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Marketing Automation: The What’s, The How’s, and The Why’s

It goes without saying that technology has made ultrapersonal, individually tailored content possible. Gathering this type of individualized, personalized information better enables businesses to nurture leads and convert them into customers.

Imagine receiving an email or social media message from a salesperson who works at a company where you’re considering doing business. Unlike an email blast or public social media post that has likely been sent to hundreds — if not thousands — of people, the message you’ve just received is relevant to the information you’re seeking and focused on your needs.

Almost 70 percent of businesses say converting leads is their No.1 priority. According to HubSpot, businesses that have integrated automation software into their marketing strategy generate two times the number of leads than those using blast email software.

The ultimate mission of marketing automation is two-fold:

  • Drive more and better leads and convert them to sales.
  • Encourage repeat business and turn existing customers into loyal, raving advocates.

What is marketing automation?

Marketing automation refers to software platforms, technologies and tactics that nurture prospects with ultra-personalized, tailored content that turns them into customers — and turns customers into happy customers. Marketing automation software, specifically, automates aspects of a business’ marketing process — repetitive tasks, for example, such as emails and social media posts.

Eighty-nine percent of businesses say that email is their primary channel of lead generation, according to HubSpot. With marketing automation, email flow takes on an entirely new meaning. “After the click” behavior tracking — a principal capability of marketing automation software — allows businesses to discover a lead’s interests based on webpage clicks. Understanding a customer’s interests allows businesses to communicate with prospects one-on-one based on those interests.

How does a business succeed?

Integrating a new component into your marketing strategy can be nerve-wracking. Mind these helpful tips to ensure your marketing automation is successful:

  • Clearly define a strategy. Know the direction you want your marketing automation to take from the get-go.
  • Gain an in-depth knowledge of your audience to help turn prospects into leads into customers.
  • Ensure the content you are pushing out is smart and informative at every stage of the conversion process.

Why does it matter?

For any business, understanding the wants and needs of their audience is the straightest path to success — this has rung true long before technology made ultrapersonal content possible. Marketing automation takes it a step further, though, by allowing marketers to nurture leads throughout the entire buying process — from the first click and beyond.

Consider this: Most people are 60 to 70 percent of the way through the buying journey before even speaking with a salesperson. Imagine having the opportunity to intercept a prospect immediately after their initial interaction with your business’ content. Then, it’s easier to customize content on their behalf. Marketing automation makes this a reality, leaving you the time to focus on other things.

When properly executed and managed, a marketing automation strategy will help you turn prospects into customers.


Marketing on a Small Budget: 10 Ways to Get the Biggest Bang for Your Buck

When you’re marketing on a small budget, you need to find ways to get creative. Not everyone has the pleasure of managing a million-dollar marketing budget, but marketing on a small budget can be just as effective — if not more — when done correctly.

As a business owner, how do you determine which marketing activities will bring in the highest number of leads for the lowest cost? You can get the biggest bang for your marketing buck by following a few tips:

Know your audience

The key to spending your marketing budget effectively is knowing your target. The more specific your audience is, the more likely you are to reach someone genuinely interested in your product or service.

Enhance your social media presence

Social media is one of the most cost-effective methods of marketing. To attract your customers, make sure your posts are fun and engaging. Consider boosting your posts to reach a targeted set of people.

Publish great content

Create a company blog. Positioning your business as a thought leader in the industry is a free and effective way to increase the number of prospects visiting your website.

Make your website SEO friendly

One of the single most important components of any organization’s online marketing presence is a solid SEO strategy. An SEO-friendly website will help ensure you appear in search results and drive traffic to your website.

Rank in Google with Google AdWords

The best way to guarantee you’ll appear in search results is with Google AdWords. With a Google AdWords campaign, you can control your advertising costs and easily measure the success of a campaign.

Don’t forget about traditional marketing

Traditional marketing methods are still as effective as digital. Consider sending an eye-catching postcard or carefully written personal letter to your prospects. Include a call-to-action to entice people to connect.

Build relationships with email marketing

With email marketing, you can engage prospects and maintain relationships with your existing customers. Develop a monthly newsletter and include success stories from existing customers.

Develop a referral program

Word of mouth is always the best and most cost-effective way to promote your business. Encourage customers to share their experience with friends and family and reward them for their loyalty. Don’t be afraid to ask for online reviews.

Make your employees brand ambassadors

Your employees are your No. 1 asset. A well-defined company culture that’s inclusive and empowering increases employee satisfaction, creating brand ambassadors who are thoroughly engaged, connected and committed to your company.

Analyze and adjust

Not every marketing tactic works for every company. Analyzing your marketing efforts and adjusting your tactics ensures you’re spending your budget effectively.

Even if your marketing budget is small, it can still be powerful. Get the most out of your budget by taking the time to create the perfect marketing mix for your company. Like they say — sometimes less is more!

Does your business need help developing a marketing strategy that won’t break the bank? Contact the marketing experts at GREENCREST today to get started!


Four Social Media Trends to Master in 2018

As technology continues to change, the ways in which we communicate and engage with customers on social media do, too. Take a look at four social media trends that GREENCREST predicts will take center stage in 2018.


Social video and video advertising will continue to explode in 2018. In 2017, it significantly outperformed all other forms of content on every test, and as Generation Z continues to make itself known on social media, video should remain a primary focus of most companies’ marketing strategies. According to data collected by AdWeek, 50 percent of Gen Z-ers “can’t live without YouTube.” In 2017, nearly half of all businesses implemented video advertising, according to Hootsuite, which expects that number to grow by 29 percent in 2018.

“Brand Fatigue” and How to Avoid it

As the number of businesses on social media continues to increase, original, creative content is becoming harder and harder to come by, resulting in “brand fatigue,” or a phenomenon in which consumers become less likely to engage with sponsored or branded content. In 2018, businesses can expect to feel pressure to create better, more engaging content in order to establish themselves as independently verifiable sources. Focus on communication with individuals in your own community. Connect with them directly through messenger platforms, for example. Your customers value local and personal experiences. Engaging with them on a personal level will help grow your business into an industry leader as their trust in you grows.

Live Streaming

Originally thought to be applicable to only video gaming, live streaming is quickly creeping into social media. In the last 1 ½ years, Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat all introduced live-streaming capabilities for their mobile apps. Companies have incorporated the technology to live stream events, Q&A’s, reviews, interviews, webinars, and more. Live streaming is so popular among brands because through it they can genuinely connect with their audience, and Internet users agree. According to Statista, people of all ages viewed live streams in 2017, and — in 2018 — live streaming will continue to grow in popularity and user base.

Influencer Marketing

In 2017, 75 percent of brands incorporated influencer marketing into their marketing strategies, according to AdWeek. Hallmark, for example, created the hashtag #Keepsakeit to encourage family-friendly Instagram users to promote Hallmark’s keepsake ornaments during the holidays. Earlier this month, social media influencer Hannah Bronfman signed on as a brand ambassador for a new Proctor & Gamble feminine hygiene product. In 2018, the investment in influencer marketing will grow. As internet users continue to search for “authentic” content, and the use of AdBlock grows, influencer marketing will continue to grow as an extremely effective way for marketers to reach their audiences on social media.

The experts at GREENCREST know a thing or two about how to create an engaging, successful social media strategy. Contact us today to get a head start on mastering these 2018 trends.


Key Trends to Watch for in 2018

While it can be difficult to keep up with the fast pace of changing technology, business owners should pay attention to the certain technological trends that are quickly taking root and promise to change the way businesses operate.

If you pay attention to the buzzwords, you’ll be hearing a lot more in the coming year about automation, Artificial Intelligence and Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tools.


The biggest growth in technology will likely come in the areas of automation, whether that automation comes in the form of bots, self-service check-out stations, robots or autonomous vehicles.

If you’ve eaten out lately, you might find that you can place your order and pay for it without ever talking to a waiter. Many fast-food outlets are investing in automated kiosks allowing customers to place an order, pay for it and then pick it up at the counter when their number is called. Big-box retailers are experimenting with scanners that shoppers can carry with them throughout the store. The scanner tallies up the purchases as the shoppers go through the store, and then the customer just has to visit a kiosk to pay for the purchases at the end.

Artificial Intelligence

Artificial Intelligence is helping boost efficiency in some industries. Augmedix, for example, has invested in Google Glasses for its doctors to wear during a patient’s employment. During the appointment, via live streaming through the Google Glasses, the doctor is interacting with a human transcriber who is taking notes and updating the patient’s chart in real time. This advancement, according to Augmedix, has freed up the doctors to spend more time with the patients and less time updating the electronic health care charts.

When he recently spoke to a group of Columbus business owners at a First Merchants Bank event, Gene Marks — a public speaker and frequent contributor to The Washington Post, Forbes and Entrepreneur Magazine — talked about the importance of bots in reaching customers. Have you ever had your pharmacy call you to alert you that it was time to reorder a prescription? That bot is merely a software program that is using messaging to carry out a task that will ultimately lead the customer to a human who can help them. The bot is connected to the business’s Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tool, another technology that Marks says business owners should fully embrace.


A good CRM can do three things for a business:

  • It will ensure that no prospects fall through the cracks.
  • It will make you look smart, because it can provide lots of detailed, unique information about your customers.
  • It will increase the value of your business. In the Big Data world in which we live, the information in your CRM — names, detailed information, phone numbers email addresses — is worth money and can raise the price that someone is willing to pay for your business.

What’s important for businesses owners to remember as you embrace all of this technology is that there is no substitute for the human touch in customer relations. Automation, AI and CRMs can take care of many tasks. But when it’s time to have a conversation with a customer — whether it’s a retailer taking care of a 70-year-old customer who doesn’t know how to use the self-check-out counter or a manufacturing plant trying to sell a $500,000 part to another business — that is a conversation best left to humans and not robots.


Why Businesses Should Make Video a Marketing Priority in 2018

Wherever we go these days, it seems we are bombarded with video: on our computers, tablets, phones, not to mention what we see on TV. Just open any of your social media accounts, and you’re likely to see video as you scroll through your feed. More and more websites also now have embedded videos on landing pages, which can increase conversion rates.

According to the American Marketing Association, video content will be the driving factor behind 85 percent of all search traffic in the U.S. by 2019. In addressing marketing priorities for 2018, companies should make video a top priority — whether it’s for a website, Snapchat, Instagram or Facebook. Video content will be imperative in 2018, even for companies that are focused on marketing to businesses.

Relating to Millennials

One reason for this great change is that there are a growing number of millennials populating the workforce. According to the latest figures from the Pew Research Center, there were an estimated 79.8 million millennials living in the U.S. in 2016, compared to 74.1 million baby boomers — more than half the population! And, according to Catalyst, one-third of all working-age people in the U.S. in 2015 were millennials, a percentage that’s expected to grow to 75 percent by 2025.

And what do we know about millennials? They are comfortable with video. They grew up playing video games, livestreaming movies and creating their own videos on their smart phones. And, more important, they like to share videos. To engage with them in the workplace — to get their attention if you’re trying to sell them a product or a service for their business — video is a must.

The Power of Videos

Sprint took to video to promote its Workplace-as-a-Service from Sprint Business. Sprint’s brilliant video from 2015 outlines the hassles of opening a new office — finding the best phone system and integrating that with the network, Wi-Fi, email, phone conferencing and other collaboration tools. The video sells the idea that Sprint can handle that all for you, freeing you to spend time on what matters most to your business — hiring employees for the new office, furnishing the office, courting business prospects in the new city. The video ends with the simple message, “You’ve got better things to do, and we kind of don’t.”

Sprint’s video sells the idea that they understand their business customers’ pain points, and they know how to solve them.

Millennials in leadership positions within companies recognize the power of such videos to communicate a message and to build relationships with customers. According to Google, 50 percent of all internet users look for videos related to a product or service before visiting a store.

Still not sure? Consider these statistics gathered by HubSpot Research:

  • 59 percent of the decision-makers in companies (which will increasingly be millennials) prefer watching a video over reading a blog post.
  • 54 percent of consumers want to see videos from brands they support.
  • 43 percent of respondents said that branded video content was the most memorable to them and they wanted to see more video content from marketers.
  • 55 percent of people consume video content thoroughly.

In developing video, companies must remember that a good video still must tell a story, be professional and have a relevant, engaging message for the audience before closing with a meaningful call to action.

In addition, the key to using video content to propel your brand will be understanding how best to use the video you’ve just created to your advantage on your website and in each social media channel. After all, the entire purpose of the video — as with any marketing message — is to engage your customers and your prospects.

Why Hire an AMI Accredited Agency?

The text below is from the website for the Agency Management Institute, which offers certification to agencies that complete extensive training, workshops and other learning opportunities in order to better serve their clients. It details the benefits of hiring an AMI Accredited Agency. GREENCREST has been a member of the AMI for 20 years. GREENCREST is also the only certified brand agency in Central Ohio — and one of only 35 in North America.

To earn the AMI accreditation, an agency principal must attend and participate in an initial 50 hours of best practices education, taught by a 30-year veteran of the agency business, who is still active in the business today – ensuring that the teachings are current and relevant.

To maintain their accreditation, the agency principal must attend a minimum of 40 additional hours of education each and every year. During these training sessions, industry experts are brought in to provide a wide array of technical, ethical and practical knowledge on areas like the law, accounting, growing the clients’ business, relationship building, negotiation skills, digital trends and much more.

Many member agencies go even further, sending their other leadership level and account service staff to workshops and other learning opportunities. The average AMI accredited agency invests in more than 75 hours of ongoing training a year.
Not only must an agency demonstrate to the AMI staff that they’ve earned their accreditation, but they must also re-earn the approval of their AMI peers annually.

How does this serve their clients? AMI agencies:

• Commit to the AMI manifesto, promising to conduct themselves as their clients’ best advocates and partners
• Focus on continual learning of best practices and strategies, emerging trends and industry issues
• Invest in a minimum of 40 hours of ongoing training annually for agency principals, leadership and staff
• Maintain and build a strong alliance with other AMI agencies — which extends their boots-on-the-ground resources throughout North America and specific area expertise on behalf of their clients
• Are employers of choice — attracting top-notch talent to work on their clients’ behalf
• Contribute significantly to the communities in which they live by adding to the local economy through payroll and benefits, serving on area boards, and providing many hours of pro-bono work

An AMI agency isn’t satisfied with being as good as most.

By seeking, earning and keeping their AMI accreditation, they demonstrate their ongoing desire to be one of the industry’s leaders — an elite group of fewer than 100 privately owned agencies that continually invest in their own betterment for their clients’ ultimate benefit.


B2B Social Media

Tips for Writing Clear and Concise Marketing Content

Effective communication is the key to the success of any company in industries across the board. But what exactly does effective marketing content entail? Whether it be social media content, postcards or press releases, here are some tips to follow to guarantee that your marketing content hits the mark.

Know Your Purpose

Is the purpose of your content to inform the public? Invite? Engage? Fully understanding what you hope to accomplish will help guide the tone, style and structure of your communication. “Informal” marketing content, such as holiday greetings and birthday wishes, should be structured differently than a press release, for example.

Be Thorough

Strive to leave your audience with as few unanswered questions as possible. Whenever applicable, your marketing content should address the “Five W’s” — who, what, where, when and why. In other words, include the most important details — time and place, for example — in your communication. On social media, for example, include links back to relevant information or a call to action on your website. In addition, make sure to include appropriate contact information so your audience knows where to go for more information.

Know Your Audience

Depending upon your industry, your audience will have specific needs, interests and expectations that your marketing content should address. Ask yourself these questions before beginning:

  • What am I trying to say to this person?
  • What is the best and most effective way to say it?
  • Does the communication need to be altered for different audiences?

Think about it — do you speak to a co-worker and a client in the same tone? Do you use the same vocabulary? Of course not! Consider each of your audiences individually in order to make a significant impact.

Avoid Jargon or “Fancy” Words

At times, using jargon in your marketing content may be unavoidable. But still aim to be creative. Overusing business buzzwords or phrases indicate laziness — or worse — you don’t understand the topic you’re writing about. Avoid “fancy” words in your communication, as well. Choose “use” instead of “utilize,” for example. Many people believe using complex words makes them appear more intelligent, but readers are not impressed. They’re frustrated. Cut to the chase in your marketing content.

Proofread, Proofread, Proofread!

While it might be easy to wash your hands of a piece of marketing content after you’ve dotted the last “I” and crossed the final “T,” you’re not done proofreading yet. Read your document over two or three times or ask a co-worker to review the final product — for misspellings, unnecessary or misplaced punctuation or lack of clarity. To put it bluntly, grammatical errors can be a surefire way to kill your credibility. Mistakes can happen, but you have to be careful to keep them to a minimum.

Putting together professional content — that clearly shares your message and intrigues potential customers — can be daunting. Contact the experts at GREENCREST to help with your content marketing.


5 Web Design Blunders Every Business Should Avoid

Thinking about building a new website for your business? Considering re-building one that you’ve had for a few years? While the project may seem simple enough at the start, inevitably it becomes more and more complex — and easy to make mistakes.

Working with a great web design agency such as GREENCREST will help you avoid the five most common blunders businesses make online:

Mobile Un-friendly

Over half of all website traffic is mobile now – and it’s still growing. Five to ten years ago, businesses may have been able to get away with a desktop-only site, but that’s no longer the case. Today, companies must have a responsive website that is mobile friendly to survive in today’s smartphone-first world.

Call to In-action

What do you want website visitors to do when they arrive on your page? If you don’t know the answer to this question, do not begin a website design project. Every great website design has a strong call to action “above the fold” — visible when someone first lands on the page.

BUT, don’t jump the gun. If you sell a complex product that is extremely expensive and takes months to complete a typical sales process, do not put a “Buy Now” button on the page. Rather, think about what steps customers typically take in their journey and provide valuable resources to help them make informed decisions. Great calls to action include “Download the Ultimate Guide,” “Schedule Your Free Consultation,” and “Sign Up for a Webinar.”

Ignoring Search Engines

Before engaging with a brand, consumers and business decision-makers do an average of six to 12 searches online. And the overwhelming majority start with a search engine such as Google. If you want people to find your business online, then you need to invest in Search Engine Optimization (SEO). SEO is the process of creating website content and following best practices that lead to ranking highly on search engines and gaining organic website traffic.

Another common blunder that businesses make is trying to “do SEO” after a website is launched. It’s best to begin your project with SEO in mind — you’re much more likely to succeed and avoid wasted investment in content that’s not optimized.

Who Ya’ Gonna Call?

Believe it or not, some businesses are so focused on the call to action and other design elements, they forget to make it easy for customers to contact them.

It should be extremely clear how customers can reach you, and you should provide multiple options including phone, email and web forms at a minimum. One of our favorite design standards is to include a small phone icon in the top right portion of a mobile website that allows customers to click and call you directly.

Set and Forget

Websites require constant maintenance and upkeep. Once your brand-new website is launched, the work is not over. You’ll want to continuously apply security patches and make sure your platform stays up to date.

The other thing to keep in mind is that websites are nothing like diamonds — they do not last forever. The web design your business proudly launched 10 years ago probably looks like, well, it was from 10 years ago. Think of your website as digital storefront — it tells a story to customers of how much you invest in and value your business.

If you’re ready to get started on your next website, contact us at GREENCREST. We can help you strategize, plan, build and succeed online.

Improving Company Culture: Making the Rounds Has a Positive Impact on Culture

A blueprint for rounding

Believe it or not, culture has a huge impact on a company’s ability to deliver its brand promise to the marketplace. It takes the entire team to care about the company’s mission, and caring starts with top leaders showing genuine concern for employees.

One small but smart step to improving culture is getting in the habit of weekly rounds. This involves leaders scheduling time to touch base with employees, make a personal connection, find out what’s going well and determine what improvements can be made.

Rounding is more than “face time” by leaders. It’s meaningful. It’s the heart and soul of “evidence-based leadership.” In order for organizations to benefit from rounding, it must be consistent, taught to all managers and hardwired into your culture.

Don’t assume that rounding is easy. It isn’t – but, over time, you’ll see the results are worth the effort. Here are some steps to follow.

  1. Tell your employees what you plan. Any time a leader changes his or her behavior, employees tend to get jumpy. Be honest. Tell them up front, “I want to be a better leader and I need your help. I want to find out what’s working well and what’s not working so well.”
  2. Prepare a scouting report. Start with a basic knowledge of the current problems. For instance, if you know a department is short-staffed, put it on the report. When you start making rounds, you can talk intelligently about the issues.
  3. Make a personal connection. Ask about a personal interest, a sick parent or how a child is doing in school. This is relationship building. Be genuine. It takes
    time to build.
  4. Mention an issue that was raised. Show the employee that you’ve solved the problem or that you’re working on it.
  5. Ask five key questions. Keep your tone and words as positive as possible. Just listen.
    • What is working well today?
    • Are there any individuals I should be recognizing?
    • Do you have the tools and equipment you need to do your job?
    • Is there anything we or I could do better?
    • What else would you like me to know?
  6. Solve problems. Don’t throw anyone under the bus. Obviously, there will be circumstances you can’t control. But people appreciate knowing that you will try. Sincere effort goes a long way.
  7. Record issues that arise in a log. Tracking feedback creates structure and will help you hardwire the process into your company. Writing things down makes them official and more likely to get done.
  8. Recognize and reward those identified by peers as high performers. This might mean conveying a sincere word of thanks, such as citing who complimented him or her, or making a small financial gesture or gift.
  9. Repeat. Make rounds on a regular schedule, at least once a week. Don’t risk losing momentum or you’ll risk mediocre results. The cost of improving culture by making the rounds is only an investment of your time. Try it and let me know how it impacts your culture.

Snapchat: Should Your Organization Consider It?

If you think Snapchat is just for kids, think again. The extremely popular social media platform is gaining traction with savvy brands and marketers, but is it a fit for your company? Consider the advantages the platform offers to determine if adding Snapchat to your social media arsenal makes sense.

Ability to reach a younger audience

First, a few facts. Snapchat is hottest among the millennial and Generation Z demographics, with over 70 percent of users under the age of 25. Young people with a smartphone are likely on Snapchat; in fact, more than 60 percent of Americans ages 13 to 34 with a smartphone are already there. What does this mean for your company? Essentially, if you’re marketing your products or services to a younger audience, you should go where your audience is and give the platform serious consideration.

A growing audience of older users

You’re not off the hook if younger people aren’t your target market. Just like many other social media platforms, as Snapchat matures, the platform’s users are skewing older as well. In fact, it is growing fastest among users over 35, with a 224 percent growth rate in the last quarter of 2016 when compared to 2015. While Snapchat might not be a part of your marketing strategy next quarter, it likely may be next year.

Less competition

While many brands have been on the bread-and-butter social media platforms such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter for years, Snapchat is less popular (although growing rapidly) among businesses. Competition for your audiences’ attention is fierce on the conventional platforms; Snapchat could offer a window of opportunity to go where your competition isn’t.

It’s different

Snapchat goes beyond likes and comments to a new and creative realm of social media. Custom geofilters and stickers allow you to promote your brand and special events to users in pre-determined locations. A lens can be customized with creative ideas to promote your organization. Your story is a fun way to give users an inside look at your business. While content on the platform is only temporary — snaps and chats disappear after they have been viewed and stories only hang around for 24 hours — this limitation can be a fun challenge when developing new content ideas.

Need professional assistance with your social media? Contact the GREENCREST experts!