#Digital Marketing Tips

Creative Concepts mobileWhen a brand says they need help with their digital marketing, what are they talking about?  Is it social media? A website? Something else? Digital marketing is marketing that makes use of electronic devices such as personal computers, smartphones, cellphones, tablets and game consoles to engage with stakeholders as per Wikipedia so let’s figure out what that really means to you and your brand.

Websites: We all know what a website is, but how do you take a new look at your site and reconfigure it as a digital marketing tool?  In other words, how do you use your website to acquire new customers?  Here are a few questions to ask yourself:

  1. Are you clearly explaining your services?
  2. Are you doing so in a unique way with video or other unique tools in order to help share your story in an interesting, educational or entertaining format?
  3. Are you updating your content often via a blog or other areas of your website so you give a reason for the customer to come back while increasing your SEO (search engine optimization) rankings?
  4. Have you provided a forum on your website for customers to share their thoughts and/or questions with you and other customers?
  5. Do you have a way to capture visitors on your website so you can get back to them with a ‘thank you for visiting?’
  6. Does your website look great on a computer, smartphone and tablet?  FYI, no compromising here, this should no longer be on the wishlist…it’s a must do!

Social Media: Social media is a very effective (and these days necessary) way to digitally market to your customers.  There are many elements to consider, as I have written about previously, like your available time and budget.  Additionally you have to then dig deep to figure out a successful content strategy coupled with the goal of increasing community engagement on the many social networks available so pick wisely, take one step at a time but make it happen because this is a part of marketing that every sized business needs to invest in.

Email: There are so many opinions out there on the effectiveness of email, it’s hard to know if this is a wise investment in digital dollars, but here is what I personally know: like everything else you might do to promote your brand, if you target your buyer(s) properly, provide high quality imagery and content, and give the customer a reason to continue to open the email (discounts, giveaways…), then you will have a high conversion rate, period.

Online Advertising: I personally am not a fan of the online banner ad but I do love the option of native adverting which is more interactive than the old time banners and is most likely supported by the trusted website the customer just visited which gives your advertising an extra edge.  Video ads also offer an interesting option so do investigate your choices from the websites that feature your advertising to the formats that represent your brand so you can get the biggest bang for your buck!

Mobile: Mobile is really the next evolution for digital marketers and brands.  Between opt-in SMS, mobile sites and of course apps, there are so many ways to reach out and touch your customer, engage them and lead them to buy.  And with Apple Pay, SnapCash and many other mobile payment options, mobile effects our online and offline lives so the faster your brand can figure out how to make use of some or all of the mobile options, the faster you will discover the way to increased sales!

Games: Depending on who you want to reach from young men to the growing number of women playing online, games can be of huge value to any brand or marketer.  We have a client who has the simplest of games on Facebook.  Each month the player with the highest score from a branded matching game wins a prize. They love it and hundreds play it each month. You don’t need to invest in millions to gain brand exposure as product placement could also be an option for you vs. creating a whole new game in order to interact with your present and potential customers.  As always, be creative and strategic in order to get a return on your investment.

Check out 6 Predictions About The State of Digital Marketing in 2015 by Forbes contributor Sujan Patel.  ‘Content Will Be More Important Than Ever,’ ‘Marketing Will Be Even More Connected,’ and ‘Mobile Will Take Over’ are my favorites from this list and all are part of the digital marketing mix so get creative, be strategic and take a chance ….it’s the only way to build a strong future for your brand!

Valorie Luther, Founder Creative Concepts, @CreativeConsult

Is Your Business Ready for #Online Holiday Shopping?

ID-100110478E-commerce continues to rise this year as more people choose to do their holiday shopping, or at least part of it, online. The top shipping companies expect a 14% increase in parcel deliveries this holiday season.

The main question is, is your business ready?

Kelly Spors discusses this in the OPEN Forum article “Online Shopping Will Be Red-Hot This Holiday Season. Is Your Business Ready?” The article lists four areas that businesses need to focus on to be prepared for the holiday online shopping season.

Here are they key points for businesses to consider in preparation of the upcoming holiday season.

  1. Make sure your website is up to par. Your website is your central hub online so make sure it is easy to navigate and up to date with the latest in-store promotions and news. Point all of your online activity to your website and cross promote your in-store and online shopping. Highlight gift products and make it easy to search.
  2. Make sure your business can be found online. There’s nothing worse than having a holiday-ready website that no one can find. Optimize your website for search engines and add a blog to highlight new products, services, promotions and more. Carefully choose keywords with three words or more to help with holiday gift searches.
  3. Offer something more. Offer low cost shipping or free gift wrapping or special services to stand apart from competition. What would your customers want? Ask them.
  4. Target your customers on their busiest online shopping days. Cyber Monday and Black Friday are just two of the top online shopping days. Learn which days are best for your customers through research reports from Google Analytics. Spors writes about this in “The 5 Best Days for Online Retail During the Holiday Season.” Experiment with some pay-per-click or sponsored ads to boost online sales.

A fifth point is to reach out your best customers through holiday email marketing. Offer VIP type specials that only subscribers will receive. Have them bring a coupon in to the store or give them a special online shopping code for extras.

With planning and preparation, small businesses can compete with the larger retailers during the holidays. What has worked for your business?


Image courtesy of marcolm at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

How #SocialMedia Can Help You Connect with Customers

connect with customer through social mediaSocial media can help you reach your customers in exciting new ways. It’s like a pipeline of channels that serve as an extension of your traditional marketing outlets.

When social media is integrated into your overall communication strategy, it can help build engagement and generate real time feedback for your brand.

So, how can social media help you better connect with your customers?

Social Media Today wrote “25 Ways to Engage Your Social Media Following.” The article offers many tips on how to build and engage your social media following.

Some of the top tips include:

  • Become a student of social media and set up your own accounts on the networks of interest so you can learn how they work.
  • Sharing is key, think 80/20 rule and stay away from the hard sell.
  • Think local. Connect with your local community and build a rapport with other people and businesses in your area.
  • Experiment with messages on different networks. What may work for Twitter may not be the case for Facebook.
  • Adding visual elements is always a good idea on any network which explains why Pinterest and YouTube are so popular.

Hubspot wrote “How to Use Social Media to Engage with Customers and Build Your Brand.”

A great tip they give is to start out listening, then interact with your audience.

  • Find out what your target audience wants. Set up a keyword/hashtag monitoring stream and find out what they are saying about you, your industry, competition and more.
  • Read and respond to your comments on social media accounts. This gives you a firsthand account and puts your finger on the pulse of what is happening right now with your market.
  • Ask and answer questions. Social media is like an informal focus group - it’s a great way to have a conversation and generate feedback.
  • Be transparent and be true – show your personality, make a connection and see what happens.

How have you better connected with your customers on social media?


Image courtesy of Salvatore Vuono at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Hire Right For Social Media Success

creative concepts

Brands everywhere are looking for a social media expert, guru, strategist, manager, senior executive and/or visionary but because social media and the broader category of digital marketing (and all of its varied parts) is still relatively new to many, the job ‘needs’ list gets long and unwieldy because those hiring often don’t understand the different levels of expertise required based on present needs, long term goals and senior management’s commitment (or lack thereof) to building their online presence.  Here are some tips on finding what you need to make magic happen whether you are a brand or an agency supporting many brands online.

You know you need a Community Manager* when:

  1. You have no online presence and you don’t know where to begin.
  2. You, the founder of your company, have built your brand’s social media profiles which has helped to grow the business, but now you are too busy (thankfully) to manage all of the social media.
  3. Other people in other departments have been pitching in erratically to help build your brand’s social media presence but now you need to make a real commitment to social media in order to take your business to the next level.

*My definition of a community manager is someone who understands how the various social media channels work, is a great ‘social’ writer, knows how to engage an online community and understands basic marketing principals.

You know you need a Social Media Strategist* when:

  1. You have been investing time and money into your social media but you don’t seem to be making a dent in brand exposure or sales.
  2. Your social media really needs to support and lift your public relations and marketing efforts but you don’t know how to make that happen either.
  3. You have no idea who and what an online influencer is but you hear that building relationships with these people is a good thing, but again you don’t know the who, what, and where of blogger building.

*My definition of a social media strategist is someone who has come from a PR or marketing background who understands all social channels and could either be doing daily content too or will oversee the daily content producers. This person is able to peak their head above the daily work and put a strategy in place that is linked to the company’s overall marketing and communication goals.  They should also be able to build relationships with online influencers.

You know you need a Digital Strategist* when:

  1. Your website, social media, online ads, videos and all other web based assets don’t look or sound the same…there is no continuity.
  2. You need to go beyond social media and understand if online ads, social ads, native advertising and/or sponsorships will be good for your business, and then implement based on what your online research reveals, but you need help.
  3. You need to bring all online elements together for an effective 360° digital campaign but you have no idea how to do this.

*My definition of a digital strategist is someone who not only understands social media on all levels but then looks at the whole online presence in order to bring every element together so that messaging is not only clear but it moves present and potential customers to take an action like sharing (for greater brand exposure) or buying (to increase sales).

You know you need a Senior Social/Digital Marketing Executive* when:

  1. You have a department full of community managers and social strategists but no one to pull them and their efforts together while making sure all overall marketing and communication goals are met for the brand.
  2. You need a senior level executive on the management committee who understands every level of the digital horizon.
  3. You need a digital strategist who can also manage a team and a budget because you have now made a deep commitment to your brand’s expansion via your online presence.

*My definition of a senior social media/digital marketing executive is someone who has over 10 years’ experience in social media alone, digital, PR and Marketing even longer and whose expertise includes market analysis, strategic planning, client and team management, creative production, P&L management, and new business development.

While all of this can be confusing to anyone who doesn’t spend a lot of time mastering the digital space, take a moment to slow down and really assess what your needs are and take baby steps so you can achieve both your online and off line goals.

-Valorie Luther, Founder Creative Concepts, follow me @CreativeConsult

Dream Team Management Tips

Creative Concepts team

One of the wonderful things about running my company is building and managing a successful team…but wait, is it always great? No, but like everything else, I have learned a thing or two over the years and refined our communication and work flow processes so now whether we are doing projects for present clients or have a new client coming on board, we are a well-oiled machine as they say.  Here are a few tips for hiring and managing your dream team:

  1. When someone comes to Creative Concepts looking for a position, I always take the time to read their resumes and consider their background.  Most of my present day team came to Creative Concepts this way.  Hiring someone who has investigated your company and already knows they want to work there is half the battle.
  1. When interviewing a potential hire, I do what everyone does and ask about their background and what they want to do, but I also ask if they didn’t have a care in the world, what would be their most perfect job?  Answers I have gotten have ranged from writing to running their own PR firm which said to me that they fit into Creative Concepts but when one person said horseback riding, I wished her luck with her job search and said no thank you because I really do feel everyone should follow their passion and do what they love whether they work for me or not (and sorry, no horseback riding at this social media agency).  I did have one person submit her resume multiple times for a business development position…she didn’t understand that to sell social media services you have to have an online presence and understand at least the basics….she walked away mad but am I hoping she has found the perfect position that is more suited for her background.
  1. Once people come on board, I touch base with them often even if they are directly reporting to someone else within Creative Concepts.  I ask how things are going, ask what they like and what isn’t working for them.  Hearing their feedback allows me to learn if our process is generally working, but it also helps me to know if they will stick around which is important to know quickly because training takes time and money.  I also take these opportunities to learn more about them overall which helps me to understand their future path within Creative Concepts.  Writers, for example, all don’t head in the same direction internally.  We have one writer who has evolved into a client services role and another who is now Editor of all client content.  The fact that they are both doing what they love enables longevity within our firm.
  1. When we have new client work, those who have been with us the longest don’t get first dibbs on the work as it is given out to the people who best fit the client.  Seniority should never compromise our clients.  If everyone on my team is doing what they love for clients they can relate to, it actually saves money and the clients are excited by the work we produce.
  1. I believe in total flexibility as a manager.  I have a lot of moms who work for me which, as a category, is an untapped market still to this day.  These moms have different needs in their schedules based on what happens at home so if anyone on the team doesn’t have a client facing position, and they get their work done by the end of the day well in advance of deadlines and its high quality, then I don’t care about the how, when and where.  We have multiple communication tools that help us to stay on top of our work whether someone is in their car heading to a football game at 4pm or sitting in front of the computer in the office at 6am so it all works: clients, team and I are all happy!
  1. As per mistakes?  Everyone makes them!  I only bring on great people who take pride in their work so if a mistake is made, I am usually the calmer one between us.  I believe all mistakes can be fixed either with time or making a simple correction so as long as people learn from every issue, then I am good (if they don’t learn, then that is another case entirely).
  1. Because social media is ever evolving, I am very happy messing around with every new social network and every new approach but many on the team aren’t like me so I take the time to push them individually and drive them to learn and expand their approaches to their work.  At the end of the day, this makes most of the team happy and those who aren’t know to leave and find a slower unchanging environment.  Everything always works out in the end.
  1. And if you hire smart creative people, you have to allow them to do what they do best.  Once I trust they know the client and the goals, I always leave the work in their hands so they can do what I hired them for.  It saves me time and shows how much I respect them which I believe is motivating.
  1. Hiring ethical people who can be trusted is essential to every business so this isn’t necessarily the last item, it should just go without saying.

Every company is different of course and every manager has a different style so it can be hard to make magic happen every day but as long as you, the manager and leader, listen, respect, educate and appreciate those who work for you, you are off to a great start.

Happy managing!

Valorie Luther, Founder Creative Concepts, follow me @CreativeConsult

How to Find the Best Days and Times to Post on #SocialMedia

screenTiming is everything on social media. Run a campaign on the wrong day or time and it will be lost. So, how do you find out the best days and times to post on social media?

There are lots of factors that determine the best days and times of the week for your business. Factors like your industry, do you target businesses or consumers? Where do your target audiences go online? When are they most active? For B2B, it might be during the work week. For B2C, it might be weeknights and weekends.

Social Media Today recently wrote How to Find the Best Days and Times to Post on Social Media. They list a variety of tools to help gain insight on the best dates and times.

There are external social sharing tools such as Buffer and SproutSocial that let you examine your statistics and discover what your most effective posts were.

Internal tools give further insights for each social network. Checking your analytics on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Google Plus and other platforms will give you the data you need to determine what’s working and what’s not.

The following infographic from SurePayroll shows data garnered from top industry sources with the best and worst times to post on six platforms. For more information, check out their article Post, Pin & Tweet – The Best Time to Outreach.

Pull your analytics and test out different dates and times to determine what works best for your brand.

Courtesy of: SurePayroll


Tips On How To Use Social Media For PR And Events

creative concepts, green closet

Like many who have been in the middle of social media since its inception, many of us know that Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram and more lead the way when it comes to increasing brand exposure and reaching out directly to present and future consumers, but let’s look at how social media can be used as a support to your public relations and events efforts as well.

Public Relations Success Via Social Media

Because I do both public relations and social media at Creative Concepts, I often (but not always) have the luxury of working with these two communication tools simultaneously.  I literally have hundreds of examples of how I have used social media to further the reach of the more traditional public relations efforts but let’s turn to a ‘green’ cleaning client as a great case study of how social media can build and then support public relations:

An international eco cleaning company wanted to reach beyond the present ‘super green’ customer and appeal to a broader range of people with a focus on women specifically who weren’t necessarily zeroed in on sustainability in order to increase sales in the U.S.

I proposed a social media and public relations strategy that involved educating the consumer continually (vs. doing a one time “campaign”) about conscious living via an approach I called “Green Closet” which appealed to a demographic of a wealthier educated woman. The idea was to suggest that one could and should create a “green” closet by choosing high end fashion manufactured sustainably, staying away from fast fashion and reusing old clothes already in the closet, and of course washing all clothes with sustainable cleaning products made by my client.  Instead of doing the more common one-way brand messaging, I instead built a ‘Green Team’ of two very well respected eco designers, a world renown author and expert on Fast Fashion, an eco-stylist and more to act as spokespeople for “Green Closet” where one or all of the team lead with their passion for a more sustainable approach to fashion but they always included my client in the online and press conversations about living eco-fashionably 360°.

This was a public relations homerun supported by social media.  The Green Team contributed content to my client’s blog and social sites which helped to build online and offline buzz where I was then able to catch the attention of top media as the topic of a “Green Closet” told by our Green Team was both timely and impressive where the approach was educational vs. promotional.  Between sophisticated imagery and high level informative and interesting online content showcased on the brands’ and the Green Team’s social sites, the press bit at the story.  This is a great example of how social media (along with a timely and unique message) can be used to catch and then urge the press to take the story further.

Events Using Social Media (and PR) To Fill The House

Social media can be a huge tool when planning and promoting events, attending events or sharing brand messaging post event as seen with this client case study:

A client was opening a new franchise and needed to fill the grand opening event with potential customers.  And for anyone who couldn’t make the event, the client wanted to make future customers aware and excited about their services so potential new members would sign up sooner rather than later.

I proposed and then used a combination of Facebook (knowing their potential members were there), strategic partnerships with local mom bloggers (the client’s business was focused on families), and public relations to fill the house and get the word out about the new business.

With a three month lead time using the power of social media and then closer to the event alerting the press, we garnered over 20 press mentions locally, had 500 attendees in three hours, and got 200 families registered for memberships and/or classes.  Social media not only helped to inspire the press to cover the event but it helped to get the word out through multiple trusted channels which drove so many to attend and then sign up.

In closing, everyone who knows me lives with my passion for and belief in the power of social media.  The way I look at it, you just can’t go wrong whether you are leading with social media or supporting a public relations campaign or running an event!

-Valorie Luther, Founder Creative Concepts, follow me @CreativeConsult


How To Find Your Daily Balance And It Starts With a Glass Of Lemon Water

image flickr @liberato

Everyone on the face of the earth talks about finding balance.  Yes/No, White/Black, Ying/Yang….how do you do it?  When younger, I thought it meant taking big vacations, going to a spa and/or going dancing via the hottest nightclub, but when kids and a tightening budget didn’t allow for the extravagances, I found balance in the everyday smaller choices which, as it turns out, leads to a fuller more enjoyable life daily and lasts longer than the two week vacation I used to take.

Here are some balancing tips for your body, mind and soul.

Tips good for the Soul:

  1. I have two areas of focus in my life, family and work.  Knowing this makes daily and long term decision making easier.
  2. I say no a lot.  My priorities are always clear to me: everything I say yes to has a direct and immediate effect on my family (I will drive my kids to the bus stop in order to catch up with them vs. baking brownies for their teachers for example) or my business (I will spend extra unbudgeted time at meetings with a client vs. going to a random conference where I ‘might’ meet a future customer).
  3. On the flipside, if I commit to a yes, I will go to the ends of the earth to fulfill that yes.
  4. I believe in giving back.  By doing this unselfishly and for all of the right reasons, I have received unbelievable gifts from the efforts.  The process never ceases to amaze me.
  5. I am flexible; there are just some days I blow my daily plan because the unexpected pops up so I go with the flow knowing it’s all happening for a reason (and there usually is a reason I end up being grateful for in the long run)

Tips good for the Mind:

  1. Before I do any work in the morning, I peruse Flipboard (good for seeing the exact news sites I want all in one place) to check the international and U.S. news.
  2. I post to twitter any social media news that I find noteworthy which forces me to be up on my industry.
  3. I check email and get a grip on it before jumping into new work.
  4. I create a list of must dos so I have a basic plan for the day.
  5. If I have a big project to work on, I turn email off so I am not distracted.
  6. When checking email, I take an immediate action so it doesn’t spin out of control (delete, flag, or file it).
  7. At the end of the day, I make a list of must dos for the next morning.

Tips good for the Body:

  1. I drink a glass of water with ¼ of a lemon squeezed in before I get out of bed in the morning.
  2. I drink green tea with breakfast, black tea in the afternoon and decaf green tea at night (at a minimum).
  3. I work out 3x per week at a gym.
  4. I get 7 hours of sleep or more each day.
  5. I eat a mostly organic, non-refined sugar diet.
  6. I eat a meal or small snack every 2-3 hours.

Tips for Body, Mind and Soul Combined:

  1. I try my best to listen and hear what his not being said (helpful with kids, employees and clients).
  2. I try to take a walk outside 2x per week with my dog.  Between being out in nature and watching the joy of my dog, it’s a great way to start the day.
  3. I never lie…not even white lies!

Before I wrote this I didn’t realize I had such a long list of daily dos but it works for me.  What is one small thing you do that helps you find the ‘ommmmm’ every day?

(Image from Flickr via @liberato)

-Valorie Luther, Founder Creative Concepts, follow me @CreativeConsult

Visual #Content Marketing Tips

mobile device web usageWhether you are just getting started with a visual content marketing campaign or have a designer and run them regularly, these tips and tools are invaluable to keep in your content marketing toolkit.

Social Media Examiner wrote “How to Get Started with Visual Content Marketing” and provides a wonderful list of visual content creation resources that are valuable to have on hand.

Desktop tools such as Canva and PicMonkey allow for making quick visuals when time is of the essence and if your designer is not available.

One idea to save time is to create custom branded templates to share quotes or images and text in a campaign format.

One tip that could prove valuable for all members of the team? Creating an image library. Having an image library on hand allows for easy sharing and availability whenever there is a need.

When you are on the go and you need to create a visual image for your content marketing on the fly, make sure you have some of these apps at your fingertips: Word Swag, Videohance, Over and Little Moments. Try them out – some are only available for different operating systems.

What are your favorite tools for creating visual content?

Native Advertising: Who Creates The #Content, A Case Study

digital contentNative advertising is a hot topic right now but what is it and who creates the content, the sponsor or the publisher?  Well first, “native advertising is an online advertising method in which the advertiser attempts to gain attention by providing content in the context of the user’s experience” as defined by Wikipedia….basically sponsors pay to have their very branded content featured on a website that normally publishes unbranded, unbiased, reporter-like content like The New York Times, The Atlantic and similar or smaller sites like I mention below.  Many have been debating the pros and cons of native advertising for quite some time now, but I personally am already past the should-we or shouldn’t-we conversation as I already agree with the IAB and Edelman Berland research that says there is great value in native advertising.  So let’s move on and review the burning question of who writes the content: should it come from the brand or should the editorial staff from the publication produce it?

Because native advertising is still a relatively new concept, there really is no set answer on this question as each publication is wading through these new waters very differently, but I do have some experience coming from the brand’s point of view, so let me share a few case studies featuring one client (so same goals and roughly the same messaging for each example below) but different publications (who shall remain nameless) and their approach to native advertising:

Sustainability focused website: I approached a ‘green’ website on behalf of our client because their number of daily/monthly visitors was vast, content was high quality and their readers were very engaged plus their demographic was a young working professional which was very appealing to our client.  The only sponsorship opportunity with the site as per the founder was native advertising and so we jumped in ready to go.  I had a preconceived notion of how to approach sponsored content but they had their own way which was very unique.  They would pinpoint content on their site that fulfilled the following to be used again for native advertising:

  1. The site’s suggested content had already gone live and was successful by their measure (large amount of readers, high engagement….)
  2. The already live content theme was in sync with the brand

They had proposed that once the content was approved by my client, they would repost it with a small mention at the bottom of the post saying it was sponsored content with our clients’ name, logo and a small tag line. The idea behind the approach was that because the content had already proven to be popular within their online community, posting it again, but this time as sponsored content, would almost guarantee success (thousands of views) for our client.

Well, this stopped me in my tracks as I had never encountered this approach before but I was willing to give it a try.  So they sent their first content suggestion which included products that were in the same brand category as our client but a variation that our client didn’t sell so that was a no because we didn’t want to confuse present or new customers.  The editor said they would take that particular product out of the suggested content.  There were about three more edits that had to be made in order for our client to feel comfortable as a sponsor of their content; after all shouldn’t native advertising highlight unique features of the brand paying for the opportunity?  By the time we hit our next and final edit, the content wasn’t the same as what the site’s staff had originally produced and so we didn’t get to test out this native advertising approach because their team didn’t feel the newly edited content would deliver the views because of the edits.  And they still wouldn’t compromise by having our client produce completely new content for them or in partnership with them (my original request) even though we wanted to submit ‘green’ lifestyle unbranded (except for a company mention at the bottom of the post) content that would educate and help their readers grow their eco-lifestyle.

An unwillingness to compromise and to see that newly created sponsored content could be an asset ultimately took this project nowhere.

Mom focused website: Because I personally love this mom website because their daily content is top notch and they have thousands of readers, I was fine when they said that the only way they offer native advertising was for them to create the theme of the blog entry and write it up themselves after we provided some basic brand facts; they were keen on having all content on their site consistent and presented in the same style so I said let’s give it a try.  When they completed the piece, it looked great…awesome images, multiple client mentions peppered throughout the blog entry which ended up being a how-to piece for moms planning a fun party for their kids.  Couldn’t wait for it to go live…you couldn’t go wrong with this one, I thought!  But when it hit online, it was a fail.  No one really interacted with the entry, barely anyone shared it, it fell flat on all of their social media channels and there were no discernible increases of visitors to the client website or social profiles.  Was this because their readers didn’t really engage on a regular basis?  Didn’t want to engage with this content in particular? Was it because the content hovered between being unbranded (written by the site) yet branded (client name was mentioned all through the entry) so the reader didn’t know what to think?

It was a pretty expensive venture for minimal results and no insight from the site’s management, and so we moved on and continued to look for new native advertising opportunities.

Natural lifestyle focused website:  This is another website I admire for their numbers, their passionate mission and super engaged community so we took another chance on the native advertising idea for the same client.  This time we had to provide the content 100%.  We had to get the topic approved by them and all products included in our blog entry needed to be in sync with their site mission but other than that, we were truly a partner in this native advertising opportunity.  We provided content that was entertaining and instructional and not overly promotional and it was hugely successful.  The site made it very clear to their readers that our content was sponsored by putting us in another place on their website but regardless of being sponsored content, they linked to it often throughout their website and in their social channels.  Because their readers were clear that it was native advertising, they were able to move past that quickly and appreciate what our client had to offer in terms of tips and overall suggestions within the product category.  On the flip side, the website wasn’t afraid to present the sponsored content often because they knew from experience how to approach native advertising and because they ultimately understood the value of partnering with a reputable and well-loved brand which they smartly used to their advantage.

This was a successful and fruitful collaboration: the website proved once again to their readers they could by trusted by presenting a well vetted trustworthy brand openly while our client had the benefit of getting their messaging in front of a whole new group of potential customers.  A native advertising win.

Like everything else that is new, there are going to be publications and websites that get it and many who don’t but like everything else that is digital, if you remain flexible, listen carefully and are completely transparent about what you are doing, I do believe success will be had by all!

Image via Flickr @opensourceway

-Valorie Luther, Founder Creative Concepts