moments like this. How about you?

Contact True Interactive

To build your brand with digital, contact True Interactive. We can help you hit a home run, too.

 

Apple Showcases Its Augmented Reality Tools at WWDC

Apple Showcases Its Augmented Reality Tools at WWDC

Marketing Mobile

When is the next Pokémon GO going to come along to make everyone love augmented reality (AR)?

This is the question on the minds of many technology watchers who are waiting for another AR breakthrough. But applications like Pokémon GO don’t happen very often. The real value of AR comes from people and businesses using it to share immersive experiences that complement our lives rather than making us drop everything and focus on AR.

Perhaps that’s why Apple has been careful to sell AR as an evolutionary tool that will enrich how we live, whether through practical application or content that engages. At Apple’s annual Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) Apple accentuated tools that should make AR easier to use – perhaps not glamorous developments, but important ones.

ARKit Update

For example, Apple announced an update to ARKit, its software development toolkit for AR (and competitor to Google’s ARCore). Among other improvements, ARKit will capture the motion of a person in real time with a single camera. As Apple noted, by understanding body position and movement as a series of joints and bones, you can use motion and poses as an input to the AR experience — placing people at the center of AR. Apple also announced human inclusion, meaning that AR content realistically passes behind and in front of people in the real world, making AR experiences more immersive.

Those improvements matter because for AR to attract advertisers and consumers, it has to offer something different beyond what anyone can experience in a 2D world. As it stands, AR is catching on with advertisers. According to eMarketer, global augmented reality ad revenues are expected to rise from $779 million in 2019 to $1.2 billion in 2020 and $2.6 billion in 2022 – not a huge number, but higher than $166.7 million generated in 2017. Most of that money is coming from display advertising. Making AR more powerful and immersive will build more momentum.

Making AR Easier

Apple did something else: made AR easier to develop. With new Reality Composer and RealityKit tools, developers will be able to create AR apps easier on Apple’s operating system. As Apple noted, Reality Composer helps anyone create AR apps even if you lack 3D experience.

But responses to the news have been underwhelming, partly because Apple is restricting these tools to its own operating system. But another reason is that journalists seem to be waiting for that next AR killer app to capture their imagination, and software development tools are not going to do that. Perhaps the AR version of Minecraft will be the next killer app. Meanwhile, advertisers will continue to create AR that engages, such as Toyota’s new AR experience and Snapchat’s ongoing AR features. People may not use AR every day, but when they do, they remain highly engaged. Apple isn’t creating engagement – but it’s giving businesses tools to do so.

For more information on how to build advertising that engages consumers through digital, contact True Interactive.

Image source: https://www.apple.com/newsroom/2019/06/highlights-from-wwdc-2019/