Benefits of Shoppable Social Media

In 2018, Instagram introduced a new way to shop: Instagram posts that allowed consumers to purchase featured items directly from the Instagram app. Called shoppable posts, they boasted product tags that, when clicked, allowed consumers to buy the product without leaving Instagram. 

Shoppable social media is still associated primarily with Instagram. However, the concept has spread elsewhere in the social media world as well. Facebook, for example, allows for some shoppable tags to be added to posts on its site.

Businesses would be wise to take advantage of this new trend in digital marketing. Shoppable posts aren’t just convenient for consumers. They have advantages for businesses as well. 

Shoppable posts reduce the steps needed for a conversion.

The ultimate goal of all digital marketing, of course, is the conversion. You raise brand awareness so people buy from you. You establish thought leadership in your field so people come to you for answers. You advertise your products and services in the hopes that people will be enticed to buy those products and services. 

Shoppable posts make it easier than ever for businesses to earn those conversions by simplifying the buying process. Instead of needing to leave Instagram (or Facebook) to look up your brand, or buy your products, consumers simply have to click on the post or the tag. From there, they can make their purchase and go right back to enjoying their social media. 

This streamlined approach reduces the time needed between thinking about a product and acting on that impulse. With less time to be distracted, consumers are more likely to go ahead and take advantage of your awesome products and services. 

Shoppable social media allows you to use stories to sell. 

Stories are powerful marketing tools. A narrative taps into one of the most deep-seated and natural ways our brains have of engaging with and remembering information. Storytelling allows listeners to remember up to 22 percent more than they would have remembered if they had been presented only with facts.

Shoppable social media is the perfect environment for storytelling. Instagram, for example, is set up to encourage the creation of image-based stories. Facebook is also largely driven by images and narratives.

In these story-based environments, businesses can link their products and services to a story. They can tell the story of their brand. They can visually set their products and services in context. They can engage and enthrall their audiences. 

Then, they can sell. When consumers encounter their products and services in the midst of a narrative, they are far more likely to remember those products and services. They are also more likely to engage with those products and services since they are already engaged with the brand and its narrative. Within this environment, your digital marketing becomes more powerful and more productive than ever. 

Shoppable social media reaches people who are ready to shop. 

You might not immediately think of someone browsing social media as someone who is ready to make a purchase. However, those on Instagram, at least, are often looking for things to buy. In fact, 75 percent of people on Instagram act on advertisements they see on the social media platform. 

Your business can take advantage of this purchase readiness by creating shoppable Instagram (and Facebook) posts. When you create these posts, you give your consumers a place to go to find and purchase the products and services they need. 

If consumers find what they need on your shoppable posts often enough, they may begin to check out your social media first, before looking elsewhere for what they need. With carefully chosen images and products, you can build a following that enjoys and takes advantage of your specific brand offerings.

Shoppable posts allow businesses to gather more data. 

Data drives many digital marketing decisions. The more data you have as a business, the better marketing choices you can make. Shoppable posts benefit businesses because they provide another source of information regarding those companies’ target audiences. 

For example, when you create shoppable social media posts, you can see which consumers click through and make purchases. You can evaluate the click-through rates of your posts and of your specific products. You can see which products are most popular. You can evaluate which images and narratives are most effective at attracting consumers.

You can then use the data you gather to create an even better social media post. For example, if you find that certain products are most popular, you can create more shoppable social media posts about those types of items. Over time, you can create a social media presence that is focused on the images and products that speak most powerfully to your audiences. 

You can also use the data you gather to inform your other digital marketing efforts. For example, if you find that people from one geographic area are purchasing a certain item frequently, you might consider increasing your marketing in that city or town. 

Shoppable social media posts can become an important part of your digital marketing campaign. They reduce the number of steps consumers need to take to convert. They use stories to help you sell your products. They reach people who are ready to shop. They allow you to gather more data. 

If you want to learn more about shoppable posts, reach out to Distinct Web Design. We can help you understand and implement the digital marketing techniques you need to help your business thrive online. 

Avoid the Post-Holiday Slump With These Savvy Online Marketing Strategies

 

 

The holidays are over, and that means it is time for the post-holiday slump. Defined by sugar crashes, fatigue, and time at home, it can also be defined by some serious dips in spending. 

People may be spending less in January and February, but you still want to clear inventory and make profits. The good news is that you can glean extra sales after the holidays. You simply need to employ some savvy online marketing strategies. Here are a few we suggest. 

Don’t assume the holiday shopping season is over.

Christmas may be over, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t a few people out there still looking for gifts. Many people travel to see extended family after Christmas. They may attend New Year’s parties and other late holiday gatherings. They will be making purchases to bring gifts, food, and refreshments to these gatherings. 

If you act quickly, you can use your online marketing to glean some of the post-holiday sales. The best online marketing strategy for these customers is to continue promoting your holiday sales for a short time into the new year.

Engage in some serious retargeting. 

Retargeting is an online marketing strategy that sends advertisements and special deals to people who have already visited your site. This strategy allows you to keep your brand at the front of consumers’ minds and offer them tailored deals to entice them to buy from you.

Retargeting is an especially valuable tool during the post-holiday slump. Careful retargeting allows you to reach consumers who visited your site during the holidays and encourage them to come back and buy from you now.

The key to successful retargeting is to tailor your message to the recipient. For example, offer deals on items they viewed but did not purchase. Offer coupons to those who did make purchases. Show them products that go along with items they already bought (i.e. maybe they want slippers to go along with that robe they purchased last week). When they see deals that take their interests into consideration, they will be more likely to buy from you, even after the holidays are over. 

Test new ads with your post-holiday online marketing. 

The post-holiday slump may present challenges in getting people to buy from you, but it also presents some unique opportunities for enhancing your overall online marketing strategy.

This time of year is usually far less expensive when it comes to advertising. The same keywords in Google Ads, for example, are often dramatically lower in cost in January than in December. 

The reason for these lower prices is the fact that fewer people are shopping. Companies cut back on their advertising. There is less of a demand for ads and keywords. 

As a result, this is the perfect time of year to try out some new ads. See what a new keyword will do. Tweak your messaging. Target a new audience. 

You can run these tests easily and inexpensively during the post-holiday slump. Then, you can use the information you gather to create powerful advertising campaigns to use for the rest of the year. 

Create messaging about consumers shopping for themselves. 

Your online marketing message is important all the time, but especially after the holidays. The way you present your deals will make or break your sales. 

One message to emphasize in January and February is the concept of shopping for yourself. Consumers have just spent a frenzied month buying gifts for everyone in their lives. Encourage them to shop for themselves now.

This message is particularly relevant immediately after the holidays because many people receive cash and gift cards as presents. They just need a little bit of encouragement to spend that money with you.

You can also sweeten the deal by emphasizing products that make it easy for consumers to buy for themselves. For example, offer them discounts on self care items. Give them a free gift card when they spend a certain amount. And make sure they hear through your messaging that it is the season for a little bit of self-indulgence. 

Offer rewards to holiday shoppers.

Hopefully, the holiday season yielded sales and profits for your business. Build on these sales during the post-holiday slump by reaching out to these customers. In particular, reach out to them with promotions, discounts, and deals that are just for them.

Since it is the season of sending thank you notes to those who gave you gifts during the holidays, you can frame these deals as a thank you to your loyal customers. With coupons in hand, these shoppers are more likely to do their winter shopping with you. 

If you want to create a sense of urgency, try putting a time limit on your deals. For example, consumers must claim their discounted item within a week, by the end of the month, etc. That way, they have to shop now, and that means you make more sales during this quieter time of the year. 

Creating an online marketing plan for the post-holiday slump can earn you more sales over the next couple of months. Extend your holiday sales a little longer. Engage in some serious retargeting. Test new ads. Encourage consumers to shop for themselves. Offer rewards to your holiday shoppers. 

Above all, find a digital marketing agency like Distinct Web Design to help you out. With a slew of strategies at our fingertips, we can help you create and implement a post-holiday online marketing plan that yields the results you need. 

The Profit Is In the Details: A Look at Micro Moments

You worked late and now you are starving. You pick up your phone to look for a nearby restaurant where you can go for dinner. You hear about a new movie release from your spouse and pick up your phone to see if it is available at any movie theaters in your area. You learn of a friend’s passing and pick up your phone to order flowers for the funeral.

These moments when you reach for your mobile device in order to meet an immediate need are called micro moments. Google first identified them in 2015, but they are becoming increasingly common and important for marketers today. Here is a closer look at micro moments and their ability to impact digital marketing

Micro Moments: Definition

The first place to start in understanding micro moments and their impact on digital marketing is to understand what, exactly, they are. Google defines them as moments when consumers have one or more of the following needs:

  • I want to know
  • I want to do
  • I want to go
  • I want to buy

Consumers then fulfill these needs by using their mobile devices to look up solutions. For example, they look up information on a medical procedure their doctor just mentioned at their visit. They look up date ideas after asking someone out. They look up a gift idea their child just requested. 

These micro moments are defined by speed and urgency. Consumers want to meet these needs right now. This is why the use of mobile devices has risen by 20 percent in the last year, but the time spent on each session has dropped 18 percent. People want answers, but they do not want to spend a lot of time getting those answers. 

As a result, micro moments are also very rich opportunities for marketers. In these moments, relevant information can easily lead to conversions from consumers, who are going to go with the first company to give them what they are looking for. 

Micro Moments: Impact

Micro moments impact the consumer and their buying experience in three distinct ways:

Consumers want their needs met immediately.

The consumer wants to eat now. They want to know when that movie comes out now. They don’t want to wait, and they don’t know why they should wait when they have the power of the Internet at their fingertips. Marketers have 10 seconds or less to get their attention in these moments. 

Consumers are not brand loyal.

About 90 percent of consumers have no particular brand in mind when they go looking for answers in the middle of a micro moment. A third of them have purchased from a brand other than the one they expected to buy from because they were able to get their needs met by that other brand more quickly. In micro moments, consumers care about results, not about who delivers them. 

Consumers do not follow a linear buying path. 

That consumer who forgot about the work function they need to attend tonight will buy an outfit from the first business that can prove itself capable of delivering the right outfit at the right price immediately. They will not go through the traditional marketing funnel. They will go straight to purchasing what they need. This non linear way of doing business means marketers must now think on their feet when planning their digital marketing strategies. 

Micro Moments: Marketing Approach

These patterns offer unique opportunities present certain challenges to marketers. Businesses need to begin identifying and targeting these micro moments as part of their digital marketing campaigns. If they do so successfully, the rewards are rich: An abundance of new customers who are willing and eager to convert on the spot. If they neglect micro moments, they risk losing out on the profits that these moments represent. 

Identifying and targeting these micro moments for your target audiences does require some work and creativity. You have to be willing to move beyond the traditional marketing funnel and your set habits of promoting yourself. 

Successfully achieving these goals will require the assistance of a digital marketing company like Distinct Web Design. To get you started though, here are a few ideas for reaching your audiences at micro moments.

  • Deliver ads and content when and where your target audience is having their micro moments.
  • Create content that targets the needs and questions consumers have during their micro moments.
  • Simplify the purchase process, especially through mobile devices. 
  • Create marketing across all channels.
  • Ensure the mobile optimization of your site.
  • Claim all available local business listings and take other steps to make sure your business is visible on local searches.

All of these strategies require you to know your target audience. That means that you must research your audience before implementing digital marketing strategies focused on their micro moments. Deep research and creative marketing can open up micro moments to your business. 

If you need help with developing a digital marketing strategy that focuses on micro moments, reach out to Distinct Web Design. We can help you research, create, and implement strategies that meet consumers where they are. 

Video Marketing Insights for 2020

What is the first thing to come to mind when you think about digital marketing? If videos did not make the list, you are not alone. Many businesses still think of online marketing as a series of banner ads and maybe a website. 

The reality, however, is that online marketing does better when it is engaging and interactive. And, there are few strategies as engaging and interactive as the video. 

Do you need more convincing? Then consider these insights regarding videos and their impact on digital marketing in 2020.

Insight 1: Videos sell products.

Videos entertain, for sure. That is often the reason that people watch them in the first place. The reality, however, is that videos are also really good at convincing people to buy stuff.

Consider, for example, the fact that 64 percent of consumers are more likely to buy a product after they watch a video about it. Consider too the fact that an even larger percentage of consumers (90 percent) find videos helpful in guiding their buying decisions. When a video can have that kind of influence over that many people, you definitely want to pay attention (and start recording).

Insight 2: Videos are very popular.

Considering the statistics above, this may come as no surprise, but people really like videos. Here are just a few statistics that demonstrate the popularity of video:

  • 45 percent of people watch at least an hour of Facebook or YouTube videos a week.
  • Users share videos 1,200 percent more than they share other types of content on social media.
  • By 2022, videos per will comprise 82 percent of website traffic.
  • Mobile video viewing has been increasing by 100 percent every single year. 
  • 55 percent of people who watch videos watch them every day.

Video is here to stay. Its unique power to engage makes it the ideal medium for some savvy marketing. 

Insight 3: Long-form videos are gaining traction. 

For a long time, short videos have reigned, and with good reason. Most people like shorter clips. In fact, Instagram videos perform best when they are less than 30 seconds long. 

However, despite the popularity of short videos, long videos actually deliver strong results. On YouTube, for example, videos between 5 and 7 minutes perform best. 

Perhaps even more striking is the fact that, in 2017, videos of more than 15 minutes drove 50 percent engagement, while videos shorter than 5 minutes drove only 33 percent engagement. 

As 2020 looms, businesses may want to consider the value of investing in some longer videos as part of their online marketing efforts. These videos may not be viewed as often as shorter videos, but they have the potential to drive greater results for businesses. 

Insight 4: Video is an effective way to reach mobile users. 

As mentioned above, the consumption of videos on mobile devices increases by 100 percent every year. In addition, 92 percent of users share videos that they find online. 

These statistics show that video can be an effective way for businesses to communicate with their mobile users. With mobile use exceeding desktop use, businesses must find ways to reach consumers on their mobile devices. Videos can be a good way to achieve this goal. 

Insight 5: Video helps people remember. 

One of the secrets to good online marketing is to get the consumer to remember your brand from the thousands of other brands to which they are exposed. 

Video can help your brand to stick with consumers. When people watch a video, they remember about 95 percent of what they see. If you allow them to see your brand through savvy digital marketing, you improve your chances of earning the profits you want to see.

Insight 6: Videos appear across every online channel. 

Online marketing embraces a wide variety of channels, from Google to social media. Video makes the perfect online marketing tool because it, too, can be used across a wide variety of channels. 

For example, videos appear, and are consumed, across all social media channels, from Twitter to Instagram. They can appear on websites. They can be included in ads. 

People aren’t even growing tired of seeing videos appear everywhere. Most people say that they want more video content, not less. Videos may be ubiquitous, but there is clearly room for more. No matter where you focus your online marketing efforts, you can be sure that videos will fit in nicely. 

Videos are powerful, engaging, and widespread. People use them for everything from looking up how to use an items to deciding which items to buy.

If you need help creating a video campaign, reach out to Distinct Web Design. We can help you to develop an online marketing campaign that works for your business, and that includes the power of video. 

Trendy Marketing: Digital Marketing Changes for 2020

In one important way, digital marketing is the same as it was at the beginning of 2019: It is still a critically important part of any company’s marketing strategy. You might even be able to argue that digital marketing is more important now than ever before. 

What has changed is the form digital marketing takes. New strategies and technologies mean that businesses need to change their approaches in order to keep up a modern online presence. 

Here are a few digital marketing trends you definitely want to use in 2020.

Digital Marketing Trend 1: Shoppable Social Media Posts

Social media marketing works because it allows for the rapid spread of information about your brand. Plus, it meets your target audience right where they are: On social networks.

In 2020, digital marketing will take social media marketing to the next level with shoppable posts. This term refers to posts about products or services that consumers can use to buy that product or service. In many cases, the consumer never even has to leave the social media platform to complete their purchase.

Shoppable posts started with Instagram in 2018. However, there are similar ways to encourage direct-from-channel purchasing among social media networks. For example, tagging your products in your Facebook posts makes it easier for users to buy the products featured in those posts. You can also integrate shoppable elements into your Twitter feed. 

Shoppable posts appeal to social media users because they simplify the buying process (and there is nothing impatient, time-strapped shoppers love more than shopping simplicity). They also make it easier for shoppers to indulge impulse buys: There is nothing more than a few clicks standing between them and owning whatever appealing product catches their eye on their social media feed. 

Digital Marketing Trend 2: The (Continued) Rise of Video

Video marketing is nothing new. For the past 20 years, it has steadily gained traction as an appealing and effective way to reach consumers. In 2020, however, the ways in which video is used will continue to shift. These shifts will make video more authentic. 

For example, Facebook Live videos are increasingly popular. They allow businesses to deliver an unvarnished impression to their followers. They also deliver a more urgent feel. For example, if you promote a new product through Facebook Live, you make it feel more important to buy that product right away, since the video, and the offer, will not last forever. 

Video will continue to impress and produce results across all social media. Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Facebook all report improved engagement numbers when video is used. Almost 75 percent of consumers want to learn about products and services through videos. Savvy businesses will make videos part of their digital marketing strategy in 2020, using the latest approaches, such as 360-videos, long-form videos, Facebook Live videos, and more. 

Digital Marketing Trend 3: Micro-Focus

Success in digital marketing in 2020 will depend not on big, flashy campaigns and promotions but in the smaller details. In particular, micro-influencers and micro-moments will prevail. 

Micro-influencers are those people on social media who have small or medium-sized audiences. While they do not reach the same numbers of people as do the big name influencers, they tend to have a more authentic and trustworthy online presence. They also tend to be more cost-effective to reach, especially for small and medium-sized businesses who would never ping the radars of the big influencers. 

Reaching these smaller influencers allows small and medium sized businesses to earn brand recognition and trust among their target audiences. They provide a way to earn the benefits of influencers without the disadvantages. 

Micro-moments, on the other hand, are those moments in hich consumers are making snap decisions regarding what to buy. These moments often take place in the context of which movie to watch, restaurant to buy, or shop to patronize. 

Digital marketing that can effectively put a business in front of consumers at the moments that they are making these decisions can significantly improve a company’s ability to earn business from these consumers. Strategies like retargeting, marketing funnel marketing, and more can all help to put companies in the right place at the right time when it comes to consumer decision making. 

These are only three examples of the kinds of digital marketing trends that are taking center stage in 2020. In order to put these trends to good use, and find out more about the changes taking place in digital marketing, you need a reliable digital marketing company. That is where Distinct Web Design comes in. We can take all the latest trends and help you choose which ones will work best for your business. Then we can implement a digital marketing campaign that is up to date and effective for your business, in 2020 and beyond. 

Segment Your Google Ads Audiences for More Effective Advertising

One of the Google Ads strategies you will hear about often is to segment your audience. Segmentation in this context means to divide your audience into categories based on the information you have about them.

You can segment your audience in any number of ways. Here are a few examples of the criteria you can use:

  • Shopping cart abandonment
  • Website browse time
  • Location
  • Age
  • Income
  • Origin (i.e. did they come to your site from social media, an ad, etc)
  • Activity taken on your site
  • And More

Once you segment your audience, you can create a Google Ads campaign for each segment. This strategy has a few advantages over treating your audience as a single, monolithic group. 

Segmentation allows you to tailor your message. 

The most effective Google Ads deliver a message that resonates with the reader. That message makes the reader stop and think, “Hey, this company might just have what I need.”

The tricky part is that not every member of your target audience will respond to the same message. The person who abandons the shopping cart might need reassurance about your free shipping offer, while the person who lives in your neighborhood might want to hear that you offer Buy Online Pickup in Store services. 

Segmenting your audience allows you to tailor your message to each group. You can deliver ads about shipping costs to one person and BOPIS promotions to another. With messages targeted directly at their pain points, your segmented audiences are much more likely to respond to your Google Ads and convert. 

Segmentation allows you to engage in retargeting. 

Retargeting is the process of showing ads to people who have already visited your website. Since only about 2 percent of people convert on their first visit to a website, retargeting gives you the chance to earn conversions from 98 percent of your new website visitors.

In order to successfully retarget, you have to segment your audiences. Segmentation allows you to identify the people who can benefit from your retargeting efforts. It also allows you to separate people by factors such as when they left your site or what actions they took on your site.

That granular level of segmentation allows you to then send retargeted ads to them that address their reasons for leaving the site. For example, you can send Google Ads about certain products to people who browsed those items or placed those items in their shopping carts. Personal, relevant Google Ads might be just what your segmented audiences need to return to your website and convert. 

Segmentation allows you to market to every part of the funnel. 

Marketing funnels are ways to guide people from not knowing about your business to becoming loyal customers. Successfully building marketing funnels requires you to target people at every stage of the funnel. 

For example, at the top of the funnel, you have people who need to be made aware that your business exists, while at the bottom of the funnel are one-time customers who need to be incentivized to buy from you again.

Segmentation is a useful tool in building these marketing funnels. It allows you to identify and target people at every stage of the marketing funnel. 

Once you identify them, you can craft Google Ads and messaging that drive them closer to a conversion. For example, say one segment of your audience consists of people who searched online for a product you sell. You can use Google Ads to offer them a deal on that product to encourage them to buy from your business. That step brings them further down the funnel and increases your chances of making a profit. 

Segmenting your audiences for your Google Ads allows you to offer targeted, useful ads to those audiences. Don’t try to accomplish segmentation, or a Google Ads campaign, on your own. Instead, work with a Google Partner, like Distinct Web Design, to enjoy expert and effective assistance with your Google Ads.

Disinformation and Marketing:The Campaigns, and Lessons, Continue

The fact that Russian disinformation campaigns, including troll farms and fake accounts, were used to try to impact the 2016 election, is common knowledge. We looked at the history and methods of these campaigns in an earlier article.

These campaigns possessed an impressive ability to leverage social media and cultural hot button issues to sow divisiveness around the election. Because they masqueraded as legitimate accounts on both sides of the aisle, voters often struggled to recognize them for the digital attacks that they were. 

This type of disinformation campaign has not disappeared. Despite awareness of fake news and foreign strategies to spread disinformation, Russian attempts to impact our next election continue full force. 

A recent article in Rolling Stone magazine highlighted the disinformation tactics that have appeared since 2016. In fact, according to that article, the Russian organization behind much of the 2016 election’s disinformation campaign produced more content on social media in 2017 than in 2016, the year of the election. Another article in the New York Time highlighted Russia’s attempts to practice disinformation strategies in African elections. 

It is safe to say that voters can expect attempts to spread bad information and discord to increase this time around.

It is also safe to say that there remain lessons for marketers in the midst of all this. Here is a look at these new disinformation campaigns, and what marketers can learn about them for their own, more legitimate, marketing efforts. 

Disinformation campaigns know their audiences.

Socrates may have urged his followers to “Know thyself,” but effective marketing requires you to also knows your audiences. This is a skill disinformation campaigns possess in abundance. 

It appears that the bad actors in these campaigns create numerous social media accounts posing as legitimate people or organizations. Each account caters to a specific audience. According to the report from Rolling Stone, they do so very successfully. One tweet by one of these accounts, for example, received about 290,000 likes on Twitter. 

How do these accounts so successfully appeal to tens or hundreds of thousands of individuals? They know who they want to reach and they focus on messaging for those people. Left-leaning individuals might get messages about right wing ignorance. Conservative followers might get messages about the stupidity of Democratic candidates. Since the goal of these campaigns is to sow divisiveness in the country, they tailor their message to whatever will appeal to the sensibilities of their chosen audience. 

While the ends to which this marketing tactic is being used are harmful and dangerous, the tactic itself can be legitimately used by businesses looking to succeed in digital marketing. Businesses need to know their audiences inside and out. Then they need to create content that appeals to these audiences. With the right messaging, they will soon find the right audiences engaging with their business. 

Disinformation campaigns are always evolving. 

While attempts to identify and shut down fake accounts and fake news have been slow since the 2016 election, they have made inroads in stopping those old accounts and trolls. 

The problem is that as soon as one account is shut down or one dishonest tactic is identified, another one develops. The disinformation campaigns are constantly evolving. The Rolling Stones article points out that tactics will be used to influence the 2020 election that no one has seen or anticipated yet. 

Marketers are not trying to avoid censure for dishonest tactics and messaging. However, they still need to remain flexible and evolving because technology, and the ways in which their audiences use it, is always evolving. 

For example, people increasingly use voice search to find what they need online. That means the phrases they use to search and the information they need is changing. That means that the content businesses produce also has to change. 

Similarly, the continued explosion in mobile shopping means businesses need to make accessibility on mobile devices a top priority. Only businesses that can flex in their marketing strategies will continue to effectively reach their audiences.

Disinformation campaigns test their strategies.

Disinformation campaigns know their audiences and target them with surprising effectiveness. Part of that success is due to the fact that these campaigns take the time to test their strategies.

For example, one New York Times article covered a large effort by Russia to spread disinformation in African countries like Libya and Cameroon. Part of these efforts included using locals to set up social media accounts to participate in the disinformation efforts. It is believed that these efforts in Africa allow Russia to test new strategies that they can use in the United States during the 2020 elections. 

Marketers can similarly get a feel for the effectiveness of their digital marketing strategies by testing their own ads. A/B testing of ads, for example, can help you identify and refine successful ads. A professional marketing company like Distinct Web Design can help you to effectively monitor your marketing success and continue to improve it in measurable and tangible ways.

Disinformation campaigns tap into people’s emotions. 

One of the core strategies of these disinformation campaigns is to appeal to the emotions of their target audiences. The Rolling Stone article, for example, pointed out the fact that fake accounts appealed to their followers on an emotional level. They attracted people and used their emotions to drive certain messages home.

As a business looking to market itself online, you also want to appeal to your audience’s emotions. Your messages and ads should leave people feeling good about your brand. The emotions they experience when thinking about your brand will drive their decisions to shop, or not shop, with you.

Rissian disinformation campaigns don’t look like they are going to end anytime soon. Smart marketers will take away lessons from these campaigns to assist their own efforts. Know your audience; keep evolving, test your strategies, and appeal to people’s emotions. 

Don’t forget to reach out to Distinct Web Designfry if you need help implementing these strategies. We can help you develop a digital marketing strategy that is compelling and effective for your business.  

Impact of Online Sales on Putnam County

For better or worse, online sales impact the local economy. That fact is easy to brush aside, unless it begins to impact you and your business directly.

If you own a business in Putnam County, you may not realize it yet, but you are experiencing the effects of online sales.

It can be difficult to pinpoint the specific ways in which online sales affect the county’s local economy and businesses. Here, however, is a brief look at what we do know. 

Putnam County could lose about $1,000,000 in taxes every year.

As mentioned in our previous article about the impact of online sales on the local economy, these purchases result in fewer taxes going to the state, county, and towns. 

Putnam County is no exception. In fact, the county could be losing close to a million dollars in sales tax alone every year because of online purchases. 

Putnam County’s population, according to the Census Bureau, is about 37,500. This means the county is home to about half a percent of Indiana’s total population. According to the University of Tennessee, the state lost a total of $195 million in sales taxes in 2012 because of online sales. 

If Putnam County accounts for half a percent of that number, it was responsible for the loss of $975,000 in online sales that year. 

Specific numbers can fluctuate.

This number, of course, can fluctuate. Indiana’s law (passed in 2017) requiring certain online retailers to collect sales tax, for example, may reduce this number. However, online sales have increased exponentially since 2012, meaning that the money lost to these sales has likely increased. 

Regardless of fluctuations in the exact amount of money lost to online sales, the reality is that Putnam County is affected by these losses. However, the reality is that the county will generally account for about half a percent of sales tax losses in the state.

Sales tax isn’t the only economic impact from online sales.

The loss of sales tax isn’t the only economic impact that online sales can have on the county. There are other ways that these sales influence the county’s economy. Here are a few of these impacts:

  • Less job creation as businesses who lose money to online sales lack money to hire employees
  • Slower economic growth thanks to money going to national retailers instead of local businesses

Sales losses in Putnam County can be minimized.

These impacts on Putnam County can be mitigated. Online sales do not have to be all bad news. Here are two ways to turn their negative impact into a positive one.

Putnam County businesses can go online.

The best way for Putnam County businesses to combat the effects of online sales is for them to create their own online presence. 

With a local online presence, consumers can enjoy the convenience of online shopping, while local businesses get to keep money in the local economy. 

Building a website and launching a digital marketing campaign doesn’t have to be difficult, or expensive. At Putnam County-based Distinct Web Design, for example, we offer comprehensive digital marketing services that are tailored to small businesses. 

Plus, the investment can be well worth it to attract more customers to Putnam County businesses. Your financial outlay could result in profits that far exceed the money you originally spent.

Customers can shop locally.

The whole point of Small Business Saturday is to encourage consumers to shop locally and support their local economies. 

However, encouraging customers to shop locally year round is the best way to drive money to your small business and the community you serve. 

An online presence can encourage this local focus among your target audiences. By promoting your business online, you achieve the following goals:

  • Broaden brand awareness among your target audiences
  • Communicate with consumers where they are (online)
  • Give consumers an online way to shop locally
  • Affordably market yourself in the digital age

If you need help developing this online presence for your small business, reach out to Distinct Web Design. We can help you capture more business for your company, and Putnam County, with a compelling online presence. 

How Online Sales Impact the Local Economy: The Good and the Bad

With Small Business Saturday just a few days away, local companies have the chance to gain the attention and business of their target audiences. Thanks to the meteoric rise of online shopping, they may need it. 

Consider these online shopping statistics:

  • 69 percent of Americans have bought something online.
  • Between 4 and 10 percent of retail sales happen online.
  • A quarter of adults in the country buy something online at least once a month.
  • During the 2018 holiday season, $126 billion was spent on online purchases in this country.

All of these purchases are purchases that are not being made in a brick and mortar store. And that means that all of these purchases are having a measurable impact on the local economy. Is this impact bad news for local business? The reality is a little more complex.

Online purchases can take taxes away from the local economy.

Perhaps the biggest negative impact that online sales have on the economy is that they reduce the amount of sales tax the state collects and other local taxes that towns and counties collect. 

Not every online retailer charges the appropriate sales tax or other local taxes for items customers buy from their online stores. As a result, residents of a state may not pay sales taxes on online purchases that they would have paid if they had made the same purchase in a brick and mortar store.

This loss of revenue is measurable. In 2012, Indiana lost $195 million in sales tax revenue to online purchases, according to the University of Tennessee. This number is almost certainly larger now that the popularity of online sales has skyrocketed. 

In an attempt to reduce these losses, Indiana passed a law in 2017, that went into effect in October of 2018, that requires retailers that earn at least $100,000 in sales in Indiana or that serve at least 200 Indiana residents in a year to charge sales taxes on online purchases. 

This law, however, does not affect smaller businesses. It also does not apply to local taxes and therefore does not completely close the tax gap caused by online purchases. 

Online sales make it harder for brick and mortar retailers to compete. 

Because many online retailers do not charge their customers sales tax, purchases from them cost less. A 7 percent charge on a small purchase might only be a few cents or dollars, but the difference can add up on larger buys.

In addition, when customers are pinching pennies or making many purchases, such as during the holidays, sales tax savings can be important to them. 

As a result, brick and mortar stores that have to charge appropriate taxes sometimes have a harder time competing with online retailers who do not add these taxes to the cost of their items. When customers choose to go online instead of to a brick and mortar store in order to save money, they restrict the local company’s ability to grow. 

Online purchases take money out of the local economy. 

The last negative impact that online purchases have on the local economy is to take money out of that economy. For example, if a customer purchases a Christmas gift from Amazon instead of from a local business, that money goes to the national retailer instead of the purchaser’s community. 

This loss of income can restrict the local economy. Less money comes to local businesses, which means they make fewer hires. Fewer hires means less money flowing into the local economy. Less money flowing into the local economy means fewer jobs, and less money available to residents to spend. They then spend less money locally, which leads to a vicious cycle that can keep communities from growing. 

Online purchases are not all bad. 

As with any story, there are two sides. While online purchases can take away from the local economy, they can also contribute to it in certain ways. The key is for local businesses to enter the online marketplace. 

The primary downsides to online purchases seem to occur when consumers make these purchases from national businesses instead of from local companies. For example, a local business is likely to charge appropriate taxes for online purchases, and to fall under the Indiana law that requires certain businesses to charge sales taxes for online purchases. 

Similarly, when consumers make purchases online from local businesses, that money still goes into the local economy. Rather than losing money to non-local entities, the local economy still receives the money from these online purchases, since these purchases are still being made from local businesses.

The takeaway from all of this is that local businesses should strive to create a vibrant online presence. Online shopping isn’t going anywhere. Its convenience means that it is likely to continue growing in popularity. 

Instead of fighting this new reality, local businesses can embrace it. Through digital marketing, they can build a website and ad campaigns that get them in front of their target audiences. It isn’t impossible to compete against big businesses. It simply requires a savvy online strategy, and a skilled digital marketing company like Distinct Web Design.  

As the holiday shopping season takes off, consider taking advantage of the good that an online presence can do, both for your business and for your local economy. Then reach out to Distinct Web Design. We can help you identify the digital marketingfi strategies that will best enable your business to thrive, online and off

Domino’s Case Highlights the Need for an Accessible Online Presence

As a business with a physical location, you know how important it is to keep that location accessible for individuals with disabilities. Not only is doing so required by law, but it also helps you maintain good relationships with your valuable customers. Everybody deserves the chance to avail themselves of your products and services. 

Did you know, however, that persons with vision impairments might struggle to access your products and services online? That there are steps you can take to make your website more accessible? And that doing so might just be the legal as well as the smart thing to do? A recent case involving major pizza chain Domino’s highlights the importance of online accessibility for vision impaired customers. 

The Domino’s Case: Summary

A blind individual named Guillermo Robles tried to order a pizza from Domino’s. Instead of going in the store, he did what many people do nowadays: He went online. 

The problem was that Robles was unable to successfully use either the app or the website to complete his order. He tried, and failed, to order a Domino’s pizza online at least twice, despite using screen reading software to help him navigate his online experience. 

Robles’ troubles quickly became Domino’s troubles when he filed suit against the chain for not having an accessible website. 

His argument? That as a business with a physical store, Domino’s was in violation of ADA guidelines regarding accessibility by not having their website accessible to persons with disabilities. 

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with Robles. As they explained in their decision, the “alleged inaccessibility of Domino’s website and app impedes access to the goods and services of its physical pizza franchises—which are places of public accommodation.”

Domino’s appealed the case to the Supreme Court. In October of 2019, that court declined to hear the case, allowing the lower court’s decision in favor of Robles to stand. 

The Domino’s Case: The Issues

This lawsuit against Domino’s highlighted a few issues that impact any business that has an online presence. 

Issue 1: Accessibility to physical locations

The attorneys and others in the case pointed out that inaccessible websites make it harder for disabled customers to access the goods and services available in Domino’s physical location. This was a problem that, as determined by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, violated ADA regulations governing accessibility at places of business.

Issue 2: Accessibility to modern ways of shopping.

Perhaps even more importantly, Robles’ lawyers and advocates of individuals with disabilities point out that inaccessible websites make it difficult for persons with disabilities to keep up with modern ways of accessing goods and services. 

Online shopping is growing at an exponential rate. In 2018 alone, consumers spent more than $513 billion online. When some people cannot access the Internet in order to conduct their business, they miss out on one of the major pieces of today’s digital world. That can present a challenge to these individuals. 

Issue 3: Lack of federal standards for online accessibility

One of Domino’s arguments against the lawsuit was the fact that there are no federal standards for accessibility to websites. As such, Domino’s argued, it was difficult to require businesses to maintain accessible websites. 

How could they do so if they don’t know what constitutes accessibility? This argument begs the question: How and can businesses ensure accessibility to disabled individuals if there is no definition for accessibility? 

The Domino’s Case: Lessons for Businesses

The answers to these issues do not have straightforward resolutions. What businesses can take away from situations like the Domino’s case is the fact that disabled individuals need and desire access to business’s online resources. Being able to provide this access can give businesses a way to earn the business, respect, and loyalty of this customer demographic.

Businesses can also take away the fact that accessibility is quickly becoming expected and may even be a requirement under the ADA laws. Implementing accessibility online can help businesses avoid the increasing number of lawsuits that are being filed around this issue. 

How can companies implement accessibility on their sites? By hiring a web development company that understands and can assist with this implementation. 

Here at Distinct Web Design, we can offer you assistance with developing a compelling online presence and digital marketing strategy that benefits all of your customers. 

By taking steps to accommodate all of your customers, you can develop an online presence that is appealing, compelling, and easy to use for everyone you want to reach.