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When was the last time you scanned a QR code?

25 November 2014 by


A QR code – short for Quick Response code – is essentially a square barcode that can direct a user to relevant content on their mobile device simply by scanning. The idea was simple — create a way to connect the growing digital world with online content leveraging a consumer’s smart phone.

With over 50% of American adults now owning a smart phone[1], something as unique and practical as a QR code should have quickly become a success. However, the technology with so many positive elements, has taken more than 10 years to gain momentum in the consumer marketplace. Has the time come to pronounce the QR code a failed digital trend, or are these little squares finally positioned to take off?QR code

Below are some examples preventing the technology from advancing and improvements that may rescue the QR code from demise.

Ease of Use

To no one’s surprise, QR codes have proved time and time again too laborious to ever take off among mobile users. In order for the QR code to work, people first need to have a QR scanner app already downloaded. Next, they must be willing to stop what they are doing, unlock their phones and open the app to finally scan the QR code. And this is assuming the consumer is educated on how to use these codes. Otherwise the digital mark will also need to include instructions on how and where to download the proper app to read the icon before they are even able to discover where the QR code is directing them to or what its purpose is. All of this can be overwhelming and time consuming to an audience. 

Poor User Experience

In the rush to capitalize on this digital trend, many marketing efforts were too inconsistent in creating mobile-optimized and rewarding landing pages or experiences for these codes, creating an unsatisfying user experience.

Many codes only take users to non-mobile optimized sites, or worse, to a site where the connection to the original call-to-action is lost. Yet, the destination is only half of the issue with developing a rewarding and engaging user experience with QR codes.

The other half is the implementation of the QR codes. QR codes located on moving objects like the outside of buses or trains, TV commercials, or even in emails can make the code unwieldy and difficult to use. Something a simple URL could achieve just as easy if not easier. All of this, as well as the necessary QR reader application requiring precious space on mobile devices hinder the use of QR codes. 

Better Alternatives

  • SMS short codes — every mobile phone has functionality that allows users to text. Short codes allow a user to text a simple keyword to a five-digit number and receive back information or a link to an online experience.
  • Near-field communications (NFC) — Near-field communications (NFC) is still developing as a viable QR code alternative, but it has the potential to overtake preceding technologies and become the main driver of the mobile-physical integrated experience. Examples include the Google Wallet and Apple Pay.
  • Augmented reality — While some companies have tied augmented reality experiences to QR codes, this is no longer necessary. Augmented reality allows for a much richer interactive user experience that can excite users to continue interaction.

 To the Rescue

  • Easier Use - With the launch of IOS7, the Apple Passbook app now comes with a QR code reader pre-loaded. Consumers now have one step less in reading a QR code. Also, Android phone’s built-in Google Search widget can decode QR codes as well.
  • Functional Use - While many of the experiences behind QR codes are still a disappointment, there are industries (particularly in industrial and real estate businesses) where having a QR code provides connectivity to deep linked product specifications, etc. Even realtors are using QR codes on property signs, for quick access to the property information.
  • Innovative & Improved User Experience - Finally, in The Optical Society’s (OSA) new high-impact journal “Optica,” new research explains how QR codes are being used to create personal 3-D entertainment, product visualizations for manufacturing and marketing, and secure 3-D data storage and transmission by simply scanning a series of QR codes. Which shows that perhaps QR codes are better suited as supplementary, devices not marketing material.

Any technology will eventually evolve or be replaced. The timeline for the QR code however, may be getting shorter. Let us know what you think below in the comments.

 

[1] PEW Research — June 5th, 2013 — http://www.pewinternet.org/2013/06/05/smartphone-ownership-2013/

Campaigns Based Solely on Creativity Do Little to Advance BtoB Marketing

14 November 2014 by

As the end of the year rolls around, the awards season heats up. Just last week Arketi Group and four of its clients landed a total of nine award between the PRSA Georgia Chapter Phoenix Awards and the MarCom Awards.

We’re proud of these award because they are judged on RESULTS and IMPACT, not just good looking creative. Don’t get me wrong, solid creative is much needed in today’s BtoB environment, but creative alone does not drive marketing success.

Arketi at 2014 PRSA Phoenix Awards Ceremony

I was excited to see that AdAge’s Best BtoB Awards were open for submissions. Which campaign to enter was my immediate question knowing that we have a number of campaigns to choose from, including:

  • One that generated a campaign return on investment of more than 820%
  • One that netted 120 prospects
  • One that increased site traffic by nearly 50% and increased page views by almost 250%
  • One that earned 2.1 million media impressions

Then I was crushed by a simple sentence on AdAge’s BtoB Best Awards submission page: “All categories are judged on creative aspects (not effectiveness).”

What? Did I just read that?

In today’s results-driven business world – which is rightfully so – should one of the industry’s leading publications be giving awards based on a beauty contest? Much less calling them the “Best BtoB Award”?

I was very disheartened and needless to say we are not spending the $125 per entry to enter. I hope the smart folks at AdAge will come around to the realization that most in BtoB marketing  – including our clients – know that bottom-line results are needed in conjunction with beautiful creative to advance BtoB marketing. If you get those two right, you truly are the best.

Atlanta Tech PR Juggernauts Tell All: How AirWatch, Aptean and COX get PR done

6 November 2014 by

Next Wednesday, join us for a panel discussion on successful PR campaigns by some of the leading technology companies in Atlanta. This session will help PR pros better understand what worked and what did not as each organization launched aggressive PR efforts.

Save your seat: http://www.prsageorgia.org/events/event_details.asp?id=519664.

Each panel member will dive into a case study that showcases best-in-class PR and marketing. Hear firsthand from:

  • Justin Grimsley of AirWatch about PR pre and post VMware acquisition
  • Will Haraway of Aptean on the role of PR in re-launching the brand
  • Amy Quinn of Cox on their partnership with Connect2Compete

Questions will be fielded and everyone is sure to walk away with actionable ideas they can implement for their own organizations. Our very own Mike Neumeier, APR, principal at Arketi Group, will moderate the panel.

 

Date: Wed., Nov. 12, 2014

Time: 5:30-7 p.m.

Location: Jabian Consulting

1117 Perimeter Center West

Suite N400

Atlanta, Georgia 30338

 

This event is hosted by the PRSA Tech SIG and is an Atlanta tech PR event you won’t want to miss. Hope to see you there!

2014 Arketi Pumpkin Contest: The Results!

30 October 2014 by

Arketi’s annual pumpkin carving contest is here! Arketians have been hard at work brainstorming what it takes to win your vote (by any means necessary). You never know what celebrities, characters or interpretations of the latest news you might find.

THE RESULTS

Team 4 – 137 Votes – Star, Micky, Hailee, Charles

Team 4

Team 3 – 124 Votes – Jackie, Kerri, Amy, Jason

Team 3

Team 1 – 48 Votes – Rory, Mary Rose, Callie, Kristen

Team 1

Team 2 – 30 Votes – Mike, Sami, Jim, Erica

Team 2

Mistakes Made in the Pursuit of Viral Videos

29 October 2014 by

As marketers, we’ve learned that people are interested in interactive content such as videos, infographics and slideshows. And while we, as a brand, have control of the content we create and the channels use, we do have control over how people use our content. Do they like it? Are they going to share it with their networks? Are they going to create their own spoofs from it?

For now, let’s just focus on videos. Viral videos seemingly have no limitation–quality ranges from a full production by big brands to a short clip caught on a mobile phone. Some of our favorite viral videos are related to a big event such as the World Cup or Olympics, while others simply capture every day life or a one time incident.

When it comes to viral videos, a recent Harvard Business Review post explains:

“That’s why some have suggested describing what the best marketers create as spreadable media rather than viral content. While less, ahem, catchy as term, it’s a healthy reminder that, while marketers create the media, it’s people who do the actual spreading.”

Below are the four biggest mistakes marketers make when they focus on creating viral content instead of spreadable content.

Mistake 1: Not testing or building momentum. Find out where and what generates engagement before putting all your dollars in one basket.

Mistake 2: Asking people to “share” without a compelling reason. If you’re simply trying to generate awareness about an issue, perhaps sharing a video makes sense. But organizations and brands must choose a topic that appeals to passion or makes the view feel involved.

Mistake 3: Sharing it and forgetting it. While it’s great that you may generate the most interactions within the first few hours or week, but to keep the momentum alive beyond this peak, you need additional efforts such as tweets, posts and sharing the video with new angles where it’s relevant.

Mistake 4: Not developing relationships with influencers. Influencers are your strongest asset to maintain interaction. Recognize and reward them!

The beauty of these viral videos is that people actively choose to engage with the message. From here, the engaged individuals choose to share or not share the content. But when the goal of content, especially videos, is to go viral, we’re forgetting that the goal of content should be engagement. As as brands, we have limited control over how it spreads without built or developing relationships.

For a deeper dive into the top viral video mistakes, check out the full HBR article titled “4 Mistakes Marketers Make When Trying to Go “Viral.”

Tech Marketing Budgets to Increase 3.5 Percent This Year

21 October 2014 by

Is anyone else excited that marketing budgets and revenue at technology companies have been slowly increasing?

In fact, a recent IDC survey featured on AdAge shows the largest growth will come from ‘third-platform’ companies. The third-platform companies include cloud, mobility, social business and analytics.

According to Rich Vancil, group VP-executive advisory group at IDC, “For third-platform companies [cloud, mobility, social business and analytics], revenue growth and marketing budget growth is growing at 10 to 20 percent. This is where all the action is in terms of budgets.”

Do you have any thoughts or predictions into the 2015 tech marketing budgets? If so, leave us a comment below.

Leads aren’t converting? Evaluate your nurture process with these 3 questions.

15 October 2014 by

All marketers have experienced the trials and tribulations of leads that seemingly will not budge over the goal line and convert. Rather than throw in the towel on those challenging leads, let’s evaluate your nurture process and take a look at your approach with fresh eyes. Ask yourself the following three questions to get a better idea of how your process is performing in key areas that influence conversions.

How’s your timing?

You know the saying, the early bird catches the worm; well in marketing and sales the early bird, in most instances, can end up closing the deal.  According to InsideSales.com, research shows that 35%-50% of sales go to the vendor that responds to the lead first.  While the first responder has a competitive advantage, it’s important to point out that it doesn’t necessarily mean every lead is automatically ready to become a customer upon inbounding.

Marketing Donut shares that 63% of people requesting information on your company today will not purchase for at least 3 months – and 20% will take more than 12 months to buy. To take things a step further, 80% of sales are made on the 5th to 12th contact. That’s why it’s so vital to have nurture processes in place that leverage the appropriate cadence for those teetering on the edge of commitment, and those who need more time.  Relying only on your Sales team for follow-up is a questionable strategy as studies show only 10% of Sales people make more than three contacts with a prospect.

personalization based on behavioral data has a high impact on ROI

Are you getting personal?

Beyond responding quickly and establishing an appropriate tempo for your nurture activity, it’s important to realize the simple fact that not all prospects are the same. Though personalization is one of the most critical components of a successful nurture campaign, many marketers neglect to do so.  In fact, while HubSpot reports the following compelling stats for personalizing your timing and messages, 41% of marketers do not build strategies using buyer personas.

The proof of personalization’s influence on achievement is clear:

  • Personalized emails improve clickthrough rates by 14% and conversion rates by 10%.
  • 68% of marketers say personalization based on behavioral data has a high impact on ROI.

Take a look at Micky Long’s recent post: “Five things that can unravel your best lead nurture campaigns and lead management plans” for more insight on the significance developing persona information and segmenting has on the success of your marketing.

Is your call to action clear?

Crafting messaging is a balancing act. While you want to supply compelling and relevant content that leaves a good first impression with leads, the last thing you want to do is be so verbose that your call to action gets lost in the mix.

Clearly state the intent of your email. If the purpose, and your call to action, is focused on scheduling time with a lead try being specific and say “I’d like 15 minutes of your time, to discuss x benefit, y benefit, and z benefit,” rather than, “I’d love some time to speak with you.”  Making a small tweak like that can be the difference between an engaged lead and a lost lead. Click here for more call to action tips from HubSpot.

Timing, personalization, and clear call to actions are crucial, but they’re certainly not the only components of a well performing nurture. What are some other conversion influencers to pay special attention to? Share your thoughts with us.

 

Five things that can unravel your best lead nurture campaigns & lead management plans

9 October 2014 by

With significant market penetration and SiriusDecisions predicting a 50% growth in Marketing Automation adoption by next year, there’s little doubt automated lead management is headed for the tipping point.  And rightly so if you also buy Forrester’s assessment that companies that excel at lead nurturing generate 50% more sales-ready leads at 33% less cost.

For those who have yet to experience the kind of powerful results Forrester identifies, here are five things we consistently see that hold companies back and pose real threats to reaching a best-in-class position. They are:

  1. Lack of an in-place and disciplined data integrity strategy.  While we all talk about the need to maintain up to date information on prospects, it seems that developing the long-term discipline and resource commitment to keep lists complete, scrubbed and useful remains a challenge. According to NetProspex “State of Marketing Data” benchmark report, which is based on an analysis of 61million records, 84% of marketing databases are “barely functional” with 88% lacking basic firmagraphic information.   With email response rates more a challenge than ever before, having a steady stream of clean, segmented data to build opt-ins is no longer a nice to have, it’s essential.
  2. Restricting your MA tool to email distribution.  The automation platforms we work with all do an amazing job distributing and reporting on emails.  But many stop there neglecting to combine the other channel touchpoints; i.e. search, social, live events, web, etc. into one combined automated approach.  Following this strategy effectively turns your powerful automation engine into a one-cylinder moped.  It may get you where you are going, eventually, but you’re not likely to be happy along the way. companies that excel at lead nurturing generate 50% more sales-ready leads
  3. Lack of true persona information. Segmentation is critical to marketing success today and knowing not just what keeps your prospect awake at night but how they describe that pain can make the difference when it comes to engagement or indifference. When was the last time you surveyed new customers or prospects to identify how they go about purchasing solutions like yours and what factors go into the process?  If that’s been longer than a year, give serious consideration to adding this as a priority.
  4. Confusing lead nurture campaigns and demand generation campaigns.  Let’s take a step back.  Lead nurturing, by design, is not the same as an instantly gratifying demand generation effort.  If you need an immediate fire hose of leads to satisfy hungry sales reps, do yourself a favor, don’t look to your recently established lead nurture campaigns for vast volumes.  Lead nurture programs WILL generate leads and WILL produce higher quality, faster closing leads OVER TIME.  It’s just not a quick fix.  Ramping up search, expanding telemarketing, attending events and thoughtful retargeting may give the immediate result needed to keep the wolves away until the nurturing efforts catch fire.
  5. Keeping your sales team at arm’s length.  At the end of the day, the job of most BtoB marketing organizations, when it comes to demand generation, is to feed quality leads to the Sales organization to transform into revenue gold. This is unlikely to happen if: Marketing and Sales don’t agree on lead definition, don’t share the same process and goals, don’t follow the same lead management workflow or end up at odds with each other over results.  Marketing Automation has been touted as the great equalizer that will bring Sales and Marketing organizations together under a common set of goals and activities to collectively achieve greater performance and efficiency.  So far, not so much.  As is the case with much of the sub-optimized performance, it’s not the software that’s to blame.  Make sure Sales is involved and on board before embarking on any type of long term lead nurture process.

These aren’t the only things that can derail a well-intentioned lead management strategy.  But focus on these can help avoid some serious mis-steps.  I’d be thrilled to hear your own experiences and if you have any additional pitfalls to add to the list.  Drop us a note.

Are You Utilizing Expert Content?

3 October 2014 by

A new study by Nielsen titled The Role of the Consumer in the Decision Making Process confirms what the Public Relations profession has known for years, “content written by credible experts performed best overall” in strongly influencing purchase.

“Expert content was the only content type to exhibit a strong lift in all 3 areas of the purchase cycle.”

The study found that the third-party content was important as consumers trusted third-party content much more than a product’s branded website and paid product reviews.

“Consumers perceived expert content to be 10% and 8% more informative than both user content and branded content respectively.”

The net is “the impact of expert content on consumer decision making demonstrates the important role that objective and credible information from trusted sources play in the purchase process.”

This is one of the many reasons why media relations continues to be a key PR and marketing strategy even in today’s fragmented media and social media environment.

Check out the Research Brief from the Center for Media Reach titled “Expert Content Is Best Influencer in Purchase Funnel” [http://www.mediapost.com/publications/article/235030/expert-content-is-best-influencer-in-purchase-funn.html] to read more about this study.

New iText Logo

25 September 2014 by

Logos are one of the most recognizable elements of any brand. So when our client, iText, today launched their newly designed logo, we couldn’t help but be excited! Below is a brief snippet from the blog post.

 

Big day today at iText! Our new logo is ready for the world to see! We thank to all our amazing users and staff who were part of this process, and our amazing agency Arketi Group who helped make this happen. We believe that our new logo reflects our belief in open source, providing a future-proof solution with features, support and reliability.

 

ITSC Logo Horizontal

 

 

Check out iText’s new logo and full blog post at: http://itextpdf.com/itext-new-logo.