Cobalt Digital Marketing and the F8 of the Tech World

Facebook’s F8 conference took place last week in Silicon Valley and the tech world is once again set on its ears. From direct brain-computer interface for typing to augmented reality, special effects picture sharing and more, the F8 of the tech world appears to be glorious (and will undoubtedly have profound effects on marketing).

  1. Facebook Analytics Update

Changes in Facebook’s analytics platform will provide businesses more in-depth info on their customers’ engagement with not only their Facebook Pages but their websites, applications, services, and bots. The new analytics systems will follow customers through their entire journey, including offline conversions, and will offer businesses better insights on how marketing and ad campaigns can be used to increase engagement, and ultimately, sales.

A better understanding of ROI when using social media will help marketing teams better target specific audiences, like those who have visited a company’s website and are more likely to make a purchase.

  1. Getting in on the filter action.

What is being coined as the Camera Effects Platform, Facebook has been developing a new app that will allow users to create their own unique image and video filters and effects. Essentially turning smartphones into an augmented reality platform, Facebook users, businesses, and marketing teams will have the ability to create one-of-a-kind frames and animated effects to better engage with audiences.

As there has reportedly been a decline in sharing on Facebook, the social media juggernaut is hoping to revamp it’s sharing feature to basically make it more fun for users. Seeing how popular Snapchat’s personal and business geofilters have become, this one is sure to strike a chord with audiences.

  1. Talk to the bot.

Facebook has introduced Messenger Platform 2.0 to support their billions of monthly users and tens of thousands of active bots. One of new features in Messenger is known as the Discover Tab and will allow users to find the best bots and businesses to connect with—together.

Another improved element with be Messenger’s AI assistant, M, which will help to make customer experiences run smoother across Facebook’s multiple tools. The new API will allow brands to better track the customer experience and deliver better services like cross platform purchases and delivery.

Look for businesses to develop models to create a seamless experience across apps and devices with users being able to more easily chat with bots in a group.

  1. Augmented Reality

Zuckerberg highlighted some new AR technology features that can quickly be making their way to your smartphone (the AR demo starts at 19:22 during his keynote). And in a nutshell all we can say—COOL!

The tools previewed during the demo will allow users and brands to create fun (and informative) interactive content, such as adding 3D objects to an image or virtual pop-up cards to provide information about a product. The potential for what brands will be able to create in the digital world and in real life opens up an entirely new channel of marketing.

  1. Facebook Workplace continues to evolve.

As Facebook grows older, it’s also growing up to speak. Rather than just being the social media go-to platform for friends and families, Facebook is hoping to delve into the working world, that’s why Workplace is adding chatbots, file sharing services, and better integration with various IT compliance tools and services.

Adweek has reported that more than 400,000 groups have been created on the platform with customers as large as Starbucks and Viacom. A free version known as WorkPlace Standards is set to become available to companies and organizations relatively soon. With the potential to link businesses across the world in real time and work as a virtual office, small businesses and firms can benefit from cost savings.

  1. Smarty pants.

The development of Facebook’s Smart Replies will help to enhance customer support and automate answers so Page owners won’t have to deal with huge influxes of questions alone. Smart Replies will be able to respond to FAQs such as business hours or directions by drawing from information found on the Page and replying with the correct information.

Brands will now be able to free up some time to meaningfully engage with the audience rather than simply answers questions. Just remember that because the Smart Replies is grabbing information from your Facebook Page, you’ll need to make sure that information is being updated as necessary.

  1. VR get togethers, mind control, and more…

This week’s F8 conference also included a few more amazing topics and technologies that blew us away, including:

  • Facebook SpacesA VR app being introduced for the Oculus Rift, Facebook Spaces is going to offer friends and family an interactive virtual environment where you can chat, draw, play games, take pictures, watch videos, and more. You’ll even have your very own avatar created from images loaded onto Facebook. This one seems like the perfect virtual hangout spot.
  • Facebook is reading minds—Well, maybe not just yet, but the company’s development division is working on a neural interface that will allow a user to type by just thinking the words. Facebook comments might get even zanier than we thought imaginable.
  • Surround 360-degree camera—Technically two new versions were announced and Facebook is hoping both help to accelerate the development of 360-degree content. While the cameras definitely cost a pretty penny, the company is planning on working with businesses to lease out or rent the costly (but innovative) tech.
  • Oh yeah…there’s this whole hearing through your skin thing—Facebook’s Building 8 development department is also working on skin sensor technology that will allow the brain to recognize and translate what a person touches into symbols, words, and patterns. Yup…

Let us help you stay on top with Cobalt Digital Marketing and help you make the most of your Facebook marketing strategy or better connect your business to current and new customers.

We know that to stay competitive we need to be ahead of the curve. That’s why we are constantly researching and understanding the newest technologies that are set to emerge. Let us be the guiding light you need in the ever evolving digital marketing world.

Wrong Information is Bad for Business!

Why you need to verify your business info and how Cobalt Digital Marketing can help.

You’ve worked hard over the years to develop a reputation of quality products and premium customer service. You’ve taken the right steps to make sure that customer needs are met and your company innovative. You’ve fought tooth and nail to separate yourself from your local competition.

But even then, you might be overlooking a basic detail that can have a profound effect on your business—your online business listings.

If your sales are driven by local customers, then you need to make absolutely sure that your business listing info is correct. Sounds simple enough, right? Well, consider that just a few years ago, Placeable released a survey that found 73% of people lose trust in a local business when an online listing is incorrect.

Those listings are starting to look a lot more important now, aren’t they?

With 88% of consumers who search for a type of local business on a mobile device calling or going to that business within 24 hours, it’s a harsh reality that bad info means bad business.

Still not convinced that listing your business on leading sites like Google Places, Yelp, Foursquare, or Tripadvisor, is important? Consider this:

Getting to the Mountain Top

  1. Control your brand. Don’t be surprised to find your business on any online listings, even if you never requested it yourself. Know what that means? That you have an online reputation. And if you’re not in control of it, then who is? Claim your brand and your listings.
  1. Time to be a professional. Your online reputation can make you (or break you), so by verifying your listings and setting them up properly, you enhance your business’s professional look and customer appeal. This is especially important when you’ve just opened, purchased an existing business, or are in the process of building a website. Don’t let your competition have all the fun—get your listings verified and correct.
  1. Google it. Let’s be real, everybody uses Google (or almost everybody). As of August 2016, there were 34 billion monthly searches on Google in the US. With numbers like those, you need to have your listings verified on Google. When you do so, Google knows that the address is very likely to be accurate, so they place you in verified listings for local searches. This means that if someone is looking for a restaurant near you on Google, you’ll end up high on the search results. Not verified? Google is less likely to do so.
  1. 80% of internet users own a smartphone. Consumers are moving towards mobile searches, so verifying your company’s listings on mobile-friendly sites and apps will help to make you increasingly visible to millions upon millions of potential customers.
  1. You get to choose. Don’t let sites and apps choose what category your business should be listed under. When you verify your listings, you get to optimize and make edits to each listing, which can help you to stand out from the competition. Make sure your business address and contact information are correct on each site and app so people can find you easier.
  1. A smart choice at no fee. Gain visibility at essentially no cost to you. Most listing sites will allow you to claim and update your business information at little to no cost, which makes verification an easy and cost-effective marketing tool.
  1. Engage with your clients and potential customers. Apps like Yelp allow you upload pictures, create intriguing business descriptions, develop deals, and more, all while improving conversions and click through rates. At #SXSW17, we constantly heard about the importance of client engagement and authenticity—verification allows you to do just that.
  1. Spreading the word. Verification will get your name out across multiple platforms. The top non-paid search results for broad searches (such as those with only a city name and type of business) will often include listings on sites like YP.com, MapQuest, Angie’s List, and more.
  1. Don’t &*@! off your customers. Hell hath no fury like a customer scorned. Wrong business hours, old addresses, and the likes will definitely cost you customer trust. Avoid having bad reviews, social media coverage, and costly word-of-mouth negativity by claiming your business profiles on listing sites and makings sure all the correct information is put up.

If you’re not sure where to begin with claiming your online profiles and listings, don’t worry, Cobalt has you covered with that too.

What to Expect When Verifying

To begin, every online business index is going to have its own unique process when verifying your listing, but generally, they all have some similar steps that it’s best to familiarize yourself with.

  1. To begin with, most sites and apps will ask you to figure out whether or not your business is already in their index. You’ll usually have to enter your business name or phone number to discover any existing listings. Again, don’t be too amazed if you already exist in their database. Chances are you exist somewhere out there on the web.
  1. The next step will be to review any existing information that might be on their site/app. You’ll want to check for accuracy (and consistency across multiple platforms) by confirming your business name, address(es), phone number(s), website address, business categories, and other core details. Don’t forget that you want all this essential business information to be identical on all those online listings.
  1. The last step is what would really be the “verification” process. Again, every verification process from each individual entity is unique, but you typically see the verification happen in these ways:
  • Via a phone call and verification through a pin number
  • Via a traditional snail mail postcard and pin number verification
  • Via email

Time frames to complete the verification process vary from search engine to search engine and can last from a few days to a couple months. Regardless of the wait time, don’t make any changes to your information as this can cause problems to the process. Be patient and allow the procedure to work its course.

Future changes to core information may require re-verification, but you can usually edit things like business descriptions and photos without much hassle or the need to go through the process all over again.

Last, but not least, don’t get hoodwinked into purchasing “verification” reports from illegitimate online sources that’ll only take your money but offer no true benefits.

Instead, let Cobalt Digital Marketing help you to optimize your local online listings so that customers can find you and you can grow your clientele. Don’t settle for zero results.

Let us get your name out there so you can continue to grow and succeed.

Slam Dunk March Madness Marketing

Friday afternoon across the United States there was a resounding chorus of “Ugggg! There goes my bracket!”. The social media channels lit up with posts, tweets, snaps and memes! Even my 9 year old lamented “There goes my Lambourghini!”. How could the numbers have been wrong? How did 15th seed Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders defeat #2 seed Michigan State in the NCAA Men’s basketball tournament? It’s March Madness at it’s finest!

For weeks leading up to “The Big Dance”, fans are consumed with analysis of players and teams. There are endless discussions of statistics, game theory and bracketology. Everyone has a theory on how to use the numbers to predict the outcomes. The odds, the overs, the unders, the spread, the best bets, the dark horses, the Cinderella stories…. and in the end 9.2 BILLION DOLLARS will be wagered.

All of this number frenzy is in pursuit of the perfect bracket to win money, prizes and bragging rights. This year, Warren Buffet upped the anti in his company pool to give the winner one million dollars a year for life! The Car Lister Bracket Challenge is offering a new Lamborghini. DraftKings, Yahoo, CBS, ESPN are each offering cash prizes and, of course, everyone wants to dominate the office pool. Truth be told, however, the odds of picking a perfect bracket are 1 in 9,223,372,036,854,775,808.

The odds of picking a perfect #MarchMadness bracket are 1 in 9,223,372,036,854,775,808. Click To Tweet

Upsets like the one on Friday are not uncommon. My family will never forget the 2012 game when 15 seed Lehigh University beat #2 seed Duke University. The big upset was even immortalized in a YouTube video. In 2006, 11th seed George Mason won game after game and shockingly made it to the Final Four! How could these upsets happen? It’s totally inconsistent with what the numbers predicted. The numbers!?!

Perhaps, THIS is the fun of watching March Madness each year? The games are fast and exciting. These basketball teams are comprised of players who are playing the biggest game of their lives or, in many cases, the last game of their basketball career. They play with heart and give 150%. Here we encounter the most important number and the reason why the other numbers aren’t consistent predictors of the outcomes.

This got me thinking about numbers and outcomes. The effectiveness with which numbers CAN predict outcomes in digital marketing is what makes THIS GAME so exciting. In business, however, WE are the teams and consumers pick us. The good news is that we can easily define the selection criteria based on data and then use specifically targeted and placed content to seal the deal.

So let me simplify it in basketball terms. It just takes a little bracketology. Here’s what I would put in my Final Four winning marketing madness data bracket. Measure these and use the data to predict the winning game outcome.

shoot & score

Yes, it is all about conversion, isn’t it? Be the team everyone wants to pick. Consumers in the end will go for the team that will do the most for them. Use your data to outline your company’s Customer MVP. Once you know who your MVPs are you can identify how to best fill their needs, overcome hesitations and be where they are to get them to engage and convert. Slam dunk!