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Why You Need a Digital Marketing Strategy-02

Why You Need a Digital Marketing Strategy

 

In the age of the internet, a digital marketing strategy could not be more vital for businesses of all sizes. From start-ups to multi-national organisations, the online world of social media, SEO and website optimization is becoming more and more integral to business success. But what, specifically, can a digital marketing strategy do for your business?

 

Pave the Way When the Unexpected Happens

In digital marketing, trends and customer behaviours can change almost instantaneously, but a strong digital marketing strategy can help any business weather the storm and even see success arise from any crisis situations which may arise.

 

Keep Finances Under Control

As the digital marketing industry grows, so does the need for businesses to invest in both online and offline technologies to make the most of new trends and influences in the relevant industry. This means that marketing teams need to be able to allocate some of their marketing budget to digital marketing, specifically – which will require monitoring just as your regular marketing budget does.

 

Outline the Path to Success

It is easier to reach your destination when the route you ned to take to get there is properly laid out. By planning every step, not only do your employees and investors have a clearer idea of where the business is heading and how you plan to get it there, but it will be easier to adapt to any new digital marketing changes over time, if you have a clear outline of your business’ aims and objectives.

 

Motivate your Staff and Colleagues

A solid plan works wonders to motivate and push people to work harder. It is a lot easier to expect people to get on with their jobs when they know exactly what they are supposed to be working towards as well as the specific actions needed to get there. A digital marketing strategy may also open opportunity for discussion, suggestions and input from valued people within your business.

 

Capitalise on New Opportunities

As you find new ways to promote your business through digital marketing channels, it is important to ensure that all activities remain in-line with the original plan. This plan will stop your marketing team from deviating and potentially wasting resources on digital marketing activities which will not be useful or beneficial to the company overall.

 

By implementing a digital marketing strategy, your business will benefit in many ways. Whether a small start-up, or long-term established corporation, the implementation of a digital marketing strategy will pull the business together and improve the focus on new technologies.

To better understand how digital marketing and the strategy surrounding it will help your business, visit our course guide.

 

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Marketers: Here Are 5 Top Reasons Why You Need to Get Certified

 

By Morgan International Staff Writers

There’s a whole lot of reasons why professionals need to get certified nowadays. From earning credibility, to enhancing your CV and setting you apart from the competition, there isn’t much to argue about when it comes to the case for certification.

But although we’re more familiar with our fellow accountant and finance colleagues going after prestigious credentials, marketers on the other hand, do not seem to have caught on with the trend. Until now.

As the marketing industry continues to evolve with new technological advancements and shifts in consumer behavior, it has become more vital than ever for marketers to be experts not only in marketing theory but also in practice and to stay abreast of the current trends in the marketplace in order to shine in the creative arena. A university degree is no longer enough. So what is?

The American Marketing Association (AMA), established in 1937 by visionaries in marketing and academia and now a hub for over 30,000 members across the globe, has introduced the Professional Certified Marketer (PCM) credential to serve the needs of the modern marketer and take your career to the next level.

We’ve made it super easy for you to see what it’s all about by listing the top 5 reasons why getting PCM Certified is the right career move for any marketer wishing to make marketing history:

  1. It heightens your marketability by providing differentiation from others in the marketing talent pool

 

  1. It demonstrates your commitment to staying abreast of the latest marketing knowledge and practices

 

  1. it indicates that you operate under the highest professional standards

 

  1. It allows you to use the AMA PCM® credential and logo for public recognition of your professional achievement

 

  1. It serves as a benchmark of your career accomplishments and as a roadmap for professional development going forward

Explore our PCM packages and take your marketing career to the next level!

 

Why Business Owners Should Learn SEO-02

Reasons Why Your Business Should Invest In SEO

By Richard J O

Whilst ever search engines are the driving force behind the internet, there will always be a need for search engine optimization (SEO).

 

With an estimated 3.5 billion searches a day on Google and a further 122.8 million on Bing, search engines attract more visitors than any other form of advertising. And many of them have buyer intent.

 

That only means one thing. Search marketing is still vitally important for your online business. What’s more, it will remain to be for the foreseeable future. And here’s why:

 

  • Consumers use search engines more than any other resource
  • SEO costs less than other marketing strategies
  • Mobile is a growing influence for internet shoppers
  • Your competitors are already engaging in search marketing

 

Consumers rely on search engines

 

The internet is an invaluable resource for the modern consumer. It is estimated that between 80 and 90 per cent of shoppers use search engines to conduct research about products and brands before making a decision to buy.

 

Studies show that 90% of consumers trust peer-to-peer reviews whilst only 33% trust ads. And because the internet provides consumers with easy access to valuable information, businesses without a website are losing customers. And if you have a website, you need SEO to rank in search results.

 

SEO is cost-effective

 

Organic SEO may not be the quickest strategy to achieve high ranking positions in search results, but it is the most sustainable and cost-effective.

 

Paid advertising on search engines and social media is more effective, but is also expensive – and often beyond the reach of a small business budget. And even if you go down the paid advertising route, search marketing still provides the foundation of future online success.

 

Grab more market share on mobile

 

There are more searches being conducted on mobile handsets than any other device – and as mobile technology matures, internet shoppers will become even more reliant on search engines to deliver information and goods they want.

 

In order to tap into the growing army of mobile searchers, online businesses rely on digital marketing to be visible in search engine results. And mobile should be an integral part of your SEO strategy.

 

Your rivals are online

 

If your competitors are using search marketing strategies, they are already taking your share of the market. And unless you go head-to-head with them, you will soon be out of business.

 

The solution for modern businesses is simple: go where your audience is. And your around 90% of your audience is online. So you need to be online too.

 

If you have a website, you need to be using digital marketing strategies otherwise you waste money paying for a website. Without SEO a website is redundant.

 

To improve your online business, it is recommended that you learn the skills and knowledge you need to effectively use digital marketing strategies.

 

And because there is so much to learn and understand about SEO, discover the certification in search marketing that will show you how to run a successful online business.

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Why Is Social Media Marketing So Important For Online Businesses?

By Richard J O 

There are 2.3 billion active social media accounts this year. Needless to say, social media plays a predominant role in our everyday lives - on average, internet users spend 0.7 hours to 3.7 hours in any one of their 5.4 social media accounts.

 

Given the popularity of social media networks, online businesses have a great opportunity to interact with their audience and raise brand awareness. Not to mention the rack of benefits:

 

  • Improve your brand reputation
  • Drive traffic to your website
  • Free to use
  • Increase sales
  • Get closer to your customers
  • Reach a wider audience

 

Not only do brands have the chance to position products in front of customers, social media networks are an invaluable resource to learn about your audience; what they like, what they share, what they need and how your products can make their life easier. This type of consumer data is marketing gold.

 

What are the benefits of social media channels?

 

Consumers follow brands they resonate with and social media networks are powerful platforms to promote your brand identity and improve customer loyalty.

 

More brands are embracing the power of social to interact with their customers and even use it to conduct customer service. Social platforms help to humanize your brand and connect with your customers on a personal level.

 

By publishing engaging content, you can drive traffic to your website. Your followers may even share your content amongst their network of followers and introduce you to potential customers you may otherwise not have reached. And that’s without having to pay marketing costs.

 

Social influences buying decisions

 

Interacting on social media networks also influences buying decisions. It is estimated that 74% of consumers make a purchasing choice based on peer-reviews left in the comments fields of social media accounts.

 

Furthermore, four in ten social users buy goods from brands they follow either online or in-store. And now social networks make it possible for brands to install one-click buy buttons, the number of shoppers coming through social channels is likely to increase.

 

However, creating a successful social strategy requires knowledge of social media marketing. Not only do you need to be familiar with the capabilities of the various networks, you also need to know how to find, communicate and interact with your audience.

 

To improve interactions with your customers, learn how to master social media with a professional diploma in social media marketing.

 

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Tips When Creating A Video Marketing Campaign

By Richard J 

Video is the most compelling of online marketing mediums and video marketing is growing at an exponential rate. According to a survey conducted by Hubspot, 90% of end-users say that videos influence their purchasing decisions.

 

It goes without saying that video marketing campaigns are a powerful tool to include in your marketing kit box. And if you are contemplating on producing a promotional video for your next marketing campaign, make sure the end result includes:

 

  • Quality content and video production
  • High resolution images
  • Goal setting
  • Keep to brand image
  • Provide value to customers

 

 

Video quality

 

Paying video marketers to produce promotional videos on your behalf is expensive. They may deliver quality content, but the charges are likely to blow your marketing budget for at least several months.

 

A less expensive option is to create your own promotional videos. The content has to be appealing, so create a story your audience can connect with.

 

High resolution

 

If you do decide to create your own video ads, invest in a HD camera that produces high resolution images. Good quality cameras that shoot in 1080p are surprisingly affordable. You should also consider sound quality and may want to invest in an attachable microphone that is more powerful than the built-in mics on video cameras.

 

Set goals for video marketing campaigns

 

Before you take steps to make a promotional video, you need to determine what you want the campaign to achieve. Is the video intended to drive traffic from social media sites such as Facebook and YouTube, raise awareness about your brand and products, or entice customers to your website with a short 6-second video on Vimeo?

 

Promote brand image

 

Video marketing campaigns are a great opportunity to reach a wider audience so it is vitally important that you communicate your brand image.

 

Consumers relate to brands they connect with on an emotional level, so focus the contents of your video around them. Place you target audience at the center of the video.

 

Provide value to customers

 

For many years now, Google has encouraged online businesses to provide something of value to customers. Although “value” can be interpreted in many ways, the focus of your promotional video should primarily look to entertain viewers.

 

Although ‘entertainment’ in the traditional sense is not ideal for every brand, the content of your video should be informative, intriguing or other emotional value. But whatever message you intend to deliver, it should be presented in a way viewers will relate to in a positive way.

 

Although video marketing campaigns are the most powerful form of online advertising, they are also the most difficult to produce. With this in mind, it is highly recommended you learn how to make high-quality videos like a professional by taking a course on digital marketing and digital selling.

Social media

The Dangers of Outsourcing your Social Media Marketing

By Luci M Iley

With the average digital marketing expenditure increasing by 37% every year across the Middle East – a total of 8-10% of global digital marketing spending – it is not surprising that many businesses have either considered hiring, or have already hired an outsourced digital marketing team or agency to optimise their campaigns and take on the responsibility of marketing effectively.

Outsourcing a digital marketing campaign can be advantageous. Digital marketing agencies are professionals in the field and have more experience than the average business owner, giving them a competitive edge against competing businesses. These companies also have more time to dedicate to ensuring the success of a digital marketing campaign than small business owners. Outsourcing a digital marketing campaign frees a business owner’s time, skills and resources to focus on their own responsibilities and areas of expertise.

However outsourcing digital marketing campaigns does not come without disadvantages and potential dangers, such as;

  • Distance and misunderstanding; Outsourced marketing agencies may have the skills to create a successful campaign, but as they are not as heavily involved in the everyday operations and branding of the business, they may not fully understand the company’s aims and objectives and this may misdirect the campaign.
  • Failing to choose the right agency; Taking the time to extensively interview and critique every digital marketing agency in the area is not a realistic solution for many businesses. However, by making a rushed decision and contracting with an agency who are not suitable for the campaign will waste money, time and resources – as well as potentially damaging the brand and reputation.
  • Mismatched Priorities; Whilst the majority of client-agency digital marketing contracts will have agreed deadlines, clear aims and a set plan for the campaign, it is possible that an agency may have to take the lead on some decisions. This can be an issue for business owners who struggle to stand back and let others take control, as well as carrying the risk of having the agency make the wrong decision for the company and causing damage to the business.

Many of these dangers can be avoided with substantial research and by asking the right questions, however, it may be easier to carry out internal digital marketing campaigns for complete control and responsibility. A short diploma in digital marketing can give you the skills to cut the agency out altogether.

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Online Display Advertising: The Pros and Cons

 By Luci M Iley

Online display advertising, more commonly known as banner advertising, is the use of visually appealing and attention-grabbing banners placed on websites, blogs and forums relative to the business’ sector.  This method of marketing has been in action since the dawn of internet marketing and has proven to be lucrative for online businesses.

Like many marketing platforms and methods, display advertising has a range of advantages and disadvantages, which should be taken into account before launching head-first into a display advertising campaign.

Advantages

  • Many agencies offer very low CPM (cost-per-impression) rates, meaning that a successful display advertising campaign will be very cost-effective in the long run.
  • By selecting relevant host sites and keywords, marketers know that the people seeing their advertisements will be within the target demographic. This allows more control and better targeting than most other marketing methods.
  • Display advertising is so well-established that agencies have streamlined the process – ad space is available in set sizes and this helps to reduce the possible complications when designing a marketing campaign.

Disadvantages

  • The use of online ad blockers is growing rapidly across the Middle East, with over 144 million internet users having an active advertisement blocking software in effect. Ad blockers result in a loss of banner impressions, conversions and sales and can have a drastically negative effect on marketing campaigns.
  • Premium ad spaces are offered within select groups and can be difficult to infiltrate and claim for campaigns.
  • Advertising spaces are offered through an auction-style system, this means that the potential for bidding wars is rife and sought-after placements can see very high costs.

Whilst the arguments both for and against display marketing are compelling and deserve serious thought before decisions are made, display advertising can be hugely beneficial in terms of brand visibility and customer awareness, although this does not always translate into conversions or click-throughs.

To make the most informed decision about display advertising, why not undertake a short diploma in search marketing, to equip you with all of the tools, information and know-how to get started?

Native advertising

Native Advertising Explained

By Luci M Iley

What is Native Advertising?

Native advertising is paid marketing content which is often described as being ‘disguised’ into the hosting platform – this can be used in both online and offline media, including magazines, websites, blogs and social media. This content is usually read or viewed in the same way as the medium it is disguised in and is often distinguished only by a small label reading ‘sponsored content’ or similar.

Where Can Native Advertising Be Seen?

In magazines, native advertisements are often in the form of visually appealing articles or content, designed to promote a specific product or brand, but appearing at first glance, to be no different to the publication’s existing content and written media.

Online, native marketing appears in the form of sponsored articles, video content or images, produced in line with the publisher’s branding and regular content, but with a strong message of promotion or a call to action included.

What is Good About Native Advertising?

Native advertisements are often read as if they were a part of their host’s content. Regular readers and viewers will have a personal connection to the content creator and will associate those positive feelings with the message being delivered through the advertisement, leading to a higher chance of conversion and sales as a result.

In the Middle East, native advertising techniques are still relatively new, giving them a higher chance of impacting upon viewers as they discover sponsored content and a new way to digest marketing messages without having their content disrupted.

What is Bad About Native Advertising?

The camouflaged message may not be strong enough to motivate the consumer to take action; by disguising the message as regular content, readers and viewers may treat it as such by consuming the message and simply moving onto the next piece of content, rather than learning more about the brand or engaging with the business.

How can I Learn More About Native Advertising?

Consider pursuing a short diploma in digital marketing, covering online advertising techniques, strategies and tools.

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Influencer Marketing in the Middle East

 

 

By John Alexander Adam

 

Blogging is a passion: as bloggers, we want to share our thoughts, feelings, insights and knowledge with the world. Whether a blog is purely a hobby or has a commercial element, in the majority of cases the blogger wants to reach out, connect with and influence as wide an audience as possible. In the modern era the top bloggers have huge influence and following and this is particularly true in the Middle East.

Influential bloggers from the Middle East are in the enviable position that their followers are more active and engaged than those from almost anywhere else in the world. This is probably due, at least in part, to the fact that as a traditional, conservative society, the independent voice of bloggers, imbued with their own personality, is particularly valued as juxtaposed to mainstream media.

That engagement is a dream for marketers trying to connect with a Middle East audience and it should come as no surprise that brands are particularly keen to be associated with influential bloggers from the region. So, as a marketer in the Middle East, how can you best leverage the unique opportunities that influencer marketing presents in the region?

 

Think Indie Movie, not Blockbuster

The first step is to grasp the nature of influencer marketing and how it differs from more traditional channels. The Middle East as a region has a tendency towards the big budget and the extravagant and that culture is often reflected in the character of marketing campaigns targeting the region. Influencer marketing goes against that grain and marketers must first get their heads around that if they are to be able to properly exploit the strategy.

Social media influencers are generally successful not because of the slickness of their production but their raw, stripped-back entertainment value. The most successful may start to add some slickness and production to their video clips and other forms of content but there is only so much ‘production’ that can go into a 15-second Instagram video. Their followers like and relate to them for what they see as their personality and how that comes through in the content they create. Trying to change that would almost certainly have a negative impact. It is up to the marketers to find creative, unobtrusive ways to inject brands into influencers’ content if they want to connect with their audiences.

Sarah Barry, general manager at advertising agency Momentum, has discussed how many brands and marketers take the wrong approach when it comes to working with influencers.

“Most brands just want to be seen with the influencers and not make any real effort to connect with their audience. A simple cameo of your brand in an influencer video does not mean their fans will like you too. A real collaboration with the influencer is needed to build real relationships, and there are so many ways to do that.”

Effective influencer marketing is all about co-creation of content that is true to the influencer’s own style and not putting the influencer into a traditional marketing campaign.

 

Invest in Influencers

While it is a growing market, the number of genuinely good influencers producing quality content is still limited and this is particularly true in the Middle East. Every influencer is also not suitable for every brand, further reducing the suitable options for marketers engaging in influencer marketing. As such, it makes sense for brands to invest in and nurture suitable influencers as a longer term strategy.

Khaled Akbik, director of social media at OMD UAE confirms this, saying “engaging with influencers should be part of a long-term strategy to build an ongoing working relationship with them and move them from simply being influencers into being actual brand ambassadors.” 

“This may require the brand to empower them with tools that help them get the job done (i.e. cameras, vehicles, gear, studios, etc). Yes, this means it will be costly, but remember that these ambassadors are producing quality content that is loved and trusted by hundreds of thousands, if not, millions of people. Don’t think of it as a cost coming out of your media budgets only, rather from both your media and content budgets. When you combine the two and perform a cost benefit analysis over a long term, you’ll find that it’s well worth the cost.”

Used correctly, influencers can be just as effective, if not more so, than mainstream media celebrities when it comes to brands connecting to particular audiences. Their followers feel more personally connected to influencers. Compared to the cost of marketing that features top celebrities, investing in good influencers long term will actually be far more cost effective.

 

Managing Influencers without Compromising their Appeal

One phrase which sums up the challenge of influencer marketing perfectly is “to the marketer, the brand is the hero, but to the audience, the influencer is.” One of the major challenges in influencer marketing is to ensure that the content produced is not compromised. The appeal of the influencer is in their perceived personality and their followers buying into its authenticity. Marketers have to learn to find the sweet spot between the two when it comes to influencer marketing.

Influencer marketing is still very much a new, developing marketing channel and everyone in the industry is still learning. We have only touched on some of the key considerations marketers must bear in mind. However, the points outlined here are certainly key to a successful approach.

If you want to take your marketing skills to the next level, Morgan International offers a number of different digital marketing diplomas at locations across the Middle East.

 

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Google Adwords Cheat Sheet: Tips and Tricks to Boost Your ROI

 

By John Alexander Adam

 

Google adwords are the cornerstone of most direct marketing campaigns in modern online marketing. As an online marketing professional, being able to optimize ROI on your company’s adword spend more effectively than competitors is often considered a key indicator of your performance. While having the basic skills to set up and monitor campaigns on the Google Adwords platform is basically a must-have for anyone in online marketing, knowing how to go about maximizing ROI is what will get you noticed.

It’s all about optimization and knowing how to make the most of the full suite of features on the adwords tool, as well as being able to use other third party tools and utilizing the little tricks your competitors hopefully don’t. PPC stats site Sitewit says that on average businesses make $2 for every $1 they spend on adwords. As an online marketing professional, you of course want your performance to exceed the average. So here’s a few tips top Google Adwords gurus use to keep them one step ahead of the curve!

  • Patience – Build Your Funnel

One mistake that many Google adwords campaigns make is having the primary goal of a direct sale. The ‘conversion’ is considered to be a direct sale or enquiry. It depends on the product or service you are selling but users clicking on your ad can potentially be at several different points along the sales cycle. They could still be trying to figure out exactly what they need, or already know but are exploring what the different options are. They may already be familiar with the different options and are in the process of comparing them or they could be ready to make a purchase.

If all of your efforts are focused on only the last category of ‘Clicker’, then you are essentially wasting the spend generated by those at earlier stages of their buy cycle. However, if your main conversion goal is getting their email address you can then communicate with them and educate them along their path to a final decision, greatly increasing the percentage of ‘Clickers’ that eventually buy from you. It’s a longer process but building up a sales funnel in this way can over the longer term hugely increase your final ROI.

  • Understand Your Visitors

The Google Analytics tool can give you great insights into who your visitors are if you know what to look for. Understanding prominent behavioral patterns will allow you to better understand the best conversion approach once they are on your website. For example, if the number of new visitors to your site is significantly greater than the number of returning visitors this suggests that most visitors to your site are not familiar with your brand. In this scenario you will most likely be far more successful if your approach is to educate them rather than go directly for the sale. This is just one example but educating yourself on how to interpret that kind of statistic correctly will go a long way to improving your eventual ROI.

  • Leverage Remarketing

Many adwords marketers admit defeat at the point a ‘Clicker’ leaves the site without having responded to any potential conversion point, such as leaving an email address, making a purchase, or something in between. This fatally ignores the fact that using remarketing can significantly boost conversion rates of visitors that have initially been directed to the site via adwords campaigns.

Statistics show that 70% of online shopping carts are abandoned before the purchase is completed. But by having already come to your site via adwords you know that there is a high chance the ‘Clicker’ is genuinely interested in your product or service. Direct, targeted messages delivered via remarketing campaigns are statistically the most effective ad display strategy and using them to follow up on visitors initially arriving via adwords campaigns increases subsequent conversion rates significantly.

  • Keep A/B Testing Your Landing Pages

The actual adword is only the first part of an adwords marketing campaign. Integral to the conversion rates of any adwords campaign is the landing page ‘Clickers’ arrive at once they have clicked on your add. There is a lot of extremely interesting statistical analysis that has been published in recent years on how subtle changes to the wording of messages and design of landing pages can make a significant difference to conversion ratios.

Despite that, statistics from SEO consultants SEOGadget show that only 44% of companies use A/B testing to compare potential differences in conversion rates between variations of the landing pages they use. And far less employ a strategy of ongoing A/B testing to continually optimize results. The likely lack of effort by your competitors in this regard can give you a great advantage if you do things correctly and keep optimizing the conversion ratios of the landing pages you use with your adwords campaigns.

  • Analytics, Analytics, Analytics

Whatever you do and try with your adwords campaigns, the key to success and improving conversion ratios is to constantly analyze the data. Google Analytics is a good enough tool for most businesses and there are also other 3rd party analysis tools you can try. Adwords marketing is essentially a statistical science. If you constantly analyze the statistics available you will receive insights that will enable you to continually improve the performance of your campaigns, improving ROI.

 

If you want to take your adwords marketing skills to the next level, Morgan International offers a number of different digital marketing diplomas at locations across the Middle East. Learn more about our Professional Diploma in Search Marketing class launching in Beirut this Fall, in partnership with the Digital Marketing Institute (DMI).