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Technology

Project Portals

NEW FEATURE: Project Portals is your new Status Department

By | Promotional Insight, Technology | No Comments

What You Need to Know About Project Portals

Project Portals is a new feature we introduced to clients this week. If you’re a fan of efficiency, you’ll be a fan of Project Portals.

This free tool pulls every component of a project into one convenient place. Instead of searching through dozens of emails, you can simply visit your project portal to see the complete history of all communications related to a project.

Approve proofs with a click.

Check order status with a click.

See shipping information with a click.

View and pay invoices with a click.

You will also be able to view, download, and comment on essential forms. This includes presentations, estimates, sales orders, and more.

Project Portals provide you and your team with a simple, easy-to-use solution that acts as your own personal status department. We understand that time is a luxury most professionals no longer have. Anytime we get to save our client’s time is a win for us.

Your Outreach order rep will provide you with a link to your project portal. We cannot wait for you to try out this new feature! Contact your order rep or send us a note here if you have any questions.

 

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Five Promotional Products your Small Business Should Invest in Now

By | Marketing, Promotional Insight, Technology | No Comments

When a consumer “shops small,” a significant amount of that money stays in the community. In fact, one study states that for every $100 spent at a local, small business, $68 remained in the city, while only $43 of $100 spent at a big-box chain had any community impact.

Promotional products are an excellent way to foster relationships with your small business customers. Giving those customers just a little something extra when they do business with you could be the tipping point for them to spend more money, or to return to you in the future. Here are five promotional products that are affordable for your small business or startup, but also functional and memorable to your customers.

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Fruit Infused Water Bottles
Branded Water bottles are a dime a dozen in my cabinets, and the same is probably true for you too, but what if you jazzed up the standard sport bottle with the ability to infuse fruit? It’s that little something extra that will ensure your customer or client chooses your promo bottle over the other five in their kitchen. The cost isn’t much more than a standard water bottle and it will have your customers rushing to get home and fill ‘er up.

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Moscow Mule Mugs
With summer just around the corner, speak to your client’s inner mixed drink lover and give them something a bit different. Moscow Mule mugs are trendy and will have your customer ready to kick back on their rooftop lounge with the sweet smells of summer surrounding them. They’ll be sporting your brand for all their friends to see and quietly thanking you for keeping them cool amid the heat. Glass pints and other specialty glasses are a win for your beer-loving clients and customers, as well.

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Business Folders
Three-prong folders from the local office supply store aren’t going to cut it for all the meetings in your future as you grow your small business or startup. Branded folders make the perfect inexpensive leave-behind to package your beautifully-designed marketing collateral and brand story. It’s much more difficult for a prospect or investor to lose a folder with all your contact information than it is to lose a tiny business card.

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Trendy Apparel
While apparel can sometimes get pricey, there are options available that won’t break the bank. Plus, the investment will be totally worth it when your clients and employees are rocking their branded tank wherever they go. There’s a difference between slapping your logo on a cheap cotton tee (there’s a time and a place for that) and strategically designing a screen-printed tank or baseball tee that people are proud to sport. Work with the designer at your local print shop or promo company to come up with something that represents your brand perfectly.

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Tech
An oldie, but a goodie. Tech products are always a good go-to for small businesses because they are affordable and appeal to a broad audience. This Posh 3-in-1 Charging Cable is small, handy, and looks more expensive than it actually is. Clients and prospects will use this little device and others like it over and over, each time thanking you for coming to the rescue when they forgot to charge their devices the night before.

For a complete presentation of small business and startup promotional product ideas, click here. You can also use our contact page for a custom quote or more information on the items above.

Small Business Week is a special week for Outreach Promotional Solutions. Supporting small business owners and giving back to our communities is a commitment we’ve kept since the day we opened our doors.
Enter the code NOSALESTAX when you place your next print, promo, or apparel order and receive your next batch of branded items tax-free. Orders must be placed by May 5 to receive this offer.

marketing trends

6 Must-Know Marketing Trends You Can’t Miss in 2018

By | Marketing, Promotional Insight, Technology | One Comment

6 Must-Know Marketing Trends You Can’t Miss in 2018

The trends shaping marketing in 2018 are all about brand experience. Retaining customers and earning new customers involves a lot more than sharing a Facebook post every other day. When companies offer inventive ways to experience their brand, product, or service, they’re adding depth and enriching the relationships they have with their audiences.

Large corporations and small businesses alike must identify ways to build stronger connections through brand experience. Stronger connections can be developed through multiple communication vehicles, whether that be digital marketing technology or promotional products and wearable tech. Below is a list of the trends you should consider adding to your marketing mix this year.

Virtual Reality

The rise of virtual reality, or VR, has given marketers a way to creatively engage with their audiences. VR uses computer-generated images to place users in different environments. While it may seem like a tactic reserved for high budget marketing departments, smaller companies can use VR to give audiences behind-the-scenes content, exclusive event access, and other valuable marketing content.

TOMS is a company that encourages giving to those in need. The shoe and accessories company practices its core values by giving to a person in need every time one of their products is purchased. TOMS used virtual reality as a way to communicate the company’s core values by posting a YouTube 360 video where users were placed in a Virtual Giving Trip. Viewers were able to actually see the charitable aspect of TOMS’ business model as Brand Ambassadors delivered free shoes to underprivileged residents in Peru.

Live Video

Video has been in nearly every “marketing trends report” for the past couple of years. Last year saw the rise of Live Video and the data suggests it’s going to play a massive role in content marketing this year.

The Facebook Newsroom reported that:

  • Users spend 3x more time watching live video than a video that’s no longer active.
  • Users comment more than 10x more during live shows.

This level of engagement is not something you’d want to miss out on.

A survey conducted by Livestream discovered that:

  • 80% of respondents said they would rather tune into a live video for 2018 than read a blog post
  • 82% of respondents were more interested in watching live video from a brand than reading social media posts.

Influencer Marketing

Influencer Marketing is another trend that has experienced growth in the past year. Search Engine Journal surveyed 29 digital marketing experts on the important social media trends of 2018. It’s no surprise that influencer marketing appeared in several of these experts’ responses.

Having a trusted expert share your product or service extends your reach and connects you with those most likely to be interested in what you offer. By connecting with relevant social media influencers, you have the equivalent of an online brand ambassador championing for your brand.

There are rules and regulations involved in sponsoring a paid influencer program, so be sure to practice transparency and follow the FTC’s guidelines.

Wireless Promotional Products

Bluetooth-enabled products are on the rise, especially since major smartphone makers have ditched the headphone jack. Branded products should be viewed as a necessity in any well-rounded marketing strategy, but the key is to purchase products that your customers will want to use time and time again.

Sure, promotional pens and custom notebooks have their place in the product essentials bucket, but be sure to include more memorable products that will enhance your customer’s perception of you. Bluetooth connectivity isn’t restricted to just headphones, earbuds, and speakers. Multifunction products like hats with speakers in them, fidget spinner speakers, and even connected socks have been introduced to the promotional products industry.

If you’re a digital marketer or small business owner, it’s great to be privy on digital marketing trends, but even better to also be up-to-date on promotional product trends.

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Wearable Technology

Custom wearable technology has become a highly sought-after category in the promotional products industry. Fitness accessories such as watches and smart bands will increase communication and efficiency and reduce healthcare costs. Human resources departments, in particular, have been using branded fitness trackers in their health plan rollouts to incentivize employees to join.

Other types of smart clothing have been introduced to the promotional products industry with brands like Levi’s and Nike serving as early adopters. Nike is currently selling NBA jerseys with a built-in NFC tag, which allows fans to sync and scan the jersey to the NikeConnect app so that they can watch highlights of the player whose jersey they’re wearing.

LinkedIn Ads

LinkedIn is already known as a high value, high performing social media channel for B2B marketers. Facebook and Instagram will remain social media giants in 2018, but the volume of updates and potential growth LinkedIn is staging is unmatched. As Fast Company states, “LinkedIn generates a level of engagement and genuinely thoughtful interaction that other social platforms are hard pressed to match.”

In 2017, LinkedIn added video to personal accounts, tested geofilters, made messaging updates, and reached over 500 million monthly users. This year LinkedIn will introduce video ads for business pages. If LinkedIn’s targeted video ads have the same impact that Facebook’s video ads have, it will certainly be a dominant force in social media marketing.

Final Thoughts?

Have you considered putting marketing dollars toward influencer marketing? Has your company’s CEO questioned the benefit of using LinkedIn for business? Curious about what types of wireless products are available to have your logo printed on? We’d love to fill you in. Give us a call, send us a message, or contact us here.

Marketing Technology

How Marketing Technology Can Enhance Your Business

By | Marketing, Technology | No Comments

Google “marketing technology” and you will find hundreds of different articles, websites, software products, vlogs and social media posts describing all the new technological features. let’s take a step back, and discover the impact of marketing technology, and learn how marketing technology can help enhance your business. Marketing technology can be defined as the tools and platforms used by sales and marketing organizations to effectively complete their duties. These tools and platforms assist in day-to-day business functions on multiple levels, and offer substantial opportunity for marketing professionals by providing big data that concentrates on specific targeted leads.

Below is a list of essential marketing technologies that can help enhance your business:

Analytics

Retail and advertising pioneer John Wanamaker famously expressed how difficult it was to track your marketing success with his quote, “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.” Until most recently that was true; however, since the installment of marketing technology analytics, smart marketers can figure out which half is not working.

Best tools to use: Google Analytics, Adobe Analytics

The most popular marketing technology to use for website analytics is Google Analytics. This software is free and used by over 80% of small and mid-market websites. Google Analytics allows you to track: amount of users who visited your website, the duration of a user on your website, the tools they used to find your site, pages viewed, links clicked on, and much more. This software gives you an abundant amount of potential of targeting a segmented lead.

At some point if you feel the need for a paid version or another enterprise to analyze tools, consider Adobe Analytics. Adobe provides a few more bench points to track, such as video, statistical projection data, live stream data, mobile marketing and attribution.

Email

Email marketing is not something new. In fact, it has been around for a couple decades. But even though this feature is well-known, it still is the most productive technological feature for smart marketers to use. According to DBS data, for every $1 dollar you spend on email marketing, you can expect an average return of $38. It is no wonder 80 percent of professionals believe email marketing drives customer acquisition and retention. However, this is not the email marketing of spamming people into buying lists.

Best tools to use: MailChimp, Constant Contact, AWeber, ConvertKit, CRM Software (Salesforce, HubSpot, SharpSpring, Microsoft Dynamics)

This email technology gives you permission to email customers valuable content tailored to your customers’ interests. Customize customer templates, analyze email data, monitor clicks/open rates and integrate with popular CMS software such as WordPress with these various tools.

Search Engine Marketing

This aspect is still relatively new. Search engine marketing is a tool, which smart marketers use to optimize their websites, and generate high quality content to attract search engines such as Google, Bing and Yahoo. With proper search engine marketing, you can make sure Google’s algorithm picks up your content and displays it towards the top of the page.

Best tools to use: Google AdWords, Moz, WordStream, Bing and Yahoo

SEM includes both paid search ads, like Google AdWords and Search Engine Optimization (SEO) to get organic search listings of your website. Search allows you to test and optimize keywords, ad copy, offers, website forms and integrate Google AdWords data with Google Analytics and CRM so you know which links are clicked on most. These insights are essential and most importantly will help create high quality content that will be picked up by search engines.

Retargeting

Mostly everyone has experienced this type of marketing. When you visit a website then leave for another site, their ads will appear on other sites you visit. If you’re not a software company, most likely you have not used this technology tool. Less than 10% of small and medium sized enterprises use retargeting. It is easy to set up and it is cost effective. This tool is only used to advertise to people who have qualified as a segmented lead. Those are leads who have expressed enough interest in your company and visit your site on a regular basis. These tools customize your products and services, so you can decide what your customers see.

Best tools to use: Google AdWords, AdRoll, RevLocal, ReachLocal

Marketing Automation

Marketing automation brings all the previous technologies together. It is software that performs day-to-day business functions on multiple levels such as email, social media, and other website actions. This software makes monotonous tasks a lot easier and efficient.

Best tools to use for small and medium sized enterprises: SharpSpring, HubSpot, InfusionSoft, ClickDimensions

Best tools to use for medium to large sized enterprises: Pardot, Silverpop, ExactTarget, Marketo, Adobe Campaign

This is a terrific technology that includes everything from analytics, online forms, user tracking to lead generation, personalized content creation, email campaigns, lead scoring, and the alignment of sales and marketing. The best part of marketing automation is it integrates perfectly with the most popular CRM software. For any more information, check out my latest blog, 10 reasons why marketing automation is perfect for a small business.

According to Ascend2 and Research Partners, only 42% of companies use marketing technologies. The adoption of technology is the future of marketing. Gartner estimates that by 2020, 85% of customer relationships will not involve a human on the business side of things. One may think that the adoption of technology would depersonalize the selling experience, but this is not true. Technology gives you the chance to create an automated advertising experience and add a personal touch to your customer retention. Plus, it provides performance indicators, which can facilitate more effective marketing campaigns, and reduce the possibilities for human error.

Marketing Automation

10 Reasons Why Marketing Automation is Perfect for a Small business

By | Marketing, Technology | No Comments

Marketing can be a daunting for a small business. Generally, a small business is more focused on fostering growth, generating product solutions and hiring skilled personnel along with several other items before even thinking of marketing. With all that work, it can be difficult for a small business to run successful marketing campaigns all by themselves. However, there is a solution, marketing automation. Marketing automation refers to software that performs day-to-day business functions on multiple levels such as emails, social media and other website actions. This software causes monotonous tasks to become easier and more efficient, thus giving a business more control over its marketing activities. Here are 10 reasons why marketing automation is perfect for a small business

  1. Generate quality leads

    Inbound lead generation is convenient but it is useless unless you have quality leads interested in purchasing your service. The proper automation software helps facilitate candidates and provides criteria for you to reach out to proper candidates at the right point of the sales funnel. The software helps track candidates, who view your newsletters, read your blogs or engage with your website, and processes them as a targeted lead.

  2. Nurture leads efficiently

    Lead nurturing helps convert your lists of emails or leads into sales by keeping them engaged and interested. The issue with nurturing leads is it can be time consuming. Luckily, marketing automation allows you to nurture those leads without manually personalizing and sending emails when leads act. For example, Drip campaigns can be maintained and ensure your lead is being nurtured at the right time.

  3. Increases Revenue

    On average, an automated marketing system gives a return of $8.71 for each dollar spent, which is a great ROI for any marketing effort according to a study by the SMB Group. In the end, running a business is about generating a profit. Gartner research reported that companies who use an automated lead management software saw a revenue increase of 10% or more over 6-9 months.

  4. Generate quality, consistent and efficient email campaigns

    You might think to yourself, “I can send mass emails and track open rates/clicks through email marketing.” You would be right; however, the process is very time consuming and can be overbearing. Marketing automation streamlines email marketing with lead scoring, analytics, multi-step campaigns, landing pages, web forms and lead nurturing. Small business owners do not have the time to send individualized emails to customers. Using automation, you save time employing email platforms to send messages to customers who take specific actions. Automation allows you to develop closer relationships with your customers.

  5. Analyze and maximize your opportunities to gain results

    Marketing automation can integrate with your CRM platform or analytic platform, and you can utilize this software to see which strategies are working for your company. This gives you an opportunity to analyze lead metrics, pay-per-click content, marketing campaigns, and much more.

  6. Reduce Marketing Costs

    No matter the size of your marketing department, it is essential to gather vital lead generation and lead nurturing data. However, from a survey by Ascend2 and Research Partners, still only 42% of companies use marketing automation. That means 58% of companies are utilizing humans to track day-to-day lead generation information, which drives cost and raises budgets in the marketing department. Marketing automation allows companies to save money on their marketing budgets, and gives them the chance to invest in other areas that could benefit more resources. According to a report by Gartner, creative marketing efforts can help save companies 15% or more of their marketing budget, while generating 50% more sales ready leads at 33% less cost.

  7. Avoid Human Error

    Even though we do not mean to, humans make mistakes all the time. Sometimes it is just a spelling error or a punctuation error, but even the smallest of accidents can harm your brand image. A marketing automation system avoids these small mistakes by humans. In fact, utilizing an automation system will decrease the chance of those silly errors polluting your data and work.

  8. Easy to Use

    Most automation software is easy to set up and use, which is nice especially if your marketing employees are not tech specialist. Also, most popular software systems provide on-line training and classes to receive certifications and better learn the software.

  9. Schedule social media posts and track efficiently

    Proper automation systems utilize social media tools such as Hootsuite. Hootsuite is a program that allows you to pre-create social media posts and schedule their posting over time. Plus, Hootsuite gives you the opportunity to post on one-site for several different platforms of social media. So, instead of visiting LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube separately to post your information. You can use Hootsuite or similar social media tools to post messages for each platform in one setting. But, along with having automated social media tools synced into your automation system, you can also designate posts to a specific segment of your audience to ensure the right people see your messages.

  10. Free up marketers’ time and energy

    Automated marketing systems can help free up time and energy even if you have a small marketing department. This software takes care of the day-to-day tasks and provides marketers the time to manage campaigns, strategies, budgets and focus on nurturing important leads for the end of the sales funnel.

Gartner estimates by 2020, 85% of customer relationships will not involve a human on the business side. Even though it seems like we will lose the personalization of the selling process, automation gives the user the ability to create an automated advertising experience with a personal touch, which is proven to improve customer retention. Click here to learn more about our marketing automation provider and contact us for a demonstration.