Monthly Archives September 2016

Gaming the System: How Some Companies are Engaging the B2B Channel

Image of Home Depot Gloves lying on an iPad displaying a marketing game

One of today’s greatest marketing challenges is capturing an audience’s attention. How can we be expected to create content that engages users with an attention span shorter than that of a goldfish?

Videos, gifs, and cinemagraphs are great, but the challenge is keeping people interested and absorbing your content instead of scrolling past it. Sure, likes are something to celebrate (whose life isn’t defined by the number their last Instagram received?), but a real success story is determined by long engagements and mindshare.

As marketers, we know creating content based on user behavior is the place to start, and that’s exactly what Jim Wexler, president of Experiences Unlimited does everyday by creating game-based experiences.

Gaming as a marketing tool

We don’t often hear of games used as a marketing tool. They’re a different breed than what we’re used to, as they require the user’s full attention and spur long engagements. Where do we sign up, right? But to create a game experience and expect people to play, you must carefully balance fun, learning, and incentives.

Games are particularly useful when it comes to B2B marketing. When roofing giant GAF approached Wexler looking for help educating its channel partners at The Home Depot, he knew exactly how to go about helping.

The case study – how GAF educated channel partners

The Pro Desk employees at The Home Depot must cover an overwhelming array of products, so it’s a challenge for GAF to make sure the employees know enough about them to properly sell their roofing product line.

GAF needed to educate these The Home Depot employees so that when customers came to purchase roofing materials, the Pro Desk employees remembered to suggest GAF’s full six-product line.

“Often a market communication chief in channel sales will think they’ve got to teach 40 things,” Wexler said. “But the real lesson is, boil it down to three or four things that truly matter, and that’s what a game can be good for.”

So that’s exactly what they did. Wexler and his team created ‘Roofing System Challenge,’ a simple incentivized game to educate Pro Desk personnel on the six components to a roofing system.

“We made Roofing System Challenge to hammer home the same message over and over again while delivering a fun experience,” Wexler said.

The results – long engagements and mindshare

The game turned out to be a success both in educating channel partners and keeping them engaged. Throughout the campaign, there was an average of 250 employees playing per week with a 30% rolling retention rate after the first month. And the people who were playing were engaging at an average of 10 minutes per session. Not too shabby.

A 10-minute-long engagement is a huge accomplishment in today’s world of endless distractions. But it makes sense – what better way to engage a distracted worker than with something educational in the form of a distraction?

Marketers are constantly striving to create a unique user experience, and gamification is proving to be a successful strategy for the right projects.

“It’s about articulating a brand story,” Wexler said. “Everyone has a story. We just delivered it in an innovative way.”

Could your digital marketing benefit from gaming?

  • Are you targeting a younger demographic?
  • Are you trying to tell a complicated brand story or teach a complex lesson?
  • Are you trying to activate a sponsorship or licensed property with customers?
  • Do you need to train channel partners?
  • Does your audience have mobile or PC access?
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6 Umbraco Packages You Need to Install

image of hand hovering over laptop keyboard

One of the reasons Umbraco is a great content management system is the wide range of packages and extensions that are available for building sites — many of which, like Umbraco, are free and open source.

As Umbraco developers, we’re always watching out for the latest and greatest packages. Here are a few of our favorites. This is not meant to be an exhaustive list or even a top 6 list, but rather a glimpse into the great ecosphere of Umbraco extensions.

Articulate

Want a blog on your Umbraco site? Since Umbraco 7.1, Articulate has been the blogging package of choice. It supports many of the features that make up a great blog including categories & tags, themes, Live Writer support, BlogML import/export, RSS feeds and author profiles. Developed as a free, open source project by Umbraco HQ core developer Shannon Deminick, Articulate has been actively maintained and is widely used.

ASP.Net Identity for Umbraco

Looking to add single sign-on, so your website users can log into your site using their Facebook, Google (and other) accounts? You can use ASP.Net Identity for Umbraco. This enables Umbraco to work with ASP.NET Identity and use something called Owin Middleware to enable external logins with OAuth providers including Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Twitter and more.

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Azure Blob Cache and UmbracoFileSystemProviders.Azure

These packages offload static files in the media section to the Microsoft Azure cloud so when an editor uploads a file in Umbraco, instead of saving the file to the media folder on the local drive, the file gets saved to Azure Blob Storage which can then be served via the Azure Content Delivery Network (CDN). Another package, Azure CDN Toolkit for Umbraco, makes it easy to link to resources on the Azure CDN from Umbraco templates.

Merchello

Merchello is one of the e-commerce offerings for Umbraco (the others are uCommerce and teaCommerce). Since we started using it 2 years ago, it has come a long way, adding many features expected in a modern ecommerce platform including support for promo offers and improved reports. We love it because the flexible programming API makes it great for customizing. The new FastTrack starter kit makes it easier to launch a storefront with Merchello.

Umbraco Forms

If your editors need to have the ability to create their own forms and export data submissions, Umbraco Forms is what you’re looking for. The form editor provides an intuitive user interface for creating responsive forms. As with most things Umbraco, Forms offers flexibility and extensibility with its ability to setup advanced workflows that can integrate with other systems via web services. While it is the only commercial package listed here, we think it’s worth the 99 Euros.

Vorto

Building a multilingual site? Then you’ll want to use Vorto. Vorto is a property editor wrapper that wraps an existing property editor and converts it into a multilingual property. This provides a great user interface for managing content in different languages.

 

These are a just a few of the many packages and extensions available for Umbraco. There are many, many others — most of them listed here. Interested in learning more about Umbraco? Flightpath will be hosting an Umbraco meetup on October 18 at 7 p.m.

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You Can Finally Zoom in on Instagram

Hands holding iPhone taking photo of sunset

Yesterday, Instagram released an iOS update allowing users to pinch to zoom in on photos and videos in the app. This is big news for avid Instagram users, but even bigger news for moms who have been trying and failing to zoom in on Instagram photos for years.

We’ve pulled together some of our favorite tweets expressing the frustration experienced when moms try to zoom in on Instagram – now a sure thing of the past:

https://twitter.com/allrik/status/746801559187623936

This update comes shortly after the app introduced Instagram Stories, a feature similar to Snapchat Stories, causing both excitement and rage from users.

The general mood resulting from the zoom feature is positive, with a lot of millennials reminiscing on the good ol’ days:

https://twitter.com/lnhuck/status/771434376630456320

And as for Android users, you’ll have to wait a few weeks for the zoom functionality to become available.

Instagram’s update is leaving a lot of us with the phrase we say so often: ‘Wow, Mom, I guess you were right.”

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How to Market to New Moms Online

Mother shopping on laptop computer with baby on lap

In the marketing world, our impression of new mothers tends to be outdated and inaccurate. Gone are the days of technologically confused moms who don’t know how to send a text or turn their phone on vibrate. Young moms and soon-to-be mothers are online and fully digital.

This is great news for digital marketers, specifically those who work in the baby industry. Moms are researching, reading reviews, and shopping online everyday.

But how do you make sure your brand shows up where moms are looking? Know your audience and their behavior, to start.

Keep these tips in mind when marketing to new moms online:

  • Moms are millennials This may be surprising because a lot of us think ‘selfies and memes’ when we hear the word ‘millennials,’ but in reality, many of them are young moms. Women are about 26 years old when they have their first born, according to CDC. This doesn’t mean they’re not taking selfies or making memes though, so adjust your content accordingly.
  • They’re online Duh. Over 90% of moms are online, so we can’t think of them as people who don’t know how to check their email anymore.
  • They’re on their phones In fact, they’re addicted to their phones according to a BabyCenter report. This means your site should be mobile optimized, or you could lose a good amount of your potential customers.
  • They’re on Pinterest Moms are on Pinterest specifically researching and shopping for baby supplies. More than a third of Pinterest’s unique visitors are American moms, according to Nielsen. If you work in the baby industry, make Pinterest your social media priority.
  • They read blogs In fact, 1 in 3 bloggers are moms. New moms look to blogs for advice and tips. This is a great opportunity for brands to practice inbound marketing. Create content that answers the questions moms are asking to become a go-to trusted source.
eMarketer chart showing social media sites used by US mothers, 2013-2016.
The number of moms on Pinterest has been growing rapidly since 2013, compared to a more steady growth of Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

“I think Pinterest is undervalued by marketers when it comes to mothers,” Maria Bailey, author of ‘Millennial Moms: 202 Facts Marketers Need to Know to Build Brands and Drive Sales’ told eMarketer. “Marketers put so much effort into Facebook—and mothers do follow brands on Facebook—but mothers are actually making purchases directly through links on Pinterest. There’s a lot of potential there.”

eMarketer chart showing attitudes toward product reviews/research according to US millennial mother vs. non-mother internet users, July 2015.
New mothers are well-read and well-researched. Brands should take advantage of blogging and influencer outreach to market to moms.

Though the ‘mom market’ is nothing new, the way they’re behaving sure is. With this knowledge, we can target new moms with great content in the right place at the right time. Focus your efforts on the platforms that moms are using to perform research. Take advantage of Pinterest and blogging to get your brand front and center when moms are ready to purchase. 

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