6 Issues You’ll Never See In Truly Excellent Marketing Copy

With today’s preference for short-form copy and visual ads, it may seem like anyone in your company, regardless of writing skill, is eligible to be a marketing copywriter. It’s true that anyone can string words together to accompany your ads, but it may also mean their copy could end up poorly written and ineffective.

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The art of copywriting takes time and effort to master. You need to be able to both capture your brand’s voice and deliver a message customers want to hear, and sometimes even experienced marketers can get it wrong.

According to six members of Ad Age Collective, there are a few elements of poorly written marketing copy that you just won’t find in a well-crafted piece of content. These are what you should look out for if you want to be taken seriously in the industry.

1. Complicated jargon
The use of long-winded sentences and complicated jargon is something you’ll never see in great copy. This is the case even with technical B2B content. Great copy is about providing information while attracting customers and speaking to people on a personal level. Complex and hard-to-follow content puts people off as it can sound superior and unwelcoming. – Syed Balkhi, WPBeginner

2. Too many words
Less is more. Excellent copy will never use more words to convey the same message that can be said with fewer. As the old adage goes, it takes longer to write something shorter. Well-written copy takes time. – Holly Fearing, Filene Research Institute

3. A boring opening sentence
Excellent copy will grab you from the first few words and will engage you throughout. If a consumer is not hooked from the very beginning, it will be hard to hold their interest and gain the momentum needed to grab their attention and get them excited about your message. – Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, Hawthorne Advertising

4. Jarring assumptions about the target audience
In the obsession for communication at scale, marketers often fall into the trap of using grotesque assumptions about the persona they are emailing. A classic example I receive in cold email pitches is referring to me as a “B2B SaaS marketer,” which is not true at all. Excellent copy balances the need for personalization without jarring assumptions that spoil the message. – Patrick Ward, Rootstrap

5. Bad spelling, grammar and information
Poorly written copy on a website has the same keyword printed over and over again on the same page with typos, bad grammar and incorrect information. This gets negative attention from the Google algorithm and gets the article flagged for poor performance. If you have a great copywriter, they will avoid this. Their pages will be relevant and well-researched. Then your pages will rank higher. – Duran Inci, Optimum7

6. Excessive repetition
Occasionally, marketers are so excited to push their points of difference that they get caught in the trap of repeating themselves over and over again. Whether it’s within a single post or an entire marketing strategy, “driving the point home” can actually do the opposite. Write like a journalist and keep your copy concise to most efficiently and effectively state your claim. – Kelly Ehlers, Ideas That Evoke

8 Tips For Being More In Tune With Your Audience’s Feelings

Many companies leverage their audience’s feelings in their advertising, hoping to capitalize on their customers’ passions or beliefs to sell their product. Unfortunately, we’ve all seen advertisements that didn’t go over well, or that received the opposite reaction to what was intended. While mistakes do happen, this generally is a sign that a brand doesn’t fully understand its target audience or their feelings about a particular subject or event.
AdAge Collective

When preparing for an ad campaign, however, there are steps you can take to ensure you’re being more cognizant of your audience’s feelings ahead of time, so fewer mistakes are made. These eight experts from Ad Age Collective have spent countless hours analyzing their audiences for their own brands. Here, they offer valuable insight into what businesses should be doing to be more aware of their audience’s emotions.

1. Start by hiring more diverse people.
The problem starts when people creating an advertisement do not have any association with the target audience. To avoid getting online backlash from poorly written ads, you need to start by hiring a more diverse group of people. And not only that, but you also have to listen to them. Try to involve people from your target audience in creative works to prevent poor responses to your ads. – Syed Balkhi, WPBeginner

2. Research your front-end market and demographic.
Put as much effort into your front-end market and consumer demographic research as possible, then test your copy with a small audience to identify any potential pitfalls before you go wide with a launch. This will ensure you have a strong, positive response from consumers when you fully launch and will reduce wasted marketing spend. – Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, Hawthorne Advertising

3. Start with empathy.
It sounds simple, but marketers need to get into the habit of seeing customers as humans — not computers. Empathy is just as valuable a skill as data analysis in the industry. Being able to put yourself in the customer’s shoes to determine pain points and relationships to the brand is vital to meeting them where they’re at and positioning your company as the solution. – Kelly Ehlers, Ideas That Evoke

4. Find a left-brained person.
Marketers are “right brain,” so find a “left-brain” person. It’s challenging to know how an ad will be interpreted. Even within one audience, opinions can vary substantially. Given marketers’ inclination toward right-brain thinking, an easy-to-implement practice is routing potential ads to a trusted source within your company who is a left-brain thinker (engineering or operations team members are my personal favorites). – Patrick Ward, Rootstrap

5. Show your work to the skeptics.
Sometimes creatives fall in love with a clever idea that’s completely tone-deaf. This happens most frequently with attempts at humor or when trying to connect to something noteworthy happening in society. Before you push play, show your work to the skeptics — in your office, your home, your neighborhood. Or imagine you’re a journalist reporting on your ad. What would the snarky headline be? – Todd Morgano, Falls

6. Write your content with your audience.
Write your content with your audience, not for your audience. At least one member of the team creating the ad should be part of the target audience. If this isn’t possible, conducting a focus group might be the next best option. But it will save time and energy if your audience is there from the start. – Holly Fearing, Filene Research Institute

7. Don’t forget to always circle back before release.
Many of these situations won’t show up in the quantitative metrics because they are contextual in nature. Oftentimes, the qualitative research is done upfront, but with the long lead times of some campaigns, it’s a good idea to circle back just before release. Minimally, have people who are not connected to the campaign look at it for cultural sensitivity. – Dan Beltramo, Onclusive (formerly AirPR)

8. Conduct concept testing and scenario planning.
As part of the strategy, it’s imperative to conduct scenario planning when more than one reaction is possible. Conducting concept testing to get a gauge of audience acceptance, analyze risk, form a crisis management plan and have an alternate set of assets and proactive messaging ready to go in the tool kit can avoid a brand debacle or a PR nightmare. – Raashee Gupta Erry, UPLEVEL – Digital Media Consulting

7 Key Strategies For Improving Your Email List

Email marketing remains one of the most popular, consistent marketing platforms around. Entrepreneurs and businesses big and small depend on their email lists as a source for their leads. Yet many of these same businesses don’t update their email lists as often as they should. The problem that arises is that consumers on these lists don’t always stick to the same email addresses. After a time, the lists become outdated, and it’s impossible to be sure if your emails are actually reaching your audience.

In addition to maintaining an updated list, companies need to make sure their subscribers are people genuinely interested in their offers. Sending emails and newsletters to the wrong audience is a waste of time and money. Cleaning, pruning and enhancing an email list is therefore crucial for any modern business.

So how can an organization make sure its email list is both accurate and targets the right people? These seven experts from Ad Age Collective share their strategies for how to improve an email list and ensure it remains an effective form of marketing for your business.

1. Optimize your content to make it relevant.
My strategy is to optimize the digital content so that it is relevant to our target audience. Many consumers have a short amount of time, and they are less likely to open a marketing email if it seems to be blatant advertising or spam. Thus, every email should give the reader a reason to open it and to pass on word-of-mouth to other interested viewers. – Duran Inci, Optimum7

2. Focus on ongoing verification and consent.
Conduct ongoing verification of your list and make sure you have consent. I don’t know how many times someone has tried to sell me a list with my own name on it and my college address. – Lana McGilvray, Purpose Worldwide

3. Segment your list based on common features.
You can improve the email list you already have by segmenting it. This means grouping people based on similar characteristics. You can do this according to demographics, interests, purchase history and other relevant details. When you have a segmented list you can send an even more targeted email campaign, which is certain to see higher open rates and conversions. – Syed Balkhi, WPBeginner

4. Use industry-specific gated content.
My advice is to use industry-specific gated content. Let’s be honest, we want ideal customers in our email list. By providing gated content that is relevant to industries that your business is targeting, you’ll naturally gather quality people for your email list. Adding further self-qualifying questions can also allow you to segment the list further into prospects to follow up with, depending on how they identify. – Patrick Ward, Rootstrap

5. Make sure you respect their privacy.
Privacy has become more and more of a concern for consumers, so don’t waste their time or yours. Make sure that your consumer has opted in to your messaging with their initial interest, and then follow up with messages that are relevant, such as discounts or similar content. – Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, Hawthorne Advertising

6. Include fun articles in your email marketing.
In the service business, we’ve had great success engaging prospects by having more fun articles and references within our email marketing. Being human is still a good trait to carry into your marketing strategy — imagine that, right? Anything from cooking or baking recipes, personal picks for color choices on decorations and before-and-after photos has made an impact on open rates. – Rob Palowitz, PALO Creative

7. Attach audience acquisition to your strategy.
Attach audience acquisition to your content marketing strategy! Whenever you produce a valuable piece of content for your audience, include a call to action for the reader to sign up for an email list or newsletter, or to be alerted of future blogs, podcasts, etc. Not only do you have interested parties opting into your content this way, but you’ll also know what interested them. – Holly Fearing, Filene Research Institute

7 Tips For Creating Evergreen Video Advertising Content

Evergreen content is useful in a number of ways: it can be used at any time, it saves content creators from having to constantly generate new ideas and it is easy to refer back to when needed. When you think about video advertising content, the term “evergreen” rarely comes up, however. Video advertising campaigns tend to be more trendy, and there’s always the risk that the visuals will soon look dated — an issue you don’t face as often with the written word.

AdAge

So how can companies capitalize on the increasingly popular video genre and still create reusable content? These seven experts from Ad Age Collective have experience in what makes for successful video content. Here they offer valuable tips on how a business can create video advertising content that remains relevant no matter the timing.

1. Focus on educating your audience.
I think you can create an evergreen video campaign if you focus on educating your audience. Based on the industry or niche you’re in, marry education and advertising content. This is the best way to create evergreen content, especially for video advertisements, which is not an area where old content ages well. – Syed Balkhi, WPBeginner

2. Build around things you always help customers with.
Clients are experiencing pains specific to this moment in time. Many of those pains may be over next quarter. Often, where we help the most are with challenges that customers have faced since time began. Build your advertising around the things you always help your customers do better — independent of economic conditions, political cycle, global pandemic, etc. – Moira Vetter, Modo Modo Agency

3. Create ‘how to’ and best-practice videos.
The most consistently evergreen content are “how-to” or best-practice videos. They will be relevant as long as your product or service is relevant. Broadly speaking, educational video content tends to endure well because it is tied more to a functional need as opposed to relying on other important elements of advertising, such as creative, characters, timeliness, originality, etc. – Dan Beltramo, Onclusive (formerly AirPR)

4. Leverage a Q&A format.
Focus on Q&A. When you engage with a prospect, chances are even the most informed will have questions about you, your business and the industry at large. People are inquisitive by nature, so feed into that curiosity by answering those questions in video format. You’ll pick up the patterns of frequently asked questions, so evergreen videos are a great way to have ready answers available. – Patrick Ward, Rootstrap

5. Speak to the product’s uses and benefits.
It is possible to create an evergreen campaign, or at least one that a customer can refer back to, and this would be any campaign that clearly speaks to the product’s uses and benefits. A features and benefits campaign can be used to first launch a product, and when brand awareness lifts, it can then be used on digital channels to refer back to for product instructions. – Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, Hawthorne Advertising

6. Focus on constants rather than trends.
Focus on constants rather than trends and aim for a timeless visual style. Often, that style leads you to use animation (the side benefit of that is that it allows you to more easily take your content to international audiences). – Reid Carr, Red Door Interactive

7. Create memorable and relevant visuals.
Create memorable and relevant visuals for your campaign. Every script, prop and special effect needs to tie into your branding. You also need to entertain people or educate them so they will come back and rewatch, to absorb the message faster. Consider how one anti-smoking PSA won an award for conveying a rapid number of statistics within a musical number. It’s still popular and unforgettable. – Duran Inci, Optimum7

8 Considerations To Make When Using Influencers To Market To A Younger Demographic

Influencer marketing is a popular marketing strategy among many companies; however, when marketing to a young demographic, particular factors must be looked at. Kids, especially in the tween and teenage bracket, are incredibly impressionable, so when a business decides to work with influencers that resonate with this age group, they need to consider these individuals’ reach and how they are likely to impact the consumers.

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There are many additional elements that a business must consider before diving into the influencer market as a way to sell their product. Here, eight professionals from Ad Age Collective offer their best advice on what a company should keep in mind when considering using an influencer or micro-influencer to help market its product to a younger demographic.

1. Don’t be something you’re not.
Don’t try to be something you’re not. Hanging with the “cool kids” at the party, particularly if you’re paying them, doesn’t make you cool, but rather has the opposite effect. It’s embarrassing. – Reid Carr, Red Door Interactive

2. Embrace self-awareness.
Self-awareness is key. Younger demographics are ruthless when it comes to inauthenticity, so be wary about putting your influencer in a compromising position when pushing your product. If done right, the influencer, audience and your product should seamlessly and naturally fit together. Be sure to let the influencer drive the creative process so that it resonates with their audience by default. – Patrick Ward, Rootstrap

3. Think about the effect of peer influence.
I feel that the younger demographic is truly influenced by their peers more so than in the past. The way that social media can affect popularity, as well as that being a strong representation of how they judge each other, means choosing the right influencers for your brand is important. If they can get more “likes” and activity, that enables the brand to be more accepted. – Rob Palowitz, PALO Creative

4. Make sure they reflect your target audience.
Influencers should be reflective of your target audience. Instead of using them as experts, have them showcasing your product and having authentic interactions.Your target audience should be able to see themselves in the influencers’ reactions. – Arjun Sen, ZenMango

5. Look for influencers with a spotless history.
It’s important that any influencer has a spotless history and a strong moral code if they are speaking to and influencing a younger demographic. Everything must be above the board and on brand, and the influencer must showcase this in their public and personal persona. – Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, Hawthorne Advertising

6. Remember behaviors and mindsets constantly shift.
Young people (teens and tweens) are constantly going through a radical change of mindset and behavior. What was hip and cool yesterday becomes lame today. Therefore, the “lifespan” of an influencer to younger demographics is very short. Once you’ve selected the casting of influencers and collaborators to work with your brand, make sure to track their freshness and relevance to a specific public. – Marcello Magalhaes, Speakeasy – Knowledge Brokers

7. Don’t focus on the size of their audience.
Don’t focus on the size of the influencer’s audience. Instead, focus on their authenticity and engagement with followers. Anyone can be paid to promote a product or service, but the influencer’s credibility is paramount when it comes to endorsements and the actions taken by the audience thereafter. The partnership also really needs to align the influencer’s beliefs or desires with your offering. – Kurt Kaufer, Ad Results Media

8. Stay on top of changing values and current events.
Stay on top of changing values and current events. Generation Z is more tech-savvy and socially aware than Gen X and Y are, relatively speaking, and have a unique sense of humor, as shown with the Tide Pod challenge. Thus, they become harder to win over. If your influencer or micro-influencer shows they can connect with the audience and care about their values, then you have a solid target market. – Duran Inci, Optimum7

14 Guidelines For Adapting To The Abruptly Changing Marketing Industry

As COVID-19 shifts the way the world functions, it is also shifting how advertising and marketing assets are created and implemented. People are spending more time at home and their needs have changed. Marketing professionals must adapt to this new normal and deliver campaigns that speak to consumers’ current experiences.

AdAge Collective

The members of Ad Age Collective understand the importance of embracing these changes, not just now, but in the future as the industry evolves. We asked 14 of them to share how their field is pivoting in the long term, and how they plan to find success in this new landscape.

1. Understand new consumer habits.
Adaptability is more important than ever. The current pace of change requires brands to be fast and flexible. When you take the essential first step to understand new consumer habits, only then can you adapt your advertising to reach people in ways that will meet their needs. Advertisers need to stay focused on the customer, even as they change, and find media partners who can help them do that. – Cathy Oh, Samsung Ads

2. Embrace the creative renaissance.
On the downside, the ad industry remains exclusive and has not embraced AI or employment trends as quickly as it should. On the upside, now that the technology plumbing that was needed to connect disparate media and creative systems and teams is now largely done and millennials and Gen Z are joining the ranks, we have entered a fantastic creative renaissance! – Lana McGilvray, Purpose Worldwide

3. Use data insights as your North Star.
Unfortunately, leads are still the guiding light for a majority of companies today — but our buyers need more from us. As marketing evolves into the new normal, we’ll see more teams using data insights as their North Star to customer engagement. Marketers will start evaluating their pipeline and use critical buyer intent data to drive their revenue growth forward. – Latane Conant, 6sense

4. Know the unit economics of your capabilities.
Agencies have for years built out forward-looking capabilities on the guarantees of large AORs, often with new capabilities being loss leaders for a time. Given the month-to-month and quarter-to-quarter orientation of client spending in the current economy, agencies will need to understand the unit economics of specific capabilities and grow with an eye toward profitable near-term capabilities. – Moira Vetter, Modo Modo Agency

5. Seek out creatives who are authentic and multi-faceted.
The creative role is changing most. The required skill set has shifted radically. It used to be that the storytelling was done by folks with the craft and skills to make tiny movies called ads. Now a creative person needs to be a social detective, a spy in the house of data, a behavioral tactician and be willing to shed award-friendly artifice for authenticity, even when that’s not always pretty. – Scott Montgomery, Bradley and Montgomery (BaM)

6. Pay attention to changing media consumption habits.
The new landscape will be an evolving target as worldwide “staying at home” will evolve how we work and live life. When and how we consume media will change too. Success will be defined by keeping pace with this evolution, and messages that are more relevant and less disruptive will resonate. “Scream and tell” advertising to buy a visit may get ignored, but “content I want to know” will win. – Arjun Sen, ZenMango

7. Change your messaging and imagery to match changing daily life.
It’s essential to change your messaging and imagery to ensure it matches the massive shifts in customers’ everyday lives. There is a marketing opportunity to feature products that can help customers during this difficult, uncertain time. There’s a difference between fear-mongering and offering a product that will truly make someone’s day, week or life better, and customers know the difference. – Warren Jolly, adQuadrant

8. Be flexible.
Flexibility in how we service accounts, build teams, buy and/or engage media and diversify creatively will be much more critical as we move forward. The new normal is teaching us to strategically shift on a moment’s notice and to listen to all stakeholders all of the time. By building processes and teams that can flex and approaching creativity from all stakeholder points of view, we will find success. – Maggie O’Neill, Peppercomm

9. Get ready to change how you collect and use consumer data.
As privacy concerns grow, advertisers will find that collecting data and personalization will get harder. We need to be prepared with changes regarding the way we collect and use people’s data. It’s important to look into AI tools, especially around contextual intelligence so that we can place ads and target users based on the content of a page over how a user behaves. – Syed Balkhi, WPBeginner

10. Market yourself through social messaging apps.
Social messaging apps will grow as advertising spread dips due to the lack of demand. This is a good time to advertise because you will get better rates on pay-per-click ads. As more people are feeling isolated from the mandatory shutdowns, they will turn to other resources to seek connection. See if you can conduct marketing with these apps to reach your audience remotely. – Duran Inci, Optimum7

11. Invest in content marketing and owned media.
Content marketing and owned media will continue to rise. It is getting easier and more important for brands to be able to produce and deliver their own content. This is especially true in B2B marketing where the value propositions can be more complicated or nuanced. – Dan Beltramo, Onclusive (formerly AirPR)

12. Rethink your product and service offerings for the modern world.
Product offerings need to be rethought (for instance, alcohol companies making sanitizer and clothing companies making masks) and brand marketing must become a concierge service connecting a consumer need with a viable solution in real time as needs continue to evolve. The most successful brands will co-create solutions with those who will use the product or service. – Holly Fearing, Filene Research Institute

13. Be agile, but thoughtful and calculated.
Adapting at every corner is critical at this point where things are changing every day. Don’t get stuck in any form of how we “used” to do things either in the workplace or media environment. Be agile and adapt quickly when appropriate, but continue to be thoughtful and calculated with decisions that will have a large impact on your brand. – Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, Hawthorne Advertising

14. Go back to basics.
Advertising needs to return to the fundamentals. As the tools evolve at an increasingly rapid pace, coupled with a shift in brands bringing marketing roles in-house, agencies need to return to the fundamentals of how to generate long-term advertising success. This involves a return to psychology as the driving factor behind why people purchase one product over another. – Patrick Ward, Rootstrap

8 Game-changing Approaches For Solving A Marketing Plateau

When a company starts seeing its first successes in a marketing strategy, it feels exciting. Growth can be massive and exponential at the start, but over time, the massive numbers can start to taper off. The longer you hold onto any one marketing strategy or tactic, the less an audience might be engaged in your marketing.

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When this happens, the first instinct of marketing professionals is to look at where the existing strategy can be improved. The better approach might be to shake things up a bit and change tactics completely. Switching up your marketing has the benefit of taking your audience by surprise while remaining interesting to your existing customers. The approach you bring to the switch-up of tactics can make it much easier to get those numbers growing again.

These eight thought leaders from Ad Age Collective have experience with switching up marketing strategies when things get stale. We asked them about the most game-changing plans they’ve encountered in careers. Here’s what they had to tell us.

1. Diversify your presence.
Treat marketing activities with the same sound advice one gets from a financial adviser: diversify your investments. Marketing channels ebb and flow in popularity influenced by external factors. Establish a presence in digital, print, audio, video and real-time channels and watch your metrics daily so you can respond to spikes in preferences to be exactly where your audience is, and when. – Holly Fearing, Filene Research Institute

2. Test new messaging and creatives.
When we lose momentum, a game-changer for us is testing new messaging and creatives. Messages can get stale and creative trends change over time. Mixing up the creatives and messaging gives something new to excite existing audiences while potentially reaching new audiences. – Warren Jolly, adQuadrant

3. Explore testing into new audiences.
Explore testing into new audiences. Brands love to go after millennials, but women over 50 account for 27 percent of all consumer spending. Through customized creative and targeting via paid media channels, you can reach new, untapped customers to drive your business forward. – Kerry Curran, Catalyst

4. Look for tactics with a large audience.
Once you have plateaued in your marketing and have harvested all the “low-hanging fruit” per se, look for marketing tactics that have a very large audience. For example, consider offline channels, sponsorships or even influencers to boost your public persona and develop a larger identity for your brand. – Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, Hawthorne Advertising

5. Automate your processes.
Automating your processes can be a game changer for marketing, especially when you plateau. There are always areas to improve, and to save on time and money. If you have the appropriate software collecting relevant data and analyzing it, then it saves time for the web developers and can offer new opportunities to review data. – Duran Inci, Optimum7

6. Create a flywheel or compound effect.
Try to create a flywheel or compound effect with your marketing. Many marketing activities don’t get more efficient with time, but those that do are game changers. Loyalty programs, user groups, search engine optimization (SEO), public relations and influencer marketing are all areas to consider but are not an exhaustive list of potential flywheel marketing initiatives. – Dan Beltramo, Onclusive (formerly AirPR)

7. Put yourself in your audiences’ shoes.
Put yourself in your audiences’ shoes and identify another area of their day-to-day lives you can be a part of. It may be simply marketing on a different channel or platform or looking to partner with like-minded brands that are important to your audience. If you have plateaued in one area, don’t abandon it. Keep that message going but identify that other point where the audience can find you. – Maggie O’Neill, Peppercomm

8. Go back to basics.
It may be counterintuitive, but I find that going back to basics can take you forward. Whenever I feel like my marketing efforts have become stale, it’s because I have over-complicated things. So, I go back to fundamentals. What do people want? What are their pain points? And then I listen to them on social media and frame content that answers their needs. Simple changes are all that’s needed. – Syed Balkhi, WPBeginner

8 Emerging E-commerce Trends Marketing Experts Are Excited About

Trends come and go like the ebb and flow of a tide. It seems like with each new quarter we see e-commerce trends on the horizon that might have a massive impact on various industries. Companies that can spot these trends before they hit the mainstream can capitalize on their new knowledge. Because of how quickly trends can gain traction, a company that can prepare or pivot into a trend before everyone else can see a lot of engagement from their core audience. However, the key is figuring out which trends are the exciting ones.

AdAge Collective

In particular, e-commerce trends can be particularly fickle. Emerging trends, the ones that haven’t reached critical mass yet, are the ones that businesses should spend their focus on. An emerging e-commerce trend, if caught on the rise, can catapult a company’s popularity. When you find the most exciting emerging trends, you’re almost guaranteed to be the talk of the town.

These eight entrepreneurs from Ad Age Collective have become quite adept at spotting emerging trends and picking out the most exciting ones from the bunch. We asked them about the most recent emerging trends in e-commerce that we should be aware of. Their responses are below.

1. COVID-19 as an e-commerce accelerator
A trend I noticed is COVID-19 as an e-commerce accelerator. Huge brands had to dive into the direct-to-consumer (DTC) playbook. Mega-retailers being “forced” into e-tailing now are finding they can activate customers at mega-scale via video ads, gaining positive attribution analytics leading to redistribution of and more sales productivity for their marketing spend. – Sean Cunningham, VAB

2. Personalization improving the online shopping experience
E-commerce personalization will improve the online shopping experience. Customers want to feel cared for, especially when they are looking for a particular product. Algorithms can assist with making webpages, emails and even advertisements more personal. When the algorithms are properly trained, then businesses can use them to win over customers. – Duran Inci, Optimum7

3. Exponential growth of online grocery and last mile delivery
The greatest e-commerce impact of COVID-19 is the exponential growth in online grocery and last mile delivery. Consumer volume increased as advertising opportunities for brands beyond perishables have expanded. Now beauty, alcohol, OTC and other center-aisle categories must build strategies for “the third shelf.” – Kerry Curran, Catalyst

4. Shopify’s integration with the Walmart Marketplace
Shopify’s integration into the Walmart Marketplace is big news. This sets up a positive network effect for Walmart, Shopify and Shopify’s sellers — more audience for Shopify and its sellers, more product diversity and revenue for Walmart to compete with Amazon. By linking advertising closely with demand, this will make the Walmart advertising platform more powerful for some advertisers. – Dan Beltramo, Onclusive (formerly AirPR)

5. ML and AI for customer service increasing velocity
Machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI) for customer service will help increase e-commerce velocity. Customer service is often an underfunded necessary evil for e-commerce brands, particularly when a burst of operational issues inevitably arise. Resolving customer challenges at scale keeps customers coming back because customers want to talk to “someone” who can resolve issues in real time. – Reid Carr, Red Door Interactive

6. The rise of the curbside delivery concept
The game has changed completely for businesses that rely on in-person activity for revenue, such as restaurants, bars and events. The concept of “curbside delivery” has opened up new possibilities for taking a piece of that experience away to recreate in new and different environments. The more creative a brand is, the more they can still meet customer needs regardless of our changing world. – Holly Fearing, Filene Research Institute

7. Growing importance of voice search
Voice search is coming, but it’s being ignored. With the rise of virtual assistants, e-commerce has been quick to understand the implications. When a consumer can order a product by simply saying “Hey Alexa, order X,” that changes everything from the standard web and/or social search. Marketers need to understand that voice is a completely different game to SEO — adopt voice early and they’ll be ready. – Patrick Ward, Rootstrap

8. The surge of in-home training and mindfulness platforms
An exciting trend to watch emerge has been the surge of in-home gym equipment, virtual personal trainers and mindfulness platforms which allow people to feel part of a community without having to meet in person. This is a big area of opportunity for both the consumer and the advertising industry. – Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, Hawthorne Advertising

7 Smart Ways To Assess The Quality Of Your Brand’s Content

Anyone in or adjacent to the marketing world knows that “content is king.” Everything you create and share with the public should always be of high quality, as it’s a representation of your brand and is what will draw people to your business. But with a never-ending demand for branded content on your blog, social media channels and website, how can you be sure that each piece is top-notch before it goes out?

AdAge Collective

We asked the members of Ad Age Collective to share some unique ways to gauge the quality of your work before it gets published. Here’s how they recommend assessing your content.

1. Set clear standards.
In order to assess anything, you need to have clear standards. This goes for content as well. So, create a clear set of standards that cover things like tone, visual elements, key messages, restricted topics, etc. Standards may need to vary by media type. Then, the key is to have someone other than the content producer assess the content against the standards. – Dan Beltramo, Onclusive (formerly AirPR)

2. Make content on-brand, on-strategy and interesting.
High-quality content, like all marketing, answers three questions with a resounding “yes.” Is it on-strategy? It must have a clearly defined goal, target audience, etc. Is it on-brand? From logo usage to the tone of the messaging, it must look, feel and sound consistent. Is it interesting? It must be unmissable and unskippable, which is easier said than done. – Chad Robley, Mindgruve

3. Show the true worth of your content.
Make sure your audience can see the true worth of your content by making it different and clearly better than the competition. Connect to solutions people seek now, and show the impact it will make on key profit and loss line items. Once that happens, then your content quality is above par and it puts you on the path to being one-of-one (and not one-of-many). – Arjun Sen, ZenMango

4. Read it out loud.
This is such a simple step, but reading your content aloud helps you understand how it sounds to others. You’ll find any awkward phrasing or repeated words. Hearing your content spoken aloud also gives you the chance to assess if it’s conversational. It becomes easier to make changes to make it sound better. – Syed Balkhi, WPBeginner

5. Test it out with a focus group.
Test your content and images with simple online focus groups to quickly see what resonates the best. This will help you determine which content is of the highest quality and connects best with your audience for the brand message you are trying to project. – Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, Hawthorne Advertising

6. Put it in front of non-marketers.
Content is primarily the function of the marketing department. The risk is that piece of content comes across as too salesy or bloated when it comes solely from a marketing team without vetting. A good quick trick to see if your content is quality is putting it in front of other team members before publishing. My personal favorite: engineers. They’ll always tell you if a message is grounded enough. – Patrick Ward, Rootstrap

7. Make sure the right consumers see it.
Part of producing quality content is ensuring it resonates with the right consumers, but equally important is making sure they see it. When producing content, writers and promoters need to be on the same page about distribution, what part of the funnel it represents and what persona it targets. This plan, produced for all content, is a prerequisite for reach and efficacy, and therefore also quality. – Reid Carr, Red Door Interactive

Stumped On Your Business Name? 8 Tips For Choosing The Right One

You’ve identified a need in the market, a product or service to fulfill it, a business plan to guide you and a team to make it all happen. You have everything you need for success — except a name for your startup. A business name should be memorable, descriptive and unique, which can be a challenging set of criteria to fill at once.

The members of Ad Age Collective know the importance of a brand name, as well as how to come up with a great one. Below, eight of them share their best advice for testing and choosing names for your company, product or service.

AdAge Collective

1. Test ideas with your audience.
There are so many factors to naming, such as inspiration, branding, legal and more. The real hurdle to get over is subjectivity. Years of experience can cause bias. Fresh ideas won’t reflect historical cycles. From the list, select your top picks and test them with your audience. Aren’t they the ones who matter at the end of the day? Use their insights to cut out consensus and inspire great work. – Nicole Oliha, City National Bank

2. Create mock-ups.
Creating design mock-ups of your products with the potential brand name can be very impactful. It will make your name more real. You can also print out content with your name and possible logo to get a feel for it. Then, when you’ve spent some time with it, you can get a sense of whether your name will work in the long run. – Syed Balkhi, WPBeginner

3. Brainstorm as much as possible.
It’s a volume play to find the needle in a huge haystack of established businesses, existing trademarks and purchased URLs. Brainstorm like a mad person. Scribble everything down without editing yourself. Make up words like a modern-day Shakespeare. With hundreds of options on the wall, you can begin to narrow down the list based on the names that both reflect the brand positioning and are currently available. – Chad Robley, Mindgruve

4. Explain what your product is.
If you’re launching a complicated product to market with a limited budget, sometimes choosing a descriptive name can be helpful. A descriptive name does some of the heavy lifting on the marketing side. – Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, Hawthorne Advertising

6. Reflect your passion and excitement with a story.
Names can be literal or creative. It is up to you to build it over time. It must reflect your passion and excitement, and you must have a story to tell. My daughter came up with the name of our business, ZenMango. Her logic was “zen” is a position of wisdom and rhymes with our last name, “Sen,” and “mango” is the world’s fastest-growing fruit and allows us to migrate current brand colors. When asked about our company name, I love telling the story with pride. – Arjun Sen, ZenMango

7. Make sure the name is available.
The mistake many business owners make is thinking that the name matters. What matters far more with a name is if you can claim the appropriate digital assets. Running a Google search along with a social media check for the availability for your particular name is crucial as you begin to market your business. Don’t stress on the name itself; make sure you can claim your digital real estate first. – Patrick Ward, Rootstrap

5. Weigh descriptive names against generic.
Begin by deciding if you want to choose a descriptive name, like “Precision Tools,” or a generic name like “Amazon.” Descriptive names are often helpful early on because they require less explanation, but they can be confining if you think your business will grow into new areas over time. Some names like Netflix are abstracted enough to provide a bit of latitude in both directions. – Dan Beltramo, Onclusive (formerly AirPR)

8. Ensure it doesn’t feel ‘wrong.’
Don’t get hung up on finding the perfect name, because rarely does any name feel totally right at first. However, it is critical that you make sure it isn’t wrong. Always confirm that it is culturally sensitive, isn’t confusing, is available and so on. People often mistake that a name is a brand, but the company, culture and behaviors will create the power behind the name and make it “right.” – Reid Carr, Red Door Interactive