Wednesday, March 29, 2017

How to Create an Effective Call to Action

By Karen Preston-Loeb

One of the most important elements in advertising and marketing is the call to action, or CTA. This tells the consumer what you want them to do.

A solid call to action will grab the user’s attention and direct them to take a desired action, whether it be to purchase an item or click through to a website. The call to action can boost conversions; it is the difference between a user bouncing away from a website and a reader becoming a customer by signing up to receive blog posts, reading your website, requesting a free trial, or even purchasing a product.

Good CTAs need to be compelling. Here are some tips to create an effective call to action:

Be direct
Tell your target audience exactly what you want them to do, and use a strong command verb. Text should be short and to the point, enabling the reader to grasp exactly what you want them to do at first glance, while also creating a sense of urgency. The CTA is your sales clincher, so be persuasive.

Make it stand out
The CTA can be a button or a clickable line of text, but if it is not easily found, it is not going be effective. Make sure your CTA stands out on your ad. Place the CTA in an expected logical position. Use graphic elements of color, size, and surrounding white space to visually direct users to the correct spot. And remember to size the CTA appropriately for mobile devices. It is always a good idea to test different graphic elements to see what works best for your customer.

Get creative
Keep your content fresh. The call to action text is part of your advertising copy and should be treated as such. Use engaging copy that ties into your ad and gets your customer to act. Steer clear of bland words like “submit” and use friendly dialogue. Using the voice of the customer in a personalized approach such as “Show me my plan,” or “Yes! Take me there!” can be effective. Readers should understand the copy and be able to relate to it without too much technical jargon. Be clever while staying clear in your message.

Entice your customers with a unique selling point
Make sure your call to action gives your customers a reason to click through. A unique selling point (USP) is a factor that differentiates a product from its competitors. This could be a lower cost, a complimentary consultation, a free trial, or even a blog post that would benefit the user to read. The unique selling point differentiates the resulting product from its competitors.

Offer instant gratification
While we have heard the notion that good things come to those who wait, in marketing, waiting can result in a high bounce rate. People want instant satisfaction. When persuading a user with a call to action, it is important not to delay giving them what they want, as this can affect your conversion rate. Reward the user immediately, and use action words such as “now.”

An effective call to action that customers cannot resist will boost traffic, improve click-through rates and convert prospects into customers. An effective call to action also can vary according to the target audience. Be sure to test yours to see what works for your company.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Top 5 Actions to Achieve Blogging Success

By Laura Powers

Many professionals today are blogging on their own blogs or on a company blog in support of a team marketing effort. There are many things that contribute to making a blog successful with its target audiences. The essential factors of topic relevancy, good writing, timely content and a point of view are a given, but what about other factors like length and frequency of posts?

A recent annual survey of 1055 bloggers shows interesting trends from 2016. There are 5 actions taken by bloggers who report successful results:

1. Write posts with 1,000 words or more

In general, blog posts are getting longer. Posts with 500-1,000 words are still relevant and acceptable, especially if you’re a working professional who includes blogging as just one marketing and public relations tactics you employ. Although the average word count should be something that is comfortable for the author, there is often good reason to dedicate more words to a topic if it will benefit your audience.

2. Include video, lists or multiple images

As the amount of content grows across the Internet, competition for readership increases. Rich media such as video and images, as well as lists (like this one you're reading) that provide specific directions or tips, have become fundamentally more important to call attention to online content.

3. Frequent blogging is best

Most bloggers surveyed are posting every week, however, the bloggers that report the best success are also the ones that post the most often. This makes sense as their main marketing efforts are probably centralized around blog content and promotion. Most bloggers publish when it works within their schedule, but should consider increasing frequency if possible.

4. Use paid promotional services and leverage influencer audiences

When bloggers in the study reported strong results from their efforts, the promotional channels that they used most were paid and influencer. Paid promotion are tactics like LinkedIn Sponsored Content campaigns – the amount you can invest will vary with the scope of a campaign and the platform. Influencer marketing involves reaching out to credible individuals who maintain a high level of celebrity status within their industry to promote your blog post through their own extensive networks and profiles. This process involves dedicating time to grow your understanding of why they would want to share your content (what’s in it for them?) and building trust through developing a relationship.

5. Measure through analytics 

You won’t know if you’re successful if you aren’t looking at the analytics. Monitoring key data points of each post such as overall traffic, blog comments, and amount of social media sharing and engagement will show long-term success and set future content strategy.

While we can’t always access multiple, relevant images for a post, or invest in creating a professional video, or even find time to write more than 1,500 words, attempting to achieve some of these benchmarks throughout 2017 may significantly affect your blog. Take action to write posts of quality content of 1,500 words or more that include rich media and are posted on a frequent basis for maximum audience engagement and blogging success.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Event Recap: Meet the Philadelphia TV & Radio News Directors

By Caitlan McCafferty

Last week, I had the opportunity to attend a panel with some TV & radio news directors in the Philadelphia market. The event was hosted by the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Mid-Atlantic Chapter and Drexel University. The panel was moderated by Susan Buehler of PJM Interconnection and the speakers included:

  • Steve Butler, Director of News and Programming for KYW Newsradio 
  • Sandra Clark, Vice President of News and Civic Dialogue for WHYY
  • Margaret Cronan, Vice President and News Director for CBS3 and the CW Philly
  • Tom Davis, Vice President and News Director for 6ABC 
  • Jim Driscoll, Vice President and News Director for FOX29 
  • Anzio Williams, Vice President for NBC10/Telemundo62

The panel members' discussion ranged from their goals as news directors to their career trajectories and their advice for young broadcast journalists. Each of them provided rich insight into their motivations as journalists and how their production and reporting teams are dealing with the ever-evolving media landscape.

An event bringing together six competitors in the country’s 4th largest media market was an interesting dynamic to begin with. But it soon became clear that they actually had many things in common. As news directors, they are responsible for the strategy and journalistic integrity of their stations. Each cited the same motivation – providing a public service and telling people’s stories.

But, certain differences, such as the allocation of resources, sets Clark, VP at a public media affiliate, apart from the others on the panel who have the resources of major network affiliates at their disposal. Despite a challenging media landscape, the panelists are more willing than ever to provide local audiences with the honest and informing stories they need and want.

When asked about digital media trends, the panel members were generally positive. Tom Davis talked about how 6ABC uses social media for brand enhancement and Cronan echoed that sentiment by talking about brand consistency in social media. In the radio space, Clark talked about how important podcasts have become to WHYY’s success. Butler also discussed how he was hopeful about digital media and that he was doing the most hiring for social media positions at KYW.

Some of the news directors also talked about some of the digital tools they use for stories. Driscoll uses Fresco, an app for citizen journalists, to curate footage of events. Williams uses Banjo, a news aggregator, to stay on top of up-to-the-minute happenings in the Philadelphia area.

So with all this in mind, the news directors had some helpful tips for PR professionals to consider when pitching:
  • Only pitch local stories. Each panelist has a local focus, and KYW has a hyperlocal focus. 
  • The panelists talked about struggling to allocate resources to the suburbs. If pitching a story about an event in the suburbs, be sure to contact the newsroom the week before to give them time to prepare. 
  • Use digital tools to stay on top of the news. Pitch your client as a source if they could be a resource to journalists on a certain issue. 
  • Contact the right person in the newsroom. The news directors spoke highly of the talented producers that work at each station in the Philadelphia market. The producers are responsible for assigning stories and putting the final broadcast together.  
  • Follow the news station and key people at the station on Twitter to keep current on their interests and projects. 

Thursday, March 09, 2017

From Oscars Flub to Fake News: What We’re Reading Now

By Jackie Sofia

‘Envelopegate’ and the Power of Public Memory
The PR nightmare continues for PwC in the wake of this year’s Academy Awards, during which the accounting giant somehow mixed up the envelopes announcing the coveted “Best Picture” award winner. Jaws were left visibly hanging after Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway handed the golden man to the wrong man.

After the debacle, PwC was spotted on Twitter trying to bury their shame amongst unrelated news content about the firm. The distraction was not very effective; CBS News reports that the two individual accountants involved will never work the Oscars again, and the relationship of the entire firm is “under review.” While PwC’s reputation is now tarnished, they may have inadvertently buffed up the image of several other accounting firms just in time for tax season. One man’s loss is another man’s win.

An Instagram How-To: Multiple Image Posts
Instagram continues to advance its offerings for users. A new feature allows users to post multiple photos at once with a slideshow effect. The digital flip book allows you to post up to 10 photos simultaneously and already has been implemented widely by advertisers on the platform.

Marketers can use this feature to relay more extensive messages to their audience, or get creative and compile step-by-step guides for their products and services. Speaking of step-by-step guides, here’s a tutorial explaining how to use the new feature.

What the CIA is Saying About the New Wikileaks Document (Vault7) 
Wikileaks released its latest batch of CIA documents, a series titled “Vault7.” It’s a cool name, but the contents may be more sobering. The information released this past week includes thousands of documents that describe software tools and techniques for breaking into people’s phones, televisions and other electronic devices.

CIA spokesman, Dean Boyd, said of the surprise release, “We do not comment on the authenticity or content of purported intelligence documents.”  Michael Hayden, the former CIA and NSA director, tried to further soften the blow by assuring viewers on CBS’ The Late Show that these purported tools would not be used inside the U.S. unless a domestic agency received court permission. The jury is still out on whether these leaked documents will be followed up with additional details, and whether the agency will have to come up with a more pointed public response on the matter.

Facebook Launches ‘Fake News’ Flag
Facebook has finally taken steps towards identifying “fake news” on its platform. The company launched the beta version of a two-pronged initiative back in December, which allows users to “dispute” an article if they think it’s fake. The reported dispute is then passed on to third-party fact checkers who determine whether the article receives the label permanently.

Granted, Facebook isn’t known for its transparency, so it’s unclear whether this will be a truly crowdsourced initiative, or whether a select few will have their say on the back end.

Meanwhile, be prepared for disputes over whether a news source should be marked as disputed.

Battle Alternative Facts with a Customized, Fact-Based Infographic

If you still have reservations as to whether Facebook is doing enough to combat the spread of fake news, take your own initiative and fight the good fight with a sharp infographic. People process visual content 600,000 times faster than text, and retain 80 percent of what they can see, compared to only 20 percent of what they read.

This is reason enough to ensure that your visual content doesn’t get buried among all the alternative facts. We’re digging this step-by-step hack for uploading custom-sized graphics along with your Facebook posts.