Stone Road Media prides itself in being “The Outdoor Digital Marketing Agency” for hunting marketing, fishing marketing, shooting marketing, travel marketing, media marketing, and outdoor lifestyle marketing. Our team of marketers, programmers, project managers, and graphic artists live the outdoors, and know your target customers because we are your target customers!
Be Seen. Be Found. Be Different. Our motto, and also our milestones. We want your company and products/services to BE SEEN by the targeted masses, BE FOUND by your soon to be customers, and BE DIFFERENT from your competitors in order to tap into markets that leave them scratching their heads. Our milestones are your goals, but we won’t ever settle for “hitting a mark,” as we know there is always room for growth and increased success. Just ask our current clients!
Hunting and Fishing Digital Marketing | Customer Profiling for Greater Customer Engagement
By Jeremy Flinn, Chief Marketing Officer
Every day your target customers are bombarded with hundreds, if not thousands, of digital advertisements. Whether via website ad space, email marketing, social media ads, or AdWords, the irrelevant nature or broad generality have made that outdoor industry consumer nearly numb to the delivery. If you have run any ads like this you often scratch your head at the mass number of impressions and nearly pathetic click thru rates – usually way south of 1% (unless you’re talking about fat-fingered mobile ads). If you do get clicks, like with social media ads or AdWords, your analytics will often tell the story of high bounce rate and low time on site – meaning lack of quality visitors. With all the digital noise, you have to prepare your brand and product to stand out from the rest. The best way to do that is to present an ad of extreme relevance. Sure, the visual aesthetics and call-to-action (CTA) matter, but at the end of the day, if it’s not relevant, it’s not getting engagement. Delivering effective digital advertising is much more than buying run of site (ROS) display ads or throwing a “Don’t Miss Sale” email together. It takes an extremely strategic and refined plan of action to not only deliver the advertising, but get the engagement you are looking for whether that’s website visits, content delivery, contest entries, or direct sales. That’s where customer profiling becomes incredibly effective.
No, this isn’t the profiling of old where you get sold onto 50 different lists or receive 100 credit card applications in the mail because you are a managing member of one LLC. Actually, a major driver of our business is customer profiling not for the business, but for the consumer. Why? You do not want customers to waste precious seconds of the day engaging or searching aimlessly for something they need. By delivering hyper-targeted advertisements, you not only make advertising more effective for the business, but also the customer. For example, why would you send an ammunition ad to someone who is only a bow hunter or target archer? Those might be wasted ad dollars if you are on CPM impression-based model. Or why advertise your brand of “deer minerals” for someone to click, only for them to find out it contains molasses (a food) and is illegal in many states during some or all of the year? Customer profiling is a much more effective way to reach the right customer for your brand, product, or service. The days of bulk/mass targeting are over. It hemorrhaged budgets, and generated extremely poor results (if you forgot, look at a run of site click thru rate on display ads again). So how do you begin to customer profile?
It all starts with an email address. To me, and email address is their name. In fact, it’s also their location. With that one line that includes the @ symbol, I not only can know the person, but can deliver a message. The email address is the foundation of customer profiling and should be targeted long before you begin to build any information on that customer. Without the email address, the rest of the information is irrelevant. Why? How can you utilize the information gathered if the person is just a random visitor to the website? Retargeting code through Google AdWords is not going to separate them out very well. No, this requires special attention. The email will begin to build a database, in which you will grow the profile and begin to understand the consumer in much greater detail.
Once you have the email, acquired through any of several “moral” internet methods, you can begin to build the profile through questions and surveys. Why moral? The days of bulk buying email list will shut down your mass email account, like Constant Contact or Mail Chimp, so fast your head will spin. If you consistently get more than 1 spam report per thousand emails sent you can be subject to account suspension. If you bought a list, I can guarantee this will happen as those customers signed up for something that may be related, but is not specific to your brand or products. Building the profile will require a well thought out strategy in the email blast. This could be as easy as a contest, or as blended as great content and a survey or poll that lets a sportsman speak their voice. Either way, it is a great opportunity to target what is happening now. For example, you wouldn’t poll a deer hunter about what their favorite rut call is in the middle of turkey season. Odds are the response rate will be low as they aren’t thinking about that activity. You will often only get one chance to ask that question. Timing and presentation are everything so don’t throw out a 20 question survey unless you are offering one hell of a prize opportunity for those that complete it.
As you begin to collect customer profiling information, store it in a secure database that you can revisit, sort, and extract relevant contacts. That’s a lot of information to put into an email account management tool and sort through, so doing it in Excel and importing the target emails for a particular topic can be much easier. Once you have started to reach the targeted lists, study the analytics like open and click thru rate or even the sales derived from the eblast, as compared to those untargeted in the past. You should see significant increases in the KPIs you are most interested in. This is a great way for TV Shows looking to please sponsors, as they can show powerful and extreme targeted numbers for specific products. Again, why send the next best whitetail grunt call out to everyone when half your list lives mainly in western elk country? The choice is yours, but if you make a customer’s life more streamlined, your success will often follow the same suit.
https://www.stoneroadmedia.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/Hunting-and-Fishing-Digital-Marketing-through-Customer-Profiling.jpg557867Stone Road Mediahttps://www.stoneroadmedia.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/logo-demo.pngStone Road Media2016-04-27 17:46:412016-04-27 17:46:41Hunting and Fishing Digital Marketing | Customer Profiling
Hunting and Fishing TV Show Marketing | How to Show More “Digital Love” to Your Sponsors
By: Weston Schrank
Stone Road Media’s Content Manager
Frankly, this idea of digital content is changing the ballgame for Hunting and Fishing TV Show Marketing, and what is expected from the sponsored partnerships in the outdoor industry. If you’re not paying attention, “the train is leaving the station” so to speak. Brands and potential sponsors of your TV show, and now more than ever the actual TV shows themselves (your competitors), are realizing the potential for digital content marketing and acting upon their new found knowledge. In simple terms, it’s almost sickening how much a sponsor would spend with traditional ads and sponsorship for a TV show alone. What are they paying for? Honestly ask yourself. It would be the logo and mention in the sponsor reel, a couple of B-roll shots inter-cut with the main story line, and one link on their sponsors page of their website (this last one might even be a stretch for some). At best, a sponsor was receiving brand recognition, and a personality behind their product or company. What’s even worse about this situation, is that it is in fact still going on in today’s diverse marketing platform! There is a new bar of expectations between hunting and fishing TV shows and their sponsors/partners, being set by hunting and fishing marketing agencies seeking the most return for a sponsor or manufacturer’s investment into a show. The hunting and fishing marketing game is changing, the consumer is changing, and as a result the whole industry is seeing a shift.
I do it, you do it, and your fans do it…there is constantly second screen usage while watching your show, especially in the newer “millennial” generation. In fact 87% of consumers use more than one device at a time (Accenture 2015), and you guessed it, the smartphone is the most common device used. So what are they doing/looking for while on these devices? Well obviously their own social media sites, but more than half of consumers are inspired to seek out brand specific content during or after the show. Sixty-eight percent (68%) of consumers spend time reading about brands that interest them, and once found, 78% perceive a relationship between themselves and the brand after reading or watching digital content; 82% of which is positive feelings towards the brand – all of this by just giving them the content they seek (Demand Metric 2014). Honestly think about the end goal of your hunting or fishing TV show, it probably/should involve a large viewer base and fans with brand/personality loyalty. They love your show and they can’t get enough of it…right? So giving them custom content, on a digital platform, can reach them through other channels or devices, and give you better results, views, and loyalty right? Correct! Companies with blogs, and custom content especially in the form of video, generate 67% more leads per month (Demand Metric 2014). Now that we are talking actual result, the light bulb is starting to flicker in your head! So let’s just recap this before going further. Basically creating and promoting custom content on other platforms that are available online (digital content marketing) will give you more viewers, more loyalty, and more leads to your hunting and fishing brand and sponsors. This is still not to mention that consumers will be searching, finding, and engaging with this content on social media and other platforms if it is available 24/7. This is real time reach, and results that yield more than your scheduled and restrictive show times.
Increasing leads, viewers, engagement, and loyalty…that is what attracts sponsors, and what your sponsor and partnership is based upon. I’m not doubting your understanding of viewers and how you acquire sponsors, all I want to do is set the table for the main course of what I am trying to deliver. While the TV show has been, and still is a great outlet, outdoor content marketing and inbound marketing is by far the most effective marketing technique (monetarily and predictive) in the outdoor industry. The fact is that brands, potential sponsors, and partners are recognizing bigger returns on digital content marketing than the traditional ad spend and sponsor route. So how do you retain and gain sponsors? How do you jump on before you’re left behind?
By doing exactly what you are doing! Your biggest asset, and the sponsor’s biggest asset is you, an original content creator. You just need to be more efficient and diverse with that content. While outdoor content marketing is establishing itself in the outdoor industry and TV, overall, is falling behind, sponsors still need skilled content creators. You are a show, you have the video content, and you create more every single day! You are by definition a content producer and you are what google loves – up to a point. You have a TV show, so you have new shows and new seasons every month and every year. Now ask yourself what are you doing on the digital side? At most are you posting regularly on social media and updating your website with pictures, teasers, and information on show times? This is honestly as far as the majority of shows seem to get. What we are proposing is a completely different idea, one that changes the game of a partnership and the relationship between a hunting or fishing TV show and their sponsors. I want to warn you, however, you need to pay attention to how you are attempting this new standard. Some companies in this industry have started taking the hints, and have jumped…they are just off to a very rocky and unproductive start.
Hunting and Fishing TV – Content’s Full Potential?
There is a clear understanding that custom content produced and provided to your consumers on the digital platform, alongside and beyond your TV show, will generate desired results. So how do you create and use your content to its full potential. Honestly, that is probably the biggest question partners come to us with and what we address at Stone Road Media. There is no lack of understanding behind the premise; executing it, however, and getting the maximum benefit out of your marketing and content is our department. We are starting to see a new progression in this industry, companies are starting to hop onto the right path but they are driving it with the wrong vehicle. The “first timers” or “innovators” of this outdoor digital content real estate for the taking, are not what they perceive themselves to be. There are some companies in the outdoor industry that have attempted to take the jump to digital content marketing. The sum of their actions are basically taking the hunting and fishing shows that have aired, segmenting them into bits and pieces, and have placed them on YouTube or another platform such as online TV or an online web show site. They are all striving for it to be reachable digital content that attempts to get ahead of TV shows and the shifting outdoor industry, and in turn be a better option for a partnership. Don’t get me wrong, they are creating content that the fans are searching for and eventually watching, but it is not producing the results it should be. What I am trying to say is this digital content real estate is still open, the players in this game have a foot in the niche but are far (extremely far) from dominating it. The content they are using lacks optimization, customization, originality, and as a result…traction! It is the right path to the digital content we are talking about, just poorly executed and as a result, concludes without the organic effect that we have proven ours can create with our partners. In turn this digital content, that in some situations can be moderately valuable content, ends up like every other useless piece of digital trash, stored on the far reaches of Google’s results with minimal reach. Now before we dive into how your content, the open real estate, and how digital content marketing changes the game for the sponsor-TV show relationships in the outdoor industry, we need discuss how we can successfully execute what the falsely acclaimed “first timers” attempted.
Content is King – It’s All About the Fans!!!
The reason these “innovators” or falsely perceived “top dogs” of the digital content, online TV, web shows, or YouTube channels are failing, is they are not giving their fans and consumers enough thought – or worse ignoring Google’s algorithm desires. Sure, they produce content viewers want, but they are not paying attention enough to take full advantage of it and reach everyone that could potentially be interested in their brand (syndication). There are no shortcuts when it comes to digital content and its marketing, it’s the cold hard truth of Google. Especially now, with the release of Google Hummingbird algorithm. If you want the desired results of the organic effect and a top spot in the ranks of relatable content to your brand, you have to be an authority on that content and optimize it as such. Speaking in clear English, a video on YouTube, an online web show, or other similar platform with the single title “John Doe’s 180-Inch Whitetail”, and no description or tags, will go absolutely nowhere. It was a complete waste of a hunt, editing time, and the 30 minutes it took to upload. This is the current standard of the outdoor industry. Get some subscribers and viewers, put up a video, and you have a web show. What’s even worse is these shows claim to be on the forefront of the industry, and the very same shows are going to sponsors with this junk. So like all things in life, to be successful learn from the mistakes! Overall we see 4 mistakes made by companies claiming to be the niche dominator when it comes to online and digital content.
Not Original – their content is regurgitated common sense blogs, or reused and segmented TV show footage put online. This content is old, it’s bland, tasteless, it’s short (200-500 words, if any), and it’s not relevant. In order to get Google’s organic effect you need to first start with original, new, custom, never seen before content.
Not Optimized – This is by far the most lacking in the industry. Once you have an original piece it needs to be “teed up”. This means optimized attributes including title, meta description, meta tags, keywords, and the list goes on. Even the best magazine and print freelance writers are behind in this aspect. For video content, the process is even more meticulous as it needs an authoritative chunk of relatable copy for Google to know what it is.
Not Repeated – This is not just a week-long, month-long, or even year-long process. New custom content that is optimized needs to be continuous, relentless, and anticipated by your fans and audience. The biggest mistake we see made beyond these first two points above, is putting up the first season or round of your content, and being dormant for 6-7 months. Hunting and fishing is seasonal, your content shouldn’t be.
Not Syndicated – Your content is king and you are on the right track if it is custom, if it is optimized, and it’s on-going. The next step is getting this content out and available to your fans. This is where marketing, social media platforms, and syndication comes into play. If you are the content producers, you can reach the first three steps with some hard work, but the last step may require some help. If you’re the sponsor you might have a better idea of this, but the maximum benefit will still be out of your reach.
Showing Love to Your Hunting and Fishing Sponsors
With that out of the way we can progress into what you came here for…your hunting or fishing TV show sponsorships. Once you have jumped the hurdle of not only producing custom content for your fans, optimizing it, and giving it legs, but you can begin to show sponsors “digital love.” When you begin to see the results, the “organic effect” as we call it, of your content marketing…the sponsors will also notice. They do not only see the viewers and reach potential that is seen through traditional sponsor eyes, they see further into the value of your content from the digital perspective. The potential of how the relationship should work is simply explained, take advantage of every piece of custom, original, and relatable content. This will be the new standard for hunting and fishing TV show – sponsor relationships. Honestly getting to the point of producing or receiving the content is the easiest part of this process, knowing what to do with it and using it to its full potential is by far the hardest part.
Here is a taste of what should be going on between hunting and fishing TV shows and their sponsors.
The bare minimum of relationship should not only be to think in terms of sales or reach but help each other maximize digital presence. This means syndication and linking. The smallest amount of this should be at least blogs, forums, and discussions with backlinks between companies and products. Links built the right way is a small portion of the big picture, but it helps to build online presence and authority on the relevant subject of the relationship.
The lifeless YouTube videos you have on your channel are a shining examples of knowing you came to the right place. A couple thousand views is pitiful, and relatively speaking completely wasting the content. This goes both ways. Whether it is a how to, tips and tactics, a hunt, or a fishing webisode from the TV show or a product video, review, or teaser from the sponsor company, the content, in this case a video, should be embedded again with a chunk of relatable copy, optimized, and syndicated across all available platforms in the relationship.
Specific Hunting and Fishing Brand Based Content
Once you start specifically going into the relationship and maximizing every piece of content, you can start to fall into a pit. This pit is going too far into specific brand-based content. All too often a TV show will get set into trying to sell the product. This is about as boring, and unoriginal as you can get. I’m not necessarily talking about reviews here, but blogs or video paired content that focusses to heavy on the relationship itself (linking and embedding the company or product) and not thinking about the customer. It still needs to be entertaining or informational, it needs to benefit the viewer.
This is just a taste, the entry-level basics of what is rapidly becoming the new standard in the relationships between hunting and fishing TV shows and their partners/sponsors. Outdoor content marketing will be, and is developing, as the future and focal point of the outdoor industry. Whether you are a sponsor or a TV show, no matter the size of your company or your budget, outdoor content marketing can boost your company in the industry. As you plan for 2016 marketing of your company and beyond, remember that a lot of companies are already investing into outdoor content marketing. There is only so much space in this competition, and once you get ahead in the game it could be easy to stay ahead.
For more information on Stone Road Media’s digital media assistance and multi-faceted team, contact us today at email@example.com.
Weston Schrank is Stone Road Media’s Digital Content Manager. He has turned the obsession of outdoors and hunting, expertise in wildlife and land management, and understanding of specialized content creation and SEO into an excelling and devoted career benefitting the company’s many outdoor industry partners.
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Outdoor Industry Marketing | The Authoritative Gap of Hunting, Shooting, and Fishing Content Marketing
By: Weston Schrank Stone Road Media’s Content Marketing Manager
The tables have turned, the smallest TV, manufacturing company, or web series show can beat out the big dogs of the hunting, shooting, and fishing industry with hard work rather than large budgets. They key to this is focused on digital media and inbound marketing. The playing field is level with these considered and it is a race for the authoritative title on any given topic, product, and sector in the industry. This is a big chance for anyone in the outdoor industry.
This is old news for hunting, shooting, and fishing content marketing. This gold nugget has been discovered and out for a while, but if this is news to you, unfortunately you are already falling behind, and the gap that is forming may be too big to jump.
So what’s the latest from our friend and your foe google? The hummingbird update, the fast, agile, in, and out pivotal change. Without paying attention to this many hunting, fishing, and shooting companies and brands that were once authorities, WILL BE ousted. Those not taking notice and applying to their digital media and digital content marketing will begin to free fall in reach, audience building, audience retention, engagement, and eventually sales.
Let’s hash this wound open again, content is king, but authority is that “higher power in the sky”, it rules the content.
Content creators, their businesses, and brands that take note of the changes will take advantage of this, and an authoritative gap will be form. This gap will not be insignificant, but enormous, and once you are ahead it could be easy to stay ahead.
Which side of this gap will you be on?
What Your Business Needs to Know
What Is the Gap and Why is it Important?
The facts behind this claim is that the hummingbird has asked for a lot more from your content creators and creative sector. The latest blog, article, web purposed TV episode, or you tube video have new requirements to give them power online to reach the audience. The purpose of hummingbird? When you begin to dissect and understand it the reason is clear.
It is separating the lifeless regurgitation posts from the spot-on authority on any given subject. Did your deepest fear just come true? If your content and content marketing strategy is this, basically your entire “Blog” or “Video” content of the site is nothing new or unique, it will lack authority and you will fall behind.
Why does all this matter to your business, brand, and/or product?
The world and this industry have gone digital, the most significant sentence of this article is this. “Your customer will seek you out online, so you need to give them exactly what they are searching for.” It is the premise behind the BE SEEN. BE FOUND. BE DIFFERENT of Stone Road Media. Customers will educate themselves before the buy, whether that buy is online or in the store. Those businesses and brands that give the information, detail, expert opinion, enjoyment, and influential piece on the subjects and topics related to their goals and objectives will beat out the competition. The actual change of hummingbird and its requirements and guidelines for new content will eventually create an authoritative content gap. This will stack your content as the top results for every search a customer types, related to your business. Those top results will place your expert content in front of the competitions, causing a free fall.
We see immeasurable blogs, articles, and videos that are completely lifeless. They are sloppy regurgitations of an authoritative piece from another site, slapped on their site or You Tube channel, and posted on Facebook to be subsequently ignored by the intended audience.
What did they think would happen?
Fans, customers, and Google knows who and what the experts are. Those that are not will be slapped. Every piece of content needs to be correct, well executed or written, optimized, and syndicated.
If you only knew how much was and is changing and how fast this change and gap will occur, you would be embarrassed at the current content you are putting out and how you are marketing it.
Go Beyond the Content
Redesign and rethink your strategy. The first step in the creative process and to any content creation is deciding on the topic. My main duties at Stone Road Media’s content manager completely focuses on content, obviously right? But this goes far beyond the piece of content and topic. I have a need to understand every other team member’s role, our company’s goals, the clients, their brand, their objectives, their customers and audiences, and ultimately put all of it into every single piece of content I create or review.
Every piece is tailored with a specific goal. This goes beyond brand-focused content and the sale. Is the piece designed for a company’s, client’s, or brand’s prospects (audience building) or actual customers? Am I framing the piece for seekers, or for retention? It will be small and broad, or specific and detailed, in either case the piece will be from an expert, well written, and optimized. Every piece is diverse, will include altered keywords, search terms, and objectives, but all structured around the overall end goal.
The Content Goes Beyond You
Once the content is teed up and out the door, it is posted and unleashed on the site and to the audience. The next crucial step is social media marketing. This is not advertising but syndication. Content that is written or executed well, by an expert, syndicated across several social sites (not just Facebook and Twitter) but a continually growing number of platforms will be noticed. Once the process is repeated (literally weekly) over and over again, the authoritative-gap will form.
You will be ahead, and stay ahead.
2016 has come with some big changes that will be noticed by this industry! Do not fall behind, every company, brand, and product has competition, the top spot for every search related to your business is key. Do you have the content to bridge the gap?
An authoritative content gap will begin to form for every topic, subject, and product in the industry. You need to ask yourself,
“Which side of the gap you will be on?”
For more information on Stone Road Media’s digital media assistance and multi-faceted team, contact us today at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Weston Schrank holds a BS in wildlife science and management. He has turned the obsession of outdoors and hunting, expertise in wildlife and land management, and understanding of specialized content creation and SEO into an excelling and devoted career as the content manager for Stone Road Media’s partners.
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ROI for Inbound Marketing | Measuring KPIs for Digital Marketing Results
By Jeremy Flinn, Chief Marketing Officer
With the aggressive increase of companies investing in digital marketing, the question is what is my return on investment (ROI) on these inbound marketing services? Before we start to break down the different metrics to determine the success or failure of digital marketing services, we have to discuss what was collected or measured from the dominant marketing actions prior to exploring the digital marketing realm. This typically leads us to print and TV. Once the question is reversed on a company’s marketing team, the ability to measure anything marketing related comes into question. The fact is TV and print are extremely difficult, if not impossible, to gauge the detailed analytics such as impressions, direct actions taken, and associated sales. This isn’t a bash article on TV and print, in fact, some specific arenas have some of the most effective TV and print campaigns ever! Think of TV shows like Game of Thrones or The Walking Dead, and the almost cult following they have created. What has slipped is the ability to reach consumers with brands through these channels. Take for example this year’s Super Bowl. How many commercials can you actually remember as impactful? Turn back 10-20 years and you can easily recall the first time seeing the Budweiser frogs or FedEx Cavemen. Things have changed and thus companies are looking to digital engagement for more impactful marketing. In order to determine something as impactful, you have to be able to measure the results. That’s where the various digital marketing “key performance indicators” or KPIs are sought out by marketing and analytic teams.
ROI for DigitalMarketing – Defined
When most business-minded people think about the term ROI, they instantly gravitate towards a monetary attribute. That could be anything from gross sales to cost per acquisition of customers. These areas are incredibly important KPIs when evaluating the success of any inbound marketing campaign. However, with the increase popularity in strategies such as social media marketing and content marketing, there is a myriad of other metrics that can be monitored and evaluated to determine successes of the digital marketing campaigns. When discussing the KPIs of social media marketing we can discuss organic growth (likes), total impressions, total reach, and total engagement. Those all are very relevant and important but don’t be afraid to expand on that to include what is the true “means to the end” for social media – getting people to your website. How many people came from Facebook to your website? Twitter? Instagram? Of those, how many navigated more than one page? When you evaluate a marketing campaign’s success you must look at it holistically with regards to your end goal, which on inbound marketing, is getting in front of potential consumers and sending them to your website, products, or services. Each of these attributes can tell us a lot of the success or failure of the campaign, as well as tell you a lot about your customer and their behaviors.
Digital Marketing Measurable Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)
Measuring KPIs in arenas like digital ad buying (display ads) and search engine marketing (Pay-Per-Click), are a little more standard than some of the other inbound marketing services. Standard metrics are noted like impressions, click thrus, click thru rate (CTR), and contributing sales. A note to be cautious on with display advertising KPIs, is to make sure to cross reference what your advertising platform provides in terms of numbers with your Google Analytics account. Hopefully you have created a trackable link when you created the campaign so that you know where the traffic is coming from. Often you will receive “inflated” numbers, particularly clicks to a website. This is an easy metric to cross reference with Google Analytics and determine the number that truly reached your website, content, and products. The same is said for Pay-Per-Click (PPC) advertising thru platforms like Google AdWords and Yahoo/Bing. You can easily pull data on all of the above and even conversion rate and cost per conversion, if you set up conversion code on particular pages of the website. It will sound like a broken record, but Google Analytics will become your main source to pull KPIs, you just have to know what to look for in the complex, informative system.
Determining Digital Marketing ROI “Success”
With all that said, what the hell do we consider “success” for these metrics of digital marketing? I mean if it’s not directly generating dollars in the account; how can we really say we are succeeding, let alone say there is a ROI, on the inbound marketing services implemented? You’re right, at the end of the day you aren’t paying the office rent/mortgage with pageviews, and last time I tried, my employees were not a big fan of direct deposit of visitor sessions. OK, maybe that was a horrible attempt at digital marketing comedy, but the fact is cash is king, right? It is, but all of those KPIs lead to money in the bank! In other words, all of the indexes (in the form of KPIs) that we are tracking and working so hard to improve are the means to an end. That “end” is a customer for our service or product. The more customer visits (sessions) to a website, the more they look at the brand, services, and products (pageviews), and longer they are impacted by our company content and products/services (time on site) the more likely they will become a customer! In the end, the stronger your digital KPIs are, the stronger revenue flow will be. It doesn’t matter if you make revenue via advertising, eCommerce, or at retail, the bottom line is nearly 70% consumers are starting the buying process online. This initial step may be a long (or short) way from the end (buying) depending on the purchase, but it very much is true about “the first impression is everything.” Those with little unique content to engage with, will lose customers on the brand, products, and services and fall short ending up a Plan B or C. You only come to success if Plan/Company A falls through! Don’t be second fiddle.
The world of digital and inbound marketing is unbelievable, and primed for attack if you know what you are doing. No matter the size of your company, you can be competitive. It’s so much more than who has the most ad presence, it’s about who is the authority in their niche. Don’t try to be everything to everyone. Focus on your areas of interest, and then record and analyze your digital marketing KPIs. Let the numbers do the talking, and lead you to greater revenue in the bank account.
Jeremy Flinn is Chief Marketing Officer of Stone Road Media, and an entrepreneur. Founding several successful companies in the outdoor industry, Jeremy works with over 15 companies in the outdoor industry to improve their digital marketing KPIs and increase revenue streams.
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All Marketing Is Creative, But All Creative Is Not Marketing
By Jeremy Flinn, Chief Marketing Officer
It seems more and more I hear about “creative agencies” handling marketing for companies. While being creative is one of my foundational premises for successful marketing in any industry, the fact is creative agencies rarely have the full scope of skilled staff necessary to drive a marketing campaign, let alone marketing division, for a company. It’s no knock on the “creative sector” that is out there. I have some unbelievable creative designers on my staff, and many campaigns would not have been nearly as successful without their outside the box vision and drive. However, a true marketing agency will carry the full array of skills on staff, and creative is just one piece of that puzzle.
I’m not sure at what point being a creative agency became labeled as marketing. Sure, it’s absolute a part of the marketing genre. For many creative agencies they do just that, execute strongly a part of the marketing strategy. However, I have run across many creative agencies attempting (that’s key) to execute full tradition and inbound marketing strategies, only to fall short of success or miss critical deadlines.
It’s not as puzzling as it sounds. Creative people on staff are the group that gives life to a marketing vision. For the first time, a bunch of random brainstorming is harnessed and placed into a drafted, organized vision. It’s pretty cool when it turns out “exactly as I was thinking.” But here is where things get out of control for the creative side. There are now a series of revisions to get it to where it is acceptable (key term). See my company motto is to always do better. There is always room for improvement in the effectiveness and success of an inbound marketing campaign we run at Stone Road Media. Creative people also think this way, and at some point a project strategist or manager has to cut them off. Why? Timelines, cost, new projects, basically a whole host of reasons. At some point “perfection kills profitability,” and all businesses like profit. When a creative agency embraces a start to finish campaign the drag on of changes and perfection can be painful. But that’s an easy oversight for a company (although I hate missing deadlines!), where the real test is at for the creative is the success with consumers. The absolute best creative, outside the box, dynamite idea is only as good as the execution of marketing exposure. Whether that is social media, web, TV or print, the fact is it doesn’t matter how great the campaign idea and creative are if it doesn’t effectively reach the target, it will fail!
This is why a diverse, full-service agency team is needed from start to finish. Everyone on the team has their certain strong points. A strategist builds the campaign framework and goals, a project manager organizes and initiates the teams to complete deliverables, creative will focus on forming the vision into something tangible, and implementers will begin preparing web, social media, TV spots, and print for maximum exposure. Our team at Stone Road Media focuses primarily on the digital side so we are more concerned with our digital implementers having all channels of syndication “tee’d up” for delivering the campaign message. The strategist and project manager come back around to assure execution at the final level, and more importantly to gather analytical results from the success or failure of the campaign. This is a marketing agency that can take your idea, needs, or goals and run from start to finish. It’s a team of complements that work as one unit to deliver a successful end result.
As you begin to develop a strategy it’s often hard to ignore the creative bells and whistles. It is the first place rand ideas get a vision. Steve Smolenski, the other co-founder of Stone Road Media, and I are huge Apple fans. Not necessarily the apple products of today as much as the story of the company and its founder Steve Jobs. Steve was a strategist at heart, but he often was overcome creatively developing a vision that he would lead to fruition. As Jobs worked on the Macintosh in the 1980s, he fell victim to the “perfection kills profitability.” Missed timelines and overpriced parts made the Macintosh a much more expensive and delayed product to market. That collapse of “creative control” led to him being ousted from his own company. Now that is obviously a much more serious example but had there been a project manager or strategist counterpart to funnel his creative genius to abide by timelines and cost restraints the Macintosh could have changed the entire outcome of the Apple we all know today, for better or worse.
Lastly, companies that have already formed a vision and goals looking for an agency should consider creative agencies, or a full-service agency. Often the blinders are put on internally and the vision is inadvertently molded into what everyone expected it to be. Using a 3rd party allows an outsiders take to construct the vision often utilizing components that are learned in the industry outside of the four walls of the hiring company. This allows for a much more “free” conversion of the company’s vision to a complete campaign for the consumer it intends to reach.
As you being to lay out inbound marketing campaigns or divisions for your business, consider the strengths of your own company and areas that you need help. Look to employ a group that has a long history of successful work in your industry, as it will convey that they already have a grip on the target consumer. Sometimes bringing in multiple agencies to diversify and handle different aspects can be good. But always remember that the more agencies and people involved, the more difficult the communication wire will be. Communication between all parties will be the final straw to determine ultimate success of the marketing campaign, or just another good creative vision.
Outdoor Internet Marketing │ Maximizing Your Digital Media
By Jeremy Flinn, CMO Stone Road Media
Digital media has been an extremely hot topic lately in the outdoor industry. The writing is on the wall with TV, in just a few years TV has begun to fade in engagement. The fading traditional marketing method has gave way to unbelievable growth in the digital media sector. From original digital content to repurposed TV shows, content on the internet is reaching more people than ever. Why? With the hectic lifestyles of today’s society, having the ability to watch content when you want, where you want is extremely critical. But most companies are not utilizing digital content to its fullest, in fact, many are completely wasting the content.
I’m sure the latter seems quite impossible to you, but if you’re only reaching a few thousand views on YouTube you are definitely wasting the content. Content is king. If you are only utilizing content on one platform, especially if it’s not your website, you are missing the mark. The key to successful digital media is reach. The internet allows a smart digital marketer to syndicate content across many platforms in order to maximize impressions and engagement. No that doesn’t just mean Facebook and Twitter, it means multiple social media platforms, content syndication sites, and in our industry forums. Hunting, fishing, and shooting forums are extremely underutilized as a tool to gain valuable SEO and targeted reach.
What we have discussed so far is for outdoor industry video producers, but what about manufacturers? Sure, you likely have some internal digital content that can be syndicated to the masses. But what about all the endorsements and sponsored shows that you invest thousands of dollars into each year? You aren’t only investing in the personalities, but the content they produce. That content would not exist if it wasn’t for your contribution. Where am I going with this? You need to access that media to maximize your own digital presence. I know there are timeline restrictions on media broadcast to major TV networks like Outdoor Channel or Sportsman Channel, but there are plenty shows and/or “B-roll” that is very accessible and available to syndicate. The fact is that most just don’t ask producers or even know what to ask for. Step one is getting your hands on the content. That’s honestly the easiest part. Step two is knowing what to do with it. From publishing to syndication platforms, there is so much work behind getting the deserving reach out of quality digital media.
This content is not only entertaining, it’s most likely informational and can be incredibly persuasive in a customer deciding whether to buy your product. Why not use the content to its fullest. Odds are you won’t have exclusive access to it, but who cares. The goal is to get it out to as many people who are potential customers as possible. You can only control what you can control, and this is important when discussing digital media. If you have the digital media in your possession, you can ensure it reaches the people you want too. However, if you rely on someone else to get it out there who is not on your team or hired to complete your goal, then there is nothing you can do.
As you begin to think about your 2016 marketing strategy for hunting, fishing, and shooting, what are your plans for digital media? Do you have any? Can you get some from your investments? If any of these become “yes,” then the bigger question is “now what do you do with it?”
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Marketing to Hunting, Fishing, and Shooting Customers │ Think Your Customer is “Old School” – Think Again
By Jeremy Flinn, Chief Marketing Officer
One of the most common reasons for not doing digital marketing in the hunting, fishing, shooting or tactical industry is that the primary customer does not exhibit the buying behavior of a typical online shopper. They are simply “old school” and buying behavior is influenced by one of three ways: TV, Print, or just by knowing the brands they always go with. I’m not here to argue the last point much because I know that true for even a millennial buyer like myself. I tend to buy many of the same brands I did growing up because they were reliable. However, what we have to be sure of is that the business is always think a step ahead. Let’s say that 75% of your business comes from this “old school buyer.” In the firearms sector this is often an older demographic, much like the aging hunting community. They are often financially secure, versus a kid coming out of college, but although they may the customer today, what about your business tomorrow.
Unfortunately at some point the customer of today will pass through this world, if you have done nothing with your brand to reach the customer of tomorrow, you’re a sitting duck. SiriusDecisions research group discovered even with today’s buyers, 67% of the buying behavior journey happens online. Simply put there is more to just being available, you must be found, be engaging, and be informative or you will not be in business for much longer.
As your secure customer begins to age, the buying behavior will rapidly fall off. Last time I check Social Security didn’t allow for much hobby spending, and with the average hunting, fishing, and shooting customer making $35,000 to $75,000 per year, it’s highly unlikely money won’t be an issue later in life.
The 2014-2019 Daedal Research on the US Sporting Goods Market Trends revealed that many sporting goods and specialty retail store are not growing or driving business, in fact eCommerce is the sole reason for pushing companies’ bottom lines north. Though the industry may be growing in revenue, aside from eCommerce, selling sectors (like retail) grew a measly 2%.
In today’s outdoor industry marketplace, you need to have three major actions in mind:
Be measureable – If you are spending money and not tracking traffic, sales, or impressions related directly to the ads, you are blind to your ROI potential. The worst thing to say is “well its marketing budget allotted, we don’t need to keep track.” Measure what can be measured, and evaluate what the ROI is, or in many cases, is not.
Be Hyper-connected – Ever cruise the web and see the product, service or brand you recently viewed seem to pop up everywhere. Yea, that’s them embracing inbound marketing. The more places you are in, the more impressions made. BUT it must be for the right cost.
Adapt to the Shift – The buying shift is happening right now. Customers use online resources more than 2/3 of the time to start the buying process. Yet I still see hunting, fishing, and shooting companies with non-mobile responsive websites! Ever hear of Mobilegeddon? Apparently not…
Whether now or in the future, you will likely have 80% of your revenue come from 20% of your customers. If you are not constantly working to grow, and in the outdoor industry replenish, that 20% your revenue will suffer.
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It should be no surprise that digital marketing is a major contributor to your overall marketing impact on potential consumers. If it is a surprise, then you likely are not adapting to the changing consumer behavior, and marketing ineffectively. Consumers are using the internet as a method to “find” what they are looking for more so today than ever before. Because of this, many companies are shifting large portions of their marketing budget to the digital realm. In 2016, worldwide spend on digital marketing is expected to be greater than traditional marketing like TV. By 2019, Forrester Research suggests that number will eclipse $100 Billion on sectors like paid search, social media, email, and display ads. In the hunting, fishing, and shooting industry, marketing is still predominantly traditional. But with tighter margins at retail, and increasing product niche competition, successful companies are embracing digital marketing in the form of search engine optimization (SEO), search engine marketing (like Google AdWords), and social media marketing through Facebook, YouTube, and other platforms. They are also exploring the vast digital ad network in hunting, fishing, and shooting communities. With this “inbound marketing” form so new to our outdoor industry, how can one maximize the internet? With so many companies relying heavily on retail sales, this results between digital marketing efforts and ROI can become even more compounded. But for anyone who dives into the digital marketing world, if done correctly, a vast amount of success lies in front of you, even at the retail sales level.
The Strategy Like any good marketing effort, a well thought out strategy can make the difference between profit and loss. Unlike most traditional marketing plans, digital marketing can be hypertargeted. That is, the ability lies to hone in on potential customers geographically, based on interests, and even based on behavior. Sure you can advertise in a gun dog magazine, and hope to appeal to upland bird hunters. But if I want to sell high velocity, #6 shot for pheasants, I don’t know if a quail, waterfowl, or pheasant hunter is seeing that ad. With digital marketing I can narrow down my audience so precisely that I could run advertisements to various states just before the opening weekend of pheasant hunting.
Digital marketing strategy also comes in play as you begin to think about long-term versus short-term goals. For instance, a start-up tactical company might want to push both their patent-pending, concealed carry clothing, while at the same time earning brand recognition. There are two major efforts here. With digital marketing, you can set up a series of ads focusing on the general category of concealed carry clothing, while a completely separate set promoted the innovative mission of your brand. Both arrive at the same end point (your website) while delivering different marketing footprints. Not only that, but a simple click can take them to a targeted, customized landing page to engage them into the buying cycle. Let’s see a print ad do that, when odds are they are going to Google and searching your brand or product name.
Lastly, think about your budget. Likely one of the most strategized pieces each year. How much do you want to spend? Better yet, how much can you spend? With traditional marketing campaigns, the money is committed whether the media delivers customers or not. Sometimes requiring long-term commitments. With digital marketing, much of the budget can be altered monthly, daily, and even in real time! The extensive control and flexibility often makes digital marketing a clear choice for brands looking to measure marketing ROI.
Measuring Success If none of the above strikes a chord with you, think about how successful each of your traditional marketing campaigns have been. No, not how much revenue you brought in as a company last quarter or year. The actual return generated by each individual TV, print, and radio campaign. Hard to answer isn’t it?
It’s not because you are doing something wrong, it’s simply the way things have been done for so long. You designate a portion of marketing dollars to TV, print, and radio, then sit back and hope that the campaigns are successful. If sales direct to the consumer or via purchase orders from retailers begin to climb, odds are the campaigns worked. Now to what level, or better yet which ones, well that’s the million dollar question. For many companies it literally can be worth that much. Measuring traditional marketing to the campaign level is often impossible, and prevents companies from changing their marketing strategies in mid-stride to meet year’s sales goals. This is often how companies begin to plateau in growth.
Digital marketing allows the opportunity to “be flexible” not only in ad spends, but marketing messages, creative, and even where they send a prospective buyer. This detailed data proves invaluable, regardless of whether you are selling via eCommerce direct to the consumer, or through wholesale/retail.
Measuring success through eCommerce is the easiest. Did a visitor to the website end up buying or not? Pretty simple yes or no. If you only sale via eCommerce it makes your job even easier. But for most companies that isn’t the case. In fact, many companies in our industry will generate over 70% of their gross revenue through retail or wholesale. So how can you measure the success of digital marketing at this level?
To the “exchange of currency” level, you can’t. It’s not possible, especially if you are doing other marketing efforts simultaneously. The overlap will make it extremely difficult to tease out an answer. However, there are certain key performance indicators (KPIs) that can shed some light on correlations between digital marketing efforts and an increase at the retail or wholesale level. For starters, overall web traffic is a great place to start. If web traffic is up from previous years, then the number of customers exposed to your brand and products is also up. Theoretically this leads to an increase in sales. More so, although retention of existing customers is important, much of the marketing efforts in hunting, fishing, or shooting is aimed towards the acquisition of new customers. Looking at the percent of new customers in the web analytics is also a great indicator of increased sales at retail or wholesale. Finally, and although it may take longer, is the physical purchase orders from retail and wholesale can signal success. If re-orders or quantity within orders is up, and assuming there were no other significant marketing changes, then digital marketing likely led to positive growth in your retail and wholesale revenue stream.
I’m not saying that you need to take 100% of your budget and push it into the digital marketing world, but what you need to consider is diversification. If you are not exploring past the basic means of Facebook and Twitter, you likely are not going to be successful at digital marketing. With the rapid changes in consumer behavior, you may also find your company in a not too favorable spot in the near future. Digital marketing is not the future, it’s the now!
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There is much more to content creation and its marketing than the point, shoot, and post method, or worse complete regurgitation of others’ content. Often the high-quality video or photo, worthy of attention, is sitting unwatched and unseen on YouTube, Facebook, or other social media platform. It has little to no value in terms of marketing or website traffic because it lacks the engagement level and power to be found by Google and the new generation of customer.
Sound familiar? Well here is why…
Every customer whether working from the office, boating at the lake house, or working out in the gym is looking to be engaged by the internet, and for the first time customers are engaging more on internet devices than other modes previously advertised and marketed. The expensive commercials and print advertisements aren’t cutting it anymore. Searchers have a need to be channeled to the content they seek. It’s simple – for every query made, there is an answer delivered by the search engine. The shift of this new generation of customer has sparked the need for a shift in thinking behind digital content creation and marketing. The key to reaching these customers for your business and brand is to produce the answers they need, via the digital content you create and optimize.
To perform efficiently, a “machine” of sorts is required. One that can handle an extreme workload without sacrificing quality, and more importantly understands your business and the target consumer. This means every gear, piston, nut, and bolt of a machine is important. Knowing the consumer and how to reach them is simple with a right machine programmed for your niche digital content creation and syndication. The creators or key components of this machine are consumers of your business, but now expanded their interaction into passionate professionals brought together for the purpose of driving others like them to your business. But, unlike a simple production line with one product (a simple photo, blog, or post), this digital content marketing machine produces unique, powerful, original content with each unit. Innovative digital content marketing specifically designed to your niche, and more specifically business. Non-regurgitated, never seen before pieces with a unique fit for maximum efficiency in driving website traffic.
Each component coming from a “professional” is not just the mindless blog or photo. It’s packaged with the ability to be found. With a strategy in mind that will reach out and engage with a specific searcher’s query relevant to your business.
There is a three in one system to this digital content marketing. Each piece is generated with creative thinking, professional knowledge, and minimal budget. But more importantly a photo or video is generated with written content, injected with search engine optimization (SEO) by one valuable individual, and then placed into the hands of a firm with the ability to get it found on Google by your target consumer.
It’s time to rethink digital content creation and what it can do to drive inbound marketing and your business growth. It’s time to #BeDifferent with Stone Road Media.
Weston Schrank holds a Bachelor Degree from Purdue University. An advocate of communication and driving information to engagement, Weston has developed an understanding of specialized digital content creation and SEO into exciting business relations with Stone Road Media clients.
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