Category: digital marketing
Shamir Duverseau

2019 Panda Predictions

The new year is upon us and, if 2018 is any indication, we will likely see the world transform in ways big and small, including disruptions in culture, technology, and business. While we may not have a crystal ball, our smart pandas most certainly have some predictions for the world of digital marketing in 2019. Here are a few of our forecasts.

It’s all about voice. Voice search (“Hey Siri, where should I go for brunch today?”) will gain even more ground, becoming 60% of mobile searches. (Heads up digital marketers: optimizing your content for voice search requires creating content around long-tail keywords, focusing on knowledge-based content, and writing in a way that people commonly speak.) And, get ready to listen more as well. Our cars, for example, will recite not only our text messages but our emails, too. For better or worse, we’ll be “replying all” while merging into traffic.

Facebook will buy Twitter. TWTR has been a buyout target for the past two years, and it might finally deliver on its promise to its shareholders. Facebook’s political problems have come home to roost; acquiring Twitter might be just what it needs to sort it all out. The social media behemoth can encourage more users to head to Twitter for the best news and political coverage, while those suffering news burnout can focus their Facebook streams on personal updates and pics of their perfect nacho plate (#hungry #nachoenvy).

Creativity will set competition apart. Consumers have lost faith in some forms of digital advertising; they are exhausted by and wary of sales pitches and clickbait. Brands will need to become increasingly creative in their pursuit of views and clicks and think about advertising as high-concept, high-engagement campaigns. Look for an increase in multimedia, motion graphics, and augmented reality.

Green consumerism will finally take off. We’ve heard a lot of talk about the rise of the “green consumer” in recent years, but there has been a disconnect between the intention to buy sustainable and actually doing it. Decades of polling has shown that a large majority of Americans say that they would gladly buy a green or ethical product, but less than 10 percent of them actually do. We think 2019 will move the needle. Not only is evidence of the damage caused by our throwaway culture impossible to ignore, millennials—who are driving the green shift—are expected to outnumber baby boomers officially in the coming year.

Email will get high-touch. We’ve said it before on this blog, and we’ll say it again: the future of email is interactive. New features are making it possible to highlight contextual content and capture key behavioral points for a more data-driven experience. For example, it is now possible to infuse email templates with unique components such as profile options, local store info, and prioritized navigation. Consumers can tap, expand, and reveal particular items—in other words, emails that function more like an interactive web page. In turn, this interactively enables brands to capture useful consumer data for future segmentation and personalization. Get ready to finally see more of this in action.

Email will also get real-time. Expect to see your inbox get smarter, using data to shift more pertinent emails to the top. For example, if it’s noon on Sunday and your favorite team is playing, the first email in your inbox might be from ESPN and related to your team. But, once you leave your house to go shopping, that Target coupon email will take the top spot.

Push notifications will get pushier. Not necessarily a bad thing, more brands will experiment with shorter email notifications that can be displayed on devices beyond the phone, such as the Apple watch or your smart refrigerator.

Consumers will be heard. The rise of design thinking and inclusive design means that brands are making an effort to empathize with consumers, achieve a deeper understanding of users, and design better solutions that actually meet their needs. In 2019, more and more companies will make design thinking, experimentation and testing part of their DNA. As a result, we’ll see an uptick in helpful, authentic solutions and digital experiences that resonate with consumers.

These are just a few of our panda prognostications. We promise to stay ahead of the curve on all these topics and more, reporting back from conferences throughout the year and sharing key findings as they arise. Keep your eye on this blog for more!

Key Takeaways

  1. Voice search will gain even more ground. Have you optimized your content for voice?
  2. Look for an increase in multimedia, motion graphics, and augmented reality.
  3. 2019 will move the needle on green consumerism.
  4. Email will get more high touch, more interactive.
  5. Email will get real0time—and your inbox will be smarter.

Category: digital marketing
Jessica Magyar

7 Tips for Transitioning to a New Agency

If you’ve decided that it’s time to make the move to a new digital agency, then it’s likely the following has also occurred to you: 1) breaking up is hard to do and 2) the transition has a lot of moving parts. How are you communicating the change of direction? Is there a plan in place to ensure campaigns can persist without disruption? And who the heck has all the passwords to the technology platforms? Companies planning for or in the midst of a switch can benefit from these tips to ensure the new agency is able to get up and running as seamlessly as possible, with less downtime for your marketing efforts and more opportunities to improve the process.
  1. Own your tools. From AdWords to Optimizely to everything in between, your company should own the contracts for these solutions, rather than using your agency’s platforms. Should your engagement with an agency come to an end, you do not want to be in the position of fighting for your data, nor do you want to receive it in the form of a bitter Excel dump—the equivalent of finding your precious belongings in a cardboard box in the hall. All too often, clients stay with an agency simply because they are “in too deep.” Owning the contracts will keep you in the power seat.
  2. Be the master key holder. Keep company accounts for your platforms, in addition to enabling individual access. You’ll want to hold the master key. This prevents getting locked out of an account if a key person leaves the organization, and it also makes transitions between agencies less challenging. Let’s face it, no one enjoys asking for their key back (awkward!).
  3. Have a prenup. The best time to form a contingency plan with the new agency is while you’re on great terms and optimistic for the future. Take what you learned from your previous experience—both the good and bad—and draft a plan for what happens if the new partnership doesn’t go as planned. This may include how you want certain elements such as campaigns or automation setup or structured. Lay the groundwork now, while love is in the air.
  4.  Ask for assets and reports. Before the transition is complete, ask your existing agency for any assets, files, images, videos, presentations, or reports that you may want to use for reference. You’ll also want to compile a list of all reports, including:
    • Automated reports and dashboards. Make certain those reports are distributed from an email address in the system that will not be deactivated when the current agency is removed
    • Manual or semi-automated reports/dashboards, including where the numbers/queries are pulled from.
  5. Create a Solution Design Reference. It’s critical to make sure you request any applicable documentation on how your accounts and campaigns are set up, tracking convention(s), tag management solutions, any custom Javascript on your sites and applications, etc. Ideally, a Solution Design Reference would be created during initial implementation that contains all of this information and is updated as needed.
  6. Get context and instructions. Set aside time to have a conversation with your outgoing agency about decisions and customizations that require explanation and instruction. There may be items that are labeled or codified in such a way that deserves an explanation. Find out if the team had a specific way of doing something, such as generating reports or adding segments to emails, or if any workarounds are in place (and why). All of this knowledge will be needed in order to transition smoothly. You don’t want to be stranded six months from now with questions no one can answer.
  7. Share the wish list. When Smart Panda Labs takes over accounts, we always like to know what was on the previous agency’s to-do list for the future. What plans did they have in the pipeline? Were there different technologies under review? Are these still goals that you want to be executed? If the new agency is anything like we are, they will want to keep your dreams alive.
Moving to a new digital marketing agency can seem daunting, but sometimes it’s the right thing to do and
well worth the effort. Whether you feel like your current agency isn’t meeting your needs, or you’re seeking
new expertise and insights, turning the page may be the best way to meet your goals. Keep these tips in
mind to ensure a smoother transition and to set the new team up for success.

Key Takeaways

  • Take what you learned from your previous experience—both the good and bad—and draft a plan for what happens if the new partnership doesn’t go as planned.
  • Before the transition is complete, ask your existing agency for any assets, reports, instructions, or context that you and your new team will need going forward.
  • Create a Solution Design Reference during initial implementation that contains applicable documentation on how your accounts and campaigns are set up.
  • Be the keeper of passwords and contracts. While it’s important that everyone have access to the tools they need, make sure you are the owner of your own data and can never get locked out of your own accounts.
Category: digital marketing
Shamir Duverseau

What We Learned from Opticon ’17 — and Office Space

My colleagues and I recently returned from Optimizely’s annual conference, Opticon 2017, in Las Vegas. The focus of this year’s event was on building and scaling a culture of experimentation across teams, channels, products and device. The three-day conference was attended by more than 1200 executives, product managers, marketers, testing novices, experimentation gurus and developers. As well as four smart pandas.

Experimentation—from simple A/B tests to rigorous analysis—is at the core of everything we do at Smart Panda Labs, and it’s how we’re able to optimize digital experiences that drive ROI and customer loyalty for our clients. Suffice it to say that we were like kids in a candy store (or, pandas in a bamboo oasis) at this year’s Opticon.

Here are our top three takeaways from the conference. And because we love drawing analogies to cult classics almost as much as we love testing, we’re waxing nostalgic for Office Space on this one.

 Don’t relegate testing to the basement

Successful experimentation doesn’t happen in isolation. It’s not Milton in the basement, alone with his red stapler. Testing requires buy-in from leadership and a team-wide understanding of its value among. Give testing a seat at the table and it can become an integral, mission critical part of an enterprise’s ability to meet goals, solve problems and make decisions. Of course, getting this level of buy-in takes time and effort. In the overwhelming majority of organizations, this means it will be a journey, not a light switch.

Call in “the Bobs”

Sometimes testing strategy and effective CRO requires the help of experts. Even the notorious consultants from Office Space have a place sometimes. Believe it or not, Optimizely supplements their own team of testing gurus with the B2B experts at FunnelEnvy to help them increase the number of tests they can run, the speed with which they can implement them and the resulting insights and iterations. The right outside experts can help companies achieve much greater ROI from their testing efforts.

Avoid printer rage

While testing may start with button colors and headline copy, it’s much more than that. As your experimentation evolves beyond simple tests, so grows its complexity. You may need to factor in elements like revenue management, inventory or pricing algorithms. Without the right tools or planning, testing can become a behemoth undertaking that never works right. It’s the always-jamming printer that you love to hate. However, with the right technology, proper implementation and continuous integration you can manage these complexities and execute tests that improve the ROI of an entire process. And you can leave your baseball bat at home. (You know you want to see that scene again.)

If you’re ready to up the ante on your company’s experimentation but could benefit from expert guidance, Smart Panda Labs can provide smart testing, thoughtful analysis, marketing technology support and strategic optimizations. Don’t hesitate to contact us. We promise we’re not at all like the Bobs.

Key Takeaways:

  1. Successful experimentation doesn’t happen in isolation. Take the time and effort to get by-in from leadership and the entire marketing team. This is how testing can become an integral part of your company’s decision making.
  2. Ask for help. Even Optimizely enlists outside consultants to help achieve the greatest possible ROI from their tests.
  3. As testing sophistication increases, so does complexity. You need the right tools and expert implementation planning to keep your tests from underperforming (or failing altogether).